Can’t sleep

Was trying to get to sleep, got mentally worked up about something, and now I can’t. Sleep, that is. So here are some random thoughts about nothing.

The phrase “I don’t know” can be used in two completely different ways that are almost diametrically opposed in terms of what the speaker is implying. Observe:

  1. “I don’t know why the sky is blue.”
  2. “I don’t know why people like Britney Spears.”

There should be different words for these.

I’ve been messing around with a kd-tree to find nearest neighbours in a vaguely secret thing I’ve been working on (not very secret, or even interesting enough to justify calling it secret, which I’ve now done three times, so it’ll be really anti-climactic when I link to it, which I will as soon as it’s public). Wikipedia says this about the performance improvement for nearest-neighbour search:

These asymptotic behaviors only apply when N is much greater than the number of dimensions. In very high dimensional spaces, the curse of dimensionality causes the algorithm to need to visit many more branches than in lower dimensional spaces. In particular, when the number of points is only slightly higher than the number of dimensions, the algorithm is only slightly better than a linear search of all of the points.

I’m starting to suspect that this statement is way too weak. My rough back-of-the-mental-envelope conclusion is that the performance boost only happens when the number of points is much higher than two to the power of the number of dimensions. I’m not confident enough in this statement to edit the Wikipedia article, but I’d be interested if anyone can explain why I’m wrong.

Mentioned Richard Buckland, lecturer extraordinaire, in an earlier post. Last week I took a few hours off work one afternoon to wander into one of his first-year uni lectures. It turned out to be one of the few lectures from this year that’s made it onto YouTube. (They’re all supposed to go up at some point, but anyone who’s ever dealt with video files knows that they have a kind of inertia or built-in procrastination field or something.)

After the lecture (actually, after the extension lecture that comes after this), I chatted to him for a while about some stuff, which has been mulling over in my head since then, and which I’m not going to say much about right now (what the hell kind of an introverted blog post is this)… um… yeah. More on this soon, maybe.

Finally started watching Firefly earlier tonight. I feel like I’m getting my geek credentials back in order.

Picked up a cheap-ish tablet laptop in an online auction a few weeks ago. It’s ex-lease or something. Not the ThinkPad that I really wanted, but a good starting point considering that I’m not entirely sure why I wanted it at all (at least, now that my career as a webcomic artist has been definitively shut away in the Closet of Things that are Unlikely to Happen). Anyway, it is really, really cool.

I installed Xubuntu on it. Xubuntu has come a long way. I’m not entirely converted away from mainline Ubuntu yet, but for a lower-performance machine – and in a scenario where screen real estate is particularly valuable and can be conserved with a panel that behaves well on the side of the screen, which is an act Gnome hasn’t quite gotten together yet – it behaves very nicely indeed.

We did a Magic 2010 draft at Mr Shellshear’s place last Friday. For me, it really captured the feel of old-school Magic. I’ve enjoyed Alara block, but one thing that bugged me about it is that mono- or even dual-colour decks were a non-option. I’ve always thought that one of the big appeals of the Magic mana system is the ability to choose between the breadth of a multi-colour deck and the smooth focus of a mono deck. In fact, I think one of the crucial moments in many a beginning casual player’s Magic education is when he (or she… but let’s face it, it’s probably he – apologies to Michelle and Kat) manages to corral enough cards of the same colour to make up a deck.

For me, many years ago, it was a green deck. Its theme was the somewhat high-concept “every green card and forest I own” and not much beyond that, but the payoff of freedom from mana problems is an experience I’ve never forgotten.

Alara block’s three-colour theme was an interesting design area, and would seem to have been a popular one, but it turned mana fixing from optional to mandatory. It changed the game from one where multi-lands and whatnot were one of the ways of getting your spells out reliably – the other being to focus on one colour, which is an interesting, flavourful, and personality-reflecting decision – to one where they were the only way. That took something away from the game in my mind, and I’m happy to be back on solid monocolour ground again.

Okay, I think I’m out of random thoughts, and am starting to get vaguely sleepy. G’night all.


8 Comments so far

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  8. Robert July 27th, 2015 12:03 pm

    Hi Jessie! I have just been catching up with your blog from when I was here last. So far my smuemr has not allowed me too much crafting time or time visiting my favorite blogs. I love all the cards, recipe pages, scrapbook pages etc that you have made since I was here last. I have to say though….the recipe page using the apron template is just too darn cute! I love it!!!! Saw your post on facebook about your boys doing good in school…tell them congrats on the good grades and way to go!!!!

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