Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bitten By A Dog

I was jogging in a local park minding my own business, when this dog just came up to me and bit me in the leg. The dog owner was very apologetic: "I'm so sorry, she usually doesn't do this, but she's in heat now." So I guess I was sexually assaulted by a bitch.

The wound was minor, but I was worried about rabies and went to see my doctor, who gave me a shot for tetanus, and assured me rabies is not a concern in domestic dogs today. No excuse for foaming at the mouth yet.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Heritage Health Prize Round 1 Results

The Heritage Health Prize round 1 milestone results were released. I came in 3rd on the final private rankings, even though I was only the 5th on public leaderboard. So I guess I didn't overfit too badly.

I wonder by how much I missed winning the lottery this time.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

On Zombie Apocalypse Survival

Some people like to discuss zombie apocalypse survival scenarios. The suggested preparations usually involve stockpiling guns and ammo, building defensive structures, practicing marksmanship and survival skills, etc.

I used to not take zombie apocalypse survival seriously, but lately I gave it some serious thought.

Almost all zombie apocalypse survivalists are living in a fantasy. Because based on all credible evidence available (movies, duh), when the zombie apocalypse comes, most of them will become zombies themselves. Stockpiling guns and ammo ? Well chances are your stockpile will be used against your future zombie self by the few lucky remaining humans.

Seriously, zombie apocalypse survival is about surviving as zombies, not as humans.

If you're saying, "If I become a zombie, then I don't care about survival any more, and I'd rather be dead." Well, technically you're already dead, but hope springs eternal, even for zombies. Your job is to survive long enough until someone comes up with a cure that turns zombies back into humans.

What can you do today to increase your chance of survival as a zombie in the future ? Keep in mind that all credible evidence available (movies, duh) show that zombies are incapable of higher functioning, and survives by killing humans and eating flesh off the corpses.

The number 1 thing you can do to improve your chance of survival as a zombie is getting strong, sharp, flesh-tearing titanium teeth implants.

Even if zombie apocalypse does not come in your lifetime, titanium teeth implants still have advantages: you'll be a better chewer, and you don't need to worry about cavities any more.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Javascript 15-puzzle Sliding Tile Game

I have been using Javascript more recently, and decided to cleanup the 15-puzzle sliding tile game I wrote in Javascript some time ago. Instead of using boring numbered tiles, my version let you use images and it displays tiled images.

I had to put it on a separate page because columns in blog layout interferes with displaying bigger images.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Netflix Prize Announcement

I went to the Netflix Prize announcement in New York on Sept 21. It was great to finally meet some of my team members, as well as our arch-nemesis BellKor's Pragmatic Chaos. I also did some sightseeing in NYC so it was a pretty good trip.

The prize announcement was pretty well-covered by the media. Reporters from New York Times, Forbes, AP, Business Week, Wall Street Journal, etc were there. Just do a search and you'll find plenty of press coverage of the event.

From talking to my team members, it's not surprising that we all work in IT-related fields, but I'm still impressed by the breadth of experience in the Ensemble team, from health care to entertainment industry to unmanned weapon systems. That's right, from saving your life to killing you and making a movie about it, we got you covered.

BellKor's Pragmatic Chaos revealed one surprising chance-of-luck happening that explained some of the behind-the-scene drama we saw in the last 48 hours of the contest.

PS: I accidentally got quoted in this Business Week article.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How I End Up In The Ensemble

When I signed up for the Netflix Prize, I had to pick a team name. I like the show Seinfeld, and Newman is my favorite character in the show, due to his sheer absurdity and hilariousness. So I chose "Newman!" as my team name.

Later I formed a joint team with another contestant, and we called this team "Newman and Kramer !", named after the two most absurd characters in the show. Kramer helped me with my RBM implementation and then quickly went MIA (but not presumed dead, where are you Eric ?).

Then Greg McAlphin (ADifferentName/OfADifferentKind) and I formed a new team named "Newman and George !".

Then Bill Bame (clueless) joined us and we formed a new team named "Newman, George, and Peterman !".

So at this point, we were "polluting" the leaderboard in four teams:

*Newman and Kramer !
*Newman and George !
*Newman, George, and Peterman !

Then Chris Hefele (chef-ele) joined us, and we were going to be "Newman, George, Peterman, and Bania !". Now obviously we had a scalability problem: the team name was growing too long. And at this point, we fully expected other people to join later, so what were we going to be in the end ? "Newman, George, Peterman, Bania, Mr Pitt, Uncle Leo, and Soup Nazi !" ?

We decided to call our new 4-member team "Vandelay Industries".

Then Jeff Howbert (howbert) joined. Shortly afterwards, the contest entered the last 30 days, and a slew of others on the leaderboard joined Vandelay Industries. The team expanded faster than Newman's waistline (the character's, not mine).

Members of Vandelay Industries created a few sub-teams to explore different blends. Later, in preparation to merge with the Grand Prize Team, Opera Solutions, and Feeds2 to form The Ensemble, we got rid of all the sub-teams including the Newman-and-whoever teams.

Except "Newman and Kramer !". Kramer is MIA but out of respect for him and his help, I left "Newman and Kramer !" on the leaderboard.

That's my journey from Newman! to The Ensemble. Here's David Lin's story of Dinosaur Planets and The Ensemble.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

We Are The Borg

We are the borg. Your algorithm will be assimilated. Resistance is irrelevant.

We're also known as: xlvector, OfADifferentKind, & Newman(me).

Update: to clean up the leaderboard, we have voluntarily removed "We are the Borg" and other sub-teams of "Vandelay Industries !". The pre-Vandelay Industries team "Newman, George, and Peterman !" is gone too.