Christmas time!

I’m glad it’s Christmas time again because that means I get some time off to go up to Canada to see family. Oh, and getting presents…that’s sweet, too. I must say, working in McLean at this time of year is not fun. The traffic is ridiculous with all the people trying to get in and out of Tysons Corner Mall. Tomorrow, I get to avoid most of it, but I’ll be fighting the crowd traffic inside the mall with my side-kick Sura.

Yeah, that’s right. I’m not done with the shopping of the presents. I think the past couple of years, I’m used up all of my good ideas for presents. In trying to figure out why I’m having so much trouble thinking/finding presents for the people I usually get presents for, I came to the following possible reasons:

  1. I am losing touch of knowing the people that matter to me, their wants and needs
  2. Industry isn’t being innovative enough to come up with the products worth getting anyone
  3. Everyone already has what they want/need.

I feel that in the past couple months, I’ve been in a sort of a funky state-of-mind, disassociated from family and friends. I don’t know if this was because of work or not but when I realized this, I didn’t like it. Which brings me to my New Years resolution is to renew past relationships and refresh current relationships. I don’t usually do New Years resolutions, but I figure now is a good time as any to set those things called ‘goals’ in my life.

Looking around the mall, I don’t see a lot of “Oh, My God I Gotta Have That!” things I want for myself or anyone else. Even with the explosive popularity of the iPod, I really just saw a CD player that could hold more songs than before. I guess it has to do with the way I listen to music. I always just play my music collection with Shuffle/Repeat on. I like not knowing what song is coming up next 🙂

I think today’s technology has got to a point where it allows us to do things we do everyday faster than yesterday. Moving forward, I’d be more interested in using technology to define a whole new way to do something. It’s not a matter of making something faster, it should more efficient. These two concepts are not one in the same. Building off of the iPod example, Apple didn’t define a new way to listen or organize music. We still use headphones/earplugs to listen and organizing music under genres and albums/tracks was not novel to iPod. ID3 allows us to easily describe our music and media players like WinAMP are able to organize it. Sure, I can do things faster on an iPod than I could on a CD player such as look for a specific song. In this case, technology introduced a fad. It doesn’t take away from the fact that the mp3 players like the iPod are great products. But other than the visually-appealing ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’, there isn’t a feature in the iPod that differentiates it from anything else we’ve had in the past 10 years.

What would turn the mp3 player into a “Oh, My God I Gotta Have That!” thing for me is the ability to add social learning to it. Let’s call this new product the ZweeVoo. As an owner of the spankin’ new ZweeVoo, I can say I want to chill out. The ZweeVoo will start playing music it thinks is ‘chill’ music and if I don’t like it, I skip it and the ZweeVoo knows that the song is probably not what I want to be listening to when I’m chill mood. Repeat this for when I’m feeling happy, sad, mad, frustrated, sleepy, indifferent, etc. The more I use my ZweeVoo the more it knows about it’s owner and the type of music to play when I tell it how I’m feeling at the time. I think this would be an awesome feature to have. Something like for the portable music player focused around user state-of-mind or emotional state versus user preferences.

As for the last reason why I’m having trouble finding presents for people, I made that one up because I thought a list of only two reasons was lame and I needed a third. Everyone wants and needs at least something. Once they get it, there’s will always be a new thing to want. Probably a ZweeVoo.

Christmas time!

Re: Gold Bar Riddle

As promised, click here the solution.

At the end of day two, the pharaoh is able to make one more cut and must pay the mason 2/7ths of the gold bar. The only way to do this is to use the larger (6/7th) piece and cut out a 2/7th piece. The pharaoh takes back the 1/7th piece and gives the 2/7th piece. Now the pharaoh has all made all of his alloted cuts and there are 3 pieces of gold bar: a 1/7th piece, a 2/7th piece, and the remaining 4/7th piece.

With these three pieces, the pharaoh is able to pay the mason every day the fraction amount of the entire gold bar that corresponds to the number of days work. I think the trickiest part was realizing that the mason can give back pieces as change.

Day 1: Pay with the 1/7th piece
Day 2: Pay with the 2/7th piece
Day 3: Pay with the 1/7th and 2/7th pieces (1/7 + 2/7 = 3/7)
Day 4: Pay with the 4/7th piece
Day 5: Pay with the 1/7th and 4/7th piece (1/7 + 4/7 = 5/7)
Day 6: Pay with the 2/7th and 4/7th pieces (2/7 + 4/7 = 6/7)
Day 7: Pay with all the pieces (1/7 + 2/7 + 4/7 = 7/7)

Of course, this is only possible if the mason doesn’t go off and spend his pay before the end of the week 🙂

Re: Gold Bar Riddle

A Sleepy Thought

I’m so tired. Work has just been crazy. Aren’t things suppose to die down during the holidays? Not so in my case. Deadlines are coming up and there’s still a lot left to do. I feel like I did in college before a big CS project was due. Only now, there are no A’s, B’s, or C’s. There’s only success and failure.

This leads me to some of my grips with the current education system in America. Why are there so many grading systems? And when did it become OK to be mediocre? Students are taught and trained to be evaluated on this teacher-biased scale of letters that mean different things in different places. An ‘A’ in an inner city school is probably not the equivalent as an ‘A’ from say, a Fairfax County school. In addition, there’s this ridiculous notion of people going to college with 4.0+ GPAs because they took AP, Honors, or GT (Gifted/Talented?) courses in high school. These grading policies are different all across the country. The standardized tests like the SATs try to solve this problem, but these tests do not evaluate the knowledge or comprehensive abilities of a student. It simply tests how good you can take the SATs.

As a by-product of this problem and on a more individual level, a student develops, what I believe is, a false impression of what level of aptitude is acceptable in society. I cringe every time I hear some kid say ‘I got a C on my math test!’, like they’re proud of it. Sure, maybe it’s a big improvement from the F they got last week but to initially set the standard this low advocates mediocrity and even worse, sets yourself up for failure.

I don’t think anyone should be aiming to be average or content with just ‘getting by’. Personally, I am continuing trying to better myself in all the ways I know how. This is predicated on the active realization that in order to better myself, I can’t be content with being only adequate. I want to surpass expectations, mine most importantly.

A Sleepy Thought

Gold Bar Riddle

I was recently given this puzzle and I thought I would share it with everyone else. So the puzzle starts…

There’s a pharaoh who wants to build a huge pyramid to compensate for his lack of self confidence. He hires a stonemason to build his pyramid in 7 days and agrees to pay the mason one gold bar upon completion for his work.

The stonemason doesn’t like the pharaoh very much nor does he trust him. So, he demands that the pharaoh pay him at the end of every day an equivalent fraction of the gold bar as the number of days that he worked. That is, after the first day of work, the pharaoh must pay him 1/7 of the gold bar, 2/7 at the end of the 2nd day, 3/7 on the 3rd, etc until the end of the 7th day where he will receive his full payment of the gold bar. The kicker is the pharaoh may only make two cuts on the gold bar. Reluctantly, the pharaoh agrees to these terms.

The question is “How does the pharaoh do it?”

As with a lot of puzzles, it helps to talk it through so feel free to post a comment or question. 🙂

I’ll post the answer later for everyone or I can answer it for myself…depending if anyone else is reading this.

Hint: There’s only one way to pay him the first day.

Gold Bar Riddle

First post!

Hey, everyone. If you’re reading this, you probably was told to check this out by me. Alas, there is not much to see yet.

If you don’t already know, my name is Theo. I’m a twenty-something year old software engineer. I would describe myself as someone who has yet to define himself. I’m not one thing or another. I would say I’m different from those are different. In some ways, I chose to be different, in others, I had no choice. More about this at some other time. In the mean time, welcome to my blog and I hope the readers can use this blog to gain some insight into who I am and maybe even inspire some other thoughts or ideas.

I’m a big believer in whole chain-reaction of thoughts. If I can say or write something that influences someone else’s thoughts which inspires a new idea, I think that is one of the best things in the world.

I previously tried to do the whole routine blogging thing but life gets in the way. Here’s my third try at this with a brand, new twist! Not only will I blog about things in my life but my personal goals and thoughts on interesting subjects (at least to me anyway) .

Some topics I have in mind:

  • Jobs
  • Finances
  • Movies
  • Books
  • Programming
  • Life

Not that I’m an expert in any of these topics, but I think I can at least share my experiences and thoughts about them. If anyone has any suggestions as to what they want me to ramble about, please let me know.

Till next time…sooner than later I hope.

First post!