Progress

I think I’m at the point where the worst thing that can happen is that I fail. That’s OK.

Before that it was “be dismally unprepared and make a fool of myself”.

– Me, learning.

When Industry + Technology = Awesome

I tried Uber for the first time while I was in Boston. I look at the world as many geeks tend to… we wonder or wish that technology could be better applied to everyday life. Uber does exactly that.

  • Register a credit card. No cash changes hands.
  • Before your ride, you can see where cars in your area are and get an estimate as to how long it’ll take for the cars to get there.
  • You get a text when your car is a minute away.
  • The driver has a smart phone, and therefore a GPS, and unlike normal taxi drivers, is not afraid to use it.
  • Receipt is delivered in email.
  • You can rate your driver / see your driver’s rating.
  • Get a fare estimate online.
  • … and I’m sure there are a bunch more if I actually bothered reading their web site.

Really, if taxi companies want to compete with these kinds of car services, they should use technology instead of the courts.

Flowers for Mystery Hunt

The MIT Mystery Hunt this year started off as the 33rd Annual Conference on Maturing Young Scientific Theories: Emerging Resolutions for Yielding Heuristic Unphysics using Noncomputation Techniques, with an Abstract that clued “COMETOTHEHUNT”. We soon found ourselves in a Wonderland variant called Alice Shrugged (a play on the name of the winning team, which was [the entire text of Atlas Shrugged]). I managed to contribute to solving 1 puzzle (a logic puzzle wrapped in an end of curling, and no, being Canadian didn’t help at all). I contributed to a bunch of other ones, mainly by organizing spreadsheets, using formulas, and insisting that people use a fixed width font.

I’ve come to realize that participating in the MIT Mystery Hunt is like submitting to the operation they performed on Algernon (well, Charlie, but normal readers will be more likely to identify the meme through Algernon). My brain starts off slow, but accelerates at an astounding rate as I progress through the weekend, both making incredible leaps of intuition and reaching solid logical conclusions.

Back at work on Monday, all the challenges I’ve previously struggled with are child’s play. I reach my quarterly goals in a day.

By Tuesday, I can accomplish what used to be impossible for me. Only fellow hunters can follow my logic. Co-workers shake their heads and turn away, uncomprehending.

By Wednesday, I can accomplish what used to be impossible. I shake my head in pity that my insights can’t be understood by the world. Like really, our CEO hasn’t named me as his successor nor has the stock price tripled based on the sheer brilliance of my ideas. What gives? I consider quitting and searching for a cure for cancer. But there’s trouble in paradise (not to mention Wonderland). I feel like I’m missing something.

On Thursday, I stare at my notes for the cure and give up. I question whether I’ve actually accomplished my quarterly goals. I’m glad I didn’t hit “send” on my resignation letter. My co-workers regard me with a mixture of fear and pity.

By Friday, it’s back to the same semi-dazed Nick that everyone is accustomed to, who only remembers that he used to be able to actually think and do things (and to think you used to wonder how PHBs came into being).

Offline Shopping

Tried to do some  online shopping at a site called “a strip mall in the real word”. Unwieldy name, but I guess all the good domains were taken. Anyway:

  • No search function
  • …. no product reviews
  • … no product specs
  • … I couldn’t find the real-time chat-with-an-agent function
  • … their security was awful. If I looked around, I could see the shopping carts of other visitors to the site. I bet if I looked closely I could see their credit cards
  • … and all that was just at one store… when I changed tabs to visit another, I somehow got rained and snowed on.

Really, this “in real life” ambiance that they hawk at you is severely overrated.

Ordering Martinis

I think I may have found a new way to get the waiter / bartender to understand that I really want to order a random martini:

Nick: I’d like a martini please.
Waiter: What kind?
Nick: Whatever the bartender makes best.
Waiter: Do you prefer gin? Vodka?
Nick: I prefer to be surprised.

Herbstferien 2013

Some notes from fall school vacation 2013

  1. Said on the cruise ship, the morning before driving from Rome to Winterthur: “I could have one Bloody Mary now and not mind how bad the Italians drive. Or, I could have two Bloody Mary’s and drive like they do.” “I think it would take three.”
  2. Cruise destinations:
    1. Messina, Sicily
    2. Piraes (Athens), Greece
    3. Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey
    4. Chania, Crete, Greece
  3. Road trip notes / stops on the way to the cruise.
    1. San Gotthard pass
    2. La Spezia / Cinque Terre
    3. Pisa
    4. Volterra
    5. San Gimignano
    6. Siena
    7. Chiusi
    8. Orvieto
    9. Civitavecchia
    10. San Bernadino tunnel (on the way back)

I <3 my friends

Friend: My psychologist says I have obsessive compulsive tendencies. I don’t know what she means.

Nick: I’ve decided that I don’t have OCD. I have CDO. It’s very much like OCD… except with the letters properly alphabetized.

Friend: LLO

Confidence vs. Introversion

I’ve been reading a lot of articles about networking recently. Many of them mention that meeting new people requires confidence; don’t fear failure, just do it. Lack of confidence, however, is not what stops me (at least that’s what I tell myself). I’m generally happy / happier to be left alone. I don’t approach people because, in the same circumstances, I wouldn’t want to be approached by someone; I’m afraid of annoying them.

What happens on Earth, stays on Earth.