Blog - notes

Outside Context Problem

Sun Dec 10 18:23:42 EST 2006

Rereading "Excession" by Ian M. Banks at the moment:

An Outside Context Problem was the sort of thing most civilisations encountered just once, and which they tended to encounter rather in the same way a sentence encountered a full stop. The usual example given to illustrate an Outside Context Problem was imagining you were a tribe on a largish, fertile island; you'd tamed the land, invented the wheel or writing or whatever, the neighbours were cooperative or enslaved but at any rate peaceful and you were busy raising temples to yourself with all the excess productive capacity you had, you were in a position of near-absolute power and control which your hallowed ancestors could hardly have dreamed of and the whole situation was just running along nicely like a canoe on wet grass ... (...)

[notes] [politics]



Sun Nov 26 20:28:30 EST 2006

From "My Life as a Quant: Reflections on Physics and Finance" by Emanuel Derman:

There was one elementary fact that many of our bosses were unable to grasp: We were building these models and systems not just because somebody authorised it, but rather we thought they were the right thing to do, because these questions fascinated us. We saw a problem, discerned a need, became absorbed, and tackled it. It was all-engrossing. ... I would find myself thinking about the problems in mental pictures while I showered or took a run in the park. Sometimes I lay in bed unable to put the picture out of my mind. We worked hard out of passion, pride, and the pleasure of being thanked, recognized, and appreciated; of course, we also worked for money, but money alone wasn't enough.




Fri Nov 17 08:43:28 EST 2006

The first issue of [Transmetropolitan] is available to download for free. This is great graphic novel series, the main character is a gonzo journalist in the style of Hunter S. Thompson ("Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"), setting is a surreal future city with enough similarities to today's world for some good satirical opportunities. Great writing by [Warren Ellis].



electronic paper eBook Readers

Thu Sep 28 08:41:47 EST 2006

Sony has released their [SonyŽ Portable Reader SystemPRS-500]. This is a reflective eBook reader, supposed to look similar to paper. Accepts Sony's proprietry format or PDF or text files. Cost is US$350.

A competing reader is the [iLiad e-reader], which has a writeable A5 size screen, WiFi connectivity, 650EURO price tag. Bigger screen is a big plus, being able to read A4 pages one to a screen would be good for textbooks.

Comparison at [].

Kind of tempted, but still a bit expensive. Could be the start of the rise of eBook readers though, so check back in six months.



A Pattern Language

Thu Sep 14 20:57:39 EST 2006

Anyone who has studied an object-oriented programming language such as Java or C++ will have come across the "Design Patterns" concept at some stage. This was popularised by the "Group of Four" book of the same name, the basic concept being to identify common problems faced in programming tasks and use template solutions to solve them. A consistent approach to laying out the solutions and naming them appropriately enhances the value of this approach. This concept is based on an earlier work in the field of architecture, the book "A Pattern Language" by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa and Murray Silverstein et al.

"A Pattern Language" identifies 253 common design patterns come across in designing towns, neighbourhoods and individual buildings - and a key point is the patterns are described in this order from the scale of regions to the personal scale of the family home. (...)

[ideas] [notes]


Psychology of Behavioural Finance: Past and Future

Tue Aug 1 16:51:01 BST 2006

These are some notes I took of Professor Daniel Kahneman's 2005 Nomura Centre for Quantitative Finance Lecture. Professor Kahneman won the Nobel Prize for Economics Science 2005 (prior to this lecture). He is a psychologist by training, not an economist. Lecture was on 5th May 2005. (...)



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