Sunday, February 21, 2010

Most Used Digits

What are the most commonly encountered numerical digits? On first thought, it does not seem that any particular digit ought to be favored, as numbers seem to be randomly distributed; however, in fact some digits are more common than others.

I recently took a photograph of a used calculator lying around in my house, which should provide an instructive insight into the answer.
The wear patterns on the calculator suggest that the lower digits are used more often, in particular 0 and 1. Possible explanations for this distribution include Benford's law, which proposes that if one compiles several sources of real world data, the most common leading digit is 1; whereas for 0, it may appear often after rounding to a significant figure.

PS: I also wonder whether people would be capable of immediately determining the digit configuration if all the digits were non-visible due to wear.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Portents of the Year to Come

Though I do not seriously believe in astrology, I did note the prediction for the Rat for the Lunar Year during the Countdown programme. One piece of advice that was given was, "Be careful with money and investments, beware of scams".

Prophetically, at 6:10 am, not even 400 minutes into the new year, I received an SMS. The contents of the SMS are reproduced below:
Congratulations! Your mobile phone no.has won (GBP) 560, 000 pounds in the ongoing Nokia UK promo. For claims, call +44702407 & email: claimprize@europe.com
Thanks to celestial advice I will not be taking up this otherwise fabulous offer.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Findings from Playing Diablo 2 Excessively

It is quite evident from the fact that I am still playing Diablo 2 after more than 10 years that I have spent an excessive amount of time on it. However, it is only recently that I was able to attain a small measure of success in it, completing about 6 of the 7 available classes (I am now attempting the last class).

On Saturday I made an unexpected discovery; I was playing Diablo 2 with my earphones on when I was momentarily distracted by the television behind me (to be entirely accurate, it was the television programme, but this ought to be obvious). Since I was in town, there was no danger of any sudden death by stupid causes, so I removed by earphones and split my attention between the television and the usual logistics tasks done in town (selling loot, repairing gear, cubing etc).

I had an excess of gems, so I cubed them. As I was moving a gem into the Horadric cube, I heard a faint ring. Curious, I repeated the gem movement, and the ring was heard again. This was interesting; the earphones were placed relatively distant from my ears, and yet the faint tone was audible. Perhaps it was because the gem sound was sharp and of high frequency, hence it was more easily transmitted.

I next tried moving other items. Skulls were, perhaps expectedly, quite inaudible from the distance, since the dull "plopping" sound wasn't very sharp. The metallic clang from shields was somewhat more audible, but very significantly less so compared to gems. Charms were quite detectable from a distance, almost similar to gems, though it required some training as the sound wasn't quite as sharp as compared to gems. It was an interesting experiment to run.

Another finding made with the earphones off was that the game seemed to run slower; movements seemed more sluggish, and actions more delayed. In retrospect, sound may actually serve to affect our perception of time; a sound effect may not sound long but may actually occupy a significant amount of time and attention.

Perhaps playing without sound may serve to improve my neurokinetics.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Observations During the Safari Zoo Run

Yesterday, I participated in the Safari Zoo Run '10. It was a run of intermediate distance (6.2km) through the Night Safari and the Singapore Zoo. The route wasn't perfect, with some uneven terrain near the end, and a lot of slopes (minor and major) during some parts of the run. Still, despite my relative lack of training (consider 4 years of no exercise and perhaps 4 weeks of running prior), my run timing was more than satisfactory from my own perspective (42 mins).

Though the attraction of the event was ostensibly being able to view the animals while running, I actually found the fellow runners to be of more interest. Some observations made during the run:

1) The Japanese Trio: There was a group of three Japanese runners, each armed with a digital camera. One of their member would sprint perhaps 100m ahead, and take a photo when the group caught up. Another member would then himself run 100m ahead to take the next photo. In such a leapfrog fashion, they managed to capture photos of themselves during the run. It was quite amusing, and the Japanese runners appeared to be quite enthusiastic and jolly about the entire affair, posing and waving for each photo-take. It couldn't have been an efficient method of running, though; I probably left them behind after perhaps the 1 or 2 km mark.

2) The Tudong Runner: There was a Muslim woman running with the tudong headdress. I do not recall whether she was wearing the Safari Zoo dry-fit running tee; but in any case, running with a piece of cloth covering the head doesn't exactly seem very clean or hygienic. However, I do wonder if a specialized running headdress for Muslim women has been invented; I imagine that a headdress made of dry-fit microfiber (the stuff they make running tees and shorts out of that manages to absorb and evaporate sweat fast) would be better than one made of ordinary cloth.

3. Mother and Child: The Safari Zoo run was partly catered for young runners and the family, hence there were a number of parents running with their children. At around the 1km mark, there was a mother chastising her son (while running) for not adopting the proper running technique, while giving her son pseudo-advice (it's a short distance ! Before you know it it'll be over). If I were to be in the shoes of the son I'll be fairly irritated; I might have been motivated to run faster just to shake her off. Furthermore it is a waste of energy to talk while running.

4. Constantly Overtaken: The runners were dispatched in waves spaced about 5 minutes apart, probably to ensure that the running paths are not clogged with runners (which often happens during runs where bunches of runners can form, much like traffic jams). I was in the second wave. I probably overtook all the people that were slower than myself within the first two kilometers; for the rest of the race, I was constantly being overtaken. But, for the same reason, I could have tried to raise my speed as a result, hence I was faster than I expected (I was expecting 45-50 mins, based on some prior training).

5. Jacked Prices: After the run I went to the convenience store in the zoo, just to take a look at the prices. They were indeed inflated. A bottle of green tea usually costs about \$1 at the right places; in convenience stores, they cost \$2 (due to the 'convenience ' factor); at the zoo, it costs \$3. I am intrigued; the traffic to the zoo couldn't have been poor. The rent must have been high, then.