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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

High Speed Chase!

The weather was beautiful today with the sudden drop in humidity, so I went out for a hill ride right after work.

I was headed south on Route 2 in North Stonington, about 3/4 mile north of the intersection with Route 95, when I started hearing sirens. Lots of sirens, and screaming engines. Coming straight at me, from the direction I was headed.

Wanting to return home fully intact, I got off the road and watched. A few seconds later, an ugly, old, beat up racer (like a suped-up datsun, maybe?) cam FLYING over the hill. Literally, all four wheels left the ground for a second. There was then a bang as he bottomed out, and some screaming wheels as he swerved around around the car in front of him (into the oncoming traffic lane which was currently empty).

Right on his tail was a long line of police cars. At least nine of them, I think it was ten but I stopped counting after five. All of them with different sirens screaming their warnings, all of them getting a little air as they crested the hill, all of them coming down with a bang. Even the SUV.

Dramatic!

Dramatic, and stupidly dangerous. There are pedestrians and other cyclists on that road, and the traffic averages about 40mph in that section. Believe me when I say you have to be going a lot more than 40 to actually leave the ground on that little rise.

A little further up, I pulled over and sent Corinne a message, letting her know what I'd just seen. (She tends to worry if I'm on the bike and she hears sirens! I was still miles from home, but wanted to let her know I was ok.)

While I was writing the message, two of the police cars pulled onto the same road and parked next to each other, facing opposite directions as they often do. I saw one of the cops looking at me so I yelled to her, "That was crazy!" She agreed. I asked what it was all about, but she didn't know what to say. (Maybe she honesty didn't know why they were chasing him!?) I said, "You all had to be going at least 90" (mph). She pointed up… repeatedly. As in, "a lot more than 90." :-(

Last thing she told me before I rode off was that they'd been chasing him from Westerly. That's two towns and one state over (Westerly, RI -> Pawcatuck, CT -> North Stonington, CT) from where they flew past me.

Home safe and sound, though.

I wonder if they caught him!?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Wisdom Teeth

This article on wisdom-teeth removal being a scam is the second one I've seen in a week. Perhaps people are starting to realize that wisdom teeth aren't a mistake? That some discomfort as they come in is to be expected?

I should note, though. that this doesn't affect me at all, I simply find it interesting (but not surprising). My wisdom teeth never grew in, at all. X-rays show nothing there, not even an aborted attempt at the teeth.

Also, I still have two primary molars. In both cases, my current dentist expressed surprise. Primaries aren't meant to last this long, but nothing grew under them to push them out and yet those old boys are perfectly healthy. He says the lack of any attempt at wisdom teeth is much rarer and he can't explain it. Maybe I'm not human?

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Creating Great Mobile Apps! (snark)

The following is a re-post of something I said on Facebook just over a year ago. The topic came up today in a conversation on Twitter so I figured it was time to move it to here where others can see it.

Written after Twist went under.


How to create a great mobile (iPhone/Android) app in the current business climate:

  1. Go to school, fail math. HARD.
  2. Have an idea for a cool product.
  3. Get your programming buddies together, create a demo.
  4. Optional: Show it to a venture capitalist. Get lots of money to grease the skids for the first release.
  5. Finish the app.
  6. Release the app. Make it free for everybody. You'll make it up in volume! (See step 1.)
  7. Get lots of users.
  8. Wonder why you're not yet profitable.
  9. (Optional) Get more money from the vulture capitalists!
  10. Spend lots of money on marketing.
  11. Spend lots of time on a big update that makes the app prettier and funnerer.
  12. Wonder why you're still not profitable!
  13. Go out of business. Disappoint the millions of users who would have paid for your app had you let them.
  14. Blame the system. The app store. The market. The business climate. Never consider your own utter failure at math, because who needs math when you have millions of customers ^d^d^d^d^d^d^d^d^d users!
  15. Return to step 2, wiser and stronger for your failure, to create an even better business based on a free app (in a completely different space).

This just keeps happening.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Swift Spirals

Yesterday on Quora a particular Math question caught my attention and fired up my imagination. I've already linked to it, but here's how the question was worded:

Four persons K, L, M, and N are initially at the four corners of a square of side 'd'. Each person now moves with a uniform speed of 'v' in such a way that K always moves directly towards L, L directly towards M, M directly towards N and N directly towards K. At what time will the four persons meet?

(Why say they are people and then not give them real names? I thought that was funny.)

Let me rephrase the question. Four people (or uh... dots) are at the corners of a very large square. They're all going to move at the same time, and keep moving until they touch. Each person moves toward the person at the next corner of the square in the clockwise direction. (So the person at the top left moves toward the person at the top right.)

I didn't care about the actual question there at the end, "at what time will the four person's meet?" I was just interested in the path they would each travel, the shape it would form.

Now keep in mind that each person is always moving towards the next person, not towards the corner where that person started.

It was obviously going to be a spiral in toward the center. Could I write a program that would simulate this travel?

Yes, I could! Here's an Xcode Playground file (written in Swift) that demonstrates the whole thing. It's not fancy, but it does show the spiral being drawn and I've kept the math self-contained in a couple of functions.

Update

Here's the same thing in some javascript, running in the browser.


  var graphSide = 500.0
  
  function sqrx ) {
      return ( x * x );
  }
  
  var Point = functionxy ) {
      this.x = x;
      this.y = y;
  };
  
  // thanks to my buddy Pythagoras
  Point.prototype.distFromPoint = functionpointB ) {
      return Math.sqrt(sqr(pointB.x - this.x) + sqr(pointB.y - this.y));
  };
  
  var actorA = new Point00 );
  var actorB = new PointgraphSide0 );
  var actorC = new PointgraphSidegraphSide );
  var actorD = new Point0graphSide );
  
  var distToMove = 2;
  var lineWidth = 2.0;
  
  var canvasctx;
  
  function initSpirals() {
      canvas = document.getElementById"spiralCanvas" );
      canvas.width = graphSide;
      canvas.height = graphSide;
      ctx = canvas.getContext("2d");
      
      document.getElementById("runButton").addEventListener("click"runButtonClickedfalse);
      document.getElementById("resetButton").addEventListener("click"resetButtonClickedfalse);
  }
  initScripts.push(initSpirals);
  
  function reset() {
      actorA = new Point00 );
      actorB = new PointgraphSide0 );
      actorC = new PointgraphSidegraphSide );
      actorD = new Point0graphSide );
      
      var canvas = document.getElementById"spiralCanvas" );
      var context = canvas.getContext("2d");
      
      context.clearRect(00canvas.widthcanvas.height);
  }
  
  function runButtonClickede ) {
      reset();
      window.setTimeoutincrementWalkers0 );
  }
  
  function resetButtonClickede ) {
      reset();
  }
  
  // find a new point on the line between a and b
  function moveFromAToBpointApointBdist ) {
      var dist_total = pointA.distFromPointpointB );
      var newX = pointA.x + ( ( dist * (pointB.x - pointA.x) ) / dist_total )
      var newY = pointA.y + ( ( dist * (pointB.y - pointA.y) ) / dist_total )
      
      return new PointnewXnewY );
  }
  
  function moveAndDrawFromAToBpointApointBdist ) {
      var dest = moveFromAToBpointApointBdist );
      
      ctx.moveTopointA.xpointA.y );
      ctx.lineWidth = lineWidth;
      ctx.lineTodest.xdest.y );
      ctx.stroke();
      
      return dest;
  }
  
  // incrementWalkers is its own function so that we can see the 
  // image updating in an animated fashion. If it was just done in 
  // a loop, then all we'd see is the finished product.
  function incrementWalkers() {
      if ( actorA.distFromPointactorB ) < distToMove * 1.001 )
      {
          return;
      }
      
      // draw lines from old to new locations
      var destA = moveAndDrawFromAToB(actorAactorBdistToMove);
      var destB = moveAndDrawFromAToB(actorBactorCdistToMove);
      var destC = moveAndDrawFromAToB(actorCactorDdistToMove);
      var destD = moveAndDrawFromAToB(actorDactorAdistToMove);
      
      // update actors with new locations
      actorA = destA;
      actorB = destB;
      actorC = destC;
      actorD = destD;
      
      lineWidth = lineWidth * 0.99;
      
      window.setTimeoutincrementWalkers0 );
  }
  
Friday, December 26, 2014

More Tragedy, Status Update

A lot of Corinne's friends have heard by now that Shane's cousin (same age) was killed on Christmas Eve, down in the Lancaster, PA, area.

A very good friend just called me to see how we were handling things, considering our history with Shane; so it seems like this would be a good time to clear things up as best I can.

Stephanie Kilhefner was Shane's cousin on his Dad's side (his father's brother's daughter). She had two kids. Her husband turned himself in and confessed to everything yesterday. I'm not going to offer any details, or even links to the story, but I've already given enough info that you can google it if you want to be grossed out.

(We hear about stuff like this in the news all the time, but it's grosser when it's closer.)

To answer the main question being asked by the friend that called: we're ok. I knew of this cousin but had never met her. Corinne knew her and was friends with her on Facebook but hadn't seen her since before we met, so it's probably been twenty years.

There's nothing "good" about this. There's no "phew, that's a relief." What we have here is another Kilhefner tragedy, the third big one (that I'm aware of) in the last eleven years.

So we're hurting for them. We know their pain, we're intimately familiar with it, and we're reminded strongly of it. But we're not living it ourselves right now, except vicariously.


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