baseball, WoW, MacBook Pro?
Mood: irritable
Posted on 2007-09-18 11:22:00
Tags: worldofwarcraft cluesolver links
Words: 370

I got a link from a Houston Chronicle blog ("The Unofficial Scorer") - I'm "this little toy"! Of course this is terrible timing since my website will be going down in a few days for a weekish.

djedi sorta convinced me to get me a MacBook Pro which I've been talking about/considering for a while now. Maybe once MacOS 10.5 comes out. It would be nice to play WoW on an officially supported platform - I'm getting paranoid that a patch will come out and break me somehow and make me cry. Also, Macs are neat.

Wow recap:Things went decently last night. For reasons I don't want to go into we lost our healing Paladin (permanently, it sounds like) so we had to pick up a PuG hunter who did pretty well. After a few tries we downed Shade of Aran, hooray! It wasn't too difficult - we used the strategy of letting him run out of mana and do the massive pyroblast before the water elementals show up at 40% health (which were nicely banished and feared by our two warlocks).

Next we tried Terestian Illhoof. He is tough. The first time I AoEd the imps way too early and ran out of mana in like 30 seconds, and we couldn't DPS the Demon Chains down quickly enough so people died left and right. I managed my mana better after that, but we still couldn't DPS the Demon Chains enough and we didn't make significant progress. Not sure how we're going to handle that but eventually we just moved on. Did the Chess Event, no problem - fun and easy!

Our last boss try for the night was Netherspite - we had tried him before briefly, but we had a better idea of portal management, etc. After a few tries we really started to get the hang of it - got him down to 17% on our last try before people had to go. I started using consumables a lot, so I need to pick me up some more of those...

I'm still working half-heartedly on the clue solver, but I need to sit down, concentrate, and design a UI for the webpage. I've been too busy and way too unfocused to do so.


moving on
Mood: sad
Posted on 2007-09-15 23:30:00
Words: 7

I hate saying goodbye. I'll miss people.


Theorycrafting: calculating my DPS
Mood: geeky
Posted on 2007-09-13 10:00:00
Tags: math theorycraft worldofwarcraft
Words: 220

So I whipped up a little DPS calculator which is unfortunately specific to my talent build. Anyway, it's fun to play with. (for me; results may vary if you're someone else) My current numbers are +644 frost dmg, +598 fire dmg, 524 intellect, 222 crit rating, 83 hit rating. This gives me DPS on my frostbolt/fireblast/total as 621/675/630. For fun, what happens if I replace my gear with gear from Kara? (assuming I get all the same enchants)

DPS after changing one piece of gear
Gearfrostbolt/fireblast/total DPS
Harbringer Bands622/675/631
Handwraps of Flowing Thought619/687/630
Brooch of Unquenchable Fury624/678/633
Nethershard Girdle617/668/626
Shadow-Cloak of Dalaran624/676/632
Bands of Nefarious Deeds625/677/634
Gloves of the Aldor (T4)620/687/632
Staff of Infinite Mysteries639/688/647
Malefic Girdle622/671/631
The Lightning Capacitorhahaha I have no idea
Tirisfal Wand of Ascendancy626/680/635
Jewel of Infinite Possibilities630/685/639
Uni-Mind Headdress636/688/644

Whew. There are some big upgrades in there.

In conclusion (before I lose my mind), with my current gear, to get 1 more point of sustained DPS, I need 18 int or 5 spell crit rating or 1.9 spell hit rating or 2.4 +damage or 2.7 +frost damage. So spell hit rating is 1.25 times valuable as +damage, while spell crit rating is about half as valuable. Good to know!


Theorycrafting: spell hit rating and me
Mood: geeky
Posted on 2007-09-12 15:48:00
Tags: math theorycraft worldofwarcraft
Words: 352

Last night some gear dropped in Kara and I was next on the unofficial Suicide Kings list for loot and I couldn't decide whether to take it or not because of stupid spell hit rating. So I'm going to work out how much spell hit rating is useful for me in the hope of avoiding this in the future. This is all based on the Spell hit article in WoWWiki.

For raiding, bosses are considered to be level 73, which means by default I have a 83% chance to hit them with spells. I have 3/3 points in Elemental Precision which gives me +3% hit for Frost and Fire spells (which is all I ever cast on bosses), bringing me to 86%. The maximum hit chance possible is 99%, so that leaves a 13% gap.

1% of spell hit chance is the same as 12.6 points of spell hit at level 70, so that means I need 13*12.6=163.8 spell hit rating to max out. Since I have 5/5 points in Ice Shards, my frost spells crit bonus is 100%. Unlike melee attacks, for spells hit and crit are separate rolls. So 1% of spell crit chance is really worth (chance to hit)%. So spell hit does more good than spell crit. (for fire spells spell hit is even better, since by default the crit bonus is only 50%) It takes 22.1 spell crit rating to get 1% of spell crit chance at level 70.

Summary: I only have 83 spell hit rating with my current gear, so I need another 80 spell hit rating to max that out. When comparing gear, since my current spell hit chance is 92.6%, 1 point of spell hit is worth around (22.1/12.6)/(.926)=1.9 points of spell crit, and this is underestimating spell hit since I do cast fire spells in my normal rotation (frostbolt, frostbolt, fire blast, ...) Also, spell hit is worthless on my PvP gear since my chance to hit is 96%+3%=99% on lvl 70 opponents, which is maxed out.

Next time, how much spell hit/crit is worth versus +spell damage!

Thanks to destroyerj for corrections.


me 1, logic 0
Mood: chipper
Posted on 2007-09-11 09:24:00
Tags: cluesolver
Words: 58

I almost entirely finished the clue solver backend last night, my second day of working on the new approach, and it works correctly and quickly. Take that, first-order and propositional logic!

Started looking at GUI stuff but I really doubt I'll have it done before we disconnect our cable modem here. Something to do in October, I guess :-)

1 comment

Writer's Block: Music: My First Favorite Band
Mood: mellow
Posted on 2007-09-10 11:02:00
Tags: hpmusic music writer's block what do you have to say?
Words: 97

The first band I was a fan of was "Weird Al" Yankovic. This was in middle/high school, and I went through a phase where I listened to exclusively him - no radio, etc. I remember thinking "Why would I listen to popular music when I can hear a lot of popular songs but with funny lyrics?" It was always a thrill when I'd later hear the real version of a song I only knew as a parody. Not being exposed to more popular music always made me feel a little out of touch, though. I wouldn't recommend it.


if music be the food of love
Mood: nervous
Posted on 2007-09-10 09:59:00
Tags: worldofwarcraft cluesolver
Words: 261

I felt fairly blah on Saturday, feeling a real lack of drive and not wanting to do anything or start anything. I expected to be plunged more into blahness yesterday since djedi was leaving, but listening to music I don't get to at work while I read a good book (Three Fortunes in One Cookie - highly recommended!) helped a lot.

In the evening I had football on while I totally rethought my approach to the clue solver. The whole specifying everything in terms of logic just wasn't working at all, and I didn't want to give up on it, so I'm rewriting things to do my own inference, etc. It actually doesn't look that hard and I can take advantage of the fact that some things are much easier for me to understand (one and only one suspect did it) than to specify it in propositional logic, which is what I was down to.

Spent the remainder of the evening installing Galleon and getting rid of my way old program for listening to music on the TiVo. (which didn't shuffle playlists at all) It took me a while to get it working correctly for who-knows-what reason, but it works now.

Kara run was pretty successful - we downed all the stuff we had earlier, plus Curator (hard fight!) and the Chess Event. (which, as Sepp said, was "free loot!") Took a shot at Netherspite for fun and he (it?) kicked our collective asses, finishing at 100% thanks to crazy portals and beams and whatnot.

djedi's interviewing at NI today - wish him luck!


two weeks to yuma...i mean austin
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2007-09-07 09:37:00
Tags: travel cluesolver
Words: 194

We leave two weeks from today! Here's the route we're planning to take, going 6, 8, 8, 4 hours per day, stopping for the night in Ohio, Missouri, and somewhere close to the border between Oklahoma and Texas.

Things are coming together for the move. I'm going to finalize the movers today (going with Bekins), djedi's car is all set up to magically reappear down there, etc. Wish it would just hurry up and happen now. Two weeks isn't too bad though.

We raid Karazhan again tonight! I have high hopes.

The clue solver is not going well. I rewrote it using just propositional logic (no first order logic) last night, and it still gets stuck on very simple queries. I think I may have screwed up the resolution algorithm as it deduces all sorts of unhelpful things, so I guess I'll look at that next. If all else fails I could always just do the Monte Carlo-like simulation omega697 suggested, but I'm going to be disappointed if I can't actually prove things. Oh well.

For the clue GUI I'm thinking of trying out the Google Web Toolkit (GWT) to make a spiffy interface.


nukes, outing
Mood: okay
Posted on 2007-09-06 10:17:00
Tags: poll politics
Words: 191

I'm back at work today, feeling decentish. Took care of canceling utilities and setting up new ones yesterday, which is a load off of my mind. Also, my RFID blocking wallet came so I'm using that now. No more foil in my pants!

Air Force investigates mistaken transport of nuclear materials - yikes.

Per our earlier discussion, here's an article about the guy who's been outing anti-gay politicians. (there was a more biased version of the article in the Washington Post this morning) This isn't exactly the same since Craig was arrested and it seems like Mike Craig just brought that arrest to light, but it brings up the question:

My thoughts (no peeking before you vote!):This is no longer quite the issue it once was, since being gay in and of itself is fairly widely accepted these days. But after being closeted myself for a while, it put a big emotional strain on me to keep it a secret. I get the hypocricy angle, but I don't think outing is justified except in the most extreme situations. I'm also a big believer in keeping one's personal and work lives separate.


weekend, pictures, etc.
Mood: sick
Posted on 2007-09-05 11:45:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 132

djedi and I spent the weekend in New Hampshire with my family, some of whom he hadn't met yet. The weather was pretty nice, especially with nice cool breezes. Had maple syrup, went to a few arts & crafts fairs, did a lot of hanging out. Here are a few pictures, and if anyone could tell me what that pie chart represents, I would be grateful :-)

I picked up either a cold or allergies on Monday, because I was fairly miserable Monday and Tuesday. Feeling betterish today, but gonna stay home sick again and feel better and take care of some of the moving stuff. If all goes well, two weeks from today the movers will come to pack up our stuff - frightening!

Apple announces new stuff today. Will be following on engadget!


Sen. Larry Craig
Mood: busy
Posted on 2007-08-30 10:37:00
Tags: politics
Words: 60

(if you missed the story, see here)

These sort of situations always make me a little uncertain how to feel. I confess to a reaction of schadenfreude simply because he's a Republican. Not good, I know. I'm also sympathetic because it seems fairly clear that he's closeted. (or at least, was) But with the whole hypocrisy angle...blah. (Tom Toles cartoon)


NYC pictures
Mood: calm
Posted on 2007-08-29 09:19:00
Tags: dreams pictures
Words: 165

Pictures from our NYC trip are now up. If you like strange and interesting street signs, this gallery is for you!

djedi had to get up earlier than I did, so when his alarm went off we cuddled for a minute then he got up. I was trying to go back to sleep, but he kept making noise in the bathroom and living room, and occasionally coming back in the bedroom and making more noise so I couldn't. I eventually got irritated and started yelling at him and we got in a nasty fight when it was time for me to get up. Eventually he was ready to go, and he walked out the door while we were still fighting...

...and then I woke up for real. (everything after the first sentence above was a dream) My subconscious loses points for a) having us fighting 2) being very uncreative when it comes to dreaming. A dream about not being able to sleep, how original! Jerk.


LiveJournal auto-post
Posted on 2007-08-28 17:57:00
Words: 223

So, yes, the astros loss was heartbreaking. Being one strike away from the World of Warcraft mod to automatically record guild information and post it to the show skipping both of our planned stops (abstractseaweed ended up not coming) and made it to Orlando (Florida's bigger than I thought, especially the part that we had a nice dinner (steak!). Came back hope and opened presents - David gave me an iPod Photo among other things (thanks!!), which I'm enjoying now. Then I got a summons for jury duty! I'm very excited. Unfortunately they have this new online system to sign up, which worked great, but I feel like I helped out a little bit of interpretation (for example, the artist "The New Broadway Cast Recordin" is the "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" soundtrack). Some interesting things I've discovered:

- I like explicit music (music with explicit lyrics, I mean) better than non-explicit (but this is probably due to the small number of people I knew at Beer-Bike (and WRC didn't even sweep! :-( ) I took some pictures of these too :-)

After that, back to the theater for two more shows. By this point I reaaally wanted to be chosen - it sounded neat and it would be nice to have my Wednesday evenings back.

More frustrating work ahead...

Edit: see my comment below for an explanation.


Mood: hungry
Posted on 2007-08-27 12:05:00
Tags: poll
Words: 54

I need a new wallet. I feel bad because my nice current wallet was a high school graduation present from my late grandfather, but that was 8 years ago and my credit cards are starting to fall out of it, which is bad.

A geeky one would be nice. Here's one option, here's another.


in a new york minute
Mood: awake
Posted on 2007-08-27 10:28:00
Tags: travel
Words: 846

We're back from our NYC trip - I have lots of pictures that hopefully I'll get around to posting this week. I twittered some while we were there. My highlights, djedi style:

It was fun, and I'm glad we went when it's only a short train trip away!


a big apple a day...
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2007-08-23 10:21:00
Tags: cluesolver
Words: 207

(can't think of any other aphorisms with "apple"...I'm open to suggestions...)

NYC trip today - for some reason I wasn't really excited about it earlier this week (generally kinda blah), but I'm really looking forward to it. Train trips are fun!

As Fire Joe Morgan points out, the Orioles lost to the Rangers 30-3 (after being up 3-0)...and the Rangers pitcher earned a save.

I've been stalling on my clue solver because the first-order logic stuff isn't working out. One problem is that I chose to define equality as any old relation (adding the rules "Eq(x,x)", "Eq(x,y)=>Eq(y,x)", "(Eq(x,y)&Eq(y,z))=>Eq(x,z)" and rules for every other function that equality preserves it), but this makes the resolver build up a huge list of useless sentences.

So I've been thinking about it, and I think I am going to go the more propositional route, since there are a very small number of people and cards, and using relations like "Player(x)" and "Card(x)" leads to more complicated sentences and seems to give the resolver trouble. I'd still like a concise way to maybe specify the first-order logic rules using those relations but then expanding them out to all the possibilities, but this seems tricky at best. I'll think about it on the train trip :-)


it all seems more real now
Mood: bouncy
Posted on 2007-08-21 17:16:00
Words: 10

I told my coworkers I'm leaving. It went pretty well.

1 comment

clue solver!
Mood: nervous
Posted on 2007-08-21 13:36:00
Tags: projects cluesolver
Words: 448

When I was growing up1, I didn't play Clue much. There was that game where we drew three random cards for the solution and ended up with two weapons or something like that. We never played with the rule that if you suggested someone they moved into your room, or that your suggestion had to include the room you were in (I think). And I remember at least one game where everyone showed you a card instead of just one person. My strategy was always to simply mark off cards I had seen, which was not terribly successful when I started playing with friends who played with the "real" rules.

I finally figured out (or refigured out? maybe I knew this before? my memory - unreliable...) a better strategy on this last visit to Austin, which is to use the information about if other people have certain cards or not. So for every suggestion that someone makes, when someone passes I write down on each of those three cards that that person doesn't have them, and when someone shows a card I write down that they have one of those three cards, and using that information you can learn a lot. The last game I played I didn't win, but I was pretty close to knowing what the solution was.

So, I thought it would be a fun project to write a Clue solver - that is, something on which you indicate the information you see (Mary made the following suggestion and it got passed around until John showed a card) and it deduces everything it can from that.

My current approach is to specify rules in first-order logic and use some sample code from my old AI book (AIMA) to figure things out. Unfortunately, the rules don't lead to definite clauses, so I think forward chaining is out. I've been trying to use resolution, but it doesn't work right and is slow. Maybe I'll try backward-chaining instead. If I have to I'll break down and write Clue-specific code to figure things out but it would be really awesome if I can get it working just by specifying the correct rules.

If you're following along at home in your copy of AIMA, I've been reading a lot of Chapter 9. :-)

I found this class project to do something similar (here's the project description (pdf)) which has a good explanation of resolution and the rule-based approach, although they seem to be using propositional logic and not first-order logic. Which might be what it takes to make it work in a reasonable amount of time.

1 - I fully expect wonderjess to correct me here since my memory is pretty horrible. (back)


new glasses
Mood: okay
Posted on 2007-08-17 16:48:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 23

Old glasses:
New glasses:

Really, not a lot of difference. (except they don't fall off of my face and I can see better)


beckham scores
Mood: awake
Posted on 2007-08-16 09:08:00
Tags: soccer
Words: 34

He scored his first goal against DC United. Gotta find me some YouTube of it when I get home.

Just gotta make it until lunch then I get to run errands and such! Yay!


Haskell wearing me down
Mood: worried
Posted on 2007-08-15 10:57:00
Tags: math haskell projects
Words: 344

but first, math!

From last time - the answer is that they're not symmetric. If a=10, b=11, c=20, then C enters A's stall at time 10 and you get to enter B's stall at time 11. However, if a=20, b=11, c=10, then C enters B's stall at time 11 and you have to hold it until time 20. More formally, the time you have to wait is

min(min(a,b) + c, max(a,b))

Using the formulas min(a,b) = (a+b-|a-b|)/2 and max(a,b) = (a+b+|a-b|)/2, this expression simplifies down to (a+b+c-|c-|a-b||)/2, which is clearly not symmetric in a and c. I'd be interested to see how this formula works for more people and stalls - it seems to blow up pretty quickly, although it would be easy to write a program to calculate it. I have a gut feeling that you want the fastest people earlier in the line (ideally if there are n stalls the n-1 slowest people will be all in their stalls when you get to go in, so you don't have to wait for them) but proving that seems rather tricky.

When will LJ get inline LaTeX?? :-)

Good article about risk management and terrorism (via schneier)

I'm making good progress rewriting the Pretty Pictures picture generator in Haskell - it spits out valid PPM images that look correct for simple cases, but it needs more testing. (and I need to see if browsers support PPM natively or if I have to convert to PNG which would be a pain) I'm not enjoying it a whole lot, though. The idea of learning Haskell was to expand my mind and change the way I programmed, and I guess it has done that some, but I always feel handcuffed when I sit down and try to do seemingly easy things, like write out a raw PNG file. (got about halfway there and said forget it)

To antidote this (yes, it's a verb!) I think my next project will be less challenging technically and more interesting, like involving lots of neat data (census? past wars?) and some sort of neat visualization. (R?) We'll see.


Mood: relaxed
Posted on 2007-08-13 12:56:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 14

I put up pictures from Jessica's visit and a few from this weekend. Enjoy!


weekend at bengies
Mood: pessimistic
Posted on 2007-08-13 10:32:00
Tags: math
Words: 336

Does anyone know why the I-95 tunnel under Baltimore Harbor is a tunnel and not a bridge? Is it cheaper or something? Hmm, according to Wikipedia:

Original plans called for an eight-lane bridge across the Baltimore Harbor to complete the final segment of Interstate 95 in Maryland. However, it was determined that a bridge would have had a negative environmental and aesthetic impact on the nearby National Monument and Historic Site at Fort McHenry and the neighboring residential communities of Locust Point and Fells Point.

(see previous complaining about Bengies) This time we didn't have to wait in line at the snack bar right before the movie (we wised up and got popcorn early), so we got to hear the entire rambling speech about reading the house rules and following the rules and how important they were, etc., etc. A bunch of old-timey clips played before the movie, about following the rules and all sorts of crap, including a short admonition to "Regularly visit a house of religious worship".

Also, the announcer guy often talks as the movie is starting, which is annoying. The Simpsons Movie (the first feature) starts with an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon, in which you briefly see a banner "Itchy/Hillary 2008". He then said something like "Sorry about the banner" or similar. (wasn't expecting to hear that so I wasn't listening for it) That made me kinda mad.

Here's an interesting problem I thought of as I was waiting in line at the bathroom - let's say there are two bathroom stalls occupied by people A and B, and one person C in line in front of you. Assuming that the people take a fixed amount of time (A takes a time, B takes b time, C takes c time), you can calculate the time until you get to enter a stall. Exercise for the reader: this time is clearly symmetric between A and B - is it symmetric between A and C? (I figured it out on my way out of the bathroom :-) )


escalefters, or escalumps
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2007-08-11 12:24:00
Words: 165

Funny article in the Washington Post about people who stand to the left (the wrong side) on Metro escalators, and how they're trying to combat that. Two interesting things:

- The 230-foot-long set of moving stairs at the Wheaton stop is the longest escalator in the Western Hemisphere, according to Metro! Maybe we should go sometime :-)

- You might wonder why they can't just put a sign up, but apparently

Metro also does not post signs advising riders where to stand. Agency officials said they are prohibited from putting up "Stand to the Right" signs because the national safety code for elevators and escalators does not allow non-cautionary signs to be posted within 10 feet of an escalator.

That seems kinda silly to me. There's also a Maryland law stating that you can't have people walk on an escalator if it's not working (i.e. just using it as stairs), which seems bizarre unless there was some sort of horrible escalator accident. Which is pretty hard to imagine.


haaaaapy birthday david!
Mood: happy
Posted on 2007-08-11 12:09:00
Words: 11

Happy birthday djedi! On the agenda: presents, dinner, movies at Bengies.


Go earlier/later

This backup was done by LJBackup.