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Chris the Tratcher

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Paris? [Dec. 23rd, 2010|09:17 am]
Chris the Tratcher
So we're looking at going to Paris soon.  Suggestions?  (Note: we don't speak French.) 

Best resource I've found so far: http://wikitravel.org/en/Paris
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Lost in translation [Dec. 11th, 2010|03:52 pm]
Chris the Tratcher
So that was an un-expected adventure today.  Jenny and I went to the temple this morning only to find out when we got there that the session  we'd planned on going to would be in Spanish, with translation headsets for the rest of us.  That alone would have been a new interesting experience for me, but it turns out that my headset didn't actually work most of the time.  Come to find out I remember more Spanish than I thought I did, though it helps to have a good idea of what's going on.  Cool.
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Voting with your... [Nov. 16th, 2010|10:52 pm]
Chris the Tratcher
So the recent TSA policy issue is pretty amusing. One point that came up that does interest me is can they get away with it without bankrupting the airlines? While we've repeatedly proven that our voting ballots don't mean much, we still have other options for expressing our opinions. This one I'll call voting with your wallet. At what point will we deem airport security such a hassle that we decide to make other plans? Sadly I don't think most of us are much more than complainers on the subject. I don't think we have what it takes to say no and then actually walk away. Prove me wrong.
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(no subject) [Sep. 23rd, 2010|10:17 pm]
Chris the Tratcher
[Current Mood |amusedamused]

 "You're just making that up because it's true, aren't you?"
- Kate E

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Fun with old friends [Aug. 21st, 2010|07:13 pm]
Chris the Tratcher
[Current Mood |happyhappy]

 This has been a cool day, so I'm going to write it down while I still remember it.

Back story:
A few weeks after graduating high school I went to a week long church youth camp over in Idaho.  Had some fun, met some new people, came home.  Only ended up keeping in contact with one person named Marcy, and even that was sporadic (except while I was on a mission we wrote quite often).  For friends that I still keep in contact with, she's known me longer than anyone else.

This weekend Marcy came road tripping through Seattle.  After 8 years of only written communication, here we are in person again, introducing one another to our spouses, and catching up on a lot of history.  Awesome. Weird, :¬) but Awesome.  

We went out to dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory, wandered Seattle mocking the art, stayed up late talking, they crashed on our futon, made waffles, and went to the Ren Fair.  I think I can safely say a good time was had by all.

It's really weird to think that one can maintain a real relationship with a person over such distance and time through only sporadic written communication, only to come back together and on some levels pick up right where you left off.

They're on their way to teach English in France, so we've promised to visit next spring.  I am really looking forward to it!
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(no subject) [Jul. 31st, 2010|11:30 am]
Chris the Tratcher
My phone has brainz! J and I finally upgraded to smart phones with a data plans.

We still don't text. E-mail, IM, or call us.
I'll actually be online during the day now, but I probably won't remember to look at my phone very often.
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Nerdy Doings [Jul. 15th, 2010|07:18 pm]
Chris the Tratcher
In reference to my previous Scotland Yard post...  

So I decided to give it a start.  I spent way too much time on a fancy map editor, and learned all sorts of things about the game in the process:
The board I have must be very old (1985).  There's no 108 on the board.  Later editions fixed this by getting ride of 200 and shifting a few numbers around.  The artwork also appears to have been updated.
Board Game Geek has all sorts of useful links to user generated content including a high-res board image with real satellite images mapped under it.  The spreadsheet list of routes was handy too, except for the dozen or so inaccuracies and typos.  I haven't even tried looking through the alternate scenarios people have posted (Blade Runner, etc).

Once I had built the map editor and generated a very detailed data file, I finally started on a simple game engine.  It's up and running to the point where I have an AI that just picks randomly from the available moves, and a simple overall infrastructure to let me run x number of games in a row just to see how this random AI works.  It turns out that when everybody starts at a random location and moves randomly, the Fugitive wins ~40% of the time.  Interestingly it didn't seam to matter if you picked random locations from the dozen specified in the rules, or from anywhere on the board.

Now is a good time for all the AI nerds reading this to put in ideas (while I slush out the engine a little).  What optimizations can be made to help either the detectives or the fugitive, starting with the simplest possible optimizations.  Here's a few thoughts:

- Don't get yourself caught by moving into a location currently occupied by a detective.  You can always see the detectives.
- Prefer moves that don't put you adjacent to a detective.  (May be overridden by a more risky strategy later)
- Use a double move ticket if you're adjacent to a detective, especially if you're visible.
- Use black tickets when leaving a visible location, or when all possible destinations are adjacent to a detective.

- If the Fugitive is visible and adjacent to your current location, move there to capture him.
- During the first two turns when the fugitive has not yet become visible, move towards the closest major transit hubs.
- Attempt to balance ticket usage, especially when there are two links of the different types to the same destination.
- Avoid moving somewhere that would leave you stranded (because you'd run out of tickets)
- Project the fugitive's possible locations based on their last visible position and subsequent moves.  Coordinate the detectives to intercept potential routes.

If you'd like to play with actual code, let me know and we'll work something out.  I learned from Dominion that most people would rather theorize than code.

Log of interesting things I've found so far (This will be updated):
- When everybody just moves randomly:
-- The fugitive wins 40% of the time.
-- Using the stock staring locations is no different than using completely random locations.
-- (Optimization) If the fugitive avoids moving into a space occupied by a detective, the fugitive wins 68% of the time.
-- (Optimization) If the fugitive avoids moving to a space adjacent to a detective, the fugitive wins 98% of the time.
- (Cheating Optimization) If the detectives always move geographically towards the fugitive (cheating to know where the fugitive currently is), the detectives win 93% of the time with the above fugitive optimizations.  Without them the detectives win 100% of the time.
- (Cheat removed) Have the fugitives move towards the last known position of the fugitive.  For a random fugitive the detectives win 99% of the time.  For a fugitive optimized as above, the fugitive wins 50% of the time.
- (Optimization) For the first two rounds when the fugitive is not visible, have the detectives move towards transit hubs.  Against a random fugitive the detectives with 99.98% of the time. Against the evasive fugitive as optimized so far the detectives win 64% of the time.
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(no subject) [Jul. 7th, 2010|06:55 pm]
Chris the Tratcher
 Today I walked 5 miles round trip to re-renew my drivers license because it was just as fast as taking the bus.

I count at least four things wrong with that sentence.
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Nerd thought of the week - Scotland Yard [Jun. 29th, 2010|07:59 am]
Chris the Tratcher
 So my nerdy thoughts of the week have been focused on the board game Scotland Yard.  Think fugitive the board game.  Mr X has to survive 30 rounds without getting caught.  Five collaborating detectives have to track him down.  Each turn everybody can take a taxi, bus, or subway (if available at your location).  Mr X almost always has to reveal what mode of transportation he used, but only actually shows himself on the board every 4ish turns.  True to the bureaucratic spirit of a police force, the detectives have a limited numbers of taxi, bus, and subway fair tickets to get the job done.

At first glance it looked like a very strait forward graph problem.  Then I realized there were lots of special considerations to the algorithms.
1. Mr X doesn't have a destination, he is simply taking evasive action.
2. The detectives have a moving target that they can only see every 4ish turns.  They have to extrapolate where he might be the rest of the time.
3. Collisions - Only one detective may be in a specific location at a time.
4. Collaboration - you must coordinate all of the detectives together to effectively coral Mr X.
5. Resources - All links have a cost of one, but of three (actually 4) different kinds of resources.  A taxi fair ticket does not work on the bus or subway and vice versa.  You will run out of at least one kind and be significantly limited in your effectiveness.  Mr X has unlimited fairs, except for the special black ticket that lets him use any type of transit (and swim across the river) without telling you what type he took.

(I can't decide if I want to actually implement the game / algorithms, or just discuss them.  For a change of pace I'm actually doing a reasonable amount of coding at work, so this might have to wait.)

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Nerdy, but realllyyy??? [Jan. 28th, 2010|07:38 pm]
Chris the Tratcher
[Current Mood |nerdynerdy]

Random nerdy oddities lately.

Why is every mac I run across lately running Windows 7?

Chat-bots that speak french FOR you:

Who in their wrong mind designed OAuth authentication?
14+ hops to authenticate a request. Reallly??? Optimal is 2. Avg is 4. Bad is 6. But 14???
This thing must be secure. Nobody could possibly get 14 hops in a row to work. Especially when two of them require direct user interaction.
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