Archive for January, 2013

Small World: Review

Posted in default on January 20th, 2013 at 20:25:00

Small World is a game I’ve been interested in since I saw the first episode of Tabletop; it seemed a somewhat complex, but interesting game.

When thinking up gifts this Christmas, Kristan and I decided that it would be an interesting thing to get for Julie.

Today, we played for the first time, and it was fun! It was definitely a bit long for the first game — about two hours — but I think it’ll be a lot quicker the second time around. (It’s also a type of game that I could see working well on a computer — the physical interactions with all the options requires a fair amount of interpretation that isn’t trivially internalized.)

The basic idea of the เว็บพนันบอล ดีที่สุด game isn’t much different from Risk: You have territories. You conquer other territories. As yo are conquered, you lose pieces. Once you lose enough pieces, you pick a different race and start over; the end-game goal is to get as many ‘tokens’ (game points) as possible.

The race choices you have are limited to five at any given time, rotating through a set of 15; each race gets combined with a special power — things like “Flying”, which gives the ability to conquer non-adjacent territories, or “Mounted” which lowers the cost of conquering Farmland and Hills.

Since the race + power combinations are random (shuffle the deck of cards), you can get interesting combinations. Bivouwacking gives you 5 extra defense tokens to deploy as you wish, combined with Halflings, whose initial two regions can’t be conquered at all.

For Alicia, Kristan and I, the game was quite enjoyable and picked up throughout; Julie was a bit slower to pick it up, and lagged slightly towards the end of the game, but that doesn’t surprise me with ~2 hours of back and forth.

For people who like board games, I think that Small World would be a positive addition to any gaming collection, and I look forward to the chance to play with some friends who might be interested in the future.

My Job, simply: Local Search, Up-Goer Five Edition

Posted in default on January 20th, 2013 at 16:00:39

This morning, a couple of my friends shared their job descriptions in a text editor designed to only allow you to use the 1000 (or ‘ten hundred’) most commonly used words, inspired by an xkcd comic describing the Saturn V rocket using the same conditions.

I tried to do the same, describing my job working on the Local Search team for Nokia:

I try to take the words that people type into their phones and find the places they are looking for. Sometimes people can not type very well, which makes it harder. Sometimes the places that people are looking for are not places we know about, which also makes finding them harder.

I work on finding which places we show people, and which places we do not show people. There are many people who work on this problem. They use computers from their homes to tell me which searches show the right place.

Once we know which places are right, we tell a computer to try to show the right place more often. The computer looks at all the places it knows about, and tries to guess which way it should order the places to make sure as many people find the right place as possible.

Searching for places is a hard job. You need to know about places, know how people type when they try to find places, and put the best place first on a phone.

Edited based on feedback from a friend on Facebook to change the idiomatic use of the word “return”; original.

It was actually a fair amount easier than I thought — perhaps I didn’t go into as much detail as I would otherwise, and the writing certainly feels a bit stilted, but there was no part of my job that I felt I couldn’t describe reasonably well.


Posted in default on January 13th, 2013 at 01:58:40

Aaron Swartz was an incredible guy. He was constantly successful in making me feel completely inadequate — which is generally a pretty hard thing to do — and I can claim more success in my life than I would otherwise have had thanks to Aaron’s influence.

The world is worse off without him. My best to all his friends and family.

As a result of Aaron’s passing, I am going to change my recent practice of doing many things on Facebook only. Before, I would also have ensured that my content was made available in places that weren’t Facebook, because I felt that the freedom that other platforms offered me — as well as long term stability — were important. Of late, I have not stuck to that ideal — but the fact that I haven’t is a regression from a belief that I have always had, that sharing things only in walled gardens hurts everyone.

I think this is the kind of thing that I would have frowned upon in myself a decade ago, and there is no less reason now that it should upset me. Sharing information only in a single closed platform is bad for everyone. It’s time to go back to sticking to those principles, and making my information as free as it can be. (There are practical limits to anything, but “I’m a lazy bum” isn’t a good enough excuse.)