Archive for September, 2009

This Week’s Tweets

Sep 30th, 2009
  • @slummymummy1 Don't worry, 'unstructured first year' probably saves you from DM hood. in reply to slummymummy1 #
  • Oooh, got brought an Aperature Science mug. #
  • @rockpapershot Eeep?! They pulled them? Due to the layout problems, or just other reasons? (Assuming you can even say) in reply to rockpapershot #
  • @PrincessZelda Oh no! What happened? in reply to PrincessZelda #
  • Overheard child pestering her Dad to buy some lamb kidney. Very atypical child there. #
  • Very much lost dwarf fortress nack! Running very low on food and drink! #
  • @MsKitton Good to hear! Also, 'woo yay'? B3ta perchance? in reply to MsKitton #
  • Gaaah! Seriously, how is anyone sane at the end of a PhD? #
  • RT @charltonbrooker: Schedule psst: Gameswipe is on Tue 29th Sept, BBC4,10pm: http://bit.ly/7nYxj — aimed at both gamers and game-sceptics. #
  • Noise downstairs again. They really are inconsiderate buggers. Chatting to other flat in the building and everyone seems annoyed by them. #
  • Vending machine ate my 20p, making me sad. Will have to buy chocolate from a non-cheaty source #
  • Wow! Gameswipe is trending. Should be good though. #
  • @charltonbrooker Very much enjoyed Gameswipe. Was pleased to see older stuff in there, and not just the top ten from the past two years. in reply to charltonbrooker #
  • @ashens Hehe, I'm glad I wasn't the only one growling 'she was his housekeeper damnit!' at that point. in reply to ashens #
  • Cock. Why is it always Windows that cocks up my dual/tripple boot setup. Will need to repair it all tomorrow. #
  • Pft. Does the sun's weather forcast also claim that it 'backs' rain, and later that it rained 'cause the sun said so? #

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This Week’s Tweets

Sep 23rd, 2009
  • @ashens Oooh, care to reveal any details? I have a small suspicion as to what it may be. in reply to ashens #
  • Why on earth is one of the Jonas brother's birthday wishes trending? I thought twitter was supposed to be uncool with teens. #
  • @kierongillen Is wombed bread safe to google at work? in reply to kierongillen #
  • @rockpapershot Looking fancy, albeit still sluggish. Forum looks much improved, though I still need to explore it in depth. in reply to rockpapershot #
  • Uneven sausage cookage leads me to conclude that I have a wonky grill. (And to suddenly feel self concious about the fact I'm not vege) #
  • @OyeBilly But I like the skin! Unless we are talking about bananas. But otherwise, most skin is tasty. in reply to OyeBilly #
  • @OyeBilly Ahh. My squid experience is probably insufficient to conclude as to whether I prefer it with or without skin. in reply to OyeBilly #
  • @slummymummy1 I'm in the lab. It would probably get me sacked, or worse, covered in nasty chemicals. in reply to slummymummy1 #
  • Gah! I HATE disco stick, or whatever it's called. #
  • Have the horrible feeling that I'm forgetting something important! #
  • Huh? Where's my avatar gone? #
  • No bacon rolls due to 'half day.' However I won't be taking half day either. Bah! #
  • Why do the interwebs keep trying to sell me weight loss programs and teeth whitening stuff? #
  • Bet @Derrenbrown 's latest trick works by getting you to sit in a manner in which it is physically difficult to stand. #
  • Yup, if you sit legs straight in front, back into sofa and hands placed fingers in at top of legs is v. difficult to stand. Possible but … #
  • 'course, if it does work that way, is still a neat trick. Wonder what kind of padding we'll get this week? #Derrenbrown #
  • Much better than last week, and looking like my prediction is wrong. #Derrenbrown #
  • Mwhahah! Okay, I was right. #
  • Just had a wasp try and repeatedly dive bomb my lips. #
  • Great analysis of dating replies over on okcupid. (via B3ta) I especially love the performance of the word zombie. http://bit.ly/12haVb #
  • Gahh! Major follow spam! #
  • 11 followers in 9 minutes!, all spammers. #
  • Back into playing a bit of Dwarf Fortress. Embarked somewhere where all the surface water dried up come summer. Need underground river! #
  • @LadyMcScamp To be fair, I'm pretty sure his daughters would regret it; when he trired to CUT IT OFF WITH A KNIFE. in reply to LadyMcScamp #
  • Fed up of the bulkiness of my neolithic MP3 player. Contemplating upgrade. #
  • Eeep, half the trending topics are just spam. #
  • University didn't deliver registration forms for '4th' year. Treck across city to join long queue. Would prefer to be doing actual work. #
  • @bengoldacre I'm more annoyed by their atrocious links to papers. No excuse in a world of dois and short urls. http://bit.ly/kCkLp in reply to bengoldacre #
  • @bengoldacre Unfortunately never seen a paper linked directly from a newspaper, occasionally links to journal front pages. in reply to bengoldacre #
  • @bengoldacre 'Atrocious' was somewhat of an understatement, and 'non-existent' would have been more accurate. in reply to bengoldacre #
  • @bengoldacre Come to think of it, do any of your links to papers survive the cut? I'm more used to reading on your blog. in reply to bengoldacre #

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This Week’s Tweets

Sep 16th, 2009
  • RT @TechCrunch Twitpocalypse II Coming To A Twitter Client Near You This Friday http://bit.ly/10w5m7 #
  • #DerrenBrownLotteryPrediction Simple sleight of hand? I doubt collusion with Camelot. Camera trickery would be out of keeping with him… #
  • @SarahFCraig Difficulty with that is the number of combinations involved. More likely somehow assembled sequence after event. in reply to SarahFCraig #
  • Just seen a diet advert in which the 'before' photo appears to be a pregnant woman. Lose 10lb in 1 week it says. Hmmm. #
  • @DerrenBrown Will be dissapointed if its just camera trickery. in reply to DerrenBrown #
  • @bremxjones Mainly due to RPS and PC gaming in general. in reply to bremxjones #
  • Gah! Flat beneath being noisy again. Hope they don't go on 'till half twelve again. Sounds like guitar practice tonight… #
  • @antonvowl You owe me the braincells I just destroyed bashing my head against the heel of my hand after reading that comment. in reply to antonvowl #
  • Gahh! Now things have stopped inducing! Why? Why would they do that? #science #rant #
  • Main TV in use by temporary flatmates, so watching Derren Brown on analogue via 6cm long aerial. Quality VERY poor! #
  • So how long is @DerrenBrown going to bullshit us for before he reveals that his numbers were only determined AFTER the draw? #
  • More impressed by the mouse trick than the lottery one. #
  • @DerrenBrown is still clearly trying to mislead us #
  • Talk about misdirection, I'm pretty sure he's been flat out lying so far. #DerrenBrownLotteryPrediction #
  • Oooh, just noticed how all previous guesses also came AFTER the draw. #DerrenBrownLotteryPrediction #
  • Errm, one heap of obvious bullshit, followed by a marginally less obvious heap of bullshit. #DerrenBrownLotteryPrediction #
  • We began with an impossible, moved on to an improbable, but there are a darn sight more probables which aren't impossible! #
  • @LewieP Bah, I don't even buy his 'fixing it' excuse. Plenty of easier and far more legal ways of achieving the same result. in reply to LewieP #
  • I really should write about popular trending stuff more often! I get so many more visitors to my blog that way. #
  • Hehe! Props to the person that found my blog Googling "derren brown maths bullshit" #
  • Nooo! No interwebs via desktop until Monday. Just tripped bandwidth. #
  • Yay! Just realised that some of Friday's stuff worked after all. #
  • @OyeBilly I'm secretly pleased when I overhear small children spotting my long hair and mistaking me for female. in reply to OyeBilly #
  • @OyeBilly Only had one adult do it though, which was mildly amusing as they suddenly got all appologetic. in reply to OyeBilly #
  • Just seen District 9. Had avoided reading about it, so didn't know quite what to expect. Good, although style changes a bit odd. #
  • Gah! A party downstairs AGAIN! They appear to be listening to dance version of 'Love story'?! WTF? #
  • @jimrossignol Yep, RPS reader. Well not exclusively, I have other facets of my personality, but they aren't so relevent in this case. in reply to jimrossignol #
  • Trying to decide on tomorrow's tea. Casserole Chorizo, butter beans, shallots, red wine, chestnut mushrooms. Suggestions? #
  • Confused by spam implying correlation between my penis size and travel arrangements. It didn't even make sense metaphorically. #
  • @Jestrun @gunnarsimonsen Sorry, not the right person. in reply to Jestrun #
  • Like some of the new default twitter icons, better than the blue on brown emoticon thingy. #
  • I wish news agencies would do a little bit of research. The use of a GPU as a general purpose parallel processor is well established. #
  • The fact that a researcher in Warwick used an Xbox 360 does not make it novel. It just makes it a bizzare choice for running custom code. #
  • @Optimaximal Indeed, and I wouldn't be surprised is the XBox in question was a dev version supplied by MS. in reply to Optimaximal #

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Derren Brown may not have predicted the lottery, but I predicted his bullshit

Sep 11th, 2009

Oh dear.

It was obvious from the start that Derren Brown wouldn’t predict the lottery, and the failure to reveal the balls before the draw just made the whole situation blindingly obvious. As soon as he did that, the whole situation boiled down to little more than a glorified card trick.

Now, I’ll be first to admit I don’t know how he did it. That’s not any indication that the trick was difficult, but rather the fact it was so sodding easy. While Paul Daniels claims that he knew 99 ways of achieving it was probably a slight exaggeration,  several possible solutions occurred to me both during and following the show. Personally I favour the ‘split screen’ argument, having used a similar technique myself I know how trivially easy such things are. (Even if I was thwarted by an ill-placed mirror)

The split screen idea is also supported by movements seen within the balls as the results are read out, although a similar effect could also have been seen with other suggestions, such as those of a mechanical ball printer. Other possibilities include an augmented reality approach, digitally projecting the numbers onto the balls, although if such an effect had been achieved, it was remarkably effective.

The general point being however that there are a number of ways the trick could have been achieved, not even taking into consideration sleight of hand, which admittedly would have been difficult if we are to assume that the camera feed was genuine. No prediction, or fixing, was required.

Now originally I dismissed simple camera trickery, it seemed too much of a cheat, and seemed unlikely to take up a whole hour show. Then again, I couldn’t see how any plausible explanation could take a few minutes; therefore Brown was going to bullshit us. The trick and misdirection would continue into the explanation, as Derren led us on a merry goose chase. Unfortunately it appears that I only bothered to tweet this at the beginning of today’s show, which is still a darnsight better than Brown’s after the fact ‘prediction.’

It was obvious from the start that Derren was aiming to misdirect, firstly by implying that there was any psychology involved, and then by progressively misleading bouts of mathematics.  While I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest that the lottery is truly random (such as some quantum events appear to be) any biases are going to be so minor, and external factors far more significant that any attempt at prediction will be impossible. To imply that crowd-sourcing would be ow any use in determining a random set of numbers is entirely misleading.

Which brings us from the impossible, to the improbable. The fixing. I don’t know if Derren hoped to convince his sceptic audience with this spiel, but we are fed a series of unlikely events which would be both illegal and unethical. While people indeed commit illegal and unethical deeds, they rarely do so publicly on national television.  Furthermore, to suspect that Camelot’s security is lack enough that a breach made in August could subvert a draw made in September is laughable.  Furthermore, there are 14 sets of balls, so I find it hard to imagine that this was the first time one of the alleged six was used since the claimed breach. Not to mention, I’m far from convinced that a 20g difference would be sufficient to entirely bias the draw.

While I’ve happily excluded the impossible maths explanation, leaving the improbable fix explanation, I’m sadly still left with a considerable set of downright more probable explanations. Had Derren’s numbers been revealed before the draw, then things would be different, and I’d probably be checking into exactly how long the broadcast delay is from lottery HQ. However just because Derren has given an answer, doesn’t mean I’m going to believe it.

Unfortunately Brown’s attempts at an explanation did little to endear me to him during the show, despite the fact I’m usually a fan. The fact he was spouting nonsense was obvious, which made me hope more and more for a strong pay-off. Derren Brown likes to market himself as a sceptic, and thus I hoped he’d build up to a clear crescendo, which illustrated his audience had been duped.  Parallels between the earlier practice ‘draws’ and the final draw (mainly that the result was revealed after the draw) made me hope that these factors would tie themselves into the great reveal, that we’d get a clear mention of why two camera-men were present when only one was necessary. Instead though we got yet another, albeit a marginally more plausible, shaggy dog story. Not only do I feel that Derren Brown did not reveal his trick, but he ultimately failed to demonstrate anything in the hour long show. Only in his last words, “I’ll tell them it was just a trick” did he bother to give any nod to the truth, a matter which probably passed by anyone who wasn’t already sceptical.

Ultimately I was disappointed with not only the trick itself, but with the explanation, which demonstrated little more than Derren’s ability to string people along.

This Week’s Tweets

Sep 9th, 2009
  • 'Last Chance to See' Starts on BBC2 this Sunday. @stephenfry revisits the endangered animals in Douglas Adams' book. http://bit.ly/3dNNBn #
  • Ahh, about time. Was having major trouble tweeting for a while then, was worried tweets would be duplicated several times. #
  • @rockpapershot inspired by the strange glove thing, do you see anything doing in the kb+mouse as the primary control system for PC Gaming? in reply to rockpapershot #
  • Ugh, a pornbot tweeted, "It's pretty difficult this site, maybe a cute boy could help me out ;)" At least I hope its a porn bot ::shudders:: #
  • Eeep, I'm keeping a close eye on bandwidth usage. Getting dangerously close to 10GB monthly limit on mobile broadband. (Resets 14th) #
  • @Gaoandlove 1st September? Its the 4th today. in reply to Gaoandlove #
  • Whoops, my flat situation wasn't as long term as I thought. Eeep! #fb #
  • Homophobic crap trending. (Oooh, as an added bonus there is racist shit thrown in there as well.) Won't add to it. #Idontcarewhoyoulove #
  • This is truly chilling, skimming PDF now. RT @wikileaks: EU thinktank declares war on the poor http://tinyurl.com/wleuiss #
  • Hmm, page 19 and so far the PDF itself seems fairly innocuous. #
  • Gah, getting late. Think relevant stuff starts on Pg. 61 (Pdf page 63) but need sleep. #
  • Its like a parody of industry immaturity and sexism. Except its real. Ugh. RT @bremxjones: Fucking developers: http://bit.ly/SPYld #
  • Overheard: "What is the big deal about a moose?!" What indeed? #
  • Great, appear to have attracted the attention of Christian spambots. Maybe the moose was a metaphore for Jesus. #
  • @Filmstalker Ahh, is that what it was. It was flying very low over the West End, was a bit worried it was in trouble. in reply to Filmstalker #
  • @Filmstalker Not especially, and given its height (and size) I would certainly expected a bit more noise, but I'm no expert on these things. in reply to Filmstalker #
  • @bengoldacre I have long hoped for capes to come into fashion. Perhaps you could be a trend setter. (amongst geeky skeptic types at least) in reply to bengoldacre #
  • Want to play computer game, but nothing I own really leaping out. A bit silly. #
  • Oh dear, Radio 1 is a Chris Moyles wankfest this morning. #
  • @bengoldacre Much better than the guy I heard last week suggesting that everything should be automatically irrevocably patented. in reply to bengoldacre #
  • Why does every mildly interesting result I get in this PhD inevitably turn out to be an artifact? #

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