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Walkmen: Thinking of a Dream I Had

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Great sound:

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February 17th, 2011 at 3:57 pm

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Mates of State : Kissaway

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Very catchy tune. One of my favorites, from the album “Team Boo”:

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August 25th, 2010 at 6:26 pm

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Telekenesis: Coast of Carolina

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This is a very uplifting, poppy song. I can’t remember exactly whom this band reminds me of…

…No, I don’t think its themselves.

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April 22nd, 2010 at 11:04 pm

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Speakers are going back

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When I came home from work this evening, low and behold: two warranty replacements sat in my foyer. One was that 1 TB Hitachi drive. The other was the Eagle Tech speakers.

I was more excited about the speakers. Except they didn’t work. Same exact problem as last time: the LCD that’s supposed to show volume/treble/bass didn’t work. I know what most of you are thinking: are you sure you set them up right?

I can tell you that I tried every possible setting on the thing (there aren’t that many). If anyone has any recommendation on a good set of 2.1 speakers suitable for a small home office, let me know.

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February 22nd, 2010 at 11:56 pm

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Technology Warranty Musical Chairs

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I just got the following speakers yesterday:

I had to send them back today, because the LCD that’s supposed to show volume/treble/bass didn’t work. No lighty.

I had the option of getting an exchange or refund. However, it seems like Amazon’s exchange means you just buy a duplicate item and send back the defective one. It seemed like I’d be responsible for the shipping charges. The alternative, simply returning for a refund, meant that they’d pay shipping charges.

Returning was very easy: since I still had all the packaging and shipping box from the item, I printed out the UPS slip. put the RMA in the box, taped it up, and took it to a UPS store. At the same time, I ordered a new one, because I really want those speakers (provided they work).

The first set took a month to get here. This second set says it’ll ship on the 23rd. I’m really hoping that they’re not waiting for me to return the defective pair so they can just ship it back to me.

Wonder of wonders. I also found out today that a replacement for a defective 1 TB hitachi drive has been shipped today.

I need to remember around Christmas time that when I buy all this tech crap, I only end up sending a good chunk of it back mid-winter. From now on, I stick to online gambling.

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February 19th, 2010 at 12:20 am

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Le Tigre: Deceptacon

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Great, high-energy song to work (and work out) to:

Didn’t really care for the rest of the album, though.

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February 15th, 2010 at 5:53 pm

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Swoopo, Psychology, Game Theory, and Regulation

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A coworker of mine stumbled upon the web site Swoopo:

My understanding of the web site proceeded in stages:

  1. It’s ebay
  2. They’re losing money
  3. You can game the system
  4. It’s a gambling site Read the rest of this entry »

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January 8th, 2010 at 8:48 am

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Phoenix: Armistice

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Great song. Great album.

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December 30th, 2009 at 12:43 pm

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Outliers by Malcom Gladwell: a review and reflection

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I finished the book Outliers by Malcom Gladwell . (I listened to the audio version available at my library.) I enjoyed it tremendously.

The premise of the book is that we tend to credit outstanding performers (“outliers”) with outstanding skill. While Gladwell does acknowledge that all outliers do have top-notch ability, he makes the case that ability is not enough: there also needs to be some external situation that enable this ability to jettison a person to the upper rungs of performance. Since many people have ability, but few people have favorable circumstance, we should really credit the circumstance with the generation of peak performance.

The book is not science in the true sense of the term: There are no controlled experiments to show that ability is a weaker predictor of success than is circumstance. However, one could argue that such a controlled experiment is impossible: you can’t hold all other things equal—and Gladwell has come pretty close to performing the experiment (retrospectively) by considering both people with great talent and great circumstance that accelerate to the pinnacle of their field, and people that have great talent but not circumstance. The best we can say is that Gladwell is a journalist and he has gone beyond the 3-example rule to give evidence of his hypothesis. However, he has not scientifically proven it. A larger (statistically valid) study could prove it.

That said, his description of how things happen rings true with me. I can’t say that I’m at the pinnacle of my field. (Lately, I can’t even define the field.) However, I did benefit from some good circumstances in my life:

  • When I was in the 5th (?) grade, my dad brought home an HP computer from work. I quickly began programming in BASIC and plotting sinusoids. I learned a lot about both math and programming from the experience. My parents continued to buy computers: I started programming on Windows 3.1 when I was in 7th/8th grade.
  • After I finished the 6th grade, my parents moved us to the US. This was a designed shift in circumstance. My parents wanted my sister and I go to high school and college in America. They worked very hard to get us here.
  • Going to University of Illinois, I met someone who would later be a partner at Infinium. That certainly helped get me in the door at Infinium.

In addition, it’s clear to me that Infinium itself illustrates the sort of paradigm shift that Gladwell talks about in the book: the founders of Infinium predicted that things would go digital and be software-driven—and that one could then do automated trading.

The chapter on the Canadian hockey teams also reinforces a principal I’ve learned over the years: coaching is for everyone, not just for your good players. I think in corporate environments, there’s an over-emphasis on differentiating talent. That differentiation is good. However, it tends to get confused with where managers spend their time. That’s a shame; as the book shows, structures that seem to be meritocracies can be fatally flawed. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book . I especially recommend it for teachers, managers, and parents. (Yes, I know that covers a lot of ground.)

Written by PoojanWagh

July 2nd, 2009 at 7:34 am

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Radiohead: Let Down

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This has remained in my top-ten favorite songs for almost a decade.

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June 23rd, 2009 at 6:54 pm

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