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Progress report - Many a mickle maks a muckle

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November 13th, 2005


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05:57 pm - Progress report
Not much going on here right now, but here's the little news I have:

- I failed my practical driving test yesterday, damn it. I got a serious fault during the "reverse around a corner" for not seeing a car coming up the road I was reversing into; the car came up the road rather quickly and there probably would have been a collision had the examiner not used his footbrake. Other than that, only five minor faults, but perhaps the examiner is a bit more lenient when you've already got a serious. No winners this week on Takeshi's Castle, but the queue is shorter than it was so fingers crossed I should get another go by the end of the year. Since then I have been cheering myself up by playing lots of Civilization 3 on the easiest mode.

+ A silly music video (Quicktime or Windows Media) which is a very loving tribute to educational television. And the number π.

+ Why isn't anyone talking about England beating Argentina 3-2 at football in the best England friendly for years?

+ Nice to see lots of old Grand Prix (motor racing) stars racing again. I recognised about half the line-up by name, and there is some real quality in there. If they can keep getting Nigel Mansell and Emerson Fittipaldi, and start getting Alain Prost as well, this could attract some real attention. Some sports can support masters' tours, others can't - nice to see motor racing is one that can. (Also amusing to see Rene Arnoux racing for "Team Golden Palace" - not Mike Tyson, but probably it's just a matter of time.)

++ Off to see Meg again on Friday, hurrah! Really looking forward to it; additionally, seeing five other nice folk (well, three nice folk I know and two people who I'm taking on trust are nice) to watch the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie will be fun.

? I can't make my mind up about Deal Or No Deal, the new Channel 4 tea-time game show. I do intend to write a longer post about it, but am not completely sure what I want to say about it. It's not a desperately likeable show and it's neither a great game nor especially well-made. That said, despite not being particularly interesting to watch (especially until the end) it does raise some surprisingly knotty issues to think about.

We have it on good authority that Channel 4 are paying for all the prizes and the production company have no financial interest in giving away as little money as possible, despite the purported premise of the show. Given that (we believe) the banker is the producer of the show, what if instead of trying to give away as little money as possible, the banker is trying to incentivise the player not to take the deals simply because he thinks the which-of-the-last-two-boxes-was-won conclusion is the most exciting one for the show and he's trying to make the show as exciting as possible rather than trying to spend as little money as possible, even though this will end up costing Channel 4 more?
Current Mood: optimisticoptimistic
Current Music: fireworks going on outside. A bit late, lads :-/

(29 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:zonefox
Date:November 13th, 2005 06:41 pm (UTC)
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Sorry to hear about the test result, man. Better luck next time, I suppose!

Thanks to my broadband I had a look at that music video - reminded me that I still haven't bought a copy of 'Look Around You', too. Hehehe, anything that combines west-coast style rap and mathmatics deserves a special mention as far as i'm concerned...

Have fun on Friday!

-Rich
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From:sophie10
Date:November 13th, 2005 06:58 pm (UTC)
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Bad luck about the test. However have an awesome time with Meg!

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From:meggitymeg
Date:November 13th, 2005 06:58 pm (UTC)
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*counts hours* 123!
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From:brigbother
Date:November 13th, 2005 07:20 pm (UTC)
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But underwriting the prizes is not the same is "wanting to give away a quarter of a million a day", is it? In the same manner "£50 top prize!" is not exactly the same as "wanting to give away £50."

I expect the chain to go:

* Producer gives away top whack prizes every day, out of scope with the valid parameters set.
* Channel 4 ring up Endemol.
* Producer isn't the producer any more.

Besides if it went down to the last two everyday, a show all about surprise would be incredibly dull.

I'm about to start whoring round a format called "Name Your Price!" It works like this:

* Someone with a heartwarming tale to tell comes on and reveals their heartwarming tale.
* This person wants some money for something.
* And they can have it! PROVIDED, the amount they want falls beneath the amount IN THE ENVELOPE OF MYSTERY.
* What's in it today? IT COULD be 2p. IT COULD be a million quid etc.
* No they can't have the rest if they significantly underbid.
* And if they overbid they leave with nothing, possibly in tears who knows?

I have turned into a monster.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 15th, 2005 11:58 pm (UTC)
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Mmm. I think they will deliberately try for different sorts of results (not in terms of any particular size of win, but different length of duration of game - which needn't be necessarily cheap or expensive to do) from time to time, just to mix things up. Happily, contestants being irrational animals, they can't guarantee to succeed in their attempts.

Name Your Price looks very much in the Noel Edmonds / Chris Evans quickie stunt mould. With a linear utility function, the way to play it is to bid the most you think there will possibly be in the envelope - if you expect there to be a million pounds in the envelope once, or once per series, ask for the million. If you hit the right episode in the series, you win, thus giving you an expected return of a million divided by (number of episodes), which would look to compare favourably with any other plausible strategy. With a non-linear utility function, er...

Incidentally, the ENVELOPE OF MYSTERY here suggests that someone will independently reinvent your idea by 2008. I think you need to find a way to give it a poultry-related theme. Rowland Rivron to host, commision times eleventy brazillian.
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From:imc
Date:November 16th, 2005 03:34 pm (UTC)
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With a linear utility function, the way to play it is to bid the most you think there will possibly be in the envelope

I don't agree.

It depends on how the money in the envelope is chosen, of course. Here are two of many possibilities:

(a) It's completely random, with a linear probability function up to some maximum — let's say one million. If you claim n pounds (where n is between 0 and a million) then the probability of you getting the money is 1-10-6n so the EV works out to be n–10-6n2 and that's maximised by taking n to be half a million.

(b) There are ten shows and the ten amounts of money {105n | 0<n≤10} are assigned in some random order, one to each show (obviously). Then if you pick 105n for some n your chances of getting it are (11-n)/10 which gives an EV of 104(11nn2) which is maximised by taking n to be either 5 or 6.
From:daweaver
Date:November 13th, 2005 07:40 pm (UTC)
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1. Ah, bad luck, sir. There is always next time.

3. We were all far too busy commentating on Deal or No Deal. Being more evil than The Banker is the new black, don't you know.

5. Hurrah for you!

6. Having spent most of the last seven days trying to tease out some of these knotty matters for the next Week, I shall be interested to see your take. Whenever it's ready to develop.

There's certainly an element of offering small beer, sometimes insultingly so, before the deal-of-eight, in order to justify a 45-minute show. But Wednesday's game demonstrates why forcing the programme down to the deal-of-two will tend to make for bad television. Even Noel can't wring any tension out of "10p and 50p are up on the board; The Banker will offer you 28p for that box."
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From:brigbother
Date:November 13th, 2005 07:50 pm (UTC)
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Mmm, after the player goes bang, I expect the rest of the show to be whizzed through as soon as possible after the commiserations bit.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 16th, 2005 12:01 am (UTC)
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6. No, I respectfully disagree. Much like the way Millionaire does show people wining £0, they will relish the very occasional - hopefully extremely occasional - 10p/50p show, just to show that it does happen and is a fact of life when the game is played by the rules. One might expect a comedy offer of one of 9p, 11p, 49p or 51p, though.
(Deleted comment)
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From:ringbark
Date:November 13th, 2005 09:00 pm (UTC)
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Why isn't anyone talking about England beating Argentina 3-2 at football in the best England friendly for years?
Because the rugby (NZ beating everyone, England beating Aussie and Wales only just beating Fiji) is more interesting at the moment.
No, I didn't think I'd ever be saying that, either.
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From:undyingking
Date:November 14th, 2005 10:56 am (UTC)
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And, lest we forget, Great Britain thrashing the pants off the Kiwis in the rugby league.
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From:ringbark
Date:November 14th, 2005 02:09 pm (UTC)
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Sorry, forgot that one. Can't think why.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 15th, 2005 11:51 pm (UTC)
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I can't work out which way your Antipodean [1] sporting sensibilities lie with regard to the Australia - Uruguay play-off to get to the World Cup. Any preference there?

[1] Did they refer to us as the Antipodes in New Zealand? Not that the UK was actually exactly antipodean to where you were...
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From:ringbark
Date:November 15th, 2005 11:54 pm (UTC)
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The rules are very simple and can be read on many t-shirts and other memorabilia:
"I support New Zealand and anyone playing Australia".

No, the antipodes are in the south. Occasionally, someone digging a hole that was very deep might be referred to as "digging for Spain".
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From:dramawench
Date:November 13th, 2005 11:15 pm (UTC)
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Off to see Meg again on Friday, hurrah! Really looking forward to it; additionally, seeing five other nice folk (well, three nice folk I know and two people who I'm taking on trust are nice) to watch the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie will be fun.

I am so sad that I am not gonna be able to see you guys this weekend! Stupid business trip :(
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From:black_dog
Date:November 14th, 2005 12:51 am (UTC)
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Sorry to hear about your driving test. Will they let you re-take it soon? Very frustrating to wait, but once you're over that hurdle, all is forgotten!

Your practical sounds somewhat more challenging than the road test New York State gave me ages ago. "Backing around a corner?" We didn't have that, and to be honest my first thought was, "Why would anyone back around a corner unless they were absolutely certain the cops weren't around?" -- I wonder if it's a reflection of urban driving in a place where the urbanness preceeded the driving by several centuries, so that UK roads, alleys, etc., are not always suited to turning around using some variant of forward motion.

Was that the nastiest item on your test? The trickiest things on ours were the notorious three-point turnaround, and of course the diabolical parallel park. Piece of cake! Though I nearly failed by making a perfectly normal right turn into the path of an oncoming car that was, itself, signalling a turn. The examiner applied the brakes. "But he's slowing for a turn!" I complained. "You don't know that" the examiner said, "you just know he's left his signal on." See -- I still remember that, so the examiner was very wise to conclude that he had made a sufficient impression, and to pass me anyway. Besides, I only backended people twice during my early driving years!

Anyway, best of luck to you on the next exam.
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From:oldbloke
Date:November 14th, 2005 02:44 pm (UTC)
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We have the 3point and the parallelpark as well. I'm not sure the backing round a corner thing is to see if you can back round a corner so much as to see if you can put the back end where you want when doing non-straight backing.

I _do_ back round corners sometimes: you see the turn you want on the _other_ side, go past it before you have time to react, back into a side road on your side, then come out of that to go back...
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From:black_dog
Date:November 14th, 2005 06:15 pm (UTC)
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It makes a lot of sense to test it as a skill, I think -- although if they really wanted to make things challenging, I think "backing with a trailer" would effectively separate out the amateurs.

It's interesting to contrast the driving techniques that are encouraged by different styles of traffic enforcement. For example, even though we were taught 3-point turn, it was also made clear to us that it was very much not approved of by traffic police. Likewise with U-Turns. And although your explanation of backing around a corner makes perfect sense, I would not dare to use reverse on a major street. The general preference here seems to be -- go around the block if you miss your turn. Although I might risk a 3-point on a quiet side street.

I wonder what the source of these differences might be? U.S. traffic enforcement seems very much about making the world safe for the less-able. Whereas in Italy, for example -- or so I have heard -- an expert driver can get permission to drive at a higher speed limit than ordinary mortals. Is the U.S. practice a function, I wonder, of a system where people routinely get learners' permits at 16 and full licenses at 17?
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From:oldbloke
Date:November 15th, 2005 10:42 am (UTC)
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I wonder what the source of these differences might be?
Over here we have lots of fairly narrow roads, so the 3 point (or even 7...) is a very useful skill sometimes. As is backing round a corner or into somebody's driveway to make a turn easier. Places where going round the block is a feasible alternative aren't common here. But, as you say, neither manouevres are something you really want to do on a main street.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 14th, 2005 09:06 pm (UTC)
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I think there's a statutory delay of two weeks (might be less - two weeks at most) but in practice the queue at Middlesbrough test centre is five weeks at the moment. It was seven for this test, though.

There are four manoeuvres we need to know, and we will be tested on any two of them: turn in the road (normally a three-point, but five points are acceptable on narrow roads), parallel parking, reverse around a corner and reversing into a parking bay. I had to reverse bay park (which didn't go quite to plan, but I stopped half-way through, drove forwards and reversed into it more neatly - worth a minor fault, but no serious fault) and to reverse around a corner. There was also an emergency stop, which comes up on apparently one test in three or thereabouts. No problems there.

Meg and I were talking about the requirements of the British test a few months ago and how unlikely it was that anyone would ever have to reverse around a corner. The same day, she was called upon to do it for real in the U-Haul van she had rented, and she did it like an absolute champ first time - no hassles, correct side of the road, everything. Whether intuition or driving skills should be credited, there should be a great deal of credit.

Not sure if this test is truthful or apocryphal, but someone else at work was telling me about his daughter's test. It was perfect all the way through - not a minor fault anywhere - but just as the daughter pulled the car up at the end of the test, she clipped the kerb, and was given a serious fault (instant fail) for mounting the pavement. Sickening if true.
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From:black_dog
Date:November 14th, 2005 11:57 pm (UTC)
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Well, as Tom Petty said, "the waiting is the hardest part." Sounds like you will get it in just before the holidays, so best of luck with that.

Your test still sounds fairly strict, comparatively -- you definitely have more emphasis on managing a car in reverse than we did. And I remember the advice about accepting minor faults and just getting it done, which is after all very realistic -- I know I still go a block out of the way rather than backing into a perpendicular parking spot, and I embarassed myself badly on a parallel park just a week ago. On the other hand -- driving straight ahead, on a freeway, that I've got down pretty well.

I am not sure I would want to drive a U-Haul van even in forward, so my admiration for Meg is unbounded.

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From:elements
Date:November 14th, 2005 02:43 am (UTC)
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Take heart that most people don't pass their first drivers' test. In fact, nearly everyone I know who I know this detail about, and all are excellent drivers to boot.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 14th, 2005 05:43 am (UTC)
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The general pass rate in the UK is 42%, for what it's worth, and my instructor's personal pass rate is 54%. Well, was 54%. It's a bit less now. :-)

Off to work, other replies later...
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From:undyingking
Date:November 14th, 2005 10:58 am (UTC)
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I failed first time too, last year, on not advancing far enough into a crossroads when I wanted to turn right. Which I didn't think was serious, but the examiner did ;-) But then second time was a breeze!
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From:citizenpsmith
Date:November 14th, 2005 12:32 pm (UTC)
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Since then I have been cheering myself up by playing lots of Civilization 3 on the easiest mode.

I have been doing much the same with the newly-acquired Civ 4. My excuse is that I want to see all the whizbang stuff they've added before playing a real game of it, but let's face it, seeing how fast you can roll through French archers and spearmen with your Roman tanks and marines is just fun.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 16th, 2005 12:04 am (UTC)
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Mmm, yeah, I read about that. The reviews look extremely good; what do you think of it?

The existence of the "quick" mode is interesting. While it's fun to think that you could play a game of Civ from strt to finish in two hours, and it gives you lots of scope for trying lots of different strategies, does it really feel like Civ to play at that speed and size? Are you choosing to play on quick, normal or epic?

Happily the system requirements are some way too onerous for my little laptop and hopefully I will not get the time to devote to Civ on this desktop which could handle it. Except that I was playing Civ on the desktop, not the laptop, of course.
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From:oldbloke
Date:November 14th, 2005 02:46 pm (UTC)
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The GPMasters wasn't fantastic viewing, but I think that may have been the camerawork as much as owt. Hope they get enough interest to run a full series next year.
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From:gwendolyngrace
Date:November 14th, 2005 04:04 pm (UTC)
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I failed my first driver's exam, too.

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