postheadericon Failure to Launch



Strangely, most of my relationships last this long.

postheadericon Love in Paris, And a Solution to Google-Induced Stupidity



A short story about a man falling in love with a girl, told through Google searches. What struck me was how plausible it was, by which I'm referring to someone getting their life information from a search engine, not falling in love - although I'm sure that happens too. This at once shows 1) how robust Google's search engine is, and more importantly, 2) how stupid it has made us.

postheadericon The Curious Case of royknox7



This guy develops in reverse. Or not at all. Does anyone think this case was curious?

postheadericon The Reader, And Why Reading is Sexy


postheadericon How to Backup Your iPod and Have a Civilised Music Folder


Having unorganised music is no better than owning this.

People ask me all the time how they can transfer their iPod's music to their computer and/or organise their unsightly music folder. Well no - actually I've only been asked that once but I thought it was a good question.

postheadericon Blitz Loss


More nonsense from the land of blitz where questionable openings reign supreme. Well at least in blitz you lose quickly.

postheadericon Scotch Gambit Declined

postheadericon Four Queen Mate



Okay here's my game against chekorean but using ChessFlash instead of Chess Viewer Deluxe, the latter of which was unsizable and wouldn't stay on the page.

postheadericon Google Maps Street View, And Why You No Longer Have an Excuse to Get Lost

video


Google Maps Street View has finally launched in Canada.

postheadericon Morro, And Why It's Morro What You Want



Microsoft Security Essentials (or Morro, which it has been thankfully renamed from) has gone public as of today. I’ve been using the beta for some time now and I must say it’s pretty good for a free service.

postheadericon Garbage Day!




Well the garbage strike is finally over. Instead of chronicling the incident (I’ll leave that to a reputable source) I will instead convey my feelings towards the strike through a fictitious conversation between myself and Mayor Miller.

postheadericon Google Voice, And Why It Sucks (for now)

Jerks.

So last night I received my invite to Google Voice, which by far the most interesting synergistic communication application in quite a while. Unfortunately it is currently only available in the US and, judging by how long it was a "week from launch", will not be available internationally (how Canada counts as international is beyond me - it's like right there!) any time soon.

postheadericon Trash Talking, And Why You Never See It in Chess



You rarely come across trash talking in chess. Sure, club players call each other weak all the time, but that’s said so often it hardly has any meaning. Besides, judging by the fitness level of most players, we are actually quite weak. But you don’t really see the real kind of combative dialogue you’d see in real sports(because chess apparently is a sport). The immediate reason for this is that chess is a game of intellect, and nerds are for some reason more polite than athletes. Anyone who thinks this clearly has never played on Xbox Live. The less immediate (and less stupid) answer is that trash talking isn’t really effective or applicable when it comes to chess.

One of the main plusses to trash talking is the immediacy of a threat. “I’m gonna dunk on some foo.” says that basketball player. And so he does. You can’t really do that in chess. What’re you going to say? “I’m going to checkmate your king”? Well yeah, that’s the object of the game. That’s like going to a pick up game and telling your opponents, “My team is going to score eleven points before your team scores ten or less.” Not very immediate, and not very threatening.

Another use for jocular jawing is telling someone that he or she isn’t very good at the current sport or activity. Continuing to use basketball as an example, you could say someone has poor “handles” or “skillz”. What can you say in chess? “Oooh you played the Taimanov variation? That’s sooo refuted!”

All that said, I was recently heckled by a spectator during one of my online games (no, I don’t know why spectators are allowed to converse with players). He said something to the effect that he wasn’t entertained by my play relative to my rating. Because chess is supposed to be exciting, right? Several Gladiator references later, we decided to square off in what ended up being one of the most exciting games ever. Well at least for me it was.

I’m not going to bother analysing this game because 1) There’s an obvious skill gap, and 2) I wasn’t really playing to win, but rather win in a ridiculous and humiliating way. My opponent's name was "chekorean", so he probably really liked StarCraft and Evita. Or something.

postheadericon The Scotch Gambit, And Why You Should Accept My Kindness

Aye lass, doont try'un deny me.

I simply do not know why people “decline” the Scotch Gambit (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 [something stupid that’s not exd4]). Is it because they know the Scotch is good? No, because if the Scotch is good down a pawn, it would be even better with that pawn. Is it because there’s a good way to decline the gambit? No. There’s only one other move that makes any sense, Nxd4 and it's not very good. (d6 is just a bad version of Philidor, and Nf6 leads to bad position).

What’s so menacing about taking a pawn? It’s not like, say, the Cottage Trap or Pratt Trap where taking the proffered pawn is clearly dubious. After 3... exd4, White’s biggest “threat” is to have a long term positional advantage, but if you feared that so much why'd you play 2... e5?

So what is it then? It seems like after I play 3. d4, my opponents assume I want them to take the pawn and that alone leads them to decline the gambit. If they thought about the position for a few minutes, they’d see that exd4 is clearly the best move. But no, instead of checking out a position, they simply avoid it using the “That’s what he wants me to do” reasoning. This is not the way to play chess.

To illustrate my point, I will post some of my games in which my opponents devise some whacky ways to decline the Scotch, and how they quickly get a bad position. The following game was against a 2200+(!) player, demonstrating how worthless the online ELO is.



postheadericon Bristols, And Why They're Sometimes Boards

Billboards that is. According to The Examiner, Russian adult actress Anna Morgan has signed a deal with a MMO gold-selling website to have its name and URL tattooed on her boob(s).

You could probably fit an almanac on those


The website, MyMMOShop.com - which by the way sells WoW gold in exchange for real money - will pay Ms. Morgan $500,000 (real money, not WoW gold) for her (b)rea(st)l estate. Why? According to the website, porn is to internet gaming as "peanut butter [is to] jelly". The company hopes that while "solo questing on Mt. Wank", WoW users will notice their website, finish what they're doing (or not), log on, and buy some stuff.

Behaviourally this makes perfect sense. The pairing of a novel stimulus with a familiar stimulus (unconditioned or conditioned) allows for the established response to generalise to the novel stimulus. For most people watching pornography is or leads to a pleasurable experience, so associating one’s website with porn seems like a good move.

That said, this marketing ploy is doomed to fail. No, not because it degrades women, reducing their bodies to marketing space (although I’m sure that's a legitimate complaint). And no, not because it degrades MMORPG players, depicting them as sweaty nerds who are so socially isolated and sexually depraved they’ll buy anything you put on a boob (because they probably are, and no one cares about them). The reason why this will never be successful is because 98% of internet porn is so low resolution, I doubt anyone will be able to tell the difference between a website and an oblong mole.

postheadericon Internet Chess, And Why It Sucks



Internet chess is not fun.

"High level" play has me playing against the same three opponents: Shredder, Rybka, and Fritz.

Seriously though, I’m not saying that everyone who beats me is proging, but some things just give it away.

Playing the objectively best move every time.
You know who plays flawlessly? No one. If you’re that good, why are you playing me? There’s plenty of money and women to be had in the world of professional chess. Apparently ICC has a something that analyzes if your moves are too computer-y, but I’ll be damned if I pay for that shit.

Knowing the main line of every obscure opening.
One? Fine. Two? All right. Every single one? Come on. The worst is when they’ll go into a closed main variation when an open one would be perfectly acceptable.. and it’s a blitz game. And while you’re scratching your head they’re...

Continuously passing up obvious moves for ridiculous combinations.
I’m okay with tactical shots. What I’m not okay with is some guy passing up a perfectly fine move to find a 14 move combination that leaves me with half a pawn. In a blitz game.

Honestly though, what's the point? Computers can beat the strongest players in the world - beating me using a chess engine is like beating a blind person at Scrabble using a dictionary.

The only other option is to play bullet chess, but that’s as much fun as Simon but without the colours.