Sherri Bakes a Cake

My friend Sherri can decorate a cake like nobody’s business!

This is Jordan’s Stargate/Dr Who/Lego/5th Element/Star Trek/Star Wars/Firefly/Babylon 5 cake. The event horizon of the Stargate is made of whipped marshmallow foam, and it took some effort to keep the Tardis from sinking into another dimension. It was a travesty watching her have to cut it and feed it to the guests. :)


Video Games : The Movie

I went with a couple of dev friends to see the video game history documentary “Video Games : The Movie”, and overall had a good time, but came away a little disappointed. Taking a trip back through 80′s video game nostalgia is always fun (I love you Pacman, and I love you too Atari 2600), but it was not a well put together or organized film, and it succumbed to outrageous hyperbole throughout many of the interviews. Any film about video games that quotes Ghandi in the opening is trying too hard.

What was notable to me wasn’t what they covered, but rather what they left out. You can’t do everything justice in an hour and fourty-five minutes, but the proliferation of mobile games (even the hugely successful Gameboy wasn’t mentioned), the consolidation of AAA studios, and large chunks of PC gaming history got glazed over in favour of yet another retelling of the ET cartridge landfill debacle.

Although there were a number of women featured in the film (both players and pundits were reasonably well represented) it would have been nice to give screen time to a few notable female developers – I was particularly hoping for an interview with Roberta Williams, the superstar adventure game designer who pioneered interactive storytelling at a time when consoles were still stuck on table tennis.

Civil Tomatobedience

There’s a horrible, brutalist architecture, solid rectangle of a building on Slater St in downtown Ottawa, a main telephone switch facility for Bell that pushes its concrete slabs up against the sidewalk and has no lights or windows. It’s just a big faceless cube with stinky exhaust ports. I have no love for this building.


So I was quite surprised to discover as I was walking past that in the cracks between the sidewalk and the building there was a little seed of humanist rebellion growing – a tomato plant! :) Hypothetically, it’s possible that a tomato seed fell out of a sandwich or a bird’s mouth and ended up in the crack, but I like to imagine there’s a secret society of gardeners nurturing vegetables in all of the unlivable spaces in Ottawa. It’s doing really well, too – I wonder if someone’s watering it, or if it just loves the heat and humidity off the building exhaust.


Candy Distribution

A bar graph of the colour distribution in a recently opened extra-large packet of Smarties. Like most people, I have an intrinsic (false) expectation that random distributions will result in relatively even numbers of each colour, and that the difference in purple and brown is meaningful in some way. But in a truly random system any variation (including one where purple leads by a large margin) is equally likely.

I have yet to open a box that’s all red. :) What a glorious day that would be. Assuming every box has 71 Smarties in it, the odds of getting a completely solid box of one colour are 1 in 23,446,881,315. (if my math is right : (71+(8-1))! / (8! x 71-1!)  )

(Edit: An update on the math here. The formula I used tells you the number of possible combinations of 71 smarties in 8 colours, but with some combinations being more likely than others, it doesn’t correlate directly to the odds. ie: There’s one set where all of the smarties are green, but 71 sets with 70 green and 1 red. As Fred points out, the actual odds are probably closer to 8^71, but it gets a bit more complicated when the order doesn’t matter – I’ll have to consult my stats books. :) )

Of course, a box of all reds is likely to trip some kind of Oompa-Loompa alarm at the Wonka factory, and they’ll toss me into a vat of chocolate and sing a catchy song while I’m being candy shelled.