Thursday, December 1st, 2022

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Advent of Code - Day 1 (

Hammered out the answers to today's Advent of Code.

I decided to work in Javascript as I felt it would be a bigger challenge and more rewarding exercise than to do it in PHP; and honestly I didn't feel like doing it in Python. I might do it in Python after work if I have time.

12/1/2022 8:12 am | |
Tags: programming, advent of code

Chess variant idea

There is a variant of chess called "Hand & Brain," which is two players. One is the "Brain" and they can only verbally name a piece on the board with no other context or hint. The "Hand" then has to guess which of the relevant pieces they mean and move it.

So, for example, if the Brain says 'King' that is easy as there is only one on the board. But, if they say pawn, then you have to do your best to guess which pawn they are referring to.

So my idea is to utilize this for chess training by having a computer engine act as the brain, it tells you the piece, and you try to figure out the piece and move it. This isn't a new idea, this site does exactly that. But in this case you're playing against a computer engine. I'd like to try this variant against another human + computer pair, playing the same model. Obviously the engines and players would need to be equal for the "best" games of chess. But I can imagine that this could be a good way of learning. If your human play instinct is to move a threatened piece and the computer engine tells you a completely different piece it makes you realize that your threat assessment was wrong. And I feel that that learning will be more powerful in the middle of the game rather than afterwards in analysis and review.

12/1/2022 3:02 pm | |
Tags: chess, game, idea

"I Was Wrong About Mastodon" (

Having spent time on Mastodon, I now realize how hilariously wrong I was about how moderation would work. I was seeing Mastodon through the lenses of Twitter, rather than as a different culture with different technology. I'm now fairly confident in saying Mastodon is friendlier than Twitter and will remain so, regardless of who and how many join.

A good re-examination of expectations about how Mastodon would work, and realizing it is not a Twitter replacement.

12/1/2022 3:46 pm | |
Tags: social media, twitter, mastodon

New Watch Face

I saw user cavera-de on the Galaxy Watch subreddit share this watch face, and I finally remembered to install it today. It feels very futuristic to use my laptop to install software to my watch.

Overall, I'm quite liking it. I haven't used an "analog" face for a while, but this is suitably futuristic that I really am enjoying it.

It makes me wish the watchface was OLED so I got deeper blacks, but I'll survive. It still looks great. The orange dot on the left is the notification light. I could add other things such as battery, date, steps, etc. But I really like this clean UI.

12/1/2022 4:59 pm | |
Tags: photo, smart watch

Why rail barons are so ardently refusing paid sick days (

Why do these rail barons hate paid leave so much? Why would a company have no problem handing out 24 percent raises, $1,000 bonuses, and caps on health-care premiums but draw the line on providing a benefit as standard and ubiquitous throughout modern industry as paid sick days?

The answer, in short, is "P.S.R." — or precision-scheduled railroading.

P.S.R. is an operational strategy that aims to minimize the ratio between railroads' operating costs and their revenues through various cost-cutting and (ostensibly) efficiency-increasing measures. The basic idea is to transport more freight using fewer workers and railcars.

One way to do this is to make trains longer: A single 100-car train requires less track space than two 50-car ones since you need to maintain some distance between the latter. More critically, one very long train requires fewer crew members to run than two medium ones.

Another way to get more with less is to streamline scheduling so that trains are running at full capacity as often as possible.

All this has worked out poorly for rail workers writ large. Over the past six years, America's major freight carriers have shed 30 percent of their employees. To compensate for this lost staffing, remaining workers must tolerate irregular schedules and little time off since the railroads don't have much spare labor capacity left.

In short, capitalistic slavery.

12/1/2022 8:20 pm | |
Tags: labor rights, railroads, capitalism

Mastodon Favs for December, 1st 2022

12/1/2022 10:45 pm | |
Tags: mastodon, social media, automated

"Freight rail strike averted, after frenzied negotiations" (

I am extremely disappointed that both of my Senators voted in favor of this, forcing them to continue to work and not strike despite the ownership refusing to give them any sick days.

Check your Senators and how they voted.

12/1/2022 10:54 pm | |
Tags: us politics, railroads

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