Hi humans. Tip of the Day: Don’t go to lecture smelling like fresh pumpkin seeds. It’s very distracting to the guy sitting next to you, and he’ll find it intriguing enough to blog about it. In other news, I have two exams and a quiz next week, and I need to get started studying for them. So today’s going to be one of those short blog post days. But… If I keep inserting line breaks between my sentences and phrases, this blog post is going to seem longer than it really is because it’s going to take up more lines. So I guess it’s no longer one of those short blog post da y s .
Hi humans. Tip of the Day: If you have Movable Type installed on your website (or your workplace’s website) and you have an account on it, don’t make your password longer than eight characters. My deputy at work discovered today that only the first eight characters of your password matter, and everything after the eighth character can be random garbage and it won’t matter. Most of the time I would hear this and say “that’s good to know,” but I’m particularly annoyed by this fact because I happen to have an 18-character password that I have been typing in for over one year. Usually on regular working days, I sign in to our Movable Type installation at least once, and frequently more than once. Yes, that means I have typed in 10 extra unnecessary characters to my password hundreds of times. -__- In other news, I finished sending out an all-campus mass email last night to advertise open positions at the Badger Herald. Sending out the mass email is probably the most stressful part about being the web director, and now that I’m done with it, I’m free from that duty until next semester, or at the very least, a few months. Now all I have to do is survive through a day or two of people replying to the email asking me to remove/unsubscribe them from the mailing list. It might not seem like a big deal, but because the mass email was sent out to 39,362 recipients, even less than 1% of people requesting to be removed is a couple hundred emails.
Hi humans. My Homework for Your Reading Pleasure I haven’t had this section in my blog for a while because I haven’t written any interesting papers lately, but I recently wrote one for my sociological enterprise course. The prompt was an open topic about anything that we care about related to sociology, so I chose the unreliability of eyewitness testimonies and titled it “Is Seeing Really Believing?” The word count limit was 500, and my paper ended up being exactly that.
Have you ever been to Disneyland? If so, do you remember experiencing all the rides, seeing all the colors, and meeting all the characters like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Bugs Bunny, and Pluto? Can you visualize yourself walking up to these characters, hugging them, and shaking their hands (or, in some cases, paws)? If you answered yes to all of these questions, you just fell victim to deception by memory malleability. Bugs Bunny would never be found at Disneyland because itâs a Warner Brothers character. According to a study done by a doctoral candidate at the University of Washington, a simple stimulation of the mind with a fake Disneyland advertisement including an image of Bugs Bunny was enough to create false memories such that over a third of people questioned claimed to have met and made physical contact with Bugs Bunny at Disneyland (as opposed to less than a tenth of people questioned from the control group). Sure, this is an interesting study that we can laugh at, but it has a much more important underlying significance. What if this person recalling this memory was an eyewitness in a criminal trial, and the future of someoneâs life depended on this witnessâ reconstruction of his/her memory? Both in a courtroom and on the streets, âI saw it with my own eyesâ is one of the most powerful phrases one can say when trying to convince someone to believe something. Because of our abnormal level of confidence in the idea that seeing is believing, we tend to put an irrational amount of trust in eyewitnesses. The consequences in a situation like the Bugs Bunny experiment arenât severe, but, obviously, the repercussions in a courtroom are much more extreme when members of a jury place unproportional weight to eyewitness testimonies relative to other more reliable sources of evidence like expert analyses and DNA test results. How exactly might an eyewitness to a crime get his or her memory of the event changed? Every time a memory is recalled, it gets slightly altered before being rewritten into the mind for restorage. This rewriting process is heavily affected by present personal and social environmental circumstances. For example, a witness may have seen an African-American as the potential suspect for a crime, but originally had some doubts. A few days later, this witness may see a completely different African-American on a breaking news broadcast being convicted of first-degree murder in an unrelated case. As she watches this story, she subconsciously correlates African Americans with crime slightly more than she did before. As this happens, her doubts from the crime she witnessed slowly diminish, and before she knows it, she starts seeing the original African American as definitely guilty. Because of these severe flaws in eyewitness testimony, I propose that, similar to how the results of polygraph exams are not accepted as valid evidence in many states due to their low rate of reliability, eyewitness testimony also be removed as valid evidence in the court of law.
Hi humans. … Yes, I changed my background image two days in a row. I’m happy with this one, though, so I’ll be keeping it for a while. If you’re curious to see what the original photograph was, it looked like this: I basically took a larger version of that photograph, cropped it, adjusted the brightness and contrast, and applied a Gaussian blur. Someone asked me about why I add a blur to my background photographs, and I told them that I would answer that in my next blog post, so here’s my response. An easy example of why I do it is to look at any photograph with a low depth of field. If you take a look at those photos, you’ll notice that portions of it are blurry and portions of it are crisp. The (obvious) point of doing that is to draw attention to the sharper portion and have the blurry portions be considered the background or anything that is not the main subject of the photograph. By doing this on my website and making the entire background photograph blurry, I am drawing attention to the main content of my website, which would be the text and images embedded inside articles and blog posts. The blur encourages the eyes to concentrate on the crisp main content, but still gives some artistic and aesthetic value by adding color to the page. A side effect of this is that it also makes the file size smaller. If you are unfamiliar with photography, you might not know yet that the blurrier an image is in .JPG form, the smaller it becomes. The smaller a file is, the faster it loads on the viewer’s computer. I understand that not everybody has blazing fast Internet, so I design my website such that it uses as little bandwidth as possible and loads as quickly as possible. Although this is not the main reason I use a blurred background, it is something that I like about using a blurred background.\
Hi humans. You might have noticed that the background image on my website has finally changed. (If it’s still the same for you, do a hard refresh, which is Ctrl+F5 on most browsers.) For those of you who were wondering, the previous picture that I had as my background was a picture of Chicago taken by someone who offered his/her picture for public use. I chose to use that picture because at that time, I was still back at home in Illinois, and I wanted to have the background photo relevant to some aspect of my life. I intended on changing the background picture to something Madison-related as soon as I arrived back in Madison, but I wasn’t able to find any good free public-use photographs of Madison. I ended up keeping the Chicago photo for a while until I finally got the motivation today to change it. Now, it’s a picture of Bascom Hill and half of Bascom Hall. That’s a photograph I took last year in mid-October. It’s not a very good photograph, but it’ll have to do for now. I’ll change it to a better photo if I ever remember to bring a high-quality camera around and end up running into a scenic view.
Hi humans. Here’s the video you (may or may not) have all been waiting for. It’s actually been up since last night, but I finished yesterday’s blog post before I finished editing and rendering the video, so I decided to hold off putting it in my blog until today.
Hi humans. The Facebook Hackathon is now over. I got back to my apartment a little bit after 6 AM – the programming stopped at 5 AM, and the demonstrations and judging took a little bit over an hour. After I got back to my apartment, I went straight to sleep and didn’t wake up until after noon. I then had to get other work done, so I didn’t have a chance to finish putting together the entire main video for the hackathon. But fear not, I do have a video for today. This is a short and pointless video of a friend named Tim Hadick trying to learn how to ripstick during the hackathon. I will almost definitely have the final video done and posted online by tomorrow.
Hi humans. I am currently at the 2011 Wisconsin Facebook Hackathon. http://twitter.com/Parkzer/status/117359944554123264 For those of you who don’t know, the Facebook Hackathon is an event hosted by Facebook staff members at various universities across the United States where they gather up local engineers and software developers to come program something new. If you’ve been keeping up with my blog for over one year, you might remember the video I made for the 2010 Facebook Hackathon. I’m back once again for the second annual hackathon. If you don’t remember my video from last year, you can search for it on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Facebook+Hackathon+2010+Parkzer This year, the event is going on from 5 PM until 5 AM. I haven’t really been taking many photos like I did last year, but I’ve been getting a lot of footage for a video that I should be done making sometime tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Here are some photos that I’ve gotten so far: Those are fortune cookies that we got after ordering Chinese food for dinner. That’s probably the greatest number of fortune cookies I’ve ever seen in one place at the same time. That’s the sketch the table next to mine drew out on the dry-erase board to plan out their software. I don’t really know what any of it means, but it looked interesting and complicated so I took a picture of it. I’m doing some of my own programming right now (for the Badger Herald, not for the competition; I’m not good enough at application development to be successful in the actual hackathon) and starting to map out a timeline for the final video that I’m going to make for this event. I’m probably going to make more than one video again like I did last year, and the first one should be done in a few hours or so. Check back tomorrow for more updates from the Facebook Hackathon.
Hi humans. I got a surprisingly large amount of emails asking me what the solution was to the “challenge” I posted three days ago. The only problem is that I don’t know, and I posted that as a joke more than I did as a real challenge. All I can tell you is that the pen is a Zebra brand, and that it works very well. While on the topic of trying to figure out what used to be printed on old writing utensils, I have another one for you. I can tell you that the top used to say “HIGHLIGHTER,” and that’s it. I have no idea what anything else used to say, so don’t contact me asking for the solution.
Hi humans. I’m slowly becoming shorter and shorter of time as my pile of coursework is getting higher and higher. As you have probably guessed by now, this means less intensive blog posts and more time spent on finishing homework and not failing. But it’s okay. The sun is still shining and the sky is still blue. Quote of the Day During lab yesterday, one of my zoology lab partners said after seeing a cut-open cnidaria: “It sort of looks like a dumpling.” I suggested that she eat it. She refused.