Monthly Archives: May 2016


I gladly embrace being called a nerd. Not always. There was a time when I solely thought of myself as a geek and distanced myself from nerds.

A jock-y coworker professes to hate nerds. Even as he works with computers all day, enjoys checks, and spends hours figuring out how to improve his strength numbers. Don’t call him a nerd though.

He also describes me as the biggest nerd he knows. Possible. But, that just means he needs to get out more. This city easily contains a hundred people way further up the scale than I am. Enough to have a local convention. If I had gone to the engineering university, then I would have been around people way, way beyond my level of nerd-dom. He thinks though, if I had gone, then it would have made me worse. Probably have to agree.

This all came about because he said they are more airplanes in the sea than submarines in the sky. I responded that is true in the real world, but not necessarily true in anime worlds. He was appalled that I could like anime. If only he knew “like” is probably an understatement.

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From Nerd published May 27, 2016 at 07:43AM.

Unknown Knowns

Yesterday’s post mentioned unknown unknowns. When I heard this matrix, it pained me that one of the quadrants was missing. Over the years, I have thought about that missing one and what it might mean.

Donald Rumsfeld in 2002 talking about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq a year before the invasion:

Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know.

We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.

But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.

And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.

What is interesting about this matrix is the lack of an “unknown known.” This we know, but we do not know that we know them.

  • Known knowns = are evaluated risks. There is confidence in they can be handled.
  • Known unknowns = are poorly evaluated risks. There is no confidence in handling them.
  • Unknown unknowns = are unevaluated risks.

Unknown knowns, I think, are evaluated risks which are ignored. They are our blindspots. The knowledge is there, but not used. Either we disagree with the assessment. Or we think they are too trivial to matter. Or we lie to ourselves about it. In any case they are left out of the calculus or justification of a decision. Possibly a high level administrator never sees them in making the decision.

Too much information overwhelms making a decision. Too little information risks a bad decision. What information is the right information is itself a decision. 🙂

Data > Information > Knowledge > Wisdom (ITIL)

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From Unknown Knowns published May 26, 2016 at 07:38AM.

A Rant on Complexity and Stock Markets

Zoran Perkov is one of the heroes portrayed in Flash Boys. Someone liked my review of the book, which made me re-read the review and setup a Google alert on him. This video was one of the first hits on a search for him. His thing is:

Failure is feature of complex systems.

Basically when you build a complex system, you risk failure. Complexity allows us to more easily adapt to customer need. Complexity also increases the risk of novel failure. Things we did not even know could go wrong (unknown unknowns) probably will. The trick is, responding to them.

Something he mentioned I want to study more of:

Ashby’s The Law of Requisite Variety: The larger the variety of actions available to a control system, the larger the variety of perturbations it is able to compensate.

Basically, we should have mechanisms in place which act to reduce the effect of performance spikes. The more options we have to deal with these events, the better we will be able to handle them. The smaller the toolkit, the less capable we are to respond.

The delivery is not that great, but the ideas behind it is something I’ve agreed with for a long time.

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From A Rant on Complexity and Stock Markets published May 25, 2016 at 07:31AM.

The TBR Long Tail

My “to be read” (TBR) list is long. Too long. Over a thousand books long.

Part of the problem is Goodreads. I will hear about some book say on the radio, open up the app, find it and mark it TBR. Often enough, I will find that I already have. There are 207 TBR physical books I own and 156 TBR Kindle books.

That puts me almost in the realm of where the author of Coming to Terms With My Unread Pile is. Enough are virtual I do not have the same problem. And I never have a fear of not having something to read.

  1. I have several I am reading on at any given time, so finishing one means reading more on another(s) until I pick something else.
  2. Given every year I have the goal of reading some specific, I separate out those books so I can make sure I pick up those when I need to start something new.
  3. I buy books for cheap (used, sales), so I am not spending that much per book but still obviously a lot on them.


This section resonated:

For a while I made great progress [in reading through the books], cutting the pile down by a third. But eventually I once again started acquiring books faster than I could read them. Several factors contributed to this. Obviously I buy a lot of books but I get surprisingly number for free either as gifts or through library conferences and book festivals. However they were acquired, my unread pile has become a series of three piles.

Goodreads does point out a glaring issue. Some of them all have the date “January 10, 2008” which I am going to guess is when I imported my collection from LibraryThing into Goodreads. In eight years I have not read these seven books. The TBR counts by year:

  • 2015: 350
  • 2014: 195
  • 2013: 175
  • 2012: 84
  • 2011: 104
  • 2010: 2
  • 2009: 6
  • 2008: 10

I had hoped the distribution of books by year would start high and quickly fall off into a relatively low numbers by the end. Essentially a Long Tail. Too bad real data is messy. 😥

There is now a temptation to go read the 2008-2010 books just to get them read. Eighteen is not bad at all. But, the sad reality is there is no way I’m going to read everything on the TBR list. The 363 ones I own is doable in 5 years if I buy nothing at all in that time. (Unlikely.)

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From The TBR Long Tail published May 21, 2016 at 07:19AM.

DVR sort by size

Jekyll Island at high tide

Jekyll Island at high tide

When I get home from a trip like yesterday’s getting home from Jekyll Island, one of the first things I do is check out the free space remaining on the DVR. At times I get it down to under 50% full, but there have been times upon returning home I was up to over 95% full. Sports events usually take up the most space, so I prioritize watching and deleting those first.

Yeah, at the moment I have 16 soccer games on it. Because some of these are tournaments which could go into overtime, the recordings are 4-5 hours in some cases with only 2 hours of content because they did not actually go into overtime.

The are two views for ordering things to watch:

  • Recent
  • Title

Those are generally good options. For 99.99% of the time, when I am looking for something, those are the best ways to find things. A view sorting them with the largest size at the top would help me prioritize my time.

I know to look for the sports stuff. But some times a sports event might affect when a show starts, so I’ll add extra time to the show just in case.

Probably not many people have this problem or care. I’d even be happy with a details view where I can scan for how long is the recording.

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From DVR sort by size published May 16, 2016 at 10:22PM.