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< November 2011 >
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Solve Puzzle While You Are Sleeping

Monday my colleague reports a severe problem in our test system. I checked in some incomplete work and it breaks the test system. Strange that no QA has reported the problem even though the problem has originated one week ago. Nevertheless I fixed it right away. Then I moved on to other task without giving it much through.

But something does not seem right. Why was the problem not surfaced on the QA system? I was rather confused. Then it dawn on me what has happened. There was a series of confusions regarding the software branches and the timing of release. My fix was checked into a wrong branch. The QA is testing a version that's different from the version that's going to be deployed. My fix yesterday is actually going to break more things. And it will be deployed without properly tested!

The thought of this immediately wakes me up at night. I got out of bed to fix the problem around 6am.

Did I mention I was literally awaken? All the reasoning in the second paragraph appear to happen during my dream. I have straighten out a confusing sequence of events that explains the problem. The thought of serious consequence when deployed to production has waken me up. The first thing I do is to fix the problem right away. The second thing I do is to reflect on the strangeness of this. What was my brain doing when I was sleeping? Does a brain work in autopilot mode that resolved a problem I couldn't resolve during the day? Or perhaps I just couldn't relax and brought my day time problem into my sleep?

2011.11.29 [, ] - comments


Two Piece of Intriguing Science News

From crowdsourcing to crime-sourcing: The rise of distributed criminality - Just as legitimate business and public benefit from Internet based collaboration, criminals are increasingly using Internet to distribute operation to players all over the world. A credit card stealing operation can become a collaboration in a crime network of different specialities, like phishing, botnet rental (cloud computing?) and money laundering (financial services). Just as technologies revolutionizing our life, it is also empowering criminals.

Placebos Are Getting More Effective. Drugmakers Are Desperate to Know Why. Placebos are considered a statistical nuisance by drugmakers. A benchmark to beat to prove the effectiveness of drugs. Increasingly new drug testings are failing to do so. This article bring us back to the early days when the concept of placebo are first introduced. That was a watershed development in the science of pharmaceutical and it remain a gold standard to prove drug efficacy. These days scientist are intrigued by the apparent therapeutic effect of placebos. It begins to shed some light on the brain's own healing mechanisms and the mind body connection.

2011.11.03 [] - comments


Face Perception

I've learned some nugget today regarding face perception. These are some hacks to exploit humans' capability to recognize faces.

Robohash is a cool web service to generate unique robot image from any text. The robots look funny. But it is actually created for an excellent application to help quickly identify a caller from a large pool. The source code is available in github.


• The project is inspired by Identicon. It has similar idea but uses geometric shapes to generate icons.

Chernoff faces, a visualization technique invented by Herman Chernoff, display multivariate data in the shape of a human face.

Chernoff Face

2011.07.22 [, ] - comments


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Asia Times Online


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