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Bitcoin - large price increase

I've been following Bitcoin since June 2011. You might be interested in my Bitcoin trading thread. Recently the Bitcoin price has soared to $700 which is a two year high. Most notably in the past three weeks it went from $450 to $700.

Swoopo Strategy: Auctions, Game Theory, and Scamming

I recently came across the "penny auction" phenomena. I'm always amused and often appalled by some of the ways that people use to try and make money on the internet (ex. the Million Dollar Homepage - www.milliondollarhomepage.com).

Penny auction websites use game theory to encourage people to gamble in the hope that they win a product at a fraction of its actual price.

Predicting Victory in Axis and Allies Revised - Using Logistic Regression

I have created a model that does a good job of predicting who will win in Axis and Allies (Revised edition) - a strategic board game where the outcome depends on a mixture of good tactics, a knowledge of probability, and some luck.

Axis and Allies is perhaps one of the most popular board games in the category of games harder than Risk, but simpler than the hexagon (Avalon Hill-type) war games.

I've been playing it for almost 20 years, and strongly recommend the Revised version as a massive improvement on the old game.

Data Collection
I used data from my own games as well as those from others on the Axis and Allies forum. I collected BattleMap files from after the Russian turn. The BattleMap program provides an easy summary of the unit value of all the land units and naval units of each country. It also says the IPC value of the territory currently occupied.

Progressive Alums

The Associated Press recently reported that the President of the Un of Richmond, William Cooper, was pressured into resigning early because he made some comments that students and alums of the school found offensive. These students and alums combined forces with the University faculty and began a full-scale campaign against Cooper--complete with a website, online petition, and anti-Cooper paraphernalia (http://www.firecooper.com/main.html).

Reading about this campaign I was reminded of efforts by a group of Berea College students last spring. These students put together a well-organized a campaign [called “10x10” to reflect its goal of meeting 10% of BC’s energy from renewable sources by 2010] to convince the BC administration to begin placing solar panels on its buildings and to begin planning for the future procurement of renewable energy. As part of their efforts, the students scheduled individual meetings with administrators, organized an energy conservation campaign to help offset the additional initial costs of renewables, and solicited donations from BC staff, students, and faculty. While the administration eventually agreed to pay for the remainder of the solar array, and to place the array on the central “Alumni Building,” it balked at the rest of the proposal, including budgeting for future alternative energy installations and establishing an ongoing campus committee to study and implement renewable energy.

Friendster Hacks

Notes on Friendster hacking. By hacking, it's more exploring than doing any harm. And I'm doing this partially to learn how to prevent problems with my own software.

The Gallery

If you do a search, you get to see all the possible parameters in the URL.

Distance: I think the maximum is 65536 (aka 2^16 - a common data type). Or it used to be. Now I'm not entirely sure. They might have noticed that I was running queries that were timing out after five minutes and put some validation on the data. When I did a distance of 66000 it would time out relatively quickly, whereas under 65536 it would take five minutes. For that matter smaller distanaces (eg 10,000 miles) were taking that long too -- though this probably depends on Friendster's load. Friendster should validate this value and put a maximum on it. Also Friendster should be logging slow queries. Heck, I'm smart enough to do that!

Ghirardelli Introduces 60% Double Chocolate Chips

Ghirardelli has replaced their Double Chocolate Chips with new 60% Double Chocolate Chips. The older chips had a lower cocoa content (perhaps 50-53%).

Unfortunately, Ghirardelli also added Milk Fat to their chips. Thus making them non-vegan. This is very sad, as they had been producing the best chocolate chips that I've tasted, and were also doing a good job of breaking the whole "vegans cannot eat chocolate" myth.

I called Ghirardelli to confirm this, and learnt that the amount of Milk Fat in their product is between 1-2%.

Up until now I've been a relatively strict vegan, who eats honey, but doesn't eat anything that I know contains even just 1g of dairy -- unless it is going to be thrown out (so that I'm not adding to the oppression/environmental costs of dairy).

Four Simple Steps for Avoiding Computer Viruses and Spyware

I've dealt with several computers that were totally infested with viruses and spyware to
the point that they were completely unusable.

Since 90% of the people I know aren't doing this (up until recently this included myself), here is some basic advice to avoid losing control of your computer.

(You can skip #1 if your computer isn't infested with spyware to the point where when you turn it on you get ads popping up constantly. Or you might want to do this step just to be sure you get everything.)

1. Start your computer in Safe Mode
Shut down. Make sure the computer is off.

Viewing Satellite Data Fun

Instead of ending poverty, the government definitely has its priorities straight when it spends millions of dollars on cool software like World Wind. This powerful program lets you rotate and zoom in on the Earth (with 1m resolution in the US). And it's only 170mb!

Zooming takes a while as it has to download the data - AND this program takes a ton of CPU power (it slows down my Athlon 2600+ to a slow pace).

Here is an image of a place where I got left off when I was hitch-hiking from Indiana to Seattle. It is in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, inside North Dakota near the Montana border. I ended up camping and spending the night nearby.

Making Money with Google AdSense

I started running ads from Google's AdSense program on my site three weeks ago. They are only on a part of the site that mostly attracts people from search engines who are not interested in activism.

So I figured it wouldn't harm my goals to give them some ads to look at.

I didn't think this would be a significant source of revenue - but actually it is. It now looks like I'm making around $5/day. Thus I could make $1800 in a year (which is about 20-25% of what I need to live on - sans health care). If I put ads everywhere and my traffic recovered (note: my website traffic is around 2000 visits/day, down from its peak of 4000) then I could make enough money to live on.

Large Chocolate Bar Spotted

Before Christmas, Trader Joes had a massive stack of 10 pound Ghirardelli semi-dark chocolate bars for $19.99. Unfortunately they contained milk.

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