Great things on the web
a place to share interesting things on the internet

American Idol - judges' votes

January 29, 2008

Does anyone keep track of all votes made by the judges in American Idol TV show? It seems it would be very interesting to apply some statistics to find out some patterns. This ocurred to me when in the present season, Paula Abdul voted "no" when both Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson voted "yes" for one candidate in Dallas. I couldn't remember whether this has ever happened.

I came up with the following hypotheses:

  1. - Simon's "yes" vote is a good predictor of acception unanimity - if he votes "yes", everyone else will likely vote yes.
  2. - Paula's "no" vote is a good predictor of rejection unanimity - ig she votes "no", everyone else will likely vote no.
  3. - Randy's vote is very correlated with Paula's vote. They have a tendency to vote the same.
  4. - The order in which judges vote affects the final outcome.

Of course, what is aired is only a subset of the whole show and surely biased by th editor to smooth any prejudice or repetitive pattern. I don't know how to take that into account. But nevertheless, is there anyone willing to watch all seasons again and account for every vote? :)

ricardo at 11:12 AM :: ::

Elf Yourself

December 25, 2007

To make yourself look like an elf seems to be becoming a christmas tradition - every year now a few dozen friends "discover" this popular, yet cool, site where you can upload a photo and it will be transformed into a dancing elf.

The site uses flash to handle the dancing elf and is pretty neat. Interestingly, you may create elfs only during christmas time - in february the site closes only to probably reopen in december again. So, hurry.


ricardo at 11:39 PM :: ::

Double Slit Nightmare

July 19, 2006

Things like this keep me from sleeping at night. The quantum double slit experiment is freaky. But it could be put to good use, if only we accept it as correct (as I never will).

For instance, we could test cryptography algorithms. We record the information of which slit the light/electron is passing through, but instead of erasing it (to create the fringes), we encode it using some cryptography algorithm. IF the algorithm is unbreakable (provided we have erased the random-generated password), then we should see fringes. However, the experiment would not mean that the algorithm is really unbreakable - it would only mean that no one will ever break it, either because no one will ever try or no one will be able to. Either way, data should be safe forever.

Having a password to decrypt the information should also be useful for other things. Say we create a password, but never look at it. We beam the password to space by using radio signals and then erase any local version. What should the experiment look like? If there are fringes, it means we'll never recover the password or the universe (or we) will be extinguished before we are able to break the code. But it there are no fringes, this means password and data will be reunited! This could be done by many ways - we could in the future be able to travel faster than light, the beam could bounce back or an alien race could pick up the signal and have access to the data eventually. But if there are fringes, this means that we'll never recover the password. Indeed, if there are fringes, we would never try because we would believe it's impossible! Our beliefs can change the experiment's result, not only our knowledge.

The quantum double slit experiment can be used to predict some possible futures, or at least rule out possibilities. Such futures will be attached to our beliefs and knowledge, but are futures nonetheless. And predicting something we create should be a good thing. Or not.

ricardo at 8:47 PM :: ::

Making your own Lava Lamp

December 1, 2005

For some time now I've been wanting to create my own Lava Lamp. Actually, I tried only once. It seemed pretty simple by looking at a commercial lava lamp, so I gave it a try. I just got some paraffin wax and put into a glass of water. Then I heated the bottom and waited to see those lovely bubbles.

It couldn't be more simple. And it wasn't.

The paraffin wax melted, alright, but no bubbles were formed and I ended with a strange sculpture of solid wax that was neither beautiful nor artistic. Wish at that time I had a camera to show the mess.

Anyway, since then I found some nice sites on the web that try to teach how to make your home-made lava lamp. It's far from simple and reading those made me feel my commercial one was pretty cheap after all. Here follow some links:

In the Wikipedia there is an article on lava lamps that is instructive to understand why you're following all those instructions and nothing seems to work.

ricardo at 10:49 PM :: ::

Name That Game Audio Challenge

September 11, 2005

One thing we may always count on is nostalgy. The quiz game "Name that Game Audio Challenge" appeals to anyone missing the old games of the 80's, by challenging the player to guess which game a particular sound belongs to.

I did okay in Atari games, but ironically newer games were harder for me. All in all I got 9 of 18 right answers and found myself wondering how I enjoyed so much those 4 colors 2 tones games...

ricardo at 9:03 PM :: ::


August 16, 2005

After the SETI Program requesting the power of our personal computers to search for extraterrestrial intelligence, it is now time for a project to request the power of our own brains to develop artificial intelligence.

This is the goal of Peekaboom. From the outside, it is a simple game of guessing the picture. Players play the game in pairs and one is given a picture that the other must guess. To do this, the first player chooses parts of the picture to be shown. Both players receive better rewards when fewer parts are shown.

While the game itself is quite enjoyable, it is its purpose that makes it stand out. When players are playing, an underlying algorithm is constantly observing what people consider useful information in a picture. This, in turn, will be used to design better artificial intelligence algorithms, which may use an approach similar to the one we use to understand images in the real world.

ricardo at 9:11 PM :: ::

Bud Light's Real Man of Genius

July 2, 2005

A nice set of radio spots for Budweiser Light won the Cannes Lions award in its category. Really worth listening to each one. You may download those and much more here.

Made to go with the TV spot from Honda, also presented in Cannes, the Grr Game. Completely non-sense and very well done in Flash.

ricardo at 1:50 PM :: ::

Gathering for Gardner Paper Dragon

June 15, 2005

One of the most powerful optical illusions I've ever seen is Jerry Andrus' paper dragon. It is a dragon made of paper which is folded in a certain way that it seems to follow you with his head wherever you go. Very interesting.


(note to notpron players: yes, it is the same dragon. perspective is the key.)

The project of this dragon is very easy to assemble. It is not an origami, all you have to do is cut on the template lines, fold it and glue some parts. It usually does not work with both eyes on short distance, you may get a better effect by either closing one eye or looking at it from some distance (2 meters is enough). Also, light influences the effect, it is not good to have a direct light spot over it - the less shadows the better. Check this video to see how it works.

You may use Photoshop to change the color of your dragon, mine is green (dragons are green, aren't they?). I have made templates available in three different colors:

Green Dragon, Blue Dragon, Red Dragon

There are many optical illusions on this site, where the original template came from, many of them are viewable directly through the browser and others require some assembling.

Update: a commenter found a different version of the same illusion, with a skeleton instead of a dragon. I didn't assembly it yet, but it seems to have far less folds than the dragon, which may compromise the effect but make it easier to put together. You may find it here.

ricardo at 11:46 PM :: ::


TenByTen is something like a resume of the news on the internet at any given hour. When you access the site, you're given 100 words and 100 pictures in a 10x10 grid that are the most frequently cited among their sources.

The images get repeated frequently, but that's more or less wanted since it is a way to show that some image is being very cited and, thus, important for the time.

The interface is in Flash and new data is retrieved every hour by the server, so it is not done on the fly. The idea is a very clever one and well implemented.

ricardo at 12:20 AM :: ::

Straight Line Design

June 12, 2005

Some of the funniest furniture in the world: Straight Line Design. There is no price in the site, but I bet they are expensive. Imagine a whole house full of those things.

Nice Flash site, also.

ricardo at 12:02 PM :: ::


June 9, 2005

43things is an interesting twist to on-line communities like Orkut. When creating a profile, you define 43 things you want to do, including desires, wishes or plans. Then you are connected to people wanting the same things. People may comment on the items in the list and group into communities to exchange ideas on how to accomplish things.

The idea of the author, an ex-employee from Amazon, is to allow people to know what things are being wanted throughout the world and help them accomplish those things. Even if it is to take over the world.

ricardo at 8:19 AM :: ::

Peasantīs Quest

June 7, 2005

Still in the realm of adventure games on-line, there is the Peasantīs Quest, which is a Flash-based game that emulates those old Sierra style adventure games. The game is ugly, but is meant to be like this. There was a time where we only had 16 colors and 320x200 pixels to work with...

The game is not very long and is very funny. You may even save your progress, so its a good candidate to a game playable at work's breaks.

ricardo at 1:09 PM :: ::

A Case of the Crabs

June 2, 2005

For those that enjoy a good adventure game but don't have the time or patience to go buy one and install, a good alternative is to just play one on the internet.

A Case of the Crabs is a point-and-click mistery adventure game all made in Flash. You control the detective Nick Bounty and have to solve a major "diabolical counterfeiting operation" involving... crabs. The game features noir black and white graphics and good sounds, including speech. The game itself is not long and can be finished in an hour or less and is surely worth a look.

ricardo at 5:26 PM :: ::

Oceanic Airlines

June 1, 2005

Oceanic Airlines seems to be only a site about a bankrupt airline company, but only to those that do not watch the TV series "Lost". Those that do watch will notice that this is the name of the company that owned the crashed airplane and the flight it refers to in the note is precisely that one.

The site contains some eater eggs, one of them gives access to a teaser of the next season. Try entering the numbers 4 8 15 16 23 42 and click "Find". Then click in these numbers, in that sequence, on the following section.

A great idea indeed, though not new. "The Blair Witch Project" was probably the first to do something like this, mixing reality and fiction in a website.

ricardo at 2:00 PM :: ::

Terminal Island

May 30, 2005

A very different blog is the Terminal Island, a text-based blog with a text-based interface. Reminds good old DOS, but also those text game adventures we all learned to love centuries ago.

The idea: you are presented with a command prompt and have to type what you want to see. "posts", for instance, shows the posts. A horrible interface, of course, but someone had to do it. That's what is good on the internet: you think of something and someone had probably already done it.

The technology behind it is simple. The command prompt seems to be a input text form, blended using CSS. A javascript reads what one types and makes visible the appropriate DIV layer. All very straightforward.

ricardo at 9:55 AM :: ::