The Math of Golf

Solheim Cup 2009

I took up golf late last year and I’m slowly becoming a golf geek. After playing a par3 course first thing in the morning and then watching 4 hours of the Golf Channel to see the US team of women defeat the European women in the Solheim Cup today, I did a little searching through Youtube for golf instructional videos.

One of the gems I stumbled upon is this one from a high school physics project of an amazing golf shot. This is essentially the algebra behind the golf shot. Watch the video through the credits to see outtakes of the golf pro as he tries and tries again to make the shot.

Yet Another Online Dictionary


I stumbled across a site that describes itself as an “incredibly fast dictionary”. It’s known as definr (

The first question I asked myself is whether we need yet another online dictionary. Some folks use Wiktionary, much like Wikipedia it’s only as accurate as the folks making the entries want it to be, so most folks probably leverage something they trust: Compact Oxford, American Heritage, Merriam-Webster’s to name a few.

Yes definr is fast, blazingly so partly because it caches the top 10,000 definitions in memory. It also tries to guess what you’re typing as you’re typing a word to search, by the time you click Enter it’s got a definition at the ready.

The quality of the answers is ok, nothing to write home about when I compared some sample words to three dictionaries I trust listed above, but it’s better than some. While it’s not the best, it is worth taking a look at in my opinion. The value of seeing it propose possible words as you’re typing is interesting because it offers me an opportunity to discover new words previously unknown to me and that gets me excited because I’m a word geek. For instance, when I tried testing it’s ability to handle Gen Y lexicon such as “Fark”, by the time I got to the ‘k’ it offered the word farkleberry. Where the heck else would I have been offered an opportunity to learn about the farkleberry and sparkleberry bushes from eastern United States? :-)

BTW, ‘Fark’ was not in the definr dictionary, this is a good thing. The database is based on Princeton’s open WordNet 2.0, believe it or not you can download this lexical database yourself.

The verdict? I’m going to stick with OneLook as my first stop for dictionary searches, but I’m adding definr to my browser’s search plugins as a quick/available alternative because I think it has promise and it offers me a learning opportunity.

UPDATE Jan 2015:

Samuel Chong from Pasadena City College has assembled an amazing collection of wordnets for many languages. Check it out.

Shelf Life Chapter One

Shelf Life

James Spencer from pixel eyes productions alerted me to a new machinima series they’ve posted called Shelf Life, it uses the models from Half Life 2. I honestly think this stuff is a masterpiece! The quality if this video blows me away.

The audio is spot on and the music adds to the creepiness factor of this mind-bending thriller. The cinematic aspects are something you’d expect right out of Hollywood movie, not a machinima. For instance there’s a couple of pan shots early on, one of them is pretty complex that occurs outside the protaganist’s house and i recall thinking at the time ‘now this is what’s cool about this medium, there aren’t many films that attempt something like this’.


It’s about two scientists, one with the ability to visualize advanced theories related to the power of memory and the human brain, and one with the determination to do whatever it takes to reach a scientific breakthrough. They are both parts of one big puzzle, a puzzle that is a project that poses a bigger danger to humanity than anything else in history, and it’s up to one of them to expose the danger, even if it means putting himself at great risk.

Here’s part 1 below, go to their youtube channel and subscribe to keep up with each part to this thriller.

Getting Poker Fever Yet?

The World Series of Poker is happening right now, this 40th annual event started May 26 and ends July 15th. If you’re like me and not a good poker player but want a couple of tips to get involved in the game, I tracked down a few resources to get you going.

First, get yourself a copy of Winning at Internet Poker For Dummies. Once you think you have knack of it, find an online poker room. For god’s sake, spend within your limits :-)

Bonus tip:

Follow all the poker Tweets to keep up with your favorite players and events during WSOP:

How Twitter is Changing the World of Professional Poker


Poker players bluffing opponents at the table and via tweets?


Doyle Brunson is seventy six years old and he says he was up late last night in Vegas. He’s in a $10k game on the 24th day of the World Series of Poker and he just sent out a Tweet. "Still in 10k split," he said. "Didn’t sleep much but feel OK…." Is that an intimate look inside the minute by minute, high-stakes life of a poker veteran – or is that a head-trip of a bluff intended to make his opponents think he could be slow on his game today?

ASUS Laptops


Has anyone else noticed ASUS smartly capitalizing on it’s win in the EEE PC netbook market by providing more than simply minimalistic netbooks? Look at the ASUS N10E for example, this device appears to be bridging the gap between netbooks and notebooks.

It has a 10.2 inch screen, SD Card reader, 1.6GHz Atom proc, out of the box it has 1GB ram w/ 256MB video. And definitely unlike the netbooks it has a fuller size keyboard and touchpad. Those tiny keyboards are the number one thing that irks me about the smallish netbooks and makes it hard for me to use in meetings for extended periods or throughout the day.

Another cool feature called ‘Splash Top’ is the ability to boot directly into a VM with a suite of applications like Games or E-mail or Skype without having to boot into Windows if you just need quick access to one of the supplied apps. This should be very handy for when you’re on the road and don’t need the full OS. Popular Science recently awarded Splashtop with the ‘Best of What’s new’ award.

Last but not least, one of the best aspects of this laptop is the outstanding 1 year warranty for accidental damage!

Check out Laptop Reviews Central for full specs and details on the ASUS N10E.

Gay (Geek) Pride Parade in WoW

Proudmoore Gay Pride March

The Rough Trade Gaming Community (RTGC) is a social, ‘umbrella’ organization for gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered (GLBT)/friendly gamers. They have a strong presence in several popular multiplayer games, including World of Warcraft and City of Heroes/Villains.

RTGC, along with The Spreading Taint and Stonewall Family are hosting their 5th annual Proudmoore Pride Parade Saturday June 20, 2009 in World of Warcraft.

The parade route:

Horde will be meeting just north of Camp Taurajo in the Barrens. Alliance will be leaving from Theramore to join up with the Horde directly south of Crossroads. Then they all head to Ratchet to board the boat, which they traditionally crash due to so many people in one locale. After they’ve shipped everyone to Booty Bay from Ratchet, they’ll have and aquatic dancefloor for dancing, frivolity, contest, a craft fair, and photo ops!

Sound like fun?:

Think this sounds like fun? Watch this video and revel in the good times had in last year’s parade.

I wonder if my server will have a parade, you don’t have to be gay to participate in the parade…do you?


[via gaywired]

Women of Star Trek and their Uniforms


Juliette Fretté is a self described artist, writer, feminist and Playboy Playmate. After watching the new Star Trek movie, she wrote about a topic that geeks worldwide have wondered since they first watched ST:TOS in reruns. She asks: The women of Star Trek: Why are they wearing those uniforms?. This is a thoughtful article and not a diatribe by any stretch.

In this snippet she contemplates what she’s seen in the recent ST movie from JJ Abrams:

Though I did not condemn the garments as particularly offensive (especially in light of the film’s other valiant attempts at egalitarianism), I still found the notion particularly hilarious: that several hundred years into the future, where humans and extraterrestrials are portrayed as united in their intergalactic relationships, women workers are still wearing short skirts while men are wearing pants.

Here’s a random sampling of women from Star Trek, decide for yourself whether she has a point of not. I couldn’t find a pic of Zoe Saldana, the new Lt. Uhura in her old school mini skirt. I believe the answer to Juliette’s question is because the new movie incorporated some of the look and feel from the The Original Series, this includes the skirts.

Women of Star Trek

A ‘Time Bomb’ for World Wheat Crop

 Wheat - Stem Rust

The Ug99 fungus, called ‘Stem Rust’, could wipe out more than 80% of the world’s wheat as it spreads from Africa, scientists fear. The race is on to breed resistant plants before it reaches the U.S and Europe. It’s called Ug99 because it was first discovered in Uganda in 1999.

Soon it’ll be poised to invade the crops of India, Pakistan and Russia. After reading the LA Times story, I have to admit, this is scary ‘end of the world’ stuff.

Here’s more on the topic:

Bee-Killing Parasite’s Genome Sequenced

Honey Bee

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have sequenced the genome of a parasite that can kill honey bees. Nosema ceranae is one of many pathogens suspected of contributing to the current bee population decline, termed colony collapse disorder (CCD). Researchers describe the parasite’s genome in a study published June 5 in the open-access journal PLoS Pathogens.

In 2006, CCD began devastating commercial beekeeping operations, with some beekeepers reporting losses of up to 90 percent, according to the USDA. Researchers believe CCD may be the result of a combination of pathogens, parasites and stress factors, but the cause remains elusive. At stake are honey bees that play a valuable part in a $15 billion industry of crop farming in the United States.

The microsporidian Nosema is a fungus-related microbe that produces spores that bees consume when they forage. Infection spreads from their digestive tract to other tissues. Within weeks, colonies are either wiped out or lose much of their strength. Nosema apis was the leading cause of microsporidia infections among domestic bee colonies until recently when N. ceranae jumped from Asian honey bees to the European honey bees used commercially in the United States.

The ARS scientists used genetic tools and microscopic analysis at the ARS Bee Research Laboratory (BRL) in Beltsville, Maryland to examine N. ceranae. They collaborated with colleagues at the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, Columbia University, New York, New York, and 454 Life Sciences, of Branford, Connecticut.

Sequencing the genome should help scientists trace the parasite’s migration patterns, determine how it became dominant, and help resolve the spread of infection by enabling the development of diagnostic tests and treatments.

ARS is a scientific research agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Read more at PLoS Pathogens:

[via ScienceBlogs]