Blabberbox:Random blog-like posts by pftq and his related selves.Share on Twitter

GDC VR Mixer

March 8th, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
Attended the GDC VR Mixer last Thursday, which was ironically more impressive in VR than the GDC event itself.

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Star Wars Modern Lightsabers

February 11th, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
Thought this was hilarious - just making fun of how ridiculous the lightsabers in Star Wars 7 are.
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Observer Article on Bitcoin, Ripple, and Stellar

February 5th, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
This is a very interesting read detailing Bitcoin, Ripple,and other aspects of the FinTech industry before the drama with Jed McCaleb last year. It’s like the Dark Pools book of the cryptocurrency industry. I recommend reading it in full.

Wells Fargo, for example, actually had a dedicated 20 person team researching bitcoin last year and was ready to dive into cryptocurrencies before MtGox went bust.
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Overemphasis on Numbers

January 21st, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Society | #
This is primarily a response to Erik McClure's blog post on age discrimination.

I'm of the same age, followed a roughly similar path through school, and also thought that young adults in general were fully capable if given the chance. I've since graduated and moved to the SF Bay Area though; you'd be surprised just how many new college grads actually cannot think freely and critically. I'm sure you must have seen at least a few headlines pointing out some of the absurdity in Silicon Valley now. (Having lived here for 6 years now, I'd say the media actually understates how nonsensical some of the thinking around here is, but that's for another discussion.) That's not to say we should box people up even more when they're younger, just that I can see where some of the prejudice is coming from (yet it can be argued that it's a self-fulfilling prophecy from treating people like drones in the first place).

Speaking on just my own experience in the SF Bay Area though, my thoughts are not so much that the issue is a prejudice against age as much as the issue is an overemphasis on credentials, test scores, and numbers in general. The problems with education today are what I personally see more as part of an overall lack of critical and creative thinking in society - too much data driven. People just want to look at some threshold, do an if-greater-then condition, and be done. If you look at some of the most talented programmers, as an example, many actually do not have a formal degree in Computer Science or are self taught; recruiting based on numbers like we do now would never find them and actually weed them out. On the other side of things, I've met engineers from Ivy League schools who can barely code but get the job nonetheless from great marks in school; some cannot build a program from scratch at all unless you give them the skeleton to fill in the details on, which is arguably the bulk of the work.  I've come across engineers from firms as prestigious as Google who would not even dare explore restaurants without some external confirmation of their decisions, justifying their decisions with "social validation" (their words, not mine); there's actual fear in their eyes at the thought of going somewhere that doesn't have enough Yelp reviews, fear of the uncertainty and making any decision not backed with numbers. Of course, this is flawed thinking, lots of appeal to majority, authority, and other fallacies, but the sad part is a lot of our peers who do this most likely are not even aware of what things like logical fallacies are (in a non-math context). If you've read books like "City and the Stars" or "Childhood's End", it is getting quite close to that at least in some pockets of the country.

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The City and the Stars

January 21st, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Recently Read | #
The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke
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Reflections on San Francisco

December 13th, 2014 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
It's been two years now since I moved to San Francisco.  It's hard to decide whether to move away as the people around will constantly tell you this is the place to be and how awesome it is.  Yet it's harder still to ignore that there's no real scene outside of tech as well as how unsophisticated (read - ghetto) many things are that you'd think would be taken for granted in a big city.

Some of the posts I've found on Quora are pretty spot on with my own experiences, though mine are limited more to the San Francisco side of it.

SF vs Chicago
     I very much agree with the comments on paying so much in SF for something subpar (though in high demand), as well as there being homeless people screaming constantly, even in the more upscale SOMA and Financial District.  Chicago has a lower cost of living yes, but it seems at times that even if you spend $3000 on a studio here in SF, it doesn't compare with what you can get spending just $1500 in Chicago.  The quality in SF just isn't there even if you wanted to pay for it. (Instead, you have people now paying over $1200 for 170 sq ft.)
     Many people would cite the weather in SF as being a pro, but I'm rather on the other side.  SF is never that cold but it's never that warm either.  It's just always mildly cold and very chilly.  I grew up with four seasons, so I'd very much prefer having a decent summer (warm enough not to carry a jacket or sweatshirt) even if it meant a colder winter.  But the darnest part is that SF actually feels much colder than Chicago because of the chill factor.  Twice I've traveled back from Chicago with a full trenchcoat that was perfectly warm in Chicago but left me feeling bone-chilled once I came out of the Embarcadero station in SF.  On paper, SF seems warm, but it's a different humid kind of cold that goes through your coat, whereas that in Chicago is no different than what you feel going skiing.  This probably pertains much more to the city and its fog than bay area, as I've lived in Berkeley/Oakland as well without as much issue with the weather.

     The points about the arts/culture in SF I think are pretty accurate, but my experience is mainly among peers in early 20s.
     I'm a pretty heavy reader myself (read Wrinkle in Time in 5th grade, the entire Harry Potter series of the time in one night during 6th grade, Crichton in 7th grade, Hitchhiker's Guide in 8th....).  However, I've rarely come across others my age here who really enjoy reading, and among those I do find, often times they don't quite understand the details or more critical themes in the novels (they read it like a textbook).
     It's nice to finally see someone else note the lack of diversity in San Francisco, contrary to the stereotype of it being a very diverse city.  It really is mostly white and Asian, which is not a bad thing, but there's also a very strong conformity aspect underlying all of this, such that the diversity that does exist exists more on the surface as the people you meet largely think and behave alike.  Again, not necessarily a bad thing, but as someone who grew up in Sacramento at schools which were much more balanced and interesting, it gets rather tiresome to hear the diversity in San Francisco constantly being touted when it's really a tokenism more than anything.
     The commentary on owning cars is funny because the public transportation (contrary to popular belief again) is pretty terrible.  It really only runs along Market St across the city.  To get anywhere else would be by bus, which is often crowded and unreliable.  The author forgets to mention that even if you wanted to own a car to bypass all this, parking is extremely hard to find and often expensive (my apartment won't even include parking for residents, charging about $100 a month instead on top of the already ridiculous rent).
     And yes, much of San Francisco just "shuts down" after 8; many places often don't even open past 5 on the weekends (or at all on Sundays).  It's perplexing as I see plenty of tourists, just no one wanting to take their business.

Again, much of my experience is from the perspective of someone in their early 20s though.  If I were later in my life, I might enjoy the city more as somewhere to have a stable life, but as someone yearning to explore and see what the world has to offer, there isn't a whole lot here outside of working in tech.  A friend of mine described it best as SF being rather "mono-cultural".

The difficult part on all this is I really haven't lived in any other city long enough to know if it's better out there. As before, I worry most about just having the "grass is greener on the other side" syndrome and not finding it any better elsewhere either if I were to actually give up what I have here and move.
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Sheeply Wolves

December 5th, 2014 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
Watch out for the sheep in wolf's clothing.
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The Five Dimensions

November 11th, 2014 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
A point can break a line.  A line can divide a plane.  A plane can split a body.  Somebody can change history.  Everyone's histories together compose a universe.
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