I’ve moved

August 10, 2016

I am now publishing under my own domain name, so go to my new blog.

Escape Rooms for two in Sydney and Brisbane (no spoilers)

May 8, 2016

I want to write some reviews of escape rooms. Which is slightly challenging because we don’t want to see any spoilers. But anyway, here we go. For the uninitiated, an escape room is a thing where a group of people get locked in a room and have to solve puzzles using physical objects in the room in order to escape. Typically there is a one hour time limit. You can get (and will usually require) hints. Each puzzle is thematic.

Enigma Room (Sydney)
Room: In Memoriam.
Time taken: ~5-10 minutes remaining.
Difficulty: Medium.

This is a small escape room operation in Sydney with just two rooms and I think they do a really good job. The hint system operated by ipad and they kept an eye on how you were progressing at all times so they could easily give you an appropriate hint when you asked for one (there was also an option to have them give you hints, not taken up).

I thought there was one inelegant clue and one minor error appeared during our run that didn’t affect the puzzle. Overall, this was a very good room with a good variety of puzzles at the right difficulty. The attentiveness and care of the staff was a plus. A.

Break the Code (Sydney)
Room: Da Vinci.
Time taken: ~20s remaining.
Difficulty: Hard.

We only just escaped in time having to ask for a hint as soon as we got to the last puzzle as otherwise we would not make it. Here the hint process was via two-way radio, so you had to be precise and describe what you did and did not know when asking for a hint.

There were mostly good, at times challenging problems. Like Exitus, they knew what they were doing and I would be happy to return to do another of their rooms. A.

Escape Hunt (Sydney)
Room: Robbery in the Cottage.
Time taken: ~15 minutes remaining.
Difficulty: Easy.

The vibe here when walking in was just not the same as the other rooms. It was larger and felt more corporate. A nice touch was that they had puzzles available to play with while waiting for your game.

The hint system again operated by two-way radio as at Break the Code. They have multiple copies of the same room and the soundproofing was not great. At one point while in the room, I could hear a radio giving a hint for another room (I’m not sure if it was the same one, I decided I didn’t want to hear). The puzzles were OK. With the number of other options in Sydney, this wouldn’t be at the top of my list. B-

Solve and Unlock (Brisbane)
Room: Missing Missy.
Time taken: ~negative three minutes remaining (oops).
Difficulty: Hard.

The website says that they accept up to eight people in this room, which would be rather crowded. I’m coming to the point of view that escape rooms are probably better done with the minimum number of players.

Here we were given a two-way radio, though at times the organisers unitalerally decided to contact us over it with hints. I have to say that this room was not a particularly satisfying experience, with some parts poorly clued. B-.

Escape Hunt (Brisbane)
Room: Bomb at Government House.
Time tamen: ~20 minutes remaining.
Difficulty: Easy.

While this has the same parent company as the Sydney Escape Hunt, the different franchises operate independently and have different rooms, though there are some commonalities (e.g. the clothes you can dress up in afterwards for a photo).

They kept an eye on us and hints were automatically communicated to us via a screen which also had the time counting down. We snagged a couple of early hints, then raced through the second half of the puzzle to get out in a fast time, yet one that was still off record pace. A distinctly better experience than the Sydney one with the same name. A-.


Footy Tipping

March 20, 2016

With one week to go to the start of the footy season, I’ve decided to have a go at the Monash footy tipping competition for the first time.

This is not your ordinary footy tipping competition where you simply get one point per correct team tipped. There are in face three tipping competitions. There is the probablilistic, where you enter a team and the probability you think they have of winning, the normal, where you enter a team and a margin, and the Gaussian, where you enter a margin and a standard deviation. Points are scored according to formulae on their website which I believe reward (over the long run) being as precise as possible in your estimation of the probability/standard deviation.

Links III

February 27, 2016

Is it a bug or a feature?

Everything is Yours, Everything is not Yours. First person account of being a refugee.

Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy set to the music of Indila’s Dernière Dance.

Chaitanya has a blog.

Tomato parable. (This is the guy responsible for the squiggle).

Why post here when I can get a much bigger audience on Reddit?

February 14, 2016


Links II

September 21, 2015

PhD Comics is coming out with a sequel to their movie.

Untrusted is a cool game where you have to modify the javascript which creates each level in order to pass it. (progress is saved via a cookie in your browser).

Catches win matches. And Z-score’s Cricket Stats Blog is the only place I’ve seen to provide any statistics on the matter.

Spooky Inference and the Axiom of Choice by Matt Baker. Don’t forget to click through all the links he provides. Infinite hat problems are weird!

The AFL ladder. Yes I know the home and away season is behind us for another year. But this clean site looks like it may be my go-to for 2016.

Review: WeatherWoman (Movie)

September 20, 2015

Those of us above a certain age in Australia will remember a time when SBS did not have advertisments. These days, you even see English language movies on the national multicultural broadcaster, presumably as a result of increased commercial pressures. In ye olden times, however:

Movies were not in English. Often European, sometimes Asian (but never from Bollywood).

Ratings often contained the advisories: (s,n,a) (sex, nudity, adult themes). In practice: you see breasts.

The movies could be anywhere on the spectrum from arthouse classic to plain weird.

Where does WeatherWoman fit in this spectrum?

It is in Japanese.

You see breasts.

And it is squarely located in the weird end of the spectrum.

So what’s it about, you ask? Let me try to describe it without giving away too many spoilers.

There is a woman, who is presenting the weather on TV. While performing this job, she flashes her panties, live on TV.

Understood it so far? Well, that is the plot. And yes, it is somehow perfectly possible to make a feature length film with this plotline. OK sure, there are a few other scenes, such as the scene where you see breasts that I alluded to before, as well as an epic battle between the two alpha females at the end. But it’s the panties that drive the storyline.

It’s something that will go down in the annals of Japanese weather history.

I didn’t make up that last sentence by the way. This is a direct quote from the film.

One and a half stars. Because it will go down in the annals of Japanese weather history.

Review: YJ MoYu YuSu 4x4x4 for Speed Cubing Stickerless (with pink) (X-cube 4 Mechanism)

September 19, 2015

My old 4x4x4 cube from Mefferts (which will always have a special place in my heart as the first thing I ever bought online) no longer turns very well, and after recently experiencing the difference between my 4x4x4 and a high quality cube, I was motivated to score myself a replacement.

Hence, This cube was procured from the HKnow store.

Let me first be clear about what this cube is not:

It is not a cube for the serious speed-cubist. If you’re going to be playing with your cube a lot and/or want speed, then you want to get yourself a higher end cube.

The turning mechanism is perfectly adaquete for the purposes of recreationally solving the cube. As advertised there are no stickers so you don’t have to worry about the colours falling off. For me, the yellow and green colours are a little close for comfort but your colour perception may be different. Each side of the cube is 6cm long.

So if you are looking for a cube to recreationally solve a few times. Or to put on your mantlepiece to show off. And you’re a tightarse who doesn’t want to spend the extra money on a higher end model. Then this is the cube for you.

Would recommend.


June 1, 2015

If presented with a tarball with a tar.lrz extension (e.g. after waiting many hours for one of these torrents to download), proceed as in the following example:

lrzuntar Ubuntu_14.04_LTS_sage-6.7-x86_64-Linux.tar.lrz

The Prime Number Theorem (up to a constant factor)

April 14, 2015

It is suprisingly easy and pretty to give an elementary proof that the prime number theorem (that the number \pi(x) of primes less than x is asymptotic to x/\log x) is true up to a constant factor. (I will address only the part where we show that there are many (i.e. at least ~cx/\log x) primes less than x.)

Consider a binomial coefficient {n \choose k}. Let p be a prime. We first want to know what the largest power of p is which divides {n \choose k}. There is more than one way to express the answer, the most elegant one I know of is as follows:

Add the numbers k and n-k in base p (by the usual primary school algorithm). Then the number of carries that occur in this addition is equal to the greatest power of p dividing {n \choose k}.

What is most important for us is the fact that this number is no more than \log_p n.

We immediately get

\displaystyle \prod_{p\leq n}p^{\log_pn}\geq {n\choose k}

which is of course equivalent to

\displaystyle n^{\pi(n)}\geq {n\choose k}.

Make a good choice of k and we are within a constant factor of the prime number theorem!