Saturday, October 31, 2009

Montagenik has a new follower!

Welcome new follower to montagenik! At the moment I am responding to people who dm'd and tweeted me - and to some email back up... I also need to revise my options P/L sheet as I had to return some profits yesterday when the market suffered a little down swing. (This actually necessitated an early exit from the mHealth summit for me - so I could manage a margin warning. It is not as bad as it seems, but some options moved into the money and some some of out of the money options had big swings in Mark to market P/L that affected my margin. I will live to trade another day. go over to my super secret finance blog to read more...

On to saving the world. Thursday and Friday was the mHealth summit. It was an incredible opportunity to speak with people working in all areas of mHealth, from tracking smokers in the US to developing telescopic additions to phone cameras for telemedicine. The big question is, is in the developing world how to pay for this

better answers to questions - these are some questions that people asked that I gave half baked answers to - here are better answers

1)Why dont you use google sms... RapidSMS (or other roll your own gateway solutions) let you work in any country with any local telecom. I dont think I could have used google sms in Malawi. For us deployment google sms might be ideal. In the us, I have worked with celltrust for developing an SMS service for product validation (eg are you really drinking evian, tropicana, popov vodka). This is a paid service. I think using google sms is a viable solution though. I have no idea how well the service works, so I cannot speak to it. However, it is nice to be able to have your own sms gateway for testing and that is what rapidsms and frontlinesms lets you do.

2) What IVR solutions have you used. I could not think of anything because I was super shot and in SMS mode, but here are some IVR solutions I have worked with (not tried google yet).
some examples
ribbit - you have to use actionscript/flash/flex and/or do some wack AJAX work around

3) can you make money with this stuff?
For mhealth surveillance in the developing world - No.
However I do think there is a market for mHealth surveillance in the developed world. Say for example I want to collect data on a variety of vitals

I have to go take dog to vet - must respond to other questions later

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Montagenik goes to DC

As I was sitting outside Union station I gazed up at the symmetric of the neo-classical architecture of Union station (and really DC) - and I thought what an ambitious project the USA is. I hope it succeeds. In the blink of an eye I saw a sort of post apocalytptic DC with broken columns and sooty statues. But that was only in my minds eye, not in reality.

I made my way to the World Bank for drinks and mingling at the end of the mHealth policy sessions. Tomorrow is the NIH mHealth summit. I will be talking about some of the work that I did in Malawi. I am very excited to hear what other people are doing in the mobile health space. I just was speaking with someone about authenticating perscription drugs. He told me that 80% of drugs in Nigeria (or Lagos I forget) are counterfeit!!!! That is truly insane. Where is the inflection point, where can you do the most damage control. His company is working on a smart phone verification - similar to the Salta solution, Lian, Breu and I discussed a year and a half ago. However, his solution is a bit more elegant. Rather than a key solution, he just has a scratch off label with a secret code. Good idea!

When distributing bed nets in Nigeria (I think) there was a similar problem with supply chain management. Although, in this case, the problem is with missing bednets, not with counterfeit bednets. The solution is, that at each stage of the supply chain you log how many bednets you have. That way you can track where in the supply chain you are losing the most bed nets.

Now both of these, are social problem, or human problems, although we can use technology as a monitoring agent - to let us know when human processes go ary.

I was also recently reading up on microfinance. I am very interested in expanding mobile technology, and leveraging ecurrencies like mPesa, to set up microfinance, or microloan, operations, and using the social networking enabled by these technologies to build communities around collectives. Again, in my readings, the technology is not really a solution - it is an enabler, an extension of the senses. The technology is not a solution, rather we must get the correct processes in place to enable microfinance, and let technology extend our reach.

This may now sound like drivel. It is because I need to analyze my portfolio after today's apple and after hours fslr performance - ugh - I will be selling calls I think

Server Stuff

So I started migrating to rackspace. A server solution that uses cloud computing. The initial impetus was that I was disatisfied with the django and ruby solutions available for media temple (they are super expensive), and I cannot install various software packages that I want to use in my projects - like csound and pygame.

The potential for rackspace is huge. I get a server that I can install any software on for a minimum of 10 bucks a month. To put this in perspective, in order for me to run django on media temple I need to pay 20 bucks a month. AND I cant even install my own software or my own django server (for example if I want to use cherrypy or apache rather than their serving solution).

Mediatemple temple does let me have my own box for like 50-100 bucks a month -but I dont feel like forking over that sort of cash for a project that is not generating cashflow.

However, I did not realize that I would have to build EVERYTHING from scratch. This is very cool - but it means that it will take a bit longer than I anticipated to set everything up. And I am not a pro unix/web admin so - I really dont think I should be running anything but beta sites on this server (at first).

So... I will keep my media temple account - remove media temple django containers and move projects to media temple from rackspace as they leave beta. This means I will also do email hosting through mediatemple.

That is it!
This morning I am updating changprojects website, I am creating yet another blog - for chang projects - and I am waiting for my new changproject business cards to arrive - yippee

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Overpopulation and Kant

The moral imperative - adopt a maxim and if you can universalize this maxim -then it becomes a moral imperative. Something like that.

This was a thought I had over the weekend while admiring the architecture of Mies and Rem at IIT in Chicago.

procreation and the environment

basically the earth is suffering from a depletion of resources, perhaps we are procreating too much...

if i make it a moral imperative not to have children - i adopt it and everyone else will adopt it - then humanity will cease to exists.
So obviously this is not ethical according to Kant.

but if i have children, and so everyone has children- then we will have overpopulation - again bad .

Number. So we need to include numbers. it is not an either/or question but an amount question. How many children is it ethical for one person to have according to Kant's moral imperative.

Perhaps every person who wants can procreate 1 person - to keep population constant - or reduce it a bit.

This is one of the reasons we need to empower women in developing countries - educated women engage in family planning -
then we wont have to resort to Kant

Some links for the day:

Monday, October 26, 2009

In the cloud

Here I am with working while my boys sleep - Lian and Otto. I am broadening my musical horizons by listening to insound radio.
I am enjoying some Volcano Choir - which I just googled and is apparently according to Pitchfork side project of Justin Vernon (Bon Iver). I like Bon Iver - saw him/it in concert a few months ago. However I do think that indie music needs more of a spectacle - perhaps dancing robots?

Lian just woke up (because he set his alarm and it went off) and he told me to shut down my music! I am allowed no fun!

Well - Lian told me to shut everything down just in time, because mysql just finished installing on my cloud server. I really am not a fan of mysql. I prefer sqllite or just flat files. Relational database (and databases in general) are overused.

I hope I remember the password I set for mysql daemon... that reminds me - I think I need to install cron!!!
I have decided to run my webservers using cherrypy because apache is bloated. I am in the midst of installing sendmail - and I am considering hosting my mail in the cloud as well!

There really needs to be a lamp install script - just as amazon has EC2 instances with different defaults. It is a massive pain to try and remember all the basic lamp apps I need. I just had to install make for goodness sakes.

This evening I had a lovely Tai Chi class, and reconnected with EM Cioran on the subway to and fro TC (as well as some TC buddies who gave me day trading tips - thanks Riz - I cant use them on Lian's account tho - he has forbidden me from trading bank stocks)

I am loving EM Cioran - the Temptation to Exist. He is expressing all these end of empire thoughts about Europe that people are now expressing about America. The funny thing is that he thought the Tartars would win the cold war - oops.

What I find most interesting, aside from a number of quotable tidbits, is his discussion of the impossibility of a westerner to adopt eastern philosophy. The philosophy of Zen, the void, inaction. That inaction in the west is different from inaction in the east. Why - I am not sure - I am still reading the book after all - however it has something to do with the western conception of thinking and action. That all thoughts must lead to an action. Westerners are held captive my phenomena. (I like that thought) It also has something to do with protocol and civilization and rarification. I will update you all more when I finish reading The temptation to exist.

i am back on theory - next up -rereading Foucault the archaeology of things. I need to get back to the nexus of philosophy and anthropology.

Has it really been two days since I blogged?

I started monday by making a list - I made a list on paper and hope to transfer it to the internet - Remember the Milk. I would love to then display my remember the milk to do lists on my blog. I wonder if I can create a list app using the remember the milk api. I think RTM is super powerful and could become the list equivalent of twitter. But are people not into top 10 lists anymore.

in the absence of api list linking I will reproduce for you below my list of things to do today:

move to rackspace cloud hosting
set up twitter account for changprojects

start blogging at - I am hoping this will be a record of my trading activity
set up twitter account for quantitativebitch

take dog on log walk - need a new book to read while I chill with dog at band shell - I have decided to put down Ka - although poetic and interesting- I think it suffers from no editing .

Check up on Malawi RapidSMS stuff
Pull in Claude's Rapidsms documentation - and make sure cron runs properly - on the rackserver

Set up prelim wesbsite for changprojects - (the notes are in the end of my temptation to exist book - i think)

Look at Margie's dvds for dance documentary

set up github for fiction/novel project

continue work on inventory tracking project

Meet with adam clark

figure out when I am going to Morningside heights and see Jess and her baby then

email followup with people I have not followed up with.

Now we get into things I will probably not do today:

move doeraetweet to rackspace and set up csound
move blacklisttweet and other tweet app to rackspace
finish the singularity song on csound - figure out why pd sucks so much
perhaps write rapidsms h1n1 vaccination app
finish interactive brokers options scanner
finish logging footage for Naomi,Alyssa,Joelle,Meredith Barcelona

The good news is I have at least finished one thing for today! blogging at montagenik!
Maybe I will read poetry when I walk the dog today

Friday, October 23, 2009

Chicago (sang musically like sinatra)

I am writing this in Argo Tea shop in downtown chicago - the loop. I do love Chicago. In many ways it is less oppressive than new york. I am not on my A game this morning. Too much wine from wine parings that Lian and I had at Alinea last night. The molecular gastronomy was divine - and was payed for by my amazon puts - thank you amazon for making money this quarter.

This morning I awoke to a rapidsms documentation email. The current documentation is crap and a place holder. Claude, a rapidsms developer, wrote his own documentation. I hope he merges it with the github master so that my script pulls it and publishes it on the website.

Sometimes my anti social nature makes me wonder why I want to work on collaborative software projects - but then when someone like Claude comes along and does something useful, you see why.

Paul and I may embark on yet another doc - this will make 3 in the hopper. This one is partially inspired by Margaret Beals, an improv dancer and New York Character. I think we should do a podcast called New York Characters. Paul also had a brilliant idea - but I cannot reveal it here - it is too brilliant. But it is somewhat analogous to Balzac's Human Comedy. Margaret is a fantastic lady and real character - I have been watching some of her old improv dance dvds. That is fun. I know nothing about dance, I am not very kinetic or physical - but I would love to learn more.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blog pileup

I have 3 half written blog posts for the past 3 days that I have not finished yet.

I blame jet lag and a cold or allergy or something.

But enough! Time to get on the bandwagon.

Last night I had a dream where I over and over again sang 'O Superman'. This is clearly a message from my subconscious to finish The Singularity Song. I was stymied when I attempted to map some words to a sinewave via PD and the PD on my ubuntu netbook kept crashing. Saturday night I got some good software/tech recs from John Chao and so I have renewed vigor. Either that or I will use csound. I dont know if there is a point to using PD rather than Csound other than PD has a nice interface and provides interaction. If I am just composing something do I need interaction? No I just need to compose it. However it would be nice to compose something that could be 'Played'. So PD is an instrument, you can play a song in different ways via the interactive patches. csound is more like a recording. It is baked, you play the same thing every time. To use the distinction in Carroll's philosophy of motion picture book, the first is a template, and the performance is are, the second is a token, and that is not art - its performance is not art. I think those are the terms.

Oh yum. Lian my glorious husband some brought in some coffee made via our very complex vacuum pressurized coffee machine. Yum again!

Now that I have got out of QID my options day trading is going very well - my main strategy is to sell over priced puts or to sell over priced covered calls. - So I am playing with vol(atility). Probably not wise considering the vix is low -but I can live with the risk.

Malawi finally got the ISP working, which is good news because I think the HIV/AIDS scouting team is going out next week. Today I am going to test out the system and hopefully the Ministry can go into the field and continue training next week.

I am also finishing my presentation deck for the mHealth summit next week and preparing for a trip to Chicago where I will celebrate Lian's birthday with some molecular gastronomy.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Flight of the Iron Condor

Although I am not suffering from sleep symptoms of jetlag, I am suffering from disorientation and crazy anxiety. For the first time since high school I am not receiving a steady paycheck - in return for sitting mindlessly at a desk. I feel like I should be working on my projects all the time, or improving my etrading strategy, or doing something similarly productive. However, our new puppy Otto is reminding me of Alan Watts and reminding me to just play. He likes to sit on my lap and alternatively sleep and try to eat my computer.

So, I am late on my deadline for slides for the mHealth event. I thought it was due Oct 20, but apparently it was due Oct 12. I am trying to extend the deadline, since I am still coming up with the changprojects branding - and i am not sure changprojects is the right name - because people keep calling it changeprojects (probably because you cant spell change without chang :)

I am in the midsts of setting up some spreadsheets for my options strategy - since it is more m than e at the moment (manual not electronic) and I am making tea. All the flying has dried me out.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

High anxiety

After an eventfully pilgrimage with Otto to the juice place on ludlow - Otto and I collapsed on the couch. This was probably not the best thing for my jetlag - but I did sleep through the night. I got up at 6am and was immediately plagued by anxiety. Will Chang Projects be able to help people - does the name suck - and sound too much like Change? My e-options strategy sucks and i will become a pauper. I should have done this years ago - rather than now - when I am old and crotchety.


And then I started to sweat.

And started to think that I am Madame Bovary. Because I am plagued with flights of fancy and my dog walks around with holes in his stockings.

Then I decided it was time to make a list and cross things off the list.

So the list:
tickets/hotel to chicago (check)
etrade fix (check)
blog (checking)
malawi server bs (checking)
git narrative project (uncheck - email group)
teach class (write syllabus - uncheck)
bltweet *uncheck)
eco carbon sheit (DO TODAY!!!)
joelle naomi alyssa meredith barcelona

must day trade now - may do crazy stuff with REIT ETFs - Otto von Bismark is sleeping on my lap

I am writing a new novel about the impossible female american hero

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

NYC Again

Back in NYC! It seems that that otto still remembers me - although he does not like me working on the computer. He will have to get over that. Lian told me to take Otto out and introduce him to new things. I think I will do exactly that after I have taken care of some basic tasks. I made some headway on the rich application for tracking green inventories - and hopefully i can finish that tonight. Lian will be out late - sitting on an architecture review panel. I will be home bonding with the dog and perhaps engaging in a juice fast. Otto - the dog - seems to go for the eyes of our stuffed animals - this is slightly worrisome - i hope he does not eat the eyes. Lian- it seems - has been unsuccessful in crate training otto -Otto now pees in the crate. Lian thinks we shoud get some cesar books but i think we just need to let otto know who the alpha dog is. Now that mama is back (me)- i think we will be able to make some progress. I hope to also write some beter posts. Oops Otto just tried to bite my computer.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Today is our last day in paris. We are spending it eating, shopping and flaneuring, with a brief visit to a museum exhibition on surrealism. Paul and I had some vegan food last night and it sucked all the water out of my body between the hours of 12 and 2 last night. I have been rehydrating all day. Now we must go again for more eating, shopping and flaneruing

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fools Journey

Yesterday Jamie and I set out on a quest - to pick up a gold bracelet for ma mere. It took us from the right bank to the left bank from the marais to some unknown territory west of Charles De Gaulle star. Along the way we had many adventures. It rained, a flock baby pigeons ate out of my hand - thank god for purel, Jamie and I became separated.

There were also mini victories. I found the mustard shop, La Maille. We saw a very cool public art exhibition at the Tuilleries. And finally, alone, and tired with foot pain - I found the shop with the gold bracelet. The real reason I could not find it was that my father had sent me an incorrect spelling and so I google mapped the wrong place. It is a beautiful bracelet though - and I took some nice picts with my nikon fe2 (velvia 100).

Meanwhile, Paul lay home, sicken by Napoleon's revenge. Although he was able to work up the strength to go across town to the Agnes B store on the left bank. Paul's quest is to visit every Agnes B shop.

The day ended with a sumptuous dinner in a Persian restaurant near the Beaubourg and a walk around the Marais looking for Finkelstainz deli (or whatever).

Today more flaneuring on left bank and perhaps the Palais De Tokyo exhibit (perhaps Pomp. exhibit)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Nighty Night

Here's to getting some sleep tonight! I am shot. This morning started with breakfast at the bastille, where we silently protested the corrupt aristocracy and proclaimed equalite liberte fraternite- and ate croissants. Then I was induced to take a jog with Jamie. We ran along various side streets from the place des voyges (approx) to the Beaubourg then over to the Seine and across the Seine to Il de La Cite = where we caught a glimpse of Notre Dame, then back through the Bastille and through the place des voyges back to the hotel. It was a great run and helped revive my limbs after 4 days of travel.

Once back at the hotel, Paul informed me that he found another - better - hotel. 13Bit is a company of sybarites. Last night when we checked in, we were utterly horrified at the hotel and began a frantic search to find another reasonably priced hotel or perhaps craigslist share. So Paul finding a hotel was a great relief. This is one of the reasons it is so great to work with Paul. This was excellent news as our current hotel seemed like a flop house and i essential huddled on a chair in the middle of my room trying not to touch anything (or to let anything touch me) .

We packed up and in 10 min were out of the Hotel Saintonge - and on our way to the hotel Du Vieux Marais. As I learned from the fb responses to my twitter post - there are a few of you out in internet land that also like the Marais. Yes, the Marais is great.

After showering we went to lunch in the Marais where a very nice waiter humored by conversing with us in french. Then we made a pillgrammage to the Mariages Freres tea house, the Agnes B for mens, and took in some window shopping and people watching. We walked a big loop from the marais to the place des victories to the louvre, then chateles then back to the hotel. then internet for an hour and made some stoopid option trades and finally ate dinner.

Blog posts with itinerary litnies are boriing -I understand - but I am tired and hopefully tomorrow with my 8 hours of sleep I will be able to post something more enlightening

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Creer une blog

Is it une or un ?

Finally got into Paris after about 4 hours on various trains through the benelux. Last night I had a fun evening eating fried mushrooms in Eschede, reading 'The globalization of water' and googling the history of the netherlands and the linguistic history of dutch. Dutch means some think like low german (german of the lowlands - neider means low). There was an interesting graph showing the relationship between Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian. Danish and Norwegian share vocabulary but not phonology (same words sounding different) while Danish and Swedish share phonology but not vocabulary (sound alike but mean different things). This of course brings me to my pet obession - Finnish - a linguistic isolate (totally unrelated to the other germanic languaes)- and so obviously a holdover from our alien forbearers who seeded our planet (JK :)

The doc interviews went smashingly. We learned a lot - and we want to go and shoot some dried up river beds. Also Paul and I discussed the idea of next time interviewing people for two days. On day one have the first meeting and wow them with our fantastic conversational skills and personal hygine, and day two get into the heart wrenching interview.

The Malawi ISP is STILL not working properly - although this will hopefully be fixed tomorrow - The UNICEF Malawi crew is on the case. I'm trying to push off the field work another week - arg!

We got into to Paris too late to eat. I am dehydrated and carbohydrated - I hope my room does not have bed bugs - I have fond memories of staying in Paris as a college student and my roommate getting scabies - yuck - i am too old for scabies. I am super exciting of getting up tomorrow - doing some tai chi in the place des voyges and eating croissant and cappucino and dipping my croissant into my cappucino just like Proust did. Ahhh ... Paris.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Enschede En-ska-day

I am here FINALLY in Enschede. It took 4 trains from Antwerp to get here - but I'm here and looking for stroop wafflen. This is all to shoot interview with the founders of the Water Footprint concept - Derk and Arjhen. I told Paul we cannot have any talking heads in this documentary, which immediately caused Paul to argue with me and swear to make the entire doc talking heads. 'Why are we going to Enschede and shooting these people if not to have talking heads.' Good point, for research - I say and to start building relationships with people in this field. I was also hoping to maybe get a water field trip out of this -but we had to reschedule our interviews so they all take place in one day - making a field trip on this trip impossible. We can still do interesting things with talking heads but I would like it for either voice overs or dramatic content - I basically want more visual content than verbal content, I want some compelling drama, why is this a documentary and not an interview, book, podcast, lecture, or something else (laser light show).

In our first doc, Video Out I though it would be interesting to some how tell the story of VJing by producing a VJ type movie -this did not happen - but I think we made a compelling movie. With Lumia I had no structural asperations - I just wanted to make a second movie. The interesting thing about lumia was that it was a story about a piece of history and an artform that has no history, so it was an exercise in constructing a story and constructing a narrative. In retrospect it might have been interesting to make a Roshimon doc (I am using lots of Roshimon analogies lately) about the subjective nature of documentaries and histories in general - have different histories of light art and thus comment not only on Lumia but on documentary filmmaking- DEEP! too bad I just thought of that. Perhaps I should have been blogging while we made Lumia.

Then we made two features - The Discrete Charm of the Hipster Class (aka game theory, aka the system). This is still out has festivals - it does not seem to have the festival success as Lumia and Video Out - However I think it is a MUCH BETTER MOVIE! I think the reason for a poor festival run is 1) No name actors 2) strange format. We made DCHC as a bunch of very loosely related vignettes about games. All kinds of games: mind games, video games, games of chance etc. It was sort of unconventional, but I thought it was different and engaging.

Now we are finishing up our feature narrative about a indian financial analyst who people think is the messiah- its a comedy.

But about the water documentary... what will it look like. I am not sure. We may even end up making the documentary about the history of measurement (the water footprint being another type of measurement). This is a serious issue - we are using up the non renewable resources of our planet. There are other questions - who is being most affected by the problems of sustainability, what are their stories, what are the groups funding methods like the water footprint, carbon footprint, eco footprint - what are their stories. All these measures are couching the problem of sustainability in in the language of mathematics. This is the language of epistemic superiority (in the 21st). This is opposed to the language of ethics (or perhaps religion) that some instinctively feel is the domain of sustainability - we have a moral obligation not to destroy our environment - and we could probably look to different 'theories' utilitarianism etc. to defend this. The metrics of sustainability also appeal to the semiotics of economics. Economics is the king of policy, perhaps similar to sophistry (given a bad rap by socrates) in the Greek Agora. Economics drives policy. I hope that the efforts of the metricicians (mispelled neologisim - you heard it here first folks) results in large scale change. It is more than a mental game, it is really about the future existence of the human species. So what will the water documentary look like? I'll tell you when we get some more interviews.

Tonight I am finisihing Arjen's tomb I have to finish their tomb - The Globalization of Water - which I cannot start until I finish obsessively compulsively reading The Philosophy of Motion Pictures. Hopefully I will start on that tonight.

Also in Antwerp we we stumbled upon this beautiful church:

Ok feeling jet lag brain freeze - must log off

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Blog Marken or something

I am a bit loopy from jet lag. My internet is a bit slow - BUT faster than Lilongwe. I am sitting in the lovely Banks Hotel in the sort of SoHo of Antwerp. I have already had some Belgan waffles - yum! 13Bit is having deep conversations in beautiful cafe lobby of the Banks Hotel, but truly I am too tired to follow. My mind is wondering why the F*#$k the dow is going up (I am long QID). That is about all my mind can do right now, due to jet lag. I need to do some action script for a carbon footprint web project, and attempt to log into the malawi server (Malawi UNICEF changed Internet Service Providers, but I am enjoying a great email relationship with the new Malawi Ministry of Health Webmasters. I also need to finish updating the website for ChangProjects - and other things - wow I'm tired now.

I am reading Noel Carroll's The Philosophy of Motion Pictures. I really enjoyed Carroll's book on criticism - which is one of the few lucid discussions of the philosophy of art and criticism. What is it about a film that makes it art? Or, as Pirsig would say, what is Quality in film? Hopefully I'll figure something out before the water footprint interviews this week. Next post from Holland.
Now I am going to sell all my stock.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Is Backgammon Broken

I distinctly remember learning backgammon while on a family vacation. Every year we would vacation to the same place and I would watch the old men (old they seemed) play with these leather bound sets with leather bound dice cups. It was all very tactile and I can close my eyes and remember the smell the beach and the yummy hot dogs.

It has been 20+ years since I last played backgammon, but I am a gamer. The other day I decided to play backgammon on my iphone instead of chess. I was trying to remember the rules, learning from my mistakes as I went along - and then I got my backgammon mojo back.

I think backgammon is much easier than chess. At least easier for me. I think this is because there are limited backgammon strategies that work. If your opponent lacks skill, you dont even have to take his/her strategy into account. In chess, you really cannot avoid acting or reacting to your opponents moves. (Maybe this points to my chess weakness since really you should be acting not reacting)

The chance element, the dice roll, indicates a weakness with the game core mechanic. It means you cannot play the game on strategy alone - that to keep the game interesting you need to include chance. I wonder if you explicitly use probability to guide your moves if you could 'break the game'. Chance, although a weakness, is not a game killer. If the game is long enough I suppose the law of large numbers will remove any bias. The doubling of double rolls, however, really provides an unfair advantage beyond skill.

Is backgammon broken? Perhaps. But the weakness is from the limited strategies, but not because of the chance element.

Let the backgammon savants flame me - I am ready

Thursday, October 1, 2009

More Shots

Yesterday 13Bit interviewed Manny Kirshheimer for a blog,video podcast, future documentary. Manny is a completely independent filmmaker who has been making documentaries for the past 50 years. We spent a fantastic few hours talking to him about the craft in his apartment on the upper west side of manhattan - that he has lived in since 1964! We even got to see a few snippets of Manny's new documentary about war protest prints- it is a visual masterpiece.

I cannot believe that 13Bit is leaving monday for europe. It feel like I just got back and the to do list is growing out of control. I think the Malawi servers are back on line today - so I am going to follow up with that - along with the proposed field training. I am in the midst of putting up a new website and I am considering using django to host the content but I sort of dont want to deal with it Perhaps that is too much complexity for a dinky little site.

I ate too many brussel sprouts yesterday and I am considering a juice fast.