The Router in your head.
You can scan a crowded lobby and pick out a familiar face in a fraction of a second, a task that pushes even today’s best computers to their limit. Yet multiplying 357 by 289, a task that demands a puny amount of processing, leaves most of us struggling.
One day I took my step-Dad’s car to the car wash. When I pulled back out onto the main road, with wet tyres, the rear end of the car let go and came around enough for me to be driving mostly across two lanes of oncoming traffic.
The following 3 seconds was in super-slow-mo. I can remember in astonishing detail what I did to get the car straight and back on the right side of the road. Letting the accelerator up a little, feeling traction, steering adjustments - everything. That same afternoon I was totally baffled by a bit of multiplication.
It got me thinking how amazing it was my brain could ‘slow time’ when my life depended on it, yet I couldn’t muster that same, focused, processing power to do my math homework.
Turns out we are really really good at doing one thing, like not getting killed or picking a face out of a crowd - but us meat bags can hit a mental processing traffic jam when we have to process certain simple computational tasks that need us to refocus repeatedly, like multiplication.
It’s a fascinating trade off: have enough neurones to cater for every situation or take a processing hit, learn rules and be programmable.
The Top Idea in Your Mind
I’d noticed startups got way less done when they started raising money, but it was not till we ourselves raised money that I understood why. The problem is not the actual time it takes to meet with investors. The problem is that once you start raising money, raising money becomes the top idea in your mind. That becomes what you think about when you take a shower in the morning. And that means other questions aren’t.
Other questions, like what what you are actually being hired to do.
Sounds a little bit like Twitter. They are hired by you and I to make tweets possible. Since they started worrying about making money they’ve been slowly changing the service into a money making platform instead of a tweeting platform. The top idea is making money, not making tweets.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spent a day working on some weird network problem only to have the answer ‘pop’ into my head suddenly while shampooing what’s left of my hair.
Full article is well worth a read, hit the source link before your next shower.
Library Restroom Enlightenment
So, today I used the library bathroom at my community college…
..for the first time.
First thing I noticed when I walked into the stall was:
“RULES 1 & 2 ARE DEAD, /b/. LOVE, ANON. P.S. /x/ WAS HERE”
Scrawled on the right wall of the stall, in #2 pencil. I thought about writing(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST), but nahh.
There was some other stuff you might expect, call xxx-xxxx for a good time, shit like that. However, it was pale in comparison to the full-fledged conversation taking place on the toilet roll dispenser.
Black ballpoint pen (who really is a cool guy) proudly stated “I LIKE TRANNY VIDS!!”, to which blue ballpoint pen rudely professed “its because your gay”. Sharpie chimed in (with unnaturally neat and legible handwriting despite the awkward position of the toilet roll dispenser), “Who doesn’t like trannies?”. Sharpie seemed like the reasonable type.
So, here I was, observing these musings, and pondering their meaning. It crossed my mind that the library must be the home of horny internet addicts.
Later it occured to me that those people used the toilet I was sitting on and the whole thing felt kind of surreal.
(via Twice Removed Awesome and Anonymous reader)
Big company complacency combined with a curious maths guru, fantastic story.