February 15, 2006

MID-WEEK MUSINGS

-- stumbled upon an interesting commencement address last year by david foster wallace at kenyon university. don't ask me where kenyon university is or how i ended up there. he makes some interesting points about the liberal arts education and what exactly "learning how to think" really means in the constant crises of the real world. he also starts the speech with a funny story that i sort of like:
There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?"
i thought that was funny. i think his book of short stories Oblivion was well worth reading, but i haven't even attempted to dive into the enormity of Infinite Jest. ============================ -- some interesting notes popped up on my rss reader today about google and constraint-based design. it mostly emanated from a guest article on businessweek by a vp at google. she makes some interesting points about designing within the constraints of technology and user behavior, and how those constraints can be inspiring rather than just restrictive. she is then summarily blasted by the folks at 37 Signals and James Governor, who make the point that perhaps google knows little about real constraint, because they throw armies of money and smart people at every problem, even some that are "science projects". it's an interesting rant by the other two parties. my take? google deals in the constraints of technology and user expectations, not of manpower and resources. does that mean that they can't talk about constraint? no, but they should be sure about what they're referring to. mayer seems to do a good job of that. does that mean a company like 37 Signals is BETTER to talk about constraint? probably yes. to me, google is just another company making the transition from innovator to large market pusher. it's an oft-traveled path by many companies, groups, and even popular culture icons. what comes along with that path is criticism, unfounded or founded. they'll be dealing with that a lot (see: recent china and google desktop controversies). ============================ -- in looking back over that short guide i wrote yesterday, a few things pop out at me: 1) that list of starting hands would qualify me as relatively loose, which is weird considering that i used to consider myself as a pretty tight player. kingsley notes that i "stopped being tight last year." 2) one thing i didn't mention that i meant to is that, as you watch everyone at the table and pay attention to every hand, you'll notice how little OTHER people pay attention. this is, of course, another one of those ways to find out who can play; figure out who else is watching. an interesting experience i once had was at a 5-10 NL game at bellagio. as i thought about how to approach the hand when the action was on me, i looked up and saw all 8 other people at the table staring at me intently. tough table. 3) what should you be watching for as you start out? watch hands and try to guess what people have. as you get better at reading, your accuracy will increase on their showdowns.

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