Me and Facebook

tl;dr: I don’t use Facebook much. If you want to contact me, I would prefer nearly any other mode of communication. I am also going to stop autosharing posts from this blog onto Facebook. RSS readers are great; get yours today.

Recently I checked Facebook and it said something like “You’ve added N friends this past T units of time! Thanks for making the world more connected!” and I just couldn’t any more. Facebook friends are not friends. Dunbar’s number is around 150, maybe double that if you want to stretch it; humans cannot handle that many human relationships. Facebook’s siloed ecosystem is the opposite of connected with the rest of the Internet.

That is one of many reasons I pretty much don’t use Facebook any more. This is not new, but I’ve never formalized it. Also, I figure others might assume otherwise since I still do have an account and still accept friend requests and post sometimes. Thus, I’m writing this post.

Here are all of the reasons:

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HabitRPG: harnessing the addiction of web games with cheap leveling mechanisms to destroy bad habits, avoid procrastination, and improve your life.

(Ironically, I discovered it on /r/InternetIsBeautiful.)

These claims sound a bit hyperbolic, but they are actually working on me. Most notably: for the three days after I discovered it, most of which has been spent at IOI selection camp away from school and worldly concerns, I’ve only gone on reddit once — and only for about two minutes. Instead, when I got bored of programming, I worked on economics homework, which is something that never came close to happening during the earlier iteration of camp. I just finished it and checked the to-do item off; as a result, I leveled up to Level 2 and unlocked the item shop. Yay! The sense of achievement is every bit as real as it is ludicrous.

I don’t know if I should be happy that I finally found such an effective way to psychologically manipulate myself out of procrastination, or sad that I’m so susceptible to psychological manipulation. I also don’t know if this game will be so effective after its novelty wears off, but considering the fact that I stuck with my last equally ridiculous sort-of-RPG for about three years, I can hope it’ll work for a while.

One of the unproductive things I’m trying not to do is staring at blog posts that don’t really have a solid conclusion and spending half an hour writing and deleting the last sentence, so I’m going to avoid doing that. Let’s be productive together!

Rankk Solving Statistics

Funny, I go on a trip to Penghu followed by a four-day science camp and also get dragged into drawing classes and some sort of movie advising joint, and this is what I decide to blog about.

Since it’s summer, I went back to Rankk and solved stuff. This is lots of fun if you’re good with computers, plus a little math, cryptography, and general puzzling. I’m still stuck on level 8… oh well. Since the levels didn’t seem very indicative of difficulty to me, I decided to do some analysis.

New challenges have been added to Rankk over time, so my metric of difficulty is the number of solvers divided by the time from release to now. Of course this is far from perfect; for example, a challenge’s author doesn’t always seem consistently counted as a solver, problems with lower numbers and problems that will help level up are more likely to get checked out by new rankkers, and so on. But this is just for fun.
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Google Reader Powering Down

Google just announced it’s shutting down Google Reader in three and a half months… I am participating in the friendly Reddit DDoS-hug of all the alternatives (list, but scroll around in the thread for a few more). Darn.

It’s very early to pick an RSS replacement, but I think I’m going for The Old Reader. It’s mainly a process of elimination: I don’t want to pay money or get my own server, Pentadactyl doesn’t seem to like Feedly (extension for the Fox), and I don’t think I want to create any accounts or link anything to Facebook, so there was my choice. Their blog post makes them seem ready for the challenge, although some waiting seems involved.

Well, on the bright side, happy Pi Day! It’s also Albert Einstein’s birthday. TIL.

Web Service Envy

I discover things on the internet. That is, I think, a very large portion of what it’s for. I follow links and links to links and repeatedly refresh an RSS reader once every five minutes. But there are so many places to look, so many environments to feel out, so many services to pick from that I agonize forever over all of the choices.

Sometimes I wonder, why can’t we all just have one service for The Internet? Take a look at this wonderful array of icons I bumped into during geography research! (Images are an extremely important way of engaging one’s audience, but I’m not using a screenshot so you won’t be tricked into trying to click on them and because it looks cooler. Hence the awesome horizontal artifacts.)
[A badly taken picture of a box of icons for too many sharing services]
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Putting apostrophes in one’s passwords does not appear to be worth the theoretical entropy increase. The resulting failures can be invisible, silent, and quite hard to diagnose. There was a Lifehacker article a while back mentioning using all sorts of Alt codes for more obscure Unicode characters; I wonder what that might cause in the same password systems.

But Apple, no spaces? Really?

Rankk 8.0!

(No, it’s not a factorial sign. Your mathematical sense of humor is entertaining.)

I’m a sucker for challenges of every kind. I just can’t resist to take a shot at any of these. On one hand, it’s a great way to work out my brain while having fun. On the other hand, it’s one big reason why I still procrastinate so badly. And there are so many responsibilities and projects I want to do…

Still, the feeling of achievement is just amazingly exhilarating.

So it seems the rules were phrased a little more tightly than I thought. Thus, I’ll offer a censored version of the solutions to the level 7 tasks, by replacing every character with something else. Here.

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