Monthly Archives: April 2008

Off to Vegas

We’re off to spend a week at the luxurious Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas! Several reality TV shows were filmed there, and it was also the site of 2007 MTV Video Music Awards; how odd it is that the resort is also the venue for the mental health and substance abuse treatment conference that Kathryn will be attending during the week. Seems like she’d be able to apply any newly acquired skills almost immediately to inhabitants of the resort.

We have been looking forward to this trip for a long time. We’re hoping to catch some shows, see many attractions, check out The Strip, ride the rides at The Stratosphere, and visit Red Rock Canyon (check out this incredible panorama). All without going bankrupt. I very much doubt Vegas lets you leave with your pockets full.

Don’t worry, Iris, we won’t spend your college fund. Hopefully.

Update on the triops invasion

Their horrific cannibalism continued; now only four big triops remain out of the three dozen or so that hatched almost two weeks ago. How’s that for a survival tactic? I’ve been reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy; the novel describes apocalypse survivors who resort to cannibalism due to a severe lack of food. Hopefully we will never have to experience such gruesome necessity employed by the resourceful little triops.

Video of them on days 5 and 12: (cannibalism at 0:38!)

(youtube link)


day 6

Triops, day 6Triops, day 6

day 10

Triops, day 10Triops, day 10

day 12

Triops, day 12Triops, day 12Triops, day 12

day 13

Triops, day 13Triops, day 13Triops, day 13Triops, day 13Triops, day 13

Triops critter lab, day 3

There are much fewer little triops swimming around today. Looks like somewhere around 15 or so. I don’t see any floaters or sinkers, so I think the stronger triops have turned the weaker/smaller ones into tasty snacks. Triops Thunderdome!

It is almost magical how these things can came from just a dried out little dot.

More photos and video to bore you with:

Day 3 hatchlings

Day 3 hatchling video. An excuse to play with iMovie.
(youtube link)

Yeah. I need to get out more.

Triops critter lab, day 2

Day two of growing triops is going well. The little triops seem slightly larger already; it is easier to make out their legs and tails. They are very active. It is hard to see if cannibalism has ensued, since I didn’t count all those tiny little dots that hatched yesterday.

Photos of some of the Hatchlings on Day 2

Video of the Hatchlings on Day 2 – Slightly less fuzzy than yesterday’s video

(youtube link)

How long before they eat each other?

I bought Iris a triops kit a while back. Triops are like sea monkeys, but cooler. You get these tiny, dried out eggs that are in a state of diapause, or dormancy. Just add distilled water at the right temperature, and watch the triops hatch and grow. But the eggs in the kit did not hatch, despite our best efforts. So, I sent away for replacement eggs, received them a few days ago, threw them into a tank of distilled water. A day later, the swarm of dot-sized triops emerged:

Cute triops babies. Getting ready to eat each other. The video’s a bit fuzzy because it’s hard to film tiny swimming dots with my camera.

(youtube link)

There are so many! There has to be at least thirty of them in there. I was only expecting to see a few little hatchlings. But after reading about Ryan’s experience with triops cannibalism, I imagine the triops count will dwindle over the next few days.

Atlanta suicide

These burgers are offered by The Vortex Bar & Grill in Atlanta:

I should try them when I go to Atlanta in July. That way, I won’t have to buy the return ticket to fly back to Roanoke.

I wish more businesses shared The Vortex’s policies:

The Vortex Bar & Grill is not politically correct. If you are easily offended, there is a good possibility that you will be offended here. We offer our customers delicious grilled animal products, a great selection of booze, and the option to smoke cigarettes. Consider yourself warned.

At The Vortex Bar & Grill the customer is NOT always right. We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone, especially if we think that you’re a great big jerk. We strive to keep The Vortex an official “Idiot-Free Zone” at all times, so if you’re acting like an idiot, we’ll be sure to let you know, right before we throw your stupid ass out.

(Thanks, Eric (resident DBA at LegalEdge), for this restaurant tip)

Get your ass to Mars!

Sergey and Larry have released an important announcement:

(youtube link)

Free genetic programming book available

At the EvoStar 2008 evolutionary computation conference in Naples, Italy (man, I wish I could have gone), three scientists have released the completely free and downloadable book, “A Field Guide To Genetic Programming”.

Genetic programming (GP) is a systematic, domain-independent method for getting computers to solve problems automatically starting from a high-level statement of what needs to be done. Using ideas from natural evolution, GP starts from an ooze of random computer programs, and progressively refines them through processes of mutation and sexual recombination, until high-fitness solutions emerge. All this without the user having to know or specify the form or structure of solutions in advance. GP has generated a plethora of human-competitive results and applications, including novel scientific discoveries and patentable inventions.

This unique overview of this exciting technique is written by three of the most active scientists in GP.

This is an incredibly useful and practical book for anyone interested in artificial intelligence and machine learning. It is an up-to-date guide to the subject, summarizing two decades of research.

What kind of problems are genetic programs good at solving? The book tells you what traits these problems have:

  • The interrelationships among the relevant variables is unknown or poorly understood (or where it is suspected that the current understanding may possibly be wrong).
  • Finding the size and shape of the ultimate solution is a major part of the problem.
  • Significant amounts of test data are available in computer-readable form.
  • There are good simulators to test the performance of tentative solutions to a problem, but poor methods to directly obtain good solutions.
  • Conventional mathematical analysis does not, or cannot, provide analytic solutions.
  • An approximate solution is acceptable (or is the only result that is ever likely to be obtained).
  • Small improvements in performance are routinely measured (or easily measurable) and highly prized.

Get the book here.