Coming back from the hiatus

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It is actually hard to believe that it has been over 2 months since I last blogged.  Thing have been going crazy the past couple months (still is) and blogging has been on my to-do list everyday, but it just never got crossed off.  However, in case anybody was wondering whether I was going to return, the answer is yes I haven’t left yet.  Remember how I hate leaving unfinished business?  I hate the thought of this blog becoming another of numerous blogs that are left abandoned without good bye.  Prior to starting a blog, I thought very hard about this and decided the I wouldn’t just let it die, at least not without a proper closure.

I recently started medical school at Rosalind Franklin University in North Chicago, IL.  Things are already really busy (I should really be studying right now) and will continue to be for years to come.  Would I be able to keep having interesting adventures for this blog?  If yes, would I have time to blog about them?  After all, during the past 2 months, I was trying so hard and going on so many adventures that I kind of didn’t have time to blog about them.  I considered properly closing down the blog in pursuit of a bigger season in my life, but I decided against it.  I still have lots of ideas and many adventures are still out there.  I promise to write at least 1 post per week, no matter how short.  I suspect the quality of my writing or my stories might depreciate as I get busier with school, and I apologize for that in advance.  But hopefully in the midst of many lackluster posts you might find a small gem once in a while.

***

Right now I don’t have the time to tell you about all the adventures I’ve had in the past 2 months, so I’ll list a few bullet points here.  Perhaps later I’ll get around to some of these stories.

  • 6/25/2014 – I went to The Piano Guys concert at Pantages Theater.  It is quite unlike me to spend lots of money on concerts, but the Tookish side of me took me there.
  • 6/26/2014 – Unfinished business.  I took a couple of 후배s (Korean word to describe people who were your underclassmen in school) to dinner.  It had been ~1 year since I had promised them dinner.
  • 7/11/2014 – I went deep sea fishing again.  This time overnight on a full moon.  I caught a fish.
  • 7/19/2014 – Saw Shakespeare at the park at Griffith Park with friends.  Twelfth Night.
  • 7/20/2014 – Fun DIY project of painting my old keyboard.  Lesson of grace somehow learned in the process.
  • 7/25~7/30/2014 – Drove to Portland, Seattle, Palo Alto, and back.  A couple thousand miles driven, 1 wedding attended, a dozen wild blackberries picked, 2.5 audiobooks of The Hunger Games listened to, and 16 old friends met.
  • 8/2/2014 – Friend’s birthday party at Huntington Beach.  Lots of shenanigans.
  • 8/5/2014 – Last day of work (teaching test prep).
  • 8/6~now – Driving to Illinois, getting my first speeding ticket, living by myself, settling into an apartment, spending much money, meeting old friends in this foreign land, finding a church, white coat ceremony, starting med school, and already making new friends.
  • 8/17/2014 – New record broken: 2 months without being late.  Punishment still to be bestowed.

Simeon Koh

 

 

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

I am running out of time for adventures.  I am starting medical school in August, which will be an adventure of course, but it will mean less time to do some of the random things I have had time to do for the last 2 years.  So I’m trying to have as many adventures as I can in the next 2 months or so.

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Last last Friday I went to Laguna Coast Wilderness Park to hike.  It was a bit far from my house (~1 hr drive) but I was getting somewhat bored of the trails near home.  About 4 years ago, I went to Laguna Coast Wilderness Park for research field work (looking for lichens), and I couldn’t forget about that place because it was so awesome.  This time, I went with my friend Aaron, and we started from Nix Nature Center (see map).  We started up Mary’s Trail, up Little Sycamore, turned left to come down by Serrano Ridge, Camarillo Cyn Rd., and up Stagecoach South Trail.  I can’t say how many miles it was, but it took us about 3 hrs and 45 minutes.  I probably could have done it a bit faster, but we stopped for lunch, and took lots of breaks.

It was a really enjoyable hike.  Lots of shrubs, some trees, and sometimes birds and animals were seen throughout the hike.  The weather was really nice too, since it’s near the sea.  Towards the end it got pretty difficult because we were pretty tired and the weather was getting warm.  We eventually made it and expressed our happiness in a very tiresome manner.

An interesting thing about this park was that the facilities are really nice.  You could tell that good money went into building the Nix Nature Center.  Also, the restrooms were nice and the water fountains worked!  Most amazingly, the park had little tubes of sunblock for free!  I’ve never been to a place that gives away free sunblock.

***

Afterwards, we drove down to the beach to cool down.  When we got there the tide was coming in so the waves were pretty strong, which was fun.  However, the waves knocked my glasses away and I lost them.  Sad panda.  Plus the tide was coming in, so there was no way the glasses would wind up on the shore.  Thankfully in my car I had my prescriptioned sunglasses, so I drove back home without dying in a car crash.

***

After we got home and washing up, we decided we burned too many calories that day, and thus needed to reverse our exercise.  So we went to Slater’s burger, and I got the Hawaiian burger PLUS a mint-chocolate Guinness milkshake.  The food and milkshake were really good, so YOLO swag, right?  Actually, that was way too much food and I actually didn’t feel very good afterwards.  I guess this is America.

***

All in all, an adventurous day it was indeed.

Simeon Koh

 

Not Being Late #7: Relapse

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In my Not Being Late post #5, I boasted of my 1-month streak of not being late.  Those were splendid days indeed.

I think the streak went on up to 5 weeks, and then I was late to something (Not Being Late post #6).  And everything kind of went downhill from there.  Throughout April and some of May, I kind of relapsed into my old self.  I was late to all sorts of things that should have been really easy to be on time for.  There were a couple of situations where being late was worth it (like staying 15 min late to tutor a student studying right before for his AP calc exam), but mostly I was just irresponsible.

I won’t say being tardy is like an addiction.  It’s not like I can’t live without being late (and need to be more and more late to feel a sense of euphoria).  It’s more like being in shape.  It feels good to keep in discipline consistently, but it does take very deliberate effort, which makes it very easy to relapse back into an un-prompt lifestyle.

While I am surprised that it’s the end of May yet I’m still working on my New Year’s Resolution (I assume very small percentage of people make it past 1 month), I do need to reboot myself.  I’m currently on a 2-week streak again (yay gummy bears!), so hopefully I’ll make this streak into a personal record.  Wish me luck.

Besides, this year I’ve so far made 19 tardies.  This means the next one will get me to 20.  Hitting 20 is very very bad, because it gets me to a “Milestone Punishment.”  (If you have forgotten what that means, review my rules from my first post.)  Keep in mind that Milestone Punishments are accumulative, so I’ll have to do both 10th-tardy Milestone and the 20th-tardy Milestone Punishments.  That is scary.

Here’s hoping that I’ll never reach my 20th tardy.

Simeon Koh

P.S.  I made an edit to Punishment #5, which was “Donate $30 to an organization I oppose.”  Many people thought I should reconsider that, and I finally had a chance(?) to really think about that one when I got that punishment twice in a row.  In the end I ended up donating to an organization I would support, party due to a timely email from my friend about THIS.  My friend’s friends are the ones putting their business skills to invest in the future of Southwest LA.  If like me you have a soft spot in your heart for the urban poor in LA, please check it out.  Thanks.

Unfinished Business: Picma

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An email I received on 6/12/2012 from a friend of mine said, “you have been warned,” with a link to the game Picma.

Picma is an online puzzle game where you use clues to deduce which grids should be colored, and if you solve it right, you get a picture at the end.  The easiest ones took me as little time as 8 seconds, whereas the hardest ones took several hours.  Back in summer of 2012 I started playing Picma thanks to my good friend who emailed me the link.  I played it through pretty well… until the puzzles started getting frustrating.  I got stuck on a couple and it got discouraging to play, so I paused for a while.  Then somehow I lost my browser cookies and thus lost all my progress.  That was super discouraging and I stopped playing after that.  Since then I had revisited Picma a couple times, but never bothered to make significant progress.  However, Picma was always discreetly in the back of my mind…  So in the spirit of this unfinished business series, I decided to go for it once more.

Not surprisingly, the easy ones were fun, and the difficult ones were frustrating.  The feeling you get after completing a nice puzzle is incredible; the feeling of finding a mistake 75% of the way through a hard puzzle (and thus having to scrap most of your progress (but not exactly knowing how much you need to scrap)) is so devastating to a man’s spirit.  However, as Rudyard Kipling wrote in the poem “If,” a man should be able to “lose, and start again at [his] beginnings.”  As Picma taught me, it is a very very difficult thing to be a man (or woman).

Why not forget about Picma?  Why not just enjoy the easy fun puzzles and pretend the hard ones don’t exist?  Life is too short (yolo) to waste on internet games, let alone a frustratingly difficult one!  I believe that life is like a meal.  There are umami-ful meat and satisfying rice, but there are the tough vegetables and other nasty things…  However we need both the delicious and the undelicious for good health.  Likewise playing only the easy fun puzzles would limit my life to the basics, whereas the frustrating puzzles would challenge me and force me to think differently.  Life lessons from Picma (who knew?)!

Anyways, it took me 2 years but I did it in the end.  No flash game shall bring me to my knees!

Simeon Koh

 

 

Math is Useful – Cell Phone Game “Wind Runner”

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Screenshot_2014-05-06-19-05-41

 

I.  BACKGROUND

Wind Runner is/was a popular Korean cell phone game that I recently got re-addicted to (now that I’ve abandoned Candy Crush).  It’s a simple running game where you tap the screen to jump over obstacles and collect stars.  You earn money (aka Gold) after each run, and you can use the gold to summon little pets, which help increase your score.  Pets come in D, C, B, A, and S grades; D grade pets are the least powerful, and S grade pets have the best benefits.

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To get higher grade pets, you combine 2 low-grade pets.  You combine 2 of the D-grade pets for a chance to get a C-grade pet; you combine 2 C-grade pets for a B-grade pet, etc.  There is a fee for each combination attempt.

  • D + D ⇒ C  (you pay a fee of 200G to combine)
  • C + C ⇒ B  (fee is 1000G)
  • B + B ⇒ A  (fee is 2000G)
  • A + A ⇒ S  (fee is 5000G)

The tricky thing is that combining pets don’t always succeed.  If it fails, then you lose 1 of the pets you offered up for sacrifice.  You also don’t get a refund on the fee you paid for the failed combination.

To buy pets with in the first place, there are 2 options:  You pay 2500G for 1 pet in the D~B grade.  Or you pay 10,000G for 1 pet in the C~A grade.  The first option is cheap but gets you lower grade pets, which means later you pay more to combine them for higher grade pets.  The second option is 4 times as expensive, but you get higher grade pets to begin with.  Then the question is, which option is the more cost effective choice?

 

II.  DATA COLLECTION

The first thing I had to do was to figure out the probabilities of getting a certain grade pet, as well as the success rate for each combination.

Probabilities of Summoning a Certain Grade Pet – Option 1 (2500G/pet)

  • D:  84/100 = 84%
  • C:  14/100 = 14%
  • B:  2/100 = 2%

Probabilities of Summoning a Certain Grade Pet – Option 2 (10,000G/pet)

  • C:  77/100 = 77%
  • B:  15/100 = 15%
  • A:  8/100 = 8%

Combination Success Probabilities (p) & Fees (f)

  • D + D ⇒ C:  75/99 ≈ 76% = pc     (fc = 200G)
  • C + C ⇒ B:  57/124 ≈ 46% = pb   (fb = 1000G)
  • B + B ⇒ A:  9/65 ≈ 14% = pa       (fa = 2000G)
  • A + A ⇒ S:  1/19 ≈ 5% = ps        (fs = 5000G)

 

III.  ANALYSIS

Expected Costs

Let’s define some things:

  • D = expected cost of a D-grade pet
  • C = expected cost of a C-grade pet
  • B = expected cost of a B-grade pet
  • A = expected cost of an A-grade pet
  • S = expected cost of an S-grade pet.

We don’t know D yet (we’ll calculate it later), but if we did, we can use it to calculate C.

Say we succeed combining two D pets in our 1st attempt.  Then

C1 = 2D + fc

because we spent two D pets and paid the fee fc.  This has a probability of succeeding equal to pc.

Say we fail the 1st attempt and succeed in our 2nd attempt.  Then

C2 = (2D + fc) + (D + fc).

The (2D + fc) is for the successful attempt and (D + fc) is for the failed attempt, since we lose only 1 of the D pets and pay the fee nonetheless.  This has a success probability of pc(1-pc), since we must first fail (probability 1-pc) and then succeed (probability pc).

Say we fail 2 times and succeed in our 3rd attempt.  Then

C3 = (2D + fc) + 2(D + fc)

at probability pc(1-pc)2.

Now let’s combine all of these to find the “average” or expected cost of a C-grade pet:

C = (prob of success at 1st attempt)(cost1) + (prob of success at 2nd attempt)(cost2) + (prob of success at 3rd attempt)(cost3) + … forever and ever and ever and ever…

C = pc(2D+fc) + pc(1-pc)[2D+fc+(D+fc)] + pc(1-pc)2[2D+fc+2(D+fc)] + …

…which simplifies to…

C = [D(pc+1)+fc]/pc.

I add infinitely many numbers and somehow it equals this relatively simple thing?!  How is this possible?!  By beautiful magic of mathematics!  I didn’t write out the work in case math scares you, but if you’re curious check out the magic right here.

Similarly, we can find that

  • B = [C(pb+1)+fb]/pb
  • A = [B(pa+1)+fa]/pa
  • S = [A(ps+1)+fs]/ps.

This means that if I know D, I can solve for C, then solve for B, A, & S.

 

Calculating D – Option 1 (2500G/pet)

Recall from the DATA COLLECTION section that if I spend 2500G on a pet, I have 84% chance of getting a D-grade pet, 14% for a C-grade pet, and 2% for a B-grade pet.  In other words,

2500 = 0.48D + 0.14C + 0.02B.

I have 3 variables, so I need 3 equations to solve this.  I already know that

C = [D(pc+1)+fc]/pc, and

B = [C(pb+1)+fb]/pb.

I now have 3 equations, so I can solve this system of equation to get D, C, and B.  Then I can easily solve for A and S as well (A = [B(pa+1)+fa]/pa and S = [A(ps+1)+fs]/ps).

You can find the math here, and the answers are (rounded to the nearest gold):

  • D = 1,831G
  • C = 4,512G
  • B = 16,505G
  • A = 150,148G
  • S = 3,097,963G

 

Calculating C – Option 2 (10,000G/pet)

I solve this part in the exact same way, except I use these 3 equations:

10000 = 0.77C + 0.15B + 0.08A,

B = [C(pb+1)+fb]/pb, and

A = [B(pa+1)+fa]/pa.

You can find the math here, and the answers are (rounded to the nearest gold):

  • D2 = undefined
  • C2 = 2,125G
  • B2 = 8,924G
  • A2 = 87,816G
  • S2 = 1,851,314G

 

Checking Answers with a Computer

To confirm my math, I wrote a simple python code that you can download here.  It basically uses the eternally long version of C equation but only adds up the first n=1000 terms.  The accuracy of the code depends on parameter values and values of D and C2 I found earlier.  Hopefully I didn’t make any mistakes.

If you run the code, it gives me the exact same numbers as my math did.  Check!

 

IV.  CONCLUSION AND REMARKS

Comparing the expected costs for each grade of pets, it is clear that Option 2 (10,000G/pet) is the more cost-efficient choice.  On average, Option 2 should be almost half as costly as Option 1.  Although there are rooms for error in my data so that my parameter values are slightly off, the cost difference between Option 1 and 2 are so big that most likely Option 2 will be the winner.

This post has been cool in many ways.  First, it demonstrated that math can be used to describe all sorts of things around us (like cell phone games), and that it can help solve problems that lead to efficient choices.  Additionally, it was fun to find a solution when I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about doing it in the beginning.  It was an unexpected surprise to use converging series (and somehow find on Wikipedia the formula that I needed).  Lastly, having a computer program to confirm your answer is also pretty nice.

Ah such feeling of nerdy fulfillment!

 

Simeon Koh

P.S.  This was a long post.  Congratulations if you read it through.  Even more congratulations if you at least looked at the math too.

Fun Experiments – Do Marshmellows Dissolve in Water?

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INTRODUCTION:

I was making rice krispie treats when I was suddenly struck with a desire to investigate the weird qualities of marshmallows.  They’re soft, squishy, stretchy, and sweet (which all coincidentally start with “s”).  They are also made of sugar, which I know dissolves in water.  So would marshmallows dissolve in water or would other stuff in the marshmallow change its solubility?  It was a question with absolutely no practical scientific merit, but I was curious, and exploring such silly questions is the purpose of the fun experiments series.  And if not in water, then what else would dissolve it?

 

MATERIALS:

  1. Kraft Jet-Puffed Miniature Marshmallows  (x20)
  2. Tap water  (~100 ml)
  3. Sake (16% ethanol)  (~100 ml)
  4. Cooking oil  (~100 ml)

 

METHODS:

I made 4 cups for this experiment: control (no solvent), water, sake, and oil.  I added 5 mini marshmallows to each cup and covered the cups with plastic wrap (to avoid spillage and to minimize evaporation of solvent like the alcohol).  I left them for about 3 days to see whether marshmallows dissolved.  The samples were removed from solvent and dried over another 3 days.

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RESULTS:

At t=0 day, this is how everything looked.  The Water sample and Sake sample turned a bit foggy relatively quickly (within minutes).

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Control (t=0)

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Water (t=0)

Sake (t=0)

Sake (t=0)

Oil (t=0)

Oil (t=0)

 

At t=3 days, the Control sample looked normal as expected; Water sample looked significantly squishier; Sake sample looked similarly squishier; and Oil sample looked unchanged.  Water sample also had a little black speck growing… either I am growing microbes or I discovered spontaneous generation of life.

Control (t=36)

Control (t=3)

Water (t=72)

Water (t=3)

Sake (t=72)

Sake (t=3)

Oil (t=72)

Oil (t=3)

 

I also realized that marshmallows in Water and Sake have increased in volume.

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From top left corner, clockwise: Control, Water, Sake, and Oil.

 

Next I removed them (using chopsticks) onto sheets of paper towel to dry.  The Water sample was really weird.  It was so soft that the sample split itself on my chopstick.  It was also more transparent-colored, except for the top part that wasn’t submerged in water.  The Sake sample was pretty similar to the Water sample, except even softer.

Control sample (t=3), removed.

Control sample (t=3), removed.

Water sample (t=0), removed from solvent.

Water sample (t=0), removed from solvent.

Water sample (t=3), removed from solvent.

Water sample (t=3), removed from solvent.

Sake sample (t=3), removed from solvent.

Sake sample (t=3), removed from solvent.

Oil sample (t=3), removed from solvent.

Oil sample (t=3), removed from solvent.

The Control sample tasted like normal marshmallows, as expected.  The Sake sample tasted really bad; it was a mixture of bitterness(?) of alcohol and the smell mixed with a very squishy/slimy texture.  It was ew-flavored.  The Oil sample tasted (and chewed) like marshmallow covered in oil.  I didn’t taste the Water sample since it had microorganisms growing.

The Water and Sake sample had a thin layer of white stuff at the bottom of the cup, which I suspect is the stuff that dissolved to make the solvent foggy and later sank down.  The Oil sample did not have such a layer.

Sake solvent (t=3), with a thin layer of white thingy at the bottom.

Sake solvent (t=3), with a thin layer of white thingy at the bottom.

Oil solvent (t=3), clear.

Oil solvent (t=3), clear.

 

The samples were allowed to dry for 3 days, and tasted.  Control sample tasted like normal marshmallows.  Water sample was not tasted.  Sake sample was pretty bland (no sweet), like I was eating some chewy styrofoam.  The Oil sample tasted like a normal marshmallow, with a hint of greasiness on the surface.

Dried Control sample.

Dried Control sample.

Dried Water sample.

Dried Water sample.

Dried Sake sample.

Dried Sake sample.

Dried Oil sample.

Dried Oil sample.

 

CONCLUSION:

It turns out NO marshmallow does not dissolve in water, and neither does it in ethanol solution or cooking oil.  In oil, the marshmallow is unchanged in volume, texture, and taste.  However, something dissolves in water and Sake (probably since it has water in it).  Seeing that it lost all its sweetness upon removal from solvent, it is likely that all the sugary content dissolves away, leaving a styrofoamy matrix intact.  Probably other things dissolve too, since we don’t get a clear sugar solution but a foggy solution with white mysterious substance sinking to the bottom of the cup.  The styrofoamy matrix seems to lose its chewiness in water/sake but regains it upon drying, which is interesting.

Upon hindsight, this experiment would have been more awesome if I had weighed the marshmallows before and after.  I don’t have a scale so maybe when I become rich I’ll buy one.  Also, as of right now it’s uncertain whether the ethanol has any effect on the marshmallow’s solubility.  Perhaps the ethanol (or other component of Sake) had a slight effect since the Sake sample was squishier than the Water sample, but I suspect the solubility in Sake was mostly due to the water.  If I had access to pure ethanol maybe this question can be further probed.  Also, I wish the Water sample hadn’t been contaminated.  Although thankfully it seemed pretty similar to the Sake sample, it would have been good to be able to directly assess its taste and texture in my mouth.

This experiment inspires many other questions that I am probably too lazy to investigate right now.  What does the layer of white mysterious thingy taste like?  Is it sugary or is it something else?  How do the solvents taste after having marshmallows in it for 3 days?  If I let the water/sake evaporate completely, then would I restore the sweetness/whiteness of the marshmallow to its original form?  And lastly, then what solvent can dissolve a marshmallow in its entirety?

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:

I would like to thank my mom, who provided the solvents to be used in this experiment.

 

Not Being Late #6: Why Gated Communites Suck

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Last time I wrote about my 1-month streak of not being late to anything.  That was awesome while it lasted.  However, all good things in life will inevitably end, much like life itself.  About 3 weeks ago I ended my streak, because gated communities suck.

It was a pleasant Sunday afternoon where I was to go tutor a new student.  I got there 15 minutes early, and just chilled outside the gate, since the student lived in a gated community.  With 5 minutes to go, I dialed on the intercom to request permission to enter through the gates… except the call wasn’t going through.  I tried again and again and again and again but it just wasn’t working.  Now with 2 minutes to spare, I called the house and somehow eventually we got the gate to open up.  I rushed in like I was in Fast and the Furious, but didn’t make it of course.  With a heavy heart, I rang the doorbell and put a smile on to greet the student and his mother.

It’s frustrating when I get there 15 minutes early, but I get thwarted by a gate.  Why do we have gated communities?  It’s a very unneighborly thing to have.  It sends the message, “We hate people, so we try our best to keep them out.  Also we love to make our visitors suffer through the hassle of malfunctioning intercoms so that they will be late and thus have to punish themselves.”  I’ve had this problem with gated communities earlier this year too.  Sigh.

I was really tempted to slide myself by telling myself that I was on time to the gate, which should be the real deadline.  However a good friend called me out on my corrupt justification and pointed me towards righteousness.  The bright side is that I only do half a punishment for being late if it was not my fault.  So I only had to write sentences 125 times as opposed to 250 (#1).

Since then, I had 2 additional tardies which I take full-responsibility for.  I’m relapsing.  I’ve been really bad at doing these punishments promptly like I had planned (does that count as being late also?).  I need to go finish memorizing pg 19-2 of my TI-83 Plus instruction manual.  Good night.

Simeon Koh

Unfinished Business: Little Things

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2014.04.07 Unfinished Business- Little Things

 

In the last few days…

I beat the Pokemon League in Pokemon X (which I bought back around Thanksgiving… I don’t know why it took me over 4 months to beat this);

I started studying Spanish again;

I finally wrote up a formula sheet to send to my MCAT students (which I had promised them over a month ago);

I finished watching an anime series on hulu;

I finished a pack of gum that I bought in October.

 

What unfinished business have you taken care of recently?

Simeon Koh

 

Building a Computer

The Dell Inspiron 1525 that I own was first used in August of 2008, when I entered Harvey Mudd College as a freshman in Summer Institute.  I don’t know how, but it is still running far after I’ve expected it to die.  However, it is slowly gathering little problems here and there.  It’s getting slower, the battery life is not good, some modern programs don’t work, the fan turns loudly when I play such an intensive game like Candy Crush on Facebook, etc.  So it was time for a new computer, before this trusty laptop completely dies in the most crucial moment.

When I was asking people for advice on buying a new computer, many people told me to build my own.  I was a bit fearful of the idea because I am not very knowledgeable about the bajillon options for computer parts and thus was afraid. However, I found out that they sell bundles that save people the effort of searching for each individual parts.  Lastly the decision came down to price.  Considering various rebates, plus helpful connections, I was able to get everything for about $700 (including Windows 8.1 and Microsoft Office).

It was surprisingly easy.  Yes it did take several hours, especially since I was watching instructional videos (building, software) as I was building it, despite having watched them once beforehand.  The building was executed smoothly without any problems, so that was nice.  However, I had some trouble figuring out how to deal with the OS installation, since the Windows I got was a .iso file that needed to be burned onto a DVD.  I kept burning a data DVD instead of an image disc or something so it wouldn’t work.  I eventually figured everything out and it works great!

This sure was a new experience.  I now fear computer-building a lot less.  Thank you to everyone who encouraged/helped me to build this computer!

Simeon Koh

 

External build (because if something is defective, it’s better to catch it before you stick it in the case):

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Actual build inside:

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In case you’re curious, this is what my computer is made of (I’m not sure if I’m naming everything correctly… these things are named so complicatedly):

  • Motherboard:  MSI Z87-G41 PC Mate Intel Z87
  • CPU:  Intel Core i5-4670K Processor (6M Cache, 3.40 GHz)
  • Memory:  Patriot Viper Xtreme 8GB RAM
  • Video card:  MSI GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB Twin Frozr
  • Hard drive:  Seagate Barracuda 1TB HDD
  • DVD drive:  LG 24X SATA DVDRW
  • Wireless internet card:  Sabrent 802.11N wireless PCI controller card
  • Power supply:  Ultra LSP series V2 550W ATX power supply
  • Case:  ULTRA Etorque™ A5 Mid-Tower ATX

 

Unfinished Business: Lessons from Candy Crush

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On March 17, 2014, I reached the end of the long journey known as Candy Crush Saga, by King.  There were 530 levels plus 170 levels in the “dream world” for a total of 700 levels.  It is an accomplishment, albeit a dumb one, and I am at last quitting the game.  (Note:  I saw that King has released additional levels, but I’ve already gone!)

You must be thinking I loved this game, but that is far from the truth.  In fact, I despise it and I think it’s a very dumb game.  It’s mostly luck based so you don’t develop much skill of gameplay; there is no plot/character development; and there is no social/personal benefit that comes with playing Candy Crush.  Then why did I play so much?  Because by the time I fully decided this was really dumb, I was already 60-70 levels into the game (back then the game had less than 400 levels released). It was too late to turn back.

Take a look at how the beginning portion of the game looks:

CandyCrushBegReality

And look how the end of the game looks:

CandyCrushEndDream CandyCrushEndReality

Many start, but few finish.  For some unfortunate reason, I didn’t want to be one of the many people who turn away shortly after the entrance.  I refused to let Candy Crush claim victory over me.  So I spent the past 7.5 months finishing a game I didn’t like.  However, there are always lessons to learn in even the dumbest things.  Allow me to share them here (to save you from having to go through all 700 levels of Candy Crush (you’re welcome)).

1)  Luck favors those who persevere.

Candy Crush is a luck-based game where skill is mostly irrelevant.  If you had something like twitchplayspokemon for Candy Crush (twitchplayscandycrush?) I think it wouldn’t be much worse than actually playing the game.  However, this is precisely the reason that anybody can play, and anybody can succeed.  Say a hard level has 1% chance of success.  Then the probability of NOT beating it in 300 tries is just (99%)^300 = 5%.  You’ll beat it as long as you keep trying.

2)  Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be possible.

Among the 700 Candy Crush levels, there were plenty that were easy enough to beat in one try.  The harder ones took a few days.  And a few took SEVERAL WEEKS (a couple of the levels with the tornadoes come to mind). When there seems to be no hope of beating a particularly hard level, only the truth can sustain you: if it’s not impossible, it must be possible.  When you see that a Facebook friend has passed this level, you know it can’t be impossible.  Then see #1.

***

Candy Crush Saga is like an allegory for life.  Life can be such a toss up, which can be a bad thing or a good thing, depending on how you make it.  When life seems arbitrary, long, and highly improbable, just remember lessons 1 and 2 from Candy Crush.

Splendid days indeed.

 

Simeon Koh

 

 

 

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