Archive

Archive for June, 2012

Lotteries, Sometimes…

I’m slowly preparing a much bigger and deeper post about lotteries (it’s taking longer than I expected), but the current event was interesting enough, so I had to speak my mind.

Lotto Max is a Canadian lottery. Basically, you choose seven numbers out of 49, and you win the jackpot if you have all of them right. When the jackpot is 50 million dollars, additional one milion dollar Maxmillion prizes are drawn. Three tickets is 5$, but let’s round up to 2$ per ticket.

You have about 1:100,000,000 odds of winning the jackpot. Same for each Maxmillion prizes, since they need all numbers right.

Let’s simplify and remove all the smaller prizes, which doesn’t require all the numbers. Now, the expected return of a single ticket, if we only consider the jackpot, is 50,000,000$ / 2$ * 100,000,000 = 0.25$. If there is a draw which has 50 Maxmillion prizes, the expected return is 50 * 1,000,000$ / 2$ * 100,000,000 = 0.25$ also.

This means that, statistically speaking, these two are exactly the same. If you play an infinity of times, they will both yield, on average, 0.25$ for each 2$ you spend.

But we can’t play an infinity of times, so we can only look at our odds of winning something that would change our lives. Winning the jackpot has a 1:100,000,000 odd, while winning one of the Maxmillion prize has a 1:2,000,000 odd. There’s a huge difference.

 

That’s why, when I play (because I do, even if I’m good at maths), I wait for a certain number of Maxmillion prizes (more on that on my next lottery post).

Yesterday’s draw had 28 Maxmillion prizes. It rarely goes that high, so I calculated (here, approximated) that I had a 1:1,000,000 chance on a three-tickets. One in a million. You often see movies or read in a book the words “one in a million”. It means (in my opinion) that even if the odds are terribly against you, there is still a chance.

 

If I go to the restaurant and then go watch a movie at the theater, I expect to pay around 50$. The expected return of this 50$ is 0$ + food in my stomach + two hours of entertainment + daydreaming and conversations for the next couple of days about what the movie was about.

I’ve often done a lot worse with 50$ – some of them that I virtually threw out the window because I didn’t take the time to think it through. Lottery (in Quebec, at least), pays the government. It’s not the best place to throw out money, but still better than a lot of places.

I bought thirty tickets for yesterday’s draw. I didn’t check if I won anything yet, but the jackpot is still up for grabs, and next week’s draw will have fifty Maxmillions. I regularly check these stats, and the highest I’ve seen is fourty Maxmillions. Now, the expected return of my 50$ is around 8$ (more if we count partial wins) + a day or two of dreaming, thinking what if I win this time + the possibility of talking with my family about what we would do should we win. I have very fond memories of our many conversations, asking each other what we would do with our money, seeing ourselves changes over the years.

You know this tingling you get when you go check out if your ticket is a winner? When you have many numbers, it’s more intense. And that, for me, is worth a dinner and a movie alone.

Categories: Thinking Tags:

Brand New Samsung Galaxy S3

I called the store at around lunch to know if they had received the phone. I was calling just in case, and would take my lunch hour to go pick it up, and dodge a bit of rush hour after work.

They didn’t receive it yet! The delivery guy was too late yesterday evening, and the store was already closed. The guy told me he’s expecting them at 15:00, maybe 16:00. I left work at 15:15 (because my work day was over, not because I wanted the phone that bad). They were opening the boxes when I got there, and about 15 minutes later, I left with a brand new white Samsung Galaxy S3 (wiki), not even activated yet. I stopped at Best Buy on my way out of the mall, but they didn’t have any good accessories for the phone.

I’m home now and will write as the events of the evening unfold.

 

 

The hardware

Ain’t it a beauty! It’s pretty light (about as light as the Galaxy S2 (wiki)), but I wish it would be a bit heavier. It’s lightness contributes to it feeling fragile, but it has a metal-looking border, and anyway, we all know it’s plastic (but good quality plastic).

In the box, there’s also:

  • a pair of earbuds (I probably won’t ever use them, as they have those transparent plastic caps that look weird);
  • three pairs of these transparent plastic caps, as replacements;
  • a usb to wall adapter that’s a lot bigger than the Galaxy S2’s, but the shape makes it more “handlable” (the Galaxy S2’s was more like a square);
  • a four feet long micro B to type A USB cable, which is a lot longer than the one that came with the Galaxy S2 (relief!);
  • some boring text on paper.

 

The software

The display is awesome, as clear as an iPhone 4 (wiki) or iPad 3 (wiki)’s retina display. The screen is also a lot smoother than the Galaxy S2, if that’s even possible. The colors are awesome.

Samsung designed the Galaxy S3 with nature in mind. This can be felt with all the sounds and images that come with the phone. I go through the settings one by one. I settle for “Mountain Temple” as my device ringtone. I also kept the default notification, but chose to take “Temple Bell”, to go with the Mountain Temple theme. I choose some wallpapers.

Last thing to do in the settings is to activate the phone on the network. When I was at Best Buy, a lady who works there told me that Bell / Virgin Mobile were very slow today. It is taking a long time, and it can’t connect to any of the three VIRGIN entries that it finds. I’ll try again tomorrow.

I can see that Bell and Virgin Mobile have put their noses in the OS – some of their applications are installed by default. I start by cleaning the icons on the pages, then hiding some under the Applications and Widgets.

I’ve been using it for almost two hours (intensively), and the lower part of the unit is very hot. I hope it won’t do that often… I’ve been charging it for the last 20 minutes (the battery drained 15% in 1.5 hours), so I guess I’ll leave it alone for thirty minutes or an hour.

 

The battery cooled down almost completely in thirty minutes. Since I’ve seen some posts about a few Galaxy S3s burning out, I was keeping an eye on the phone while I was cooking my hummus.

Just before going to download and buy some apps, I wanted to give S Voice a quick try. S Voice is Samsung’s reply to Apple’s Siri. That was pretty cool, but I don’t think I’ll use it often – I’d rather just navigate to the app and click on it, though searches on the Internet would be quicker (assuming S Voice understands you). I could set a timer for two minutes, and tell my phone to start it. There’s a lot I can do.

I started with mint.com, which I wanted on a mobile or tablet for a few months, but I’m a tiny bit disappointed at the options, compared to the web site.

I installed Evernote, Sleep as Android (I’ll buy the unlocked version (2$) tomorrow if it works tonight), Facebook, RBC, Sky Map, some Google apps, and some games. I planned about 10-15$ for apps when I got the phone, and so I bought Cut the Rope (1$), Where’s my Water (1$), Quell Reflect (1.10$), Osmos (3$), Apparatus (1.43$), and the classic Angry Birds, which somehow only has the free version left in Google Play (?).

 

I think that’s it for tonight. After an hours of usage, the battery isn’t that hot compared to how it was before. I guess a more normal usage doesn’t have that much of a toll… I’ll try a couple games, and check Sleep as Android tonight.

 

Simplicity in the Kitchen – Hummus (Revisited)

Since my last hummus recipe, I’ve tweaked it, and tweaked it, every week, trying to go for as easy a recipe as possible while keeping the same taste that I like in it.

I was using a blender, but please forgive me – I never owned a food processor, and thought it was only to grossly chop vegetables. Making hummus in a food processor is awesome!

Today, I forgot one of the main ingredients, and this is what it now looks like:

  • 3.5 cups chick peas
  • 1/4 cup Frank’s Red hot
  • about 1/6 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 tbsp chili
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder

Did you notice what I forgot? The olive oil! I was surprised about the resulting taste, which barely changed!

I like it more hot than not, but you can tweak the amount of Frank’s Red Hot and chili easily. In fact, next time I’ll put less garlic powder, as the hummus’ hotness drowns the garlic flavor.

 

I still love eating hummus on vegetables or on bread. It’s very healthy too, compared to 99% of other dips and sauces.

Categories: Cooking

My Entrance into the Mobile World.

The title says it all. Tomorrow, after work, I’m going to the store, where a brand new smartphone awaits me. I was seldom one to have the latest gadget, so I’m surprising even myself with this purchase.

 

Before going into more details, let’s see what my mobile history is:

December 2006 to June 2012:

Some Nokia phone. After some very deep research in the far confines of the interwebs, I found out that I can type *#0000# on the keypad to know what version it is. It’s a Nokia 2610 (wiki).

I rarely use the phone – I bought it when I bought my first car (a Toyota Corolla 2007) because, you know, just in case. The phone has a tiny 128x128x16b screen, doesn’t have a camera, has virtually no usable function, and it can take me five minutes to text-reply “Hello!” on the user friendly keypad.

I still have it today, it works great for my needs (even after almost six years of being hanged on my belt), and I will pass it on to my parents, who don’t have any mobile phone. They can use it, you know, just in case.

I didn’t have any contract. I was with Rogers, but was buying a 100$ pay-as-you-go card once a year (about 9$ a month). Since it was more like an emergency phone, the amount in the account tended to go up. Right now, it’s at about 70$, due to refresh in January.

It has scratches and a part of the screen looks like it met a metal grinder, but I’m still very surprised about the sturdiness of the phone.

 

September 2011 to January 2012:

My boss got a new iPhone 4 (wiki) and didn’t know what to do with his old iPhone 3G (official page of the iPhone 3GS, also wiki of the 3G).

Since a few months before, I was starting to like the idea of having my own smartphone, and I had no idea whether I wanted an iOS (Apple) or an Android (Google). I accepted his offer to give it to me, and tried it, while keeping my old Nokia.

I didn’t get any contract with a carrier, and my idea was to try it for a few months until my 5 years old nephew’s birthday (in late January), when I would give it to him to use sometimes as a camera.

I liked the phone – maybe too much. Since I was connected only to wi-fi, I couldn’t use it outdoors, but I had a good idea of what it could do. I liked to have something so tiny, yet so technologically advanced in my hands. I played with Angry Birds and Cut the Rope, again sometimes too much. I found myself too often browsing reddit for an hour, in my bed with the lights turned off (just one more page!), when I should have been sleeping. Overall, I liked the user experience (like most people who like Apple do). Things were logical and intuitive most of the time. This thing was getting addictive.

My boss sent me to Britain January 2nd, and of course, I brought the phone with me. It really helped me in Edinburgh and London when I didn’t want to bring my huge Canon EOS 40D (wiki) with me.

I got back in late January, just in time for my nephew’s birthday party. By then, I had already made up my mind (just before leaving for my business trip, actually) that I would not give it to him. Right after christmas, I had read on the Internet all the stories about kids and teens actually angry and pissed at their parents for not buying them the new iPhone 4S (link will work until they release a new iPhone, also wiki). They were cursing at them for not giving them a 600$ phone that costs 50$ per month. One was mad that he/she got a white iPhone instead of a black. One was angry because he/she got a car, but not an iPhone. I was speechless in front of such materialism.

Being the person that I am, I decided that I would not give something so powerful to a kid, something that had so much potential to brainwash him into being a consumer zombie. Should he fall in the future like most do, I didn’t want to be part of it.

I also didn’t keep the phone, because my original intent was to try it until I give it to my nephew. I gave it back to my boss. (Since it was gathering dust in the office, I took it back and gave it to my parents in May 2012, for them to play and tinker with.)

But the real reason why I gave it back in late January was to see if I was addicted or not. If I was, I knew I would not buy a smartphone (at least for a very long time), and would keep my trusty Nokia.

Turns out I wasn’t.

 

June 2012:

Since early 2011, I had started to look at the possible smartphones out there. I read the tech news about the new mobiles (both phones and tablets). I saw a friend make many calls when the iPhone 4 came out to find one, I saw the Samsung Galaxy S2 (wiki) come out in 2011, watched the Apple conference to show the new iPhone 4S, then the Google Galaxy Nexus (wiki) came out in December 2011. And then the HTC One X (wiki) in February. All better than the previous.

For almost a year and a half, I kept asking myself: “Do I want Apple or Android?

The phones were getting exponentially better and better. “Should I wait a bit more?” Apple released the best phone, then it was Android, then Apple… It was a never-ending war.

Then the Samsung Galaxy S3 (wiki) was announced in early May 2012, set for a release in late May in Europe, and sometime in June here in Canada. I didn’t particularly fell in love with it – just knew that it could do what I wanted out of a phone. The rumors about the iPhone 5 (to be released in September?) were going strong, with the general consensus that it would be a revolution in the mobile world. I decided to go with Android anyway (I can’t see what could be so incredibly special about the next iPhone).

I waited a month for the Galaxy S3 release date, and went to the mall to find the best carrier. After comparing prices and services for about two or three hours, I settled on Virgin Mobile. If I pay most of the phone, I can have a 20$ per month contract including 50 minutes, 50 text messages, and flexible data (I pay for how much bandwidth I use, between 10$ for 100MB to 30$ for 3GB). 30-40$ per month didn’t seem too expensive, considering.

I went to the Virgin Mobile kiosk to put my name on the waiting list (only 4 days left). I’m the second on the list, and they will (should) receive about 6-8 units. Then they offer me a Samsung Galaxy S2 until the next Wednesday (tomorrow), and after inquiring that they are not trying anything funny, I accept it.

I’ve been testing it for three days, and am very satisfied so far. The thought has crossed my mind to keep this S2, and keep the 280$ difference, but what the heck – I’m there, and this is my first smartphone, and I didn’t buy any luxury in over two years. (The Galaxy S3 is a 680$ phone, which costs me 480$ with my contract.)

 

When I got home with the Galaxy S2, I opened it and tested it nonchalantly, almost not caring. I didn’t feel this addictive tingling you too often get when buying something expensive (what the marketers have so carefully brainwashed us to feel – the need to pay for something you don’t really need). I was surprised that I felt nothing. Was it because that specific phone was not really mine, or because I am finally free? I’ll be able to answer that tomorrow, though I have a feeling it’s 70% the former.

Also, I chose white! A month ago (even a week ago), I would have been surprised by that. The Galaxy S2 they lent me was white, and I liked it. It feels more simple, more minimalist. More like me, if you can understand that.

 

This will then be my first “real” phone. I played a bit with an iPhone 3G and a Samsung Galaxy S2, all of which have prepared me for tomorrow evening. If everything goes well, I shall try to post regularly about how I feel towards the Galaxy S3, what I like, what I hate… I’ll be a beginner, so hopefully the learning curve will be shown post by post as you follow them, if you will.

Are we really omnivores?

These interesting articles are pro-veganism:
http://www.tierversuchsgegner.org/wiki/index.php?title=Taxonomy
http://www.rense.com/general20/meant.htm
http://www.ocoy.org/2008/04/humans-are-we-carnivores-or-vegetarians-by-nature/
http://thethinkingvegan.com/rant/are-we-omnivores-or-herbivores/ 

These interesting articles are against veganism:
http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/carn_herb_comparison.html
http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/vegetarian.html (very long and comprehensive)

 

The first link in each category show a chart about the differences between a carnivore, an herbivore, and where we fit in. The pro-veganism chart shows us as 100% herbivore, while the con-veganism chart shows us as 100% carnivore.

 

Comparing the two charts, I see evidence of cherry-picking. That means that the author(s) included the line only if it fit with what message he or she wanted to convey.

For example, one article states that the stomach acidity with food in stomach has a low pH (closer to herbivores’), while the other states that the gastric acid has a high pH. There is a small difference between the two entries, and the data was specifically selected.

Both charts have mistakes, notably the human small intestine length (first link) at 10-11 times body length, which is closer to 2-5. It doesn’t say, though, if he used the entire body length, or just the torso, as an animal’s length would not normally include the limbs.

 

This post was supposed to be about that chart, but some research made me find some other links, the first link in the con-veganism section, in particular. This made me realize how much the two groups are just trying to attack each other as much as they can. They gather data and use only what they want to hurt the other group.

Who should we trust? Are we supposed to be meat-eaters or plant-eaters?

 

Honestly, both sides have interesting views.

 

Then why did we eat meat for so long?

In my current opinion, we just ate meat to survive. Eating meat gave us a lot of quick nutrients that made us grow faster in order to fight. This is no longer the case, and since we live longer that ever, maybe we are finally noticing the side-effects of eating meat.

The end of the first link talks about opportunistic feeding. In short, just because we eat meat doesn’t necessarily mean we are meat-eaters. This is spoken in a pro-veganism context, but still, one of the sentences have an interesting ring to it: “We ate meat to survive, now we eat it out of habit and not need.”

The fourth link mentions that it doesn’t matter, that we should go vegan for the future and Earth’s sustainability, and not linger on how we ate in the past. The point it makes would be that it is possible to be vegan today, while we couldn’t in the past.

 

I’m someone who has an open-mind. If you offer me convincing proof that not eating meat is bad for the health, I’ll easily consider switching back. Right now, most evidence I know is pro-veganism.

That being said, in the past, I’ve spoken to some friends about religion. When I was talking to people who had religion as part of their lives (ie someone who truly believed), it was as if their lives depended on it. They got angry, and denied everything I was saying. They took it personal when I talked about astrophysics, the big bang, and the cosmic background radiation.

Right now, I’m noticing the same thing when I talk about how I eat. I’m not even trying to convert them to veganism! They somehow feel threatened by my way of life. They tell me that they are willing to destroy five-ten years of their lives, in order to really “live”.

Why is that? Without talking about veganism, Isn’t that applicable with how everyone eats in North America? Why people are ready to shorten their lives in order to eat that fast-food burger and soft drink is beyond me. Oh yeah, it tastes so good, but damnit, it isn’t worth it.

 

Getting back to the subject, people get angry when I talk about my being vegan, and I wonder why. It’s a choice of lifestyle, and regardless of whether veganism turns out true or false, it’s something I currently believe in, and I will still listen you telling me how delicious a steak you are eating.

 

I think that’s the most important thing: to believe in something. Unless you really have a reason, let others believe what they want. And stay open-minded – we should always strive to evolve mentally.

Categories: Health, Thinking