Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Scientific Research III: Revenge of the Scientists

Collaborative research by scientists in two countries, two hemispheres, and two daylight saving time policies, has created a massive breakthrough!

We open the scene with some more thrilling scenes of heap-sorting chocolates. Ramping up the statistical analysis with not two, not three, but FOUR parallel tests, the Australian researchers have discovered a remarkable stability of data points. The four boxes (rated 450g each) each contain the exact same distribution of chocolate types - specifically:

* 4 Dairy Milk
* 2 Hazelnut Praline Crisp
* 4 Strawberry Cream
* 4 Classic Fudge
* 3 Chocolate Supreme
* 4 Caramello Deluxe
* 3 Orange Chocolate Delight
* 3 Hazelnut Whirl
* 4 Turkish Delight
* 4 Vanilla Butter Caramel
* 4 Peppermint Cream
* 3 Cherry Heaven

Just before intermission, a thrilling theory is posited. The distinction between stable and unstable data is a geographic one! All of the data from Ireland, so far, has been somewhat randomized, while all of the data from Australia has been stable. Also, the set of keys is geographically aligned - all the Australian boxes, and all the Irish boxes, match. But the final words, before the screen goes dark, point out that one of the Australian data sets had a key set matching the Irish pattern...

The second half opens, naturally, with a recap of the preceding information. Once that's finished wasting a good quarter of the available time, the answer to the preceding puzzle is found. The one Australian package with distribution matching the Irish ones has proven to be the production of Cadbury UK, as evidenced by the under-tin information. It is also an 850g tin, as opposed to being a 450g or 1000g box. This tin would appear to be... a foreign import.

An opportunity will arise in a few months for some members of the Australian research team to take their research to England. If, as it appears, Cadbury UK differs from Cadbury AU/NZ, then on-the-spot research will be vital in finally answering this question.

The four 850g tins of Cadbury UK roses (one in Australia, three in Ireland) carry unique data signatures. This suggests either a lack of stability, or a deliberate snowflake policy. To determine which is the more likely, far, FAR more research will be needed. Can you ever find two 850g tins exactly alike?

The producers wish to thank Peter Flynn for his material assistance.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Bored geeks get awesome

When some people get bored, they get destructive. When geeks get bored, they get... well, I was going to say "weird", but that would imply that you can tell the difference. Creative? Geeky? Not sure. Anyway. A network engineer in a fit of boredom created what, I am sure, is the most awesome traceroute in the whole internet. Check it out... the address to target is: 216.81.59.173

Tip: You'll want more than thirty hops, which is the usual default. In my test, it took 62 hops to get there. But make sure you have name lookups active.

Regular preacher, supply hymn

Today we sang "Rock of Ages", with our regular minister leading the service.

Okay, that won't mean anything to most of you. Let me explain. (No, there is too much. Let me sum up.) Rock of Ages is one of the "supply hymns", alongside such illustrious members as Blessed Assurance, Great is Thy Faithfulness, The Lord's My Shepherd, and the like.

When a church has a regular preacher (a full-time pastor/minister, for instance, or a roster among the elders), he will know which hymns and other songs the congregation knows, and can consciously expand the repertoire (for instance, today we sang Come People of the Risen King, which was introduced to us in exactly that way). But when he's away for just one week and somebody else fills in (referred to in Presbyterian churches as "supply preaching"), that somebody can't know the church's repertoire, so the safest option is to pick the old classic hymns that pretty much everyone knows. Traditional tunes, familiar words, easy and safe.

And yet those famous hymns are never sung any other time. (Well, hardly ever.) We have no shortage of beautiful and lovely music to sing to, and more is being written all the time - just look at Keith/Kristyn Getty, Stuart Townend, Geoff Bullock, and many more (and I've added my own small contribution there). In any given church service, we'll sing four, maybe five songs; a year without any duplicates might involve a couple of hundred hymns at most. So many to choose from, so few to choose; and many of the "old favourites" aren't actually ideal to sing, for various reasons.

So the old hymns are ONLY sung when a visiting preacher selects them. Except today. Out of all the thousands of possible songs, it was one of the supply hymns that won the draft.

(Yeah, okay. It was more interesting in my head.)