Author Archives: blueocean

Science news in Haiku

Antibiotic Resistance Cells growing stronger Ineffective medicine New tactics emerge Physical Activity Hated school P.E.? There’s a reason you did it Now you’re good at math Introverts Quiet time is bliss Let others sort themselves out Will lead from behind Flies Buzzz right in my ear Messy face in all the waste You have made me ill Super-recognition Nose wiggles slightly Imprint formed deep in the mind Face I’ll not forget

Steam refunds and loss aversion

I’ve written about Steam quite a bit before, because it is such an interesting testing ground for both economics and psychology (other than the fact I enjoy playing games on the PC). The digital marketplace in general breaks a lot of the traditional rules and restrictions that markets were assumed to have. Today, I want to focus on one small aspect – refunds. The changing nature of game selection A lot has changed in the games industry, given its mass […]

Fixing a hot-cold switching Triton shower

A while ago, my Triton electric shower started cycling onto ‘low-pressure’ mode every 10-15 seconds. This meant that the water would flip between hot and freezing cold. Not pleasant. A bit of internet searching revealed that this is a fault in a safety sub-circuit, which is ordinarily supposed to turn to cold water when it thinks that you are at risk of getting burnt by the water. The solution to this problem came from this handy thread.¬†Apparently, it is caused […]

Digital goods as public goods

Talking about public good provision is a staple in pretty much any economics course. Contrary to what intuition might suggest, a public good is not necessarily one provided by the government. Rather, it is defined in terms of two key characteristics: rivalry and excludability. A rival good is something that diminishes once it is consumed. If there are two burgers and I eat one, there will be one left for you. If there was only one burger and I ate […]

Use HiDPI mode to turn your Mac into a HTPC

Now that the age of traditional TV is nearing its end, more people are looking to hook up ‘smart’ devices (basically some form of computer) in order to allow them to surf the web and watch videos from the comfort of the living room. Whilst many TVs have ‘smart’ features built-in these days, and there are many inexpensive devices that you can plug in for those that don’t, nothing beats the flexibility of having a fully-fledged computer connected to your […]

Not sure who to vote for in 2017? Try my election model

Back in 2010, I made an election model in Excel which took manifesto statements from BBC’s website and anonymised them in order for you to state your agreement level for each statement independently. I wanted to do the same for the upcoming general election. Given that I have (slightly) better computing skills these days, I created a very simple Python script this time. The script takes a database of statements that I got from the BBC’s 2017 party comparison website, […]

Inconsistent nutrition labelling

A few weeks ago, I was at the supermarket and decided to buy a different cut of meat. As I pay attention to my caloric intake, naturally I checked the nutrition information on the back. I noticed something odd… This is the labelling for the chicken breasts I regularly buy. It’s quite clear, and gives values per 100g to allow for easy cross-comparison between foods. However, this is the labelling for chicken thighs. Notice anything different? This gives you the […]

Computer transplant: Define Mini -> Define C with Kraken X62

My old desktop has been chugging along nicely for a good 4 years. I originally built it in a Fractal Design Define Mini, because I wanted a relatively compact case to suit my mATX motherboard, and a quiet computer. It does the quiet thing extremely well. However, it’s a really inefficient use of space in there. The cables are a mess to sort out, and adding drives becomes an exercise in rage control. Thankfully, modern case design has disposed of […]

Red vs Blue

Two of the games I enjoyed most in my youth were the original Unreal Tournament and TimeSplitters 2. Both games were arcade style twitch-shooters at their core, but what made them great was the multitude of game modes and options, great maps, and the ability to play with fairly well programmed AI bots as well as human opponents. There was something else that these games allowed you to do: have more than two different teams (at least for the game […]

The best country to be in for a 4-hour flight to a new country

I realised during my long flight from the US recently that around 4 hours on a plane is the time where I start to feel tired, such that I’m not going to feel particularly fresh or able to do anything on the other end. Lucky, I thought, that the UK is quite well connected to other countries. I wondered just how many destinations I could fly to if I were to just hop on a plane in London, where the […]

Voting Mechanisms

Elections and voting have been on people’s minds this year. Most of us are familiar with the ‘first-past-the-post’ system that is employed in many countries for general elections – the person with the most votes wins in a given constituency, no matter how large or small the margin. Of course, there is no one best voting mechanism. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. The question is often ‘which bad scenarios are we willing to tolerate in a society?’ Let’s […]

Towards a better review system

The five-star review system you find on most websites today is inherently flawed if you want information about how good something actually is. Famously, on websites like Amazon, there is a ‘J-shaped’ distribution of review scores. That is, there is a small mass of 1-star reviews; relatively few 2-star, 3-star, and 4-star reviews; and a huge mass of 5-star reviews. This, on it’s own, means that most reviews are somewhat useless. But, when you remember that some of these reviews […]