Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Review: First to Fight (7.75/10)

First to Fight is a military game. It began as a training tool developed for the United States Marine Corps. Then, Destineer Studios has jumped in, and with active duty marines and their newly-formed 3D game rendering engine, it became a game. The Close Combat series was quite popular in the past, and the game showed much promise. And for the most part, it is worth it.

You are in charge of a four man fire-team. As their leader, you go around the streets of Beirut shooting the Syrians and radicals and other men with guns (until they die). There are 6 missions which are nicely subdivided into parts. You deal with all sorts of indoor-outdoor situations while your troops perform all sorts of military 360-degree coverage and frag takedown tactics. One of the best parts of the game is that you can summon reinforcements: airstrike, mortar and snipers. They come in handy to destroy bunkers and tanks… and other annoying such like that. I gotta say that playing this game makes me feel like a US marine.

Now for the criticism: first, you can’t jump. I know marines don’t jump around, but making the game ultra-realistic has its downsides. Secondly, even on the highest difficulty, the game is predominantly easy (not very challenging). Finally, there is not enough types of enemies and while the music is good in general, its far from perfect. Oh, and there isn’t much plot (you mostly go around chasing the next checkpoint). I wouldn’t exactly call it revolutionary, but its fun.

Posted by Oleg Ivrii, 06:10 PM / Comments (1)

Friday, April 22, 2005

An Extensively Spacious Party

The Bulldog is at it again. Contrary to previous predictions, the Bulldog has not gone out of business - and in fact, they are very much alive. Today, they even did an article about me. Even though they got just about everything wrong, they made me look all too cool.

Now, this is the problem. I don’t always publish the best things about people (read the disclaimer), so you might want to stay away from the archives, and only go to the history section. Oh, and of course if you are into tech, you can always subscribe to the linklist (RSS feed).

Now, for some of the things they got wrong:

I hear the advertising cash is rolling in.

Really now? Actually, we’re projecting profitability 1st quarter 2035.

Instead you get a deep, but not smothering pit of satire and insights on human condition - not to mention a few greatly amusing pictures taken around the city, check out the man sleeping on garbage bags.

When do I ever talk about human condition? All I do is criticize the TTC. And actually, the man is sleeping in garbage bags (won’t link to it).

In addition to his general all-around witty posts, are repertoires of interesting news tidbits from around the net, ranging from the mundane - Apple’s Panther OS Explodes” to true comedic classics…

I think he means the Linklist, and isn’t it Tiger?

If you are truly a like-minded person, you will find various articles on programming, and a set of challenging (in my opinion) computer chess games, as well as the on-line clients to match.

We have nothing of that sort here, no one to challenge here! I am sure reading my (fine) hypertext products isn’t that difficult… And if nothing of this sort exists, how can you even have an opinion on it?

Oh somehow I have seen this coming, thats why I fixed up a few things, and prepared this post in advance, hehe :) Oh well, in any case, everyone likes pictures: and so good ole’ buddy Arash has drew us a cartoon.

Posted by Oleg Ivrii, 04:12 PM / Comments (1)

Monday, April 18, 2005


Well, its time to write the third and final of the Canadian IMO team selection contests… the USAMO is the American competition, and if you do well enough, you get to go to Washington (all expenses paid) and a chance to win an outrageously large sum of American money. Its modeled after the IMO, two days - four and a half hours a day. I will be giving you (two) updates on my progress.

Update: Actually, there was another contest - the Euclid - which I pretty much aced, but I don’t consider it important for a separate entry. As for the USAMO, I pretty much screwed it up, but perhaps not as badly as I think. Oh well, there is always Day 2.

Update 2: I did good today, this makes me happy. The second problem had to do something with points colored red and blue. The first thing I wrote was: “Since, I am using black and blue pens, I will refer to them as such.” Funny thing is, I only wrote in blue pen (never used the black one) and in any case - that doesn’t matter as the papers are faxed. Wheh.

Posted by Oleg Ivrii, 04:25 PM /

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Jury duty

No, not that kind of Jury duty… I mean Math Battle! Well, in case if you don’t know: Math Battles are like solving math problems, but in the form of a game. Teams alternate presenting and refuting solutions; the Jury evaluates their work and assigns points. More detailed rules here.

My “fellow” co(n)-jurors were two graduate students, Fernando and James (I remember them from the Differential Topology lectures) and Robert Barrington Leigh (former IMO teammate). Smart people, you gotta admit. The teams were Don Mills (not surprisingly, I judge my own people) and a borg collective known as the East Asian Gangsters. And can you believe it, despite all my efforts… those Gangsters won, :(.

Actually, it had nothing to do with my efforts, but more with Don Mills messing up (they just couldn’t challenge the right problems). As for the Jury, well we flunked out last with 21 (out of a total of 96) points. Heh.

Posted by Oleg Ivrii, 09:06 PM /

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Notes on Stuff

My recent lack of posts suggests that nothing (much) has been happening lately. This is only partially true: of course things were happening, but they were not substantial enough for a blog entry by themselves, so I concatenated them together in a single blog post.

Midterms: Midterms are up, our marks are finalized, and there is nothing we can do to change them. Something about the whole thing sucks (namely, the nothing we can do part).

Warm Winds: The warm winds blew, and I have been doing yard work. Actually, I don’t buy into the “warm winds” thing - somehow all the winds around me feel cold and there is no counterpart of the wind chill factor in the summer.

Physics Contests: I have written the CAP and AAPT, and I pretty much died (well, how else do you expect me to do?). On the bright side, it was fun skipping (physics) class.

Posted by Oleg Ivrii, 09:18 PM / Comments (1)

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Bad Service

TTC operatives can be dumb, but to have two idiots (details omitted) on the same day? What did I do to deserve that? Operative personnel are supposed to handle “problems” in a polite, efficient and an orderly manner - that means giving passengers a little bit of respect (yeah, guess what, communicating with passengers is part of the job too). Evidently, some people at TTC don’t think so (or even if they think so, unable to do so). Why am I telling you this? Not because TTC operatives are rude in general, but because it is a trend in being so. Fare keeps increasing, service keeps decreasing.

Posted by Oleg Ivrii, 09:04 PM / Comments (1)

Monday, April 11, 2005

Chemical Spill

Sadly, keyboards these days aren’t very coke-resistant. I had to test mine out the hard way (dammit, it was an accident). After draining the keyboard from all the soda (insert straw), I have discovered that the control and shift keys don’t work (hard to press, sticky, don’t pop back up the whole way). Well, the problem was a little more complicated, enough to actually piss me off (I don’t never use the right control and shift keys).

The right control key was “forced” down, and under Mac OS X, it imitated a right click - rendering the whole keyboard unusable (you can’t type in right click). What a dumb thing.

But now that the coke has “caramelized”, it works just fine. For future reference, I am going to keep in mind not to drink and blog at the same time. Well, thats precisely the commitment I made last time (yeah, I ruined a keyboard before), but now, my dad committed me.

Come to think of it, thats the only piece of good advice coming from the IT people (well, they don’t actually tell you that, otherwise they will lose their jobs).

Posted by Oleg Ivrii, 09:05 PM / Comments (2)

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Busing Around (Pereslavl'-Zalessky, Russia)

15th Tournament of Towns Summer Conference

The buses were packed with people, and yet they were clean. Apparently, good advice actually works:

“Eat candies with the wrapper and fruits along with the peel.”

Posted by Oleg Ivrii, 06:20 PM / Comments (1)

Thursday, April 7, 2005

Not Enough Color

Apparently, I am told, the site is lacking colour: its too white, blue and black. They also tell me, that there is not enough any images. Well, I have changed the sidebar a bit (so far on the main page only). We’ll see how this works out.

Sometimes I make too rapid changes without checking much for browser compatibility, or I leave broken HTML half way, so excuse me for that. I will try fixing errors when I can (sometime this month).

Posted by Oleg Ivrii, 05:32 PM /

Monday, April 4, 2005

Probability and Induction

Lets go back to the official definition of induction - the examination of the the particulars or specifics in an attempt to develop generalization. To this process, people assign statistical quantities such as probability. This, as we know is a theoretical jump. Probability just doesn’t apply (nothing is random, and nothing to choose), and it wouldn’t give a meaningful result even if it did.

Theoretical Induction: Lets test out the “Theory of Gravity” (it isn’t exactly a good thing to call a theory, but for goodness sakes, it clearly doesn’t matter). Suppose I let go of an apple. According to gravity, it is going to fall (whether you attribute the falling to gravity or not). No, wait, Gravity doesn’t say that. Gravity says that it would accelerate downward with -9.8m/s^2 or whatever that value is. Falling is a consequence based on all forces applied to the object. You see theories don’t really tell you what exactly is going to happen, but what could happen with the model provided.

Remark — Of course, we expect that theories give pretty accurate results for all (sufficiently) practical purposes, but Gravity explains objects falling on Earth “well” enough.

Class Induction: Okay, suppose I meet tons of white sheep, where by “tons”, I mean “a whole lot”. Induction would tell me all sheep are white. This is not a theory, because it (the final result) wouldn’t lead anywhere (deductively). Now, lets just suppose that I meet a black sheep. The probability of me meeting another black sheep wouldn’t change very much. You would argue that it is an anomaly, but suppose then I meet another black sheep, and yet another black sheep, and yet a whole more black sheep. Then, you would be willing to bet that the next sheep I would meet would be black, even though probability would tell you otherwise.

Remark — You see something: human intuition is more based on recurrent thinking. We believe that things happen in an orderly manner. We predict the future based on recent findings. And while we find quite a few anomalies, in the example above, the colour changes only once.

Posted by Oleg Ivrii, 06:39 PM /

Saturday, April 2, 2005

Making good use of the Web

So, if you have been following the Big Party, you probably would have heard that my philosophy teacher decided to make use of the web. The saga continues.

The forum is still lacking a “General Discussions” category, which is bad. Of course, the teacher could have not included one on purpose, so we stay on topic. Actually, the problem is slightly greater: the board is classified by a brief range of specific questions which do not fully cover the in-class discussion. This discourages people from posting semi-relevant information and writing posts for the sake of side notes. Hopefully, this will get fixed.

On a another note, the teacher is obsessed with switching his joined date around. Yeah, I’ve been following his movement quite closely. If you look into the members list, it swings back between various days of 1969 and 1970. The changes seem to be rather subtle, but they are there. Somebody has way too much time on his hands. I just don’t see any philosophical significance of admin abuse.

Posted by Oleg Ivrii, 04:38 PM /

Friday, April 1, 2005

April Fools

You know, I didn’t make much use of today. Didn’t fool many people, dammit. What a bummer. At least my Google is doing well. The search engine has picked up on us, and we’ve become popular, and I became exceedingly rich. More info here.

Speaking of which, you will be seeing a lot of April Fools hoaxes on the linklist in the next few days. But I figure, if they are to be April Fools jokes, than they better be good ones.

Posted by Oleg Ivrii, 08:30 PM /

Watch and Learn

We may never truly know what is really “real”, but it doesn’t stop us from explaining the world nevertheless. Theoretical development isn’t a search for the ultimate truth - or “The Theory of Everything” as its called, for theory is independent of truth. However, we would still want to apply it to practice. Practice has the problems of being imperfect, and subjective… that one would begin doubting it, that it is some kind of illusion.

But somehow we want to trust practice (up to a certain degree). So, I wouldn’t say that it produces illusion, but rather it can be deceitful (theoretical jumps), i.e our intuition leads us to false conclusions. However, this conclusions are only false when we go beyond the system (ω-incompleteness), and other forces begin to gain significance.

For instance, we all know that “the Earth is round.” But for me to make use of this, I would have to travel around the world. However, I obviously don’t do this very often, and on a day-to-day basis of zooming across Toronto, it is much more convenient of treating the Earth really as flat. And indeed, its true, at every point locally, the Earth really is a plane (hence a 2-manifold but thats besides the point).

So to know what goes on in a system, we don’t need the exact truth, we need good enough truth (i.e statements which are true and applicable in the system). We explain phenomena with the simplest available theory (a la Ockham’s Razor). When that system ends, another one begins. The bigger the picture, the more precise we need to be - the more complicated the model.

Experiments serve two purposes: First, they help in theoretical construction. Most of the time, we don’t know what is going on, and before we can describe it, we have to see it. Seeing is believing. The second purpose is to help verify theories. By verifying theories, it means taking care of the theoretic jumps. If the theory is falsified, we can blame it on the fact that we don’t know what is going on. A good self-saving clause, perhaps.

Think of them like a drawing. The graph of a mathematical function is an invaluable, irreplaceable aid for understanding the function, but by no means is a valid proof. It inspires Theory. Once we can see the bigger picture, we push theory in that direction. Without the practice, the Theory could never come into existence.

Posted by Oleg Ivrii, 08:20 PM /

   Copyright © 2004-2005 Oleg Ivrii, Liscensed under: Creative Commons.
   RSS: Big Party, RSS: Linklist.