Archive for July, 2009

A revolutionary device for taking notes

July 18, 2009

Recently I heard of a new product called “SmartPen.”  It’s manufactured by LiveScribe.  As far as I can tell, it is a totally revolutionary product for taking notes. You can write notes into a note book and record the audio of what is happening at the same time.  Later, when you click on a word in your written notes, it will replay the audio that was recorded, starting five seconds before the word was written in your notes.  So, if you take notes during a lecture, you can instantly play back any part of the lecture that you want by just clicking on a word.

Here is a detailed blog entry from an MIT undergraduate named Michael Snively.  He writes:  “This pen, hands down, is the most amazing and potentially beneficial note-taking tool I’ve ever seen in my life.”

I haven’t used the product, but plan on buying one for my daughter, who will be starting college this coming fall.

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On making games between friends more even

July 17, 2009

Suppose friends of unequal ability play games on a regular basis.  How can one make the games fair?  A classic approach comes from golf.  Each person subtracts his or her handicap from the score.  In principle this evens up the game.

Here is an alternative approach.  Suppose that A plays B and that A is typically 10 strokes better than B.   So, the first game, the discount for player B is set to 10.  That is, B is permitted to subtract 10 from his score.  If B wins the game, the discount is reset to 9.  If A wins, the discount is reset to 11.   In the long run, A and B win approximately the same number of games, regardless of their relative skills.

This strategy applies to any game that is determined by a final score that is played by friends who want to even the odds.