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.


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.