World’s shortest-lived Facebook account

Before leaving work today, I helped a friend and colleague set up her Facebook account. We then got into a discussion as to whether other people could find her, either through Google or Facebook, after which she got paranoid and insisted the account was deactivated.

Estimated time of the account’s existence: 1m 43s.

World’s smallest prime

While US mathematicians are busy confirming their finding of the largest known prime, over 13m digits in length, I can proudly reveal that I have discovered the world’s smallest prime.

I’ve been working with over 100 other computer owners over the last seven months. Together we’ve whirred through the numbers checking every one, and have discovered the smallest: 2.

Not only is it the smallest known prime, initial tests suggest that there aren’t any smaller to be found.

I’m surprised to discover that the Electronic Frontier Foundation is not offering a prize for our discovery. Bugger.

S. Palin mistake

I bring you potential future US Vice President Sarah Palin.

Oh my days.

Thanks to Francis for pointing this one out, Katie Couric’s CBS interview.

Circuit breakers

Is it illegal to do a full 360° circuit of a roundabout? If not, why is there a gap in their signs suggesting to drivers that they shouldn’t do a full circuit?


Shit British bank names

Today, we continued to hear the revelation of news of banks’ struggles. Wachovia fell to Citigroup, while the Benelux bank Fortis received a £9bn cash injection from the countries’ taxpayers. And the Bradford & Bingley (originally mis-typed Bungley) was nationalised.

I have to say, Bradford & Bingley is a bit of a rubbish name for a bank, especially compared to the likes of Fortis and Wachovia.

Student claims deadline extended

As I’ve said before, the BBC is hamstrung by the shortness of the surfaced titles of articles. By shortness, I mean minimal length, as opposed to abruptness.

Today’s example, student claims deadline extended, brought to mind the image of a student confirming to the press that his/her dissertation deadline had indeed been extended, after much media speculation. And a much more enjoyable that would have been.

Monologue of the day

Why is a vagina called a box? I can only imagine it’s because you put things in it. But it’s not square; and it doesn’t have hard edges.

The original vagina monologue?

What’s minimum wage again?

I just got off the phone from Ocado’s customer services, trying to figure out when our delivery, scheduled for 20.30–21.30 tonight, will arrive.

This followed a garbled conversation with the driver who threw in keywords like traffic jam, rescue van and might be able to get there in two hours among other, unintelligible ramblings.

The customer services lady has kindly given us £5 credit towards our next shop for the inconvenience. Or £2.50 per hour of me waiting. Current minimum wage is £5.52 per hour.

Poker justice

I played poker last night. Texas hold ’em, apparently. The hand you bet against is the best five-card hand you can muster from two cards dealt to you and five that are dealt face-up on the table.

You’re dealt two cards each. Then there’s a round of betting. Then three cards are drawn, all face up on the table. Another round of betting. Card four on the table. Betting. Card five. And final betting.

£10 was the initial stake, with unlimited buy-ins before 10pm, after which, you bet until you won or you were eliminated.

Just before midnight, the nine players had been whittled down to two, of which I was lucky enough to be one. The £200-worth of chips (and supplementary hand-written 100-chip notes) were pretty evenly divided between the two of us, so instead of battling through the night we thought it wise to split the pot. £80 up on the night: not bad at all.

The reason for the post, however, is to question one specific feature of the game. If a player runs out of chips during betting, they can still stay in for that round, not being obliged to bet thereafter. If they win the round, then their winnings from each other player are capped at their own bet. So if Alberto has bet his last 25 chips, Balthazar 70 (before folding) and Cecilia 90 (still in), then Alberto winning means that they will take 25 from each of the other two players.

At first glance this seems quite fair. But the scenario has always troubled me, and I’ve just realised why. Let’s assume that the three players’ hands have equal chances of winning, and it is merely the playing styles of the players that are at odds.

If Balthazar and Cecilia get into a bidding war after Alberto has maxed out, Balthazar folding when Cecilia raises that bit too much to justify him continuing, then the increased investment by Balthazar and Cecilia has benefited Alberto, as he now only has to beat one hand rather than two. So Alberto has benefited from the additional investment of Cecilia, through it driving Balthazar out of the game.

Further, continued investment from one of the cash-rich players cannot result in them winning by default—they will always have to beat Alberto to win the round.

The trade-off is that Alberto can win fewer chips than Balthazar or Cecilia. But there is no trade-off for Balthazar or Cecilia.

Google Spreadsheets to Google Maps: soup to nuts

Last week, I described how I’d used a Google API to allow a Google Spreadsheet to drive items appearing on a Google Map. I was proud of the work. Rob was less impressed, instead focusing on the fact that the latitude and longitude had to be looked up and input manually based on the postcode or town being mapped. He’s never impressed, that boy.

In a comment on the original post, Mercedes Car Finder (a person, it seems) suggested a Google formula, as follows:


where A1 contains the item to be looked up—the postcode or placename. Let’s assume the formula is entered into B1.

The CSV file resulting from the URL contains four fields. For "York", the first two numbers are 200 and 4. (I have no idea what these are. Anyone?) The last two (53.957702 and -1.082286) are the latitude and longitude respectively.

So the ImportData function brings back all four values, but only stores the first of these (200) in the cell containing the formula, in this case B1. The subsequent three values are accessed through the formulae

Given that the CSV file returned has a single row of data, these formulae bring back the mysterious 4, 53.957702 and -1.082286 respectively.

Unfortunately, Google doesn’t allow you to create latitude in one step through the following syntax:

But nonetheless, if I have a column of postcodes or placenames, all I need is three columns of formulae (the ImportData formula containing the 200, the CONTINUE (3) formula containing the latitude and the CONTINUE (4) formula containing the longitude) to feed the map.

Fabulous. Thanks, Mercedes-selling-person.

Next Page →