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December 19, 2007

Play Checkers Online Against the World Champion


Right here.

The back story (Clive Thompson's article in the December 9, 2007 New York Times magazine) follows.

    The Death of Checkers

    Checkers has been around for more than 400 years, has been enjoyed by billions of players and has taught generations of young children the joy of strategy.

    And now it’s all over. This July, Jonathan Schaeffer, a computer scientist at the University of Alberta in Canada, announced that after running a computer program almost nonstop for 18 years, he had calculated the result of every possible endgame that could be played, all 39 trillion of them. He also revealed a sober fact about the game: checkers is a draw. As with tic-tac-toe, if both players never make a mistake, every match will end in a deadlock.

    One upshot is that Schaeffer now possesses software that can play unbeatable checkers. Indeed, go to his Web site and you can play online yourself, providing you’re prepared to lose again and again and again — or maybe, just maybe, fight to a draw, assuming you, too, play with the crystalline perfection of a silicon brain.

    Schaeffer did not solve checkers by replicating human intuition or game-playing ability. Rather, he employed what’s known as a “brute force” attack. He programmed a cluster of computers to play out every possible position involving 10 or fewer pieces. At the peak of his labors, he had 200 computers working around the clock on the problem, both in Alberta and down in California. (The data requirements were so high that for a while in the early ’90s, more than 80 percent of the Internet traffic in western North America was checkers data being shipped between two research institutions.)

    The brute-force method is slow, which is its big limit. Schaeffer says he suspects you couldn’t use it to solve chess, because that game — with between 1040 and 1050 possible arrangements of pieces — is far more complicated than checkers, which has 5 × 1020 positions. “Chess won’t be solved in my lifetime,” he predicts. “We need some new breakthrough in technology to do that.


Here's a video in which Jonathan Schaeffer, the co-creator of the program, discusses solving checkers.

Here's the project homepage.

December 19, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Do-It-Yourself Blood Typing Kit


Today's Nancy Drews will want to get up to speed.

From the website:

DIY Blood Typing Test Kit — Because Knowing is Half the Battle!


How many times have you told your love that you would cut off an arm for them? Or give them a kidney or your own blood if they needed it to survive? Well, cutting off an arm is easy, but foolish. And giving blood or a kidney is noble, but could pose a big problem if you don't share the same blood type. What would happen, you wonder? It's very simple — your loved one's blood antibodies would bind to too many antigens in your donor blood causing the erythrocytes of your love to burst. That's right, their blood would explode!


That's why we found this awesomely simple DIY Blood Type Test Kit. Just a little prick (no jokes, please), a few drops of blood, a little water, and the special card are all you need to find out what blood type you are. In just a few minutes, you'll have a card which will show you which antigens you have in your blood (which you can compare to a chart in the instructions to determine your blood type). And even better, this kit comes with a laminating sheet so you can carry the card in with you once it dries. Then, you will never not know what blood type you are, and you won't have to worry about your blood exploding.


DIY Blood Typing Test Kit Contents:

1 Eldon card 2511

1 Eldon foil 2511 (laminating sheet)

4 Eldon sticks

1 Absorbent cotton ball

1 Automatic lancet

1 Plastic pipette

1 Swab

1 Instruction sheet with lots of blood facts and info

Note: Each kit is good for one blood typing inside the ABO- and Rhesus-D Systems.

Eldon cards exposed to air must be used within one day.



December 19, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Bloomframe — Murphy Balcony


"Bloomframe® is an innovative window frame


which can be transformed into a balcony."


"The first Bloomframe balconies will be


available in the beginning of 2008."

Inquire within.

December 19, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'I'm Not Speeding I'm Qualifying'


Long sleeve T-shirt ($18.95) or sweatshirt ($28.95), both here.

December 19, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Hussein Chalayan's Laser Crystal Frocks

Described by the designer and featured above, they were featured at the Paris Spring/Summer '08 shows.

December 19, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Double Cube Nutcracker


How does that work?

I'm glad you asked.

From the website:

    Nusskubus Nutcracker

    This simple nutcracker consists of two beechwood cubes with three varying hollows carved in the sides, making it ideal for cracking an assortment of different-sized nuts.

    Simply place a nut in one of the hollows and slam the two cubes together.

    Designed by Jörg Adam and Dominik Harborth.

    Each block is 3" x 3" x 3".

    Made in Germany


December 19, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Cowgirl Creamery's Library of Cheese


Created by Cowgirl Creamery, makers of one of my favorite cheeses (Red Hawk).

Search by Farm/Cheesemaker, Milk Type, Milk Treatment, or Country of Origin, or just click on any one of some 330 cheeses listed to see what it looks like and learn about it.

Superb resource.

December 19, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Think Different


Think Skateboards unveils its new collection.

December 19, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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