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January 25, 2008

How to catch a bus. Step 1: Stand there and wait.

Step 2: Repeat Step 1 ad infinitum.

That's right, don't get your baggies in a twist 'cause you think you could get there faster by walking, because most likely you won't.

That's the conclusion of a paper just published in the January 23, 2008 issue of New Scientist.

The New Scientist News Service offered the following account of the work.

    Lazy option is best when waiting for the bus

    Ever lose patience waiting for a bus and decided to walk instead? Next time, stick around, it's nearly always the best strategy.

    Scott Kominers, a mathematician at Harvard University, and his colleagues derived a formula for the optimal time that you should wait for a tardy bus at each stop en route before giving up and walking on. "Many mathematicians probably ponder this on their way to work, but never get round to working it out," he says.

    The team found that the solution was surprisingly simple. When both options seem reasonably attractive, the formula advises you to choose the "lazy" option: wait at the first stop, no matter how frustrating.

    The formula does break down in extreme cases, Kominers says, when the time interval between buses is longer than an hour, for example, and your destination is only a kilometre away.

    If you do choose to walk, you should make your decision before you start waiting, he says. You will still reach your destination later than the bus you'd have caught, but it will be much less frustrating than waiting for a while and then watching the bus shoot by. "It certainly has changed the way I travel," Kominers says.


Okay, now your brain's in gear and ready for the abstract of the New Scientist paper; it follows.

    Walk versus Wait: The Lazy Mathematician Wins

    In this recreational mathematics note, we address a simple, yet instructive question:

    Justin has to travel a distance of d miles along a bus route. Along this route, there are n bus stops i, each spaced at a distance of d_i from the starting point. At each bus stop, Justin is faced with a choice: to walk or to wait. If he walks on, he can still catch a bus at the next bus stop — but if a bus passes him while he walks, he is almost assured a longer wait.

    We model Justin's decision constraint and completely solve the model in a special case. The answer is intuitive: the optimal strategy is the laziest.


For those who'd like to do the math themselves, a link to the full paper in PDF format appears in the upper right hand corner of this page.

January 25, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Bling Factor Color-Changing Watch


From the website:

    Color Changing Watch

    Push a button on the watch case to start a dazzling light show that makes a unique fashion statement, whether you're dressed up or in jeans!

    A continuous flashing display of assorted colors pulses and flashes around the watch face and automatically turns off after a minute.

    Shimmering faux crystals on the watch front and the trendy plastic band make this a must-have for everyone from teens to grandmothers.

    Assorted watch face colors — we'll choose for you.




January 25, 2008 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Bic Pen Cutlery — Episode 3: Are James Rennick and Simon Kingston the Original Designers?


Just in from Rafael Morgan, this link to the photo above.

Investigation by my crack research team reveals the implements' creators to be young Irish industrial designers James Rennick and Simon Kingston.

Further sleuthing found a January 23, 2008 comment by Kingston on treehugger's January 21, 2008 post about an Italian team's Din-ink (below) —


designboom's "dining in 2015" 2008 awardee, one of three winning entries chosen from 4,843 submissions; Kingston's comment follows.

    dining in 2015: Din-ink

    Looks a little too familiar to a project a friend and I worked on nearly 2 years ago if ya ask me... see for yourselves here and here.

    Coincidence?? I can't help but be a little suspicious.


I just emailed Rennick and quickly received a response; our exchange follows.

    What year did you design the Bic Biro cutlery pictured on your coroflot page?


    I did them over a year ago and they have been knocking around on the internet for about the same time. My portfolio has been linked to many blogs during that time. I find it very fishy since from the whole angle they have on their design when googled ( for example, during the research stage) one would quickly come across links to my portfolio with the miele project (below).


    I contacted designboom but nothing can really be done about this and my boss agreed also. I am pretty pissed but I shall get over it. A learning curve I guess.


    James Rennick


"... nothing can really be done about this..." — I'm not so sure.

Seems to me there's at least a possibility the Italian team may have copied the Irish team's design without attribution, put their names on it and entered (and won) under false pretenses.

At the very least, should Rennick's and Kingston's creations be documented as having been produced in 2006 (as both men state above) — and even if the Italians deny ever having known of their work prior to their own submission — at least passing acknowledgment of them by designboom is in order.

Should designboom look into whether the Irish design preceded that of the awardees — and give Rennick and Kingston a share of the prize?

True, they didn't enter the competition, but their concept may have — under a false flag.

You tell me what's right.

Better yet, tell designboom — mail@designboom.com

January 25, 2008 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

We get email: Just in from Raty Sysavath


In the interest of expediting matters so as to avoid Mr. Sysavath (I don't know why I assume the individual is a man rather than a woman, but I just have this feeling...) having to initiate legal proceedings against Miller Brewing Company, the owner of Sparks (I believe that 7-day clock has already begun ticking as of his email being posted now — not when it was received by me at 12:14:41 p.m. today – though I am sure Mr. Sysavath's crack legal team will argue that the earlier time is in actuality the beginning of the allowed time period for Sparks's response), if you have any information that might prove helpful in answering his query, feel free to contact him directly:


I'm thinking clifyt, Skipweasel and Flautist especially may be able to shed a little light on this dark (red) corner.


I should note that a rather mischievous tech blogger who shall remain nameless (but her initials are JL, in case you like clues) made me do this: you know how much I hate to cause trouble.

I always knew combining ranching and tech was a recipe for havoc but I had no idea how bad it could really get.

Live and learn.

January 25, 2008 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Idle thoughts while watching the Australian Open for the past 10 days

1) Martina Navratilova is — by far — the best TV tennis analyst in the world. Bitingly incisive, witheringly direct, concise, funny, sarcastic, instructive, knowledgable — what more is there? Her deep knowledge of the game takes you into the psyche of the players and lets even a complete novice like me get a sense of what the inner game — not just what's visible on the court — is about.

2) I've been struck by how much better the broadcast looks when the little box with the players' names and running score isn't onscreen. In what seems more or less a random occurrence, about half the time the box isn't there. Much better that way. I'd make it so the box only appeared between points, not when play was happening. In fact, it would be a wonderful experiment to have one of the networks that does pro and college football try this. As it is, the box for football — showing the quarter, time remaining, score, down and yards to go, available timeouts and who's got the ball — takes up almost 25% of the screen and really detracts from the action on the field.

3) Another thing that seems new to me on this series of tennis broadcasts is the absolutely still main camera that shows the majority of the full-court action from behind one end line. Usually that camera moves a little from side to side, but the rock-steady position seems to make watching the match that much more absorbing, as if you're sitting there in the stands as opposed to staring at a screen.

January 25, 2008 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Love Stinks Soap


What becomes of the broken hearted?

They give this to their Valentine.

From the website:

    Love Stinks Soap Set

    A hilarious gift for the one you love, these heart-shaped novelty soaps are lightly scented and perfect for a guest bathroom — or a tub for two.

    Set of 2.

    3½" W.


January 25, 2008 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Narcissistic Personality Inventory


"The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) is the most widely used measure of narcissism in social psychology research," according to Wikipedia.

What's yours?

Interpretation here this time tomorrow.

January 25, 2008 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Swimming Desktop Zen Dolphin


That's different.

From the website:

    Zen Dolphin™

    Bathed in a sea of beautiful blue light, the Zen Dolphin magically swims, mimicking a bottlenose dolphin's smooth motions.

    Accompanied by natural ocean sounds and dolphin calls, it is a piece of instant Zen for your desktop.

    Illuminated base has volume, light and auto timer controls.

    Requires 3 C batteries or AC adapter (not included).

    10" x 6.5" x 4".



Have a listen.


January 25, 2008 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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