# Solving the Right Problem Right

Presh Talwalkar recently wrote a blog post about people trying to solve problems with no solution.

I want to add something to this.

The numbers in a real world problem have meaning. You can not just do arithmetic operations without regard for what the numbers mean and expect to get a correct answer except by fluke.

Mathematical tools have requirements for their use. For example, if one has two of voltage, current, and resistance for some types of electrical circuits, one can compute the third using the formula E=IR. BUT you must have two of the values. If you only have one of them, you do not have enough information.

In a real world problem, you may have to hunt down the missing information. Sometimes, you can compute a missing value from other information given in the problem.

For example, in the problem “Albert has 25 marbles more than Carl does. Beth has 45 marbles. Carl has 15 fewer marbles than Beth. How many marbles does Albert have?”, Albert has c + 25 marbles. We do not know the value of c, but we do know that c = b – 15. That still is not enough, but since we know b = 45, we can substitute 45 for b to get c = 45 – 15 = 30 and then for c in a = c + 25 to get a = 30 + 25 = 55. Thus, Albert has 55 marbles.

Note that it was necessary to do something else before c could be computed. This is not a trick question. It is simply that one must have the necessary pieces before one can proceed.

# How YouTube and Others Shape Opinion

Do you watch YouTube videos? I do.

As I have watched different videos, what YouTube offers me for more to watch has changed. I watched some Jordan Peterson videos, and so I get offered more of the same. More Jordan Peterson and also Ben Shapiro and Dinesh D’Souza. They are very good speakers. There might be some leftist speakers who also are good speakers, too, but YouTube does not offer me any of those.

I am pretty much non-leftist, but that does not mean that I do not want to hear well-stated leftist thought. I do like to learn from other viewpoints.

It is hard to avoid the idea that I might be missing something. Polarisation is ugly.

# Casual?

I have applied to a local company whose manager claimed to be casual.

He is not. He dresses that way (jeans and T-shirt), but his manner is anything but. He has taken severe pains to impress on me how important sales are to him.

Today, I had a second interview. During it, I called him out on his so-called casualness, and I said he was driven.

He laughed. He said that he owns a lot of expensive stuff. And he wants to continue this.

He is refreshingly blunt. He has a lot of energy. He gets things done.

Casual looks very pale and sickly by comparison.

# Wonderfully Weird

Some people do not like weirdness. Anything that is very different from what they are used to gets labelled as weird and negatively so.

I think that a lot of weirdness is something to enjoy. I follow a Japanese Website SoraNews24. (One of the weird things about it is that it was formerly called “RocketNews24”, but they have not gotten around to changing their URL.)

They write about interesting things in Japan. There are a lot of things in Japan that are weird. Both potato chips and Kat Kit have lots of flavours that do not make it over here. Matcha (green tea) gets added to so many things. And more.

Far from feeling that it is horrible, I feel like I am missing out horribly.

What else am I missing out on, because I decided to avoid something weird?

How about you? What is something unusual that you have tried and ended up liking?

# Trust in Computing II

I asked last week, “So whom can you trust?”

Well, not Intel which tried to suggest that all CPUs had this problem.

And not Microsoft, who put out a patch and then told some users to not install it but not other users.

Considering Apple’s behaviour with their battery debacle, they are not on the list either.

Whom do you trust in the computer field?

# Trust in Computing

In the last week or so, a couple of vulnerabilities (Spectre and Meltdown) have been exposed. These have been present some families of processors for years. So whom can you trust?

# End of the Year Best Wishes

I hope you had a good 2017 and wish you the best for 2018.

# Shifting and Different Meanings

Language can change meaning over time. Confusion can ensue.

For one example, see this week’s Odd Language.

There used to be a company whose name was sometimes written all in lower case as “viagrafix”. It was pronounced “via graphics”. These days, the first thought would likely be “viagra fix”. Just a little different!

If you say something and get looked at oddly by someone of a notably different age, it might just be that a meaning has shifted.

# When Advice Is Not So Useful

I appreciate good advice. Many people do. How do you tell whether advice is good? And is hearing what others think always useful?

A recent SoraNews24 article tells of someone creating a manga explaining what happens when he follows what others say and what happens when he decides for himself in the matter of selecting a video game.

[Note: The link is fine. RocketNews24 changed their name to SoraNews24 several months ago, but they still have not changed the WebSite URL.]

Ignoring others can avoid negativity and avoid getting surprises spoiled.

Maybe, you know more than you think.

# Political Football

Back in the 1970’s, the British Columbia provincial government took automobile insurance away from private companies. Since then, one has to buy auto insurance from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.

ICBC makes money, and governments spend it like water. Consequently, ICBC gets raided to balance the budget.

I recently got a car. It cost me \$1484 to insure it for a year. I thought that was somewhat pricey. When a co-worker mentioned that it would cost about \$1000 less to insure it in Alberta, the word rip-off occurred to me.

To add insult to injury, a 15% price increase was scheduled to take effect around now so I just missed even worse!