Monday, November 21, 2011


I found a cool website called InnoCentive. They currently host 116 active competitions - some of them with million dollar prizes. Most of the contests seem to be about solving open-ended problems in science/engineering. I have made a submission to the "Strategy to Assimilate Unstructured Information" contest (which ends in four days). There is a similar website that hosts competitions for machine learning problems called Kaggle.

Facebook Removes RSS Importing

When I logged into Facebook today I was greeted with this message:
That's right, Facebook is removing the ability to import RSS feeds. I am not very active on Facebook, so people commenting on my automatically imported blog posts is one of the few ways I still use the service. Now that this functionality is removed, my usage of Facebook will drop significantly. I have the suspicion they are removing it for a bad reason. I have noticed that the amount of time it takes for RSS feed items to be imported to Facebook can sometimes take several days. Why would it be so slow? Google Reader updates my feeds in a matter of minutes. I think the only reason Facebook would be so slow at importing feeds is if it is an expensive process and they don't want to spend the resources to update more often. The feature is obviously good for users, so the only reason Facebook would have to remove it is to reduce costs.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I spent the day watching the MLG Starcraft 2 championship. This is by far the most entertaining sport I have watched. I bet it would be fun to watch even for people who have never heard of Starcraft. It is definitely attracting a growing audience in the US and should start showing up on TV networks soon. I started cheering for the South Korean player Leenock while he was in the losers bracket, several rounds before the finals. I was thrilled when he continued winning round after round, making his way out of the losers bracket to eventually win the competition and a $50,000 prize. Incredibly he is only 16 years old! Before this contest almost nobody had heard of Leenock, so it was exciting to watch him defeat world-famous sc2 players one after another.

Leenock's rise to fame reminds me of another young e-sport competitor: tourist. tourist is only 17 years old but has proven himself to be one of the world's best competitive programmers. I find it shocking that tourist/Leenock can become the best at their respective fields at such a young age. It shows how genetics and innate intelligence/talent plays a crucial role in these sports, since their age obviously limits the number of years they have spent practising. I think since competitive programming is a pretty good measurement of human intelligence, tourist may also be one of the smartest people in the world. It will be interesting to keep track of what he eventually accomplishes in his career.

Monday, November 07, 2011 is down!

A while ago I created the site - a rock-paper-scissors programming competition hosted by Google App Engine. The site is currently down due to exceeding its quota. This is because today App Engine introduced a new pricing model. With the old pricing model my quota usage was $0 per day. With the new model it is about $13 per day, or about $4,750 per year. Seriously? That is a ridiculous increase in price. Of course this basically forces me to shut down the site or redesign how it works. For now I have disabled all automatic ranked matches which should bring it back into the free quota (at the same time making the site completely useless because the rankings will no longer update). I can only assume that the price increase has a larger impact on me than typical users (possibly due to the type of resources I use to run matches). The only reason I make this assumption is because if everyone is hit by the price increase as badly as me, nobody would continue using App Engine. I am not happy.