Sentry Heatmaps

Not sure how many people will find this awesome, but a guy has been collecting heatmaps based off of TF2 games on his server. On the heatmaps, they he recorded the data of where they were built and how many people they killed in order to get the best positions to put sentries. I’ve actually used this to get better positioning on my sentries. I’ve started playing engineer more and am really, really enjoying it. It’s certainly a needed class and sometimes no one wants to play it. It’s especially necessary on pl maps for defense to lock down those capture points.

I love what Valve has started here with collecting and organizing all of this data. They supply the hooks to the servers and collect much of the data themselves too. This has allowed them to design better maps that are more fun, more balanced, and less frustrating to both sides. I fully approve of this type of data collection for awesome purposes.

Telecoms and Why I Hate You

Here are three (One, Two, Three) articles about how the wireless carriers are taking your money, colluding with each other, and locking you in to their service so you can’t easily get out. It’s something I’ve been talking about for ages and not understanding how it’s beneficial for the consumer. I really, really wish that companies would think of the consumer more than they think of their bottom line, but I don’t think that’ll ever happen without some serious changes to how our society works.

Anyway, aside from that pie in the sky stuff, they really are interesting reads. The first is about how carriers have started saying that the internet is posing a threat to them because of how large videos are and how much it costs them to constantly stream them. That’s why they want to start putting caps on people so they can only download certain amounts instead of this fake “unlimited” that they have now (which is really bullshit because if you download a ton they’ll turn off your service and make you call them only to tell you to stop doing it even though it’s unlimited). What’s really stupid is that their profits have been growing, their costs have been getting cheaper, and their claims don’t match up. So a freshman legislator is looking to ban this stupid practice (go Eric Massa!).

The second is about how the FCC is going to examine phone lock in (you buy a phone from Cingular and can’t use it at Verizon). Honestly, I hate how we subsidize the phones through the service. It’s a retarded way to do it unless you A) Can’t afford a phone (or the phone you want) or B) Are a phone company. I remember reading a story about how way back in the day when phones in homes became more commonplace, you’d rent them or subsidize them through ma bell and one lady kept her phone for so long it actually ended up costing her something ridiculous like $10,000. Once you decouple the phone from the plan, both should get cheaper as market forces will bring them down. I’ve heard that Europe is that way and I really wish we were too.

The third is how AT&T and Verizon deny they price fix the text messages cost. This is probably the most ridiculous out of all of them. Text messages cost the company 160 bytes of traffic and yet most of them charge $0.20 for a single one off your plan. According to this article that amounts to $1,310 per MB of data. Fucking ridiculous. I don’t know how they could possibly claim with a straight face that they’re not price fixing for that.

Anyway, they’re all good articles and I hope that the companies all have to change their lying, thieving ways. I wish a telecom or utility company would come along that didn’t suck big, giant, huge donkey balls.

Gross

I found a used condom on the street walking to the bus stop today. That now means I’ve found used needles, condoms, and cigarette butts (oh god, so many). I’m sure there has to be other stuff that could be just as bad, but I can’t think of it. For some reason I’ve been noticing litter much more these days on the street. Perhaps I’ve become acutely aware of it because of what I’m reading (it’s made me think MUCH more about what I’m eating too).

Seriously though, next time you go walking in Seattle start counting how many cigarette butts you see on the ground. I thought about starting to clean them up, but if I did that, I’d never have time to do anything else. I wonder if cleaning up all of the trash would make a significant difference or if people wouldn’t even notice.

I really wish that people who smoked wouldn’t use the city as their trash can. The stupid part is half of the time I see a literal trash can a few feet away. People are just so ingrained that they can smoke and then toss it that they don’t even think twice about it anymore.

A TED Talk on the Biosphere 2

Really, really good talk on the Biosphere 2 (and 1). I love projects that really go out and do crazy stuff like this. I think it would be fascinating and a ton of fun to be in something like this. To take two years of my life to do it, well, that’s a bit crazy, but probably worth it. I love these talks from people who are obviously fully invested in their ideas and are passionate about them. This is certainly one of those talks.