Thursday, October 20, 2005

I'm Officially Evil

Well, it's official. I'm a soulless villain. I took this test and it determined that I am Agent Smith.

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

I'm slightly disturbed by this. When I was a teenager, I used to worship Captain Picard. That character was my hero. Now that I'm grown up, who am I most like? Agent Smith. Where did I go wrong?

It's not like the test is flawed. The more I think about it, the more I agree with the result. What's worse, I was able to effortlessly answer the questions so that the result was Captain Picard, something less than 0.01% of the people who have taken the test have done. It's just that I did not believe the Picard answers.

I really have changed. I used to believe in freedom and democracy, the pursuit of truth for it's own sake, and the equality of all. I don't really believe in those things any more. Now I believe only in getting my way at any cost. When did this happen?

Well, I guess I won't waste any more time worrying about it. I'll go execute some of my enemies and I'm sure I'll feel right as rain. At least if I have to be a Sci-fi villain, I get to be one of the few who could only be defeated at the cost of the hero's life.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

10/16/05 - Laser Tag Analysis

I made my third trip to Bob-O's Laser Odyssey on Sunday. This time, I took two of my friends from Juarez along for the fun and I was able to test some more of my tactical theories, mostly those regarding team play.

Without the aid of radios, team play is unquestionably quite difficult in indoor laser tag. It is dark and noisy in there, making communication, either vocal or gesture, difficult. Beyond the darkness, the fog machines and limited time to arrange meaningful hand signals with your teammates further limit the viability of gesture communication. Because of this, your team must adopt a more general strategy which is lose enough to overcome the difficulty of communication.

The general strategy we chose was to first hit the opposing teams' bases on the lower level and then seize and hold the upper level for the remainder of the game. This plan worked out very well. I've discussed the tactic of holding the upper level before but this time I actually got to try it. The first question was: how many people are required to do it? The answer seems to be "at least three." We were able to do it with three against eight opponents. A group of three was able to make a raid and reach the upper level but we drove them back quickly.

In the second game, the teams were even and it was six against six. We repeated our upper-level grab, this time with two additional people and decimated the other team. At one point, I was laughing maniacally as I blasted the opposing team from above. From the central opening of the upper deck, it was like shooting fish in a barrel. Unfortunately, the small size of the other team did lead to a dearth of targets, which limited our scores.

The US Army's Field Manual on urban combat emphasizes attacking buildings from the top and moving down, to the point of scaling the outside of the building to get to the roof. The wisdom of this was made clear in the game statistics: our tag ratios went through the roof! My highest was 438% and one of my friends topped 500%.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Your self-driving car is closer than you think.

This past weekend, DARPA held its second grand challenge: A 132-mile race through the Mojave desert where the drivers are not humans, but computers. Last year, the best robotic vehicle only traveled 7 miles. It was hoped that one of the teams would finish this year, but instead, four teams completed the entire course.

This is amazing. The US Army wants to have 1/3 of its vehicles driver-less by 2015, and it looks like they will get it. I really expect self-driving cars on US streets by that time and probably even sooner in other countries with looser liability laws.