Abandoned blog post ideas, pt. 1

I have fifty drafts sucking all the air out of my WordPress dashboard at the moment. Very few of them are ever likely to be developed into fully fledged blog posts, but I would feel kind of bad just deleting them outright. So I’m taking a bunch of the ideas and combining them into a hodge-podge post, hopefully for your reading pleasure. So, without further ado …

Workplaces are food sinks, in that if anyone has any extra food left over from a party or other event, they can bring it to work, set it down on a communal table in the kitchen, and it’ll be gone by the end of the day. Workplaces can thus absorb any of the extra food in a society that might otherwise be wasted. I’m not sure how I ever thought this tiny little insight would be expandable into a full blog post, but there it is.

In college, I was a part of an undergraduate research program that had a team of eight people writing a 100-page research paper over the course of three years. The paper was about an educational videogame that we wrote. We all thought that 100 page paper was a big deal at the time. Well, two months ago for work I wrote a 100 page paper over the course of a month with a single coworker. It required a comparable amount of research to the undergraduate research paper. It’s funny how relative ideas of what constitutes an involved assignment change so quickly following employment. I’m laughing at the thought that we ever considered a 100 page paper written by eight people over the course of three years to be a hard undertaking.

Many years ago, when I was still in high school, I took a photograph of the Great Falls section of the Potomac River on a camp field trip. Not too long after, I uploaded said photograph to Wikipedia for use in an article. All was well and good for awhile, until it was transferred to Wikimedia Commons (an image repository run by the Wikimedia Foundation) and the person effecting the move completely munged the image attribution. He attributed the photograph to a user who did nothing more than decrease the image quality by reducing the size of the image (an action which was later reverted). I understand that thousands of photographs are processed for transfer to Wikimedia Commons every month, but you really have to get the details correct! Put in the extra few minutes to carefully check the image’s history and verify that credit for it is actually going to the one who deserves it. I’ve since corrected the attribution on the image, but now I face the nuisance of regularly trawling through all of my uploads just to make sure none of them have been mistakenly attributed to someone else. Another complicating factor here is that only administrators can view deleted revisions, and the revision that established me as the content creator was deleted on Wikipedia. So I could see it and point out the error, but the average editor/reader cannot.

I have several computers participating in the Seventeen or Bust distributed computing project, the goal of which is to prove that 78,557 is the smallest Sierpinski number (it seems a much nobler goal if you understand the mathematics behind it, trust me). If you have any idle computing power, you should join it too. The attraction it offers versus most other distributed computing projects is that it has a finish line in sight. They only have five more primes to find (out of an original 17, hence the project name), and once they do, the project ends successfully. Compare that with, say, the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, which just keeps looking for larger and larger primes and thus never ends. The Seventeen or Bust project currently holds the record for having found the largest non-Mersenne prime.

I’m tired of pseudoscientific pablum on television, especially when it’s on otherwise respectable networks such as the History Channel. This kernel of an idea for a blog post was inspired by an especially heinous paranormal television show on the History Channel. Luckily, Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy and others are putting together a new television show called The Skeptologists that will provide a counterpoint to all of the pseudoscientific nonsense on television. Hopefully it makes it to air.

And last but not least, I was going to write an entire blog post about a freaking screwdriver. It was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek ode to a great tool that my dad bought for me many years ago and that has served me well all throughout high school and college (and I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many computers it has taken apart and put together). One of my remarks in the draft notes that “Its orange color makes it easy to find”. But as I wrote more and more about it, the ode became more and more serious, and eventually I scrapped the whole blog post idea as being patently ridiculous. Unfortunately, this was not before I took multiple pictures of said screwdriver, one of which I present for your mocking scorn and frivolous amusement:

And with that, my WordPress drafts queue is down from 50 to 44. I should do this more often. If you think any of the above ideas could have merited a full blog post, by all means, let me know in the comments below. I’m not promising anything though. Hopefully with most of these you can see why I decided against expanding them into full blog posts.

4 Responses to “Abandoned blog post ideas, pt. 1”

  1. William (green) Says:

    But I don’t see any reason to be computing large primes. What does that do for us?
    Folding@Home at least has a pretty visible purpose. I don’t think my laptop’s processor has enough cooling to be able to run at 100% constantly, so I’m not running any distributing computing stuff on it at least until I have a backup portable. Hell, it’s my main machine right now. 1.6GHz Celeron, man. Little pity here?

    Also, I took a look at the canal picture, and it seems a little washed out, so I hit it with some Curves and I got this. Irfanview can do something similar, and it makes most pictures look better.
    I won’t make any claims to being an expert when it comes to photography, but I’d recommend running an auto-level or auto-curves tool on just about any picture you take. Generally, what’ll happen is you get a perceived increase in dynamic range due to midtones having an enhanced range.

  2. Cyde Weys Says:

    Finding the largest prime is to mathematics as sending humans to other worlds is to space travel. It doesn’t necessarily accomplish much in itself, but the knock-on effects are enormous. In particular, whole new classes of algorithms have been developed for efficiently discovering primes, and they are useful in other applications — like, say, public-key cryptography, the most common algorithms of which start off with “Generate two huge primes …”

    In addition, the Seventeen or Bust project has some interesting ramifications regarding covering sets. Mathematicians suspect that 78,557 is the smallest Sierpinski number (the covering set issue being the largest bit of evidence), but they haven’t quite developed the proof for it yet. The purpose of the project is to computationally prove that 78,557 is the smallest Sierpinski number. Once that’s out of the way, mathematicians will be able to focus a bit more on proving why it is the smallest one, because they’ll have the comforting knowledge of knowing that it’s correct.

  3. Ed Says:

    I would like to see the pseudo-science idea developed a bit more. It´s a very interesting subject.
    Regarding super tools, I never travel without my Swiss army knife. It was expensive when I bought it in Geneva but it certainly was money well spent.
    It’s common practice here for people to eat in the office. (In my country that´s just considered bad manners or the privilege of the unsociable office twat…) Suffice to say that the desks and floors end up with a reasonable amount of breadcrumbs. No matter what, on most days the office is clean and the crumbs gone. Now, when you stay in the office until late, have you ever noticed how careless the cleaners are when they vacuum? Sure enough, I wonder why they only put bug traps near the coffee machine… eheheheh

  4. Abandoned blog post ideas, part 2 | Cyde Weys Musings Says:

    […] my wildly successful blog post on abandoned blog ideas, part 1 (at least in terms of cleaning up my WordPress post drafts, anyway), I figure it’s time for […]