The Count Censored

The Count Censored

If you’re a member of any of the Sesame Street generations, meaning you were a child in 1969 or later (a group including the president) you may want to ignore this post. That is if you value those pure innocent memories. Don’t blame me for ruining your childhood 😉 .

Otherwise, watch the video linked above and enjoy. Here’s a bonus video featuring the count censored.

Coin Tosses Not Totally Random

It’s generally assumed that a coin toss is “fair” because it’s considered “random” as long as you don’t use a double headed coin. In fact professional sports like football use it. While previously known or at least suspected, it’s not so random. Research shows it has a 1% bias. Making the odds 51-49, hopefully in my favor. They were even able to build a machine to predictably flip a coin.

James Devlin at Coding The Wheel has a great writeup simplified for those who don’t have a head for all the math (pun intended):

  1. If the coin is tossed and caught, it has about a 51% chance of landing on the same face it was launched. (If it starts out as heads, there’s a 51% chance it will end as heads).
  2. If the coin is spun, rather than tossed, it can have a much-larger-than-50% chance of ending with the heavier side down. Spun coins can exhibit “huge bias” (some spun coins will fall tails-up 80% of the time).
  3. If the coin is tossed and allowed to clatter to the floor, this probably adds randomness.
  4. If the coin is tossed and allowed to clatter to the floor where it spins, as will sometimes happen, the above spinning bias probably comes into play.
  5. A coin will land on its edge around 1 in 6000 throws, creating a flipistic singularity.
  6. The same initial coin-flipping conditions produce the same coin flip result. That is, there’s a certain amount of determinism to the coin flip.
  7. A more robust coin toss (more revolutions) decreases the bias.

There’s also some potential strategy, a worthwhile read.

There paper is also available as as well if your so inclined, though you’d need to be a real math/stats nerd to want to read that.

Feds Alarmed About RFID Reader At DefCon

This is pretty amusing. Federal agents were apparently surprised that there were RFID readers hidden at DefCon, the most cut throat (and amusing to read about) hacker convention. Why they would carry anything containing a RFID chip inside is beyond me, but even more interesting is that they were surprised by this.

The article goes on to explain the usual explanation about how insecure RFID really is. I feel like I’ve written about RFID’s security issues before.

Google Buys On2

Google today announced they are buying On2 Technologies. This is one of their more significant purchases despite the relatively low price tag of $106.5 million since it’s video technology and Google is the largest video source on the web right now.

On2 is really an unknown to most people but their product has an amazing reach thanks to Adobe Flash. VP6 notably was included in Flash 8 and really brought about the age of Flash video (think YouTube). On2 also has VP7 which is considered a H.264 competitor. VP3 was released as open source and lives on as OGG Theora.

Of course by buying On2 Google will not need to pay any licensing for it’s VP7 technology, they can then bundle it into Chrome, Android and Google Chrome OS (finally giving Linux decent web video support). They could also open source it similar to these platforms in hopes that it will gain ubiquity.

This does however leave me wondering if this pending On2 deal had any bearing on the decision to leave HTML 5 <video/> codec ambiguous. It’s noteworthy since Google is very involved in the HTML 5 efforts. As I mentioned last month licensing is really key. If VP7 were open sourced and it’s licensing were compatible to meet Apple and Mozilla’s needs (which could lead to inclusion in Safari and Firefox respectively), OGG Theora is potentially dead overnight. Given Google’s strategy so far of making technology open source in efforts to encourage adoption, I wouldn’t rule this out, though it would likely take a while to evaluate everything and make sure they legally have that option. Timeline could also come into play here. The web isn’t necessarily going to wait for Google. These reviews can potentially take a long time. No guarantee others will incorporate it either, though it’s a pretty good deal should licensing work.

It’s also interesting that now Microsoft has Windows Media Player, Apple has QuickTime, and Google has On2’s codec bundle. It’s not exactly a “player”, but considering it’s usage it’s just as important.

It’s going to be very interesting to see how this plays out. One thing that seems relatively certain is that Google just made web video more interesting.