My Kindle is Dead, Long Live My Kindle

Last week my Kindle mysteriously died at 30,000 feet leaving me to spend the rest of the flight watching the guy in the seat next to me blissfully playing Angry Birds on his iPad 2. I guess I karmically deserved that.

Well I guess there’s a downside of using an e-reader to store all of your books. Thankfully my Kindle was still within Amazon’s one year warranty. That’s pretty standard but it isn’t all that great of an insurance policy for what is supposed to be your entire library, especially if the screens themselves are defective. I wouldn’t expect them to replace the device if I had broken it but for an inexplicable error like this it seems warranted. Technology breaks, especially new technology, but I really would like it if Amazon could stand behind the product some more.

Thankfully my Kindle will be replaced for free, and I was able to save all of my books so the loss itself isn’t so great. The eye opener was that while the Kindle keeps all of your e-books from the Kindle store in “the cloud” (for me a grand total of two), the other 20 from websites like Project Gutenberg are only ever stored on the device. So if you take advantage of the mountain of free e-books out there, and you should, remember to back them up somewhere.

Now I am left staring at the behemoth that is Imperial sitting my coffee table. This 1,200+ page book alone must weigh at least 10x what a Kindle does. I feel like I am living in the stone age… or, you know 2007.

Posted in Miscellaneous | 6 Comments

These Blogs Are Better Than Mine

My blog has been dormant for almost two months now. But luckily, a six day weekend has left me with plenty of time to read other people’s blogs. If you have sat behind me on my one day of class this quarter (awesome!) you might be curious about what I’m reading so I thought I’d share the contents of my RSS reader.

In related news, Donald Glover’s blog is pretty much exactly what you’d expect, a random collection of: geekiness, hipsterdom, and Hollywood newbie. Here’s hoping for a good show tonight at The Belly Up.

Posted in Miscellaneous, News & Politics, Rady | 1 Comment

Energy in Motion

An 18 credit quarter has left my blog pretty inactive over the past few months but I decided to post this Google motion chart on world energy usage a while back. My inspiration was Hans Rosling and his awesome TED presentation on life expectancy vs income over the past 200 years. I decided to teach myself how to use Google Documents to model this kind of historical data after my summer internship in market research. Gapminder also has a downloadable version of the software and dataset he used for that presentation.

You can view energy use from 1980 to 2008 by country in total, per capita, and broken down by oil, coal, gas, and renewables. The full chart and data set can be found at:

BP Statistical Review of World Energy
Google Documents: Google Motion Chart
Google Motion Chart gadget tutorial

Posted in Economics, Miscellaneous | Leave a comment

The Odds of Winning The Lottery

When the recent Mega Millions Lottery jackpot of $355 million hit the news and I kept hearing how horrible of a gamble the lottery was. With odds of winning the jackpot at 1 in 175,711,536 the lottery is a bad bet to be sure. But odds like that are hard to conceptualize. On the other hand, with such a huge amount of money on the line who could resist the chance at winning big for only $1?

So, just for fun, I created a Lottery Excel Spreadsheet to calculate the expected return on a lottery ticket for a given jackpot amount. The key variables determining the return are:

  • The Probabilities of Each Lotto Prize
  • The Amount of the Jackpot
  • The Number of Tickets Sold (predicted from historical data)
  • The Number of Winning Tickets
  • The Income Tax Rate

As it turns out for a Lotto jackpot like the most recent of $380 million the expected return on a $1 ticket is -23¢. Not great, but everyone knows that the house always wins anyway, so how does this compare to casino gambling bets?

Expected Returns on a $1 bet at the casino:

  • Roulette – Red/Black: -5.26¢
  • Craps – Pass-Line: -1.41¢
  • Craps – Seven: -16.67¢
  • Slot Machines: -3¢ to -14¢

So the Lottery is a much worse bet than anything in Vegas. And it just gets worse as the size of the jackpot decreases to more common levels. A $100 million jackpot has a return of -63¢.

However, when it comes to big multi-million dollar win (the low-likelihood scenarios in either case), the Lotto actually offers better odds because other games have decreasing probabilities with each repeated play. Although, if you are ok with turning your $1 into a mere $20 million after tax or less ( a $54 million Lotto jackpot), then you are much better off doubling down on a $1 bet in craps (odds of 1 in 97,079,014). Although you’ll still have to win 26 times in a row.

Posted in Business | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

What’s On My Kindle

With my new Kindle I have been going through Project Gutenberg and downloading all the classics: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Siddhartha, The Art of War, and several other books I have a vague intention to read.

But in my literary fervor I also bought two books that I now question which I will put to use less. These two books are The King James Bible and The Kama Sutra. I filed them in away under the In Case of Apocalypse category, soon to be joined by The Zombie Survival Guide. I don’t know the exact rules for the rapture but I’m hoping there is a make-up exam I can cram for. If not the second book will tide me through the end of days.

But my favorite free find is the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. I will be taking full advantage of this hilarious book on Twitter #1811Vulgarity.

Posted in Life & Other Things, Miscellaneous | Leave a comment