Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Blogger Problems

Blogger has been having hiccups since last night. You might get a "Server Error" page when you try to link to my blog or some others on Blogger or Blogspot. If you try again a little while later it might work or not. Some blogs are more affected than others, and if you are quite bored you could probably try to figure out why.

Which reminds me of something I just read in Temple Grandin's book Animals In Translation. Grandin is a high-performing autistic person with ideas that animals share some of the ways her brain works. One of the stories she tells is about an experiment in which both rats and humans got positive reinforcement if they pressed a lever when a dot appeared in a certain part of the screen they were watching. The dot appeared randomly (at a frequency of 0.7), and the best strategy was just to press the lever all the time, whether the dot was on the screen or not (there was no punishment for pressing the lever when the screen was dotless). Rats did this well, but humans didn't, because they tried to figure out the rules that governed the appearance of the dot.

This, I now tell myself, is the reason I do quite a lot of computing by trial and error... It's the new magic.