## 0309: "Shopping Teams"

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SuprousOxide
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Bakemaster wrote:
Delbin wrote:
Bakemaster wrote:I don't understand people who buy breakfast cereal according to unit price. I don't care how big that box of Rice Krispies is, the Grape Nuts are \$2.25 per pound!

I'm confused. Do you mean not according to unit price?

No wonder you're confused, apparently I don't know what unit price is. I thought it meant (quite reasonably, I might add) the price it costs to buy one of something. Like, a box of cereal. My mistake.

Oh, I thought you were critisizing the guy who would buy Grape Nuts just because it's a much better per pound deal. Now I like Grape Nuts, but if I'm in the mood for Rice Krispies, I don't care that the Grape Nuts are a better per pound deal, I want some Snap, Crackle, Pop.

mntlchaos
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Economica wrote:It's all about expected marginal utility.

Actually, since there are only 2 air conditioners, the function is undefined at all except two discrete points, and marginal utility doesn't exist.

Actually, now I'm tempted to pose a game theoretic problem based on the comic. Suppose an infinitely repeated game, where 2 products are available being bought by 2 buyers, one of which is superior to the other. One player (nerd) can tell which is superior by examination in each round, though which is superior is randomized, so it can't be extrapolated past that round. The other player can tell if she got the superior or inferior after purchase, but she can tell. If the nerd must give advice before each round to the non-nerd, what would the equilibrium for each be, if an equilibrium exists?

Remember that the non-nerd would notice if the nerd's advice were always bad, and thus choose the opposite, so that's not gonna be optimal for the nerd.

If I'm understanding this: Nerd gives advice, non-nerd chooses one for himself, giving other to nerd. The one with the better AC wins the round. Right?

If so, I think it's 50/50. The non-nerd can guarantee that by completely ignoring the nerd every time. Thus no strategy of giving advice by the nerd will possibly be better than this for him in the long run. Since the nerd can't possibly do better than 50/50, he should try and attain this, which can be done by giving completely random advice.

SteveMB
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LassLisa wrote:I expect 6 months to a year before I decide what specifications I want

By then, the original specifications will be obsolete anyway....

Ren
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Bakemaster
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SuprousOxide wrote:Oh, I thought you were critisizing the guy who would buy Grape Nuts just because it's a much better per pound deal. Now I like Grape Nuts, but if I'm in the mood for Rice Krispies, I don't care that the Grape Nuts are a better per pound deal, I want some Snap, Crackle, Pop.

Ah-ha! You must be able to pay your rent!

c0 = 2.13085531 × 1014 smoots per fortnight
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lemontree
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Bizarrely ironic.. yesterday one of my friends is like, "You should buy a new tv.. look at these deals at Best Buy!"

ME: Oooh! 32" LCD Westinghouse for \$580. Thats cheap, I'll take it!
Him: Hang on! Look around first.. What about this PHILLIPS 32" with a much higher contrast ratio for only \$699?
ME: Hmm.. OK!

In the end, the tv was originally marked down from \$899 to \$699, and then with a coupon for 12% off thanks to my Rewards card.. I got that sucker for \$615. Conclusion? Like the comic said, if you're not entirely a nerd.. bring one with you when shopping. Oh how I <3 my friend.

EvanED
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### Re: "Shopping Teams" Discussion

evilbeanfiend wrote:
Alt-text: "I am never going out to buy an air conditioner with my sysadmin again."

cos you got such an awesome air conditioner it will last you forever, right?

No. The nerd chose an air conditioner that was particularly cheap, but will still last a fairly long time. However, it's likely that he will have to take apart the unit and replace a belt a couple times before it dies in order to reach this lifespan.

[Disclaimer: I have no clue if A/C units actually contain belts.]

bbctol
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The true nerd builds his own air conditioner.

grim4593
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bbctol wrote:The true nerd builds his own air conditioner.

A true nerd builds a wormhole generator that links to an ice planet with higher air pressure.

Was just reading the Commonwealth Saga...

faranim
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They probably wouldn't do so well on Supermarket Sweep

Hopefully I'm not the only person who remembers this show.

SuprousOxide
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Bakemaster wrote:
SuprousOxide wrote:Oh, I thought you were critisizing the guy who would buy Grape Nuts just because it's a much better per pound deal. Now I like Grape Nuts, but if I'm in the mood for Rice Krispies, I don't care that the Grape Nuts are a better per pound deal, I want some Snap, Crackle, Pop.

Ah-ha! You must be able to pay your rent!

From a purely survival point of view, price per weight is the wrong metric anyway. I'd think price per calorie might be better.

schrodingersduck
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Bakemaster wrote:I don't understand people who buy breakfast cereal according to unit price. I don't care how big that box of Rice Krispies is, the Grape Nuts are \$2.25 per pound!

Ah, but it's not weight that matters with food, it's volume. I can't find any prices online (do American supermarkets not sell food over the internet?), and Amazon only sells these massive multipacks (organic Grape Nuts only) which don't seem representative (\$3.50 per pound for both), but I'd imagine you could get far more bowls of cereal per pound out of the mostly-air Rice Krispies than the very solid Grape Nuts; the 17 ounce box of Grape Nuts looks the same size as the 12 ounce box of Rice Krispies.

Belial
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From a purely survival point of view, price per weight is the wrong metric anyway. I'd think price per calorie might be better.

Most bowls of cereal have enough calories to keep you alive regardless. However, most people don't function terribly well when their stomach feels empty, and price per weight is the best way of evaluating a cereal's ability to solve *that* problem.
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They/them

LassLisa
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SteveMB wrote:
LassLisa wrote:I expect 6 months to a year before I decide what specifications I want

By then, the original specifications will be obsolete anyway....

Exactly. The cycle only ends when my current computer breaks and I have to get a new one.

aetherson
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somdude04
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### I never go shopping with another nerd to avoid this.

Not so much for the multi-hour discussion of which would be better, but because if we reach an impasse, I'd trust myself over them and probably do something accidentally to make them angry. Like if I went shopping for a laptop with one of my closest nerd friends it'd probably become a huge discussion about dual-booting a Mac/XP (or possible triple with linux as well) laptop versus buying a cheaper non-apple plain XP machine (because all my real work would be done at my desktop and the laptop would be for checking email, taking notes, writing up stuff quick while away from home), but the argument would come in over not being able to use Apple stuff on my desktop and therefore needing the powerful dual-boot laptop instead.

Then it'd probably degrade into wars about programming languages (I'm a Java/SQL/Database programmer, he uses primarily perl and python). Thankfully it wouldn't degrade into the holy war between vi and Emacs because we're both on the same side there (which I won't say for fear of starting up a war here)

So I have tended to shop with a female friend of mine nerdy enough to have rolled non 6 sided dice before, but one with little computer knowledge, but a good sense of fashion. It works well because we've been friends long enough that we can just tell the other what we're looking for and then they'll pick it off the shelf, offer a few seconds of explanation in an attempt to illuminate the other, then head to the checkout.

Unfortunately, she just moved 3 months ago, but I think I've found a sufficient replacement. We went shopping a few days ago and while it took slightly longer, we've known each other only a year as opposed to 3.

Tiax
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The problem here is that shopping is NP-Hard.

It's basically the knapsack problem.

Sprocket
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Hmm...a blonde!

I think this is only an issue when it comes to buying a technical product. Most nerds I know could care less about checking the square footage on one roll of paper towels vs. another, as compared with the number in a pack and the price. The people I know who do this are your semi-nerds. Or your non-tech geek nerds, anyway. My dad is a big nerd and he does this. My friend Chis is kind of a psuedo geek and he does this, but most geeks I know could not care the fuck less. They just want to buy something and get out.

Belial wrote:Most bowls of cereal have enough calories to keep you alive regardless. However, most people don't function terribly well when their stomach feels empty, and price per weight is the best way of evaluating a cereal's ability to solve *that* problem.

Yeah food is evil. I only need like 1000 calories a day MAYBE, but my tummy gets all "waaaaah! I'm empty!" Cereal is a great tool for keeping your diet sensible though. It has a lot of nutrients without too many excessive calories, so you don't feel like your starving.

I put too much garlic in the pesto/tomato/spinach pasta last night and now my tongue just tastes like mustard, and though I showered this mornnig my finger tips smell that way too.
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its been like 2 weeks since I laughed out loud at a comic...way to go.

EvanED
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### Re: I never go shopping with another nerd to avoid this.

somdude04 wrote:Then it'd probably degrade into wars about programming languages (I'm a Java/SQL/Database programmer, he uses primarily perl and python).

I dunno... he gets +1 for Python, but -1 for Perl... I'd say you're even.

Sufimoru
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faranim wrote:They probably wouldn't do so well on Supermarket Sweep

Hopefully I'm not the only person who remembers this show.

I wish that show were still on the air so that I could try to get on it.

I work retail and my mind is a steel trap for useless product information.

hendusoone
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### Re: "Shopping Teams" Discussion

Alt-text: "I am never going out to buy an air conditioner with my sysadmin again."

I can't help but wonder if this shopping trip took place on Saturday. I've been fine all summer without an air conditioner, but Saturday was just HORRIBLE! I already wasn't feeling well, so I just said "screw it" and went out to get an A/C.

Four hours later (three were spent comparing 8 A/Cs at three stores, and the other in a random GameStop I found), I came home with what I considered the best model I could find, using the criteria BTU / (price * estimated electricity used). The winner was a 5000 BTU A/C for \$69.99 (purchased just over the border in New Hampshire, so no sales tax), from the first store I visited. By the time I had it installed, it was already getting dark and cooling off.

If I went with someone less nerdy, I probably would have been there and back in under an hour. Now, I just hope there are a good number of hot days left so I can justify my late-season A/C purchase!

Tomcat
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My friend is doing an MBA, and they had to prepare a survey on laptops - specifically, she gave out a list of fourteen laptops to her friends and asked us to rank from one through fourteen.

I was the only one who used a spreadsheet to rank them

(and what's worse, a Dell came out tops
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anotherangel
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faranim wrote:They probably wouldn't do so well on Supermarket Sweep

Hopefully I'm not the only person who remembers this show.

I love Supermarket Sweep. I watch it every day without fail.

One day, I hope to be on it.

killerstar
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Tengfred wrote:
killerstar wrote:I don't think it is a problem of definition. My guess is that the problem comes from a lack of an objective measurement of "value". For instance, although we can argue for hours on a clear definition of intelligence, there are ways to measure it and, further, to compare.

That's just two sides of the same coin, though. Saying we can objectively measure intelligence, implies a definition of what intelligence is, namely that which is measured by IQ-test. This definition is convenient for some situations, but doesn't necessarily stop us from hours of debate over to what extent this definition correlates to some other, perhaps less well-defined, definition.

Similarly, a good definition of value would (if it doesn't it would be a bad definition) solve the problem of objective measurement. If for example we find that value is defined as "cooling effect/price", measurement is trivial.

Hmm... I probably should not go shopping for air conditioners with killerstar

Well, maybe intelligence is not the best example. There are basic concepts (mostly in physics) that are not definable, yet can be measure. For example, I don't know if taking Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics, is it possible to define what an atom is yet it's behaviour can be measure and explained. I'm not an expert in physics, I'm just a Fashion Design student, so I might be wrong.

dopplex
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mntlchaos wrote:
Economica wrote:It's all about expected marginal utility.

Actually, since there are only 2 air conditioners, the function is undefined at all except two discrete points, and marginal utility doesn't exist.

Actually, now I'm tempted to pose a game theoretic problem based on the comic. Suppose an infinitely repeated game, where 2 products are available being bought by 2 buyers, one of which is superior to the other. One player (nerd) can tell which is superior by examination in each round, though which is superior is randomized, so it can't be extrapolated past that round. The other player can tell if she got the superior or inferior after purchase, but she can tell. If the nerd must give advice before each round to the non-nerd, what would the equilibrium for each be, if an equilibrium exists?

Remember that the non-nerd would notice if the nerd's advice were always bad, and thus choose the opposite, so that's not gonna be optimal for the nerd.

If I'm understanding this: Nerd gives advice, non-nerd chooses one for himself, giving other to nerd. The one with the better AC wins the round. Right?

If so, I think it's 50/50. The non-nerd can guarantee that by completely ignoring the nerd every time. Thus no strategy of giving advice by the nerd will possibly be better than this for him in the long run. Since the nerd can't possibly do better than 50/50, he should try and attain this, which can be done by giving completely random advice.

The nerd can easily win in the long term.

He/She just needs to give bad advice most of the time, but at a close enough to 50% rate that the non-nerd isn't going to notice.

The non-nerd by definition isn't going to be running a spreadsheet of the nerd's answers, or otherwise tracking the % of the time that the nerd's advice is correct - if they were, they'd be a nerd and the basic premise of the problem would be incorrect - so they're not going to spot that the actual % of correct recommendations has deviated from 50% slightly. (Unless someone is actively tabulating, they aren't going to notice that they get bad advice 55% of the time - 50% is a much "stickier" number, mentally...)

Not to self - start charting whether the advice from my friends turns out to be correct or not, in case I ever have to buy an air conditioner with them.

mootinator
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thedufer wrote:Maybe instead of nerds it should be "frugal nerd". Or, to be blunt, "cheap nerd".

That comment refelects a very narrow definition of value!

The more nerdy you get about a given area, the more intangibles like quality influence a purchasing decision. Take cameras for example: A normal person might buy a Kodak camera based on the brand name or a simple 'features' vs price comparison (and end up with a piece of junk). A lot more nuances will come into play with the true nerd.

Zake
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"I think our main problem is our unclear definition of 'value.'" ...Oh, what a profound statement, when applied to our consumerist society as a whole.

Jello B.
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Jello B. wrote:I remember that game. After every level, there would be like some part about peace, or fortune, or something. I have approximated this using The GIMP.

I admit to be a GIMP newbie, how did you create that graphic?

Joseph
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Zake wrote:"I think our main problem is our unclear definition of 'value.'" ...Oh, what a profound statement, when applied to our consumerist society as a whole.

This.

Also, this is why I could never watch Deal or No Deal: "You said you wanted \$50,000! Stop being so damn greedy, you fuck!" *tosses remote through TV. AGAIN*

ChooChoo
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Sufimoru wrote:
faranim wrote:They probably wouldn't do so well on Supermarket Sweep

Hopefully I'm not the only person who remembers this show.

I wish that show were still on the air so that I could try to get on it.

I work retail and my mind is a steel trap for useless product information.

The Price Is Right?

The LuigiManiac
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Nah, TPIR will just go downhill unless they find a way to re-reinvent it. Bob Barker was the show's soul.

Also, I miss Supermarket Sweep too. That show was awesome.
Spoiler:
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muteKi
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Barker statement seconded.

However, I will not (sadly) be in a position to find this comic appropriate; here they don't let us have our own AC units unless we have allergies. I do not have any that I know of.

Murgatroyd
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dopplex wrote:The nerd can easily win in the long term.

He/She just needs to give bad advice most of the time, but at a close enough to 50% rate that the non-nerd isn't going to notice.

The non-nerd by definition isn't going to be running a spreadsheet of the nerd's answers, or otherwise tracking the % of the time that the nerd's advice is correct - if they were, they'd be a nerd and the basic premise of the problem would be incorrect - so they're not going to spot that the actual % of correct recommendations has deviated from 50% slightly. (Unless someone is actively tabulating, they aren't going to notice that they get bad advice 55% of the time - 50% is a much "stickier" number, mentally...)

Not to self - start charting whether the advice from my friends turns out to be correct or not, in case I ever have to buy an air conditioner with them.

The non-nerd may not be keeping track of exact numbers, but if the nerd follows your proposed strategy, the non-nerd will think, "Hey, s/he's wrong about as often as s/he's right. S/he doesn't really know anything. I shouldn't pay attention to him/her." This is thus reduced to the 50/50 case.

Bakemaster
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schrodingersduck wrote:
Bakemaster wrote:I don't understand people who buy breakfast cereal according to unit price. I don't care how big that box of Rice Krispies is, the Grape Nuts are \$2.25 per pound!

Ah, but it's not weight that matters with food, it's volume. I can't find any prices online (do American supermarkets not sell food over the internet?), and Amazon only sells these massive multipacks (organic Grape Nuts only) which don't seem representative (\$3.50 per pound for both), but I'd imagine you could get far more bowls of cereal per pound out of the mostly-air Rice Krispies than the very solid Grape Nuts; the 17 ounce box of Grape Nuts looks the same size as the 12 ounce box of Rice Krispies.

I really hope you're trying to troll me. If you're serious... I will cry.

c0 = 2.13085531 × 1014 smoots per fortnight
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ChooChoo
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Did something happen to Bob Barker?

Gosh, I'm not up on the times.

dankna
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Bakemaster wrote:
Delbin wrote:
Bakemaster wrote:I don't understand people who buy breakfast cereal according to unit price. I don't care how big that box of Rice Krispies is, the Grape Nuts are \$2.25 per pound!

I'm confused. Do you mean not according to unit price?

No wonder you're confused, apparently I don't know what unit price is. I thought it meant (quite reasonably, I might add) the price it costs to buy one of something. Like, a box of cereal. My mistake.

See, I thought I understood you initially but I guess I didn't. My thinking was - yeah, I agree, anyone who would rather have grape nuts than rice krispies just because they're a better deal in some theoretical sense deserves to be parodied.

EvanED
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ChooChoo wrote:Did something happen to Bob Barker?

Gosh, I'm not up on the times.

He retired.

Don't worry, he didn't die or anything like that

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muteKi wrote:Barker statement seconded.

However, I will not (sadly) be in a position to find this comic appropriate; here they don't let us have our own AC units unless we have allergies. I do not have any that I know of.
Heh, I have a slight allergy for the dry air that most A/C units spew out. My nose always itches when I'm in a building that has the A/C turned on.
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zenten
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