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uncivlengr
Posts: 1202
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Location: N 49°19.01 W 123°04.41

Is it just me, or was it a little confusing as the weather formation looks like it should have been travelling South/North, rather than West/East?

I'm no meteorologist, but that was my impression.
I don't know what to do for you

dp2
Posts: 346
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 3:06 pm UTC

perakojot wrote:
Otto wrote:Similarly, if you give people an MP3 player and put it on random play, then if it plays the same song twice before it plays all the songs (or sometimes if it even plays the same *artist* anywhere close to another song by that artist), then they get the idea that it's biased or non-random. However, if it actually played all songs with equal frequency over as short a term as the person is thinking of, then that wouldn't be random in the slightest. Random numbers only tends to give equal frequencies over long, long, long periods.

that would be true if said option was actually labeled "random". but it is labeled "shuffle". think about that..

taking all cards in a deck and "shuffling" them actually guaranties that you will not see the same card (when dealing) until you deal all of them. similarly, when you tell your phone to shuffle all the songs, it should not play the first song again for a couple of days (depending on the number of songs N).

your next question will probably be "but then you end up repeating all the songs in the same order forever, right?". well, then you bust out the randomness. you can divide all your songs in two groups (randomly), shuffle the first group and play it, then shuffle the second group and play it, then shuffle the 1st group again, etc.. that way, you make sure no song is repeated for at least N/2 plays.

you can even let the user adjust that parameter (half) to control the ratio of randomness/shuffle-ness..

Very good point! When I use Shuffle, I don't expect it to pick randomly each time it's ready for a new song; I expect the play order to be shuffled as soon as I hit Play. It seems my expectation is wrong, but it would be a much better function if it did it my way.

Also, I watched many storms break up just that way this summer. You can check my lawn for proof.

Vehemence
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Apr 19, 2010 6:54 pm UTC

pcantrell wrote:I'm the developer who wrote the bulk of the code that parses and composites the NEXRAD data into a national map for My-Cast Weather. (I also wrote a good chunk of the iPhone UI, which in my biased opinion kicks ass and you should totally download it.)

• Find out Randall's home address.
• Sneak into his room late at night, drug him, and surgically implant a tracking device.
• Apply a gaussian damping function to my compositing algorithm's output, centered at Randall's current location.
• Reverse the polarity of the time rotor's dilithium flux capacitors so that instead of modeling reality, my compositing algorithm defined it.
Result: a constant "rain hole" centered on Randall. Toughest task I ever had.

First I started reading, and I was doubtful. Then I got to the iPhone UI, and I was fairly sure you were fooling. Next, I got to the part about drugging him and implanting a tracker, and it was obvious you were joking. Then I read about your work with the flux capacitors... and now I don't know what to believe.

Technical Ben
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Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 10:42 pm UTC

For those in the ul there is... THIS!
http://www.isleofwightweather.co.uk/live_storm_data.htm
Bit boring at the moment, as no storms.

On the MP3 player side. We seem to get stupid players, with a fixed shuffle pattern forever. Or too clever players, with "favourite lists" that they pick up automatically, and tend to play over and over (see media player as an example). I suppose they just need to make these options transparent and adjustable. "random" or "shuffle" or "play favourites".
It's all physics and stamp collecting.
It's not a particle or a wave. It's just an exchange.

CivilSarah
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 3:17 pm UTC

Sunidesus wrote:
joplju wrote:Oh, Randall.... Your comic further proves my theory that you're a closet weather nerd!

Coming from a meteorology major, we see this *all the time* on radar. Yes, I'm going to nerd out and say that we can't actually fake the data that is put out, but there are some cities (specifically, the ones that I have lived in) that seem to have a bubble around them. I've literally watched storms in real time die exactly at the county line before, only to re-form on the other side of the county as the system propagates across.

Is there any kind of theory for why? I grew up in a city that had a "bubble" like that. It was always incredibly frustrating to watch the radar and think we were going to get an awesome storm. Then the storm would split in half, go around us, and regroup on the other side.

I know that in my area, it's the "concrete island" effect -- the heat given off by large cities that have quite a lot of concrete pavement can actually alter storm patterns.

CivilSarah
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uncivlengr wrote:Is it just me, or was it a little confusing as the weather formation looks like it should have been travelling South/North, rather than West/East?

I'm no meteorologist, but that was my impression.

In Texas, the major storm systems are almost exclusively west-to-east. Sometimes we will get a north-to-south, but the really ugly ones blow in from the west.

Vnend
Posts: 60
Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2008 5:34 pm UTC

My wife said "Oh. I didn't know Randall lived in [our town]." She works outdoors, so she tracks the weather more than I do (now) and she has commented on the way squall lines seem to divide and pass around us. But it isn't absolute; we had an EF-0 tornado go through the north side of town a few years back.

There is a 'heat island' effect around towns and cities, but I don't recall it having an effect on approaching weather. It did have a noticeable effect on weather 'downwind' from it, increasing the number and severity of storms there. But it has been nearly 30 years since I looked at that stuff. For the increased heat from the town to affect oncoming storms, it would have to interfere with the storm's dynamics in some way, and that is (slightly) counterintuitive, as storms are heat and moisture engines; they should love the heat...

Hmmm, unless ... Ok, the heat of the town is going to cause the air in it to rise (simple convection). That air has to come from somewhere, so you are going to get an inflow, predominantly from the downwind side. That *is* going to change some atmospheric factors before the weather system gets to the population center. Still damned subtle though.

Ah... Suppose that the effect is strongest at lower altitudes. This is where most of the moisture is entering the atmosphere; from evaporation of plants, animals, lakes, etc. It is this rising moisture that powers thunderstorms. But if the populated area is sucking the moist air downwind of it into itself, this would rob the on-coming storm front of its fuel. So it could (take enough and it would) divide and appear to 'pass' the populated area.

But on the other side it gets the payback; moister and hotter air rising from the city now starts to mix in with what it is getting from the surrounding countryside. The "storms" "grow back together" and the ones directly downwind from the town are even stronger.

I think it is still a stretch, but it is a hypothesis. We just need detailed measurements of the humidity, temp., relative airflow, etc. at ground level for an area, oh, 25-50 miles around a moderate population center to see if there is such an effect. That's only 1967-7854 square miles, at, say, 16 sensors per sq. mile, so 31,472 to 125,664 sensor stations. (Metric, 40-80 Km, sensors every 500m would give us 5027 - 20106 sq.km and 20108 to 80424 sensors, so little cheaper (but not as fine a net).) (Distances are off-the-cuff, a study of historical weather radar tracks of the effect noted in the comic would need to be done to determine the optimal study area for confidence in the results.)

Anyone need a thesis project?

(Oh, and there are 'true random' number generators, but they tend to be specialized hardware. I think it was CMU that made one a few years ago by pointing a webcam at a lava lamp and generating the number based on the portion of the view blobbed vs no-blob.)

Otto
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perakojot wrote:
Otto wrote:Similarly, if you give people an MP3 player and put it on random play, then if it plays the same song twice before it plays all the songs (or sometimes if it even plays the same *artist* anywhere close to another song by that artist), then they get the idea that it's biased or non-random. However, if it actually played all songs with equal frequency over as short a term as the person is thinking of, then that wouldn't be random in the slightest. Random numbers only tends to give equal frequencies over long, long, long periods.

that would be true if said option was actually labeled "random". but it is labeled "shuffle". think about that..

You would be correct, if you were constantly playing the shuffled deck in a continual stream of music. And yes, on most devices, shuffle does mean shuffle, where it reorganizes the playlist into a random order then plays it through continually.

Except that most people don't play a constant shuffled playlist. They re-shuffle for each listening session, and the session is not as long as the entire playlist. When you also consider that people have duplicates of songs on their devices, and also recognize similar songs (shared artist, album, etc) being close together as being "biased", then the picture is more clear.

uncivlengr
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Location: N 49°19.01 W 123°04.41

CivilSarah wrote:
uncivlengr wrote:Is it just me, or was it a little confusing as the weather formation looks like it should have been travelling South/North, rather than West/East?

I'm no meteorologist, but that was my impression.

In Texas, the major storm systems are almost exclusively west-to-east. Sometimes we will get a north-to-south, but the really ugly ones blow in from the west.

I mean in terms of the shape of the formation - if it's longer along one axis, I would expect that to be the direction of travel.

But yeah, perhaps the fact that I live on the Canadian East coast means I'm just conditioned to seeing weather patterns move North/South.
I don't know what to do for you

Tass
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Location: Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen.

This is really strange to read, living in northern Europe (Denmark to be precise). Rain and wind are the norm, people hope for fair weather.

dp2
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uncivlengr wrote:
CivilSarah wrote:
uncivlengr wrote:Is it just me, or was it a little confusing as the weather formation looks like it should have been travelling South/North, rather than West/East?

I'm no meteorologist, but that was my impression.

In Texas, the major storm systems are almost exclusively west-to-east. Sometimes we will get a north-to-south, but the really ugly ones blow in from the west.

I mean in terms of the shape of the formation - if it's longer along one axis, I would expect that to be the direction of travel.

But yeah, perhaps the fact that I live on the Canadian East coast means I'm just conditioned to seeing weather patterns move North/South.

Absolutely not. At least down here, a front is like a moving wall, not a streaking comet.

jakerman999
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squareroot wrote:Ask them to give you to random numbers between 1 and 10 (with a different phrasing, if you want.) Then there is (read: should be) a one in ten chance they're the same. If not, ask for a third. If they're still different, ask for a fourth. At this point, there should be about a one in two chance that two are the same. And yet, countless people will believe it should be 4/10.

Ask for just one more number; you get a 69% chance (lol it's 69. ) that two were the same. So, if no two were, then chances are they really suck at making random numbers.

This assumes that the person being asked for random numbers is only giving back whole numbers. Ask this task of me, or one of my peers, and you will receive all sorts of decimal answers the majority of which aren't terminating.
If all the worlds my stage let's go to intermission

webgiant
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glasnt wrote:This happens to my boyfriend, who loves the weather radar and all things windy/rainy/stormy.

He tells me I need to bring an umbrella/coat/warm things, and I end up not needing them.

Then again, our local weather guys are pretty inaccurate lately, even the radars tend to be incorrect <_<

I've got a hypothesis about storms and climate change: areas of the country where most people think climate change is real are getting hit by less storms lately; areas of the country where most people think climate change is bunk are getting more severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. For example the state of Kansas: there's one county, Douglas County, which is a solid Blue dot in a state which is otherwise solid Red, and all the tornadoes and severe thunderstorms keep missing Douglas County and smacking all the other counties.

At least, this is what I'd like to think is happening, a more direct version of the butterfly effect. Or possibly just that Earth is punishing it's enemies and rewarding it's friends.

Isn't the human brain great?

cream wobbly
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Living in Tucson, I have mixed feelings about this very situation. One the one hand, I want it to rain. On the other, I don't want to end up upside down by the side of the road driving home: when it rains, it rains hard.

TexasToast
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2010 4:09 am UTC

Vehemence wrote:
pcantrell wrote:I'm the developer who wrote the bulk of the code that parses and composites the NEXRAD data into a national map for My-Cast Weather.

First I started reading, and I was doubtful. Then I got to the iPhone UI, and I was fairly sure you were fooling. Next, I got to the part about drugging him and implanting a tracker, and it was obvious you were joking. Then I read about your work with the flux capacitors... and now I don't know what to believe.

(not a link because I haven't posted enough?)
Last edited by TexasToast on Wed Dec 08, 2010 6:10 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

hardwarejunkie9
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Joined: Wed Dec 08, 2010 5:49 pm UTC

This thread has failed to address one major issue: elevation. You've got to consider that terrain is rarely, if ever, level and that changes in terrain combined with the urban heat bubbles.

The thing I really wanted to address was the whole MP3 player bias. Sure, if you're working with the iPod shuffle algorithm it doesn't just "randomize" each song, but each single time you hit shuffle it rebuilds the playlist. This means that while each song is individually ordered within shuffle you are basically taking a set of randomized binomial samples with n= # of songs per shuffle.
You'd probably have to work with a Chi-Square test at your chosen accuracy level to see if the distribution truly fits a binomial sample from a uniform distribution....

Sorry, you caught me studying for my Statistical Quality Control Exam .

TexasToast
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Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2010 4:09 am UTC

CivilSarah wrote:
uncivlengr wrote:Is it just me, or was it a little confusing as the weather formation looks like it should have been travelling South/North, rather than West/East?

In Texas, the major storm systems are almost exclusively west-to-east. Sometimes we will get a north-to-south, but the really ugly ones blow in from the west.

As an amateur meteorologist in Texas, I can verify this.

Also, I am obligated to post this:

dp2
Posts: 346
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TexasToast wrote:
CivilSarah wrote:
uncivlengr wrote:Is it just me, or was it a little confusing as the weather formation looks like it should have been travelling South/North, rather than West/East?

In Texas, the major storm systems are almost exclusively west-to-east. Sometimes we will get a north-to-south, but the really ugly ones blow in from the west.

As an amateur meteorologist in Texas, I can verify this.

Also, I am obligated to post this:

You misspelled "Michigan".

The_Mexican
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Otto wrote:
cprocjr wrote:Now talking about things that have biases; I'm pretty sure the xkcd "random" button is biased. I won't ever see some strips, but others strips will come up like every 20-30 clicks. But that could just be my brain being "interesting." (Yes, I click the random button a LOT)

"Random" is not a concept human beings are capable of grasping properly. If you ask most people to pick a random number from 1 to 10, and then to do it again, then they'll never give you the same number twice. Meaning that the second number they give wasn't truly "random", was it?

Similarly, if you give people an MP3 player and put it on random play, then if it plays the same song twice before it plays all the songs (or sometimes if it even plays the same *artist* anywhere close to another song by that artist), then they get the idea that it's biased or non-random. However, if it actually played all songs with equal frequency over as short a term as the person is thinking of, then that wouldn't be random in the slightest. Random numbers only tends to give equal frequencies over long, long, long periods.

So unless you've hit that random button on the order of a few hundred thousand times and created a frequency chart, you really don't have enough data. All you're seeing is short term instances and remembering instances of correlations, while forgetting those that did not correlate. Call it what you want: Gambler's Fallacy, Clustering Illusion, Selection Bias, Von Restorff effect, sometimes even Confirmation bias. Regardless of the name, the fact is that people suck at recognizing true randomness, and cannot produce true randomness at all.

What some people who think they know what random means fail to understand is that if "an MP3 player on shuffle played all the songs with equal frequency over a short a term as the person is thinking of", then it would still be random (shuffle = random). Similarly, if it played the same song over and over again in the same amount of time, it would still be random.

imgx64
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Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 5:11 am UTC

My MP3 player definitely has a bias.

Well, when I play a playlist in VLC, I always get the worst songs repeatedly, but in Rhytmbox, I seem to always get the same "good" songs that I start to get bored of them.

RobKohr
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There is a town called Morristown, NJ, and when I lived there I realized that that is where all the storms went. It is the highpoint in the area, and so it seems to "catch" any weather system coming through. When driving home from work, I noticed there was always a dark cloud hanging over my town.

It receives an average of 53 inches of rain per year (compared to 52 in Seattle).

Halsey
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Vnend wrote: [...]
I think it is still a stretch, but it is a hypothesis. We just need detailed measurements of the humidity, temp., relative airflow, etc. at ground level for an area, oh, 25-50 miles around a moderate population center to see if there is such an effect. That's only 1967-7854 square miles, at, say, 16 sensors per sq. mile, so 31,472 to 125,664 sensor stations. (Metric, 40-80 Km, sensors every 500m would give us 5027 - 20106 sq.km and 20108 to 80424 sensors, so little cheaper (but not as fine a net).) (Distances are off-the-cuff, a study of historical weather radar tracks of the effect noted in the comic would need to be done to determine the optimal study area for confidence in the results.)

In addition to the ones on the ground, wouldn't we also need some sensors up at a certain altitude - for example between 1200m to 1500m - to determine if those variables are indeed having any effect at a level where the storms are likely to from? Unfortunately, the only way I can think of to take measurements at that altitude is through weather balloons, and I don't think it's feasible to maintain a net of that many sensors at that height. Hmmm...

I created an account just because of the topic of this comic - if that doesn't scream "weather nerd" then I don't know what does.

Pfhorrest
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That Texas weather comic reminds me of a joke I'm fond of telling:

People say that here in California we don't have any seasons, but that's not true at all! We have four seasons just like everywhere else: Sunny, Hot, Flooding, and On Fire.

What, you don't have On Fire where you come from?
Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
"I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like trolls, flames, or spam."
The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

plin25
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Eebster the Great wrote:Also, I did once have an mp3 player (I think it was the Dell DJ, but I'm not sure) that did have a shuffle "bias." Except it wasn't just a bias, it was ridiculous. If I started with a given song (there was no "shuffle songs" button), it would always play the exact same tracks in the exact same order, without fail, every time. So I had to choose a different song from the one I did last time to ensure I got a different playlist. I don't know if this was a bug or if the first song really was the seed for its RNG.

I've had this too. My guess is that the programmer didn't want to implement a better "random" method, and used the first song selected to generate an "offset" number, eg. 4, i.e. it would play every 4th (or whatever the offset is) song and call it "random". I've actually had one mp3 player that didn't even generate an offset, but had a built-in offset of 7 for the shuffle function. I first noticed it when I loaded a few new songs onto it and the track count hit a multiple of seven, and the shuffle function played the same few songs over and over again depending on which song I selected at the beginning.

Pfhorrest wrote:People say that here in California we don't have any seasons, but that's not true at all! We have four seasons just like everywhere else: Sunny, Hot, Flooding, and On Fire.

Maybe it's because I'm in Northern California, but my version of that joke is,
"Spring, Summer, Indian Summer, Cold Spell"
also, San Francisco Weather goes through all four of those seasons in one day.
´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸ }<((((((º>

MathUhhhSaurus
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This is exactly what I do with snow storms. I live in SC and it never snows here before late January/early February, but I'm hopeful for a white Christmas this year

Eebster the Great
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My Pandora is biased. It keeps playing similar songs and a certain list of "favorites."

:D

dp2
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If you have a pool of 1000 songs, you have a better than 50% chance of a repeat once you play 38 songs. See the Birthday Paradox.

squall_line
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dp2 wrote:If you have a pool of 1000 songs, you have a better than 50% chance of a repeat once you play 38 songs. See the Birthday Paradox.

My training always used a progressive application of the Pigeonhole Principle to explain the Birthday Problem.

Unfortunately, most of the links and pages that discuss the issue end up getting hopelessly complex for the average reader (and probably too complex for their own good), just like that link did after a while...

CivilSarah
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uncivlengr wrote:
CivilSarah wrote:
uncivlengr wrote:Is it just me, or was it a little confusing as the weather formation looks like it should have been travelling South/North, rather than West/East?

I'm no meteorologist, but that was my impression.

In Texas, the major storm systems are almost exclusively west-to-east. Sometimes we will get a north-to-south, but the really ugly ones blow in from the west.

I mean in terms of the shape of the formation - if it's longer along one axis, I would expect that to be the direction of travel.

But yeah, perhaps the fact that I live on the Canadian East coast means I'm just conditioned to seeing weather patterns move North/South.

Those sorts of ugly storms are frequently on the front edge of (usually) a cold front or some sort of moving air mass. By the time those systems hit Texas, they're moving just as much easterly as they are southerly.

Inglonias
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NOBODY MENTIONED THIS YET?
Spoiler:

Krikkit_Robot
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Sorry if this has already been discused, didn't feel like reading all the post to see if it was

But mp3 player shuffles DO have a bias.

Ipods even have an adjustable bias where you change the probability of one artist being played multiple times in a given time

robotco
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my mp3 player, when put on shuffle, will play songs in a seemingly random order. however, when i turn it off and turn it on again, after the song that was playing when it was turned off is over, it will play the first song from the previous random order and continue playing all of those songs i just heard in the same order again. weird.

Rory
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Randall wrote:Ever notice how there aren’t as many thunderstorms now as there were when you were a kid? … this is occasionally true but universally believed.

Excuuuse me? Universally believed? I grew up in Egypt, where there is something like one thunderstorm every 5 years. I currently live in the U.S., where I’ve seen two in one year. Saying “universally” is just asking for a refutation.

DexterF
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Actually there's a lot *more* thunderstorms these days because today I possess a range of sumptuous IT equipment...
(Seeing blue lightning spring from the lamp under the ceiling accompanied by deafening bang finally convinces you to shut down and unplug everything and read a book till the weather clears up.)

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Okay, I use shuffle occasionally and it keeps going back to Sweet Child Of Mine by Guns N Roses for pretty much every other song. It's a great song and all, but I can only listen to the same song so many times before I start shouting at the thing "WHERE'S CREEDENCE DAMMIT"
"It's easy to forget what a sin is in the middle of a battlefield." "Opposite over hypotenuse, dipshit."

DarwinSurvivor
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I also had an mp3 player that would play the same "random" songs each time you turned it off then on again.

SW15243
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My MP3 player seems to think I'll cream myself if it plays 'Point to Prove' by Theory of a Deadman. Not that it's a bad song, per se, but I listen to music more of the 'ear shattering heavy metal' variety. My MP3 player is turning into a hipster - 'No, man, you seriously have to check out this one band. You've probably never heard of them, but I think if you gave them a chance you'd really like them. No seriously, check them out. Okay, look, just try this one song. Just - c'mon, just try it.'

(PS: I know Theory of a Deadman isn't that obscure. I'm Canadian too, future flamer!)

Ghandi 2
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I have never thought or even heard of the thunderstorm thing, why the hell would anybody believe that?

arachnophilia
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Otto wrote:Similarly, if you give people an MP3 player and put it on random play, then if it plays the same song twice before it plays all the songs (or sometimes if it even plays the same *artist* anywhere close to another song by that artist), then they get the idea that it's biased or non-random. However, if it actually played all songs with equal frequency over as short a term as the person is thinking of, then that wouldn't be random in the slightest. Random numbers only tends to give equal frequencies over long, long, long periods.

i know that my mp3 player isn't truly random -- it generates a random playlist, such that it won't play the same song twice until it's played all songs in the list. but i also know that it's sufficiently random in generating that playlist to make listening enjoyable.

but it's fun to think that, "oh, today my mp3 seems to enjoy this artist" when half the songs it plays in a short duration are all by the same artist. but the one that really entertains me? when it plays a song, followed by the remix, follower by a cover. or when it plays a few songs back-to-back that use the same sample, or a song and the song it samples. or when it plays two completely unrelated songs that happen to transition musically almost perfectly. i mean, i know it's not, but how smart would it have to be to do that on purpose?

i for one, etc.

Uninfinity
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