Buying shoes for kids

The feet of kids are delicate things and as a caring parent you’re supposed to make sure that the spawn’s footwear fits his ever-growing feet. Ok, spring is coming and thus the time is near where we can stop using his #24 winter boots and give him “normal” shoes again. So off to the store we are and what do we find?

At the end of February, the shop is already geared towards summer shoes. i.e.: open shoes and sandals. Great. That’s about 2 to 3 months in the future.

That stocking policy might make sense for shoes for adults, but for kids? The size of their feet is highly variable. You buy when you need the shoes as you want to size them correctly.

So dear shoe industry: what’s fine in the woman’s section of the store does not make sense in the kids section. There, “just in time” shopping is much more appropriate. Please stock accordingly.

Kafka would be proud

I used to work for KPNQwest, which was a pan-European company. They tried to offer seamless service across Europe (which failed miserably) and tried things like regional service centers.

Dealing with Interxion gives me Deja-Vues. They, too, try to offer the same service in all of their Datacenters across Europe. And they, too, have their centralized customer care. Here the fun starts:

Continue reading Kafka would be proud

Buying a new TV set

I had hoped to replace my old CRT in a few years when the pace of innovation on the LCD side had settled down, the standards have really established themselves, more HD content feeds are available, and the prices are lower than now. But no, the CRT called it quits a few weeks ago (no more vertical beam deflection) and we are forced to buy now.

Well, shucks.

I won’t repeat what’s been discussed to death in the various videophile sites and price-comparison fora. Just one simple question:

Why don’t hand the shops out simple 1:1 scale paper pictures of the various TV sizes? It is really hard to picture how the set you see in the showroom will look like in your living room and thus decide which size you want to buy.

Thus I spent yesterday evening getting the measurements of 32, 37 and 42 inch TVs and cutting cardboard as mockups. Holding these against the wall almost instantly told us what size we really need/want.

So dear Philips, Sony, Toshiba & co: what about it?

Numerology and Haider’s death

I spent this weekend in Carinthia and got treated to the local press. The KTZ had on their front-page a story about a numerologist who had calculated that Haider was in great danger during October and November. She had tried to warn him, but they didn’t manage a meeting before his date with a concrete fence post.

As usual, the story did not ask the only really relevant question: How many other calamities had she predicted in her career that did not came to pass?

Fun with conditional probabilities

Yes, mathematics is sometimes hard to understand. Probability theory is a prime candidate where “common sense” might mislead you. And once you venture into conditional probabilities (“given A is true, what’s the probability of B being true as well?”) things get tricky.

A good example is the following statement: “The orbit of our earth so incredibly fine tuned to the requirements of intelligent life, that this is a strong indication that a higher being was involved.”

This may sound reasonable at first glance, but it’s completely wrong. Let me rephrase the statement to make this clear:

“What is the probability that the environment here on earth is suitable for the development of life, given the fact that this question is asked by a person whose species evolved here on this planet?”

The answer is 1 (100% probable).

Or in other words, if the environment here on earth were hostile to us, we wouldn’t be here to ask this question. And indeed, there are billions of planets, where nobody is asking this question.

So no, these considerations do not provide an argument regarding the existence of god.

(Btw, the same reasoning applies to arguments concerning the fundamental constants of this universe. In that case, you just need to assume an infinite number of universes with varying parameters, as a number of physicists postulate.)