Porter's Law

In the absence of any evidence that anyone has previously codified this idea before, I present Porter's Law:
One's ability to type accurately is inversely proportional to the number of people watching.


WvW Map Limit Pontification

Following up on my last post, I've been thinking more about the actual numbers involved. According to some loose (it's the internet!) research, the per-map limit has been estimated by players at around 150 per world (so 450-500 total). So let's just run with that in the absence of anything concrete.

There are currently 5 maps in WvW: Eternal Battlegrounds, Edge of the Mists, and one Borderlands for each of the 3 competing worlds (Red, Green and Blue). This amounts to a maximum number of players per world equal to 5 x 150 = 750 players.

Assuming that the weekly tournament matches are indeed exactly 7 days long, then that's 168 total playable hours during a single matchup.

If a world managed to keep all 5 WvW maps entirely full for the entire time, they would be capable of exerting 126,000 player-hours towards their cause. This is a hard cap-- no world can participate more than this due to the time limit combined with the per-map player count limits.

So to restate the question from my last post in these terms: How often does a world that logs 20,000 player hours score more points than a world that logs 90,000? My guess is never.

I suspect that only at the top end of the matchups where WvW participation is high and the maps are always nor nearly always 100% full do you see true competition on "equal" grounds where skill and strategy actually come into play. The rest of the time I suspect it's merely a matter of, "who has more bodies on the ground?" Now don't get me wrong, a big part of winning a war is who can muster a larger fighting force and it's fair (to a degree) for that to be represented in the scores, but I would like to also see normalized scores in the form of (total_world_score / world_player_hours).


Guild Wars 2 World vs. World: Skill vs Participation?

In Guild Wars 2, there are massive "world vs world" battles raging (or eeking by) all the time. At the moment, the Spring 2014 Tournament is soon coming to a close. My own home server, Crystal Desert, did mediocre in the challenge. Better than about half and worse than about half. I have never been very interested in WvW since the launch of GW2...that is, until this tournament. It became a bit of an obsession, and even though I am still a relative newcomer with lots to learn, a question quickly formed in my mind by observing the peaks and lulls in how many people were logged into WvW and our performance there. Specifically: Is a world's WvW score more about raw participation than team or individual talent, or even overall strategy? Is it simply that the world with the most people in the game more of the time is able to capture and hold strategic points for more of the time and thus earn more points?

I desperately want an answer to this question even though I'm unlikely to get it. I've found ArenaNet to be pretty poor at communicating, even in spite of their otherwise applauded efforts to do so. I posted the following support request today, and I'm cross posting here for posterity.

I'm curious about the dynamics at work in WvW. The maps have player limits, which means that if there was enough participation, each of the three teams currently playing against each other would be on "equal" ground, at least in terms of manpower (let's leave aside the variable like armor/weapon quality, WvW rank, and even individual player skill for the moment.)
First, so we're clear about what I'm talking about. If I play for an hour in EBG, then that's 1 player-hour. If my guild-mate and I both play for the same hour, that's 2 player-hours. If he plays for an hour, signs off, and then I play for an hour, that's still 2 player hours.
My theory is that there is a strong correlation between the worlds that rank highly in WvW and those that have a higher WvW player-hours. In other words: Regardless of other skill factors, a world where there is a queue to enter WvW (meaning they have the max number of players in WvW) will have a competitive advantage over one that does not (meaning they do not have "full" participation) that results in a greater ability to take and hold WvW match points. So I wonder if the tournament rankings are more about, "who had more people in WvW, more of the time," than any other factor. Surely at the top of the spectrum (TC, JQ, BG) where I suspect the WvW maps are always full for every world the match is legitimately about individual and team skill, but I can't help but wonder if Kaineng and Eredon are at the bottom just because nobody plays.
My question is really this: Do you have available, and can you please release, statistics about the total WvW player-hours for each world in comparison to their ranking, per each weekly match up? What I want to see is that Crystal Desert "only" logged 8,000 hours and still managed to grab 190,000 points for the week even though Shiverpeaks logged 12,000 hours to get their 350,000 points. Normalizing for the hours would give you an idea of a world's *actual* skill.  I have a hunch the correlation is dramatic in the mid to lower tiers, but it will always only be a hunch unless you make the information public.

I'm a Collector's Edition owner, a semi-regular gem purchaser, a commander... and a believer in your original Manifesto https://www.guildwars2.com/en/news/guild-wars-2-design-manifesto/ . I support what you're trying to accomplish both in mind and out of pocket and I'm dying to know the answer to this question.

Thank you.


Web Designers who start with Photoshop

I have a big ideological beef with designers who build websites from inside Photoshop.

The web is built on a single foundation: HTML. Sure, CSS and Javascript have extended it greatly, but everything ultimately boils down to HTML. This is the lingua franca of the web.

Designers who start with Photoshop generally (and keep in mind I'm making a lot of generalizations here that don't necessarily apply to every web designer everywhere) are looking at the web the same way they look at a print brochure or flyer, and that's wrong. "Designing" for the web should take the medium into account, and I don't mean that in the sterotypical visual way. I mean that starting from HTML and building it up with CSS produces a clear, more efficient, more informed result. I mean it from the perspective of learning a foreign language by rote; repeating key phrases over and over without understanding what the individual sounds being uttered actually mean as compared to learning a language the old fashioned way; vocabulary, structure, grammar, colloquialisms, practice, practice, practice. Only someone who has done the latter can truly be fluent in a language.

The difference between graphic design and web design is specifically that there is an underlying language and grammar governing every piece of output. Some (poor) web designers get around their lack of understanding of this by producing full-page images and simply spitting out one big  tag per page. This is the most extreme example of course, but there is a whole continuum from that all the way to developers who could not make a web page look attractive to save their lives. (For the record, I'm way far down at that far end of the spectrum.)

To reiterate that point; I am not a web designer. I'm not good enough at the, "making pages look pretty," part to rightly label myself that way. I do believe though, that the sweet spot on the continuum is a solid foundation from both ends: Someone with the aesthetic tastes to make something beautiful, but that understands that the best way to do it isn't by slicing and force fitting an ill-considered PSD design into s, but building a document structure that's flexible, responsive, and subsequently easily styled with CSS.

As an application developer, these are the designers I dream of working with. Someone who can take the output of my code and, with the appropriate classes and id's, mold it into a dozen different shapes and styles.

"In 1000 words or less, describe in as much detail as you feel necessary how you would do your laundry."

(Assumes laundry equipment is in-home.) Walk all living areas, looking for loose clothing. Collect it as you go and dump it all in the hamper, which itself should be in the room where the majority of the clothes are stored (typically a bedroom). If the load is small enough, skip ahead to washing (next paragraph). Otherwise, pre-sort the hamper into like-articles (all shirts, all pants, all underwear, all "whites", all "gentle wash", etc.). If necessary, sort too-large piles into further like-article loads (jeans vs. pajama pants.) (Prepping loads in advance provides a measurement for total time the chore will take: (Number of loads * time it takes to dry a load) + time to wash first load.) If you feel the need, combine any "compatible" piles that can be combined that together will still fit in a single load. (It's better to have two types of clothing in a load and do fewer loads in all.)

Put the smallest load, or the one that can be washed the fastest, in a laundry basket, take it to the laundry room and place the load in the washer. (Save "heavy" material loads like sweaters, jeans and blankets for last.) Add soap and softener as appropriate for the load in question. Set the quickest acceptable wash cycle at the appropriate temperature and begin the cycle. Take the empty basket back to the bedroom and load it with another load. Take the full basket back to the laundry room to "stage" it. Set a timer on a device you can carry with you (a phone, typically) to match the wash cycle's length. (Now perform other activities as time allows.) When the timer goes off, return to the laundry room and move the completed load into the dryer. Add dryer sheet, set appropriate time and temperature and begin drying cycle. (Get the dryer going before beginning next wash cycle since drying typically takes longer.) Take the staged load that is waiting in the laundry room and load into the washer. Again add soap and softener, adjust the cycle appropriately for the load and start it. Set a new timer for the remaining time on the longer of the two cycles (almost always drying). (Again pursue other activities until your carried timer goes off.)

Return to the laundry room, and move the load from the dryer into the basket, but leave it by the laundry room for the time being. Transfer the completed washer load into the dryer, add dryer sheet, adjust time/temp and begin the dry cycle. (This will leave the washer momentarily empty.) Take the basket of dried clothes back to the bedroom and put away the (pre-sorted) clothes. (For example, for my own shirts this usually means laying them in a stack right-side-out and front-up, then placing hangers in the each of the whole batch before carrying the lot to the closet.) Because each load only contains similar items, putting them away should be a relatively uniform process. Once the load is fully put away, put another load from the original sorting into the basket and return with it to the laundry room. Place the load in the washer, add detergent/softener, set time/temp/cycle and begin the cycle. The washer will likely still complete before the previously-started drying cycle, but set your timer for the larger of the two and repeat this paragraph for each of the waiting piles in the bedroom.

At the point where you've put away a load of dried clothing and there are no new loads to wash, return the basket to the laundry room empty instead, but still set your alarm for the end of the final drying cycle. When it finishes, return to the laundry room, take the final dry load back to the bedroom and put it away.

This process optimizes for fewest trips to the laundry room, fewest back-and-forths between the laundry and the bedroom and minimizes the number of interactions with the washer/dryer by both pairing *and* pipelining wash/dry cycles. It also optimizes for making the process of putting clothes away as painless as possible (the part that I hate the most) by making everything in a load be the same type of clothing.


Fresh Produce

So Chris sent me these:

And I immediately thought of Alfe Woodard's line from First Contact, but couldn't find a ready-made image on Google, so I made one:

So now that's a thing on the internet.



Saw an interesting article come through on Google Reader today from Leo Babauta, courtesy of Miss Spencer, about the iPhone 4S. Rather surprisingly, it didn't have anything to do with Steve Jobs' recent death. The gist of the post is about consumerism, and rejecting material goods in favor of, "contentment without products." I have no argument with this ideal, although "no" products may be unrealistic-- especially for Leo, who is using quite a lot of products in order to publish that blog of his. My beef is with sentiments like this:
Five years ago, the iPhone didn’t exist. It wasn’t a need in your life. You were able to live perfectly without it. And now that it does exist, all of that is true. It’s Apple’s marketing that has worked on us, and we’re fools for it.

To that I would add:

Don't give in to the hype about vaccines and nutrition and education either. People did "just fine" without those 200 years ago. People still "get by" in third world countries without these niceties. Don't be a fool!

Now obviously this is hyperbole. I'm not seriously comparing the iPhone to a 2000 calorie diet or not dying from malaria.

Is having an iPhone a luxury? Certainly. But so is having a digital camera, a cell phone, an iPod or a computer, and I sure as hell bet Leo owns at least one of those! If you aren't going to gripe about any of them along with the iPhone, then it's pretty hypocritical to critize a device that conveniently (and cheaply, compared to buying a bunch of one-task devices separately) covers all of those at once. Isn't that kind of right up a "minimalist's" alley?

And not to mention, why is suddenly the iPhone 4S the reason not to get a smartphone? Is Leo okay with Droids and Blackberries? Where's the post about resisting the overwhelming consumer urge, brought on by the sheer power of sly marketing, to purchase a Samsung Nexus?

I've made my orignal iPhone last for over 4 years, and even now I don't want to give it up because it's been such a faithful and useful companion. But! I'll be getting an iPhone 4S as an eventual replacement so I can take videos of the daughter that will be joining us in December. It will be one device, replacing one device, which replaced 4 devices in my life 4 years ago. Are any of them a "necessity"? No, probably not. I'll concede that point. Will my girl grow up just fine without them? Sure. But choosing a quality product that I know from experience will last a long time and serve me well is not a bad decision, and not something I think is a wise choice as a source of criticism. Poor Leo:
I’ve wanted an iPhone for almost 5 years now, but haven’t bought one because I know I don’t need it. Will it make my life a bit more fun? Sure, possibly — but so will a walk in the park with my kids, or a hike with a friend, or a free book at the library.

Why not do both? I've gotta be honest: It sounds like Leo's been missing out on more than a little fun.