So I started playing the scramble game on facebook recently. I am a big scrabble player so it appeals to me. I got to thinking that this would make an interesting computer science problem. So I put my puny little mind to it and came up with a script that not only uses the Scramble dictionary to find every possible word, but can also type hundreds of words into the text box in under thirty seconds. I have been testing it and it is close to 100% accurate. I am such a complete and utter nerd I just cannot believe myself. There was no real reason to do this, it just seemed like a fun challenge, which it was. I have still not decided whether to post a link to the script publicly, as that may kill a fun game. Sort of the way bots are threatening online poker. If I do post it then I will go into detail about some of the novel and elegant (I think) ways I solved a few programming problems.
The most fun is when I cheat and get scores in excess of 1500 points (average is less than 100), I get all kinds of mixed reactions from people in the chat box. Some get pissed off, some get very amused, some try to rather loudly ignore me, and some beg and plead for me to divulge my secret. The best by far are the people who see my score and say, “Wow, you are a fast typist!” or “Hey… is that guy cheating?” The funny thing is, I am too embarrassed to admit that I did this on a complete lark just for gits and shiggles. I tell people it is for a computer science class. So I am a cheater and a liar to boot! This little computer science experiment has turned into an interesting psychology experiment, as well. For me and my “victims”.
So I was browsing through channels the other day and came across a marathon of the show Jericho on Universal HD. I dig this channel because it shows unedited movies in full aspect ratio as well as a pretty darn good selection of rerun shows in HD. I decided to record the entire first season of the show (gotta love DVR!) and watched 8-9 episodes over the weekend. I must say, it is an enjoyable show even if Skeet Ulrich has always seemed a bit sallow in a heroin-junkie kind of way. Of course, I have always had an affinity for post-apocalyptic dramas ever since reading Stephen King’s The Stand and watching the Mad Max trilogy as a kid. I got to reading about the show and found that it had been canceled and then re-born after fans sent over 20 tons of nuts (according to Wikipedia) to CBS, a reference made in the show to General Anthony McAuliffe’s message to the Germans at the battle of Bastogne. I guess when a TV network receives 20 tons of nuts (a lot of it from Nuts Online) it lights a fire under them.
However, CBS has said that they will air a few more episodes starting Feb. 12, 2008, but will likely re-cancel the show if it does not garner good viewership numbers. So go to the show’s site, catch up on episodes online, and start watching! It is pretty good stuff, even if it feels a bit contrived from time to time.
This whole campaign got me thinking about the power of the internet, too. Does the internet provide a much more interactive link between viewers and content providers, allowing the viewers to be heard in a more meaningful way than through raw viewership statistics? Or does the internet allow a vocal minority to skew the perception of the content providers, making them appear to have a much larger audience than they actually do? Is the internet an instrument of raw democracy or is it a squeaky wheel special interest group purporting to speak for the masses? Discuss.