Friday, June 20, 2014

The top six lies about the Dvorak keyboard

Woman so frustrated with qwerty that she's reconfiguring the typewriter as a Dvorak keyboard
I've been typing on the Dvorak keyboard for three years now, and there are a bunch of lies going on around the internet about the Dvorak keyboard.

Lie #1: Dvorak is easy to learn.
The truth is that Dvorak is extremely hard to learn. Keyboards are so hard-coded into our very essences, that learning any kind of new keyboard is extremely hard. That's why most of the impressive advances in keyboard technology, like SwiftKey, are based around predicting stuff that's in your head, not on trying to teach you something new.

It took me about a year and a half to replace my qwerty speed on the Dvorak keyboard. A year and a half! I type about 80 WPM, and so if you're a super slow typist, it might not take you that long.

After I had been practicing Dvorak for a month, my typing speed was only 11 WPM. That's right, only 11 WPM! I can type with one finger on qwerty around 25 WPM, so 11 WPM was pretty pathetic. I probably should have given up, but I don't like to give up once I start something. After a few months, I was at 40 WPM, and then I gradually improved from there. I did take a leisurely approach to learning Dvorak. I started with Dvorak on just one of my laptops, and I only fully switched over when I got to the 40 WPM point. I also never trained for more than about a half hour at a time. So, I think it is possible to do it a lot faster than what I did, but I think my results are probably what you should realistically expect.

Lie #2: Christopher Sholes rearranged the keyboard to slow down typists.
Any information about Christopher Sholes is a wild, zany guess. The truth is that we know about as much about Sholes as we do about any obscure character from the 1800's, which is not very much.

In reality, keyboards all used to have an A-Z format, and Sholes became obsessed with slightly rearranging the A-Z format, but not very much. Sing the alphabet song, while you press the keys on your keyboard, and notice the groupings. A-G are on one side, H-P are on the other side, etc. The biggest remnant of the A-Z keyboard is the sequence of J, K, and L on the home row. In fact, the home row used to be J, K, L, M, but one of the last changes Sholes made to the keyboard was to swap the M and the ; keys. Oh, and F, G, H are also kept in alphabetical sequence.

If Sholes was really trying to slow down typists, he would have put the most common digraphs, or two-letter combinations, far apart from each other. Here's a list of the six most common digraphs in English. Notice that most are extremely close together on the keyboard, not far apart: TH, IN, HE, ER, AN, RE. In fact, it seems like Sholes was trying to get the most common digraphs close together, not further apart.

The truth is that Sholes was a crazed tinkerer who haphazardly rearranged the keys, yet held nearly true to the A-Z sequence.

Lie #3: Dvorak is well-thought out
Dvorak did most of his analysis based on one published list of the most frequent 100 words in the English language. In today's information age, that's a pathetic amount of research for something as substantial as a keyboard layout.

There are some huge flaws with Dvorak, such as the placement of the U key and the H key. U and H are popular letters, but for some reason Mr. Dvorak put them under the strongest fingers. Uh, maybe Mr. Dvorak used the word "uh" a lot. I can think of tons of other letters that would have been better in those positions, like E, T, A, O, N, R, or I. And speaking of R, it's the third most commonly used consonant, and it's pressed by a long reach with the weakest finger in Dvorak.

And, the fact that Dvorak put all of the vowels in a line, all lined up, shows Sholes-like thinking. A, O, E, U, I. Dvorak ordered his vowels the way that he originally ordered his numbers, with a crazy weird pattern. By doing this, Mr. Dvorak is basically admitting, "Uh, I know that there's something significant about vowels, but I haven't quite figured it out yet." And, speaking of that, if do you switch to Dvorak, don't use his original numbering system. It sucks. The numbers were originally in the order 7, 5, 3, 1, 9, 0, 2, 4, 6, 8.

Lie #4: Dvorak is different
Dvorak does have a different key arrangement, but it's really not much different at all. The third most popular keyboard layout, Colemak, which does a lot of what Dvorak does, actually prides itself on how un-different it is. "We only switched a few keys from qwerty" is the sales pitch for Colemak.

Lie #5: Dvorak is better in every way
Qwerty is actually much better for super tiny keyboards on smartphones, than Dvorak is. The problem with a Dvorak layout on a smartphone is that all of the popular keys are too close together. This is great for a full-sized keyboard, but it sucks for any kind of smart prediction with teeny tiny virtual buttons.

But, I use a keyboard that was designed for smartphones, MessagEase. It doesn't have tiny buttons.

Lie #6: You'll be able to switch back to qwerty when you need to
For some reason, I was extremely concerned about if I would be able to switch back to qwerty. My original goal was to be a keyboard polyglot, and be able to type fluently on both Dvorak and qwerty. But now that I'm better at Dvorak than qwerty, I never want to go back to qwerty. For me, there's no point at all. Even though I'm critical about Dvorak, it is a superior layout to qwerty. Why spend any time at all on qwerty that I don't have to?

When I use other people's qwerty keyboards now, I hunt and peck at around my 25 WPM. But, I never do any serious typing on someone else's keyboard, and I think that most people also do 99% of their typing on their own computer or at least their own account. It's pretty easy to switch back and forth to Dvorak on any operating system. I even have Dvorak for my Commodore 64 and Vic 20 emulators.

Qwerty and Dvorak use too much of the same parts of the brain to effectively quickly partition them. It should be theoretically possible to do this, but there's probably no point, and it's probably not worth it, so you're probably not going to do it.

Okay, there are the lies about Dvorak. Now I should tell you why I'm still using Dvorak, and not switching back to qwerty.

Reason #1: Dvorak feels better to type on
The biggest reason I won't switch back to qwerty, is that I like how Dvorak feels when I type. It's not the ideal layout, but it makes typing a much more enjoyable experience.

Reason #2: You should learn something new
Input methods are changing. It's slow, but gradual, and it's only a matter of time before kids of the future are using an input method that's completely inaccessible for the adults of today. Learning a new input method is the best way to keep your mind agile enough to be able to learn whatever it is that the kids of ten years from now will be using.

Reason #3: You'll learn a lot about learning
I realize that my reasons for learning Dvorak list is degrading into similar reasons that I would give for, "Why you should stare at a rock to gain enlightenment." While learning Dvorak, I learned two important things about learning. One is how to avoid making mistakes while typing. The other is how to leverage muscle memory with common words to learn new input methods much more quickly in the future. I could have gotten that same enlightenment from staring at a rock, but my way of getting it was from learning Dvorak.

Plover: better than Dvorak
There is something out there that's much better than Dvorak, and it's Plover. It's a chorded keyboard that's based on stenography, like what court reporters and closed captioners use.

I'm now in the process of learning Plover. There are a few issues with it now, because you need a computer application to run it, so I can't use Plover with my phone (which is where I'm typing this) or my Chromebook, but someone should figure that out in the next year or two.

Plover is a chorded, phonetic keyboard, with a bunch of cool theory behind it. So, the way that you type the word "cat" is by pressing the K, A, and T buttons all at the same time. There are some shortcuts, so the way you type the word "it" is by pressing the T on the left hand side, and the way you type "the" is by pressing the T on the right hand side. And a bunch more cool theory, but it's perfect for someone like me who's looking for something obscure with a steep learning curve.

But the coolest thing about Plover is that someone like me who types 80 WPM on qwerty or Dvorak will be able to type about 140 WPM on Plover. When I learned about Plover a couple of months ago, I realized that I've wasted years of my life on Dvorak.

Links:

Monday, April 8, 2013

10 easy steps to get people to buy your book on Amazon

Woman checking the Amazon reviews of your book before she buys it in a local bookstore.
You've just published your first book, and now it's available on Amazon. But, nobody besides your overeager aunt has purchased it yet, and your publisher isn't doing anything for you. So, you ask yourself, "How do I get people to buy my book on Amazon?"

Fortunately, I'm an Amazon junkie, and I've spent way too much time analyzing Amazon so I can walk you through this difficult process. Follow my instructions, you'll double your book sales overnight, and you'll be on your way to selling 100,000 books by the end of this year.

The wild reception of the book, The Healing Code, confused me, so I spent some time analyzing it. It's a good book, and I got great results from it, but for a quirky new age meditation technique, it shouldn't have sold as many copies of itself for as long as it has. It's been a top 1000 seller ever since it was published almost 4 years ago. Why does it sell so much, and how can you use the exact same technique to boost your book sales? Here's what I learned from what the authors of that book did:

#1: You must believe that your book is special. 

This may be the hardest part. Since you're a published writer, you're actually more of an artist than an author. The biggest problem with artists is that they feel their best work is their next work they're going to complete, and not their last work that is already completed. This is actually getting in the way of you thinking that your last book is amazing, so just put your self-criticism on hold for a few hours, and think about how great your book is that you're trying to sell.

It takes a ton of effort to write a book, and you put a big chunk of your life into this book. In a way, this book is you. Even if your old, stodgy English teacher would have given your book an F-, you still put a huge part of your life into that book, and the public who will love your book looks at different criteria than your English teacher. Plus, you are probably one of the most amazing people in the world, and your book is a reflection of you. That's why your book is so special, and you need to believe it.

I remember asking a friend before she got a new tattoo if she would regret it. My friend said, "I won't ever regret any of my tattoos, even if I change my mind about what's important to me in the future, because tattoos always remind me of significant times in my life. This story is very similar to your book. Even if you change your mind about this book a few years down the road, it will always represent a significant part of your life.

Your book is so significantly special. Remember it, or the rest of this advice won't work.

#2: You need to care more about selling the next thousand copies of your book than you do about the markup percentage on your next book you sell

This one is also extremely hard for artists. For some reason, artists are obsessed with the markup percentage on the sale of their next work and they lose focus about long-term sales potential. You might say, "I'm an artist, I don't care about percentages and math!" But what do I mean by that? I mean that artists are generally more interested in making sure they get at least 3 to 5 dollars per book than they are about selling a lot of books.

With books, 100% of it is about the volume, and none of it is about the markup percentage of your book. You're reading this article because you're taking a break for a few hours from being an artist, and you're trying to boost your book sales. Artists are in-the-present people, not future worriers. That live-now philosophy is why you're so good at what you do, but we just need to take a little break from it to sell some books. I'm not saying that you have to change your personality, but while you're following my advice, take a break from being in the moment, and just think about the future sales of your book.

#3: For each Amazon review that you already have on your book, mark it as helpful

Each one? Even the 1-star, critical review? Yes, mark every single review as helpful, even the ones that are so harsh that they make you cry.

Why would I ever recommend that you do this? The whole reason is not because the reviews are actually helpful. It's because a book where every review gets helpful votes will attract top Amazon reviewers to review your products. There's a whole subculture of people who spend more time writing Amazon reviews than your crazy uncle spends on his model train set, and you want these influential hobbyists to review your book. The thing that motivates these influential Amazon reviewers is only one thing: helpful votes on their reviews. If one of these influential reviewers looks at your book, and they see that everyone that ever writes a review of your book gets a helpful vote, then they'll buy your book, read it, and review it, just to get that helpful vote.

If you get a few of your friends to mark all of the reviews on your book helpful, then it will attract even more top reviewers. Amazon's reviewer rank algorithm rewards top reviewers the most for new people that think their review is helpful, and so the more real, unique people who think that the reviews on your book are helpful, the more recognition these reviewers get from Amazon.

Make sure you and your friends actually read the reviews, and think through a reason why each one is helpful. Amazon takes great pains to try to avoid review manipulation.

#4: Go through all the 4-star and 5-star reviews, and make a specific comment on why you liked their review

Say something personal like, "Hi, I'm the author, and I thought it was really cool that you identified with the main character! I wrote the character like this because..."

Make sure you write in an informal, friendly first person tone. A big reason you're doing this is so that people feel like they're connecting with a real person.

Commenting on reviews is actually better publicity than a book signing, because it generates a lot more buzz. Each person that gets a book signed by you will tell 0.5 other people about it. However, each person that you make a personalized comment on their Amazon review will tell 10+ people about it.

#5: Go through all the 1-, 2-, and 3-star reviews, and make a comment that says this:

"Thanks for writing this review. I really appreciate your candor. I encourage you to try again to finish the book (or read it again, etc.) and look at it from [insert new perspective here]. I'm confident that if you give it another try, that you'll reconsider what you didn't like, and that you'll really enjoy this book."

This is the biggest thing the people that wrote The Healing Code did, that made their book a long term high volume seller. This is also where you most need the belief that your book is special. It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out like this, but it works, and this method will turn your worst critic into at least a friend.

The person may even follow your advice, finish reading your book, and decide to change your their review to a 5-star review. But, make sure you don't hint in your comment that that's what you really want, because Amazon won't let you pressure the reviewers in any way.

#6: Get thirty 5-star reviews on Amazon

There's something magical about getting thirty 5-star reviews on Amazon. Once you get thirty 5-star reviews, then your book sales will take off. Here's how you do it.
  • Find a friend or a relative, and have them read your book
  • Ask them to give you a 5-star review
  • Give them some sample text for a review, tell them to NOT mention that they know you, and tell them to write just about the content of the book
You have to give your friends some guidance, otherwise you'll get a bunch of well-meaning 3 and 4 star reviews that say something like: "Well, I've known Martha for fifteen years, and even though I don't like science fiction at all, I think it's very impressive that she wrote a book all by herself." That kind of review is the kiss of death, plus Amazon has removed reviews in the past just because they're from relatives.

Instead, tell your aunt, "Hey, would you review my book, give it 5 stars, and say something like, 'I really liked this book. It was inventive science fiction, that made me think about [insert stuff here]. I liked the style of the book because of [insert stuff here]. I'd recommend this book to everybody."

You have to ask your friends for 5 stars. A lot of people will just naturally give it 3 or 4 stars if they don't realize that you actually need 5 stars, probably because their grade school teachers told them that nothing is perfect. Again, remember how awesome your book is.

Then repeat this process 30 times with different friends.

#7: Write a 5-star review of your book on Amazon

The nice thing about this step is that you can be completely honest with who you are. Say something like, "Hi, I'm the author of this book, but I liked this book so much because of [insert a list of stuff here.] I really hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it."

Make sure that you focus on the content of the book, and you don't copy any promotional material that someone else wrote for you. The worst that can happen is that Amazon takes down your review, so don't worry. Amazon probably will take it down eventually, but at least you've seeded your book page with a glowing review as a model for other reviewers to follow.

#8: Regularly check your book's Amazon page, and repeat steps 3-5 for all new reviews

You could even have your assistant, spouse, or a good friend do this, and just print out a summary of the nice, complimentary things people say, and edit out anything negative. Doing this on an ongoing basis can be exhausting. The important thing is that your comments sound like you, not that they are actually written by you.

#9: You may be able to get rid of a couple of your 1-star negative reviews

Amazon's review rules say that reviews need to be about the product. A lot of one star reviews are actually about late shipping, that their product arrived damaged, or that the current price is too expensive. If you have a critical review that doesn't mention why they don't actually like the content of the product, then you can click on the "Report this review" link below the review (you may have to mark it unhelpful first), and tell Amazon that this review isn't actually reviewing the product. Amazon is generally pretty good about removing reviews that aren't really reviews.

But, be careful. If the review even mentions anything specific about the product, then Amazon won't remove it, so then your only option is to try to get more 5-star reviews.

#10: Now, you'll sell 100,000 copies of the book by the end of the year

Congratulations! You are so wonderful that you deserve all of this success! You can now get back to writing your next book.

Other stuff:

Why am I so focused on Amazon reviews? Google both your book and your name right now, and you'll notice that one of the top results is your book, on Amazon, with the number of stars that reviewers gave it. You should follow this advice, even if your main source of selling your books is a Saturday swap meet.

Even if you just print out this article and give it to your assistant to complete all the steps, you should make sure that this happens.

Links:

Monday, March 25, 2013

20 questions with the fastest man on Earth: Cheng Wei Chang

Cheng Wei Chang, world record holder for the fastest texting on Earth
On August 11, 2012, Cheng Wei Chang (Wei is pronounced "way"), from Singapore, broke the world record in texting using an input method called MessagEase. He typed the Guinness World Record texting phrase in 23.8 seconds, which is 80.7 WPM, and on the MessagEase website, he's clocked at 83.6 WPM. This man can text faster than anybody else on the planet.

Cheng Wei let me interview him, and I found him to be a friendly person and very personable. He's also extremely knowledgeable about tons of different kinds of input methods. Since I'm fascinated with smart phone inputting techniques, I found his discussions fascinating. He's also very humble for achieving something that no human has ever done before, which is texting non-predictively 80+ WPM on a cell phone, with perfect accuracy. I can almost text 40 WPM on my cell phone, and I'm planning a town parade as soon as I hit 40 WPM. So, it's mind boggling to me that this guy can text faster on a cell phone than 99% of the population can type on a full keyboard, and faster than 100% of the population can text on a cell phone, and all he did was post a short YouTube video and then went back to his studies and computer programming.

I was very curious about what made this guy tick. Here's my interview of 20 questions with him:

1. Could you tell me how you became so fast of a texter that you beat the world record?
Since I was young I have learnt to touch type using the qwerty keyboard. I'm rather competent in it, typing at an average 80 WPM to maximum of 100 WPM, but I'm nowhere near the 200 WPM world record. As I got my first Android phone which was Motorola XT720, I started to realise that typing on the phone was indeed pretty frustrating with the standard keyboard. Therefore I tried to keep a lookout for other keyboards.

My friend recommended SlideIt, which is similar to Swype and I am pretty impressed by its ability to guess the words so accurately. It was really cool when I started using it. But as time went by, I realised there were multiple occasions where it guessed the words wrongly and I got frustrated once again, in particular it wasn't suitable for typing shorthand that adds fun to short messages.

The next keyboard I came across was TouchPal. It has a reasonable dictionary correction and what I liked was that I can access symbols and numbers just by sliding up or down on some of the keys without having to key in "shift". I felt sliding in this way is a good way to make full use of  the touchscreen capability in a different flavor to Swype (this sliding concept was used to a higher level in MessagEase). It also features an edit mode that allows users to perform useful functions such as selecting, moving the cursor, copy, paste etc. Moreover it shines in typing Chinese and is still my favorite so far for Chinese.

Then I got to know of a revolutionary inputting technology called 8pen. I was pretty fascinated by it as well. I somehow thought that if I mastered it, I could potentially be able to input without looking. I indeed mastered it to a certain level that I could type simple short messages without looking, but the problem in it was that my thumb became sore afterwards. It is way too slow and tiring. But I appreciate the designer for coming out with a revolutionary keyboard, but too bad it is not efficient.

Continuing on my lookout, I chanced upon MessagEase while searching for the fastest android keyboard. After giving it a try, I realised it is exactly what I wanted. I can type any character without searching through tables after tables!

At first I learnt the basics by playing the MessagEase game, but soon I realised it got repetitive, so I proceeded to train using TypingDroid which has more words to type and it forces me to type each character correctly and buzzes me whenever there is a mistake. In this sense I can really master typing without looking as it actually alerts me when there is an error.

Still it is quite difficult to achieve pure blind typing, I will have to realign once in a while by looking to see that I am not too far off from the home position. But I am pretty satisfied I can text using MessagEase while I jog using one finger without much concentration as compared to all other keyboard out there.

I used it very frequently since 2 to 3 years ago. Somehow I just wasn't able to get pass 60 WPM in the MessagEase game. After switching to Samsung Galaxy S III recently, it has a much faster processor and a bigger screen. With the bigger screen, I can text using two fingers to achieve better speed. And soon, I got faster and faster and eventually ranked 1st in the game. There was this review on Android Tapp that gave MessagEase an ignorant and unfair rating. I was quite frustrated and decide to make a video showing how fast MessagEase really is. I broke the record about a week after I got my new Samsung Galaxy S III.

I think it is because I am a programmer and frequently write code, that made MessagEase my number one keyboard. Otherwise, I wouldn't have mind using SwiftKey. So I guess this explains the popularity among most people too. They will try to think if the learning curve is worth it.

Hacker's Keyboard is currently the keyboard that can type everything. But MessagEase can type nearly everything, fast. Hopefully eventually MessagEase can type everything on the keyboard like the function keys etc, so that it is the perfect keyboard when used in conjunction with TeamViewer or ConnectBot.

2. I also use MessagEase, and I like typing with MessagEase because I'm a control freak, and I don't like it when predictive texting messes me up. But I'm guessing you have a different reason. Why do you like MessagEase?
Oh, actually MessagEase is number one to me because I can code with it. Otherwise, for a non-coder, I would recommend SwiftKey. So, in some sense, I am not the perfect advertiser for MessagEase. I like to remote desktop, so MessagEase is perfect for someone like me. So I guess remote controlling of a computer would be a strong reason for choosing MessagEase, because I don't think any text prediction will work while remoting.

3. If you had a lot of time and a big budget and staff, what computer program would you make?
If I had money, I would try to deal with problems in the third world countries first. I think many things I had always wanted to do have already been handled by someone already. In the past I tried making my own note taking software, public transport path finders. I think maybe I would be particularly interested in developing autonomous robots that can do all the menial tasks like housework and dirty jobs. Somehow I feel there is not much lacking in the world now.

4. From what I know about Singapore, the country is very progressive, and really encourages intelligent and ambitious people. Do you think that living in Singapore helped you with speed?
I would say people in Singapore are diligent and have a better level of education thanks to our government who made it compulsory for children to undergo basic education. So it is more appropriate to say we are given the chance to nurture our intelligence compared to people around the world. I think we are still on our way to becoming more ambitious. Many Singaporeans tend to stick to the norm within their comfort zone and don't like to take risk. But definitely living in Singapore has crafted me into who I am, the distinct quality that enabled me to get the world record.

5. A lot of my friends from Singapore and Malaysia can speak a lot of languages. How many languages can you speak?
My first language is English, and my second language is Mandarin Chinese. Chinese people usually also know some dialect, and mine is Teochew. So I speak three languages.

6. And, do you think that speaking multiple languages has impacted your ability to text quickly?
I can't think of any relation with my texting speed, but I think as a programmer, it helps as I frequently learn new programming languages.

7. What's your texting speed in Chinese versus English?
I guess my Chinese typing speed is around 40 WPM. I used pinyin to type Chinese. There isn't a one-to-one mapping between pinyin and Chinese characters. So, choosing from a list is inevitable. But the guessing by the computer is impressive. And the technique for typing fast in Chinese is to type longer phrases to let the computer guess the context. Depending on the context, the speed of typing varies, similar to dictionary-based typing. On Android, I use TouchPal which has an additional stroke filtering function that makes typing Chinese easier than on the computer.

8. Do people ever watch you texting in public, like on the train, and make comments about how fast you are?
I don't know, but my friends are impressed. But still, only one friend is using MessagEase now.

9. How fast can you type on a regular keyboard?
On the keyboard around 80 to 100 WPM. On Android is 50 to 80 using MessagEase. Tried using several apps to test. But 80 WPM was only achievable in MessagEase Game. Usually I got around 60 WPM using myTextSpeed.

10. What advice would you give to other people who want to learn how to text fast?
I wrote some pointers on how to type using two thumbs on a Facebook comment previously (see link below). I recommend a phone that has a fast processor and large screen size like Samsung Galaxy S III. How fast a person can type depends on how strong is the desire to type fast. I like to excel in things I have chance to excel exceptionally on, and this is one of them.

11. Could I get some background information on you? I'm wondering if you could tell a couple of stories that help to illustrate your personality.
I am someone who is particularly inclined in mathematics, sciences and computer related stuffs, but languages wasn't as good.

I frequently like to think out of the box and get pretty pissed off with unreasonable traditions.

I like to self-teach myself, such as playing the piano, guitar. I believe that living in the age of Google I can learn just about anything myself.

I like to excel in areas I felt I am good at. I love solving puzzles in my free time. Using my programming knowledge to create tools to solve my everyday problems.

I am currently in my last year, doing my PhD in computational biology and data mining from biological data.

I am a Buddhist practitioner of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism under Soka Gakkai International, which is to me, the world's greatest philosophy.

12. What do you plan to do with your PhD in computational biology?
Carry on researching and learn more from biological data. Not much plans yet, but definitely a meaningful job.

13. Are you related to the Taiwanese baseball player, who has the same name as you?
Is there? I think there were quite a number of people on the internet sharing the same Chinese transliteration as me. But I guess my Chinese characters should be unique.

14. So what are the Chinese characters of your name?
钟清玮

15. I have a theory that fast typing or texting is very related to fast thinking. Do you think this is true, and do you think that you think quickly, too?
I think so. When I am wide awake, I can text much faster. I think some sort of overclocking of my brain took place when I was trying for the world record, it affects the tempo of your finger's movement.

16. As of today, your world record has only been viewed 164 times on YouTube. Why do you think that something that significant has been largely overlooked so far?
I think unless people are speed freaks, they wouldn't care who is the fastest texter. So far SwiftKey definitely holds the best record for texting using dictionary. I think to many people, it is the regular everyday typing comfort that matters. Text prediction works for many people most of the time, so they would rather crown SwiftKey as the champion.

17. Would you be open to competing in a world record texting competition to validate your record? Or are you trying to keep a low profile?
Possibly. For the sake of MessagEase. But I think the runner ups are pretty competitive, so I don't think I can beat them now.

18.     What other input methods do you think are cool?
  • TouchPal (best for typing Chinese so far)
  • SwiftKey (best prediction)
  • Kii (multiple languages, text prediction similar to SwiftKey)
  • Swype/SlideIt (Swyping is cool)
  • 8pen (interesting though lack efficiency)
  • Hacker's Keyboard (you can type everything including function keys)
19. What is your prediction for the future of input methods, 10 to 20 years in the future
I have no idea. I think possibly once chips get implanted in the brain anything is possible

20. My female readers will want to know if you're single and how old you are.
Currently single, and 28.

There you have it, probably the most eligible bachelor in the world. He's also a really nice guy, he's super smart, he thinks quickly, and a couple years from now when he graduates with his doctorate degree and gets a good job, he's going to be rich.

In today's computerized world, texting is even more relevant than typing, or any other kind of speed record, like the 100 meter dash, so that's why I declared Cheng Wei the fastest man alive.

The current Guinness Worlds Records phrase for texting is: "The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human." This phrase is exactly 160 characters, which is the standard maximum size for a text message. The phrase uses 21 of the 26 letters in the alphabet, and it has a few capital letters, punctuation symbols, and a couple rare words that aren't in most dictionaries, so that's why it's a great world record phrase.

The record on the Guinness website is 25.94 seconds, which Cheng Wei broke by a couple of seconds. That old record was with predictive text, which means that they didn't have to type every one of the characters correctly, and the software made up for their mistakes. But, there's a huge problem with a predictive texting reord, and the problem is that eventually an input method in the near future is going to predict that you want to type the whole world record sentence, and so you'll only need to press one button.

How to break Swype's predictive texting world record using SwiftKey
I used this method, and I was able to get 10.43 seconds. It only took about 10 minutes of practicing, so it's easy to do. I'm sure Cheng Wei would be able to do it in about 5 seconds.
  • Get a fresh install of SwiftKey (the free version works for this)
  • Make a new Twitter account, and tweet these phrases: "The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they" and "of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human." (Twitter limits you to 140 characters)
  • On SwiftKey, choose to only learn from your Twitter account, and wait until it's done syncronizing.
  • Start typing the Guinness phrase with SwiftKey. You have to correct "razor - toothed" to "razor-toothed," and you have to keep typing in the first word "The," but after only about ten times, SwiftKey will predict every single word. Then you just have to press the buttons of the words that SwiftKey predicts. You still have to press a period for the end of the sentences, but that shouldn't be too big of a deal.
  • Post your video to YouTube, claiming that you have the fastest predictive texting record in the world.
The problem with a predictive texting world record
The folks at Guinness have a big problem with their current world record for predictive texting, which is currently held by Swype. The problem is that eventually, someone's going to build an app that predicts the entire sentence, and then it's just a race to press one button. It's bad enough that SwiftKey's latest version can predict all the words of two entire sentences with only a little training.

I suggest that Guinness use the following categories instead:
  • Old-school texting where you press the "2" key once for an A, twice for a B, three times for a C (currently 34.65 seconds)
  • Non-predictive input on a cell phone (currently held by Cheng Wei at 23.8 seconds)
  • Non-predictive input on a tablet
  • Retire the current Swype predictive texting record, and chalk it up as a Guinness oversight and failure, since eventually the record will be reduced to the time it takes to press one button, which will be about 1/9th of a second.
I tried really hard to come up with a predictive texting testing methodology. "You have to press at least half of the characters correctly." "Autocorrect can only correct half of the words." "You have to press as many buttons as there are letters in the test." Unfortunately, I don't think any of those will work, and I think there's no way to come up with a predictive texting metric that can't be easily manipulated.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Wear Pants to the Mormon Church

A woman wearing nice pants thinks about attending the LDS Church
What is Wear Pants to Church Day? A group of LDS feminists, called All Enlist, made the third Sunday in December the official “Wear Pants to Church Day.” At first it seems strange. Why would Mormon feminists stage a protest day to wear pants to church?

The reason is that culturally, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, women cannot wear pants, and must wear either dresses or skirts. A few years back, I went to a wedding reception in a Mormon church with a friend who was unaccustomed to Mormon traditions. She wore a pantsuit, and during the reception she turned to me and said, “Was I supposed to wear a dress? I just noticed that I’m the only woman wearing a suit.” She then told me that she felt that people were looking down on her, even though she was dressed much nicer than some of the people in ratty skirts.

Officially, women can wear pants to the LDS Church, as evidenced by these official statements by the Church.  “The Church has not attempted to indicate...whether they [women] should wear pant suits or other types of clothing.” (1971) “Generally church members are encouraged to wear their best clothing as a sign of respect for the Savior, but we don’t counsel people beyond that.” (2012)

There seems to be a huge disconnect between the culture and the official policy. Culturally, you can’t, but policy-wise, you can. The Mormon Church has never said, “Women are welcome to wear pants to church, and we frown on having a judgmental attitude toward people that dress differently than the way we usually do.” Instead, they've issued obscure statements that are open to interpretation and really don’t address judgmental attitudes. Rather than warmly welcoming women with pants to church, they coolly don’t prohibit them.

So far, the reaction to Wear Pants to Church Day is almost all contained in one of three polarized opinions. Here are examples of each polarization:

#1: Devout Mormons who are judgmental about people who want to wear pants to church
  • “I’m truly saddened that these women would belittle themselves and their roles in the Church”
  • “The women who organized this need to have their heads examined.”
  • “Maybe men will start wearing skirts to church. How will the women like that?”
  • “If these women want to change things to the point that they can obtain the priesthood, then they should take it up with our Heavenly Father.”
  • “Why would any woman, especially one in the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) want to discard her femininity?”
  • “As a Mormon, the idea of a Mormon feminist makes me sick to my stomach.”
  • “The lord deserves the utter most respect! And I have been shocked to see lds women wanting to wear nice pants to church. I mean that's what u wear to an interview or somethin.”
#2: Non-Mormons who think that this is ridiculous:
  • “Who cares? Women can wear pants..even to church.”
  • “It seems to me that...they want a “grander role” and wearing pants to church is just the first step.”
  • “Most of the LDS women I know looked at this and just thought it was stupid.”
  • “Wearing pants to church...oh the humanity!”
  • “They need to start their own denomination.”
  • “Mormon women are discouraged from wearing slacks to church? Seriously? What’s next? 'Drive a horseless carriage to Church' day?”
#3: People who see this as a human rights issue and are avidly supportive:
  • “This isn’t about women wearing pants to church. It's about equal rights.”
  • “The scriptures, early church history and our leaders have shown us a women's equal role is in full unlimited (not separated) partnership with our brethren, in every capacity.”
  • “The dream is for all members of the church to not be scandalized by a woman wearing pants to church.”
  • “Those who support this movement are doing so because they see a need to bring awareness to the fact that there is no doctrinal basis for instructing women that a dress or skirt is the appropriate attire for church.”
I think that Wear Pants to Church day is one of the most significant cultural events to happen to Mormonism. Look through the heated opinions and ask about why this is causing such a stir. Why are so many active Mormons so bothered by this movement? Why do so many non-Mormons think this is ridiculous? Why do the avid supporters see this cultural awareness event as a human rights issue?

People who look different or don’t fit the Mormon culture, are they really welcome in the Mormon Church? I hope there’s a point in the future where the culturally different are fully accepted by Mormons, and I think that Wear Pants to Church Day is a significant start.

The people who organized this also want men to wear purple shirts to church, and allow women to pray in General Conference. But, personally, I think the next thing All Enlist should do to bring attention to a part of Mormon culture that’s not talked about much is a “Bring a Polygamist to Church Day.”

Links:
Photo: istockphoto/Zastavkin

Thursday, April 26, 2012

How to simply create the Mandelbrot set on the Commodore 64

Image of the Mandelbrot set
When I was a kid, I loved my Commodore 64 computer. Back then, I had a subscription to Compute! magazine, which listed out programs that I typed into my Commodore 64. I typed in dozens of these programs, and it usually took four evenings after school for me to type one program into the computer, and another day to debug my mistakes. The games and programs really weren't really much fun, so I only ended up playing the games for about a few hours. I spent way more time typing programs into the computer than I ever spent playing the games on the computer.

In the April 1987 Compute magazine, there was a program called Hyperscan, which rendered a picture called the Mandelbrot set. I was completely fascinated by this picture and design, because the Hyperscan program allowed me to zoom in to the Mandelbrot picture and explore the seemingly limitless detail of this image. I spend weeks with this program, and I printed out tons of different parts of the Mandelbrot set on my dot matrix printer.

I never understood what the Mandelbrot set actually was until recently, when I decided to research it. I knew that it was a very detailed picture that was created by a relatively simple formula, but the programming of Hyperscan was really complicated, so I could never figure out exactly what that supposedly simple formula was. I also knew that the Mandelbrot set uses complex numbers, which are numbers that have the square root of negative 1, or i.

Explanation of how to calculate the Mandelbrot set:
Almost all of the complexity of the formula for the Mandelbrot set is in the complex numbers. So, once you understand the math with complex numbers, and how you can plot complex numbers on a graph, the Mandelbrot set becomes pretty easy to understand.

A complex number is a number like .5+1.1i. The thing that makes this number complex is that part of it is an imaginary number, or i. i is the square root of negative 1, so you could write this complex number as .5+1.1*sqrt(-1).

The square root of negative 1 really doesn't exist, so that's why we just write i, instead. Even though i doesn't exist, then i times i, or i squared does exist, and it's just -1.

If you add two complex numbers, it's easy. So, if you add .5+1.1i to 1+1.2i, then you just add the real parts (.5 and 1) and add the imaginary parts (1.1 and 1.2), to get 1.5+2.3i.

Squaring two complex numbers is a little more complex, (a+bi)^2 is the same as (a+bi)*(a+bi), which multiplies out to a*a+a*b*i+b*i*a+b*b*i*i, which simplifies to a^2+2abi+b^2*i^2, and because i squared is negative 1, then it simplifies to a^2-b^2+2abi.

So, using our example number, (.5+1.1i)^2 = (.5)^2-(1.1)^2+2*2*1.1*i. This equals -.96+4.4i

The last concept with complex numbers is something called magnitude, which with complex numbers is also called absolute value. You use the Pythagorean theorem on the real and imaginary parts of the complex number to find this. The magnitude of a+bi is sqrt(a^2+b^2). For our example number of .5+1.1i, the magnitude is sqrt(.5^2+1.1^2), or 1.21

To graph complex numbers, you use the real part of the number as the x axis, or the horizontal axis, and you use the imaginary part of the number as the y axis, or the vertical axis. The number of .5+1.1i would correspond to the point (.5,1.1) on a regular x,y graph. On these Mandelbrot pictures, this point corresponds to the lower right corner of the graph, as the y axis is usually reversed, but since the set is a mirror image, this doesn't matter.

The upper left point of these Mandelbrot pictures is -2-1.1i, which using graphing coordinates is (-2,-1.1).

Each point in this complex plane is either part of the Mandelbrot set, or it isn't. Or another way of saying this is that any complex number that you can think of is either a part of the Mandelbrot set, or isn't. The black part in the pictures are numbers that are part of the Mandelbrot set, and the parts that aren't black aren't part of the set.

Now that we have the background in complex numbers, the Mandelbrot formula is relatively easy. It takes a complex number, which we call Zand we iterate it using this formula:

Zn+1-->Zn2+Z0

If we iterate a complex number a bunch of times, and it turns into a super big number, then it's not part of the Mandelbrot set. If we iterate it a bunch of times, and it never gets very big, then it is part of the Mandelbrot set.

Technically, we're supposed to iterate it an infinite number of times, and if it diverges to infinity, then it's not part of the Mandelbrot set. But there are two shortcuts, so we don't actually have to do it an infinite number of times.

  • Shortcut #1: Once you iterate this more than about 200 times, then you stop getting very much more information. So, iterating this 200 times is about as good as iterating it an infinite number of times. 
  • Shortcut #2: There's a theorem that figured out that if the magnitude of Z ever gets bigger than 2, while iterating, then it will always eventually get to be infinity.
So a simple way of saying the Mandelbrot equation is that you iterate Zn+1-->Zn2+Z0 (you square your last result, and add in the original number again) for 200 times, or until Z's magnitude gets to be greater than two. If Z's magnitude gets to be greater than 2, then you plot a light colored dot. If Z's magnitude never got to be greater than 2, then you plot a black colored dot.

If computers had complex data types, then the computer code for the Mandelbrot set would be pretty simple.


Simple pseudo-code for the Mandelbrot set calculation:
Function isMandelbrot(Z0 as Complex) As Boolean
    Dim Z as Complex, Iterations as Integer
    Iterations = 255
    isMandelbrot = True
    Do While x < Iterations
        Z = Z^2 + Z0
        If ABS(Z) > 2 Then
            isMandelbrot = False
            Exit Function
        End If
        x = x + 1
    Loop
End Function

But, the problem with this psuedo-code is that most programming languages don't have a data type of Complex. So, we have to do the calculations that I wrote above, in a spelled out way. The good news is that this only adds a few lines of code, so it's still a pretty simple formula.

While recently researching the Mandelbrot set, I became fascinated with the lack of simple instructions that there are out there, on how to calculate this relatively simple formula. I also got really nostalgic for my old Commodore 64, so I decided to combine both. I found a really cool Commodore 64 emulator, VICE, and I relearned Commodore 64 BASIC in the quest to write some simple code that would explain the Mandelbrot set.

I present below some of the simplest Mandelbrot programs ever. The low resolution program is very low res, and produces an image that is only 40x25. The hires, or high resolution image is only 320x200. By today's standards, it would never be considered high resolution, but this does use the maximum pixels on the Commodore 64's display. I made both programs as similar as possible, so you can easily dissect and change them if you'd like.

Programming notes:

  • {Clear} should be entered as Shift+Home, and will display as a reverse heart.
  • ^ does not exist on the Commodore 64 keyboard, and should be the up arrow key (not the movement key). It's located in between * and RESTORE. When entered correctly, it will display as an up arrow.
  • The two letters before the line numbers are Compute! magazines checksum, and are not entered. You can find instructions on how to display this checksum in any back issue of Compute! or in any of their fine books.
  • Instead of writing (RZ*RZ + IZ*IZ)^(0.5)>2, for the magnitude calculation, I wrote (RZ*RZ + IZ*IZ)>4, which is the same thing.

Mandelbrot function in Commodore 64 BASIC (low-resolution):
RB 90 REM **TO CHANGE THE SHAPE, CHANGE**
JR 91 REM **XL,XU,YL,YU. REPS CHANGES  **
RA 92 REM **THE RESOLUTION**
DD 100 XL = -2.000:XU = 0.500
HR 110 YL = -1.100:YU = 1.100
JX 115 REPS = 20
HC 120 WIDTH = 40:HEIGHT = 25
KD 130 XINC = (XU-XL)/WIDTH
RD 140 YINC = (YU-YL)/HEIGHT
FR 200 REM MAIN ROUTINE
FM 205 PRINT "{CLEAR}"
PJ 210 FOR J = 0 TO HEIGHT - 1
EA 220 : FOR I = 0 TO WIDTH - 1
DR 230 :   GOSUB 300
RR 231 :   GOSUB 400
CP 240 : NEXT I
JG 250 NEXT J
SE 290 GET A$:IF A$ = "" THEN 290
MM 299 END
FM 300 REM CALCULATE MANDELBROT
BC 310 ISMND = -1
PF 312 NREAL = XL + I * XINC
RK 313 NIMG  = YL + J * YINC
XS 315 RZ = 0:IZ = 0
RS 316 R2Z = 0:I2Z = 0
EQ 320 FOR K = 1 TO REPS
CC 330 : R2Z = RZ*RZ - IZ*IZ
JQ 340 : I2Z  = 2*RZ*IZ
QJ 350 : RZ  = R2Z+NREAL
HX 360 : IZ   = I2Z +NIMG
EE 370 : IF (RZ*RZ + IZ*IZ)>4 THEN ISMND=0:K=REPS
QA 390 NEXT K
GB 399 RETURN
GB 400 REM PLOT MANDELBROT
GE 410 COUNT = I+J*WIDTH
PJ 420 POKE 1024+COUNT,160
GR 430 POKE 55296+COUNT,2 AND NOT ISMND
BH 499 RETURN
Low resolution image of a Commodore 64 Mandelbrot set

Mandelbrot function in Commodore 64 BASIC (high-resolution):
RB 90 REM **TO CHANGE THE SHAPE, CHANGE**
JR 91 REM **XL,XU,YL,YU. REPS CHANGES  **
RA 92 REM **THE RESOLUTION**
DD 100 XL = -2.000:XU = 0.500
HR 110 YL = -1.100:YU = 1.100
JX 115 REPS = 20
CM 120 WIDTH = 320:HEIGHT = 200
KD 130 XINC = (XU-XL)/WIDTH
RD 140 YINC = (YU-YL)/HEIGHT
FR 200 REM MAIN ROUTINE
FM 205 PRINT "{CLEAR}"
XR 207 GOSUB 500
PJ 210 FOR J = 0 TO HEIGHT - 1
EA 220 : FOR I = 0 TO WIDTH - 1
DR 230 :   GOSUB 300
BX 231 :   GOSUB 600
CP 240 : NEXT I
JG 250 NEXT J
SE 290 GET A$:IF A$ = "" THEN 290
EJ 299 GOTO 700
FM 300 REM CALCULATE MANDELBROT
BC 310 ISMND = -1
PF 312 NREAL = XL + I * XINC
RK 313 NIMG  = YL + J * YINC
XS 315 RZ = 0:IZ = 0
RS 316 R2Z = 0:I2Z = 0
EQ 320 FOR K = 1 TO REPS
CC 330 : R2Z = RZ*RZ - IZ*IZ
JQ 340 : I2Z  = 2*RZ*IZ
QJ 350 : RZ  = R2Z+NREAL
HX 360 : IZ   = I2Z +NIMG
EE 370 : IF (RZ*RZ + IZ*IZ)>4 THEN ISMND=0:K=REPS
QA 390 NEXT K
GB 399 RETURN
HM 500 REM CLEAR SCREEN
BB 530 POKE53272,29:POKE53265,59
CC 540 FOR R=8192 TO 16383:POKE R,0:NEXT
QS 599 RETURN
QH 600 REM DRAW HIRES
CA 610 P=8192+INT(J/8)*320+INT(I/8)*8+(JAND7)
JE 620 IF ISMND=0 THEN POKEP,PEEK(P) OR INT(2^(7-((I/8-INT(I/8))*8)))
JF 699 RETURN
CM 700 REM RETURN TO NORMAL
QH 740 POKE 53272,21:POKE 53265,27
High resolution (hires) image of the Mandelbrot set on the Commodore 64

Mandelbrot function in Excel (VBA or Visual Basic, too):
Function isMandelbrot(NReal As Double, NImg As Double) As Boolean
    Dim ZReal As Double, ZImg As Double
    Dim ZReal2 As Double, ZImg2 As Double
    Dim Iterations As Integer, x As Integer
    Iterations = 255
    isMandelbrot = True
    
    Do While x < Iterations
        ZReal2 = (ZReal) ^ 2 - (ZImg) ^ 2
        ZImg2 = 2 * ZReal * ZImg
        
        ZReal = ZReal2 + NReal
        ZImg = ZImg2 + NImg
        
        If ((ZReal) ^ 2 + (ZImg) ^ 2) > 4 Then
            isMandelbrot = False
            Exit Function
        End If
        x = x + 1
    Loop
End Function

About the pretty colors you see on other Mandelbrot images:
To keep this simple, I used only two colors, black, and non-black. The most common way of doing colors is to record how many iterations before a number fails the Mandelbrot test, and map various colors to the numbers of iterations before failing the test. A common number of iterations is 255, because that usually maps well to color formulas.

Links:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earn a lot of money by getting free tattoos

This is a business idea that will make millions. Please someone take my idea and turn it into reality. I'll be a customer.
Woman with a full back, or full-body tattoo
I really like post apocalyptic or dystopian future stories, like Hunger Games, Brave New World, and Blade Runner.

Even though interesting, these dystopian societies are problematic in that they kill too many people, and are controlled by an overly heavy-handed government. Here's a way to bring dystopian elements to our lives today via a reality TV show experience that would be a lot more entertaining than Big Brother.

Summary of the business: A model gets paid for other people deciding and paying for which tattoos that she gets all over her body. This would work with a male model, too, but women would generate more money.

The average human body has 2700 square inches of tattoable skin on it (less fingernails and eyeballs). For this project to net $1,000,000 in revenues, each square inch would only need to sell for $370. This project could still be profitable if the total revenues were only $100,000, and the price per square were reduced to $37, so the risks of this business would be very minimal.

Expenses:
There are only three expenses for this business:
  1. Tattooing.
  2. According to Cha-Cha, a tattoo shop will charge $10,000 to $30,000 for a full body tattoo. I'm sure with the free advertising that they would get from this, there will be tons of tattoo artists willing to provide their services for free, but to get the big money, we would probably pay the tattoo artists well. 
  3. Modeling fee. I'm sure there are dozens of beautiful people in the US who would be willing to get their body completely inked for $20,000. The more we increase the inking bounty, the more we expand our potential model base. For $200,000, we probably get thousands of people who want to get fully inked.
  4. Digitization of the model. It would cost about $10,000 to get the model's body digitized onto a website, so that people can purchase square inches of her body for their tattoos.
Profitability:
This business will generate $1,000,000 of revenue per model, minus a maximum of $300,000 of expenses, equals $700,000 per model that gets completely inked. And that's only the guaranteed revenue from the core business, not the additional revenue from advertising and additional sales. We only need 1429 models to make a billion dollars.

Differentiation Features:
This business has a huge opportunity for massive price differentiation based on what people are willing to pay for. Here are additional things that people would pay for, in addition to the price per square inch.
  • Premium body space. Every part of the body will have a different price per square inch
  • A premium design charge if the buyer doesn't choose from the pre-selected tattoos
  • Charge for a signed photo of the tattoo
  • Charge for a video of the tattoo being inked
  • Charge for a live video broadcast of the tattoo being inked
  • Premium for company advertising, instead of individual designs
  • Premium for the option of 'model choice,' because this whole concept is based on the model not choosing the tattoo, but the buyer.
  • An exponentially greater premium for more square inches of adjacent tattoos. For example, two individual one inch tattoos in different areas would cost $370 x 2. But, put two of them together, and make the design together, and a one inch by two inch tattoo would cost $370 x 2 + $200 premium. Then a two inch by two inch tattoo would cost $370 x 4 + $800 premium. So someone that would buy the entire surface area of the body would pay a very, very high premium.
  • Charge for the buyer to be part of the reality TV show
  • Charge for a high resolution image of the pre-inked area, available immediately after purchase (encourages impulse buys), with a computer generated future predictive image of what the tattoo would look like.
Additional revenue generators:
This business would be rife with opportunities for generating additional revenue besides the core business:
  • Reality TV show of each model going through the whole process, from signup, to the inking, to the aftermath
  • Website advertising
  • Premium membership on the website for exclusive photos and videos
  • T-shirts and other premium items
  • Speaking engagements on talk shows
Requirements:
There are a few things that will guarantee the wild profitability of this business so it will make millions of dollars. Here they are:
  • The model cannot accept or reject individual tattoos, it is either a 100% or nothing deal
  • Besides the signing bonus, the model receives no, or very little, money until 100% of their body is tattooed. This is because the money gets refunded if the model doesn't go completely through with it.
  • Money is charged to the customer when a commitment to buy is made. Money is only refunded if the model does not get the tattoo.
  • The buyer can either choose from a bunch of pre-made designs, submit their design in a certain format, or can pay a premium for a pre-selected designer to turn their idea into a tattoo. Certain non-flat areas, like the nose, require the professional designer fee.
Notes:
Here are some other notes about the business:
  • The higher the percentage of the model's body that gets inked, the higher the revenue. For example, there is a big difference between completely inking someone's hands, and not. People would not pay very much for a hidden back tattoo that nobody ever sees. This plan is for 100% of the inkable area of the model's body.
  • Inking would probably take months, because of the time it takes tattoos to heal. This is a good thing, because it would provide a lot of material for the reality show.
  • The model would have to shave her head while getting tattoos, because there is a lot of profitable surface area under the hair.
  • This would work as both a PG13-rated business and as an R-rated business. We can still show 99% of the surface area of someone's body and keep this PG13, and it will generate a lot of money either way.
From the model's perspective:
There are a lot of people out there who want a lot of tattoos. There are also a lot of people who want a lot of cash. Someone who would be a model for this might say:
  • I get a signing bonus of $20,000, and then a cash payout of $200,000 when I get fully inked
  • I get a free full-body tattoo
  • I get to be famous
From the buyer's perspective:
This would appeal to people with a lot of money. People who finance this might say:
  • I get to decide where and what tattoo a person wears
  • I can buy a bunch of customizations
  • I can get exclusive photos and videos of someone getting inked
From the TV viewer's perspective:
This would be a fascinating viewing experience, like watching a train wreck, but no one gets hurt (besides the inking needle). People who view might say:
  • I can watch someone doing something super crazy
  • While watching, I imagine what it would be like to get totally inked
  • No matter who I am, this appeals to me
Who this appeals to:
Here's a detailed list of who this appeals to:
  • Reality TV viewers
  • Jackass TV viewers
  • Very rich people who have run out of interesting ways to blow their money
  • People who want to leave a permanent mark on the world (or on someone)
  • People with tattoo fetishes
  • Corporations who advertise
  • Everyone who likes to watch weird things happen to beautiful people, which is everyone
I like donating to charities, and I always try to donate to unique charities. Once, a friend of mine told me that I should find a charity that helps people who survive traumatic events to get tattoos to commemorate their strength. Unfortunately, there are no charities like that. Besides the one charity in New York that sponsors a tattoo festival, the only tattoo-related charities are dedicated to removing tattoos. The dearth of free tattoos out there is the reason for this idea.

One of my favorite things is to tell people, "I'll pay for your tattoo, if you tattoo my name across your chest." So far, nobody has taken me up on this. But, if somebody makes this business, then I can finally get my name permanently etched across someone's chest.

And I'm pretty sure this business would be legal.

Links:
Photo purchased on iStockphoto.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How to prevent baldness

woman getting her head shaved bald
There really is just one reason for baldness. The reason for baldness is certain types of stress. Exactly which types of stress cause hair loss are really hard to figure out, so that's why we don't have any relaxation techniques to restore your hair.

One thing is for sure about the stress that causes hair loss. An alpha male rarely feels this kind of stress that causes hair loss, and the lower a man feels on the male hierarchy, or the less alpha a man is, then the more of this stress that he feels. This stress causes baldness, so if you can eliminate this stress, you can ensure you will always keep your hair.

What is an alpha male, and how can you become one to ensure you keep your hair? Notice that in every group of men, there is one man who bosses the rest of the guys around. This man is not necessarily the loudest one, as men can be silently bossy, such as Don Corleone. The man who can boss the rest of the men around is the alpha male.

Men are very similar to dogs, in that there is always one dog who is the boss, the leader, the captain, of the rest of the dogs. Similarly, there is always one man who leads the rest in any group of men.

The secret to preventing baldness is to feel like you are an alpha male almost 100% of the time. Here are a few tips for accomplishing that.
  • Become the leader of 5-6 male friends. This is critical for being the alpha male. If you're not picky about who your friends are, any man can very easily amass 5-6 men as subordinates for friends. Just make sure that your group of friends feels that you are superior to them, and make sure you regularly boss them around. Make sure you hang out with these friends almost every day to reinforce that you are their leader.
  • Get a boss at work who respects you. The easiest way to shatter your illusion that you're an alpha male is to have a boss who bosses you around and demeans you. Avoid this boss at all costs. The best way is to find an old, carefree boss who doesn't care as long as the work gets done, and transfer under this boss. Compliment this boss regularly, and make sure your boss compliments you in return, so that you can reinforce the illusion that you're the alpha male. Make sure you manage a few people, and boss them around all day. Or, start your own company so that you are the boss for sure.
  • Make sure that your wife doesn't boss you around. The best way to accomplish this is to become such a fantastic lover that your wife is in perpetual ecstasy. Then she won't be able to focus on much else besides her state of euphoria and delight and she'll just crave more and more, and she'll forget about ever bossing you around.
  • Make sure that your parents don't boss you around. The best way to do this is to earn a lot of money, and pay one of your other siblings to take care of your parents. Your parents will boss around this sibling instead of you, and you'll feel superior because you're paying for your parents care.
  • Interpret everything that happens as that you are superior to people. If someone honks their horn at you, interpret that they're paying obeisance to your greatness. If you get junk mail, tell yourself that they're only sending you the junk mail because you're so much better than others. Take online quizzes until you get a 100% on one, and then print it out to prove that you're perfect. Everything that happens, interpret that as you being an alpha male.
If you do this one simple trick, and become an alpha male in every aspect of your life, you will stop the stress that causes hair loss, and you will stop losing hair. I guarantee it.

However, there are costs associated with this cure. I'd feel like a jerk or an asshole if I actually followed through with this advice. But, this method will work, if you really want to keep your hair at all costs. Notice that the times your hair has fallen out the most is when you felt least like an alpha male.

How do you regrow hair? I don't know, as this technique is just for prevention. All this will do is prevent further hair loss. Oh, and this only works for men.
Photo purchased from iStockphoto.
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