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June 13th, 2013

A Dumb Fun Thing I Did

So for some reason, I've been jonesing for a Mac lately. But as many of you know, my financial situation is about to go seriously pear-shaped and I've got no business running out and buying a Mac, particularly when I've got a very nicely souped-up PC already up and running. So, instead, I did this:

my PC, Macified

Behold! My Macified PC. For no better reason than it would be fun and dumb. All it is really is judicious application of Windows theming, with Mac icons and a few bits of addon software to create the dock and the desktop widgets.

If you'd like to try it, it was all done with an installer file you can find here: http://downloadcdn.betterinstaller.com/installers/b/7/MountainLionSkipPack64_downloader_by_SkinPack.exe ...at least until the link rots. I recommend setting up a system restore point before you run it, just in case. The final result is not perfect, you'll have to tweak things to your liking. I changed a lot of the dock shortcuts to go to different destinations from the default, for instance.

Now all I need is to get ahold of a Mac keyboard and I'll be all set. ;)

-The Gneech

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Slaves to the Algorithm

c/o Arts & Letters Daily...

The Economist/Intelligent Life: Slaves to the Algorithm, by Tom Whipple
When Meaney is given a job by a studio, the first thing he does is quantify thousands of factors, drawn from the script. Are there clear bad guys? How much empathy is there with the protagonist? Is there a sidekick? The complex interplay of these factors is then compared by the computer to their interplay in previous films, with known box-office takings. The last calculation is what it expects the film to make. In 83% of cases, this guess turns out to be within $10m of the total. Meaney, to all intents and purposes, has an algorithm that judges the value—or at least the earning power—of art.

To explain how, he shows me a two-dimensional representation: a grid in which each column is an input, each row a film. "Curiously," Meaney says, "if we block this column…" With one hand, he obliterates the input labelled "star", casually rendering everyone from Clooney to Cruise, Damon to De Niro, an irrelevancy. "In almost every case, it makes no difference to the money column."

"For me that’s interesting. The first time I saw that I said to the mathematician, ‘You’ve got to change your program—this is wrong.’ He said, ‘I couldn’t care less—it’s the numbers.’" There are four exceptions to his rules. If you hire Will Smith, Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp, you seem to make a return. The fourth? As far as Epagogix can tell, there is an actress, one of the biggest names in the business, who is actually a negative influence on a film. "It’s very sad for her," he says. But hers is a name he cannot reveal.


-The Gneech

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