Archive for the ‘Bulletin’ Category

A Simple Question to Get Closer to the Truth

July 3, 2013 2 comments

I think I read this in either Janine Driver’s book You Can’t Lie to Me or somewhere online a while ago, but I didn’t think about applying the concept until recently. We’ve all been in situations similar to where we want to know who ate the last cookie or who broke the vase on display. There is a group of suspects, but no one will admit to it. One question to ask that can give you plenty of information is who do you think is innocent?

When you find yourself among a group of people suspected of something, you expect to be asked questions such as who do you think is guilty or where were you two days ago? Of course the culprits will have some response planned out (ie a lie) if they have no intention of admitting to any wrongdoing. When you ask an unexpected question, people (innocent and guilty) will be caught off guard and tend to respond in a more natural way. Thus it is less likely the culprit can deceive you.

A guilty person will want to establish innocence and/or make someone else look guilty. However when you ask who do you think is innocent, you remove both that person’s ability to establish his or her innocence and to make someone else look guilty. An innocent person will have no problem establishing someone else’s innocence, whereas a guilty person will be uncomfortable with it knowing it increases the chances of the guilty person being found out when he or she helps establish someone else as innocent.

In my (limited) experiences, I found guilty people have a hard time naming one person who they thought was innocent. It’s important to establish a baseline to see how far a person tries to establish innocence though. Furthermore if you ask the same question to everyone in the group there may be patterns in the responses you can pick up. Let’s say Ann, Brad, Claire, Derek and Eva are among a group of suspects. If everyone thought Claire is innocent, chances are she is actually innocent. However if everyone’s name except for Brad’s was mentioned when you asked the question, that could very well mean Brad is guilty.

I like this question because it’s non-threatening. You aren’t making any accusations or implying anything when you ask that question so if you notice unusual patterns in the responses or someone uncomfortably answering that question, it should trigger a red flag. It doesn’t always mean that person is guilty, it means you should investigate that person further.

Categories: Bulletin

The Only Lottery Advice You’ll Need

April 12, 2013 Leave a comment

Lotto 6-49 is the most popular lottery in Canada (I think). In short, one picks six numbers between 1 to 49 and if all six numbers match the draw, then he or she wins the jackpot.

The estimated jackpot for this Saturday’s draw is 55 million which is why I’m going to go buy a ticket for the very first time. The probability of winning the jackpot is 1 in 14 million and each set of 6 numbers costs $2. Therefore it makes mathematical sense to buy a ticket only if you can take home 28 million after taxes and everything else. Here the math is simple, but boring and it won’t tell you how to pick the numbers.

However the psychology aspect is more interesting and can help maximize your winnings. The only advice that works is to pick numbers that no one else will pick. Let’s say you pick 1-2-3-4-5-6 and the draw is also 1-2-3-4-5-6. Congratulations you just won the jackpot! However how many other people do you think picked the same set of numbers as you did? Probably a lot which means you would have to split the winnings among everyone else. The set of numbers 1-2-3-4-5-6 has the same chance of being drawn as a random set such as 3-14-24-28-39-47 so if the latter set was drawn, chances are you won’t have to share the jackpot with anyone else.

An incident like this happened in the March 19, 2008 draw (you can view previous winnings numbers here). The winning numbers for that draw were 23-40-41-42-44-45 with bonus 43. As it turns out 239 people picked 40-41-42-43-44-45 meaning they matched 5 plus the bonus number which would normally win a prize of at least $100 000. However due to the number of winners, each person took home only $1193.70. Furthermore the people who matched only 5 of the numbers (without the bonus) won $2223.40, nearly double the 5/6+ prize (thanks Tim for the find). Just imagine matching 5/6+ numbers (the odds are over 1 in 2 million) then finding out you have to share the prize with 238 other people.

Also make sure you have at least two numbers above 31 and at least four numbers above 12. Many people pick dates and months (eg birthdays, anniversaries etc…) when choosing their numbers. Furthermore don’t pick sequences like 5-10-15-20-25-30 or even 1-6-11-16-21-26 because some people find these numbers attractive and will also pick them. Other sequences such as 2-3-5-7-11-13 (prime numbers) and 3-5-8-13-21-34 (Fibonacci numbers) are probably chosen a lot too.

Lotto 6-49 has a chart of the frequency of each number drawn. This data is public and even though each draw is an independent event, many people refuse to believe that fact and will choose the six most frequent winning numbers or six least frequent winning numbers or a combination of both. This is also the same reason why you shouldn’t choose the previous set of winnings numbers. There’s bound to be some people who will try that. I recommend you take the time to make sure no more than three of your numbers fall within any of the sets I mentioned above. It may be inconvenient, but that extra five minutes could be the difference between a $1 000 000 prize and a $10 000 prize.

May the odds be ever in your favour.

Categories: Bulletin, Life

On Password Recovery Questions

April 3, 2013 2 comments

Email (and bank) accounts are probably the most important accounts one has. If one’s email is hacked, then all other accounts (eg Facebook, Twitter, WordPress etc…) associated with that email are compromised since all a hacker has to do next is to go to any site then request a link via email to reset the password and he or she will have access to those accounts too.

Password recovery questions provide users a convenient way to access their account in the event they forget their password. All people have to do is to correctly answer the question and they will be prompted to enter a new password. However many security questions used to recover passwords are terrible and provide anyone with a back-door way to hack an account. After all why would a hacker bother guessing the password when it’s easier to guess the answer to the security question? Let’s look at some…

What high-school did you attend?
Anyone browsing through my blog will realize that I’m from Vancouver. A two-minute google search will tell you that there are only twenty high-schools in Vancouver.

What is your favourite pet’s name?
Here is a list of the most popular names for dogs and cats if you need help guessing…

What is the first musical instrument you ever played?
This is one of five options as a password recovery question for my UBC Student account. For one, I’m asian so take a wild guess as to what instrument I first played at a young age…

Where did you meet your spouse?
I don’t like this question for a different reason. Imagine yourself several years from now looking back at this question. Will you remember the exact answer you put? You could have put Starbucks, cafe, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada etc...

What is your mother’s maiden/middle name?
This also applies to the names of grandparents, fathers, siblings etc…Children are usually given family-related middle names (at least in my experience when I discuss this with friends). That’s not hard to find on Facebook.

What is your favourite sports team?
If you’re from Chicago, the answer is probably Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Bulls or Chicago White Sox. If not then it might be New York Yankees, LA Lakers, Manchester United etc…

Interestingly enough, the only sites I’ve seen use password recovery questions are email and bank accounts. As such I recommend removing that feature unless mandatory. Also here’s a website for you to check how secure your passwords are.


Categories: Bulletin, Life

How to Save Money in College

December 4, 2012 Leave a comment

I decided to write this after reading HackCollege’s article. It’s not going to cover how to make a budget or how to manage one’s finances, but simply go over the little things I do that helped me save money during my time at UBC.

1. Work. I spent my summer growing a lot of green plants in a lab while my associates were working with tobacco hehe.

Ok but seriously, apply for work-study jobs. Many are first-come first-serve or if they fit your schedule.

2. Don’t drink coffee. From my understanding, people drink coffee usually for the energy boost. I have a regular sleeping schedule. As such, I wake up feeling fine since my body is accustomed to being awake and asleep at specific times during the day. It also helps that I eat at regular intervals throughout the day and that food gives me more than enough energy to go through a day without passing out.

3. Borrow textbooks from the library and continually renew them. Previous editions of a textbook are just as good and usually there are many copies of those in the library NOT on reserve. After all the fact that RNA Polymerase initiates transcription when it binds to the promoter in DNA is the same regardless of whether I read that in the 1st, 5th or 9th edition of a textbook.

4. Stay healthy. I don’t know the exact cost of being sick (in terms of money, time, energy, etc…), but I imagine it can get expensive. Remember those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness. Although this is an incomplete oversimplification, all it takes to be healthy is a balanced diet (you don’t even need to eat organic) and sufficient exercise and sleep. I plan to blog about time management (and possibly health) in the near future…

5. Have a cheap cell phone plan. I have a prepaid plan ($0.25/min and $5/month for 250 outgoing texts) so it totals about $100-150 per year. I see my friends on a regular basis that I don’t need to constantly call/text them. Whatever I have to say to them can wait until I get home (and use skype) or when I see my friends in person. It’s amazing that I have friends who don’t complain if we go through a single day without communicating with one another.

6. Don’t be a brand whore. Enough said.

7. Meet lots of people. Of course the quality of your friendships is important, but you don’t have to be BFFs with everyone you meet. The more people you know, the higher the chance that someone will come to you and say hey I know you’re looking for this item and it’s on sale at Store X right now so you should check it out! I don’t go through Groupon, SocialShopper etc… since I’m not interested in most of the deals. Usually I just check my Facebook newsfeed since I have friends who share the popular discounts/promotions.

8. Don’t eat out. Restaurants are expensive and it adds up if you eat out even only once a week. The cheaper and healthier (see #4) option is to buy ingredients from a supermarket and make a meal that will last you several days. The ability to cook is a sexy skill in anybody. Also your body (and wallet) will thank you for making the effort to wake up one hour earlier to eat breakfast and pack a lunch for school.

9. Register for only the minimum number of courses you need for your degree. UBC clearly states the required courses you need on its website so there should be no reason why one can’t plan ahead and take the right courses. I’ve listened to several students complain that some courses couldn’t be used for credits or they didn’t count their credits correctly and I noticed that the problem could have been avoided if they had set aside thirty minutes to see an adviser (they really are helpful) to double check the requirements and resolve any ambiguities. Don’t know what course to take? Again, meet lots of people (see #7).

10. Take good care of your things so you don’t have to spend money fixing or replacing them. That’s why I never do back-to-school shopping trips. There are lots of things that look new and still function perfectly well, but have actually been around even before I was born. For example, the lamp in my house used the same lightbulb for over 20 years!

Categories: Bulletin, Life, Personal, UBC

An Analysis of Nicole Westbrook’s It’s Thanksgiving

November 14, 2012 2 comments

As many of you might be aware of, Nicole Westbrook recently released a song titled It’s Thanksgiving. It was written and produced by Patrice Wilson (the same guy who rapped about driving past school buses in Rebecca Black’s Friday). Here’s the music video for those who haven’t seen it yet:


In the first scene where Nicole is marking off her calendar, we notice that it’s actually set to November 2013, not 2012. Here the music video is deeper than the lyrics would suggest. The problem today is that Thanksgiving holidays are relatively dull compared to others because there aren’t any songs associated with the holiday. Fortunately for us, Nicole and Patrice found a creative solution, by writing a song about Thanksgiving. The November 2013 calender symbolizes how future Thanksgiving holidays (not just this year’s) will be associated with the song similar to how we still and will continue to associate Christmas with songs such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

The highlight of the music video is when the Usher-look-alike-guy, wearing a turkey costume, unexpectedly drops by Nicole’s home and parties with the group of children. At first I was confused because Halloween already passed long ago, but the song is about Thanksgiving. However I realized later that the turkey costume is supposed to reference a popular internet meme. Possibly to avoid potential legal repercussions, the guy decided to wear a turkey instead of a bear costume.

Since the producer also wrote Friday, it’s not surprising that there are many resemblances between that song and It’s Thanksgiving. Both songs begin with the similar oooh-oooh-yeah melody that don’t really serve any purpose except to lengthen the songs’ runtimes. Also the bridge in Nicole’s song where she teaches us when the holidays are (notice that Halloween is missing), is similar to the days-of-the-week verse in Friday. Again there is a rap part, but this time done by Nicole herself (with a lot of swagger nonetheless). I think that these raps are better for children today instead of listening to people rap about sex, drugs or shoving a gerbil up one’s ass. Lastly we clearly see how both songs promote positive thinking as we hear the lines we so excited (Friday) and we are gonna have a good time (It’s Thanksgiving) several times.

I thought the biggest difference was that while Rebecca was indecisive and didn’t know which seat to sit in, Nicole knew exactly what she wanted to eat. We hear her referencing turkey and mash potatoes several times. What makes this song so popular (it received almost seven million views since being released a week ago) is the use of repetitive words such as we and thank you. This technique is seen in other hit songs like Ke$ha’s Tik Tok, Justin Bieber’s Baby and of course the song that inspired this one, Friday. This is the standard aspiring singers and songwriters should follow if they want to be successful.

If there’s one thing I learned from this video, it’s that you will have a good time if you dress up as a turkey and party with prepubescent children. I’m Canadian so my Thanksgiving already passed, but it’s not too early to start planning how I’m going to spend next year’s holiday.

Categories: Bulletin, Humour

Board Games to Try Out

September 27, 2012 Leave a comment

So everyone has probably heard of and even played the classic board games such as Monopoly, Clue, The Game of Life, Scrabble etc… but there are a lot more interesting ones that I never knew existed until some friends introduced me to them since last year (and they are still continually introducing me to new games). This is only a small percentage of games I recently learned to play, but some of my favourites are:

DOMINION – You have to build your deck on the fly aiming for the most efficient way to get as many victory points as you can. I’m terrible at this game, but it’s still fun to play. I once finished a game with a negative score which is pretty fail…

FRESCO – This game is unique in that you need a different kind of foresight than simply thinking three moves ahead like in chess. During your turn you have several actions, but you have to plan all of it beforehand then commit to it. Each action builds from the previous action so you have to envision how your turn will play out when planning your actions.

DIXIT – A fun party game that I recommend to everyone. The idea is similar to Apples to Apples. You have to be creative and know how other players think. Unlike Apples to Apples, other players have less of an influence on how well you do in the game. Oh did I mention that the game pieces are cute little coloured bunnies?

SETTLERS OF CATAN – Probably the most troll board game ever. You are competing against others to gather resources and build settlements. It is the one game where I will rage and swear every five minutes and I’m not exaggerating. The only thing I don’t like is that it is too luck based (which is part of the reason why I rage a lot during the game). Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any friendships that may be ruined as a result of playing this game.

7 WONDERS – I don’t have much to say about this game (it’s still very fun though) other than that you have to gather resources to build your wonders through three stages. Note for beginners: it’s very important to pay attention to who you sit in between during the game as that will influence the strategy you use.

AGRICOLA – The hardest game I have ever played in terms of strategy and management. It’s a farming game that’s cooler than farmville. There are a lot of things to balance such as building your house, plowing land, raising and breeding livestock, earning income, growing crops and making babies (I’m serious here). And did you know Agricola means farmer in Latin?

Categories: Bulletin, Personal

Cards Against Humanity

June 12, 2012 Leave a comment

If you haven’t played Cards Against Humanity, then you’re missing out on a whole lot of fun and giggles. It’s essentially a politically incorrect version of Apples to Apples. You can buy the official set or print your own cards from their website (it’s only $9 to have the cards printed and cut at Staples).

Warning: this game is not suitable for weak players who get offended easily 🙂

Categories: Bulletin, Humour