Touch typing with different keyboard maps

I just discovered something while trying to type some text in Cyrillic (Serbian), with touch typing technique (without looking at the keyboard). I have exclusively used Latin text typing for years, so got quite used to English International keyboard layout. I decided just for fun to try to type some text using Cyrillic letters. I was quite surprised to discover that brain (at least mine) doesn’t map sounds of the letters to the keys on the keyboard, but the shapes of the letter (visual representation). I made lots of mistakes with characters that are in Cyrillic written the same way as some other Latin characters which are pronounced differently. As an example, the sound N (Latin pronunciation) is, in Serbian Cyrillic alphabet, written as Н, so I would by reflex, very often, type key Н (on my physical Latin keyboard) instead of key N, because key H on the keyboard visually looks the same as the character I want to type (I don’t look at the keyboard) although it sounds differently. The conclusion I could make is that when we learn touch typing (blinded typing) we actually visually, and not aurally (by hearing), map the keyboard in our brain. Maybe that explains why Greeks often type (in forums, SMS messsages etc.) for their No word, written in Greek as Όχι, when using Latin keyboard, as Oxi and not as it is pronounced: Ohi.
When it was decided how to create Cyrillic keyboard layout, creators tried to keep as much aural match as possible and not visual match. In order to get Serbian Н which is pronounced as Latin N, a key that is located at the same place on the keyboard as Latin N should be pressed, but obviously for some of us, visual map is stronger than the aural one, or at least they coexist.
I do understand that some other people might instinctively assume, opposite of my assumption above, that mapping keyboard in the brain visually makes more sense than aurally at first place, so there’s nothing interesting in my “findings”, but I decided to share it anyway :)

How to swim faster and still loose a butterfly race?

There are (at least) 4 reasons why somebody could loose a butterfly race in spite of swimming faster.

1. Butterfly has a specific velocity pattern. It suggests that horizontal velocity of the center of mass of a professional swimmer can vary from 1.5m/s to 2.2m/s, depending on the phase of the stroke. Have a look at the excerpt from “Swimming Fastest” book by Ernest W. Maglischo below:

What it practically means is that the center of mass of one swimmer swimming next to another one with the same speed but totally opposite phase could go forward and backwards relative to other swimmer’s center of mass by as much as 13cm.

In the chart above, blue and red lines show velocities of two swimmers in totally opposite phases of butterfly stroke. They are simplified as sine lines. Velocities are read on the left axis. Green line shows relative distance between these two swimmers. In the beginning, blue swimmer is 13cm behind the red one (read on the right vertical axis). Half way through the stroke, blue swimmer overtakes and gets into lead by 13cm. By the end of the full cycle, red swimmer is again in the lead by 13cm and so on.

So, if the timing devices were so sophisticated that swimmers could literally swim through the finish line (like runners do) and device would be able to detect when center of mass crosses the line, it would still be great portion of luck involved in all this. Unfortunate phase of the stroke could cost a swimmer around 7 hundredths of a second compared to the perfect timing case. I translated 13.4cm from the graph above to 7/100s by assuming average speed to be around 2m/s during the race.

2. There is no perfect timing device that I mentioned in previous point. Swimmers must touch the finish wall with both of their hands. On top of velocity pattern, swimmers are facing another “disturbance”. If they finish the arm stroke too close to the wall, they don’t have time/space to do another one, so they have to glide through the water. Gliding is decelerating, meaning velocity becomes slower and slower. It means that the swimmer who is behind but is lucky to finish his arm stroke far enough from the wall could have enough time for the last stroke, while the leading one could be maybe too close to the wall for another stoke and all this gives enormous advantage to the second swimmer to overtake the leading one who would be gliding to the finish wall.

Let’s assume that there is a distance from the finish wall that defines whether a swimmer will go for the last stroke or not. If a swimmer finishes the recovery after this point, he/she goes into gliding. Otherwise, a swimmer goes for another stroke. Let’s consider a limit case where blue swimmer is just little bit after this point and continues in gliding, while the red one is just a little bit before this point and goes for another stroke.

Since I have no idea how strong deceleration is during gliding through the water, I assumed that the speed will remain constant. This assumption will make the difference even smaller than in reality. From the diagram above, we can conclude that the red swimmer, who had a chance for another stroke, finished the race 36cm in front of blue swimmer. Since the blue swimmer was gliding at 1.5m/s towards the wall, it would take him additional 25 hundredths of a second to finish the race.

3. That’s not all. Rule says that swimmer must touch the wall with both hands simultaneously. In other words, swimmer must be touching the wall with both hands in order to be considered finishing the race. But no device today can detect if the swimmer touched the wall with only one or both hands. Basically, first hand that touches the wall will stop the clock. Have you ever tried to measure how taller you are with one hand raised up compared to both hands next to each other. Try to stand by the wall, facing it, with both arms raised up next to each other. Let someone stick the tape just above your fingers. Then keeping both arms straight up, lean your shoulders in order to make one arm “longer”. Again, let someone stick the tape just above the fingers of the “longer” arm. I managed to make 4cm difference. And I’m quite small compared to professional butterfliers. They definitely have broader shoulders, so they should be able to make even more difference. But even my 4cm of difference would mean at least 2 hundredths of a second difference. And nobody’s eye is capable of noticing one arm touching 2/100s before the other one.

4. And last point, the pads at the moment cannot detect touch of a hand unless there is certain pressure exerted by the hand on the pad. It means that there is a lag between the actual (optical) touch and mechanical detection of that touch. In 100m final butterfly in Beijing Olympics, Cavic touched the wall first (according to an Omega person), but Phelps won by 1/100s. So, pad itself could make a difference of at least 1/100s and maybe even more.

In conclusion, what’s the point in timing butterfly swimming races with precision of 1/100s when all four points above could make much more difference. I remember one technician of Omega saying that they can’t make measuring in 1/1000s because it’s difficult to make a pool to be of perfect length, but this statement goes into perspective compared to all four points above.

In recent race in London, 200m butterfly, Phelps lost to Le Clos by 5/100s although he was leading all the time. He was just so badly affected by points 1 and 2 that he lost an obvious advantage and a chance to win 3rd consecutive Olympic gold in this discipline.

But 4 years before that, in Beijing Olympics in 2008, Cavic “lost” to Phelps by 1/100s in the final race of 100m butterfly. Cavic lost some time due to unfortunate stroke phase (points 1 and 2), he had to do a long glide to the wall, while Phelps had time for one more stroke. But that didn’t cost Cavic gold medal. Phelps touched the wall much earlier with his right hand (spot bent fingers on his right hand and stretched ones on his left hand), which is against the official FINA rules and could bring significant advantage (point 3 above). Asymmetry of Phelps’ last stroke is quite obvious in the following two photos of Associated Press (link to Baltimoresun blog): Photo 1, Photo 2.

But that was not enough to beat Cavic neither. Cavic “lost” at the end because even the 4th point was “against” him. An Omega person admitted a year after the race (follow the link above) that Cavic did touch first, but with the smaller pressure (since he was gliding) than Phelps (who had enough time for the last stroke) who swam into the wall in full speed and although touching the first, it took more time for Cavic to exert minimum pressure to the pad in order to stop the clock. What an “unfortunate sequence of events” for Milorad Cavic.

Timing in butterfly is at the moment very far from perfect. Maybe in future, somebody will come up with a better solution than today’s mechanical pads. Until then, we will unfortunately watch many races where slower swimmers will beat the faster ones.

Update 21/04/2015: Couple of days ago, Mark Spitz, in his interview to Express Sports UK, shed more light on above discussed Beijing 2008 100m butterfly final race.

Galaxy S3 with cracked screen

I’ve recently bought Samsung Galaxy S3, marble white smartphone. I’m one of those Apple’s anti-fans. Everybody in my family already has a Samsung smartphone. I was the last one to get it. I was really happy with it for couple of days and was going to post a full review of it, that’s how happy I was with it. Unfortunately, after couple of days of using it, I noticed a long line between its edge and the screen (click on the picture below and pay attention to the bottom side of the picture, around the middle of the white line, between the edge and the black area)

Samsung Galaxy S3 Cracked Screen

The damage is so discrete and it can’t be seen from all the angles. It can be felt with the finger though. It’s parallel to the edge and it looks almost like the design detail. That’s why I didn’t notice it before. A guy in Samsung shop had to have a look at the brand new one to be sure that it doesn’t have the same line. Most probably it was there since I bought it, but haven’t noticed it until now. Since it’s perfectly straight line and parallel to the edge, it might be a manufacturing fault, like scalpel started cutting at wrong place/time. There is also a possibility that it’s some kind of thermal crack, maybe from overheated battery, I’m just guessing. The phone has never been dropped or hit and there are obviously no signs of any other damages whatsoever.

I was really into getting one of Samsung laptops series 9, but little bit hesitating at the moment.

Anyway I’ve brought my S3 to Stephanis shop in Cyprus. Couple of days later, they called me and told me that it was only some paint and they removed it quite easily. I’m pretty much confused now. Lots of people saw it and it didn’t come to anybody’s mind that it would not be a crack. A friend of mine has suggested that they might have replaced the screen but decided not to admit their fault. Whatever, I’m enjoying my S3 again :-)

Taxi driver problem

There’s a guy who travels by taxi every day from his work to his home (20km). One day he finds out that a colleague of his also takes taxi every day from work, the same direction, but he lives only half a way of the first guy (10km). So, they decide to share a taxi and also to share the costs. How should they share the costs?

First answer could go like this: First guy travels twice longer so he should pay twice as much as the second guy. So, the first guy should pay 2/3 of the total cost and the second guy only 1/3.

Second answer could go like this: Both of them travel the first half together, so they should split this part in half. The first guy travels alone the second half of the way, so he should pay the full amount of the second half. In total, first guy should pay 3/4 and the second one only 1/4.

Which one is fairer?

Let’s assume that first guy pays double for his trip as compared to the second one, when they travel separately – in two taxis. This is usually not correct, because of the initial charges, but let’s assume that the charge is proportional to the distance. Let’s assume that it’s fair if both of them get the same “discount” (percentage wise) when joining together. The first one would have to pay 2p(1-k) and the second one p(1-k), where k is the discount, p is what the second guy usually pays and 2p is what the first guy usually pays. So the first one should still pay twice as much as the second one, which leads to the first answer.

Let’s assume now that it’s fair if they all get the same discount (absolute cost reduction). So, the first one would pay 2p-q and the second one p-q, where q is the discount amount. Then (2p-q)+(p-q) = 2p => p = 2q => q = p/2, which leads to the second answer.

Let’s say that one day the first guy finds out that his neighbour also takes taxi every day from work home and accidentally, he works very close to where the second guy lives, just one block away, so he comes to a cunning idea. He will share the second part of his trip with his neighbour and he will reduce his costs even more. Obviously, he would prefer for the first formula to be applied, because in that case his colleague will pay 1/3, his neighbour also 1/3, which lives him with 1/3 as well. The problem now is that his colleague must not know about his neighbour and vice versa, because in that case they would ask for splitting the costs proportional to the distance, which would be 1/4 for the colleague, 1/4 for the neighbour and 1/2 for the first guy. Obviously, the first formula is not transparent and it allows for speculation. Second formula would give the totally transparent solution in which case the first guy wouldn’t care if his colleague and his neighbour know about each other.

Moral question: In case of applying the first formula in case of 3 guys sharing the taxi, when everybody pays 1/3 of the total price, do you think the first guy would be a cheater or a good businessman? How do you think the other two guys would react when they find out about it? Would they be angry? Would they be like: “Wow, you really tricked us professionally. Well done!”. Or would they just be glad they found it out, so from now they would pay less.

From where I come, he would definitely be a cheater, because the base of his “success” is in hiding the truth from the other two guys. On the other hand, we’re all aware that much of today’s businesses are based on hiding the truth from the others. Sometimes it’s some intellectual property information, but very often it’s just a cheap fact. If a famous chef hides the details of his recipe, that’s kind of fine. But if a job agent hides the details about how much of your contract he gets from your employer, that’s kind
of completely different story, isn’t it? This brings up more serious question: Is hiding the truth in today’s businesses unethical? Is hiding the truth in politics and diplomacy unethical?

I could write a lot about this and I already went quite far away from initial “logic” problem to an ethical one, that’s probably the reason why I post so rarely, so I’ll stop here :)

Like Father Like Daughter

We worked hard on the extra second kick, now we need to remove that extra arm stroke :)

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