Hello there. I'm this guy and this is my home page. Below are all blog posts I have written since 2007. Some of them are silly, but self-censorship would be worse I guess.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II is a 2012 first-person shooter game for the previous generation consoles (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U). While the game is a bit old, its multiplayer mode is still insanely popular.
Most of the multiplayer action happens in Team Deathmatch which is a fast-paced, two team run-shoot-die game mode.
And I have been playing that a lot lately (under my secret alias Oivaraattori).
Picking a map
A key part of the team deathmatch is voting for the next map to be played. In Black Ops II there are 15 standard maps to choose from.
Each player can either vote a new map chosen randomly by the game, the previous map, or a random map which is revealed when voting ends.
If a map has been played two times in a row it cannot be voted again and only available options are the new map suggested by the game or a random map.
After playing a while you start to see which of the 15 maps usually win the vote. Players seem to be surprisingly unanimous about the ranking of the maps.
I decided to find out if certain maps really are more likely to win, and which of the maps are most popular.
I collected data by observing map voting until the maps had completed a double round-robin tournament: each map faced all other maps twice in a vote.
In practice I didn’t get 100% coverage of all the possible map pairs. Some maps just don’t come up often enough in voting and waiting for those pairs to play out would have taken a very long time.
In the end I observed 193 map pairs out of the 256 possible (75% coverage). This gave enough data to see which maps tend to win, but certain groups of maps might have had different order with more data.
Map Winning percentage Nuketown 100% Hijacked 82.1% Standoff 77.8% Raid 75% Random 66.7% Express 46.2% Yemen 40% Carrier 28% Turbine 22.7% Meltdown 22.2% Plaza 19% Slums 18.2% Drone 15% Overflow 15% Cargo 5.3% Aftermath 0%
So, there you have it. Nuketown 2025 was the clear winner. The map never loses a vote. On the other end of the spectrum Aftermath was a clear loser, never winning a vote against any of the other maps.
The random line is interesting. If given an option below the random line people are more likely to vote for random in order to possibly get one of the four “good” maps above it. The maps above the line nearly always beat random in a vote. If players were given a free choice they would probably just play the top-4 maps.
As mentioned before, some maps were really close and could easily have changed order given slightly different votes or more data. Carrier / Turbine / Meltdown were always close, as were Plaza / Slums / Drone / Overflow. Of the top maps Hijacked, Standoff, and Raid were almost equally as good.
Personally I feel the results are OK. Nuketown is a really fun map with many ways to play it and limited sniper action. And I dislike Drone because it’s mostly a sniper map with some anemic close combat action but apparently it has some fans.
I’m sure Treyarch would have a lot more data about this but I haven’t come across any official rankings. If some previous work exists or you have better data hit me up on Twitter!
During a recent road trip to Croatia we booked most of our accommodation through Airbnb. We hadn’t booked anything in advance and at the height of the summer season there were no cheap hotels left. Airbnb had much more choice and prices were reasonable if not cheap.
This was my first time of really using Airbnb and I was surprised to find out that all the apartments and rooms we booked were run by professional accommodation businesses. One was actually a hostel but really felt more like a hotel minus the breakfast.
I had an obviously erroneous image of Airbnb selection consisting of people renting out their flats but it seems these companies just use Airbnb as an additional sales channel. The same apartments could have been booked for example through booking.com.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It was just a bit surprising considering the image I had of Airbnb. It’s understandable that touristy cities have lots of apartments to rent and they are sold through any channel possible.
One downside of this is that many of the places we looked didn’t have reviews on Airbnb but they might have had on other booking sites. Airbnb also hides the exact location of the apartments prior to booking them which seems a bit unnecessary given they are not anyone’s homes. Anyway, one lesson learned again.
Back to Work is a great podcast about productivity, communication and many other things. From time to time the hosts Dan and Merlin recommend books and comics they’ve read. The books cover a wide range as well, from Buddhism to Unix to cooking.
Personally I like book recommendations and reading stuff at least someone has deemed worthy. So I created a small script that scrapes all the book recommendations from Back to Work’s feed and assembles Back to Work Reading List. Hope you find it useful!
The other day I stumbled upon a Facebook argument about meditation: is it about suppressing bad memories, or processing bad memories? The person thinking meditation suppresses memories naturally considered it harmful, and a possibly dangerous fad.
IANAB (I’m not a Buddhist) and my experience in meditation is very limited, but I’d be willing to argue meditation is neither. It’s more about being ready when the next bad thing happens. Or a good thing for that matter.
The reward from meditation is to gain clarity and to be ready for whatever life throws you. Sometimes life throws you lemons and it pays to realize that it’s something that does happen from time to time, that it might not even be anything to get angry at, and maybe even see the lemonade-making opportunities that await you.
There are certain aspects of meditation that might give a ‘thought suppression’ vibe. From Wikipedia’s great meditation article:
Meditation often involves an internal effort to self-regulate the mind in some way. Meditation is often used to clear the mind ...
But in this context clearing your mind or self-regulating your thoughts does not mean not thinking certain thoughts you feel are ‘bad’.
The point of meditation exercises is to build a transparent layer between your thoughts and you. That layer’s job is to detect and acknowledge the thoughts that run through your mind, to understand how they make you feel and why, and to assess if there’s any real reason to get upset about that email you got.
All in all, I’m a bit more positive about using meditation to process memories, but way more using it as a tool to better survive everyday life without stress and being prepared for any possible future.
You go into the woods and come back with an idea. How does that work?
Walking. The answer’s walking. For walking an hour in the woods you are guaranteed at least one actionable idea.
Now, this is my personal experience. It’s not a scientific fact (that I know of). There does exist some walking related research (see links at the end) that could be summarized: walking increases creativity and relieves stress. So.
What kind of ideas are we talking about?
Examples of ideas I’ve had while walking:
- A simple solution for that one programming problem at work
- How to improve our client’s processes. (Really a small thing the computer could do when we push new versions live but it solves one really old problem.)
- What blog posts to write. Sometimes blog posts basically write themselves. The trouble is writing the ideas down.
- What to do with my website
- How to word a presentation
- Tons of new startup ideas :)
To generalize, it’s usually stuff you’ve already thought about for a while, sometimes subconsciously. You might know the problem but not the answer.
Clarity is a good word for it. Things become clear. You know what to do, how to do it, and what not to do.
A whole hour though?
I know, one hour is a long time to take out of a day for doing “nothing”. You could also stay home and spend one hour brute-forcing your way through your life’s little problems. Walking is more fun.
Why a one-hour walk works is this: after 30 minutes of walking in one direction your brain goes: “Hmm, we are kinda far away from home. I guess there isn’t much more to do than to just keep walking until we get back home.”
This brief moment of your brain turning off is the valuable part. It’s a bit like how you often get the best ideas in the shower. Not having to do anything or think anything is rare these days.
This pause from actively doing stuff or reading Twitter lets you pick up stuff from your subconscious, think it through, and piece something sensible together.
Sure, you could maybe achieve the same in less time. But consider this old Zen proverb:
You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you're too busy, then you should sit for an hour.
A busy brain needs more time to unwind. Dont’ get me wrong: for example short lunch walks work well when you want to quickly clear your head. As the research shows, it’s a great way to boost your creativity when you know you need to do something… creative. But often it’s like they say in Inception: “we need to go deeper”.
Just walking around?
Mostly. However, there are a few implementation details that yield better results:
Make it easy
- Look up a route of roughly 6 to 7 kilometers beforehand. Not having to navigate leaves more time for thinking. Although sometimes getting lost is fun too if you have the time.
- Technical Sportswear baby! Well, having at least comfortable shoes and warm clothing does help.
- Don’t run. At least if you are starting out. I know people how can slice and dice their problems while running but for me that would focus my mind too much on breathing and not dying.
- Avoid roads. The quieter the better. Walking alongside a highway, or any way really, doesn’t work as well. Cars are loud.
- Leave your headphones home. I’m a bit on the fence about listening to podcasts while walking. Some podcasts are thought-provoking and have actually inspired new ideas. Some podcasts are mindless filler. Either way, simultaneously listening someone talking and deeply thinking something yourself is super hard: one of them will suffer.
You might want to take notes on your walks. One option is to use Siri or Google Now to record reminders. On iOS you could also sync your recorded reminders to OmniFocus. Notes are a bit of an unsolved problem. I’ve sometimes copy-edited whole blog posts in my head only to forget most of that when I get back home.
Bonus round: research
- Wikipedia: Neurobiological effects of physical exercise is a good place to start if you want to know exactly how exercise affects the brain
- Stanford study finds walking improves creativity
- Walking off depression and beating stress outdoors? Nature group walks linked to improved mental health
- WSJ: Coffee Break? Walk in the Park? Why Unwinding Is Hard
What’s interesting is that these studies found out that even walking inside on a treadmill and just looking at pictures of trees improves creativity.
There are some proven benefits, see? But don’t take it as “exercising is important and you should run every day!” All I dare to say is that walking probably isn’t bad for you.
I’m very well aware that telling people how awesome any form of exercise is usually does little to convince anyone to try it. (I’ve been at the receiving end many times.) So I’m just going to leave this here, and maybe if you need fresh ideas you could get some fresh air. Pow!
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Beware: the posts below are all in Finnish.
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Näin uudenvuoden jälkeen on hyvä palautella mieleen miksi uudenvuodenlupaukset ovat huono idea. →
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Muutamia podcasteja, joita sinunkin kannattaisi kuunnella. →
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