Weekly Head Voices #92: The cake is a lie.

A random winter’s day view from Del Vera, where father’s day was celebrated.

The week of Monday June 15 to Sunday June 21 in bullets:

  • Ran around organizing all kinds of things for the new house. The various institutions have been cooperating very nicely.
  • Spent days trying first to fix an implementation of a GPU algorithm to simulate car paint, and then to implement an alternative algorithm by the clever boys and girls at NVIDIA. A team-mate finally got everything working by realising that the float16 texture coordinates (long story) we were using to sample a noise texture needed to be float32. Lesson learnt: If you’re seeing splotches when you’re supposed to be seeing snow, check your float precision!
  • Spent the rest of the week fighting with wkhtmltopdf, a tool that converts HTML into PDF. Unfortunately the tool is 50% webkit, and 50% black magic. Lesson learnt: wkhtmltopdf 0.12.2.1 renders internally at 74.8dpi. Accept it, calculate with it, and move on. The upshot of this is that the IP Dashboard is now 37% better at exporting charts.
  • For some time now, when I have to make decisions, I actively optimise for experiences and not for possessions. At some point in the past I read in the blogosphere that experiences make people happier than possessions, and since then I’ve been paying more attention to this. IT REALLY WORKS!(tm) Tonight I wanted to look up the sources of this idea for you (and for me). Here are the two academic papers causing most of that online discussion, and a summarising blog post::

    Carter and Gilovich’s research (based on on a number of tests and questionnaires they did with a sample of Cornell students) demonstrated that experiences were more satisfying than possessions. Their results also support at least one explanatory mechanism: Experiences are more closely connected to the self. This makes sense: Anybody else can buy the same thing you bought, but, by definition, your experience of some event or adventure is quite unique to you. To my mind, the idea of focusing on the experience rather than the cake at the end is pleasingly complementary to the adage that Life is a journey, not a destination, which I have just learned is due to Ralph Waldo Emerson.

  • I’m still terrible at bullets, I know.

Dear reader(s), have a beautiful and experience-filled week!

5 thoughts on “Weekly Head Voices #92: The cake is a lie.”

  1. The 16 vs 32 it issue. Were you reimplementing it in a later version of dx (post 9) or opengl? Or why did you run into it? If you were reimplementing, redoing dx9 work in post dx9 stuff you better triple check all your types and trivial stuff before going into full debug mode. Dx9 can be such a pain..

  2. O, reverting your wkhtmltopdf seems to restore your dpi capabilities according tohttps://github.com/wkhtmltopdf/wkhtmltopdf/issues/2156 . Thanks for the lib, pretty handy.

  3. We’ve used wkhtmltopdf in a web-app and I remember going way over budget trying to get it to actually do what we want. 50% black magic sounds about right to me (if not a bit light)..

    With regard to the experience-focused decision making, do you have any examples of successfully applying this theory? It’s interesting and I can definitely see the merit behind this.

  4. Hi Charl, I found your blog through Stack Overflow, and I’ve enjoyed reading it. I’ve also read (and for the most part, internalised) the idea that experiences matter more than possessions. It probably helped that I’ve moved 10 times in the past 11 years and experiences are much easier to lug around relative to possessions.

    However, one thing I’ve wondered about – what about possessions that allow you to have great experiences? Watching a film, for example, could be a great experience. I recently bought a television and I’m really enjoying that I can watch movies and sports on a screen larger than my laptop.

    I’m not sure how to reconcile this with the notion that experiences matter more – perhaps there’s some conditionality involved?

    1. Hi there Navaneethan,

      Thank you very much for stopping by and reading, it really means a lot to me. (so much so that I’m going to have to fire up the blogging machine again soon)

      It’s funny, we recently used exactly the same example (that of a TV) when we discussed this at work around the lunch table. The important thing is that one can be honest with oneself about this.

      I would personally reason similarly to you, in fact I would work hard to *make* it more true: If I bought a new TV for the purpose of watching good films, I would work at watching really good films on that TV, and at really appreciating every moment of the experience.

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