I've suspected throughout the course of the thesis that I'm not really cut out for long-term projects - I think I have some kind of academic ADHD in which I find a problem really exciting but get bored and want to move onto something else before too long. This kind of short-term obsession is a reason I write posts about random things like analysing cribbage hands or Pass The Pigs - because I find them really, really exciting and interesting... for a while. Then I find something else and forget about what I was doing before!
It's been really hard to stay excited about the same project when there is so much else going on. I've heard some people say that doing your PhD is the most rewarding part of your whole academic career - I can honestly say that I really hope not. While I have learnt a hell of a lot which I am sure will place me in good stead for future jobs etc, it has been one of the most self-esteem crushing, depressing and difficult periods of my life. I suspect once I find my niche I'll be a lot happier with my lot in life, but suffice it to say I never want to do a PhD ever, ever again! Having said all that, it is nice to see the work I've been doing over the last few years finally start to come to fruition.
Anyway, now I've had my three paragraphs of emo, these are some of the things I would probably be playing with if I weren't trying to concentrate on my thesis:
There is a thriving community of people out there who spend their time on something called tool-assisted speedruns. Basically, they use whatever means necessary in order to complete a game as fast as is physically possible - way faster than a human could ever do by themselves. This involves things like exploiting the hell out of whatever glitches happen to exist in a game, using emulators to slow down the game to get that perfect jump, saving the gamestate before a difficult point and doing a section time and time again until you get it absolutely perfect, and pausing the game for a few hundredths of a second before coming across a difficult enemy just so they behave in a way (based on the random number generators in the game) which means you can get past them faster. I'd love to spend some time writing computer code to try and optimise some of this stuff and make it even faster - people have already written relatively simple AIs for Super Mario Brothers that work really well:
Another thing I'd like to do is work out where the hell all these pink Nissan Micras are coming from. If you don't know what I mean, perhaps this will refresh your memory:
I'm starting to see them everywhere! I'm starting to think I should take a leaf out of the book of the ecologists I work with and do some experiments to work out how quickly their population is increasing - so I know how long it will take before we're all overrun with them.
One non-thesis related problem that I did manage to solve was one posed by a friend who found it in a list of job interview questions for a job he was applying for. The question was this:
You roll a die. You can either take an amount of money equal to the number on the die (so a 5 would get you $5, for example), or you can choose to roll it again. You can roll it a total of three times - if you choose to roll again the first two times, you have to take whatever you get on the third roll.
So for example, you might roll a 1, choose to roll again; roll a 3, choose to roll again; then roll a 2. You have to take the $2 because you've used all your rolls.
For another example, you might roll a 2, roll again then roll a 5 and decide to keep it. So you get $5.
So - over to you. What should your strategy be to make sure you get the maximum amount of money?