Matt Hackmann

Ja* - A Tale of Two Countries

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japan

2013 marked my first foray into the joys of international travel, doing it not once but twice. In an interesting twist of fate, both of those countries started with the letters "JA" (the only two in the world, even). They are worlds apart, however, both in physical distance and atmosphere/culture. Let's do a pros/cons.

Japan

Pros

- Everybody is very respectful of others and mostly keep to themselves. The introvert in me loves this.

- It's clean. Though some places may look a little run down, the overall level of cleanliness is pretty high

- Shit is organized. There were a couple of times when the road to Asakusa was blocked for utility work or something and they had cones marking precisely how traffic was now being directed... and also a friendly guy there to point you in the right direction.

- Conversion rate is essentially 1JPY = 0.01USD. Makes for easy conversions.

Cons

- Probably contrary to the cleanliness bit, there was a constant smell of old garbage/water mold lingering around. It was only in certain spots, but it was a trifle off putting.

- Cramped. The trains, the layout of the buildings, etc is designed to pack the most stuff into the smallest space. Not great for my introversion and large body.

- Language barrier. They really don't speak English well when they do at all.

Jamaica

Pros

- The resorts are such that you really never need to leave; all your whims are attended to

- The beach

- The exchange rate for the Jamaican dollar is about 1JMD = 0.01USD. Granted, you may as well just use American money because it's less likely to depreciate in value and everybody takes it anyways.

Cons

- It may seem like everybody is super friendly, but it's that kind of friend that stops paying attention to you when they find out you're not popular/don't have money/etc. Money gets you everywhere.

- The food will make you shit... a lot and explosively. If you're wise, you'll pull a Steven Spielberg and bring your own food.

- The Jamaicans running the tourist stuff are essentially parodies of the stereotype. So much "mon", Bob Marley, and general "no shits given" (the above shits excepting) were way, way overused. Also, my brand of "fun" and theirs are very different, but they'll try to force it on you anyways. Granted, I've had friends try to get me involved in such activities as well. Looking at you, dancing...

- Jamaica is a third world country. Outside the fancy resorts and tourist spots, it's really fucking run down and the people are super poor.

So, in the battle of J countries, Japan is the obvious victor (though, my opinion is certainly heavily biased).

Anime Reviews 2013 - Play That Funky Music

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It's time again for the wave of anime reviews from the brothers Hack (swear we'll actually finish this year). Per usual, we're kicking it off by picking our top openers and enders of the year. Steve is absent this year because he's being super lazy and lying on the couch whining that he doesn't have enough time to write - forget the fact that Chris and Jeff started and finished just moments ago. But whatever, here we go!

Best Opener

Matt - Guren no Yumiya (Attack on Titan)

Trying to figure out what the best songs of the year is a difficult task. It's even worse when you have to write words about why you enjoy said aural experience. But, this year was completely easy. The very first time I heard Attack on Titan’s first opening back, I knew it was going to be taking this position. The music itself is all fired up and high energy, with lots of choral bits, lots of trumpets, and just general awesomeness. Married perfectly with this amazing track is some slick, high production animation with lots of high action scenes and some interesting typographical interludes. Overall, these two pieces combined make for one hell of an opener and will not be easily matched anytime soon.

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Days of Future Past

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I don't entirely recall why, but last year I sent my one-year-in-the-future self a note with what I predicted would be my life in 2013. Yesterday, I received that letter.

Dear Me (in the future),

I'm doing this on a whim, nothing really to say. devusb has said that 2013 would be the year you get a girlfriend, but your current self is dubious. My predictions for 2013 are a repeat of 2012 with the possibility of having a house. Hopefully that trip to Japan happened and that you got a Super Famicom (with Panel de Pon if'n you can swing it). Good luck, we're all counting on you!

Not much said, but I'm 2/3 in predictions. The needle on the girl front went even less of anywhere this year than last and that Japan trip certainly did happen (with the SFC and Panel de Pon). That one part in the middle is so wrong, though, that saying my letter was 66% correct doesn't seem quite fair.

Because as has been stated before, this year was nothing like 2012.

Now, to go pen myself a letter for next year.

My Life Can't Be This Interesting

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I'm sitting in the Atlanta airport awaiting the flight that will whisk me into Jamaica to celebrate the marriage of my oldest friend. I'm short on sleep, having lost three hours on the flight over from the Pacific coast, and am oddly reflective on the previous year.

Never have I considered my life to be anything interesting. When I'm not at work, I'm generally doing nothing. Or, at least nothing outside. My down time consists of bumming around on the internet, watching TV, or playing video games. It's an introverted bachelor's paradise; I wouldn't even know what to do "outside" if I were to venture out of my hallowed kingdom. But, somehow, 2013 has turned some of that on its head and been by far the most interesting year of my time alive. Items of particular note are:

- Got a job at fuckin' LinkedIn. I still don't understand how this happened, but it's been by far the best thing that's happened to me

- Moved to the fuckin' Bay Area. Second best thing that's happened to me. I don't think I could live anywhere else again (except maybe Japan)

- Went to fuckin' Japan! Ever since my brothers and I were bitten by the anime bug back in 2008, this was something we wanted to realize... and we made it happen! Every now and then I still get super bummed that I'm not there right now.

- Fuckin' presented at my alma mater. Perhaps it was slightly egotistical of me to want, but ever since I graduated Full Sail in 2009, I'd hoped to return as a presenter. And this year LinkedIn helped me realize that on a campus recruiting mission.

- Got fuckin' drunk... many times. Perhaps this shouldn't be a highlight, but these drinking sprees have given me an opportunity to connect with so many awesome people. Perhaps it's not the medium so much as it is the setting. Either way, I've had many great conversations over one too many beers.

- Fuckin' brackets, son. In addition to the awesome people I get to physically see on a daily basis, there's the community over at /r/awwnime that I've come to know as well. And running the brackets this year is fun for me both because I get to watch people enjoy (or hate) a thing I've created, but also because it brings out a lot of interesting discussion.

- Went (or am going) to fuckin' Jamaica to participate in the wedding of my oldest friend. (Holy shit dude. You win!)

Those are only the major highlights, but 2013 has been a hell of a year. It's made me realize just how awesome my life is and at the same time makes me wonder what I ever did to deserve it. And every day I'm so thankful that I get to wake up where I am, go to where I work, and interact with all the wonderful people that I know. If I were manlier, I might even shed a tear.

But enough of that smarmy ass sentimental bullshit, expect pictures of Jamaican shores and the annual anime reviews to be kicking up soon. But until then, I leave you with this.

Math to the Rescue

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The bracket, which I have mentioned so many times by this point, continues to be an entirely intriguing project. Brackets in general are a very math heavy thing, full of all sorts of logistical and statistical related calculations. Setting up a bracket per standard sports seeding was a bit of a fun nut to crack by itself. However, the interesting problems have been the ones relating to issues cropping up while the bracket's running.

Eliminations and actual user voting began last Saturday and was off to a pretty good start. The next day had an even better turnout. And so it's continued.

Day 1 - 7054 votes, 370 users

Day 2 - 9947 votes, 623 users

Day 3 - 11512 votes, 647 users

Day 4 - 12956 votes, 680 users

Day 5 - 13731 votes, 816 users

Day 6 (in progress) - 14799 votes, 1005 users

As can be seen, each day has had quite a bit of increased turnout over the previous day and the trend doesn't seem to be stopping. This has brought around the very real problem of girls in the first day suddenly having very low vote counts compared to those in the later days.

And that's where math comes in.

To help normalize all the votes against each other, each girl has her votes calculated as a percentage of her day's votes. This is then applied against the day that had the highest number of votes:

adjusted = round((characterVotes / dayVotes) * maxVotes);

(Yes, I'm aware that those extra parenthesis are superfluous thanks to order of operations)

So, now each girl can be correctly ranked against how well she did within her own group and not just as an overall sum.

Math is fun when it's fun.