pocket change

You’re paying for a purchase with cash and the amount is not a whole number like $1 but a decimal number like $.01. How can you minimize the number of coins in your pocket after the transaction?

If you hand over $1 you’ll get back three quarters, two dimes, and four pennies, for a score of +9 coins. But if you hand over a penny ($.01) you won’t get any new coins back and you will dispose of one pre-existing coin, for a score of -1 coin. (*Assumptions listed below).

Low scores are better than high in this game.

The more change you start with, the more coins you have to choose from in forming your payment, the more optimal coin combination you can pick, and the lower your final score. And vice versa: the less change you start with, the higher your final score.

Let’s say you start off with a $infinity bill and no coins. On your first transaction your score will be high. As time goes on you will accumulate coins. Once you accumulate enough coins your scores will be low. As time goes on your count will reach a steady state and stop increasing.

Let’s say you have a change jar on your bedside table. When putting on your pajamas you put your pocket change in the jar. The next morning when you get dressed you do not return that change to your pocket, so that you always leave home with no coins. You will get the highest possible score over time.

This is because you will usually accumulate the maximum number of coins before hitting the steady state where you have the optimal number. Your score for each transaction will be high until you hit the point where you have so many coins that you can usually get a low score. The number of coins in your change jar will be the sum of those day scores.

Let’s say you have no change jar on your bedside table. Each day you leave home with the exact same change as the day before. You will end up with the lowest possible score over time. This is because there will only be one day (your very first day, the one in which you leave home with no change) when you have high scores. After that day you will have the optimal amount in your pocket and your scores will not increase.

*Assumptions: the clerk always gives the least amount of coins in return, for example a nickel instead of five pennies; ignore whole dollars for the sake of simplicity (but if you can’t do that, treat bills as just another form of coin, like a quarter, dime or nickel); American currency, because I’m American; the clerk insists on being paid the exact amount and won’t let you slide on a penny; a quarter = .25, a dime = $.10, a nickel = $.05, no other coins to be discussed.

Television will not be revolutionized

There will be no apocalypse in the music industry. Copyright will remain.

The majors are the last man standing. They’re shaky, it’s true, but they’re a lot stronger than Napster, Aimster, Grokster, etc etc. Hundreds of internet companies have gotten into the ring and been knocked down. In the meantime the labels keep doing what they do.

There is still plenty of friction in accessing hit songs. Anybody with a DIY project can access anything, but no commercial vendor can directly help them. For the convenience and service that only commercial sources can provide, the sources must negotiate licenses (like Spotify), work within the DMCA non-interactive guidelines (like Pandora), or offer technology rather than content (like the MP3 Tunes music locker).

You can argue that copyright is fucked up. But that is an overly literal understanding. Copyright is how government regulation is implemented. Government will regulate the arts one way or another. It is currently doing it with a fiction of property rights on expressions. The fiction is managed and executed by the courts and from time to time tweaked by legislators. No court will invalidate copyright. The contrary: courts implement copyright.

If you have a problem with copyright, you’re fighting an imaginary enemy. Copyright is not an entity. Your problem is a human to human conflict like any other.

Regulations related to expressive works are a tangled mess of kudzu, no doubt. But the problem is not that regulation exists, it is that a lot of money is riding on the regulation. Copyright is the right to hire a lawyer.

the present is prelude

No on-demand streaming subscription service has enough customers to matter to the labels. The labels would starve if they had to live on the revenues. So the existing services all had to accept the deals they could get without any real leverage, and these came with brutal – barely survivable – terms.

Once some service has enough customers for the revenues to matter to the major labels, the deals will be renegotiated. $200 million dollars split between all the stakeholders in the recording industry would do the job. At $10/month that’s 20 million subscribers, which happens to be about the size of Sirus/XM.

And then things will get started for real. For now we’re still in the prelude.


Hype Machine has a cool new project out – “Fast Forward.” It’s a riff on Shuffler.fm.

Part of the fun of Shuffler is the explosion of visual design as you go from site to site. FF keeps that going, but overlays its own graphics on the source page in a way that’s sexy as hell.

The original blog page is a screen shot rather than an inline frame. It looks just like the page and when you click on the image it opens the actual live page. The original page doesn’t get a bump in its page view counter, which takes away some of the fun of Shuffler for the blogger. But the overall thing loads faster and more reliably, and the blog page can’t bust out of the frame to interrupt your playlist.

A key difference with Shuffler is that FF doesn’t play the whole song, just a snippet. It’s not supposed to be a radio experience. You don’t run FF in the background and then check back when something gets you fired up.

What you do instead is use it actively to collect things to listen to. You surf around by skipping through the playlist or letting the samples play to the end. When you come across something interesting you add it to your favorites, and eventually you leave FF, go over to your main Hypem favorites, and listen to the songs in full length.

Tip: you have to be logged in for the experience to make sense. Otherwise playback and favoriting don’t work.

I love the supersexy graphics and I like the integration with all the rest of the Hypemachine universe. But it felt like too much upfront investment to have to go through a hunting and gathering phase before actually listening.

But maybe I’m just not used to the new flow yet. It’s supposed to be a different thing, not a clone. So I won’t know until later how it works for me.

Blog post about it – http://blog.hypem.com/2011/07/fast-forward/
The thing itself – http://hypem.com/fast-forward/launch