David Brownman

    • movies
    • Airtable

    On the Rating of Media

    Once I started tracking media in earnest, I found myself in need of a consistent way to rate what I had watched and played. There's a lot of different ways to rate something, such a 10 star scale, a score out out of five, or a simple thumbs up/down.

    My biggest gripe is that none of the scores really mean anything; they're good for comparing everything someone has scored, but they each have their problems. A 10 star scale is too wide; what sets a 6 star movie apart from a 7 star? The yes/no is informative but has the opposite problem: it doesn't allow for any striation between good and great. A score out of 5 is closer, but it begets my worst enemy: apathy. I'm ultimately making these lists to help steer the reader towards the good stuff. If I'm neutral on something, it doesn't provide a definitive signal. Ultimately, none of these scales provided what I needed.

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    • movies
    • marvel
    • Airtable

    David's Definitive Marvel Movies Ranking

    We're fast reaching the climax of the most ambitious film projects ever conceived: 18 movies over the course of 10 years, ranging from "really good" to "I wish they hadn't made this, but here we are". To properly prepare myself for Infinity War, I went back and watched the entire canon of MCU movies. It was the perfect opportunity to compile my personal power ranking for all 18 films, which I'm pleased to present to you now.

    While building this list, I watched each movie in order. Movies were judged loosely on categories such as humor, action, cohesiveness, and writing. Then I decided where it fit in based on those I had watched already.1 All movies I watch fall into one of four categories: Awful, Bad, Good, and Great, which is also how I bracketed these. You probably won't agree with everything, but this is my list. If you need a refresher of what all the movies are, check out Wikipedia.

    Without further ado, from worst to best, here's every Marvel Cinematic Universe film (so far).

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    • boardgames
    • books
    • lookback
    • movies
    • television
    • videogames

    A Few More of my Favorite Things

    In my advanced age, I've found myself with the time and inclination to consume a lot of media. As part of that, I feel like I have am obligation to share the best things I experienced in the past year with you, the loyal reader. I wrote a similar article last year, but in case this is your first time (welcome!), I'll run through the rules for how media qualifies for the coveted "Davy" award:

    • media qualifies for the list for the calendar year during which I finish it for the first time
    • winners are picked based on what I enjoyed most, not what is objectively "the best". You probably wouldn't rank stuff the same way, but that's okay. This is my list, not yours
    • if something is critically acclaimed and I'm just getting around to watching it, it probably won't win. Sorry, The West Wing

    With that under our belts, let's dive in!

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    • ruby
    • programming
    • statistics

    Bogosort in Practice

    For whatever reason, there's a lot of humor in programming. From bogus HTTP responses to fun jargon, we're a funny bunch. In practice, the only thing funnier than an idea is an idea that actually runs, so I decided to see how awful Bad Code could really be.

    The searching and sorting of arrays is a popular (and central) topic in computer science. There's been a lot of time and effort spent ensuring we can sort array as efficiently as possible. Typically, efficiency in sorting methods is measured as a function of input length vs number of loops. A great sort won't appreciably increase ruznning time as the input gets longer. A bad sort, on the other hand...

    When the topic of bad searches come up (at parties or whatever, as it does), a crowd favorite is always the infamous bogosort. The idea is simple: take an array, randomize it, and check if it's sorted. If not, repeat! In the best case, you got really lucky and this sort is very fast. Most of the time, you're less lucky and this is actively awful. Let's see how this would shake out in practice.

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    • security

    How Hackers Steal Your Data (and How to Make it Harder for Them)

    Your data is in constant danger.

    Your address, credit card number, and anything else you have available online is ripe for the taking should an attacker gain access to your accounts. If you use the internet at all (and you're reading this, I know you do), there are people out there that would happily sell access to your account to the highest bidder, forever compromising that password and any data associated with it.

    When you think of a hacker, you might think about ridiculous scenes from movies. A shadowy figure's fingers fly over a keyboard in a poorly lit room as green text cascades down their four monitors. The reality of the situation is much more banal; programs run over the course of hours, breaking protected versions of passwords into their plaintext form. Once that's done, a hacker has unfettered access to any accounts they unlocked directly, plus anything else that reused that password. While nothing can keep you completely safe from a dedicated hacker, you can make yourself as tough of a target as possible. To best understand this, let's take a journey through the steps of a typical hack, what makes it dangerous, and steps you can take to mitigate your risk.

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