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Qiuwen “Owen” Fan
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Qiuwen's posts

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"Spacebar is capslock" cracked me up. This is very close to what happens when people need to use my laptop "for just a sec" during group project discussions. My keyboard is still covered with the blank stickers I got in high school [1], and I use the Colemak keyboard layout [2], where capslock is backspace. On the flip side whenever I need to use someone else's computer "for just a sec" I'm often seen turning capslock on and off repeatedly.

Source: https://xkcd.com/1806/
[1] https://plus.google.com/+QiuwenFan/posts/RxgKoPkzvXD
[2] https://plus.google.com/+QiuwenFan/posts/bs9EtKVG4ye
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#GooglersUnite at the +Google​ office in Mountain View. Proud to be working at Google. 
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1/30/17
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Pivot! Pivot!
Romik's ambidextrous sofa

The ambidextrous moving sofa problem is to find the planar shape with the biggest maximal area that can slide through right-angled turns both to the right and to the left in a hallway of width 1.  

Earlier this year Dan Romik, a mathematician at the University of California Davis, found the best known solution to this problem!   He created this animated gif of it, too.  His shape is bounded by 18 curves, each of which is either part of a circle, or part of a curve described by a polynomial equation of degree 6.   

Nobody has proved his solution is optimal.   But it's locally optimal: you can't make slight changes in his shape that increase the area and get a shape that still fits down the hallway!  

For more, including the precise area of this shape, try my blog article on Visual Insight:

http://blogs.ams.org/visualinsight/2016/12/15/romiks-ambidextrous-sofa/

I hope you're all having a great holiday!

Each year I try to think of things I can stop doing... so I can do more new stuff.   In 2017, I will try to take a year-long break from posting articles on Visual Insight.  I've been doing two a month for quite a while, I've done 81 of them, and I'm running out of enthusiasm.  Also, right now, a lot of my energy is going into the Azimuth Backup Project.  So, maybe I will save up ideas and restart Visual Insight in 2018.  But perhaps I'll end with a bang on January 1st, 2017.

#geometry  
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sudo chmod -x `which chmod`

Someone posted this command as a joke in a CMU group. Before reading the link below, how many ways can you think of to recover from that?

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I said "Okay Google, testing" to my Pixel XL. Google Assistant replied with this, where the first two lines were spoken with a particularly robotic voice, and the last line had the perfect intonation and sounded like it was prerecorded. I found the contrast amusing.
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Favorite part of the video: "Ah technology, lowering derivatives for the common good."
Because considering position over time,
operating a regular vehicle = controlling the second derivative (acceleration),
setting cruise control = controlling the first derivative (speed),
using a self driving car = controlling the zeroth derivative (position).

Favorite part of city driving: optimizing for the third derivative (jerk (an actual physics term))—slowly ease off the brake right before coming to a full stop, optimally releasing the pedal fully, exactly when the car stops, assuming that the car doesn't move forward when idle (either electric or in neutral). If the car does move forward when idle, you can't release the pedal fully but the challenge of keeping the third derivative low is still fun.

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TIL the redesigned Chrome desktop programmatically renders UI elements, eliminating the ~1200 bitmaps for various screen resolutions and display densities. Great example of how designers and engineers work together at Google. The article is worth a read.
I published a 30 minutes read on the redesign of Chrome desktop core UI -> https://goo.gl/8dmJSs

Talking process, technical details, public and internal reaction as well as lesson learned.

Hopefully a good closing commentary on a two years long project, also marking the end of my 5 years long involvement in the design of the Chrome browser.

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Google swag pictured left to right: start-of-internship bottle, end-of-internship bottle, got-a-full-time-offer bottle. If they don't give me a first-day-of-work bottle next year, I'll be disappointed :D
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I was notified by haveibeenpwned.com that my email address and password hash were among the 68 million records hacked from Dropbox in mid-2012. Dropbox sent out an email saying that they are resetting all passwords from mid-2012 and earlier, and mine didn't get reset, so I must have already changed the password after the hack. I did some digging and found out [1] that I first started using a password manager (and therefore changed my password for every site) on Jul 21, 2012, which in hindsight is really good timing. I also like that my current solution [2] using the command line tool pass allows me to audit my password history of a site using git, so for more recent hacks I wouldn't have to dig through Google+ posts to estimate when I changed a password.

[1] https://plus.google.com/+QiuwenFan/posts/GmtthnKVKA8
[2] https://plus.google.com/+QiuwenFan/posts/TVpdLuriFK4
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