Friday, May 22, 2009

Paper accepted, Sohan Van Souza is going Dutch

I am proud to report that the paper I co-authored and submitted in February has been accepted for publication and presentation at the 2009 annual conference of the Cognitive Science Society. We turned in the final version recently, and it looks like I will be travelling to Amsterdam to present "Gal et al (2009)" with the first author at the conference in late July. I am excited to go to Europe after all the missed chances in years past. More excited am I that my first research paper submission was accepted, and that I have a publication to my credit.

Gal, Y., Dsouza, S., Pasquier, P., Rahwan, I. and Abdallah, S. (2009), The effects of goal revelation on computer-mediated negotiation, Proceedings of Cogsci 2009: 31st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society

This paper studies a novel negotiation protocol in settings in which players need to exchange resources in order to achieve their own objective, but are uncertain about the objectives of other participants. The protocol allows participants to request each other to disclose their interests at given points in the negotiation. Revealing information about participants’ needs may facilitate agreement, but it also exposes their negotiation strategy to the exploitation of others. Empirical studies were conducted using computer-mediated negotiation scenarios that provided an analogue to the way goals and resources interact in the world. The scenarios varied in the individual positions and interests of participants, as well as the dependency relationships that hold between participants. Results show that those who choose to reveal their underlying goals outperform negotiators in the same setting that use a protocol that forbids revelation. In addition, goal revelation has a positive effect on the aggregate performance of negotiators, and on the likelihood to reach agreement. Further analysis show goal revelation to be a cooperation mechanism by which negotiators are able to identify acceptable agreements in scenarios characterized by few socially (Pareto) beneficial outcomes.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Graduation Photos (MSc this time)

Two years after my MBA graduation, and 5 years to the day after my BS graduation, completing my MSc at long last. That dangerous-looking glass object in my hand is my academic distinction award.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Young woman losing camera with revealing pictures actually a guerilla marketing ploy
This has got to be the first big example of a viral publicity scheme by an erotic site. Can't say it was very subtle, but it seems to have worked. Anyway, she IS extremely attractive, adult site model or not. I think she would have attracted about as much attention even if she had been more fully clothed.

Angels & Demons

Genre: Mystery & Suspense
- Excellent reconstruction of the locations in the Vatican and CERN
- Ewan McGregor and Ayelet Zurer
- Nice explosions

- Too "talky", like Da Vinci Code. Dan Brown's books are generally talky ... in the middle of a suspense/action scene, Langdon would remember some conversation with a student from years ago. That's fine and even necessary in books on conspiracy theories, where you have to go into background, but it kind of drags a film when you have to qualify every term with historical explanations and/or pseudohistorical diatribes.
- Acting did not seem all that convincing.
- WAY non-canon. Major plot and theme elements from the book were removed, some apparently for political correctness.
- Questionable science, even more questionable history

Verdict: If you haven't read the book, see it ... if X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not showing

Friday, May 15, 2009

nom nom nom 4 fud
Pinball-style game from I Can Has Cheezburger and IAMS cat food. A little hard in the later levels, but cute and fun all the same.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Star Trek

Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
This is the first movie I watched after a month and some of busy-time. Not disappointed in the least, but a bit more surprised than I expected.

- Verging on "hard scifi". Is perhaps to the Star Trek franchise what Batman Begins was to the Batman franchise. The setting was very ordinary, much of the time, yet futuristic. Off-duty humans wore jackets and jeans, rather than shiny tunics with oversize shoulder pads, for example. They lived in dorms or houses, and drove bikes with wheels. Bar fights.
- Great opening. Very emotional. Very powerful.
- Awesome graphics. Great use of moving camera and panorama.
- A good bit of ship redesign in line with modern technology and sensibilities, but still within range of the originals.
- Seeing how it all began. There were plenty of smirk-worthy moments, as we see the young characters exhibit their familiar traits, and mouth their familiar catchphrases.
- VERY non-canon. I wonder if any sequels will continue in this very different altered timeline, or reboot.

Visit to the Pet Store: Wook at teh bebe kittehz

I found these adorable kittens at a pet store called Excellence in front of the Abu Dhabi Mall. It's kind of rare to see mammals larger than gerbils on sale around these parts, and more rare to see kittens. They were so young they would not be on sale for another month. They and the other animals seemed well-reared and healthy, and were kept with others of their kind so as to not be lonely, thank goodness. The grown up ones were also very friendly, but these kittens were just so playful I had to film them. The shop owner even let me hold the one in the foreground. I recently lost a neighborhood stray kitten to a tragic death, and holding the little floofeh snorglepuff felt so nice. I just felt so bad putting it back in the enclosure, as it was trying to get back out. Oh, when I get my own apartment ...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Whose Line Is It Anyway: Three-Headed Broadway Star

One of the greatest shows on yesteryears TV. And in my opinion, the greatest comedy show on TV.

One of the best games on it was the "three-headed broadway star", which really defined the kind of creativity and spontaneity that characterized this improv show. Here are three of my favorite acts, which still get me everytime I watch them.


Colin: "He stole my 'you!'"


Wayne: "I'm going way over the 'abyss' limit."


Wiggling ... FREEEEEE!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Graduation Ceremony

Start:     May 14, '09 12:00p
Location:     KV Auditorium
Graduation ceremony for my Masters in Informatics