Where upon I discover the secret to infinite compression

It is a well known fact that you can only compress a file so far, you could never get it down to a single byte (at least not without losing all of the contents of the file) … or can you!

It occurred to me this morning that by taking the problem out to the cloud, as so many other problems do, you can actually achieve perfect compression! Down to a single bit!  And I’m going to share that with you now:

Consider a cloud based service that takes a file of arbitrary size and stores it on their system; in return, the service send back (via a unique e-mail address) either a 1 or a 0.  When you want to decompress the file, you contact the service via the e-mail address with your 1 or 0.

Done: Perfect compression!

I know what many are thinking - the e-mail address that it is coming back takes more then a bit - but here is the beauty of the idea, if you use GMail or some other cloud based e-mail service, then you don’t need to worry about the size of the file.

Can I have my Turing Award now?

[UPDATE:] A coworker offered me a 0 and said that it my compressed Turing Award, he just refused to give me the e-mail address associated with it.

Why I love American Express Travel

Most people who know me, know that I’m a fan of American Express in general.  There are few companies that I have a lot of faith in and stay pretty loyal to, and American Express is one of them - I take “don’t leave home without it.” very seriously.

Today I booked a trip for myself and family back to FL to see my brother graduate in May.  By now, as a matter of course, I went to American Express Travel.  Once I was done, I realized that there are a lot of reasons why I use them and always go back to them, here’s that list:

  1. They quickly and easily searched through all of the LA area airports as well as FL airports and range of dates and found the cheapest flight.  period.  In fact the total cost was less then 2/3 of what I had expected to pay
  2. I puttered around on the site for a good 20-30 minutes trying to figure out which flights we wanted.  The transition went smoothly.  Any other travel website would have made me start over by then, and probably would have said “that flight is no longer available.”  It is sad that getting the flight they show for the price they show makes them superior, but there you have you it.
  3. I know if anything goes wrong they will take care of it.  In Sept. ‘09 we were visiting family in FL during the Station Fires about a mile from my house.  They helped us rebook our flight and made sure all of the normal fees were waived so that we wouldn’t have to return home to smoke and ash.
  4. I was able to use my membership rewards points to buy down the cost of the flight.  It didn’t matter how many points I have they took what I could give them, no questions ask.  Now my flight was 1/2 of what I was expecting to pay.
  5. This is a “platinum card” benefit - 20% of the points I just redeemed will come back to me, so I’m not starting over from 0 again.
  6. Also a platinum card benefit: My wife and I each get $200/year (since we both have a platinum card) on an airline of our choice for “incidental” costs - i.e. food on the plane, checked baggage, etc.  Not having to worry about the airline nickel and dime-ing us will make the whole flight that much more relaxing.

So there you have it - I’m done shilling for now; but go Amex!