The Truly Random Winner of Big Pink the Tall Bike is…

I am proud as heck to report that raffle ticket sales for Big Pink the Tall Bike raised $259.75 for Climate Ride! and…

KATIE STYER! YOU ARE THE WINNER OF BIG PINK THE TALL BIKE!

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They rolled out the red carpet for Big Pink!

Katie is the truly random winner of Big Pink. Now I know what you’re thinking. How totally non-random is it that Ginger, your BFF adventure girlfriend won the tall bike? THIS IS KATIE — who babysat me after my big mountain bike concussion, rode with me through the heartland of Mexico, hooked me up with a bicycle non-profit job in Berkeley a week after I got back in town. Katie is made of bike-awesome and friend-amazing. I have kissed this woman on the mouth.

I SWEAR, THIS IS THE UNIVERSE SPEAKING. When time came to pick a winner, I recognized a certain conflict of interest. Many tickets were purchased by good friends (and I put myself in for five bucks too). Now I could have just as easily cut up little pieces of paper, wrote down everyone’s name, and picked the winner out of a hat. However, you gotta be super-legit in this game. Instead of arts and crafts, I drank tea in a sunny Berkeley coffeeshop and wrote a computer program to randomly pick the winner.

One has to be careful using random numbers on a computer. Most computer programs actually feed you pseudo-random numbers, which are created in a deterministic fashion using a mathematical formula. While the problems with the numbers being not-random-enough mainly arise when you need ALOT of numbers, I needed this raffle to be really random. Super-legit random. Random-random.

Fortunately, the universe buzzes with true randomness free for the taking. Since this raffle was a fundraiser for Climate Ride, it seemed particularly fitting to choose a random winner based on atmospheric noise. Conveniently, the folks at random.org provide random number generation (rng) based on static in earth’s atmosphere to anyone with an internet connection. I highly recommend poking around their website for random geekery.

A first generation atmospheric noise random number generator. A cheap piece from Radio Shack listens to static on an unused radio frequency. Not the actual rng currently in use, but this is the basic idea. http://www.random.org/history/

For complete transparency, here’s the R script (read: a brief computer program) used to choose the winner. My human readable comments are in green type, while the actual code is in white type.

Screenshot of the R script I wrote to choose the tall bike winner.
Screenshot of the R script I wrote to choose the tall bike winner.

Thank you friends, for supporting Climate Ride and supporting a host of 60+ non-profits that are working to advance sustainable transportation, bicycle advocacy and the green economy. Let’s do this again soon. Guess I need to build a new tall bike.

Tall Bike Spoke Card by Keith Wallace.
Tall Bike Spoke Card by Keith Wallace.

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