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Things That Scare the Bejeezus Out of Programmers

Visserau Re:Yes, moreso than others (641 comments)

My new fear is to have you as a boss.

I recommend finding some competent programmers, then your problems will go away. Of course there is a reason why you can't hang on to any of them...

about a year ago

Transgendered Folks Encountering Document/Database ID Hassles

Visserau Re:Genetically speaking... (814 comments)

If you had any actual interaction with transgender individuals, you would know that nobody wants an 'other' category. They just want to be treated as their choice of target gender. Yes, this may involve some awkward beurocratic conversations when you need to change a M to a F. It will take society a little time to adjust.

Putting them down as "other" is just another aspect of the bigotry you're busy soapboxing against.

Of course there are some super fringe cases where an additional category can be warrented, but these apply far less often than most people imagine. In that case, the category should be "Unspecified" rather than "other" or "unknown". This allows the possibility of a "normal" gendered person who simply wants privacy and the cases of truely blurred gender lines to mask each other, and avoids the need of actually giving an answer, which can be quite psychologically relevent.

about a year ago

4K Computer Monitors Are Coming (But Still Pricey)

Visserau Re:Weak! (286 comments)

The same question has been bugging me.

I think that it's mostly the DPI. The TV has huge pixels (since you sit so far away from it) so you can never use it as a monitor. Obviously this varies greatly between units, but in general a e.g. 1080 TV will be physically much larger than the equivilent 1080 monitor. That means the manufacturing process is cheap and easy.

about a year ago

Schrödinger's Cat and RCU (Well, Structured Procrastination, Actually)

Visserau Re:So simple now! (43 comments)

Yeah I had a look through the Coursera web site and was actually able to sign up to the class, since the exam isn't actually finally due until tomorrow morning. So I guess I'll at least download the reference materials and see if they help any :)

The course I've mentioned is here: . I've heard good things about it and I suspect it is probably one of the more in depth classes, but it is not for the feint of heart. I'm probably doing myself a disservice by trying to jump into the middle of QM skipping over a few maths classes along the way :)

Courera seems much nicer, so I'll keep an eye out (and will look into edx). Unfortunately there isn't anything super relevent starting soon, but there is one on realtivity that has a week or two left. If anyone is interested, there is a large directory of courses here:

about a year ago

Schrödinger's Cat and RCU (Well, Structured Procrastination, Actually)

Visserau Re:So simple now! (43 comments)

Do these courses have some references/a question forum/anything helpful other than a recorded lecture? Are any of these still active?

I've done the first few lectures of a series from Stanford, and am having a bit of trouble. There is no supporting material, but the lecturer appears to be relying on tutorials/etc to fill in a lot of the detail. It doesn't help much that he often makes mistakes which aren't pointed out by the students until later. I have been filling in gaps with google (and a lot of pausing) but I feel like I could do a lot better if I had the ability to ask a few questions which can't be googled.

So far we've covered the topics the parent mentioned - hamiltonians and eigenvectors/values. I kind of just picked this course out of a hat as it seemed a somewhat reasonable place to start. Can anyone recommend a useful course or resource for this kind of stuff, or an alternative entry point?

about a year ago

A Cold Look at Cold Fusion Claims: Why E-Cat Looks Like a Hoax

Visserau Re:Need to Be Careful (426 comments)

At some point, some"where", some"how", SOMETHING had to come from nothing. Whether the first something from nothing was the universe itself, or a being (or anything else for that matter) is kind of moot - whatever it was must be subject to an explanation of how that something came from nothing. Therefore they are pretty much as likely as each other (very unlikely but evidently at least one happened).

My take on this (heavily summarised) is this. Start with a special definition of nothing, e.g. the void. Consider this to be something aproximately opposite to null. Null roughly means "no answer applicable" as opposed to "false". So here I'm defining THE void as "superset of everything, but has no distinguishable qualities since its all mixed together". (Please disregard to programming concept void here, which is very similar to null.)

From here you actually have some room to move - e.g. we now have a context in which fluctuations from the average can occur and create meaning, consciousness, universes, etc.

From personal experience and studying spirituality/religion, I believe the process goes something like the following:
*Start with void
*Basic awareness is one of many properties of the void (absolutely EVERYTHING is a property of the void)
*At some point awareness notices that it is aware and that there are other things to notice. Since this is before the existance of time and any quantum structure, there is unlimited potential for this to occur "eventually". Presumably this occurs as a result of random flucturations, but this begs a rather large philisphical question of how/if there can be random fluctuations in the void. There is no intelligence or consciousness at this stage.
*This represents the start of an information system - the relationship of something to something else
*The information system evolves for a while and ends up with a useful structure which contains a basic consciousness. At this point the system (mind) can now work on itself in a useful way, combining evolution and design
*The process continues and culminates in the universe we know with quantum structure etc arising out of the system/mind described above

So yes, I did just describe the evolution of "god" and claim that "god" and the universe are indistinguishable. The mind I described is the unity consciousness we all are aspects of, which is often talked about in new age circles. It is not strictly a mind as we know it, but I need to use a plain old word for it...

Of course I'm not claiming to be able to prove this in the stanard scientific definition. My main point is that the commonly accepted scientific models have just as shaky a basis as the so called nonsense explanations. (Plus I just like writing about this :) Not trying to detract from the value of scientific evidence either - just highlight that there are barriers beyond which science cannot go, at least not without altering the definition of science as it currently stands. (I actually believe that what I just said can be proven eventually, but any suggestion relating to different concepts/classes of evidence causes such a huge knee jerk reaction that it is very rare to recieve a fair hearing.)

As for the TFA: I don't know or much care whether or not this guy is for real (but I hope he is and there is certainly the potential for it.) I do know that there are many aspects of physics (where physics = naturally occuring laws) which do not currently recieve any attention from mainstream science.

about a year ago

Bloomberg To HS Grads: Be a Plumber

Visserau Re:Not actually a bad idea. (368 comments)

Your ignorance is showing. The fact you can't recognise that there are different types of intelligence and that there are both good and bad individuals in ALL professions, means you're someone I hope I never have to deal with. Your stance on asking for help confirms it.

Maybe those engineers were dumb. Or maybe a few "stupid" questions to confirm some things outside of their sphere of expertise can save a lot of time and effort down the road. I'm sure you'd be the first to start pointing fingers if some aspect of their plans didn't account for something.

about a year ago

Why We Should Build a Supercomputer Replica of the Human Brain

Visserau Re:To put it in perspective (393 comments)

You missed his point and I agree with him.

What would possibly lead you to conclude that number of lines of code would be proportional to the number of synapses?

You're insisting that every neuron must be individually coded, whether it takes 1 LOC or more. For this project to be feasible I expect they would write a large amount of fairly complex code to completely simulate the behaviour of a generic neuron and its ability to form connections - they are identical after all. Even if they need a few different subclasses and they can't come up with a perfect recursive algorithm to handle all the behaviour - it is still a big jump to assume that each one will be hand coded.

That is not to disregard the computing hurdles involved. I rather doubt this will be running anywhere close to real time.

about a year ago

Why We Should Build a Supercomputer Replica of the Human Brain

Visserau Re:Moral objection (393 comments)

I have to strongly disagree with the OP of this thread. We have established no such thing. We only know that we cannot explain all of the currently observed behaviour. It would have naieve to say that we had established the existance of anything resembling the soul (or lack thereof) or that we fully understand the fundamentals of intelligence and consciousness.

Not religion per se but belief in a spooky non-physical "soul" that somehow interacts with matter of only a certain type and structure.

Since you raise the issue of plausibility, I must ask you just how plausible you find this odd situation where material organisms had to evolve for millenia into a structure that could interact with this mysterious non-physical phenomenon? How is it that brain-damage also damages consciousness?

So because you don't understand something it is spooky and impossible? It wasn't so long ago that a good deal of our current model of physics was entirely unknown, and there is still a good long way to go. There is plenty of recent research indicating that the brain is influenced by quantum effects. It is plausable for this to be the interface to currently undiscovered types of physics. (PLAUSIBLE, I'm not claiming this is proveb, although I believe it is true. IMO the levels the brain is interacting with are not physical but are goverened by deterministic laws which would be considered an extension of physics.)

Brain damage imparing function is trivially explained: the essential interface mechanism is damaged. The physical level of function is impared.

If the "mysterious non-physical phenominum" is what came first (e.g. preceeding any kind of physical existance) then it would be entirely obvious and sensible as to why this interface exists. We typically assume that matter came before mind because we look around and see plenty of matter that is not sentient - but that is an assumption that we have no proof of. (No proof either way - at least of a scientific nature. Note I'm not arguing for god here, but I am arguing for consciousness being an emergant property of fixed laws which exist at a higher level than physical existance.)

about a year ago

Why We Should Build a Supercomputer Replica of the Human Brain

Visserau Re:As a developer... (393 comments)

So because it's hard we should never attempt to make any progress?

I imagine a key part of the early research will be find recursive algorithms which can be setup and run without trying to manually design everything and have to code every behaviour of every level. Something akin to programming the basic laws of physics and then letting the simulation run.

about a year ago

Why We Should Build a Supercomputer Replica of the Human Brain

Visserau Re:As a developer... (393 comments)

Just use the reflection API to check the metadata. Yes it is still you (or a direct successor of you), if your attributes go into the makeup of the respawnee. (Even if it isn't 100% you, it is distinctly based off you and thus different to just randomly generating another human.)

Depends on the method of teleportation.

about a year ago

Former FBI Agent: All Digital Communications Stored By US Gov't

Visserau Re:Jupiter Tape? (621 comments)

Only a small fraction of a percent of the LHC data is actually ever stored. The rest is discarded because there is FAR too much to deal with (specially, too much data being generated in too short a time to be handled by any caching or delay mechanism). IIRC the figures were aproximately 90,000 particle interactions stored out of a possible 360 trillion that had occured up until the point talked about in the article.

about a year ago

Corruption Allegations Rock Australia's CSIRO

Visserau Re:Patent troll (112 comments)

I think your hate has blinded you to the definition of troll. Using/defending a patent they created != trolling.

about a year and a half ago

How to Get Conjurer James Randi to Give You $1 Million (Video)

Visserau Re:An Element of the Divine (219 comments)

One key question would be to ask them to describe the experiences they had which they believe mean they're enlightened. Anyone who tries to describe the content of their experiencein any way whatsoever, is not the real thing. Any experience with an actual description, quite likly could be valid steps along the path, but are certainly not the end. (The reason for this question is complex, but it boils down to the fact that the actual event of enlightenment is not experienced in any way, shape or form. Any description of it can only be made in terms of the approach to it, and the exit from it. These do have distinct patterns that can be recognised by someone familiar with them and are the closest things available to diagnostic criteria.)

This question will only help sort out the real deal from the honestly deluded. It will only help screen out malicious frauds to the extect of whether or not they know the correct answer. Most won't, but there are now books available that go into explicit detail, so the possibility can't be ruled out. I should note that I don't claim to be enlightened, I merely claim to have passed one of the early, but key milestones, which is generally recognised as the threshold for which you can talk about this stuff without screwing it up too much.

The only real answer to your question I can think of would be have a fully abled psychic read everyone. I've discussed before why that's theoretically possibly but not especially likely. (Side note: how would you measure the results of such a test? Given you currently don't really have a definition of what enlightenment is and what it means/represents, how you would find your test subjects and how would you group them? How would you verify my results? I can only see this test working if the person in charge of the test is also fully enlightenend and a psychic... in which case they wouldn't need to be running it, and would be unable to prove anything to the skeptics without such abilities.)

Two possible experiements I can think of would lend some credability, but really don't represent definitive proof of a whole lot.

1) Emotions affecting growth, e.g. the experiement where cooked rice is left to go off with emotions stuck on a label on the side of the container. The quantity, colour (and maybe toxicity?) of mould that grows on the rice is determined by the emotion (e.g. love or hate) on the label. It would be simple to execute this in highly controlled conditions where everything is identical except the label, which is outside the sealed container and according to standard beliefs, cannot affect the contents. The hypothesis is that emotions have an energetic resonance which affects the mould/bacteria. One difficulty would be rating the resulting growths. I suppose you could show the cultures to a large amount of test subjects and collect data to show that a statistically significant portion of subjects rated the hate mould subjectively much worse than the love mould. This has been done before on a limited scale, yet we're still here having this discussion. It doesn't prove enough (despite having no explanation to account for it) therefore it is ignored.

2) Similar to the above, freezing water labeled with emotions. This experiment is more well know, not sure if anyone has attempted to replicate. Same problems apply: subjective evaluation of the results. Again there is a definite statistical correlation, but not no attention is paid.

3a) Self selected volunteers who identify as sensitive to crystal energies bring a set of their own crystals. The volunteer is blindfolded and asked to identify the crystals via energeric feel only. (This represents a very simple form of psychic interaction. Touch is not allowed as I can identify a scary number of crystals purely by surface texture.) A robot arm (or something) is used to hold the crystals very near, but not touching. Each is held at a series of points, including over the palms of both hands and chakra points. The subject identifies which crystal is being held near them. The key problem here is that it is MUCH harder to determine what crystal it is without touching. Ignoring surface texture, touching the crystal greatly enhances the perception of its qualities. Therefor performing the experiment without touch limits the pool of subjects to much more experienced individuals. However an expert should easily score 100% on this test repeatably. Use of the subjects own crystals means they can select a set which are distinctive and meaningful to them. However you then somehow need to rule out tampering (not that I have any idea how you'd cheat.)

3b) The same except the samples are new to the subject. More objectivly 'pure', but is a harder test and therefore makes it much more challanging, raising the bar for a useful test subject even higher.

4) It is also possible to demonstrate things like slowing metabolic functions to a virtual standstill (past the point that would usually lead to death) for extended periods of time while connected to equipment, and then demonstrate not being dead/brain damanged. This would require an extreme meditation expert.

5) Similarly, it would be possible to demonstrate living off no food or water for months at a time in a sealed environment. This requires an even more extreme expert and wouldn't get past the ethics board.

6) Plenty of experiments have already been done demonstrating abnormal brain activity whilst meditating that (IIRC) is otherwise not possible. There are peer reviewed papers on this. It doesn't prove a whole lot, but regardless, the presence of absence of these types of activities could be use as one factor of genuine-ness(even if it only measures meditative skill, not the truth of any knowledge gained.)

As a skeptic, I don't deny the possibility of something that cannot be conclusively disproven

I'm talking about something that cannot be conclusively proved. Although in the course of this discussion, I've changed my stance to "cannot be proven without a high level of co-operation from exceptionally rare and talented individuals who have less than no interest in attempting to prove anything".

But on the other hand I refuse to waste time investigating something like that until someone puts something tangible on the table to back up their incredible claims. For example answering the above question and explaining why the answer works

I expect to hear this a lot. I'm hoping to find expert individuals who have had some kind of low level experiences in the past without a full expanation that I can connect the dots for. In order to get the proof you demand, it is necessary to get experts. E.g. I can imagine a lot of hard science experiments that can be done once you had some particle physicics who understood what I'm saying of their own accord sit down and design some experiments to run on the LHC.

Hard proof is not going to materialise without some series expertiese and resources. Most experts (and those who control the resources) aren't going to be interested without the proof. Catch 22. There are some who ARE doing real research with these extra spiritual principles in mind, but getting a fair hearing from mainstream is another challange. Some good examples are Nassim Harmein and David La Point.

Harmien's work is still in progress, but he has some published papers showing very promising progress in being able to demonstrate the effects of the standard model, but with only electomagnetism and gravity. The weak and strong forces are not required, their effects are explained by a slightly different take on EM. IIRC it bridges the quantum/large scale gap by no longer requiring two sets of laws. This also begins to demonstrate the holographic nature of reality i.e. an infinite recursive fractal pattern that is the same everywhere. (I have not mentioned this yet, but it is a core part of the picture.)

La Point does not have much detail published, but has some youtube videos which seem quite promising if the results materialise. He is taking one aspect of the holographic structure and using it as an energy generator. Not free energy, but certainly something totally unlike what we currently know, that would revolutionaise the world.

There are plenty more but I'm forgetting them right now. It's way late and I've written far too much... again. (I wrote 5 pages of entirely other stuff on the trian today... this is getting out of hand, in a good way.)

I'll certainly ask around a few places to try and hunt down some more doable experiments like the first ones I mentioned above. There won't be any smoking guns, but it certainly would be good to include as many of them as possible, so thanks for the reminder.

about a year and a half ago

How to Get Conjurer James Randi to Give You $1 Million (Video)

Visserau Re:An Element of the Divine (219 comments)

I addressed this earlier. The conclusions often seem different, but really aren't (though it must be admitted that not realising this is an incredibly common problem that leads to a lot of division within even individual spiritual/regligous communities, much less the wider whole.) For example, a major division is as to whether "there is no self" (could be stated as "the self is an illusion") or "we are all one true higher self" (which could be named "god", which would spark a whole other debate). On the surface these seem to be completely opposed. They are actually simply dualistic polar opposites of the same core absolute truth. They are imperfect representations filtered down through the concepts, language, and world view of different individuals. They are all equally valid.

Taking this a little further, it's not hard to see how two different experiences of the same root "thing" can be percieved very differently by different individuals, or even the same individual in different circumstances.

As to who you (or anyone else) should listen to? I'd argue you should listen to the person whose views take ALL views into consideration and reveals their correctness, despite apparent contradiction. You should listen to the person who doesn't tell you exactly what to believe, or who you should learn it from, but who is merely trying to get you to look deeper. Someone who is not trying to get you to blindly believe them, but perform your own investigation. I'm not trying to preach another religion here - I'm trying to explain a meta-truth behind ALL religions, spiritual systems, science, philosphy, etc.

People ask me what teacher did I learn all this from? I don't have one. (I do need to get one through, so I can actually meditate consistantly which would greatly accelerate what I'm trying to do.) But you can pick any teacher of any system you like. In general I'd advise finding a buddhist meditation teacher who is well regarded by their students, who gels with you. This involves some searching. You must keep in mind that the system of buddhism is only a vehicle, a framework, to learn the necessary skills to begin to observe higher truths for yourself.

So far here I've only advocated buddhism, mostly because I don't know the other methods in enough detail to explain the path and how it works. I also think it is particually suitable for the purposes of performing genuine investigation. But you can take ANY system and you'll reach the end goal, so long as you are open minded and avoid the dogma. Some systems are much more suited than others to doing this. Note that trying to analyse a system before fully understanding it can lead to misunderstandings, so at times it can be necessary to go with the flow for a while and sort it out later. This is not blind faith, it is merely a willingness to co-operate for a while to see what comes out of it. It is performing an experiment with yourself, rather than sitting back and demanding proof.

I realised after I posted that I shouldn't have said leap of faith, as you took it exactly how I thought you would :) By leap of faith I meant willingness to consider other possibilities, and to spend some time investigating. Repeating what I just wrote, "This is not blind faith, it is merely a willingness to co-operate for a while to see what comes out of it. It is performing an experiment with yourself, rather than sitting back and demanding proof.". Anyone doing this in a rational manner will acknowledge that non-physical truths have complications, a primary one being the way one thing can manifest differently in individuals as mentioned above. This merely raises the bar for the depth of analysis involved. Since everyone involved in such investigations knows (or should know) this, it is not a fatal road-block, just a factor that is accounted for in due course.

Something I should have added to my previous post (adding before I forget it): another benefit this knowledge can bring about is when it reaches the hands of scientists. Armed with much more in depth knowldge of the way things work, the progress of science can be greatly increased. (By getting a few qualified specialists with access to appropriate resources on board early, I also hope it is possible to start to produce the necessary experiments/data that CAN act as hard evidence to break into the mainstream. Right now the problem is a little more than can be attacked by a layman.)

Requiring independently verifiable proof leaves none. That's the point.

I completely understand your point. My point is that as long as you continue to insist on the exact definition of independent verification you currently hold, you/science won't get any further. (Sure there'll be random advancements, but the major questions will never be solved.) This is roughly equivilent to examining every tree in the world and rejecting the existence of forests because every individual tree cannot be independantly verified to be a forest. I'm merely suggesting you suspect disbelief for long enough to actually take a look at the forest.

As mentioned earlier, I completely understand where you're coming from, because I've been there and done that for over 20 years.

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Unwanted But Official Security Probes?

Visserau Re:You're a complete idiot... (238 comments)

What the AC said. Also, notification only defeats the purpose if the target of the test is silly enough to do things like just hard block the IP.

A large amount (not all) of pen testing can be carried out in a suitable clone of the live environment. This sounds like a good idea for medical scenarios...

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Unwanted But Official Security Probes?

Visserau Re:You're a complete idiot... (238 comments)

You're not wrong but the picture is incomplete.

You've handily demonstrated the possible consequences of pen testing. Doing pen testing on important health systems with no advance notice sounds a lot like criminal neglegance to me.

about a year and a half ago

How to Get Conjurer James Randi to Give You $1 Million (Video)

Visserau Re:An Element of the Divine (219 comments)

I realised I mis-stated but didn't get around to reposting.

Philisphical answers by themselves gain me little with just me sitting in a corner knowing them. However if the entire world KNOWS the answers to all philisophical questions and the most fundamental mechanisms of reality, acheving things like world peace become not only possible, but automatic. I don't mean forcing beliefs on anyone. I mean having everyone recognise how all the individual beliefs that exist are all reflections of one core truth. That core truth can be known beyond all doubt to be true when a) a large portion of the world population can experience it for themselves on a regular basis and b) those who don't experience, accept it because every second (or whatever ratio) person they know can explain in length and detail, in their own way, how and why it is true, from their own experience. This is clearly a very tangible and practical benefit, even though it proceeds from entirely intangible concepts.

On a different note, just because the answers aren't EXTERNALLY verifiable doesn't mean they aren't verfiable to me, or that they are false. Stated simply, I get to manipulate elements of my own reality in the manner I see fit. I don't necessarily get to control others or my interactions with them - that is much higher (harder) and ethically questionable level - but I can nudge things in favour of myself and everyone around me. Each individual is always using these mechanics at all times, but lack of awareness causes us to shoot ourselves in the foot constantly. Being aware of them simply means you can consciouslessly choose to act in more beneficial ways and not trip ourselves up quite as often. Nobody is perfect and mistakes will still be made, but progress is made. It is a life long learning process. Again, very tangible benefits from entirely intangible processes (thoughts) that can never be externally proven to be linked. (Any skeptic would understandably deride the mechanisms I'm describing as confirmational bias and a wide range of other pshchological mechanisms. If only they knew how close they were to the truth...)

I think I've worked out how to say a key point I've been wanting to make the whole time. It is still imperfect and needs work but is worth saying, so here:

The reason why none of this can ever be proved, is because what skeptics take conclusive proof of falsehood, is actually the truth they are denying at work. They are completely justified in reaching the conclusions they do: because they have reached to correct conclusions according to the viewpoint to which they subscribe. Unfortunately that viewpoint (whilst being far from worthless) does not account for everything. While someone continues treat external proof as the only standard to be considered, they will forever lock themselves away from the truth, even though it is in the name of truth they do the locking!

At some point a leap of faith must be taken - not even a very big one. Nothing is lost by doing so, but much is gained (understatement of the century). You'll still be just as skeptical and rational on the other side. The process of investigation and experimentation still completely applies. The context is just changed slightly. You won't suddenly start blindly beleving everything someone says near you. You'll just have a MUCH richer world of possibilities in which to be conducting your invesitgations. (There is also a high probability that you'll spent large amounts of time trying not to laugh as you debate with people who don't get it.)

about a year and a half ago

How to Get Conjurer James Randi to Give You $1 Million (Video)

Visserau Re:An Element of the Divine (219 comments)

Replying to myself, but I missed this before. (For some crazy reason I'm doing this all before my coffee...)

You need independent verification from someone who didn't try it and doesn't believe it. You have to show some practical effects of your experience, for example that you can use your supposed new knowledge to correctly solve problems that others can't. And then you also need to check that those who couldn't solve those problems gain the ability after undergoing the same experience. Put simply: If you can't show, you don't really know.

Yes exactly. What you're reading RIGHT NOW is my attempt to get you to try and do that independant verification. As I've explained elsewhere, that verification DOES require you to try it, for reasons I've hopefully explained. (Although I get the feeling, not well enough.) Unfortunately the process is long and requires personal dedication, hence why I want to write about it. (And why I'm bothering to make these long posts, which as mentioned will form the start of an article series. So please keep throwing everything at me.)

The new problems that can be solved are largly philisphical in nature. I can answer many questions with a great deal of certainty - but not prove that I am correct. Even if I could prove I was right, it wouldn't do me any good. Your "put simply" phrase is somewhat applicable, but highlights a major downfall of the skeptical viewpoint: it can only ackowledge certain classes of truth.

about a year and a half ago


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