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Toward Better Programming

mattr Explain your program to an AI (391 comments)

While Chris aims to collapse time and technology layers to make an immediate, reactive environment, another way forward, or perhaps a way of leveraging it, is to make the environment more intelligent.

Much programming involves implementation of commonly understood patterns and thus can be automated, if the space is well understood.

I think a community project toward building an engine (call it an AI agent if you wish) that conceptually understands programming and can actually do it would be a good thing (... except because, SkyNet).

Such a system could have a unified understanding of a large project which would improve the deliverability of systems like obamacare or applications based on an open source stack, while empowering common users by leveraging the power of their own computers to help them solve problems and build their own tools, for example through chatting or drawing figures.

In the past I've imagined this as a way of utilizing more of the power of the desktop computer, to actually solve the user's problems and do common tasks that can be easily explained. A hot key that pops up a small window to chat with a bot would be more useful than Apple's Automator. As I have recently been spelunking in a system I have been asked to localize for an Asian language / net environment (based on drupal so tons of modules and deep undocumented complexity) I can appreciate anybody who would like to simplify herculean tasks.

It might be able to make sense of something as broad and chaotic as the obamacare system or the open source stack. I imagine it would be something a bit more intelligent than Frotz and could even help a child direct his own inquiry into the world around him or her. Computers have a lot of power and the next stage probably is finding out how to unlock their power without requiring years of study and hair-pulling. At least I would like to see systems gain introspection and share standard definitions of objects and functionality to reduce the replication of effort that is probably 90% of what developers do today.

about three weeks ago

Synthetic Chromosomes Successfully Integrated Into Brewer's Yeast

mattr 50,000 changes called "hardy"? (107 comments)

The original yeast had 50,000 copies of the chromosome which were discarded, replacing them with just a single copy of it because they were deemed irrelevant, and when the yeast remained alive it was called "hardy". IANA biochemist but still, one might think 50,000 copies could have an advantage as if cellular processes were to hit them randomly and transparently (like 50,000 disks in a RAID mirror where you don't know which physical disk was actually accessed) then a mutation in one copy would have 50,000 times less chance of hurting the cell. That the cell remains alive only means that in the hours it took for cell division to be proven no mutations occurred, but instead of this meaning the cell is hardy it could actually be 50,000 times more susceptible to mutation or other Bad Things.

Another possibility is that there are very subtle differences among the 50,000 copies, perhaps in just a small number of genes, among which the cell could switch in the event of environmental change, or it could even encode information "learned" over the course of evolution by the strain. Switch to this copy if you are being attacked by this pathogen, or if you see a lot of this nutrient around you, etc. Again this would be the definition of "hardy" so the scientist again would be wrong. Of course this is just a layman's view, have not read the paper, they probably don't care, etc. Anybody with a degree care to comment?

about three weeks ago

Stanford Bioengineer Develops a 50-cent Paper Microscope

mattr Re:Why not put them out in schools ? (83 comments)

If you woild read the site before
commenting you would see schools
are also targeted.
Of course it is mote important to
save lives though wouldn't you agree?

about a month ago

Stanford Bioengineer Develops a 50-cent Paper Microscope

mattr Re:http://www.foldscope.com/ (83 comments)

800 NANOMETER resolution due to
fascinating optics holding a glass
sphere up to your eye can obtain
2000x magnification! Woohoo!
Check out the website and arxiv pdf.
He uses origami techniques to
structurally engineer the paper to
compensate for buckling among other things.

about a month ago

Einstein's Lost Model of the Universe Discovered 'Hiding In Plain Sight'

mattr Re:Einstein is not god (118 comments)

He has had successes where others could not supply the necessary creativity, so I think you owe him an apology. IANAP but assume you find superdeterminism insane because it would need to account for preselecting the myriad of fluctuations that would affect a RNG, and not due to religious reaction to the loss of destiny in which the
Universe is set in steel.
It seems to this non-physicist that if the Universe is a simulation (another insane idea) it would be possible to choose solely the desiref outcome and trace back upstream to automatically select the required fluctuations.
Repugnant perhaps, but two insanities just might provide a soution.

about a month ago

The Spy In Our Living Room

mattr You don't get it yet (148 comments)

Matrix multiplication means picking up where multiple factors can be combined to produce a high score. It can analyze threat = capability x intent. I think this approach can be used as much by the individual trying to get a handle on reality (multiply news by what you know is possible) as by a massive organization (crunch data streams to find exploitable juicy bits).
If you think this way you will be paranoid. But, if you just want to imagine where things can go if they get even worse than they are now, say if unlimited resources are deployed by utterly immoral actors, it can be useful.
For example, without formal training I came up with the above threat equation. After typing the equation into Google, it turns out that it is correct and part of formal risk/threat assessment calculations. I figure that's because it is common sense.

Capability matrix:
Look. The entire data stream starting from the time a Kinect is plugged into electrical power can be automatically saved forever in a quiet data center.
XBox+Kinect is a very powerful listening device because of its smarts. It can download a program or search parameters and seek high-quality data, such as a conversation with a certain person's name in it, and filter it before sending it upstream. It can also compress a raw feed and gradually upload it over time.
So if anyone ever does something criminal or suggestive, like maybe your child has a party and someone does drugs in the living room, that data can be silently tagged and stored without any human's knowledge.
Any of your computers, or any computer ever in your vicinity throughout your daily life, or the lives of other people, can do the same thing. Just silently record at all times. There are too many ways it can be done in software. Free apps, buggy malware, browsers..
All phones, networked hardware, your car's On-Star navigation system and black box, can be additional channels.

Intent matrix:
Years later, if someone wants to find something on you they just make a mining query.
Queries can ultimately matrix multiply all locations x all channels x all individuals x all conversations files or positioning data.
Such as any conversation that mentions a target name or keyword ever held in front of anybody's XBox, personal laptop, tablet, wall phone, mobile phone, desk at work in any company. If you ignore any difficulty associated with processing/telecom/power/time capacity you will understand that rather than simply being "overheard" it is like you are leading your life by crawling over a jungle-gym moving from one data capture point to another. Your life over time and space, and those of all people with whom you interact, together become an immense transparent crystal object that can be observed at one's convenience from any angle.

Matrix Product: (exploitable output, or the threat)
Forget trying to end-run around the NSA, there is no point. But worry about other actors.
The U.S. data will be privately owned and controlled by other actors.
Any big company or country has a chance at subverting these streams and building their own global capacity.
A criminal organization could pressure a Verizon sysadmin.
The captured data does not have to go to court. It can be shown to someone else, or to you in order to embarrass you into tilting you towards a given course of action, for example if a target was shown video capturing an infidelity. The actor can dial in any degree of formality, truth or fairness.
Data that might have saved you (such as data proving innocence or entrapment) can be deleted, ignored, or modified in whatever private data center it is stored.
Parallel construction means all of this dark activity, a dark war against humanity, can be kept in the dark, but leveraged when some other expedient is selected.

Once you or someone many steps removed who you don't even know has been targeted or an annotation has been made, all past and future activity can be scheduled for heightened investigation, including active installation of subversions to improve the data feed.
It can be quite impersonal, like a game of chess. And there is no way to remove your tag.
Since tangential conversations and proximity drive data insights, "living with sincerity and honesty" is irrelevant.
One might hope that automated moral agents (strong AI) might one day swing things in the other direction, but they don't exist except in science fiction at this point and anything close to it is owned by the organizations doing the collation.

about a month and a half ago

Report: Space Elevators Are Feasible

mattr Re:Radiation shielding not feasible (374 comments)

No more disinfectant bio-barrier between Earth and the rest of the Galaxy.
Like turning off your firewall, what could possibly go wrong?

about 2 months ago

WhatsApp Founder Used Unchangable Airline Ticket To Pressure Facebook

mattr Psycho or Crazy Like a Fox? (144 comments)

A psychopath brags.
Either that, or the facebook guys asked him to say it.

about 2 months ago

"Microsoft Killed My Pappy"

mattr Itsatrap (742 comments)

Someone had to say it ;)

about 2 months ago

Most Alarming: IETF Draft Proposes "Trusted Proxy" In HTTP/2.0

mattr Heck no stay out of the middle (177 comments)

Call me old school but transparent interception of https does not increase my feeling of safety. It breaks the net and any security I might imagine in a transaction. This technology will make it really easy for anyone to do what for example Microsoft does to Skype connections (which is why Skype isn't allowed in my company). It provides for any number of decryption points to be created between you and your bank or whatever. The doc suggests that it can be used for both anonymization and deep inspection, positing that both are "good". I think it depends on who the user is whether one is desirable or not. As for a company pushing corporate certificates down its users' throats without them knowing it, I think this is pretty dangerous. The Internet is such a pervasive part of life now that if not informed, a user has a reasonable expectation that his or her communications will not be intercepted and possibly reformulated. It is like an operator listening to your conversation and being able to interject words into the conversation that you both think the other has said. Perhaps some people who don't remember a time when there was no social media don't get it. However I think a company should trust its employees and not intercept communications leaving the company, it is despicable immoral and weakens human dignity.

If there are such overarching security issues like multimillion dollar contracts or secret plans that are worth alienating your workforce, then you should tell them and also install other demeaning but powerful security technology like biometrics, laser fields, strip searches, etc. The idea that some guys sat down to write this document and imagined that the "good" uses of this would not be massively overshadowed by the horrible uses of it is just so appalling it nauseated me to read it.

Yes this sort of thing is going on now. But no, I don't think it is a good direction for society, I am not talking about national security forces but about corporations who will find plenty of reasons to implement this, so that while the desired "responsibility to management" i.e. load balancing, security monitoring, whatever is performed, there will become much more generally available back doors into any available communication ready waiting for someone who thinks it might be neat to open the door. The technology works regardless of whether there is a court order or anyone responsible in the vicinity. You may think I am paranoid but I think it is one thing when the police need wiretapping to catch mobsters. (I doubt they would catch any terrorists that way but who knows.) But it is another thing when the campus police, the kindergarten babysitter, every tom dick and harry with a web/phone/video startup is going to see this as a fresh new playing field. If they want to outlaw ssl fine. But I don't want to be using ssl and not know if it really is working or not because my ISP or phone company or cable company feels a need to be a man in the middle. Must the net be infinitely porous? They just can't leave shiny toys alone.

about 2 months ago

Internet Shutdown Adds To Venezuela's Woes

mattr Poor hams (194 comments)

So.. ham radio. Radio Club Venezolano. National Emergency Network. Satellite Dishes. ISS. Free hosting. Google... Facebook... friends.
There are probably a bunch of ways to get information in/out of Venezuela, at least in a one-way burst.
On the other hand http://www.yv5rcv.org/ tweets pane shows "Hmm, an empty timeline. That's wierd." Ouch.

about 2 months ago

Apple SSL Bug In iOS Also Affects OS X

mattr Re:Test fail (140 comments)

I get
The webpage at https://www.imperialviolet.org... might be temporarily down or it may have moved permanently to a new web address.
Error code: ERR_FAILED

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Anti-Camera Device For Use In a Small Bus?

mattr Facing seats (478 comments)

Make seats face each other.
Then leave it up to human nature.

Could be simple seating.or more of a communal lounge.

That plus the rolling shutter illumination by strobe.

about 2 months ago

Reporting From the Web's Underbelly

mattr Re:Why? (74 comments)

Probably it would be seen as a challenge I suppose.
Guarding someone like this would be a good use
Of DHS if not the Secret Service. I hope somebody is on the ball.

about 2 months ago

Reporting From the Web's Underbelly

mattr Re:Does that make me sociopathic? (74 comments)

If he was immoral.
Which I doubt.
However I would not invite my mother to
a location targetted by x, y and z.

about 2 months ago

Researchers Unveil High-Speed Laser Communications Device For Space

mattr Re:Hard To Aim (40 comments)

... that x,y info in the grid is used to encode additional information, which allows you more info not *despite* but *because* only one photon hits the detector at a time. In other words this detector only works when only one photon can reach the detector at the same time, and the beam output will have to be weakened if the spacecraft is too close perhaps. So if the photon rate is 1 photon per millisecond the bit rate can be multiples of 1000 bps due to also having an extra couple of bits per photon saying which grid cell (pixel) the photon hit.

about 2 months ago

Researchers Unveil High-Speed Laser Communications Device For Space

mattr Re:Hard To Aim (40 comments)

Key points
- They use superconducting nanowires to make a grid. I doubt anybody not in space is doing that
- Though I didn't catch it from the pdf, the article has a quote from NIST saying that x,y information inside this grid
- This allows an n x n pixel grid sensor to be built out of only 2n nanowires. A photon heats up a nanowire intersection to register a hit, then wait for it to cool down. p.s. cooling something down isn't that easy in space.
- Presumably you would have to beam a repeating pattern (or hologram?) covering a broad area, and the pattern resolution would be adjusted as distance to target spacecraft changes over time.

about 2 months ago

Customer: Dell Denies Speaker Repair Under Warranty, Blames VLC

mattr Re:bad engineering? (526 comments)

It might happen though not as likely. I saw a tv news show a couple weeks ago showing phone chargers being sold on the street in China that were filled with packets of sand. The more expensive ones had a little less sand. The Chinese shopkeeper (if you call squatting on a bridge a shop) had no qualms. "Your phone charged some amount so you should be happy." Dell apparently shares some heredity with these shop owners on the bridge.

about 2 months ago

Is Whitelisting the Answer To the Rise In Data Breaches?

mattr Data surface not application surface (195 comments)

A buffer overflow should not provide the keys to the city.
We need security orthogonal to the executing application surface.
Here's an idea, don't know if it will catch on but how about
encrypting the data in it, whitelisting the users / apps that can use it, thereby
reducing the
surface vulnerable to attack. It would require a sophisticated public key
infrastructure integrated
with all processes. Data objects could organize their fields into multiple segments that can be origressively unlocked.

about 2 months ago



Obayashi to Build Space Elevator by 2050

mattr mattr writes  |  more than 2 years ago

mattr writes "Japan's Obayashi Construction announced plans to build a space elevator by 2050. They are famous for wrecking skylines with the stupidly too big bullet train station in Kyoto, world's tallest self-supporting tower Tokyo Sky Tree and just starting now, Taipei Dome. It will take a week at 200 kph for your party of 30 to reach the 36 km high terminal station, while the counterweight sails by at 96 km, a quarter of the way to the Moon."
Link to Original Source

Google hacked?

mattr mattr writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mattr writes "Google.com seems to have suffered either a DNS admin mishap or hack! Access to www.google.com has been returning
"Site Update
Funnyjunk.com is being updated to a new version. Please try again later."
and search from the browser bar returns, " Not Found
The requested URL /search was not found on this server.
Apache Server at www.google.com Port 80 "
Service is available normally at
But dns for www.google.com is poisoned and seems to me to be redirected to a server called www.l.google.com"

Link to Original Source

mattr mattr writes  |  more than 7 years ago

mattr writes "Last week I participated in a gathering of 300 developers in Tokyo called the Lightweight Language Ring (LLRing), discussing over 20 languages and frameworks from Perl, Python and Ruby to Haskell, ML and Concurrent Clean, in a real boxing ring. It included a number of famous Japanese programmers, the creator of Ruby with news of a fork, a bot shootout, language updates, a panel on functional programming, a mysterious scifi conspiracy, and more. So I'd like to invite you to read Boxing in the LLRing. Photos on Flickr, Video on YouTube, downloads. Fight!"



mattr mattr writes  |  more than 11 years ago

Land in sight! This user makes the awesome discovery of being able to run his own blog on slashdot's overloaded server. After what, 2 years on slashdot? More?

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