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Disney Turned Down George Lucas's Star Wars Scripts

michaelmalak Lucas: Highest form sci fi (420 comments)

Science fiction reaches its zenith when it is commentary by analogy to the present human condition. The original trilogy reached this as it was Lucas' protest of the Vietnam War. This was evident even before Lucas' public statements, from the 1976 novelization and its prologue Journal of the Whills. The prequels were, from the strict standpoint of plot and political commentary, a satisfying fulfillment of this 1976 prologue. That the prequels were released during the Iraq War, a mirror in many ways of the Vietnam War, couldn't have worked out better for communicating Lucas' original 1970's message. Everyone caught on for Episode III, but it was all there in Episode II as well. Episode II was released so soon after 9-11, though, that most people weren't able to key in on it then.

The prequels suffered by having too large a budget. Lucas did better in the original trilogy when budget constraints forced creativity. In the prequels, Lucas felt obligated to have ridiculously short filming schedules for the human actors, and then to leave most of it on the editing room floor so as to not waste all the CGI footage. But the stories in Episodes II & III were outstanding.

Now that Star Wars is in the hands of the Bono-seeking corporatocracy, I have dim hope of any continued criticism of government and monopolies -- and certainly not of any drawing of parallels between the Dark Side and contemporary power structures.

4 days ago
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The Tech Industry's Legacy: Creating Disposable Employees

michaelmalak HR underestimates domain knowledge training (263 comments)

My blog post today argues that it takes as much or less time to train an existing employee on new skills than it does to train a new employee on the company's domain knowledge.

I.e., yes, companies should be training instead of churning. And training doesn't even cost anything any more except for the paid time to do it -- everything is online now.

about a week ago
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Windows Server 2003 Reaches End of Life In July

michaelmalak Re:Perpetual motion. (156 comments)

The mindset in 2003 was different:

1. Network security was not as high profile. The term "Patch Tuesday" was only just invented in 2003.

2. The industry had not yet experienced a painful Microsoft EOL. Windows NT 4.0 was not EOL'd until Dec. 31, 2004.

So please stop judging with hindsight.

about a week ago
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Study: Belief That Some Fields Require "Brilliance" May Keep Women Out

michaelmalak Women Bad at Spatial Relations; But Can Be Taught (218 comments)

Statistically, women are bad at spatial reasoning. There are many sociological and political reasons for this, of course, and there is even a natural component. Even the same woman, when at a point in her cycle where testosterone is low, performs worse at spatial reasoning than when her testosterone is high.

But regardless of the source, the good news is that spatial reasoning can be taught.

about two weeks ago
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Radio Shack Reported To Be Ready for Bankruptcy Filing

michaelmalak Re:Which is kind of a shame (314 comments)

Indeed, 3D printing would have been an ideal market for them to tap. And they should have been the ones to invent Bluetooth keychain finders, not leaving it up to a crowdfunded attempt. The could have been a Square vendor -- do you detect a theme here? Smartphones are the new "radios" and they could have specialized in accessories for them. And why is a search engine paving the way now for the long-sought dream of home automation? That's just the sort of thing you want a storefront for on a Saturday afternoon. Could also have supplied the emerging meshnet communities (more "radios"). The list goes on.

about two weeks ago
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Doxing -- Something To Expect More of In 2015

michaelmalak Re:The problem with doxing (171 comments)

So if facts uncovered by doxing becomes accepted as legitimate grounds for disqualification, then the only people who will get the good job positions or get elected will be the liars who are exceptionally good at covering up their history or shifting blame onto others.

Such job disqualification is a handy tool for HR departments these days as it neatly addresses the current job vs. candidate imbalance. Think Elysium (which was really about today and not the future) or this week's past Dilbert strips. We're in a state of transition where the mid-20th century concept of "a job" is falling away, and "disqualifications" are a new-found way of blinding ourselves to that fact.

In the future, when no one has a 20th century job anymore, doxing won't matter anymore. But today, it can transition a victim onto the leading edge of joblessness that we'll all be facing eventually.

about three weeks ago
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Samsung Announces Production of 20nm Mobile LPDDR4, Faster Than Desktop DDR4

michaelmalak LP = low power (42 comments)

LP = low power

about a month ago
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What Happens To Society When Robots Replace Workers?

michaelmalak Communism (628 comments)

Communism spreads through its seductiveness, and the justified fear of technology-driven joblessness is creating a seductive call for New Communism: The Basic Income.

The results will be the same as we have seen in other communist countries: forced abortions and forced sterilizations. I was pleased to see the linked list of possible solutions/outcomes include mention of abortion, but was disappointed to see lack of mention of forced abortion and forced sterilization. We don't need to turn to sci fi novels as these materials do; we need only look to communist countries of today.

Capitalism is no solution either, for that would lead to increased wealth disparity and a situation not too different than communism (total control by corporation vs. total control by government).

Technology won't be able to be put back into the toothpaste tube. The idea of establishing low-technology enclaves or communes won't work because the wealth and military capability generated by those who kept technology will seek to consume all resources. Land will be too expensive to acquire to establish an enclave, and surely too expensive to defend.

about a month ago
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U.S. Passenger Vehicle Fleet Dirtier After 2008 Recession

michaelmalak Dirtier than a hypothetical, not an actual (176 comments)

From the actual abstract:

Using fleet fractions from previous data sets, we estimated age-adjusted mean emissions increases for the 2013 fleet to be 17–29% higher for carbon monoxide, 9–14% higher for hydrocarbons, 27–30% higher for nitric oxide, and 7–16% higher for ammonia emissions than if historical fleet turnover rates had prevailed.

The article shows that the actual 2013 fleet is dirtier than the hypothetical 2013 fleet where the age distribution matches the 2007 fleet age distribution.

It does not show that the actual 2013 fleet is dirtier than the actual 2007 fleet. It's a question not addressed by this study, but I would be surprised if actual 2013 was dirtier than actual 2007.

about a month and a half ago
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Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy: The Science of Misheard Song Lyrics

michaelmalak Ob80's (244 comments)

Michael Winslow of Police Academy fame

about a month and a half ago
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Pluto-Bound Spacecraft Ends Hibernation To Start Mission

michaelmalak Chronology from TFA (77 comments)

Rather than try to make sense of the broken English in TFS...

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft awoke from hibernation on Saturday and sent a radio confirmation that it had successfully turned itself back on one and a half hours later.

Here's the quote from TFA:

A pre-set alarm clock roused New Horizons from its electronic slumber at 3 p.m. EST, though ground control teams didn’t receive confirmation until just after 9:30 p.m.

New Horizons is now so far away that radio signals traveling at the speed of light take four hours and 25 minutes to reach Earth.

Doing the math, then, there was a two-hour delay between when New Horizons awoke and when it launched its first message. As opposed into traveling in the future by 1.5 hours.

about 1 month ago
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Which Programming Language Pays the Best? Probably Python

michaelmalak Re:C language (277 comments)

According to shadowstats.com, actual (i.e. not reported) inflation over the past 25 years has averaged 8.4% annually. Now, take your current compensation and multiply it by 2.24. Do you expect to be earning that much in 10 years? OK, now take your current compensation and multiple it by 7.51. Do you expect to be earning that much in 25 years? Keep in mind there will be long droughts during recessions where your compensation will stagnate or even decline.

about 2 months ago
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Which Programming Language Pays the Best? Probably Python

michaelmalak C language (277 comments)

Hey, in the 1980's, C was supposed to pay the best. What happened?

A more interesting metric would be how many languages and frameworks one must learn per year in order to maintain compensation in inflation-adjusted dollars, and then chart that over time. I suspect a) it would come out as an exponential and b) that this indicates our acceleration toward the singularity.

about 2 months ago
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Alva Noe: Don't Worry About the Singularity, We Can't Even Copy an Amoeba

michaelmalak Re:Don't need amoebae to fly (455 comments)

That matches with my slide at 8:11 in the video I previously linked.

about 2 months ago
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Alva Noe: Don't Worry About the Singularity, We Can't Even Copy an Amoeba

michaelmalak Re:Define "program itself" (455 comments)

A FORTRAN compiler does not run continuously and add additional functionality as it goes along.

In the debate that followed the opening remarks (video with very bad audio because the batteries on the lapel microphone ran down), someone suggested that intelligence requires consciousness. I suggested a Linux daemon could be considered conscious: it runs continuously and takes actions based on input and conditions. So my argument is that for the singularity you just need a daemon that continuously adds functionality to itself.

about 2 months ago
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Alva Noe: Don't Worry About the Singularity, We Can't Even Copy an Amoeba

michaelmalak Don't need amoebae to fly (455 comments)

As I note in my doom and gloom YouTube, it's a 50-year-old analogy in the quest for AI that artificial flight did not require duplicating a bird. Artificial intelligence may look very different, and in fact in my video, I avoid defining intelligence and merely point out that "a computer that can program itself" is all that is required for the singularity.

about 2 months ago
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Congress Suggests Moat, Electronic Fence To Protect White House

michaelmalak DEW (213 comments)

Just need this.

(BTW, I thought for several years that particular episode was the best thing ever on television to that point, until I realized it was blatant rip-off -- excuse me, homage -- of 2001.)

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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Undiscovered Country of HFT: FPGA JIT Ethernet packet assembly

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  about a year ago

michaelmalak (91262) writes "In a technique that reminds me of the just-in-time torpedo engineering of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, a company called Argon Design has "developed a high performance trading system" that puts an FPGA — and FPGA-based trading algorithms — right in the Ethernet switch. And it isn't just to cut down on switch/computer latency — they actually start assembling and sending out the start of an Ethernet packet simultaneously with receiving and decoding incoming price quotation Ethernet packets, and decide on the fly what to put in the outgoing buy/sell Ethernet packet. They call these techniques "inline parsing" and "pre-emption.""
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No U.S. college in top 10 for ACM international programming contest 2013

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  about a year and a half ago

michaelmalak (91262) writes "The annual ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest finished up last week for 2013, but for the first time since its inception in the 1970's, no U.S. college placed in the top 10. Through 1989, a U.S. college won first place every year, but there has been no U.S. college in first place since 1997. The U.S. college that has won most frequently throughout the contest's history, Stanford, hasn't won since 1991. The 2013 top 10 consists entirely of colleges from Eastern Europe, East Asia, and India."
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Fog computing

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  more than 2 years ago

michaelmalak writes "From a piece recently posted to dailypaul.com: "About the mid-twentieth century, one of the greatest inventions in history made its appearance, and political and corporate leaders around the world were thrilled. Television [...] was wonderful; a quasi-hypnotic, ubiquitous device that allowed them to not only cultivate [read: socially engineer] the minds and values of their host populations, but also to encourage consumption, instill a largely self-sacrificing work ethic, and pacify them all at the same time. Of course, nothing lasts forever. Progress always comes along and disrupts that delicate balance, this time in the form of the personal computer, NCSA, ARPA, our fine and friendly nerds in the San Francisco Bay Area, and of course, Al Gore. A new age was born: the information age. [...] The last piece of the puzzle was the transformation of the internet from a horizontally integrated network into a vertically integrated top-down hub, where 'content providers' provide, and 'consumers' consume. [...] Even the way we went about interfacing has changed. Pods and pads are now the devices of choice, optimized for foggers. Who needs a keyboard, a mouse, or, heaven forbid, a Wacom tablet?! If u cnt say whut u ned 2 say w 11 btns ur prolly a terrist LULZ.""
Link to Original Source
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Those pixelated Army uniforms? "universally failed in every enviornment"

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  more than 2 years ago

michaelmalak writes "Those pixelated U.S. Army uniforms that we've been seeing since 2004? Turns out they don't work, and they and $5b are being scrapped. "'Essentially, the Army designed a universal uniform that universally failed in every environment,' an Army specialist who served in Iraq told The Daily. 'The only time I have ever seen it work well was in a gravel pit.'""
Link to Original Source
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One trillion records indexed in 10 minutes, queried in 3 seconds

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  more than 2 years ago

michaelmalak writes "Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has developed software for a Cray XE6 to mine a dataset of one trillion particles. They "implemented an enhanced version of FastQuery, an indexing and querying tool. Using this technique, they indexed the trillion-particle, 32 TB dataset in about 10 minutes, and queried the massive dataset for particles of interest in approximately three seconds. This was the first time anybody has successfully queried a trillion-particle dataset this quickly.""
Link to Original Source
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TN crime to share Rhapsody p/w with your child

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  more than 3 years ago

michaelmalak writes "As widely reported, it is now illegal in Tennessee to "share passwords". Specifically, SB 1659, signed by the governor on May 30, turns a violation of terms of service from a civil matter into a crime (and a felony for values over $500). Now the popular press keeps citing Netflix as the prime example, but when it comes to family matters Netflix has some common sense terms of use. Netflix say you "shouldn't" share your password, but that if you do share it with members of your household, you're responsible for their use of it. The terms of use for Rhapsody, the other service cited in the popular press for this story, however, are not as well thought out when it comes to family matters. It says, "Only you may access the Services using your user name and password", meaning, presumably, that you as a parent must manually click on every song you want your minor child to listen to. The only way around it would be to set up a co-signed credit card in your minor child's name, and have your child create his/her own Rhapsody account. To have your six-year-old access Rhapsody otherwise is now a crime in Tennessee."
Link to Original Source
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Groupthink vs. no cultural idioms

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  more than 3 years ago

michaelmalak writes "When I showed my 7-year-old daughter the opening to Laverne & Shirley, she got a kick out of it and said, "wow, does momma know about this?" I had to explain, "of course, everyone watched the same TV shows because there were only three channels". A CNN story notes a similar thought in There will never be another Oprah with "because her program premiered in pre-Internet and largely pre-cable times. So there wasn't a whole lot else to watch." Having personally railed the past two decades against the negative effects of television, especially groupthink, I am wondering whether we are giving something up, namely cultural idioms. What better way is there for one geek to communicate to another about the other's misguided sense of risk and payoff for a proposed course of action that with "I find your lack of faith disturbing"? Overall, the negative effects of television outweigh the positive, but where is the balance point? And, more importantly, is there some way in the post-television era to both gain the benefits of cultural idioms that in some way enhance our language while avoiding groupthink?"
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Warren Miller non-compete expired; still no films

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  more than 4 years ago

michaelmalak writes "As most ski buffs with an interest in intellectual property know, Warren Miller, who made ski films annually from 1950, sold his company, Warren Miller Entertainment, in the late 1980's, has not been involved at all in the films that bear his name for the past six years or so, and is not pleased with the most recent films. He's been getting involved in the ski film industry again, which he thought he could do since his non-compete expired in 1999. However, an arbitration panel decided based on trademark issues surrounding the name "Warren Miller" that Warren Miller is barred from the ski film industry for life."
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Not transparent aluminum, but conductive plastic

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  more than 4 years ago

michaelmalak writes ""Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory have fabricated transparent thin films capable of absorbing light and generating electric charge over a relatively large area. The material, described in the journal Chemistry of Materials, could be used to develop transparent solar panels or even windows that absorb solar energy to generate electricity. The material consists of a semiconducting polymer doped with carbon-rich fullerenes.""
Link to Original Source
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Onerous New Law to Phase Out Wi-Fi

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  more than 6 years ago

michaelmalak writes "In perhaps his most informative article this millenium, Dvorak lays down the implications of a bill just passed by Congress (with Ron Paul in the House and Ted Kennedy in the Senate being the only dissenting votes) that will, if Bush signs it as expected, auction off the 2.3-GHz to 2.9-GHz WiFi spectrum by 2012. It is expected that private entities such as Comcast will buy it up to allow WiFi to continue, but with subscriber fees of course."
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HOA: Mandatory and exclusive ISP for 20 years

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  more than 7 years ago

michaelmalak writes "5-10 years ago when buying a house, the concern was whether or not it was close enough to the telphone company's central office for DSL. Now you have to check the fine print of the Homeowners Association. Residents in Southern Walk in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, are up in arms over being required to pay $149/month for triple-play (whether they want the service or not) from an exclusive provider, OpenBand, designated by the builder, Van Metre, who by covenant will hold onto a majority of the HOA board for the next 20 years. That's right — the residents are forbidden from purchasing a traditional analog landline from Verizon."
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U.S. has lost ability to build its own roads

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  more than 7 years ago

michaelmalak writes "The land famous for its love of the automobile and construction of Interstates and other highways, with high-elevation tunnels, viaducts snaking through canyons, and water crossings of up to 20 miles is now outsourcing design and construction of its roads to Asia — not because it's cheaper, but because the U.S. has lost the expertise. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer regarding the newly opened span across the Tacoma Narrows, "the American steel industry had imploded, while steel-making — and the expertise needed to build suspension bridges — had moved to Asia" and "the detailed engineering and fieldwork and all the spinning and cable-wrapping equipment ... were provided by ... Japanese construction giants""
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michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  more than 8 years ago

michaelmalak writes "The Denver Post is running a story on the area's fleet of high-tech snowplows that sport GPS, downward-facing infrared sensors, and touchscreen computers linked to a central computer receiving up-to-the-minute weather forecasts and road conditon information from pucks embedded in the pavement. The idea is to deploy the right equipment and chemicals at the right time and in the right amount. This Blizzard of '06, though, overwhelmed the system. (An article earlier this week noted that Denver has one of the lowest snowplow-per-annual-inch-per-lane-mile ratios — I guess they just like to rely on the strong sun and low humidity to their work for them, which admittedly has been effective at 6 inches per day at melting the 2-3 feet of snow we got Wed-Fri). The technology seems like a cache — it makes for efficient use of resources under normal load, but offers no assistance when put under firehose conditions. Still, the technology is interesting, and not something I would have expected from lumbering snowplows. On the other hand, maybe low-tech is better — that earlier article said other cities like New York cope by being able to slap on blades to their garbage trucks."

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