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Is Time Moving Forward Or Backward? Computers Learn To Spot the Difference

mrbobjoe Re:Sounds like bad methology (78 comments)

Good question about the codec, they took that into account somewhat by including a dataset that used a codec with only intra-frames (I imagine this was MJPEG).

From section 3.3:

We also filmed a small number of video clips using a camera which could record in a video codec which used only intra-frame, rather than inter-frame coding, meaning that there was no possibility of compression artefacts holding any time-direction information. This dataset comprises 13 HD videos of tennis balls being rolled along a floor and colliding with other rolling or static balls.

The algorithms tested did well on this dataset as well, 12/13 classified correctly.

about 7 months ago

A Cognitive Teardown of Angry Birds

mrbobjoe Re:learn anything through games (220 comments)

I'm also very interested in programming games. So far I haven't found any that are exactly what I want, but there are some enjoyable ones.

I used to do programming contests in college, while I enjoyed these I always felt like I wasn't learning enough. They're designed so that you'd need a very good team and lots of outside training. It isn't nearly as much fun outside of real (or even practice) competition, but you can find big banks of problems and an online judge if you want to play along. TopCoder is similar and much easier to participate in, but again its focus is on competition, not education (though maybe that's changed?).

The closest I've seen in video games are those by Zachtronics Industries, they all deal in some way with engineering design. SpaceChem in particular is quite programming-like (as explored here) and has a great difficulty progression. Kohctpyktop is an integrated circuit design puzzle with a strong test driven development bent, though if I hadn't already studied EE it would probably be prohibitively difficult.

There's also pleasingfungus' Manufactoria, which has a lot of CS (stack machine) stuff in it and a great sense of progression.

A lot of these attempts tend to be directed at kids; the old Rocky's Boots was one of the first steps in this direction, with logic gates and simple circuits. I didn't find it very good, but ToonTalk is an ambitious visual programming environment and game-like tutorial rooted in SmallTalk semantics.

Cort Stratton wrote a post in September called The Games Programmers Play, which covers this topic well. The comments here on Slashdot and on Gamasutra suggest some more such games.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about designing "games for learning programming", I've written somewhat more extensively about it on my blog. I hope you find some of these suggestions interesting, sorry for the linkstorm.

more than 3 years ago

2 RMS Books Hit Version 2.0

mrbobjoe Re:The best part: (163 comments)

The text has been online at faifzilla, that's how I read it. And printed out the whole thing. Going to pick up a 2.0 copy for real this time, though.

more than 3 years ago

Scientists Develop Brain-Microchip Bridge

mrbobjoe Re:But not in a real brain? (118 comments)

Heh, is this is alternate form of "That would have worked if you hadn't stopped me"?

more than 4 years ago

A New Take On the Fermi Paradox

mrbobjoe Re:Or maybe we are living in a simulation... (388 comments)

Direct stimulation (by the pressure you're putting on the retina) of the various edge and pattern detection nets that connect the photoreceptors to the optic nerve. At least that's been my interpretation.

more than 4 years ago

The "Scientific Impotence" Excuse

mrbobjoe Re:Scientific 'Facts' Change more often than Relig (892 comments)

I see your argument, but... the "goes around" phenomenon is the Earth-Sun system's effect on the Earth, not its effect on the Sun. Its effect on the Sun is "wobbles imperceptibly".
Though I'm sure that's unconvincing if you're seriously arguing :)

more than 4 years ago

Ogg Format Accusations Refuted

mrbobjoe Re:tl;dr (248 comments)

If I am not required to decode the video stream, then you can't put the shared metadata in the video stream. If I am not required to decode the audio stream, then you can't put the shared metadata in the audio stream. So what then?

Put the shared metadata in the metadata stream?

more than 4 years ago

Sony Can Update PS3 Firmware Without Permission

mrbobjoe Re:Sony . . . ? Rootkit . . . ? (700 comments)

Would a company like Sony rootkit their customers . . .?

Rootkit? They already own the OS more fundamentally than you do.

more than 4 years ago

Ubisoft Says No More Game Manuals

mrbobjoe SimLife (400 comments)

The SimLife manual was my introduction to evolution. Appropriate for a simulation, it included a lab book with suggested experiments to run and space to record and analyze the results. The main manual was over 200 pages and went into significant detail not just about the game (which was ridiculously complex) but about genetics in general, and also included a bizarre series of cartoons wherein a family gradually mutates themselves. SimEarth was similar with its coverage of Gaia theory, though I never really could get into that game. Relatedly, I've spent more time reading AD&D manuals than playing.

But I'm the kind of person who enjoys reading manuals anyway. Netscape's heartwarming introduction was delightfully cheesy.

more than 4 years ago

How To Exploit NULL Pointers

mrbobjoe Re:OS dependent (139 comments)

I know I'm quite late, but I've always seen 0 at 0 on AIX. A quick test with


gives 0. This is 6.1.3, though, it may have been the way you say on some older release.

more than 4 years ago

Triumph of the Cyborg Composer

mrbobjoe Re:It has limits (502 comments)

If you just translate those rules to computer code, then anything it makes will sound good. What it cannot create is real creativity. There are some composers such as Wagner, Mahler and Stravinsky who chose to break those rules. Their music doesn't sound pretty, but it is very enjoyable and it obeys enough of those rules to sound good. In short, we'll never see a computer compose something like the rite of spring.

From the article:

Cope wrestled with the problem for months, almost giving up several times. And then one day, on the way to the drug store, Cope remembered that Bach wasn't a machine -- once in a while, he broke his rules for the sake of aesthetics. The program didn't break any rules; Cope hadn't asked it to. The best way to replicate Bach's process was for the software to derive his rules -- both the standard techniques and the behavior of breaking them.

It sounds like "know the rules and how they are broken" was in fact the essence of this approach.

more than 4 years ago

Google Docs To Host Any File Type

mrbobjoe Re:About split (186 comments)

type * > bigfile

Is this binary safe? Windows stdout defaults to text mode, I assume type works that way too. On Windows I've always used copy /b file1 + file2 bigfile

about 5 years ago

When Libertarians Attack Free Software

mrbobjoe Re:Explained by a Simple Formula (944 comments)

It could be possible for one company to own 100% of the resources. It would take quite a bit of money to buy 100% of any product, but I guess it can't be discounted.

At that point isn't the company the whole society, especially considering workers as a resource? It sounds like talking about thermodynamics, and saying "but there is no true closed system, with the exception of the entire universe."

more than 5 years ago

Mafia Sinks Ships Containing Toxic Waste

mrbobjoe Re:Reprocessing nuclear waste? (401 comments)

Sure, and a protection racket could do a much better job keeping things safe by performing regular inspections, replacing smoke detector batteries, etc.

more than 5 years ago

EA Spends 3x on Marketing Than Development

mrbobjoe Re:Why is this a surprise? (442 comments)

Just don't expect long term (5+ year) success out of it.

It seems that he doesn't expect that long term success can be had anymore, for a single game. In a much more detailed report of another talk by Hilleman, the reporter says (I assume paraphrasing Hilleman):

Piracy and sales of used games have taken their toll. The latter means that game sales have no long tail; most sales happen in the first three to six weeks; thereafter, used game sales where publishers get no percentage of the cut take over. Burnout Paradise has twice as many users as it has games sold, a fact that is explained by the sales of used games and by game piracy.

There are ways, though! Shortly thereafter was a rather sickening line:

There are new categories like Webkinz, where you buy a plush toy and get a code where you can log in online to play games. For kids, "those games are like crack," Hilleman said. "Don't you wish you invented that?"

more than 5 years ago


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