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Comments

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Ask Slashdot: What Language Should a Former Coder Dig Into?

ynotds Perl has been a good last language (530 comments)

Maybe because I got into it near the end of last millennium, or because I was well enough grounded in fundamentals from assembler days, or because I was often dealing with dirty data, Perl plus the also less than perfect MySQL have enabled me to play in several unconnected spaces.

In 2012 I'd add the disclaimer as long as you don't treat CPAN too seriously. While there are indispensable gems there, way too often it either doesn't quite do what you need or alternatively, in attempting to do so, it invokes ridiculous dependency trees where quality control collapses.

Still waiting for Perl 6.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Good, Forgotten Fantasy & Science Fiction Novels?

ynotds Zindell (1244 comments)

David Zindell's Neverness and its follow up Requiem for Homo Sapiens trilogy, the first of which The Broken God is my all time favourite.

more than 2 years ago
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North Korea's High-Tech Counterfeit $100 Bills

ynotds Criminal et al use props up the dollar (528 comments)

I've long argued that the main thing propping up the artificially way too high US Dollar is its preferencing by extralegal entities since the normalisation of white collar "work" drove most of the American economy out of inherently tradeable production into devices which must be propped up by legal fictions to acquire monetary value.

more than 2 years ago
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Trials and Errors: Why Science Is Failing Us

ynotds Some are (almost) but don't know it (474 comments)

While it isn't any area for reductionist analysis. I've long suspected that people who are surprisingly successful have some internal model which accounts for critical systems effects, though they would most likely rationalise it away if pressed. Mostly they will by like N.N. Taleb (Black Swan) in convincing themselves this is a theory-free zone. What it really is, like specialised examples from plate tectonics to biological evolution, is theory that makes sense of the world we find ourselves in with only the broadest statistical predictive capacity.

Systems are not about efficiency. They are about resilience. Cancer is efficient.

more than 2 years ago
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Ocean Energy Tech To Be Tested Off Australian Coast

ynotds As somebody who holidays nearby (103 comments)

The swells and waves have got noticeably stronger over my 50 years holidaying on the Otway coast, so I would very much welcome anything that could take any energy out of them and make it more useful elsewhere.

Then I might get back to diving more than once or twice per summer, down from better than every second day in years gone by.

more than 2 years ago
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Stephen Wolfram Joins The Life Boat Foundation and Bets On Singularity

ynotds Um, no. (214 comments)

Wolfram pushes his principle of computational equivalence which says that anything you can find in one discrete system you can find in any other (which can be shown to emulate a universal Turing machine). His preference for 1D and Conway's, my and others' preference for 2D cellular automata for exploring some of that space is much more a statement about human visual perception. He actually suggests that a simple graph (formal math term for network of nodes and links) is a more likely candidate, but they are much harder to get your head (and your algorithms) around.

Personally I find his strong notion of computational equivalence only distracts from the need to find smarter exploration strategies in a space of boundless possibility, although it has some value as a "weak" principle analogous to the weak anthropic principle.

about 2 years ago
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Stephen Wolfram Joins The Life Boat Foundation and Bets On Singularity

ynotds You mostly nailed that (214 comments)

Wolfram's argument for exploring the space of discrete computations as a source of models richer and cheaper than continuum math needs wider endorsement. Much of the criticism is the inverse of a long recognised problem: shooting the message when you really want to shoot the messenger (and that only because you know the reputation rather than the person).

And your critique of totalising narratives has long been well understood in the postmodernist framework, but pomo too has been so badly misrepresented as to have hidden its useful contributions. It's not just the physicists who try to formulate the whole world in their terms. You should be much more afraid of the accountants and lawyers doing likewise without hint of oversight.

about 2 years ago
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Stephen Wolfram Joins The Life Boat Foundation and Bets On Singularity

ynotds Re:Goedel would like to have a word with you. (214 comments)

If Goedel was still around I'm sure he would like to say to Wolfram what he was too polite to say directly to Wittgenstein: that while the formalism project can be a handy tool in isolated circumstances that it must ultimately fail to account for the world we find ourselves in, because there are truths formalism cannot reach before they emerge unexpectedly from expanding chaos. He might even add that you could see that all in cellular automata if you looked with better tools in more likely places. So any lifeboat needs to try to be ready for anything, not just the expected.

about 2 years ago
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California Going Ahead With Bullet Train

ynotds Since when did rationality achieve anything? (709 comments)

Yeah, I too would like to believe, but the track record is abysmal and getting worse.

There is a cigarette paper between rationality and rationalisation.

They even made a movie about the case Larry Flint won, but nobody else has his courage.

more than 2 years ago
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Rethinking Rail Travel: Boarding a Moving Train

ynotds Better to do that at both ends (357 comments)

With every carriage/set having its own drive power (as our V/Locity and I'm sure many others already do) and superseding driver cabins though use of remote (including onboard remote) sensing and control functions, or even fully automatic, you can have stopping services docking at the front and dropping off the back of an always moving train system.

This could even allow a return to the once very comfortable mode of separate cabins opening off the side of a long corridor rather than the current fashion of squeezing longitudinal access between open plan seats so that every passenger is disturbed by anyone walking past.

more than 2 years ago
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What Happens When the Average Lifespan is 150 Years?

ynotds Stick around hoping that by 150 it goes to 200 (904 comments)

... and on and on. By then I'll surely have even more things to leave unfinished than I look like leaving now.

One good thing serious life expectancy increase might do is help us get over quarterly profits disease, but then again I'm always too optimistic. It might also make the choice clearer between getting off planet and cutting per capita resource wastage down here.

By the time anyone dies of age-related causes they are already quite a work of art, albeit of varying quality, and something is lost when they fail to leave dense traces of at least their best bits for posterity. Yet I bet, I'll still put more effort into observing than into recording. Can't wait for a Siri descendent that will be able to tease out our stories.

I'm not convinced there are any technical obstacles to getting to a point where life expectancy increases by more than a year per year, but have no expectation that I'll find myself on the right side of that curve, so finish up thinking more about technical systems for reincarnating, systems we are surely going to need to move beyond this solar system, no matter how long we can stretch our biological span.

more than 2 years ago
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Regarding timezones: I would rather live ...

ynotds Earth's most liveable city (359 comments)

says it all, though even we aren't immune to those living off the teat of advertising by preaching doom and gloom.

Never has there been anywhere more comfortable/indulgent to look forward to (increasing) retirement, nor to work on interesting stuff/making it even better unless you insist on relative poverty of those around you as your reward.

Though I really might appreciate the extra half hour on Mars.

more than 2 years ago
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Dark Matter Hinted at Again at Cresst Experiment

ynotds Re:Dark matter always seemed like a cop out. (80 comments)

no interaction with photons, and no frictional clumping

AFAIK this is one point not two as frictional clumping is mediated by photons, as at some point are all our observations. Not that I don't fully accept the evidence for dark matter, nor have any sympathy with DM deniers. From a history of science perspective, their kind have always been wrong.

more than 2 years ago
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First Observational Test of the "Multiverse"

ynotds Failing geometry (258 comments)

Two arbitrary lines in a 2D plane will meet with probability 1.0.
Two arbitrary lines in 3D space will meet with probability 0.0.
(In each case, the exceptions are vanishingly few relative to the norm.)

Extrapolating this to expanding 3D bubbles in almost any higher dimensional space the probability is again 0.0. Even more obviously, there is nowhere for collisions to happen if those bubbles are each creating their own space, not infecting some pre-existing space. The latter would have way too many other observable consequences to be a serious proposal.

(I have played with enough simplistic models to be currently comfortable with a notion that the implosion of a Type 1a supernova might be a good model for a cosmic egg which gives rise to a chaotic larval stage in which such conservative bubbles arise. (The political metaphor is not lost either.))

more than 2 years ago
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Interviews: Ask Technologist Kevin Kelly About Everything

ynotds Why "exotropy"? (135 comments)

I still cite Out of Control as the most readable introduction to the oft confused subject of complexity, and am right now wading through What Technology Wants but finding it far more forced (sleep inducing). While I clearly don't disagree with the idea of seeing technology as a partner with humanity, your newer book reads like you have invested too long in a world constructed from your imaginings and cut back your level of interest in looking at what is actually going on, an interest which seemed to pervade your earlier projects.

Yes, I am well past your rationalisation for abandoning "extropy", so what I really want to know is whether we are all going to be condemned to defend our business models to the death?

about 3 years ago
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The Hidden Reality Draws Ire From Physicists

ynotds Global-local confusion reigns again (387 comments)

Greene's NYT op ed piece perpetuates the silly notion that photons will somehow stop in their tracks and start going backwards due to the accelerating expansion. No they won't, they will just be red shifted further and there will certainly continue to be some asymptotic limit to how far away the furthest galaxies were that we are seeing, but everything we can see now is in a sense in front of the CMB and the CMB will keep coming, no matter how cold it gets.

While it must remain outside the realm of direct observation, I'm more comfortable with the idea of the multiverse as the domain in which physics has evolved through cycles from those Type 1a supernova eggs through some inflating placenta to a next generation Big Bang than I am about any notion that physics is somehow simultaneously testing countless possible variations on its laws. Larger possibility spaces demand smarter exploration techniques.

more than 3 years ago
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How many microprocessors are in your home, total?

ynotds Failure to dispose of superseded (559 comments)

"Too many" was definitely the right answer here. We totally fail to throw out/pass on those we no longer use, though I have had relatively recent occasion to power up my late mother's 1985 Mac. It's all the ones since that are really the issue.

more than 3 years ago
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Follow Up On Solar Neutrinos and Radioactive Decay

ynotds Clock problem for discrete microstructure models (183 comments)

(Disclaimer: I don't expect to see significant breakthroughs any time soon in the quest to identify a discrete "simple" mechanism at Planck scale or similar, but that hasn't stopped Wolfram and unconnected others treating the possibility seriously. The extremely limited experimental simulations possible on foreseeable computers don't show signs of ruling out the possibility, so the thoughts below are confined to such a model and treat field theories et al as emergent.)

If there is a hypothetical microstructure in the form of a simple graph (as formally defined) or similar which is continually involved in determining the next local state based on the current local state via some "simple" (enough) mechanism/rule/Wolfram "program", then it should be obvious to many of us with deep experience in computing that there is a major unaddressed clock synchronisation problem that must be solved in order to produce the observed consistency of time across regions which cannot share a time signal.

I've recently speculated that the CMB might have a role in this given that, under certain measurement assumptions, space is approximately filled with CMB photons, with their omnidirectional passage being sufficient to stimulate a natural resonance in the microstructure. Obviously the neutrino flux, or the combination of both, could be part of such a story. And that might make local variation in radioactive decay rates correlated with neutrino flux variations no more surprising than the variation in refractive index between various forms of (transparent) condensed matter.

At this stage it is all speculation, and fun, but certainly not anti-scientific.

more than 3 years ago
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How Can an Old-School Coder Regain His Chops?

ynotds Sad they don't pay for analysis and design anymore (565 comments)

I'm a dozen years down the same track, though was a lot less intentional when I got back on that horse. Twice, I swore I would never learn another programming language, initially liking the look of C but feeling past it already then looking at Forth and immediately swearing off reverse Polish. I could not have been more wrong. All it took was the right incentive.

Having privileged very early access to a LaserWriter with the tangible reward it provided of high resolution dots on a page very quickly had me at the leading edge of independent PostScript development, but that morphed into a business opportunity and I again moved on, though at least with any barrier to thinking about the previously, to me, obscure notion of graphical programming thoroughly erased. (There is an aside in there about GW Basic and the false hopes it gave me that VB might be the way to go with some legacy Fortran, providing my final disillusionment with anything M$.)

Having spent a decade getting paid more for words than for code, I found myself doing some CGI tweaking with Perl which I soon came to see in its c.1998 incarnation as being the ideal language for an ageing coder to return to. A young colleague's accelerated learning soon dragged me through Perl's object model and MySQL, but there I've been stuck for a decade, still waiting for Perl 6 and earning an ever-decreasing drip feed enhancing a system I designed long ago ... largely through choice as I place other values on whatever productive time I have left.

An aside on SQL: once you accept that it really does very little, it becomes a handy way to deal with lots of stuff. Nowadays I spend as much time writing queries as I do writing Perl 5.

Given the chance to choose again today, I'd focus on JavaScript and keep waiting for Perl 6.

more than 3 years ago
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Education Official Says Bad Teachers Can Be Good For Students

ynotds Mixed results (279 comments)

In grade five at a liberal protestant church school our class burnt maybe a dozen teachers over the year, some in as little as three days. At least a few of us went on to make significant contributions in fields requiring at least intellectual competence.

In the first ever year 12 class at a then new suburban state secondary school, our math teacher fell ill and was never properly replaced. Three of us pretty much took on the job of keeping the math classes going and between us got better personal results than we otherwise might have.

But more than once in more recent times I've had to try to help youngsters who had relevant aptitude try to recover from the disaster of an incompetent math teacher at the wrong moment of their education, not an easy task.

While, thankfully, everyone is different, I lean towards more concern that emerging social dynamics, amplified in the cities, are producing a challenge-challenged generation who might really need to keep our richer experiences within reach when we would rather be retiring.

about 4 years ago

Submissions

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John Archibald Wheeler dead at 96

ynotds ynotds writes  |  more than 6 years ago

ynotds writes "One of the great physicist's younger research students, Daniel Holz, has written a moving Goodbye.

Fortunately, being a relatively clueless 20-year old, I was only dimly aware of these things. I was interested in gravity and cosmology, and I had heard Wheeler knew a thing or two about such topics. So I waltzed in, and asked if he had any projects I could work on. I staggered out of his office four hours later, laden with books, a clearly defined project in my hands. For the ensuing two years I spent essentially every weekday with Wheeler.
"

Link to Original Source

Journals

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Modernised Style Guide for EULAs and other online legalese

ynotds ynotds writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Full capitalisation of normal words, underlining, boldface and scare quotes must be limited to one phrase in any two consecutive paragraphs, or two words in any two, three in three, etc. up to a limit where the use of n so emphasised words in m paragraphs, n>m, requires n-m paragraphs either side to be free of such emphasis, and thus requires the document to contain at least n paragraphs, excluding headers.
Any statutory requirement for whole paragraph emphasis must be provided by a margin stripe.
A new version of a document must clearly indicate through appropriate colours where text has been added, changed or deleted, with the old version made visible by hovering over the change indicator.
A timeline slider must be provided to give access to diffs against earlier versions (which the user has accepted).
The user's acceptance on one device must be recognised as acceptance for all devices linked to that account.
The user must be asked to separately indicate acceptance of each significant change.
A button must be provided to allow a user to view or "print" the document in traditional style, i.e. with full capitalisation of parts to be glossed over.
A button must be provided to number the paragraphs with nesting and other supplementation to avoid cascading number changes between versions.
Default full word text is to be no smaller than 11 on 13 and all sub and superscripts no smaller than 8 point, with standard interface options to zoom in or out.
Installers must enforce compliance with these guidelines.

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iPad Camera Connection Kit

ynotds ynotds writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Ever since last week's announcement, Apple's Tech Specs have made it very clear that a USB camera is going to be an option:

The Camera Connection Kit gives you two ways to import photos and videos from a digital camera. The Camera Connector lets you import your photos and videos to iPad using the camera's USB cable. Or you can use the SD Card Reader to import photos and videos directly from the camera's SD card.

which the rumour sites that think they are all over iPhone OS 3.2 support for video calling seem to have missed.

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Silly thought about next Sunday

ynotds ynotds writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Posting here because I can't clear my head of a plainly silly idea.

This coming Sunday, January 25th, is the middle of a long weekend and the traditional peak of summer down under.

So why do I keep thinking about getting everybody with unrecoverable old Macs to take them and sledgehammers to some otherwise deserted parking lot, plus my new HD camera to remake an ad?

Yes it has been a quarter of a century, an anniversary everybody seems to be ignoring alongside the inauguration of hope and concern over Steve's health.

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Don't ever call submit submit

ynotds ynotds writes  |  more than 6 years ago

This really should have been a headline item in HTML 101 but it is surprisingly difficult to find a quick explanation of the non-obvious diagnostics which eventually led me to a relatively simple problem.

When there is a namespace clash in JavaScript, properties outrank methods.

When you name a submit button, that name becomes a property of the containing form. Assuming the containing form tag says name='myformname', the very useful document.myformname.submit() method becomes unreachable.

And the obvious answer, changing the form name, becomes impossible to contemplate when your main client's business-defining intranet is built on middleware which calls every submit button submit so that progress through a process is represented by values of $in{'submit'}.

I've even relatively recently added code which logs $in{'submit'} along with other details of every process that is run so we can learn more about actual usage patterns.

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Melbourne Slashdot 10th Anniversary Party

ynotds ynotds writes  |  more than 6 years ago

I have a long history of translating indicated attendance into actual numbers for functions, but basing it on acceptances from an untested source was always going to be risky.

So I don't know whether I should just celebrate that the eight who made it seemed like a pretty good sample or bemoan the 23 who didn't show out of the 31 who registered.

The obligatory photo evidence is on Flickr!

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Touching a raw nerve

ynotds ynotds writes  |  more than 7 years ago

While I do think /. moderation includes the kernel of a good idea, specific examples are almost never worthy of meta conversation, at least not until I scored a 50% Insightful, 50% Flamebait which naturally adds up to +2 Flamebait.

Maybe that's what I should have expected for taking pot shots at all sides. Makes it hard not to hit some mod's comfort zone.

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Will our collective arrogance never end?

ynotds ynotds writes  |  more than 7 years ago

So it is supposed to be news that elephants pass mirror test of self-awareness. What else could anybody not drowning in their own anthropophilic delusions expect? Clearly they ruled the old world, and their hairy cousins a fair chunk of the rest of the north, for quite a while before our kind made it out of Africa. We even forget that eyesight is not near as important to cetaceans and proboscideans as it is to primates, so we can only hope that science will eventually mature enough to look for truly unbiased signs of self-awareness that will help narrow down the few recent characteristics that have facilitated the human infestation.

Pulled up one car back at the lights at an exit from the Monash this morning, I was given a reminder this morning that there are still distinctions to be made between species as a mudlark repeatedly alighted on the door sill of one of the cars in front, then quickly dove towards the driver/passenger window of the car in the other lane, pulling up just enough to land on the other sill, clearly intent on repelling its reflected rivals, but still comical.

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Lets not get religious about network neutrality

ynotds ynotds writes  |  more than 8 years ago

While in other circumstances I would rather trust the thinking of new tech companies than the telcos, I can't see that network neutrality is the kind of issue that the tech community needs to get into such a flap about.

Even when we were examining broadband futures for our then soon to be unelected government in the mid '90s, the idea was about that some anticipated internet applications would work better with a quality of service differential.

All that seems to have happened in the interim is that the net has proved good enough in practice for almost everything we have thought of to throw at it. That is just the kind of thinking that allows Windoze to maintain traction.

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Google Trends fuels The Register's Irish joke

ynotds ynotds writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Checking into The Register's suspect claim that 'Ireland, Oz and NZ top world loneliness index' one finds it is based on a too simplistic query of Google Trends. How many more misleading conclusions can we come to this way?

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First 60 iTMS puchases = 60 different artists

ynotds ynotds writes  |  more than 8 years ago

That probably says a lot about my take in music.

If iTMS carried everything on my wish list, I could have got past 90 before feeling obligated to go to seconds, but as it stands the pattern will have to break in my 7th monthly selection of 10.

While my collection is still dominated numerically by tracks ripped from my own purchased CDs, with iTMS tracks only accounting for 8%, those tracks have now passed 50% of my 5 star rated tracks. (Some purchases are rated 4, and I don't plan to ever buy many single tracks that I would not rate 4 or 5 on my current use of the scale.)

iTMS has also encouraged me to but a new CD or three, including one from Amazon that I would have happily bought for $A16.90 if iTMS had not kept it in limbo but still listed for several months. I'm on the lookout for a couple more when I next pass a big CD retailer.

Compared to what I've invested in vinyl, CDs and even cassette tapes over the years, the $A101.40 to date on iTMS seems miniscule. It even pales beside the cost of an unsatisfactory acquisition of a turntable and related paraphernalia with the intention of digitising some of my old vinyl. Now it looks like working out that there will be so little that matters left which I have not obtained through other legal channels, that I will just let that project collect dust.

Having now assembled a solid proportion of my favourite tracks, I've started to make more creative use of playlists. Unsurprisingly "Signature Songs" is the largest of those new playlists with 30 to date, and that doesn't include another 10 in my "Absolute Favourites" and therefore inelligible for my other sub-genre playlists.

Depending on how long it takes Apple to make real inroads with the recalcitrant labels, and with the to date neglected archival tracks that are now starting to look relevant to long tail distribution models, I expect to one day still have to face harder decisions about sourcing those last handful of must have tracks.

But for now it all sounds plenty good enough.

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Longhorn FUD

ynotds ynotds writes  |  more than 10 years ago

As much as I would be happier to just ignore it, there is something about the increasing Longhorn hysteria that is reminiscent of the depths Apple slid into in the mid-90s.

There were a succession of enticing technology demos promoted as seeds of totally new architectures, more than a couple of which almost survived deployment then in the process of their ultimate abandonment burnt many fans.

But the ask was always too big, just the same as it has always been with every other monolithic attempt at software over engineering.

The one thing we can count on from Microsoft is that they will eventually bring out something which they will tell us is Longhorn. They are too political to contemplate honest abandonment. But all they will ever deliver will be cherry picked features grafted onto their already long suffering underlying architcture.

Apple needed two things to break the cycle of unleliverable promises and finally produce the most significant new OS since IBM's VM: the only multi-achieving arse-kicker in the industry and a decade of somebody else somewhere else evolving the other half of their answer. (The fact that that "somebody else" was the same "arse kicker" on out placement also served to smooth a few wrinkles.)

One fact of life ignored by believers in seven day solutions is that there is a complexity ceiling which applies to engineering and logistics, beyond which more complexity can only be added by an evolutionary mechanism--variation plus selection. If it were not so serious it would be amusing that those who proclaim complexity as evidence for design are so far off target.

But back to Longhorn. My betting is that there will never be another truly new OS from Microsoft, or at least not while their market share remains significant. They will continue to lie about it and continue to fail to deliver. Intel and AMD all over again, yet even Intel has a more resilient basic culture to fall back on, IBM-style, than the isolates from Seattle.

Of course there is never an easier place to make a dishonest living than on the coat-tails of an empire in decline, so if that's your style don't let me discourage you. Just keep the dollars circulating.

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Tick Tock -- a simple evolving network

ynotds ynotds writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Earlier this week I decided it was time to announce on NKS Forum the little project that has been keeping me distracted these last 3 months.

That announcement contains some disclaimers on possible browser issues where I am consciously pushing the boundaries, and it is also probably the best place for discussion, although comments are certainly welcome here.

Tick Tock might not be the kind of Class 4 system I prefer to hunt, but it may be a useful step towards doing some useful work in the field of evolving graphs which is increasingly theorised as being fundamental but largely neglected for detailed study because of perceived perceptual obstacles.

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Countable and uncountable infinities

ynotds ynotds writes  |  more than 10 years ago

This may not strictly be a "note for nowhere else" but I am test running it here first because of the frequency with which assertions turn up on /. about the likes of the works of Shakespeare turning up in the digits of pi.

The importance is that even world renouned mathematicians get this wrong way to often. I just finally started reading Roger Penrose's Shadows and quickly found him confounding the number of algorithms with a countable number (even though he had just made mention of Cantor and "diagonal" in the same breath) in his effort to make a case that there are things human minds can do that are not computable. Meanwhile, in trying to make the opposite case, Wolfram cites the "oracle" argument which contains exactly the same misunderstanding.

While there are a whole lot of technical arguments that can be got into about orders of infinity, there is really only one distinction that matters to our everyday understanding of the world, that between aleph 0, countable infinity, and aleph 1 (and higher) which is uncountable.

I could just make the point that actualities are countable and possibilities are uncountable, but that would be putting the cart before the hourse.

First we need to recognise that any form of infinity is just a mathematical construct. We are not ever going to have to deal with actual infinities, but what is very useful is understanding limiting behaviour as something or other goes towards infinity. It is here that the difference between countable and uncountable infinities matters immensely.

countable
can be put into a one to one correspondence with the natural numbers
uncountable
cannot be put into a one to one correspondence with the natural numbers

The digits of pi, the keystrokes made by a room full of monkeys, the galaxies, stars, grains of sand, atoms are all countable. Each could be given a number.

Possible texts, possible algrithms, possible macromolecules, possible species, potential humans cannot be given a number. Each is a unique combination of a long sequence of units and every time you add one to the length of the base sequence, you multiply the possibilities by some factor greater than one, often much greater but even that does not matter except in the limit.

So if you struggle to count the possibilities of a small complex system, just making that system slightly larger multiplies those possibilities out of all proportion and counting them becomes orders of magnitude harder.

Even if, as I strongly suspect, our cosmos is but a semen stain on the sheets of some grand cosmological process going on beyond our event horizons, there is no "other earth" anywhere else. There is no other you. There is no other me! Fortunately!!

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Nice to be back

ynotds ynotds writes  |  more than 11 years ago

Hopefully this means that whatever had been preventing me posting here from my ISP (one of Australia's big 5) has finally gone away.

When such problems persist, it is all too easy to just forget about the possibility of posting anything.

Similarly, I'm becoming more and more aware just how easy it is for one's involvement in once all consuming online communities to just fade away without notice.

That awareness hasn't changed my development objectives, but it has again focused my attention on some of the deep impediments to truly empowering online communities.

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Perl 6

ynotds ynotds writes  |  about 12 years ago

Perl 6 was already very interesting even before Larry Wall's Apoclypse 5 brought us regexes we can build grammars on and that has sure stirred up the excitement level, as evidenced by this week's Perl 6 Digest (from which there doesn't seem to be a link to other recent P6P Digests, not that I could afford the time if there was).

To me, Perl 6 with it's strong linguistic roots has emerged as the great hope for tackling two major development objectives:

  • integrating open ended functionality definition within a content management framework (and here I need to also keep in mind the need for CVS or Subversion equivalent functionality)
  • enough analysis of natural (and other) language to make serious inroads on redundancy problems including both deliberate and inadvertent resubmission

If only there was time to draw an updated road map.

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Wolfram's New Kind of Science in NYT

ynotds ynotds writes  |  more than 12 years ago

Arguably a bit more substantive than Mathematica co-developer Theo Gray's Periodic Table Table, Stephen Wolfram has invested much of his returns from Mathematica and his considerable intellectual ability into a long anticipated 1197 page tome that provides theoretical underpinnings for the notion that seemingly complex systems may be best understood by seeing the universe as an irreducable super massively parallel computer for which the cellular automata Wolfram has long been an authority on are a useful model.

The New York Times has an article on A New Kind of Science which I received links to from two unconnected directions within hours of its publication.

I am reminded by one of them that it 'hits the bookstores on Tuesday, May 14'.

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Defining "Paesthetics"

ynotds ynotds writes  |  more than 12 years ago

A lateral though: time to proclaim the study of "paesthetics" being the destructive effects of ubiquity on human sensibilities.

PowerPoint, Excel, Word and other Micro$oft-ware aren't the only paesthetic topics, just some of the more relevant at /.

Another notable is the monospaced type written page and its infected brethered: e-mail, Usenet and IRC. (Monospaced is more sensible in a code intensive environement but the antithesis of readability when used for natural language.)

Moving further afield, students of paesthetics might interest themselves in money as a measure of value, or cream bricks, red roofing tiles and near white plaster walls as corrupters of architecture.
 

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Going beyond Slashdot

ynotds ynotds writes  |  more than 12 years ago

My mind is mostly scrambled between issues of community, of praxis and of theoria.

Slashdot provides a powerful exemplar of community and praxis, by which I here mean my 20 year old ideas for a Public Information Communications and Access system, which has morphed into my current efforts to pull together TransForum version 2.

Slashdot's Science section adds one more temptation to the range of sources which add data to my theoretical explorations of what in 2002 in Oz it has again become accepted to label "complex systems" but which I see more and more as part of the Big Picture.

My experience of community has been the best antidote for flawed notions of control and largely become something to be escaped from so I can focus more of my aging energies on the theoria and the praxis.

Maybe I should try to use this little corner of cyberspace to expose a few thoughts on subjects that might be better suited to this audience than to the handful of aging and mostly private TransForums which I sometimes use as sounding boards.

That might also depend on whether anybody else wants to join such an obscure discussion.

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