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Comment: Minix on Atari ST (Score 3, Interesting) 136

by sbaker (#47424723) Attached to: Prof. Andy Tanenbaum Retires From Vrije University

I ran Minix for a year or more on my Atari ST - having a UNIX-like operating system on a machine I could have at home was a truly awesome thing. Tanenbaum's work is fascinating, useful and will be around for a good while...which is more or less the definition of "successful" in academic circles.

The debates with Linus were interesting - but I always felt that they were arguing at cross-purposes. Linus wanted a quick implementation of something indistinguishable from "real UNIX" - Tanenbaum wanted something beautiful and elegant. Both got what they wanted - there was (and continues to be) no reason why they can't both continue to exist and be useful.

Tanenbaum's statement that the computer would mostly be running one program at a time was clearly unreasonable for a PC - but think about phones or embedded controllers like BeagleBone and Raspberry Pi? Perhaps Minix is a better solution in those kinds of applications?

Comment: Re:Turing Test Failed (Score 1) 432

by sbaker (#47204313) Attached to: Turing Test Passed

I think that to pass the Turing test, you have to tell the judges that the entity they are about to talk to *might* be a computer program. Eliza worked because people had never encountered a computer that even tried to be remotely human - so the assumption was that this was a real person from the outset. Also Eliza is a psychologist - so she gets to ask all the questions and steer the conversation into territory she can actually handle. Responses to things she can't parse are things like "So how does that make YOU feel?" - which work in that situation.

In a real turing test, the questions are completely open and the judge is initially highly sceptical that this is a real human.

Judges in these contests always seem to low-ball the questions. Ask "How would Santa Claus fend off a horde of attacking Ninjas?"

Those are insanely difficult questions for an AI to get right without some neutral "I don't feel like answering that right now" kind of response. A 13 year old kid would leap in and start wondering whether Santa could fly away in his sleigh and drop presents on them...or set the elves loose on them...or ask another question in return, like "Can the reindeer help out?"

Something that requires creativity - not just knowledge (which Watson could pull off) or a decent use of the English language (which Eliza could manage to some degree).

Comment: and your point is...? (Score 1) 115

by Jacek Poplawski (#46966133) Attached to: How Free-To-Play Is Constricting Mobile Games

"Recent data shows 20 percent of mobile games get opened once and never again." I was trying to understand what these numbers mean but I failed. What's your point? If the cost of game is zero then anyone can try it, just like anyone could install demo version or just watch gameplay on youtube. While I agree that in-app purchases can destroy games (and perfect example is Dungeon Keeper) - I don't see any logical conclusion in your numbers.

Comment: stupidity (Score 1) 612

by Jacek Poplawski (#45761965) Attached to: Is Computer Science Education Racist and Sexist?

I just wonder how big the level of stupidity left wing must reach before it will be recognized by the majority of society. Or at least my majority of slashdot readers.

Let's go to the next level. Let's see how many females play first person shooter games. Maybe it's time to ban all these games because they are so sexist.

Or maybe someone should just call bullshit a bullshit.

Comment: Re:Energy itself as currency. (Score 3, Interesting) 532

by sbaker (#44974389) Attached to: I'd prefer my money be made of ...

Of course people soon became tired of lugging tons of batteries around with them - and having to stand in line to get them charged up at the end of every work-day. Also, measuring the amount of charge transferred between your battery and that of the supermarket when buying a pound of carrots was always a matter of some dispute. Hence there came to be standard batteries with numerical displays on them to show how much charge remained. Places called banques sprang up where you could leave your batteries and read out their charge remotely. Exchanges allowed you to discharge your batteries *here* and to use an exactly equal amount of energy to charge up those of someone on the other side of the planet who wished to provide you with some physical goods. The inconvenience of physically storing all of that electricity made it more efficient for the banques to supply it to people who needed it, in exchange for electricity in return in the future. Over time, nobody was ever sure that the amount of electricity held in the banque was as much as the banque claimed to have stored - or owed to it.

Pretty soon, a shorthand word for "total amount of electricity" was needed - and that quirky unused '$' symbol on everyone's keyboard came to stand for some arbitrary amount of the stuff.

Comment: Been all-electronic for a while now. (Score 1) 532

by sbaker (#44974173) Attached to: I'd prefer my money be made of ...

I realize a while ago that it had been a very long time since I last used a dollar bill or a coin - so I looked back through my banking records to see when I last used an ATM (which is a reasonable approximation for the date when I last needed cash for anything). I was surprised to see that it was almost two years ago. I also looked back at my checkbook...same deal. Haven't used that in two years either.

For me at least - electronic money is already here.

    -- Steve

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