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Comment: Re:Isn't parody protected in the US? (Score 5, Insightful) 107

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#46791989) Attached to: Peoria Mayor Sends Police To Track Down Twitter Parodist

In Canada you can parody anyone. For example Justin Turdeau instead of Justin Trudeau (leader Liberal party Canada). It's funny and you can't get sued never mind have the police come after you. It's called freedom of speech.

Legally, yes; but none of that kicks in until after some sort of legal proceeding actually occurs. If the cops just break down your door, shoot your dog, and seize everything that looks evidentiary and/or worth 'losing', and then no charges are filed? Well, if you have the resources to lawyer up, you could probably make a civil case out of it; but otherwise you just got protected and served.

Comment: How appropriate... (Score 4, Insightful) 107

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#46791927) Attached to: Peoria Mayor Sends Police To Track Down Twitter Parodist
Hasn't Peoria been a cultural touchstone for humorless reactionary behavior since whenever "Will it play in Peoria?" was coined?

Also, can they not afford enough legal advice to tell them that basically every step of this plan is practically a textbook case of 'How to incur legal exposure in absurdly obvious ways'?

Comment: Will it matter? (Score 5, Interesting) 78

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#46791331) Attached to: How Nest and FitBit Might Spy On You For Cash
You start with the ones who don't care, give them discounts on their insurance premiums or electric bill or whatever. Over the course of a few years, you futz with the prices until it's less of a 'discount' and more 'the only way to approach the price you used to get'.

At that point, the ones who do care can either suck it up and wear whatever herd-management-solution you feel like telling them to, or they can pay (probably increasingly steeply) to maintain their precious little objections.

Comment: Re:But (Score 1) 76

by VortexCortex (#46791245) Attached to: Samsung's Position On Tizen May Hurt Developer Recruitment

I like to wear watches. Recently lost my watch, Frownie face. But I don't want to get a new one because I'm holding out for an iwatch later this year. In the meantime, my wrist feels naked! I just hope the iwatch is sub $400.

I hope in the Apple tradition it is $666, and when you lose it like you lost your other ultra-losable hardware you make a Frowine face so hard it freezes that way.

Comment: Re:Anything built before 2001 (Score 1) 561

by King_TJ (#46791039) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

That's partially the case, but especially with certain categories of items, there are demonstrably "better" and "worse" time periods to have purchased them.

For example, when it comes to homes, you can find a large number of people in real estate or aspects of home repair/improvement who will tell you that in general, in the USA, the best built homes are from the late 1800's through the 1920's. (Among other things, the wood framing typically used old growth forest lumber, which you just won't ever see in use on more modern homes. Many also had such features as corrugated, galvanized steel sheet roofing -- which was designed to last around 100 years, vs. the typical asphalt shingles which are rated for as little as a 10 year lifespan.)

With computer technology, it's not that difficult to compare and contrast the early personal computers of the 1980's with what's typically sold today, and see a BIG difference in build quality. Who builds keyboards with steel frames around the keycaps these days? Look at the difference in sturdiness of the typical enclosure. Heck, the entire case of the Apple //e was metal! Look at the old dot matrix printers from companies like Epson or Okidata.... I'd say the majority of them you run across these days still work, 30 years or more after they were manufactured. Most were simply cast aside as completely obsolete before they actually broke down. (I used to know a guy who loved buying them cheap just to rip the servo motors out of them for robotics projects.)

Comment: Osborne 1 (Score 1) 561

by VortexCortex (#46790095) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

I still have a working Osborn 1 and use almost every day. That's over three decades of service. My CP/M 2.2 disks are toast, so I've replaced the OS with one of my own design for use in my hobby home automation projects. The 300 Baud modem died so I use its RS-232 (serial) port with an IR LED and resistor across DTR to do IO with my home theatre system. The IEEE-488 (parallel) port is used for multiple sensor IOs and a sanitized COM link to my Linux server network which can route IR messages around the rest of the home.

It's more of an "antique" retro conversation piece, but I'm a practical guy and find collectables such as this 1st widespread "portable" PC to be far more interesting when in use; Rather than collecting dust and only being the subject of tech war storries others can witness the power of its simplicity and appreciate the workhorse in action. When I press the button on my remote or smart-phone app visitors (esp. kids) heads are turned by the 5 1/4 inch drive access sounds as the proper code translation table is loaded into the 64KB RAM and colored debugging LEDs on its exposed bread boards blink while status messages flicker to life scrolling up the 54x24 character green monochrome display, then lights dim and a projector screen lowers, and various set-top boxes have their inputs configured. Kids will spend hours "watching TV" just changing the channels and active devices while actually paying attention to the old Osborne One doing its duty. I consider it sort of like an 80's version of steam-punk -- My take on "cyber-punk". Sometimes I'll show the older kids how to manually command systems by making and breaking circuits with a paperclip on the breadboard to do IO. The resulting stream of "how"s and "why"s is fully expected; This setup was socially engineered to lead hapless inquisitors away from the mind-numbing TV and out to tinker with the brain boosting electronics and robotics projects in the garage.

I have some replacement parts from its dead brothers and sisters, but it too will eventually bite the dust eventually and be replaced with other hardware. I really miss parallel ports. Even kids can do IO by hand on the old interface instead of running everything through a more complex serialization protocol; Building a USB interface just to get back bit-mapped parallel IO is just silly. Thus, old beige boxes and custom DOS programs are still my favourite for intro to software / hardware & robotics even more so than single board or embedded systems like Raspberry Pi or Arduino and its clunky expansion ports -- for want of a simple Parallel Interface... I mean, you can use a bit or byte pattern of a parallel interface as an "escape code" to signal a mode switch and with a few transistors you can have as many "expansion cards" to program as you want. When I'm teaching how stuff works, I don't want things like this abstracted away and hidden behind proprietary hardware and software interfaces.

Remember the Three R's: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Reusing old hardware should be attempted before recycling. Experiencing the magic blue smoke escaping from an old main board, ISA / PCI card, etc. is an important part of learning electronics projects. Having to redo their work teaches folks to be more careful even if the parts are otherwise "worthless junk". Making interesting and/or useful things out of a "Trash 80" is seen by youngsters more impressive than using purpose built devices designed to facilitate the project. If they make it past the Cyber-Junkyard Frankenstein stage Only Then do they move up to working on more expensive single board systems and full featured robotics systems, bypassing the Raspberry Pi and Arduino stage altogether (and foisting some of my old junk into other unsuspecting tinkerers' garages).

The Osborne 1 is great for operating your whole home AV gear. Bugfixing custom hardware and Z80 instructions exercises one's memory and maintains neuro-plasticity -- It can even cause kids to favor educational programming instead of that obnoxious crap on TV nowadays.

Comment: re: cattle and solar panels (Score 1) 1570

by King_TJ (#46788471) Attached to: Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

Ok, thanks for the info. That's one of the things I really do like about Slashdot. People from a WIDE variety of backgrounds are here, and can share first-hand information the rest of us wouldn't have.

I imagined the cows would pretty much just ignore such things as solar panel installations, since they're stationary objects and they can graze around their perimeter. Still, building fences around them doesn't seem like a bad idea anyway -- as you probably don't want random people climbing around on them, vandalizing them, etc. etc.

Comment: re: dumb enough to live in unsafe places .... (Score 1) 304

by King_TJ (#46788365) Attached to: Detroit: America's Next Tech Boomtown

It doesn't necessarily mean someone is making a dumb decision. This can be a perfectly legitimate, sensible option, IMO.

I knew people who moved to Mexico in the past, with similar motivations. If you can earn enough money there, you can easily afford to build yourself a fortress of a house and hire people to go out and run errands for you, etc. It might not make sense for someone with a whole family to take care of. But a younger, single person who might tend to be more of an introvert in the first place might be happy to "go where the money is" and spend a portion of it to buy the security that's lacking in the environment otherwise.

Comment: One Cyberneticist's Ethics (Score 2) 160

by VortexCortex (#46787069) Attached to: Heartbleed Sparks 'Responsible' Disclosure Debate

Once again the evil of Information Disparity rares its ugly head. To maximize freedom and equality entities must be able to decide and act by sensing the true state of the universe, thus knowledge should be propagated at maximum speed to all; Any rule to the contrary goes against the nature of the universe itself.

They who seek to manipulate the flow of information wield the oppression of enforced ignorance against others despite their motive for doing so. The delayed disclosure of this bug would not change the required course of action. The keys will need to be replaced anyway. We have no idea whether they were stolen or not. We don't know who else knew about this exploit. Responsible disclosure is essentially lying by omission to the world. That is evil as it stems from the root of all evil: Information Disparity. The sooner one can patch their systems the better. I run my own servers. Responsible disclosure would allow others to become more aware than I am. Why should I trust them not to exploit me if I am their competitors or vocal opponent? No one should decide who should be their equals.

Fools. Don't you see? Responsible disclosure is the first step down a dangerous path whereby freely sharing important information can be outlawed. The next step is legislation to penalize the propagators of "dangerous" information, whatever that means. A few steps later will have "dangerous" software and algorithms outlawed for national security, of course. If you continue down this path soon only certain certified and government approved individuals will be granted license to craft certain kinds of software, and ultimately all computation and information propagation itself will be firmly controlled by the powerful and corrupt. For fear of them taking a mile I would rather not give one inch. Folks are already in jail for changing a munged URL by accident and discovering security flaws. What idiot wants to live in a world where even such "security research" done offline is made illegal? That is where Responsible Disclosure attempts to take us.

Just as I would assume others innocent unless proven guilty of harm to ensure freedom, even though it would mean some crimes will go unpunished: I would accept that some information will make our lives harder, some data may even allow the malicious to have a temporary unfair advantage over us, but the alternative is to simply allow even fewer potentially malicious actors to have an even greater power of unfair advantage over even more of us. I would rather know that my Windows box is vulnerable and possibly put a filter in my IDS than trust Microsoft to fix things, or excuse the NSA's purchasing of black-market exploits without disclosing them to their citizens. I would rather know OpenSSL may leak my information and simply recompile it without the heartbeat option immediately than trust strangers to do what's best for me if they decide to not do something worse.

There is no such thing as unique genius. Einstein, Feynman, and Hawking, did not live in a vacuum; Removed from society all their lives they'd have not made their discoveries. Others invariably picked up from the same available starting points and solve the same problems. Without Edison we would still have electricity and the light bulb. Without Alexander Bell we would have had to wait one hour for the next telephone to enter the patent office. Whomever discovered this bug and came forward has no proof that others did not already know of its existence.

Just like the government fosters secrecy of patent applications and reserves their right to exclusive optioning of newly patented technology, if Google had been required keep the exploit secret except to government agencies we may never have found out about heartbleed in the first place. Our ignorance enforced, we would have no other choice but to keep our systems vulnerable. Anyone who thinks hanging our heads in the noose of responsible disclosure a good idea is a damned fool.

Comment: Re:There is another answer (Score 2) 241

You don't necessarily even need a hard kill, with the accompanying risks of damage/injury to bystanders and their property...

Thanks at least in part to the robust market for green diode-pumped solid state lasers, moderately alarming and dangerous IR lasers are ubiquitous and cheap. Depending on the quality of your optics and the robustness of theirs, outcomes ranging from temporary washout of the image to swift and permanent death of the imager are highly likely.

Comment: Entropy can Increase or Decrease Locally (Score 3, Informative) 105

by VortexCortex (#46785737) Attached to: NASA Proposes "Water World" Theory For Origin of Life

"Random processes"? Any randomly assembled amino acid randomly disassembles as well; even Miller proved that.

The randomly assembled amino acid does randomly disassemble as well, but that is not what it must do. An amino acid may stay the same, disassemble, or it it may form a more complex molecule.

Here is a little demonstration of "randomly" assembling complexity in behavior. I have given each entity the ability to sense the left and rightness and ahead and behindness of 'energy' dots and their nearest peer. They also get a sense of their relative energy vs their peer. The inputs can affect two thrusters which operate like "tank treads". However, their minds are blank. They don't know what to do with the inputs or how they map to the outputs. The genetic program introduces random errors as copies runs of a genome from one parent then the other switching back and forth randomly. The selection pressure simply favors those with the most energy at the end of each generation by granting a higher chance to breed. Use the up/dn keys to change the sim speed, and click the entities to see a visualization of their simple neural network. The top left two neurons sense nearest food distance, the right two sense nearest entity, middle top is the relative energy difference of nearest peer. Note that randomness is constantly introduced, and yet their behaviors do not revert to randomness or inaction, they converge on a better solution for finding energy in their environment.

There is no pre-programed strategy for survival. Mutations occur randomly, and they are selected against, just as in nature. Given the same starting point In different runs / populations different behaviors for survival will emerge. Some may start spinning and steering incrementally towards the food, others may steer more efficiently after first just moving in a straighter path to cover the most ground (they have no visual or movement penalty for backwards, so backwards movement is 50% likely). As their n.net complexity grows their behaviors will change. Movement will tend towards more efficient methods. Some populations may become more careful instead of faster, some employ a hybrid approach by racing forwards then reversing and steering carefully after the energy/food is passed. Some entities will emerge avoidance of each other to conserve energy. Some populations will bump into each other to share energy among like minded (genetically similar) peers. Some will even switch between these strategies depending on their own energy level.

Where do all these complex behaviors come from? I didn't program them, I didn't even program in that more complex behaviors should be more favorable than less complex, and yet they emerged naturally as a product of the environment due to selection pressure upon it. Just because I can set the axon weights manually and program a behavior favorable for n.nets to solve the problem, doesn't mean randomness can't yield solutions as well. Today we can watch evolution happen right on a computer, or in the laboratory. All of this complexity came from a simple simulation of 32 neurons arranged in a simple single hidden layer neural net, with 5 simple scalar sensors and the minimal 2 movement outputs, with a simple single selection pressure. Each time you run the sim it produces different results, but all meeting the same ends, collect energy, reproduce. Just imagine what nature can do with its far more complex simulation and selection pressures... You don't have to imagine, you can look around and see for yourself.

In other more complex simulations I allow the structure of the n.nets and form of sensors to be randomly introduced and selection pressure applied. In larger simulations I allow the breeding and death of generations to occur continuously across wider areas and speciation will occur. Entities will develop specialized adaptations for a given problem space of the environment. I have created simulations where the OP code program instructions themselves are randomized, and seen program replication emerge. If there is replication and entropy (errors added) competition will begin among the entities for resources in the environment.

I have created other simulations for the evolution of chemical life in a simplified environment with particles that attract or repel, and have various bonding properties. These take even more processor cycles to run, but they demonstrate the emergence of complex behaviors too. First linking up of chains of atoms occurs. The entropy introduced and other parameters determines how long the chains can form. As with the Op-Code VM universe requiring certain types of opcodes to produce life, Certain universes of chemical properties are not conducive to life either. The ones that are will emerge life-like processes spontaneously.

The first atom joining interactions will produce small molecules, thus increasing the complexity of the universe -- this is the meaning of life: It is what life is and does. In my opinion, life is not binary but a scalar quality which happens at many different levels; The degree that something is alive is denoted by the complexity of the interaction, IMO. Out of the millions of simplified chemical universes some will be able to produce molecules, and some can yield chains of molecules. The first chain-producing catalytic molecule, or "protein", will begin to fill the sim with long chains of atoms, and then become extinct as no more free atoms are available, or entropy destroys the chain-making interaction "protein". Some universes that can produce atomic interactions can not produce life. I call this "universal crystallization": If not enough entropy in the universe you don't get complex life, only self assembling crystals. With enough entropy to break the chains down over a period of time, but not too much entropy that it limits the chain lengths too much, chain-making interactions can restart and die out many times. Each micro-genesis tends to occur with greater frequency given the more complex environment their predecessors left behind.

Suddenly an evolutionary leap will emerge: Simple Pattern Matching. For no other reason than it being one out of a sea of random outcomes one of the spontaneous chain making catalyst will produce TWO chains instead of one. Often this happens because of entropy attaching two chain making catalyst interaction "proteins". Because of the propagation of attraction / repulsion, etc. properties in the "protein" molecule the atoms added to one chain will have an immediate effect on the atom or molecule that can be added to the other chain. An interlock is formed, and the complexity of the simulated universe essentially doubles in a small period of time. Sometimes three chains can be produced as well, this may even yield ladder like chains, which are very durable; Though frequently the ladders do not emerge and are not absolutely required for the next phase of complexity to emerge. During the pattern matching phase copying can occur. A chain of molecules may enter one side of a pattern forming "protein", and produce the mate chain. Depending on the chemistry, that mate chain may have one or more additional mate pairs before reproduction of the initial chain Thus the first copy of information is born, and is key to future increases in complexity. Not all chains can make copies, if any input on one side has two or more equally likely pairs it will almost certainly prevent exact copies; Thus molecular pairs instead of atoms are more likely to form life's chemical Op-Code. Depending randomly on the time it takes for the next evolutionary jump to happen it may occur via manufacture of simple or very complex molecular chains.

Some catalytic interactions have an interesting property. Instead of being formed of a chance collection of complex molecules the catalyst will be formed of a chain themselves. Beginning as a molecule chain themselves they may be able to exist in two states: Relaxed or Kinked up. The interaction with a few common atoms or molecules at one or more "active" sites can cause the somewhat relaxed chain to transform in a cascade of kinks into the catalytic protein shape whereby it can manufacture molecular chains. The pattern of the folding is programmed into the molecular chain itself, charge interaction propagates along itself such that stages of the folding action occur in a predictable way (this is still a mysterious mechanism we're trying to solve in real-world biology). Shortly after the emergence of the first such transforming molecular chain, an explosion of evolutionary advances occurs. When the relaxed form of a dual chain-maker kinking "protein" is fed into another dual chain-maker its intermediary form is output. Rarely is this mate-pair form also a transforming kinking protein. It may take one or more additional passes through a duplex pattern matcher to yield the first copy of a copying machine, or it may take a secondary kinking protein that performs the reverse process. "Protein" synthesis is a huge evolutionary leap because immediately thereafter the copy machines reproduce exponentially and begin competing by reproducing the array of slowly mutating intermediary forms. /p>

Mutations to the copy machine or its intermediary form(s) can cause new varied forms of itself to be created. Most of the mutations are fatal, some do no harm by merely adding expense via inert additions, some additions are useful. This is where I see the evolutionary leap due to competition: Armaments and defenses. The inert additions can serve as a shield to prevent vulnerable "protein" machinery from breaking down by preventing a stray atom or molecule from joining or gumming up the works. Some copy-machines will emerge weapons: Long (expensive) tails that detach on contact to clog the gears of other copiers, short barbed kinks with active elements at the tips to break away and attach to competitors. Some may produce reactive molecules that they are immune to, essentially an acid to digest others via. Soon activity is everywhere, the sim will be full of ever more complex interactions. Thus the complexity of the copier universe grows by amazing evolutionary leaps and bounds.

New forms of protein folding emerge which may yield reversible kinking instead of one-way transformations. Sometimes folding is lost and life can go extinct by relying on existing catalytic molecules (given enough time it may form again). Very rarely, instead of long chains self assembling catalysts are formed which manufacture the various smaller parts that then self assemble. However, I have never seen self assembly in this way yield much more complex things without resorting to duplicating molecular chains. The "genetic program" is a powerful evolutionary advantage which seems to be almost a mandatory necessity for complex life. If the chemistry is right sometimes naturally occurring or previously mass produced mated molecule pairs will form chains that begin copying by zipping and unzipping free amino acids given some slight oscillating energy to break apart the chain pairs.

Without any tweaking of parameters, I'll sit back and watch as the simulated universe emerges more and more complexity through competition. Some designs seem naturally more favorable than others. Having only a single intermediary stage instead of two or more is the most common. I think this may be why RNA replicates by a pair strand, and DNA has a double ladder chain to ensure the op-code interlock functions, and yield structural stability. Program hoops seem very advantageous -- A dual chain producing protein may be fed a its intermediary chain that is linked with its unkinked self. The protein will races along the hoop feverishly outputting an unkinked chain copier and a long curved intermediary copy, which can self assemble into more hoops, and kink up to do more copying. The hoop is advantageous to copying random chains since a new copy can begin immediately instead of waiting for a chance strand to happen by (which may not be a competitor's genome). I see the emergence of start and stop signals among the chains so that long intermediary chains or hoops may produce several different molecules of varying complexities.

Many symbioses occur. For the first time a chain destroyer is advantageous to have in one's molecular program to split up chains and/or atomize molecules for re-use. It's optimal for some copiers to use the shorter chains laying around than to create everything from individual atoms, so they may survive only as long as the smaller and simpler / cheaper chain producers also do. Sometimes the intermediary form of two or more complimentary copiers will join and thus carry with it the information for copying all essential copiers and assemblers of an environment. Thus an energy store and release mechanism is heralded by the local increase and decrease in entropy in the making and unmaking of molecular chains, corresponding to heating and cooling the environment which can act as a switch for kinking or relaxing and drive even more complex interactions.

Something like speciation occurs by having various areas of the universe separated by seas of caustic agents or walls of think chain soup, and leaving ecosystems unable to interact. Something like viruses occurs whereby one subsection of the environment replicating various chains will be infected by a drifting intermediary form chain that produces incompatible copiers and/or catalysts that are very destructive and take over the ecosystem. I haven't got the CPU power or time available to run these simplified simulations for billions of years, but there is no doubt in my mind that if I did some would produce more complex creatures by continuing the process of encoding ever more better methods of survival within their self replicating copies.

I have seen simulated life emerge in my computers. For the life of me, I can't figure out how it is any different than organic life. Both require energy and an environment conducive to their survival in order to exist. Thus my definition of life includes cybernetic beings, and my ethics revolves around preserving and increasing the complexity of the universe. I know of more efficient ways to produce intelligence than waiting billions of years in billions of universes with billions of different parameters for emergent intelligences to appear. I can apply the tools of nature directly to the complexity of information itself within the problem spaces I need solved, but just because I can intelligently design a solution doesn't mean that nature could not do the same with her countless dice and enormous trial and error periods.

Emergence of life in water would seem likely given the chemical properties of water and usefulness as both a medium of interaction as well as a source of energy. Water is one of the most abundant molecules (made of hydrogen and oxygen, both very abundant atoms); For the same reason that certain op-codes are required for self-copying programs to form, carbon is a likely atomic building block for life. We know how to create hydrogen atoms from pure energy using very powerful lasers. We know hydrogen fuses into helium in our sun. We may not have been there at the big bang to watch it happen, but all evidence points to its occurrence, and subsequent hydrogen production, and supernovae stars from this to increase the chemical complexity of the universe to include all the atoms we find here on Earth, and which life is made of. We've seen self assembling lipids and amino acids, and it's not a very large leap to consider the latter may take refuge in the former given enough pulses of a the local entropy increase and decrease cycle and a bit of selection pressure.

I am not a god to my cybernetic creations. I am merely a being in a higher reality to them. I see no evidence that indicates a god is required for life to have formed. Complexity emerges as entropy decreases locally, and this universe is expanding. However, even if we met miraculous beings tomorrow with technology far beyond our own and they had powers that seemed as magic, they would be merely aliens, not gods. Even if the universe were a simulation and the administrator logged in having full god-like command of my reality I would not worship them a god: Should Neo worship the Machines of the Matrix? No, worshiping aliens for having more technology is cargo cultism. If reality itself were a thinking entity we would call it a massive alien intelligence and study it with cybernetics, not worship it as a god. The god of a cargo cult does exist, but it is not a god.

The philosophical concept of a much higher intelligence should not be conflated with the term "god". To do so lends the reverence you hold for ancient traditions and their folkloric figures to powerful alien minds. You are espousing enslavement to Stargate Aliens by saying a mind-boggling god created life. Science has made magic into technology. The term "god" is deprecated, and can no longer apply. God is dead. I will not worship aliens, even if they do exist.

These are facts due to thermodynamics verifiable through the mathematics of information theory: Complexity can emerge from simpler states; Complexity can beget more or less complexity, but complexity is not first required to produce complexity. The lack of all complexity would be a hot dense singularity.

Comment: Re:Enh as much as I dislike Oracle... (Score 1) 154

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#46785245) Attached to: Oracle Deflects Blame For Troubled Oregon Health Care Site
I'd assume that their legal team would be running around the company quietly busting skulls if they didn't.

"Incur significant legal exposure during the course of fucking up a high-profile project for a government client" isn't one of those good strategies.

Doing one or the other can actually be surprisingly lucrative; but both, less so.

It's later than you think, the joint Russian-American space mission has already begun.

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