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Comment: IPv6 (Score 1) 245

by ledow (#49518159) Attached to: Why the Journey To IPv6 Is Still the Road Less Traveled

My external servers - all IPv6, publish AAAA records, all services available on IPv6.

My home - IPv6 compatible router, IPv6 compatible network, IPv6-compatible clients, even IPv6 VPN to my servers.

What I don't see - IPv6 compatible websites. Slashdot is not IPv6 reachable. Nor is The Register. If even the IT crowd can't manage it, what chance do other places have? But that's no big deal, so long as they're IPv4-reachable anyway.

What I don't have - an IPv6 compatible ISP.

I can't use any IPv6 protocol except for 6to4, but the local 6to4 relay is "not supported" by my ISP and not run by them. That puts me at the behest of whatever routing is set up for that magic 6to4 address at any given point.

Sure, I could go with Sixxs etc. but that requires all kinds of signup. It's actually easier to just VPN to my IPv6-ready external server over IPv5 and bypass worrying the in-between link entirely.

It works. It's up. I receive email from third-party servers solely over IPv6 every day.

And then, you find that Google mail and DNS is IPv6. The occasional website is IPv6. The odd mail server is IPv6. And nothing else. And they are all also on IPv4 too. All that hassle, hardware and configuration and I gain... nothing.

Until we literally say "IPv4 is going to be marked for obsoletion in 6 months, and routing for it will going off on the 1st of Jan 2016, worldwide", nothing is going to change. Absolutely nothing.

Slashdot - I'm invoking my rule again. You can post articles on the IPv6 deployment when you BOTHER to put a single AAAA record on your DNS.

Comment: Re:4x strategy when? (Score 1) 56

by ledow (#49509665) Attached to: Computer Beats Humans At Arimaa

You've just done what the programmers do. Introduce higher-level heuristics into the rules by pushing everything into blocks of actions.

No different to "find enemy", "target enemy", "shoot enemy". The problem is not breaking down a problem given the goal (in your example, every path taken to get from "I want to build a farm" to "I have built a farm here" is equal-cost to the computer) - a simple optimisation removes them from the tree, yes.

But then you either get them, say, building on tiles that are the most at risk from attack because "it doesn't matter which tile". You know that because you infer it from other information, the computer doesn't. Either it has to specifically check EVERY time (game tree), or pick a random / northernmost grassland to upgrade first (programmed heuristic).

Although the exact tree is prunable, the above is the way to get yourself into the same order of magnitude. And computers can, and do, and will struggle with trees of that magnitude for even simple actions unless they are following heuristics.

But, the biggest part you've skipped over - knowing that you need a farm to do X to do Y to do Z in N moves time is the real struggle, the real key. Optimising a tree for the low-hanging fruit (pardon the pseudo-pun) is trivial and can be done automatically and save you a handful of necessary steps.

But what if the system is attacked halfway through the process? Do we abandon? Start again? Fight on valiantly until we get where we want no matter the cost? How do we decide we need a farm? That's where the VAST majority of the game tree decisions are made and that's where the decision matters and THAT'S the difficult question to answer such that a computer can't do it in real-time given the possibilities and the impact of those. Or you'll see it build farms while you quietly strip away its land, units, etc. and it won't "notice".

Think of pathfinding, because that's what you're doing (just through a "directed graph"). There is no difference, to the computer, between A* pathfinding through a terrain and working out the best way through a game tree.

Some routes are muddy and slow you down, some routes lead to loops where you come back to where you are, some routes take more "steps" but get you there quicker, some routes are only a single step but take forever to walk through, some steps are more risky, some steps are safer.

Evaluating those for a computer means enumerating them, and their children, and their grandchildren - and virtually all of them until there's a point that you know it's definitely worse than some other route. How deep you go down the tree increases the complexity, but also increases the chance you have a strategy that works in the long-run. Not traversing to a certain depth means you're only thinking in the short-term.

And every time you enumerate some risk, factor or cost, you are required to formulate it into a single calculation ("edge cost" in graph theory terms). That means giving it a weighting (heuristics!) or determining a weighting dynamically, performing calculations, maybe looking at the surrounding areas (this path is quicker but is nearer the enemy etc.).

I studied graph theory for several years at uni. This stuff sounds really basic, boring, easy and predictable. We all know how mini-max algorithms work on simple games like draughts/checkers. But as soon as you try to scale to anything even vaguely complex you see factors, costs and weighting that are required and which greatly affect the performance of the search (and, hence, the AI).

If there are only 10-20 options like explore and they each take, say, 10 turns to complete, then the computer is only making a decision every 10 turns in effect. Which means it can't react. Sure, you could program an interrupt on certain events. But then it might ignore your attack for 5 turns so being "dumb" and giving you an advantage. Or if you interrupt it every turn with SOMETHING, it's basically back to having to evaluate every single move.

Computer AI is just a series of programmed heuristics and shortcuts to make the real game-tree-traversal possible and practical precisely because they get too large otherwise. The programmed heuristics are basically programmed orders, programmed weaknesses, programmed ignorance. That's where the AI falls down. Someone has told it that "a knight is worth three pawns" in effect, and while that's a general rule that children are introduced to, even they know that it's not a written-in-stone rule to be obeyed every exchange. It's much more complex than that. Someone, somewhere has told the AI in Civilisation, etc. that losing X unit is half as costly as losing Y unit, or building tile Z.

Without those rules, the game tree is too huge to traverse in time. With those rules, the AI is crippled by hard-coded, predictable actions. And there's also the problem that NOBODY wants to play against an unbeatable AI and the only point we can put in a limit is the game-tree depth, or use of heuristics.

And, proper, true, real AI (and human intelligence) is about forming those rules on their own just by playing enough, and knowing when to break those rules as the situation has differed too much. We do it by inference, which you can't program. AI can't yet do it except by things like neural nets etc. which - while useful - have major limitations.

Otherwise, literally, all the Age of Empires modding community could have made a quick, unbeatable AI in the 15-years since it's release and the modding community being able to program their own AI. I used to tweak the QuakeC code for Quake bots back in the day. Things like OpenTTD (and TTDPatch, which is decades old) have allowed huge communities of clever people to create bots to play against on a game which those people are ABSOLUTELY expert at. Yet, still, the bots don't challenge a seasoned player unless they cheat.

Game-tree depth is the killer. And as soon as you prune a branch, you've introduced a heuristic which is a predictable weakness in the AI's operation.

Comment: Re:The UK Government Are Massively Out Of Touch (Score 1, Insightful) 171

by ledow (#49509467) Attached to: Assange Talk Spurs UK Judges To Boycott Legal Conference

I'm anti-Assange.

He skipped UK bail. Up until then, I thought he was just an idiot, now he's a criminal idiot.

However, if anything, technically protecting Assange could be seen as protecting a suspected rapist, no?

Sorry, but he's no hero. The stuff from Wikileaks is a bunch of useless junk that didn't change anything. Snowden did a hundred times more at a hundred times the risk. The quicker he gives up, is arrested, spends time in a UK jail and then gets passed away to another country (legally) and stops me paying my part of MILLIONS OF POUNDS OF TAX to capture him legally, the better.

I have zero sympathy for him. He was going through the courts, doing things legally, and spouting his mouth off. When he exhausted every possible appeal that way and STILL we found it legal to extradite him, he fled UK bail. My sympathy wasn't all that great for him all that time, anyway, but ended at that moment. The UK did its best to find a way out for him, but legally we are OBLIGED to hand him over, and we didn't just fabricate that law at the last moment for this case. That's the end of the matter.

And when he's released, he'll stand his charge of skipping bail, be extradited anyway, and then NOTHING will happen if what he says is true.

Comment: Re:Law Conference? (Score 3, Interesting) 171

by ledow (#49509437) Attached to: Assange Talk Spurs UK Judges To Boycott Legal Conference

A fugitive is the antithesis of the organisation, conference and attendees. It's a conference for and about the legal profession. As far as I'm aware, Assange has zero legal qualifications whatsoever.

That's like saying you should invite a convicted paedophile to your school safety talk, or a rapist to your rape counselling group. Maybe it SOUNDS good and fair and balanced, but the practicality is insanely stupid.

Criminals (and Assange is one, legally speaking, in the UK for skipping UK court bail) DO NOT get a say in how their justice system handles them, or invited to conferences about the legal profession. Reasonable outsiders make sure the law is fair and balanced for all, but the criminals themselves? No.

Comment: Re:Really (Score 4, Insightful) 171

by ledow (#49509347) Attached to: Assange Talk Spurs UK Judges To Boycott Legal Conference

Again, the issue is NOT what other countries want.

While in the UK, under an English court's bail, he breached his bail conditions.

Everything else is a side-issue to whether he's actually a fugitive in the UK or not. Any country with an interest can register it and we'll send him on as and when the law requires. But, at the moment, he's committed a UK crime on UK soil, and stupidly against a UK court.

If he gets out of the embassy, he'll be arrested FOR THAT INSTANTLY PROVABLE CHARGE first. Then we'll worry about everything else but - pretty much - we'd agreed (and it was legally correct for us to agree without changes to existing laws to accommodate that) to extradite him to Sweden. We made them go back several times to dot their i's and cross their t's in that regard and refused to release him to them until it was done. That's sorted.

So he'll come out. Be arrested. Stand charge for skipping bail (evidence is overwhelming including by his own admission - because him being in the embassy is a breach of bail conditions in and of itself - and it's quite obvious it was a wilful violation). Then we'll hand him over to Sweden as we're legally required to (now that they've sorted out the paperwork, but as a member of the EU policing laws we would always have been eventually subject to doing so anyway - the US is a different matter entirely that would need a court's approval, and that court would be the one in Sweden, not the UK). Then whatever happens to him is Sweden's problem. If they extradite him to the US, they better do it REALLY carefully or else Sweden will be in breach of the same EU policing laws that it's using to get hold of him in the first place (they would have to reasonably ensure his life was not endangered by doing so, for instance).

But, first and foremost, he's a wanted CRIMINAL in the UK for skipping bail (we don't really use the word fugitive). It's like getting Al Capone on tax evasion, but cross-territory. And all the UK care about is the bail. Everything else is someone else's problem because we're not dealing direct with any US transfer where the only real scrutiny of human rights, etc. need take place (it's laid down in law that we can assume other EU member provide adequate human rights to comply with UK law, for example).

Comment: Re:America (Score 2) 117

by ledow (#49509137) Attached to: Pull-Top Can Tabs, At 50, Reach Historic Archaeological Status

Sorry, but you're wrong.

"The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom or Britain, is a sovereign state in Europe."

We are in the continent of Europe (as is Greenland). We are in the EU. We are not on the European mainland but neither is Iceland or Ireland, also both considered part of Europe (one even uses the Euro), and a few other places.

We are in the EU (for which you have to be, well, on the continent of Europe!). We were in the EC / EEC before that.

We're not AUTOMATICALLY part of various European entities, and enjoy certain exceptions, but we are quite clearly on the European continent, in European organisations, and part of Europe even if we don't consider ourselves European. It would like the US not considering itself part of North America.

As a Brit, I'll tell you that we joke and talk about Europe like a foreign place, but we're part of it. In the same way that someone in Singapore might tell you they're going around Asia for their holidays.

We don't, however, use the Euro (neither does Iceland and a few other European countries). Mainly because the pound has proven to be much stronger, but given that the UK's biggest strength is in finance, that's not surprising.

Comment: Re:4x strategy when? (Score 2) 56

by ledow (#49509089) Attached to: Computer Beats Humans At Arimaa

Work out the number of options that can possibly be performed each second. Literally, how many icons you could click, things you could build, things building that you could cancel, things built you could destroy, things you could move, etc.etc.etc. With 4K games there's probably hundreds of options at each point. If you get to non-tile-based games, it's almost an infinity unless you break it down to tile-based areas. How finely you do that determines how finely the computer can deploy units, etc.

Now multiply by the average length of a game expressed in these "actions" (where several actions may constitute one in-game turn). We're probably talking thousands again.

The game trees thus get huge very quickly. The more possibilities, the larger the trees. If you have 50 options on the first go, and 50 on the second that's 2500 possibilities to be investigated before you even get two "actions" in. Yes, the tree narrows as units become unable to move to certain places, upgrades can't be selected again, etc. but not by enough to matter mathematically.

Now consider that each path has to be evaluated somehow. You have to get a number that says how "good" that move is relative to all the alternatives. That's a lot of calculation and guesswork and heuristics and analysing the entire state of play, and "looking ahead" at what could be next go. Now multiply that out to how much a human is considering, probably 50+ actions or more ahead even if each action isn't that drastic on its own, you will have formulated a gameplan after the first few times of playing.

Now consider that just ONE company is working on the AI for one purpose - to make it entertaining. They can't spend decades and lots of PhD time on it.

Is it really that surprising that a good AI player is hard to find?

AI - on level terms - sucks. If the AI player can only make as many moves as you can per turn / per second then pretty much it won't be able to do much against a human. In FPS - maybe, but that's just because the "game" is really a matter of finding a dot on the screen that's part of you and shooting first. How it does that, if you gave it human-level reaction times, would make it lose every time. It can't formulate, strategise, etc. in such an open world and the programmers thus fall back on programmed heuristics ("try and get behind the player", "follow the sound", "run when you're low on health", etc.).

Even chess, something with only about 8-20 paths available to a player at each point, highly logical, repeatable, and laid-down, gets into trees so deep that it takes a supercomputer and DECADES of research to beat humans who are good at it. Go is an even simpler game in terms of rules, and yet a 19x19 board can baffle the best of AI you might be able to run because it's got such huge game trees (not even anywhere near 19x19 possibilities each go, much smaller, but the game goes on for so long!).

You aren't going to see a decent AI computer player until, quite literally, we have AI. Literally intelligence capable of learning on its own. And you're not going to see that in a commercial game any time soon because we don't even have that anywhere in the world yet.

All the AI you've ever played against in commercial games that aren't the subject of intense established research (e.g. Tetris, chess, Go, etc.) is going to be programmed heuristics. If this, then do that. That's it. If it doesn't cheat or vastly outnumber you, you will win every time - once you have the hang of which if...then rules it's using.

This is the cost of intelligence - you are able to formulate an idea about how the COMPUTER is working just by playing against it, gain insight from testing those ideas, and thus formulate a strategy to beat that opponent. Generally, you can only be beaten - over time - by ever-changing strategies (e.g. boss levels that change how they operate, change what their weaknesses / rules are) or by being vastly handicapped.

If you want that, wait 100 years, or play against other humans.

Comment: Re:America (Score 2) 117

by ledow (#49509005) Attached to: Pull-Top Can Tabs, At 50, Reach Historic Archaeological Status

UK is in Europe.

Miles is just fine. We did let you borrow them, after all.

However, 100 miles isn't a lot at all. The only difference is that you can go through four countries (without noticing) if you do that in certain places in Europe.

Hell, it's 200 miles to get half-way across my country in it's narrowest dimension. We can do 450 miles for a long-weekend in Cornwall.

Ironically, France is less distance from London than a tourist-y, beach-y destination like Cornwall.

Comment: America (Score 5, Insightful) 117

by ledow (#49508777) Attached to: Pull-Top Can Tabs, At 50, Reach Historic Archaeological Status

Only in America could something only 50 years old be considered an "historic" artefact, archaeologically.

That's the 1960's, people. Elsewhere, it's not even considered antique unless it's from 1915 or before. And, to be honest, there's an awful lot of stuff that's "antique" that's worthless. My house would basically qualify as antique and it just a normal suburban semi.

This is what happens when you have only 500 years of recorded history and ignore anything that happened before then.

I watched Time Team once, where they do an archaeological dig live on TV, The American episode was so dull because they basically couldn't touch anything. All the "history" was the top inch of soil. Over here in the UK, if it doesn't involve a six-foot-deep trench, you're not even getting past the modern rubbish into the proper archaeology.

Ring-pulls aren't historical. They may be old, they may even be collectable, they may be something worth remembering for later years, but they're not historical. There's a bakelite museum I know of - fabulous place. Some of the stuff in there is antique, or damn close to the definition. But it's still just plastic. Nice to visit with the kids to show them how things used to be but hardly a point in history worth noting beyond casual interest.

On the flip-side, I know a guy in Italy who goes through the Alps with a metal detector and still runs across first-world-war bodies, still with all their equipment intact. He has his own museum (and is properly licensed to do that, I'd like to point out). Even that is stuff nearly twice as old as this and of vital historical importance.

Ring-pulls are still in my memory from being a kid 20 years ago. They aren't historical. Give it 50 years and maybe. But if they are "historical artefacts", then things like cassettes have been for years too.

Comment: What? (Score 3, Insightful) 339

I'm sorry, is it just me? What kind of information are you going to put out over FM to cell-phones, in an emergency, that will be life-saving? How many cell-phones are still going to be running on day two of whatever disaster either because people have turned them off because they "don't work" because the local cell is down or because the batteries are flat? How many of those that aren't would be captured by an initial text message anyway? How many people are going to crowd around the only working phone in the area and turn on the radio to tune in and then hear something that might save their lives?

And what are you going to tell people that they don't know already (but should) and which will directly contribute to saving their lives better than, say, common sense?

Maybe it's just because I live in a country where emergencies don't really happen on this scale (no seismic activity, little flooding, no drought, no tornados or extremes of weather, no civil unrest, etc.) , but I'm one of those people who reads up on anything risky before I do it, and I'm still struggling to fathom what could be sent that would make that much difference?

Shelter locations, possibly? Surely the best is word-of-mouth and going and finding those people in need of shouting at with a big shouty-device? Like the first thing we do in any such disaster, send the police round and the helicopters over to give out such information? And anyone in a dangerous area, in need of shelter, will move away from the danger and can then be corralled and treated once they are in a safe area, any safe area? And, again, a simple text message serves the same purpose and probably uses the same power given the "always on" nature of cell connections on modern phones.

What's a real scenario where one-way FM radio on a cell-phone would be a real life-line for anyone but the completely ignorant and inexperienced?

Comment: Re:Stupid NAT. (Score 0) 84

by ledow (#49503757) Attached to: Google To Propose QUIC As IETF Standard

So when everyone goes IPv6, when ISP's literally say "That single IPv4 address you used to have? This is the replacement IPv6 starting with XXXX:XXXX:XXXX:0001?

Do you think they are going to pull up all their existing systems renumber every internal machine, make them all publicly accessible, give each a unique IP from the range allocated, etc.

Or do you think they'll buy an IPv6 compatible router, slap it into the network as the same gateway on IPv4, and have it pick up the first IPv6 address offered from the ISP?

If anything, all you will see is more NAT - ISP's will NAT your connection for you in the interim rather than IPv6 all their systems (I can name precisely one ISP in the UK that I know offers IPv6 connectivity).

Sorry, mate, NAT is not "solved" by IPv6. It's here to stay for way more than the foreseeable future. And your problem is not necessarily even NAT. It's stateful firewalls. And guess what anyone with half a brain will put in front of their hundreds of clients that you want to individually route to the Internet? A stateful firewall.

UDP works JUST FINE with NAT, if you haven't noticed. Has done for decades. Anything initiated inside the local network will go out just fine, and Internet servers have to have open-ports anyway in order to work. As soon as you send a reply, the stateful part of the firewall knows that it can bypass NAT, NAT itself does little in this regard. And, as the summary says, Google Chrome works JUST FINE with UDP at the moment..

People have this thing about NAT being evil but it's not. And it's not "fixed" by the existence of IPv6 (or we'd all jump ship just to avoid NAT, if the problem was that bad). And it's not even going to go away on IPv6.

Not sure what you're hoping for but I'll worry about my ISP providing me any kind of IPv6 functionality before I even think of removing NAT from my local networks and - chances are - I won't for years until EVERYTHING, every server, every website, every service, is IPv6 anyway. And I'll still have a stateful firewall so your unsolicited packets to my network still won't succeed anyway (unless port-forwarded or open-port) and still all the servers on the planet will need to have open ports.

"If anything can go wrong, it will." -- Edsel Murphy