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Comment: trees cut down in the cities (Score 4, Interesting) 154

by lkcl (#49782843) Attached to: Heat Wave Kills More Than 1,100 In India

i visited bangalore in 2006, to see a friend living there. he explained that when the trees were cut down in the cities (so that more housing could be built), temperatures soared by an additional 10 *centigrade*. so, the ambient temperature surrounding the cities would be 45 degrees, but in bangalore it would reach *fifty five* centigrade. the point of mentioning this is that it's a much more direct version of how man has an effect on his immediate environment. change the landscape, you change the weather, it's as simple as that. we can learn from that... or simply die. it's our choice.

Comment: tried and failed... and prior art anyway (Score 1) 102

by lkcl (#49758065) Attached to: Cute Or Creepy? Google's Plan For a Sci-Fi Teddy Bear

hang on... didn't bunnie huang do the "chumby", and didn't barbie try doing something like this - putting an interactive wifi and mic aspect into one of their barbie dolls... with a huge back-lash as a result? so (a) why is there an expectation that this will succeed (b) why was the patent granted when there is clear prior art???

Comment: debian digital signing and the GPG keyring (Score 2) 94

by lkcl (#49749449) Attached to: NSA Planned To Hijack Google App Store To Hack Smartphones

this is why debian has the GPG key-signing parties, and why all packages are GPG-signed by the package maintainer when they compile it, why the ftp masters sign the package when it's uploaded, and why the release files which include the checksums of all the packages are also GPG-signed. under this scenario there are an extremely limited number of extremely paranoid methods by which debian may be compromised. even the scenario of "cooperation between long-term sleeper agents within debian's ranks" would have a one-shot opportunity to get away with introducing malicious code, following the discovery of which their GPG keys would be revoked, the perpetrators kicked out of debian, their packages pulled immediately pending a review, and the already-effective procedures reviewed to involve multi-person GPG signing that would make it even harder for compromise to occur in the future.

now, if you recall, there was an announcement a couple of years back that the development of Mozilla's B2G was declared to be "open" to all, so i contributed with a thorough security-conscious review of how to do package distribution. it turns out that Mozilla is *NOT* open - at all. several other contributors have learned that the Mozilla Foundation is in direct violation of its charter.

basically, the Mozilla Foundation *completely* ignored the advice that i gave - which was that the use of SSL as a distribution mechanism would be vulnerable to *exactly* the kinds of attacks that we see the NSA attempting to do on google. they went so far as to enact censorship, preventing and prohibiting me from pointing out the severe security flaws inherent in their chosen method of package distribution. i remain deeply unimpressed with many aspects of so-called "open-ness" of well-funded software libre projects.

Comment: correlation between gravity and length of day (Score 1) 95

just to throw an appropriate spanner in the works, it's worthwhile mentioning the above article which notes a significant statistical correlation between variations in the measurement of the effect known as "gravity", and the (appx) 6.5 year cyclic variation of the earth's length of day.

now, before you go all "ooer" or "waah! gravity varies! we're all gonna dieeee spinning off into space", it's worthwhile pointing out that the author mentions, in the conclusion, that there *might* be some sort of unknown systemic errors in (a) how gravity is measured (b) how the length of day is measured which *happen* to coincide and give the *impression* that there is a statistical correlation between gravitational variation and the length of the earth's day. he does however state that in light of how the measurements are taken it would seem to be very unlikely that there are such systemic errors.

so, anyway, the point is: gravity appears not to be as simple as we assumed, hence why some long-distance space probes (Pioneer for example) have anomalous unexplained behaviour.

Comment: Re:Sociopath (Score 1) 170

You'd find that people who aren't training to be pros, but work out that much, are probably more common than you think.

yep - count me in. i'm currently up to about the same level of exercise as you - about 2 hours a day: tennis or street-skating. tennis is for my eyes - and the social interaction. street-skating is because i find the explosive (sprinting) nature of tennis is causing huge knots in my arm and leg muscles. without this, i am... yeah, not a nice person either :)

Comment: Tennis and Computing (Score 2, Interesting) 170

by lkcl (#49687731) Attached to: John Urschel: The 300 Pound Mathematician Who Hits People For a Living

two years ago i took up tennis at the recommendation of a friend. before that i'd done tai ji, full-contact karate (shin kyu-kshin), long-distance skating (86 miles athens-to-atlanta 1999, 65 miles new york park 1999, 26 miles rotterdam 2006) and yoga (ashtanga and T.M Asanas). it's a big list of different physical activities, which have the following things in common:

* complex coordinated movement
* requiring or recommending very deep breathing (skating especially)
* very long and regular practice

the reason why i specifically love tennis is that in addition to these things it is necessary to not only be extremely physically fit but also, if you would like to win, you require strategy and planning both on and off the court. tennis is particularly harsh on the body in that it is a series of very short explosive sprints, standing still, *then* hitting the ball, and then doing it all over again.

also the types of movement required are *unbelievably* complex! serving involves *six* degrees of freedom of movement (x-y-z, rotation in x-y-z) in order to impart the maximum amount of inspired deviousness into a small yellow round object.

to fully understand why it was that, aged 44, i started this sport and now practice over an hour a day, you have to understand that prior to that i was sitting 12 hours a day in front of a computer screen: average distance approx 1 metre. for the prior 4 years that was a 24in imac, so the panorama i *initially* thought was great.... turned out to have caused extreme alterations in my eyes.

just over two years ago i discovered that my eyes had gone "prism". this is a new development: i've always had -0.75 astigmatism, but prism basically means that i can focus easily on an object that's 1 metre away, but if i look at something 3 metres or greater away i see *DOUBLE*. in the dark, i can't bring the two together.

the implications of that are that not only has there been physical damage caused by long-term computer usage but that there has also been *NEURAL* damage caused by long-term computer usage.

the bottom line of this story is, in this context, that this football player is being extremely sensible. if a few neurons get knocked out of place by a concussion, so damn what: his pursuit of mathematics will, by virtue of it being so incredibly challenging, allow him to grow new pathways and literally grow new neurons. the reason why his peers get brain damage is because they *don't* have anything other than football to challenge them.

each of his pursuits therefore supports the others. the physical exertion keeps his body - and his heart - fit. that in turn allows him more oxygen with which to feed his brain and thus sustain the pursuit of mathematics. the increased mental alertness allows him to play with tactics and strategy that the average player would not be able to consider. his specialty in mathematics would allow him to apply physics (moments of inertia) in a *really* practical way that would keep both him and the people he smacks down safer than would otherwise be done by someone without his knowledge.

but the best part of all this is that if he has a successful long-term career, i predict that he will end up inspiring thousands of young football players to pay a bit closer attention to their other studies, and that coaches will have an example - a specific person - that they can quote as to why, when they go recruiting, they are looking for someone who has not only the physique but also the high academic aptitude as well. ... wouldn't it be great to have an entire team of football players who not only kick ass (literally) but who have degrees and even PhDs? that would change how people think of football, forever.

Comment: a data collection device in antarctica (Score 5, Interesting) 403

andrew trigdell told me an amazing story back in 1999 about how he helped install Linux 0.99 on a solar-powered data collection computer in antarctica. Linux 0.99 was known to be highly stable, hence why it was chosen. it has a 56k modem which is enough to get the data back, and to check (very slowly) that it's still operational. so i think anything that's designed for long-term with those kinds of harsh remote and inaccessible conditions in mind, powered off of sustainable independent power, would be a good candidate for a device that would still be functioning even decades later.

Comment: Re:Happened to me (Score 2) 147

by lkcl (#49648933) Attached to: Technology and Ever-Falling Attention Spans

I know my average has plummeted over the years; especially when I bought a second display, and then a third.

Fortunately, this year I may replace them all with a large 4k display and then I'll have a long attention span again.

DON'T DO IT. or if you do, please put it into landscape mode next to the other monitors, in a circle. i had a large wide-screen display (big mac) - 24 in. i thought it was wonderful. i sat in front of it for 4 years, at a distance of about 1 metre. now my eyes are "prism", meaning that anything over 3 metres away i see *DOUBLE*, especially if it is off to the left or the right. but anything that is exactly 1 metre away, i see perfectly with extremely fast reaction time.

time and time again it has been shown that our eyes adjust to the conditions that we put them under. it is sheer arrogance of the optician industry to state "your eyes degrade with age". it is total shit. our eyes contain MUSCLES. therefore our eyes degrade with LACK OF EXERCISE, just like any other part of our body that has muscles.

the solution: i got USB-to-VGA converters and surrounded my workstation with 4:3 aspect ratio monitors, in a semi-circle.... and threw away the "standard" prescription glasses given to me by the ignorant opticians, and bought glasses that were *two* diopters less than the prescription (which had to come from china). there are now opticians in the UK where you can give them exactly the prescription that you want. i recommend using them instead of buying cheap glasses from china.

Comment: key skill (Score 2) 425

by lkcl (#49620323) Attached to: The Programming Talent Myth

the key skill needed for programming is to be *able to pay attention to detail*. if you are unable, by any means, to focus on one thing for any length of time (because, for example, you have the attention span of a spider on cocaine or worse caffeine, because, for example, you have been brought up on txting and IMing and twittah) then it should come as absolutely no surprise that you are utterly useless at programming.

another person mentions that creativity is needed in programming. well, yes, this is true. if you have a bug that you don't know how it got there, you need to be extraordinarily patient [attention to detail] with yourself and your work, going over it *creatively* in different ways until such time as you have found, understood and then fixed the bug.

if you do not have the patience because you are, once again, brought up on a diet of twitter, instant gratitfication and refined sugar products, *no amount* of creativity is going to help if you cannot apply it.

i call myself a programmer: what i actually have is obsessive compulsion to be able to pay attention to one task for spans of time that exceed healthy limits. i can be freezing cold and not even notice... because i'm debugging something. only sheer complete exhaustion can get through under those circumstances. this is where it helps to be working in part of a team, as it sets some structure for social interaction. it's no accident, then, that there are entrepreneurs [this goes back a few years on slashdot - there's an article somewhere] who *only* take on *english language* majors [US i presume], and train them to be programmers. why? because people who can *communicate* turn out to make better programmers than people who have been through a university-driven programming course.

Comment: definition of 'open' (Score 2) 63

by lkcl (#49567339) Attached to: Imagination To Release Open MIPS Design To Academia

Microsoft has an "Open License" which allows you to look at Windows NT source code. it's "open", yes? pay them $USD 1m per year, you get an "open" look at the source code of Windows NT. but if you ever dare to use it, talk about it, or do ANYTHING other than *read* it.... they will sue the fuck out of you.

bottom line: can we PLEASE stop using the word "open" in context with these types of stupid, stupid proprietary arrangements? it really isn't helping.

there are plenty of *LIBRE* licensed implementations of MIPS out there: many people have pointed that out (in comments i can see above this one), they're on - there are at least eight MIPS core implementations that i can see, there, possibly the best one (most complete) is this:,m... which has a 5-stage pipeline and a harvard architecture.

so please, stop using the word "open" to refer to proprietary, restricted and patented material.

Comment: machine consciousness (Score 1) 197

by lkcl (#49522991) Attached to: Concerns of an Artificial Intelligence Pioneer

the issue that i have with "artificial" intelligence is this: there *is* no such thing as "artificial" - i.e. "fake" or "unreal" intelligence. intelligence just *IS*. no matter the form it takes, if it's "intelligent" then it is pure and absolute arrogance on our part to call it "artificial". the best possible subsitute words that i could come up with were "machine-based" intelligence. the word "simulated" cannot be applied, because, again, if it's intelligent, it just *is* - and, again, to imply that intelligence is "simulated" is, again, a direct falsehood. so we have a bit of a problem, there.

the other problem is this: if those who are creating intelligent machines are themselves of insufficient intelligence to recognise the existence of intelligence, then how on earth would they know that it had actually been created?? it's the "million monkeys" problem in a subtle new light.

but i think people are beginning to confuse "intelligence" with "consciousness". we already have intelligent networks - the next phase is CONSCIOUSNESS. self-awareness. and here we begin to get into interesting territory, not least because we have the very pertinent question "how can scientists who are themselves not truly consciously aware even of themselves possibly begin to *recognise* consciousness when they've created it??"

the problem is highlighted by the example of a friend of mine who refuses to help create machine consciousness. he's a researcher into the concept of consciousness, so he knows what goes into it - how to recognise it, and, by inference, how to make consciousness "happen" so to speak. and when i approached him about helping to make machine consciousness, he said, "sure i can help... but only if you can guarantee that the resultant beings would be in bliss (i.e. happy) rather than being permanently tortured".

and there you have the key, that anything that is self-aware and conscious - anything that has the ability to communicate and feel - *automatically* gains the right to freedom of expression and all the other rights that we *believe* humans - as the arrogant self-appointed "top of the food chain" - should also have... ... and until the arrogant quotes artificial quotes intelligence community recognises that and fights *IN ADVANCE* for the right of machine consciousness to have the same rights as humans, nobody who is a truly conscious and intelligent being is going to help that scientific community to create such advanced conscious beings, because the risks associated with such conscious machines being tortured - just because the scientists think they can - are too great.

Comment: Read "Outliers" (Score 5, Informative) 385

by lkcl (#49500295) Attached to: Can High Intelligence Be a Burden Rather Than a Boon?

this is nothing new: i believe the same study was the basis of the famous book "Outliers", which is a fascinating study of what makes people successful. if i recall correctly, it's completely the opposite of what people expect: your genes *do* matter. your attitude *does* matter. your circumstances *do* matter. working hard *does* matter. and luck matters as well. but it's all of these things - luck, genetics, circumstances *and* hard work - that make for the ultimate success story. bill gates is one of the stories described. he had luck and opportunity - by being born at just the right time when personal computing was beginning - and circumstances - by going to one of the very very few schools in the USA that actually had a computer available (for me, that opportunity was when i was 8: i went to one of the very very few secondary schools in the UK that had a computer: a Pet 3032).

so, yeah - it's not a very popular view, particularly in the USA, as it goes against the whole "anyone can make it big" concept. but, put simply, the statistics show that it's a combination of a whole *range* of factors, all of which contribute, that make up success. just "being intelligent" simply is not enough.

Comment: Dear NSA (Score 1) 212

Dear NSA,

I would love to design the phone that you are asking for. please pay the sum of $USD 30 million into my bank account and i will organise it straight away. also, please sign a contract that you will subsidise the cost of every single phone sold because in order to add the extra encryption that you are expecting it will push up the price, and in a competitive business world nobody would buy it without subsidies.

I look forward to hearing from you shortly.

Signed, Luke Leighton
(Libre and FSF-Endorseable Hardware Design Engineer)

Comment: Re:The BBC doesn't have much latitude here. (Score 1) 662

by lkcl (#49346231) Attached to: Jeremy Clarkson Dismissed From Top Gear

Once the organization confirmed that unprovoked verbal and physical abuse had occurred,

... actually... my understanding is that it was *not* unprovoked, but not possibly in the way that involves "direct provocation". james may explained that the team had been out the entire day, since early morning through to extremely late in the evening. by all accounts that would be well beyond a standard working day: without decent food it's fairly safe to conclude that their blood sugar levels and many other indicators would have been pushed well past normal acceptable limits.

  i've seen this happen before (both in myself and in other people). you get tired, then shaky, you feel pretty close to exhaustion, due to lack of sleep and rest your body's building up toxins it can't cope with, you're utterly stressed but are simply too tired even to express that, you can't sleep yet which would be the normal way for your body to recover and clear itself of toxins.... and then someone does something unexpected (or doesn't do something that you know will help, that you were counting on)... it's not *their* fault... but they're just the trigger for an outpouring of quite literally uncontrollable but perfectly forseeable emotion.

  my point is: the BBC should *never* have allowed these circumstances to occur. they should have had a full-time nutritionist on the team, advising them when to take breaks, when the exertion that the team is going through is beyond acceptable levels, what the consequences are and so on. this is a team that's been to some of the most hostile places in the world, so it should be a no-brainer that they'd need an expert consultant on nutrition.

so expecting someone to work 16 hours without proper food, running them well beyond their physical limits, then firing them as a direct result of them being put under far too much stress and pressure... *that* sounds like a recipe for a lawsuit.

A university faculty is 500 egotists with a common parking problem.