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Comment Got out ~15 years ago, but remember good times (Score 1) 160

I was a programmer, not a sysadmin, though sometimes I was in small shops where everybody kinda did sysadmin. My first experience was in college in the mid 60s with a PDP-8 but I didn't really get serious for another 10 years. But, it was a good time to be in computing. There were lots of different companies trying out different things, and you weren't forced into specializations. I worked for small companies, big companies, scientific companies with PhD physicists and chemists running around, business companies in one place working on transaction software for things like a supermarket checkout line and in another on stock trading software, and software development companies writing parsers with Lex and Yacc. Sometimes, working on unix systems, I'd just grab the manual and leaf through the whole thing looking for functions to do what I was trying to do. Now there's all this specialization with vast APIs to learn! I feel lucky I was in the field when I was.

Comment Do they need internet access and hdmi out? (Score 1) 508

Nowadays it seems like having a computer almost requires internet access of some kind. Is that free in your area? If so, it's probably wifi which means your computer needs wifi access. If it's not free, then that's going to end up being a significant part of the cost.

Also, your post implies one needs hdmi out. Why? What's wrong with good old vga?

Comment Their mass, electric charge, and spin (Score 1) 172

The article says that all that is preserved, that is, information still obtainable, from a black hole is mass, electric charge, and spin (or angular momentum). I think also their plain old momentum is also preserved. What's interesting is that these are the first properties of matter to be discovered and understood in the study of physics. Newton describes mass and conservation of momentum, including angular momentum, and Benjamin Franklin discovered conservation of electric charge. I wonder if it's just a coincidence early, easy to understand qualities are the ones you can still get out of a black hole.

Submission Why The Black Hole Information Paradox Is Such A Problem->

TheAlexKnapp writes: Really nice explanation of the Information Paradox for those who are unfamiliar with it. Lays out the basic gist — that right now if you take two black holes, one made from the collapse of one type of star, and the second from the collapse of a different type, you can't tell which is which. Rightly points out that Hawking's big announcement was really just a small step heading towards a possible solution, and highlights that the paradox highlights the incompleteness of our understanding of some types of Physics.
Link to Original Source

Comment Re:This is huge, how about superdeterminism? (Score 1) 214

Entanglement is just a property of Nature, it's there whether you want it or not.

Hmm, now that's a comment that troubles me a bit. Somewhere in this discussion somebody said that Richard Feynman (Ironically, I'm reading Surely You're Joking Mr Feyman right now.) said it's called Quantum Mechanics because we don't really understand it, it's just some mechanical rules. Your description of entanglement seems to be the same thing. I think scientists are like kids who always ask 'why'. Everytime their parents give them an answer, they ask 'why'. They're still asking 'why' about entanglement. If it turned out that everything was superdetermined, then they'd be asking 'why' to that as well.

What follows is a train of thought I've had when reading philosophical stuff and watching things like "Closer to the Truth". It isn't my personal 'belief', I'm way too agnostic to have such a complicated 'belief', but I think it might be appropriate to throw it out here:

This superdeterminism smacks of predestinationism, which is a religious notion that troubles people over the 'free will' question. To my mind, if it turned out the universe was a giant computer running a deterministic program, it wouldn't make us 'predictable', because the only way to get ahead of the Universe's own CPU clock would be to have an even bigger, faster computer than the whole universe. The future is set the same way the past is set, it just hasn't become the past yet for us. Phyiscist types are always talking about space-time, and how one observer can 'see' the future of another. Maybe it is all one big lump, Past, Future, Present, but living through it is still life, isn't it?

Comment Re:This is huge, how about superdeterminism? (Score 1) 214

I am a quantum physicist...If anybody wants to ask me anything, I'd be glad to oblige.

OK, I'll bite. You said in your post that the world is not deterministic. Does the new experiment disprove superdetermism?

Just to show where I'm getting this from I did glance just now at the wikipedia article on Bell's theorem and, I quote:

There is a way to escape the inference of superluminal speeds and spooky action at a distance. But it involves absolute determinism in the universe, the complete absence of free will. Suppose the world is super-deterministic, with not just inanimate nature running on behind-the-scenes clockwork, but with our behavior, including our belief that we are free to choose to do one experiment rather than another, absolutely predetermined, including the 'decision' by the experimenter to carry out one set of measurements rather than another, the difficulty disappears.

Even though I don't get a lot of this stuff, I do sort of think I get the idea that if things were superdeterministic, like we're all somewhere in a pattern created by a rule 110 machine or something, that there would be no need for either instantaneous communication or a hidden variable in order to have 'entanglement'.

Comment I read in The Economist the other day ... (Score 1) 390

That it was Nevada (mainly Las Vegas) that was coping well and that California was struggling.

A quote:

Water-conservation policies in Las Vegas are more advanced than in surrounding states, particularly when compared with California, ...people who insist on keeping their palm trees and lawns must pay hefty sums for that privilege. In California, laws prevent many municipal water suppliers from charging any more than enough to cover their costs--which means that high prices cannot be used to encourage more frugal behaviour.

Comment Re:Windows 8/8.1 was bad? (Score 2) 321

There is a learning curve, but I went through that in the 80s on unix systems before X-Windows came out. I've forgotten a lot of things, though, if I need them, it's not hard for me to google to be reminded. (But even that is only because I've got the sense of it already in my mind. I don't know how easy it would be for a newcomer to find out how to do some of this stuff by googling.)

I admit I actually don't know much about what modern guis and file managers can do, so maybe I'm missing something. Can they dive down through a directory tree finding every file that's older than x but newer than y? or every file that has a suffix jpg, or list them sorted by size or time? and then do something with them? tar them off to an archive or move them or rename them (jpg to jpeg for instance? or change every capital letter in the name to lower case?) And if they can, what's the learning curve for that?

I will say that as a command line guy I hate spaces in filenames! There are workarounds, like changing the IFS in the environment, but it's ugly.

Comment Re:Self-Checking Code (Score 1) 285

Yeah, I remember working on a program for an embedded system (Motorola 68000, this was back in the 80s). In every loop I had #ifdef DEBUG range check the loop #endif /* DEBUG */ (Having all these range checks in production code would have slowed down the poor old 68000 too much.)

Finally, in testing, the thing would crash mysteriously and my boss finally compiled with DEBUG and one of my loops reported a problem. It turned out that my program was getting invalid data, but of course, in my boss's mind it was always 'my' bug.

Comment Someone wrote a novel about a computer bug (Score 3, Informative) 285

The novel is The Bug by Ellen Ullman.

Here's quote from one of the reviewshttps://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/ellen-ullman/the-bug/:

Her first fiction - which descends back into this realm of basement cafes and windowless break rooms, of buzzing fluorescents, whining computers, and cussing hackers - sustains a haunting tone of revulsion mingled with nostalgia. This artful tension distinguishes heroine Roberta Walton, who tells about the dramatic undoing in 1984 of Ethan Levin, a slightly odious but efficient programmer plagued by a highly odious but efficient computer bug.

Comment Will we ever get any intellect that ... (Score 1) 262

According to the article the definition of "superintelligence" of Oxford U's Nick Bostrom is "any intellect that greatly exceeds the cognitive performance of humans in virtually all domains of interest."
Should we, the human race not hope to have some sort of "superintelligence" some day, or do we want to stay just as we are eon after eon.? If we do want "superintelligence" some day, are we supposed to wait until we evolve, (and then would we be afraid of homo superior like in so much pulp science-fiction?) or should we go ahead and try to achieve it through AI?

I say go ahead and try to achieve the superintelligence thing through AI. There's been a lot of research on human behavior, to find out why we do irrational things that may cause long term harm. That needs to taken into account if developing conscious AI to be sure. There's a lot that needs figuring out about human nature (denial, spitefulness, prejudice...), but of course, there's a lot that needs to be figured out about AI too, so maybe the understanding of both will develop more or less in step. I'm aware that that sounds incredibly optimistic, but what's the alternative?

Comment If there had been cyberattacks in the early days (Score 1) 76

When networking of smart devices was still on a relatively small scale, a cyberattack wouldn't have done much harm, but afterwards, manufacturers, and more importantly, their customers, might have wised up. Stuxnet was a warning, and I think it has to some extent been heeded, but already by then the existing infrastructure was so vast that a major overhaul would have required a commitment and leadership that isn't there.

Comment Re:11 rear enders (Score 1) 549

Insurance for these autonomous cars will be lower than manual cars

Exactly what I was thinking. I'd have modded you up if I had points. I remember reading Mark Twain's Life On The Mississippi. He talked about how some riverboat pilots created a monopoly (he became part of it), with secret handshakes, and special signals they would give each other if their riverboats were passing, and they would warn fellow pilots in the monopoly of dangers up ahead. Eventually, riverboats would only employ pilots who were in the monopoly because of insurance. They had fewer accidents so the insurance companies offered lower premiums to the riverboat owners.

I expect something similar with self-driving cars.

Comment Re:This is why physics is the king of the sciences (Score 1) 95

I don't so much disagree as consider it a narrow viewpoint. Darwin's Theory of the Origin Of Species by Natural Selection was pretty damn regal in my opinion, and, I daresay, has even influenced the thinking of many physicists. Computer Science has had a big influence too. (I think Computers are the 'steam engines' of the 20th Century in the sense that physicists learned about thermodynamics in the 19th Century from studying the steam engine, which led to all kinds of stuff, and studying what computers can do has had a big influence on thinking and paradigms and what not in the 20th and on into the 21st Century. On top of that computers help physicists compute.)

Comment I saw a documentary about sleep (Score 4, Interesting) 159

It's been awhile since I saw it, but I was struck by one thing in particular. One of the researchers talked about a period of 4 hours during the sleep when participants usually could not remember dreaming, but apparently they were. They could be awakened during this time and recall their dreams. The researcher would also disturb the sleeper somehow without completely waking them up but it would still disrupt their sleep somehow. When the subjects woke up they believed they had gotten a good night's sleep and felt fine. But cognitive tests showed they were not operating at maximum potential.

Generally sleep is poorly understood, but it seems to be an almost universal phenomenon and need in the animal world. Muck with it at your risk.

The Wright Bothers weren't the first to fly. They were just the first not to crash.