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Comment Re:Software is shite (Score 1) 551

Not quite. It's something I learned as (Theodore) Sturgeon's law, though the wikipedia calls it Sturgeon's revelation because Sturgeon himself deemed something else as his 'law' Anyway, the relevant revelation goes something like this:
90% of Science Fiction is crud, but then 90% of everything (including in this case software) is crud.

Comment Well, what's the alternative to NOT going? (Score 3, Interesting) 391

We stay here and...? A thousand years from now we're just here? A million years?

Personally, I think if we do go in to space in a big way, it will be to live in space habitats with artificial gravity and so on, though probably mining raw materials from asteroids or the Moon to build them.

Things change no matter what. We may become transhuman cyborgs, or we may be replaced by AI's (not necessarily a bad thing in my opinion, the AI's could be considered our children and could be the best part of us, or it could turn out a lot grimmer.)

We may just go extinct. Global warming (our fault) may turn earth into another Venus, in which case we've not just driven ourselves extinct but all life on earth.

If we continue to be more or less conventionally human, with our meatsuits, and if the population continues to grow, it will be an explosion. Imagine layers of population out from the earth, out from the solar system. And the population growing in each of those layers. People would have to keep moving outward. And the people in the inner layers who wanted to move out would either have to skip over the layers outwards from them to find fresh empty space, or push the people in those layers out so they could take their place. I just don't believe it could come to that. Assuming the more dismal scenarios like extinction don't happen first, something, and probably something literally unimaginable to us 21st century humans, will happen before it comes to that.

Comment PBS Documentary on the Brain (Score 1) 278

The Brain With David Eagleman,
Fairly recently I saw this documentary series and I was very impressed. It covers a lot of ground on many levels physical, philosophical, and social. There's a particularly chilling part dealing with sociopaths.

Here are a couple of examples of things in the series that happen to come to mind right now which might whet (or not whet) the appetites of some of you out there:
The presenter, Eagleman, talks about the importance of emotions in helping us make decisions. In a section about a woman who was in an accident and had a disconnect with emotions there's a scene of her in a supermarket trying to select food, with her husband beside her, and bursting in to tears because she can't decide. There's a guy who was a roadie for KISS, but when people asked him about KISS as people, as opposed to the kind of equipment they used, and he couldn't answer, he realized something was wrong. He got some treatment and after that it was a though a light came on; he could understand people's expressions, make jokes with them, etc.
Consciousness is compared to the CEO of a corporation who doesn't concern himself with the routine day to day decisions, but must handle the unusual, and the surprises. In the same way, 90 % of what the brain is doing is not done consciously, a person might not even remember a routine walk to the mailbox, unless something unusual happens.

Comment Re:Here's my definition of the web... (Score 1) 64

I was using usenet and email from the mid 1980s. I don't even completely understand the definition about 'link to' and 'app', but maybe if I'd followed the link I would.

What this shows is that "the web" isn't clearly defined in most people's minds. So there's a communication problem right there.

To me, "the web" is the physical infrastructure that allows communication using the internet protocol (with IP addresses like that can be resolved using nameservers) and port numbers. If you don't know what I'm talking about, try issuing the command "ping -c 1" from the command line, then replace "8,8,8,8" with "google.com". The "google.com" works because a nameserver is involved. That's the internet to me. (If you don't know what a command line is never mind, I'm just doing some nerdy rambling.)

When I saw the word 'philosophical' in the article, I thought of how the philosophical ideal would be to have that infrastructure removed from all the vagaries of politics, special interests, etc. The only way I could see that happening though, would be with some great techonological breakthrough. In the early days of Ham Radio, Ham operators transmitted and received messages using their own radio sets. I'm not an expert on Ham Radio, but I imagine that for a brief time, they were able to communicate freely with each other limited only by technology. Which would have been a big limitation but at least it was an impersonal one, unlike politics and special interests. This ideal wouldn't have lasted long before the radio bandwidth got clogged and had to be regulated. Some of that clogging (but not all) was due to commercial broadcast stations. I use Ham radio as an example to try to suggest the form that an ideal internet might take, with personal devices being able to send messages to any other device without the intermediaries of backbone sites (which are expensive and therefore provided by rich powerful governments and special interests,) Sigh, if only it weren't for those pesky technological limitations.

Comment Re: Short sight (Score 2) 581

I'm an old timer who remembers the days of the 8 bit chips like the 8080 and the 6502. Todays computers do things inconceivable back then like playing hi-res video. So I do think it's a sort of Parkinson's Law type situation where stuff fills up available resources and it's not worth it to tighten things up if you don't have to. However, that extra capability is made use of, not just thrown away. Though efficiency becomes lower and lower in priority. In the old days, we'd spend days shaving microseconds off a bit of code. Very few situations call for that anymore.

As a linux user what I notice that bothers me a lot is that I sometimes see processes taking a long time to load, and I think it happens more than it used to. Bloated processes have to load through the bandwidth of the disk even if the processor itself is fast, but modern techniques of paging and shared libraries should minimize that. I don't know if that happens with other operating systems, and I'm actually of a mind to run comparisons with the free BSDs because it shouldn't happen. (I don't remember it happening with slackware, the most conservative of linux distros either, but I wouldn't swear to it at this point.)

Comment Re:More HP does not always mean faster (Score 1) 483

The last car I owned was a 1988 Toyota Tercel with 5 speed manual transmission, no air bags, no AC. It was amazingly quick taking off from a standing start but nothing at the high end, no passing another car on the freeway if there was anything visible coming the other way.

I got rid of the car when the carburetor started going south. A mechanic told me replacing the carb would cost more than the car was worth. (I could've maybe found a kit to restore it but I didn't wanna.)

Comment Are AMD chips scrutinized as well? (Score 3, Interesting) 158

I've read about security issues with Intel chips. Makes me think I should go with AMD. But then I wonder, since AMD has a smaller market share, maybe they just aren't scrutinized as much.

Does anybody really know how 'safe' AMD chips are'? This is not a rhetorical question, and I'm not advocating or editorializing, just wondering.

Comment Followup to my own post:Are all pro-systemd (Score 1) 122

I was thinking about the James Brown song "Say It Loud! I'm Black and I'm Proud!" when I put in the "I'm pro-systemd and I'm proud" remark. Maybe I should have included the "Say It Loud!" line. Then again, how many of y'all are old enough to remember that song.

For myself, I wanted to show honestly my position that I'm wary of systemd but not an expert and not trying to present myself as somebody who 'knows'. But one of the things that makes me wary is that while a lot of people who make anti-systemd posts do so as themselves (or at least not as ACs), the ones who were pro-systemd were ACs, and that seemed kinda fishy to me.

Anybody who takes a position one way or the other is going to catch some flames, and I can see how, in a forum where most people are against systemd (like slashdot) maybe pro-systemd folks figure it's not worth all the flaming to say what they think. But some did post in response to my call and I appreciate that.

Comment Are all pro-systemd folks anonymous cowards? (Score 2) 122

From my (admittedly casual) perusal of these followups that is what it seems like. Come on, who is willing to say:

I'm pro-systemd and I'm proud!

and sign with their slashdot monicker.

In case anyone is curious, I would like to avoid systemd myself, and I resent that it's getting hard to do that. As for why I'm opposed, I don't have any facts I can cite as clinching arguments. I do see mysterious things happening on my latest Ubuntu and Mint distros that I don't know the cause of, but they don't happen on slackware. As an old time Unix guy (going back to BSD 4.2), the whole principle of systemd, not having init scripts that can be broken down and fixed with an editor, just seems wrong to me, and the claims I've seen about the advantages of systemd seem to have a suspicious amount of hand-waving, and a lot of "we know what we're doing you ignorant, backward luddite twerp!" to them. That's all.

Comment Only assumption 3 matters, alternatives? (Score 1) 284

Nr 3, that human intelligence can be realized in silicon, or at least in some artificial way is what counts. I would be extremely skeptical of the claim that it is not possible with any future technology that we humans might develop.

Whether artificial AI will be benign or hostile is a big question. But, what's the alternative to AI? Do we want humankind to remain the same for the next million years? Would it be better if we evolved ourselves? Assuming we evolved into a 'homo superior', how many of us alive today would be actual, by blood, ancestors of those superiors and able to claim them as our descendants? If we created AI's 'better than ourselves' would we be able to think of that AI progeny as our children somehow or does there have to be a biological connection?

But really, when people raise objections to superior AI, the main thing I want to them be able to say is what alternatives do they propose?


Comment Re:Still the best, compare This Island Earth (Score 1) 1222

I saw Forbidden Planet in its original run in a movie theater. I must've been about 10 or 11 at the time. It was the last movie to give me nightmares. I recognized immediately the voice of Robbie the Robot as belonging to the same guy who played Michael Anthony on a TV show of the time called The Millionaire. Even at that age I recognized the cheesy Hollywood style 'romance' that seemed to be mandatory. But I also appreciated that there were some serious, intellectual, aspects to the movie.

A year or two earlier I had seen This Island Earth which was maybe a tad over my head at the time. Not sure now how much I remember from that first viewing and how much from later on. I really liked how the aliens used the scientist-hero's own curiosity to lure him into their clutches. It was more deliberately action-adventure than Forbidden Planet but it did have some intellectual aspects. The aliens were more complex and morally ambiguous than the usual fare, and it had high production values for the special effects. Also, the obligatory romance was better done than in Forbidden Planet.

Comment An Ohio-Scientific Superboard II (Score 2) 857

It had a 6502 processor (same as used in the Apple II), and used a TV set for video display. My brother helped set up a cassette player to store data in Kansas City Standard. I wrote a Life program in assembler for it.
I thought it was cool that the first page of memory could be used for indexed-indirect or indirect-indexed membory and used that feature in my Life program.

Comment Re:That's always how Microsoft worked (Score 1) 150

I heard a similar story about Gates copying at least some of his basic interpreter from somewhere else. Don't remember where for sure, but I think it was supposed to be Heathkit. Anyway, the anonymous coward is right to point out that it's not proven. One would probably have to look at the source code of various sources to do that, and who is going to bother with that now. I would like to know because if he did, it would reveal a lot of hypocrisy on Gates' part since he fumed so much over any sort of piracy of Microsoft's code. I do think Gates had an authentic fascination with computers that was very 'nerdlike'. He appeared in an episode of Computer Chronicles hosted by Stewart Cheifet which was modeled on a game show. Various Big Names in the home computer industry formed 2 teams, East Coast (which were all dressed up in coats and ties) and West Coast (who had taken off their coats and ties.) It was a computer trivia contest and Bill Gates did very well for the West Coast team.

Comment Re:That's always how Microsoft worked (Score 1) 150

The difference with Microsoft is the monopolistic power they got because IBM adopted their OS for the IBM PC.

It is a complicated story, and there are a lot of questionable anecdotes about it, such as how Gary Kilmer, who wrote CP/M was out flying when IBM execs came around to see him, and the execs were miffed enough to go with Microsoft. Or the story that Bill Gates' Mom was on some charitable committee and heard from an IBM exec on the same committee that IBM was looking for an OS.

The IBM PC was an overpriced, slipshod piece of hardware even by the standards of the time. Maybe IBM just wanted something to connect to their mainframes as they were focussed on that end of the Computer business. However, because it had the letters IBM on it, laymen who didn't know any better bought it, and it had MS-DOS on it. (Which wasn't particularly good.) When the clone makers came out, IBM didn't stop them, and they were allowed to use MS-DOS. This became the standard. When people came out with Apps like WordPerfect that weren't MS, MS was able to 'enhance' MS-DOS to make the competitive apps not work anymore.

The result was to hurt the nascent industry in my opinion. (I know, shakeouts and oligopolies were inevitable, but I think MS got too powerful too soon with too little effort.) Microsoft was going to capture the server market too, at least for small networks, but fortunately, there were enough knowledgeable technies working in the back offices of those small business to subvert their PHBs and put linux and/or FreeBSD in and escape being monopolized by Microsoft.

I shudder to think where we'd be now if MS had captured the server market.

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