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Comment I suggested training on sims to Alain a decade ago (Score 1) 57

I worked with Alain Kornhauser about thirty years ago, first taking his robotics course as an undergraduate, later managing his robotics lab as an employee, and then again even later (briefly) as a grad student tangentially as part of a group doing self-driving car research focused mainly on a neural networks approach. I had also been hanging around Red Whittaker's group making the first ALVAN (Autonomous Land Vehicle) around 1986 before going back to Princeton to work as an employee.

While I did not contribute much of significance to that self-driving car group (I had other interests), I had suggested we train cars to just drive one specific route based on videos from driving that route a variety of times. I guessed that most daily commutes are just along the same route and so that could be a big win. But he dismissed that idea for some reason I'm still not sure I understand. Still think it made a lot of sense though for the resources we had at the time.

About ten years ago I suggested he get his PAVE students to write software to drive Gran Turismo as a challenge. Not much response from him on that then though. Glad to see his is finally doing that -- although with much better game/simulation software now.

I also suggested he could make PAVE the free and open source software hub for self-driving vehicle software to address some concerns I outlined back in 2001 in the essay to the Markle Foundation:

From the email I sent Alain in 2007-02-02:

"Glad to read of your group's successes with the Grand Challenge. I've long thought a fun project for your students would be to write software that takes visual input from a a PlayStation 2 driving game like "Gran Turismo"
(direct via video out to video capture, or even through a camera focused on a TV) and processes that image to drive the simulation via a USB hookup into the PlayStation. Not quite the real thing (and Red Whittaker might rightfully scoff at that approach as ignoring much of the challenge of making real hardware survive in a tough environment :-) , but it is cheap, easy, and safe to do in an undergraduate lab with limited supervision. And the racing game simulators just keep getting more and more realistic. And if that challenge becomes too easy, you can then add noise to the video signal to make it harder... Or introduce lags or noise in the USB steering. And then start working on controlling ATV Off Road Fury or the the Snowmobile racing games, and so on. Or have kids write software to control one game and then give them only one day to make it work for another... Probably lots of good science and engineering and education to do there on a (relatively) small budget."

I mentioned that idea again to him in 2011-06-18 when I was looking for jobs:

"Or maybe you need someone to do more work on cars that drive themselves, which sounds like more fun? :-) Except that PAVE stuff is all student run, and good for that approach, so I can see you probably won't need someone for that. I still feel getting students interested in writing open source software to process images from the latest driving simulator games is a good (safe) project that might advance the state-of-the-art in automotive intelligence in a very positive way. :-) I'm sure it would at lead to lots of funny press though ("Students at Princeton are seriously playing with video games", and so on). Whether that is good or bad depends on your point of view, perhaps."

Anyway, glad to see that idea finally getting some traction. :-)

While he did not take some of my ideas that seriously, I did not take his idea of the self-driving car stuff that seriously myself back then. Not that I objected to it -- I just did not see the urgency for it and was more interested in robot manipulation (being a fan of the "Silent Running" drones).

But Alain saw the value in self-driving cars decades before most other people. He explained how they could save lives by being safer -- as well as reduce expenses and reduce pollution by being more efficient.

Alain is a brilliant guy and a nice person too (they don't always go together) -- wish I had made more of my time working with him. Looking back on it, I think, wow, what if I had just been excited to do a project to make a self-driving golf-card for the Princeton campus for alumni or for the annual P-rade? That would have been a great place to start and I'm sure we could have been successful enough on a limited scale with a limited budget to move onto grander things.

Back in my early 20s I just did not appreciate what a great opportunity working with him was. Working with him as an employee for a year in his robotics lab was where I learned so much about 3D graphics which made it possible to write a garden simulator and also PlantStudio software (for breeding 3D botanical plants). Best job working for someone else I ever had. Thanks Alain!

Comment Re:Money stores value (Score 1) 145

The American Revolution is proof that you are wrong, as they won the war using only paper money.

Might want to brush up on your history a bit. They won despite the paper money, which was a major hindrance. Google for the phrase "not worth a continental". When the constitution was written, the memory of America's first hyperinflation was very fresh in their minds, which is why the gold and silver clause in the constitution forbids fiat currency.


Comment Peopleware book on team spirit & also "e(vil)m (Score 2) 148

"Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams" explains how supporting true team spirit is a key aspect of a high-performance organization. You can find some good evidence in there for your point.

The authors also explain better ways to manage email. Here are subheadings from the book chapter:

Chapter 33: E(vil) Mail 199
In Days of Yore 199
Corporate Spam 200
What Does "FYI" Even Mean? 200
Is This an Open Organization or a Commune? 201
Repeal Passive Consent 201
Building a Spam-less Self-Coordinating Organization 202

In general, their focus on good use of email is on helping people in organizations self-coordinate. It is more a vision of the manager as supporting good communications within and between teams versus than a manager being a hub of communications. So, to them, lots of CCs on emails suggest the possibility of some sort of organizational dysfunction which could be corrected by training people to be more self-coordinating.

That book is the second item I list here in a curated reading list on creating and sustaining high-performance organizations:

Another book by one of the authors (Tom DeMarco) is listed as the first item: "Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency"

But, this is all easier said than done in practice.

Comment How Khan Academy handles email transparency (Score 4, Interesting) 148
"Every team has two email addresses: one for team members and one for the team's "blackhole." [For example: ] and
    The -team@ address is for emailing all members of the team. When you send email to analytics-team@, you expect everyone on the analytics team to read it. Subscribing to analytics-team@ means analytics-related email will land in your priority inbox as soon as it's sent, and you're expected to read it.
    The -blackhole@ address is for anything else that has anything to do with analytics. When you CC:analytics-blackhole@, you don't expect subscribers to immediately read it. Subscribing to analytics-blackhole@ means you'll receive analytics-related email, but it'll get filtered out of your inbox and you're not expected to read it unless you feel like it. ... Anybody in the org can join any of these email lists. analytics-team@ is usually just team members, but analytics-blackhole@ has all sorts of lookie-loo subscribers who're interested in analytics happenings."

The approach was derived from how Stripe does it:

So, given the original story, maybe this transparency approach has an extra side effect (perhaps unintended) of maintaining trust in an organization by avoiding the "directly CC-ing the boss" effect?

It's not quite BCCing the whole company -- like Tesen joked -- as it is more organized. But essentially the whole company could in theory read (almost) anything with that approach.

Comment Re: Macintosh doesn't have apps! (Score 1) 66

The first version of the Macintosh System software had folders, just not folders within folders (due to a file system limitation that was swiftly fixed).

DAs were kind of like TSRs. But I don't remember stickies being among them until well into System 7, at which point they were ordinary applications.

Comment KIM-1 for me, too! (Score 1) 857

Great story of coming full-circle.

My first store-bought computer was also a KIM-1. I had wanted a computer for years, always looking at advertisements in magazines, and subscribing eventually to BYTE. I remember going together with my father to a computer store (on Long Island) to look around. I think it was a second-floor showroom which was not very big -- maybe over other stores or in a house? I remember seeing some kind of computer there on a table with a terminal and a disk drive comping PASCAL or something like that. The KIM-1 was probably the cheapest thing there -- sitting in a display case by the cash register.

My father and I soldered a power supply together for it. I seem to remember saving longer programs to cassette tape.

Before the KIM, I had built circuits from logic ICs from RadioShack, and before those I had built circuits from discarded lights and switches my father had brought home from work. I had also haunted RadioShacks to play with the TRS-80s there -- and learned a lot by doing the exercises using pencil in a TRS-80 tutorial guide "Users Manual for Level 1".

I was lucky that a high school teacher also had a computer company selling educational computers. He would loan me PETS for a time I would write some software for or fix up or do other things with. One time he loaned me an Apple II for a couple days -- but that is all I ever did with one of those. Our high school (in the late 1970s) also was part of a Long Island BOCES timesharing group so we could dial-in from school (or later home on a PET) to a PDP-10 and run stuff there (not that I understood that much of what was going on the PDP-10 back then).

I sold the KIM-1 (sigh) to get money to buy my own PET from that teacher, and then got a printer and a dual floppy disk drive (forgoing all my future allowance to pay for it). Overlapping the PET I got a VIC (which I wrote a video game for which helped pay for college) and then a C64. I really liked Forth cartridges I got for the VIC and C64. I made an interface box so a PET, VIC, or C64 could control relays and extra multiplexed I/O lines (binary, A/D, and D/A). I interfaced that to a Battle Iron Claw robot from RadioShack I used in my undergraduate AI research

Eventually, I got a couple of embedded 6811-based Forth computers for fun -- I used them to radio control a Petster robot cat. Later I got a (Panasonic?) portable with a micro-tape drive I ended up returning at my manager's suggestion when the lab I was working at got a portable 8086 computer he let me take home (still wish I had kept the other laptop which was surprisingly good), then a Z88 portable, and finally my first 80386 IBM PC from Gateway I needed for a a computer contracting job.

After that was bunch of other PCs and Macs, Newtons , a Palm Pilot, a couple handheld Linux devices, a couple of OLPCs, and so on -- into the current days of Chromebooks, Arduinos, Raspberry Pi, OpenWRT-powered routers, and of course PC & Mac laptops.

Might have missed something or other in there.

Frankly, I no longer know exactly how many computers I own. :-)

The KIM-1 It was a big mystery to me at first. I had gotten an assembly language programming book but did not really understand it. It took quite a while to "click" and I'm not sure it ever really did until I later did assembly using a PET -- both to Peek and Poke and to run a macro assembler on the PET. But the KIM-1 set me up well to understand the PET quickly -- as well as a "Cardiac" cardboard computer we used in high school.

So, I can credit starting with a KIM-1 as teaching me a lot about the fundamentals of computing which has helped me throughout my career -- especially having confidence I can understand systems all the way to the metal (in theory). Thanks, Dad!!!

Sadly, my own kid has little interest in the low-level details of computers. Nowadays, pre-made applications can do so much such as Minecraft and Space Engineers, it's hard for kids to get excited about adding two numbers together with assembly language or wiring up your own multiplexer or whatever -- whereas when we started, the basics were the fun stuff that seemed to open up doors to fun and careers.

I'm curious though about WebAssembly as maybe a way to have low-level fun again? :-)

Lucky you to be in embedded. Doing web stuff now and so much of the underlying technology base is inefficient badly-designed junk piled on more of the same. For example, I have to wait tens of seconds for rebuilds of complex web stacks when on my VIC-20 with a Forth Cartridge (millions of times slower as a computer) I could just edit the (dis)assembly by hand and keep going. :-) Obviously modern computers can do so much more, but a certain level of interactivity, robustness, and comprehensibility seems lost.

Some quasi-low-level programming humor. :-)

Comment So fucking what? (Score 5, Insightful) 478

As I said on the previous post about this situation, who cares? His code still works, and there are no allegations that he's trying to fuck the other contributors or for that matter, practicing his kinks with anyone who's not consenting to how he gets his rocks off.

However repugnant "goreanism" might be, I'm rather more repulsed by someone like you demanding that hackers pass some kind of political purity test. Go fuck yourself.


Comment Sal Khan skipped MIT classes but did problem sets (Score 1) 178

... as he explains in his "The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined" book:

Sal Khan says it won't be right for everyone, but if you are motivated, the "seat time" as a "passive learner" in large lecture courses is mostly wasted time compared to being an "active learner" working through problem sets. He says there that skipping classes was how he and others at MIT were able to take double the normal course load and graduate with high grades and multiple degrees. See:

So, in that sense, it might not be surprising or an indictment of college that the GP AC poster was able to miss all the 8am classes for a course and still pass it -- if they did the assignments and otherwise read the text book or other readings and such.

Of course, while class skipping may work for large lecture courses, it may be more problematical for the best sort of small seminar courses where a lot of active participation goes on in class as discussion and is part of the learning process.

So, without knowing the class and what the GP AC did to pass it, it it hard to generalize about college.

That said, you might like these links I put together almost a decade ago on problems with current schooling practices and various alternatives:

"[p2p-research] College Daze links (was Re: : FlossedBk, "Free/Libre and Open Source Solutions for Education")"

"[p2p-research] The Higher Educational Bubble Continues to Grow"

"[p2p-research] Rebutting Communique from an Absent Future (was Re: Information on student protests)"

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