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Comment Here is a time delay disaster example (Score 1) 304

Suppose you are driving a car with electric steering and the computer drops in a 1/2 second time delay between your motion of the steering wheel and the actuation of the linkage pivoting the wheels. As a driver you already have some time delay. The road bends to the right and you turn the wheel. Nothing happens. You turn the wheel some more.While the time delay holds the car on one course, you have now drifted 2 feet across the double yellow line. You see a dangerous situation and you react by turning the wheel more. Even though the time delay was only 1/2 second, the cybernetic control loop for driving the car now turned an ordinary drive into an exercise leading to imminent disaster.

That is why proposition 54 is a very very bad idea. A three day time delay would make it impossible to navigate anything that moves. Laws are a special kind of idea that affects the direction of society.

Comment No on 54. It is an unconditional incumberance. (Score 1) 304

From a practical and cybernetics standpoint, proposition 54 aims to cripple the legislature and prevent it from acting promptly. Proposition 54 has an embedded assumption that the legislature will do something bad if it is allowed to pass bills without a 72 hour freeze.

From a cybernetics point of view, the operational problem from introducing an unconditional 72 hour time delay into the feedback loop of the legislature guiding the operation of the state is the time delay will create a potential instability in the feedback loop.

A good example of how time delay affects the operation of a state government is the state of Maryland. That state has a part time citizen legislature that nominally meets for about 2 weeks every year. In that short time period, all the bills are passed. Political parties, insiders and deals get made in a great hurry. Another effect of the part time citizen legislature is the part time legislators tend to have jobs such as working for a fire department where the employer has quite an interest in many budget items and bills to be passed by the legislature.

The moral of the story is introducing an unconditional time delay into the operation of a government sets off ripples and instability in the expression of democracy in an American government.

Comment Lenovo S21e about a year ago needed keypad fix (Score 1) 187

I bought a Lenovo S21e about a year ago. A few hours with the Windows sales and merchandising festival of tricks wore me out. For the conversion to Ubuntu Linux I wound up getting a USB 3.0 port extender with an ethernet socket and three USB 3.0 ports, plus a 128 Gig micro SD card. I did a more or less conventional install of the latest Ubuntu Linux, I believe from a 2 Gig USB flash drive with the computer attached to the Internet by way of the external ethernet connection provided by the port extender device. The S21e does not have an ethernet socket. You have to provide it by means of a plug in port extender.

The S21E locks up hard like it has a momentary power glitch when a usb 3.0 plug is pushed into the left hand usb 3.0 socket. I have to depress the power switch maybe 20 seconds until the right side power light switched to a steady on state. Then, a conventional push and hold the power switch for 5 seconds seems to work. I don't have the patience to figure out the goofy way the laptop sometimes needs several minutes to get it running.

The Lenovo touch pad did not work and I eventually found a helpful website at The short story is Linux kernels about a year ahead of the then current Ubuntu kernel have a touchpad driver embedded in the kernel. A knowledgeable kernel hacker edited the embedded touchpad driver to make the Lenovo s21e work. On the same website I list the easy and short wham bang steps to download and install the fixes for the touch pad.

Due to the passage of time, the current kernel may now have the needed touch pad driver mods now in the distribution kernel.

I bought my S21 e aiming to use it as a low power wireless SSH connection point running Python programs and talking to Raspberry Pi's with a 50 to 100 foot wireless link. What is missing so far is a low power auto lighter socket power supply good for 48 hours run time.

Comment Need to teach healthy resolution of personal grief (Score 1) 1165

I work with severely disabled kids and in that setting I get to see mentation in very simple terms. For example, I roll a ball to the child. The child catches the ball and throws it back to me. In the child the senses send data to the brain. In the brain current data and memory are processed at many different levels and the result is the brain sends signals to the muscles causing movement of the body, called motor activity. Games such as kids play at elementary and intermediate school recess are important learning activities in themselves. I am going to use this term later: Playing a game results in the construction of a game model. We know thatt the brain is intermediate between the senses and the motor actions of the body.

As a child grows up and matures into an adult I suggest to you that the fancy and refined activities of adulthood mostly still involve the brain sending signals to the muscles causing movement of the body. Even the greatest pianist making the most sublime music still presses piano keys.

Now regarding the shooter such as in this October 1st event, Some combination of memories and events happening in the present have been assembled to form a grief or a grievance. Grief is a very interesting emotion. I suggest that the substance underlying the grievance is very much the same as the experience of many other people. The thing about the persons who become shooters is they have become prisoners of a literal resolution of their grievance.

I am a little puzzled at this analysis. What does it mean that a person becomes "a prisoner of the literal resolution of their grievance"? A prisoner is a person who is subject to physical confinement. Hypothesis: the persons who become shooters have a game model that they learned somewhere in their lives. What is the likelihood that shooters are enacting a game model with their physical shooting activity?

In a very limited school situation, I once saw that the energy driving ethnic gang formation came from 7th grade boys who looked around class and saw that there were only three pretty ethnically matched girls in their class. It was like that when I was in 7th grade 50 years ago. The school appropriate resolution of that tension is social dance and carefully chaperoned after school dances so the rising blood of the young men can be democratically sated by the manners and implicit sharing of a social dance setting.

For the potential shooters, we need a parallel pathway of social resolution to their personal grief or grievance. All the kids need to learn it before they drop out from school. I have not figured this out, for the person who is stuck with the idea of using a gun on others what would be a way to "abstract" the grief to a higher and harmless level. Operas like Carmen use the curtain call to show the audience that the little seamstress didn't actually die. To my great relief, really. Kids baseball teams form a line and each team gives the other a high five.

For the deadly stampedes and fights after soccer matches, some games are being played with interleaved seating. Lets look for simple modest solutions for the shooter situation.

In Los Angeles in 1981 there was a social psychological self-help movement called "Co-counseling". With a framework of rules pairs of people in a co-counseling class opened a pathway to a saner and more balanced state of mind regarding themselves and their own personal griefs.

Comment Both OPs limited and incomplete (Score 1) 283

Both the International Energy Agency article and the Forbes magazine orticle cited in the Slashdot story are written for narrow viewpoint audiences such as business finance managers and economists working for national governments.

Think of the audience being written to as accountants who watch accounting transactions and balance sheets. For these people, the news is a business operating ratio of energy consumption vs. economic activity has changed a very small amount.

If anything, both OP articles should be faulted for not presenting the two numbers that compose an actual "operating ratio". What is the ratio of gross KWH producing CO2 to Dollars or Euros of economic activity? That is a number the IEA should have presented. Together with error bars, of course.

In the articles, a clue to the very narrow perspective of the "news" is that the IEA article does not mention global warming atmospheric gas concentration increase. The bad news from the Mauna Loa observatory is:

Recent Monthly Average Mauna Loa CO2
February 2015: 400.26 ppm
February 2014: 397.91 ppm
Last updated: March 5, 2015

Comment Fascinating problem, approximate solution? (Score 1) 365

It is more than 30 years ago I learned digital logic from Blakeslee's Digital Design with MSI and LSI. These days I program an Arduino. I have my hands full just reinventing the spokes of a 20 year old wheel.

I think you have a fascinating problem. Suppose you treat your computer program as a black box where you feed pages of data into one end and you get pages of output data out the other end. Suppose you say each page of data is an x,y grid of image values. You could say, your problem is for a central pixel in the image, you want to write a truth table. An initial truth table is the values and locations of the pixels from the immediate preceding image that when always present always result in the specific value of that pixel.

Your image processing process probably uses data from several preceding images to come up with the result. If it takes five preceding images, then the truth table for a single pixel picks up five more blocks of data about the state of the surrounding pixels. No matter how wonderful the computer program may seem to be, it is still a finite state engine. The present state of the image or output (we hypothesize) should be dependent on the some number of previous states of the image.

The process is a classic series dance steps for extracting the essential predecessor logic states. The Blakeslee book models this better than I can remember after all these years. The steps are normalize, simplify, flag all the dont't care states and gracefully conceal or wrap the data to handle the physical edges . When you have one of these cubic things, you go through a simplification process. first, you normalize the input data which means remove the numerical clutter and have a single number. Another feature of the extraction process is you sort the truth table output column and input columns and you try to mark as many of the input columns with does-not-matter as possible. A third thing is, you set a limit on the depth of the input data and that means the possible values for an output point are limited because the permuted possibilities are capped, and that cap is usually an exponent like 2^N.

The resulting gadget will be a truth table that grinds out something like x=1 for a=1, b=0, c=1, d=0 and on and on.

Unlike rewriting the software and putting it on a programmable gate array, This is an approach at writing a state table that produces an approximate pixel based on looking at a chunk of images containing that pixel.

Comment Re:Not the point (Score 1) 396

Regarding How has this changed over the decades?

Well there are two answers. There are the usual sources of information like newspaper stories.

  But a second change is the recent rise of behavior examples that emphasize a different kind of relationship to time and the passage of it. First player shooter games emphasize pressing the trigger button as fast and as often as possible. A sports tennis shoe maker advertised "Just do it." or a sport drink maker may have advertised "Grab it and go.". All of these are modeling the process of skipping over the deliberation phase of mentation. The shoe maker and the sport drink maker should have said "Just buy it."

How is time, timing and the passage of time represented and modeled when a human learns motor skills? Studies of infants beginning to speak have shown some children are speaking quite well except that the pace of vocalization is much faster than the parent expects. When slowed down by electronic means, the baby babble sometimes is intelligible as speech.

Compare that with any young adult precipitous action like shooting at transformers or shooting at a school. If you could "slow down the clock" of the young person's behavior by a factor of 10x or 20x, the destructive content would be reduced or eleminated.

From another angle, the young adult who eventually engages in a precipitous action mentally went through numerous alternative scenarios while they were stewing or deliberating or grieving at some perceived personal event. The young adult's machinery for evaluating alternate scenarios has got stuck on a bad action. What part of the action is the bad part? I am proposing that the problem has something to do with time or timing being locked. The person feeling the grief or anger can't escape from some kind of locked state.

Comment What to teach to avoid destructive actions? (Score 1) 396

From the incident story, it appears to be two persons who chose a property damage target for the purpose of minimizing the risk of prosecution for any construction or prosecutorial exaggeration regarding the potential or accidental killing of a guard or workman.

The recent tactic being developed after school shootings is for the responding authority to promptly engage the apparent assailant by the use of gunfire directed at the assailant. For those assailants who are arrested live, the district attorney spares no effort to describe the crime in such a manner as to prevent any sympathy for the alleged assailant by the public nor the jury.

It is my feeling that we have a growing 10 or 20 year pattern where young people in the 18 to 30 year old age group are to a moderate extent misbehaving and to a very tiny extent engaging in extreme misbehavior like school shootings or power station property damage. There has been a reciprocal escalation of the police response as what was once streaking or knocking over mailboxes is now .01% zero tolerance alcohol while driving punishments and now imprisonment for insanity to be followe by 15 years in jail when the insanity is resolved.

I don't believe listening to the district attorney nor the police department is going to give us the understanding to move away from the imprisonment culture we are now living in. The approach I am pursuing is this: Young adults are problem solving animals. The young adult years have a number of difficult emotional griefs and transitions.

What we are seeing is young adults who are settling on problem solutions that are "fast and final". Unlike most young adults, the persons who do school or power station shootings are prisoners of the material physical execution of a violent act. Stories from surviving assailants indicate grievances that are not too unusual. It appears to me that most people dissipate their similar grief or grievance by abstraction or play or ignoring the event.

My thinking has reached this point: What can we teach in school that will help each individual to have knowledge or understanding of their own mental processes? The words "self knowledge" is too general. A very specific part of the mental problem solving action planning mechanism is becoming latched onto a bad action. These young people are able to do the problem solving process, and they need the specific ability to recognize when their brain has latched onto a bad action.

The actions and teaching needed are probably simpler and more mundane than what one might think. It appears to me that teaching social dance in the early middle school years might help head off certain social anxiety processes. Supervised working with disabled peers can be a gateway to understanding the undisguised bases of human behavior. The US high school football culture with it's awful color scheme was OK for preparing young people for WWII military service, and perhaps that institution needs to be replaced with a new game and instructional culture.

Comment Much appreciate the debunkers. (Score 2) 116

I found the original post article fascinating and then eventually trailing off into 5000 too many words.

I appreciate the multiple effective Slashdot commentators accomplishment at semantically flensing the formerly elegant carcass of the OP missive.

What however is the low energy high quality of life and strife relieved peaceful future that the Internet and connected humans need to facilitate?

The author's OP missive at least noted some of the major twists in the confused battle. By my estimate, the now 20 year old failure of Yahoo mail to permit POP message downloading for free is the little tiny failure that no user interface redesign can correct. I am within a hair's breadth of taking my local mailing list for parents of disabled children elsewhere, thanks to the stupid Yahoo re-design.

The author's description of Google's chrome-cast and Netflix binge watching are both interesting developments in the struggle to get media and infomation moving without the exhorbitant charges of patent licensing and copyright fee collection.

A side comment that a paper newspaper is more energy efficient than a free newspaper furnished over the Internet is an interesting assertion worth exploring. I am concerned that the Internet system burns more electrical energy and has a larger fixed term in the y=mx +b linear equation of value than is recognized.

Comment Teach self-knowledge; Blind DA Bias (Score 1) 894

The first point is: The main source of information about this school shooting and many prior crimes is a police department or district attorney (DA). The DA has a built in agenda of convicting every person accused. This results in a rhetorical climate where killing the perpetrator is not a matter of much importance because the alleged shooter should be convicted of the most extreme possible crime anyway. The DA's professional business is to make criminals.

So I argue to you, the news report has viewpoint bias. Except for the bare facts, this news is only supposed to build public acceptance of an immediate armed gun response as the best solution to the ongoing school shooting activity.

I propose that what we need to do is develop a high school level course in "self knowledge" and care for oneself and others when one goes through the emotional and intellectual ups and downs of youth and young adulthood. Now bear with me on this: The thing that is malfunctioning in some of these extremely antisocial events is the pace of time. The resolution of inner issues changes in pace from "take a bath and go for a walk" to "do something extreme and final."

The point I am making is bad things happen when a person's inner clock or sense of pace slips. The use of lead pellets moving at 5000 feet per second is resolving an inner grief or distress too fast. Compare, one could also do a comparable motor skill activity using the arms and fingers and aiming ability by throwing a basketball at 50 feet per second. An afternoon struggling to shoot baskets would equally resolve the inner problem with much less damage.

In this context, a food ad saying "Grab one and go...Do it!" Really is the wrong thing. The point I am making is: Some kinds of antisocial behavior are toxic variations of normal behavior needed by relatively normal people that are made toxic by a slipping or loss of timing or pace.

The underlying neural mechanism is during the toddler years a child explored the world and built up a basic set of neural images and another set of motor skills.
Somewhere at the exit point from high school, we develop multiple sets of alternate motor skills for solving problems. "Take a warm bath." and "Go shoot up the elementary school." are alternate behavior models.

So the thing I propose we should try and teach in high school is an introduction to self knowledge. The specific self knowledge I see is young adults have well developed motor skills but they aren't able to distinguish the griefs and pains of isolated solitary usually lonely young adult life in America.

A fellow Youshock who took a chainsaw and pipe bombs to a high school was sentenced to mental hospital confinment to be followed by a long prison sentence. The psychologists will probably write a thorough analysis of his views and his parents will grieve at his loss. It would have been so much better if he could have understood his personal young adult pains and switched to other problem solving activities.

Comment One non-academic job with interesting values. (Score 1) 90

I work with severely disabled children as a classroom aide. While the job is an aide position, I am also privileged to have weeks and even months of exposure to a specific disabled person.

If your computer career is declining due to age, education or platform problems I mention this kind of employment as a kind of work that may provide you with many observations that may provide problems or ideas regarding computational neuroscience.

It is my opinion that observation of motor actions and neural operation in most people is hindered by an illusion of completeness. The components and expression that lead to an illusion of completeness are a study in artistic analysis themselves. A less able person will unfold and express an action over a considerable span of time. Understanding the sequence, organization and simplifications of the less able action is a fascinating exersize.

My study in information theory and activity in ham radio has led me to focus on quadrature phase demodulation as a candidate for some kinds of neural function.

My study of embryology at St. John's suggests to me that there is an initial layout of the nervous system.
From topology and paper folding I have a feeling that folding and surface tension processes are involved with what later appears as a tiled surface of processing layers wrapped around an inner device that stores motor motion plans.
  Suppose one explores the hypothesis that nerves start out a lot alike. Clusters appear around neurons due to a diffusion limitation. What else about the layout of the brain can we determine from embryology?
Extracting information from nerve pulses is done in layers. If the layers weren't connected during the cellular development phase, how do the layers later pass information around? Are the folds of the brain part of this?
How does the recently reported glial cell expansion and contraction fit into the connection scheme? Eventually the abstractions are reorganized into motor impulses that move muscles.
Look at just one bar of a Mozart piano concerto. The pianist moves his fingers eight or nine times. It is interesting how ideas have an association with movements.

Comment Adafruit business direction versus global warming? (Score 1) 139

I am worried that the USA is not going to figure out how to reduce CO2 emissions fast enough to avert an global warming and oceanic acidification crisis. I have a daughter a few years younger than you. I worry that 8 years of jellyfish oceans and hurricane/drought summers will exhaust everyone's stash of brown rice.

I think part of the excitement about AdaFruit is the business sells the tools and toys of a low CO2 emission future.

So how goes the battle at your level?

  Have the investment bankers got hold of your priorities yet?

What direction do you want to go with AdaFruit to make the crusty old assumptions fall away?

Would you agree, the rate of change is inversely proportional to the debt level of the business and it's employees?

Comment Copyright and patent value delusion in the treaty. (Score 2) 212

One reason the treaty has been kept secret is the copyright and patent privileges do not have socially redeeming intrinsic value matching the legal measures proposed.

My point of view as a citizen bystander is it appears that copyright and patent privileges are becoming too inflated in their value. The organizations that hold or depend on copyright and patent privileges are aggressively and systematically are trying to use law and trade treaties to close all the ways in which others might evade paying for the use of their privileges.

The point I wish to propose to Slashdot readers is: The intrinisic worth or value of the fact or accomplishment underlying a copyright or patent privilege is a modest dollar amount. What is happening in our society is the percieved value has undergone an enormous inflation. The companies are effectively policy prisoners.

In previous centuries, novel and plausible arguments about the intrinsic worth of things has set off revolutions. Adam Smith instantiated time, money and energy beginning with his Theory of Sentiments. Karl Marx redefined another similar set of relationships and launched a political restructuring.

Consider the level of corporate belief in the value of their copyright and patent privileges. Some corporation decided to invest in tipping the trade treaty towards their business benefit. Lets estimate, each well qualified lawyer dispatched to edit and ammend the international trade treaty costs $2m dollars per year. Suppose one company sent one lawyer and they budget 3 years of lawyering and 1 year of waiting. For their 6 to 10 million dollar expenditure, how much gross sales do they require to recover their expenditure?

On the other side, suppose we look at taming the financial stupidity of "charge all the market will bear" patent and copyright licensing. What model to use? Well the Uniform Commercial Code is a body of business law that is a model of fairness. I would start with that.

To estimate the "intrinsic value" of a patent, we could first figure the labor and material cost for the first embodiment. How about one engineer year plus some electronic equipment; $250k. For the next 12 patents, lets cost those at $250k for all 12. Suppose we say a fair profit is 100%. That makes $1m/13 = $77k each for a bundle of 13 patents. Suppose we license the entire industry of 10 companies, each company paying $7,700 each for a lifetime of the patents license.

Comment Gmail phone and change terms of bandwidth sale. (Score 4, Interesting) 330

As previous posters have mentioned, if you open a web browser page to your Gmail account, there is a telephone option. If you have a suitable headset and microphone you can type in a landline phone number. In the USA, calls are free to USA locations.

I use the Gmail phone for every possible call I can make from my desk because local toll and long distance calls are charged on a per-minute basis. The deep advantage of all the internet communication methods is the connection is per packet, not per minute.

I played with the Asterisk scriptable phone and communications engine (also known as a PBX or private branch exchange). I was looking for a fast local and free communications solution for facilitating just-in-time ride sharing. There are little fragments of the solution scattered around.

At the risk of being a little impolite: Except for amateur radio (which is very circumscribed in its usage), the American communications game consists of continually figuring out more and more mutually incompatible and progressively more expensive ways of selling tiny dribbles of two way communication bandwidth for progressively higher and higher prices.

It seems to me that a series of communication solutions could exist. The key is to change the terms of sale of cell phone bandwidth. Present policy, I guess, sells a radio band x geographic area x population to the highest bidder. What the people would benefit from is selling the reciprocal of that relationship: The federal price would go down as the total bytes transmitted increases. The user charge would be an asymptote like function that as usage increases the price approaches the basic cost: (cost is like: price of transmitter electricity + amortized cost of transmitter + monthly fiber optic access + profit) divided by count of users. Dollar sums point to a cell site: $20,000 per month, 5,000 users; $5 per month each.

  At present, jaw dropping sums of money have to be bid by huge organizations of national scope to get a communication franchise. With this fixed annual cost, franchise winners have to charge for every byte transmitted. The franchise winners have to charge a spectrum of prices that avoids the perception they are charging "all the market will bear". Remember all that linear programming you studied in college? The bandwidth is chopped into a blather of services that obscure the basic price per byte. How much does Tracfone pay for a three minute call thorugh an ATandT cell tower? That manufacturing cost recovery reality in turn means no anonymous users and no free data transit. Unlike the land line phone, incoming calls are not free in the cellphone business.

Comment OP is asking wrong questions. (Score 1) 435

I have been thinking about pushing Gmail aside if I could find a better replacement. No outlook for me! Lets think: about a better Internet future.

Need a secure email. Suppose instead of me talking about encryption schemes, suppose we say we want an email where the computational price for any snooper to read the mesage is 10^5 or 10^6 more than the sender and receiver pay. The computer time required to snoop is sufficient to cause snoopers to snoop only on valuable targets.

Need a mail system that supports machine-to-machine exchanges with a new level of clarity and authenticity. Microsoft spoiled the entire field of email exchanges with the easily hacked html files and worse that launched spy programs on client computers. I still get the creeps when I see an Internet Explorer web browser start running. Has anybody got a redesign of multipurpose mail extensions (MIME) available? The stability and clarity of double entry accounting money management still has not reached the Internet.

The original post was talking about little tiny errors and omissions from Gmail. Gmail email is a success because it is simple and stable in appearance. Beyond email I would say are still are a few good open source ideas and implementations waiting to be released.

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Truly simple systems... require infinite testing. -- Norman Augustine