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User Journal

Journal Journal: I'm living the life of Dilbert

Today, I had my first real taste of what Dilbert goes through. After two weeks of tweaking a design the president of our company approved he came in today and decided he didn't like just about all of it.

He has no understanding of the web first off, but even my VP and manager were aghast when the president completely reversed his opinion on what he wanted 8 weeks ago. So now here I am, 5 weeks to deadline with twice as much work todo. ALl because the president had a whim.

Oh, he said we shouldn't bother with those 40% of our viewers who are at 800x600 cause we should design for the majority. Makes sense right!? I mean who really cares about those low res bastards, don't even get me started on you WebTV people.

User Journal

Journal Journal: AI

Yeah, I just posted about my AI essay grader experience the other day in a thread on neurotic computers.
        I think the issue of the quality of input data is a major point. There are people in the graphic adapter business who talk about a certain resolution being the same as the human eye. Well, I totally buy that. At some point it must be possible, but on the other hand, you've got this 3D vision that people have. Now you could say, oh that's just a stereo version, but it's actually more than that because the mind creates a single image from the input. So, you wouldn't just need the resolution of the human eye, you'd need the resolution of the human eye times two and then you'd need to process those two data streams to create a single image and that's a lot more than just saying you need a certain resolution.
          Then you've got the other senses as well. I assume they're all doable at some point. But I think they're all necessary in order to have what we would call intelligence and the reason for this is that intelligence is a human measure. Without human senses, you can't really have juman intelligence. You might site a case like Helen Keller, but if you consider it, that story emphasizes the importance and complexity of tactile sensation, so rather than being an exception, it just demonstrates that human-like vision and hearing alone may not be enough to begin to speak of intelligence. After all, it is assumed that many mammals have similar sensory abilities to humans, but when was the last time you had a good coversation with a cat? Okay, I've talked to cats too, but I have to fill in the gaps a lot.
          And to extend the Helen Keller example a bit, think of ferrel children. Here we have the counter example. Rather than a lack of senses what we have is a lack of social interaction. But if you read up on it, you get the impression that essentially ferrel children do have basic intelligence despite having no contact with other humans. It seeems that it is difficult to separate intelligence from sense and we can see that in the confusion of the two terms in everyday language.
          In fact, we could even go so far as to apply the Derridian notion of the privledge of the effaced. That is a tricky way of saying that sense and intelligence are two sides of the same coin, but intelligence is a priveleged term presicely because it implies some unseen other value besides sense. However, a privileged term is often little more than a rhetorical or political illusion.
          Without human senses, it's difficult for me to imagine how we can talk of human-like intelligence. Even 24bit XVGA and 7.1 surround sound is really quite primitive when compared to the senses of a mosquito. Show me a computer that can seek out mammalian blood in three dimensional space and I'll still be able to show you an unintelligent machine when it comes to human language.
          It seems that the amazing things you can do with a computer are not so much about artificial intelligence as they are about organizing human intelligence. That's still amazing and great and wonderful, it's just not appropriate to call it artificial intelligence. It should be called organized human intelligence. There's nothing wrong with that.


Journal Journal: LeadBelly -vs- IceCube

Listening to the oldies just makes it so clear how nothing has changed. I'm listening to LeadBelly's Whoa, Back Buck and I'm thinking IceCube could cover this with a couple minor replacements --ie, bitch for girl and some breaks instead of the blues chords-- and it would be a hit. Or, you can just listen to leadbelly.
        Then there's Jimmie Rodgers' Standin' on the Corner. This is a straight up pimpin' tune and I mean literally. NWA did lyrics that meant almost exactly the same thing, but with a few more "nigga" and "muthafuckas" tossed in. But it's the same idea. A pimp daddy getting hassled by the man talks some shit to the cops, gets busted and his old lady shoots him out of the jailhouse. This is a classic theme but when you take Elvis as the beginning of rock, it looks like NWA was really doing something shocking. With the aid of P2P, you can see for yourself that the twenties and the thirties were amazingly similar to the times we live in now.
      I just found out about "OTR" as a search term for Old Time Radio. Should be fascinating indeed.

User Journal

Journal Journal: LA Rape Story

Man I'm pissed.
      I just read about the officer that shot the suspect dead telling the press how great it was that we wouldn't have to WORRY about the Supreme Court.
      I think that officer should be disciplined. If a cop thinks the constitution is the enemy, then he shouldn't be a cop. This judge, jury, executioner mentality has got to go. Yeah, maybe this suspect was a vicious animal who deserved to die, but that's no reason for an officer of the law to disparage the highest court in the press. This guy needs to have his gun taken away till he can cool his head for a bit.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Wow, Cogent sounds cool. Good news when the chips are down. 2

The other day I posted whining about the lack of competitive straight ethernet backbone connectivity and somebody pointed me to Cogent. Wow! I now have great faith in the future of my homeland, the USA. This is quite important to me because I'm planning on moving back permanently for the first time in many years and I was very concerned about the lack of decently priced broadband in rural areas. Here in Taiwan I get great DSL service (256K down 64K up) for about thirty bucks a month although for an extra ten bucks I can have twice as much although so far I dont' really need it. That seems like a pretty good deal to me. I have friends in the States in major urban areas still using modems, so I was quite concerned as I'd like to move to a rural area and I had heard a lot of horror stories.
        Anyhow, thanks to Slashdot, I'm feeling a lot more optomistic about the future of broadband in the States.
        Chips, however, I am a major pessimist on. That's why I'm leaving Taiwan although I love Taipei and have spent many years getting my Chinese in good shape. I wish the future looked bright for chips, but the mask costs are reportedly already going way high. Apparently they're already gearing up for the 65nm process in no more than a few months. That's too scarry. The end is not near, it is imminent.
        According to IBM, that's the end of the line. What I find interesting is that Taiwan claims to be heading there as quickly as possible in that EE Times link above they say 24 months they will have a fab doing 65nm. The reports I have read from IBM seem to have assumed the industry would slow down as it got closer to the final limits of CMOS. IBM seems to make it a habit of pretending to control soon-to-be important technologies and then letting them slip away just as they become truly important. If Intel is to be believed, this SOI technology is SOL. Besides, nobody I've read at either Intel or IBM was ever promising CPUs beyond 400Ghz and most of the conservative estimates say 40Ghz is our current practical limit and we're staring it down pretty hard.
          As a Taiwan resident by marriage, it's truly ominous to see the industry that this country depends on so heavily heading for a brick wall at a warp speed. I mean for Christ's sake, these researchers at Intel and IBM are talking about liquid nitrogen cooling as a feasible alternative to advances in lithography. I'm afraid that does not boost my morale. Aside from the energy consumption issues, having a PC dependent on a compressor, even a reliable scroll compressor, does not sound like a reasonable idea for the consumer market.
        But that's just tech stuff which for me has become, once again, more or less a hobby. There's something about Taiwan that has not much directly to do with tech, though perhaps very much indirectly, that has changed and suggests to me that it is time to leave.
        That is, college students who used to go to the States in vast lucrative droves have turned into a trickle. I have very inside track access to this knowledge as it's my bread and butter. It's not that student's have stopped studying overseas. No, the difference is that students from Taiwan are now going to Mainland China for graduate studies instead of the US.
          This is not something you read about in the news, but in my business it's painfully obvious and the rate at which the shift took place was astonishing. It was like a school of fish suddenly dated in a new direction in unison. Locals who are generally independence minded tend to explain it away by saying that is was because of the 9/11 attacks and the fear of hostility towards foreigners in the States, but I don't buy that. That's a cover story as far as I know because in general people in Taipei will tell you that their biggest fear of the US is that it is boring to live there. I don't think people in Taiwan act out of fear, but I'm damn sure they're nationalistic as all hell and the culture is more Chinese than China will ever be. Essentially, now that the technology of the West has apparently been drained to the last dregs reunification has begun.
        My personal perspective on all this is twisted to the degree that I find it amusing and part of a much larger drama that has taken place over many thousands of years. I think the Chinese people are still failing to overcome an essential element of racism that will continue to stunt their society for centuries to come. The end of CMOS is hardly the time to turn away from the heterogenous cultural wealth of the US where innovation springs eternal despite the worst practices of the monopolistic thieves that have become so abundant there of late, but this is apparently what is happening.
          It seems that we are entering the dark phase of a great cycle. During this troubled period, I put my faith in the greatness of the American way. I'm well aware that there will be an abundance of conditions to test such faith. I hope that I can add to its strengths and I'm sure I will be required to strike against its weaknesses. It's a long road ahead.
          After the third world war, perhaps we should enforce a giant bussing scheme on Africa, Europe and Asia not unlike that which was used to enforce school integration in the States. Those who resented such programs the most were obviously most in need of its effects.


Journal Journal: Metamoderation sucks.

I'm disappointed with the metamoderation system. I lost three points since it came into effect. Meta is a big concept and often it results in cool output from a design perspective, but it's not necessarily cool in every application. For example, let's think of Freudian psychology. A lot of the bullshit part of the Freudian psyche is in the super-ego. Well, the super-ego is way Meta, but it's where a lot of the hang ups about conforming to norms come in and screw people up.
          If Slashdot was a 3D modeling package, I'd say a Meta level would be essential, but that's not what it's all about. It's a forum for discussion. In that kind of environment, the Meta thing becomes the conformity police. The stated policy is that it should be used to mod up the posts that didn't get noticed, but I've seen it work exactly the opposite way in practice.
        I posted about building one's own racks and gave real life examples of racks that I had built and was modded up a point. Then in metamoderation I got modded down TWO points. It was like --oh look, this nail is sticking up, let's hammer it down. That's total fascist super ego crap. Since then I've been modded down again in meta twice.
          I've seen sigs saying how proud people were of their metamoderation on the down side and I'm not surprised. I understand the desire to cut down on the trolls, but I don't think this is the appropriate way to do it. From my observation, the vast majority of the really obnoxious trolls are almost always in the first quarter of the posts. Perhaps limiting the metamoderation to the earlier posts would help.

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