Saturday, September 30, 2006

Second Life

I've been doing a little dabbling in Second Life, a popular online metaverse of sorts. Now maybe it's because I haven't tinkered long enough, but I really don't get it. I guess it takes a while to find things to do after learning how to do anything at all. I did sit down to a game of chess with some random Second Lifer only to find that the game itself was quite broken (kings could move INTO check and be taken without the game ending.) I guess we were supposed to enforce the rules ourselves.

had a nice article on Second Life for nOObs such as myself. They made it sound really fun and crazy. I visited some of their attractions and found pretty much the same thing I've found everywhere else: avatars just standing there. I want to get into it much like I did blogging because I think online universes are going to be a big part of the future. Maybe I'll take some more time to learn the subtle nuances of the game, write some scripts, meet some like minded people, or maybe I'll stick to first person shooters. /shrug

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Singularity or Biological Life Extension?

I'm reading a book by the title, "Designer Evolution: A Transhumanist Manifesto." It is about transhumanism but solely from the philosophical side. It is a little bit preachy, but I just happen to agree with almost everything Young has to say. I generally focus on the technical side so it is a much needed change in perspective as well. Anyhow, it got me to thinking about biological life extension a la Aubrey De Grey and the singularity. There is no mention of the singularity in the book just yet and I wonder if the author is aware of and interested in it. It seems there is a bit of a dichotomy between those interested in biological life extension and those seeking let's call it silicon-human integration. Do these two camps meet up and talk? Do they share similar ideas? Are they really on the same page, but I just haven't read enough about them all yet?

I've also been thinking about which will come first. I wonder if humans will have achieved drastically increased biological lifespans before a singularity event occurs. A singularity may or may not bring about increased lifespans whether they be carbon or silicon is unknown. Would people rather live in a biological body but keep a backup of their mind a la Cory Doctorow? I'd wager it might be that way at first, but eventually people (beings) will migrate towards a fully virtual lifestyle.

And if someone blogs a blog on blogger but no one is around to read it, does it really exist on the interwebs? Oh well....

Sunday, September 24, 2006

PSP for the Win!

I finally picked up a PSP the other weekend. I do a fair bit of traveling for my job, and I've yet to have less than a 3 hour wait at the airport. I'd probably rather read Scientific American or a book, but I need absolute quiet for that. So I picked up the value pack with a 1 gig memory stick, Lords of Dogtown, and ATV Offroad Fury "Blazin' Trails." Also picked up Miami Vice and Daxter while I was at it.

The PSP itself is real sleek and cool looking, but it does have some weight to it. It also smudges pretty easy and needs constant chamois-ing. The GUI is relatively functional and connecting to my wireless LAN was simple. I was quite surprised at how good most webapages appeared on it and the relvative ease of surfing in general. It's going to be real good for plugging in a few RSS feeds or bookmarks and reading some news sites. Movies, pics, and music are pretty cool too. The screen is big enough that I could probably watch a full film on it and be okay. It took some third party software to get the PSP to talk to my Macbook Pro. The program is called PSPware and is pretty cool. It syncs to your i-everything and automatically formats things for the PSP. I'd really have liked to seen a little HDD love in there, but cool stuff like that just isn't Sony's bag. They want to rape you for every cent you have with proprietary memory sticks So I don't see myself putting too many pics or music on there anyway. Especially when I'll be picking up a new nano or shuffle ASAP.

I've only played ATV and Miami Vice so far. I can see the difference between these two gamea and I would conjecture that most other games fall into these two categories as well. ATV is pretty good. It's fun, there are a lot of tracks, and a lot of different modes. It'll be hours of fun on the plane. In fact, I need to stop playing it so I actually have something left to play on the plane. It seems like it was designed with the PSP's limitations well in mind. Miami Vice, however, pretty much sucks. I haven't played it as much as ATV, but it is easy to tell that Sierra made it like a ps2 game shrunk down. The game ends up being hard to see and the gameplay is very mechanical. Maybe that'll change when I get into it more.

Pretty sweet overall though. I need to go do some chamois-ing.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Two New Links

I added two new links. One to the blogger blog of Mitchel Howe, a man who shares many of my interests related to the singularity. He doesn't seem to have updated his page in a while, but there are a lot of archives that are great reads. Also, I added the MIT tech review site. It's updated every day with a few stories on cutting edge technology. Many times you'll find people writing about a tech story that ultimately clicks through to Tech Review.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Chronoliths

I just finished reading Robert Charles Wilson's, The Chronoliths. It's a sci-fi book about these huge monuments made of some exotic/frozen/indestructible substance that are violently appearing all across Asia. They are apparently shrines to a military leader named "Kuin" and they are inscribed with writing commemorating conquests 20 years in the future. More accurately the book is about a man, Scott, who finds his life intertwined in these events. It was a wonderful story. The characters were supremely developed and the plot moved along briskly. The physics of the time travel was kept at a "pop" level through the clever use of a first person POV from Scott in which he declared his understanding was only at that level. However, the book came up short in the end. I won't ruin the ending, but I just found the time travel logic way too faulty. It was almost as if Wilson hadn't thought it through, which is hard to believe when you see how much thought he puts into the characters.

I had essentially the same experience with his other work that I read not too long ago, Spin. The stories are quite similar in nature and both were beautifully written. I just need more resolution at the end. There is a huge sci-fi build up in both stories , and both leave you thinking, "Ehhh I dunno about that." Great reads certainly. A more human relationship-centric story than sci-fi, but slight let downs at the end.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

20-Inches of Fun in Manhattan

These guys take the 20 inch, 18 pound Dell XPS2010 "laptop" out for a night on the town. Hilarity ensues.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Planck Time

I find the concept of Planck Time to be very intriguing. Basically, it is defined as the time it takes a photon, in a vacuum, to travel the Planck Length (1.6E-35 meters). In other words, it is the shortest realizeable period of time in reality. Does this mean that time is actually digital? Just that the devices we have to measure it whether they be our minds or our atomic clocks just can't resolve down that far? If nothing exists between tics of the Planck time, how do you seperate one from another? I think of time as more of a concept rather than a physicality, but none the less it is fun to think about.

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Macbook Pro Review

I've had my 17" Macbook Pro for several weeks now, so I think I am fit to give her a fair review. I can safely say I could gave gone for a much less powerful machine. The only thing I truly wanted above and behind the other Mac lappies was the 17" screen. For what I do at home, this hot baby is severely under utilized. I just kept talking myself up to the highest level though, and I finally gave in and said, "Thumbs up, lets do this." I'm sure I'll buy another gig of RAM soon too. Do I need it, nope, do I want it, yup.

On the Software Side
As a long time Windows user I was quite reluctant to switch. Now, as most people seem to say, I doubt I'll ever go back. The Mac OS X is really the strong selling point of this beast. However beautiful she may be, I don't like the idea of being stuck to one vendor though. I get plenty of Windows and Unix love at work and having used Linux as well, for what I want to do at home OS X is where it's at. I guess I was sold the first time I dragged a picture from an IM window and it automagically saved to my desktop. I don't really have trouble setting up things on other OSes but it really is more convenient here. If I want to check things out on a lower level, I can. When I want to just get things done quick, I can. My only complaint is that I can't move the HD icon on my desktop. I got used to the min/max/close buttons being on the upper left of windows, but not being able to move the HD pisses me off.

Unfortunately, I've got a number of complaints with the hardware, computer and housing. The area above my optical drive squeaked whenever the slightest amount of pressure was put on it. Just from placing my wrist off and on it would give off a door creaking squeak. I soon realized it was caused by the expansion and contraction of the case due to the extreme temperature differentials it was subjected to. I would boot up to no squeak but after the processor heated up the case it was scary movie door city. Then one day it just stopped. The next day it migrated and currently resides on my space bar in the form of a higher pitched squeak. I gave the apple forums a quick glance and saw many had the same problem and were told by the "genius bar" it was within spec. I haven't pried it off myself to apply some lubeys to it. Mac things sure don't like coming apart, and I'm hoping the problem solves itself with a good dose of time.

As I've mentioned, baby gets hot. If I run the processor at >15% utilization a small amount of nuclear fusion seems to go off. Honestly, it's not hot enough that when you touch it you instantly pull away, but you do say to yourself, "Holy balls, that's hot, I shouldn't be touching this." It'll make a nice space heater in the winter. Finally, the screen housing is a little wobbly and the right side doesn't seem to close all the way unless pushed down for a second. No whine, no discoloration, no battery issues. Wi-fi drops out here and there but I am in my basement.

Overall, I am very pleased. I'm still learning when it comes to OS X in general, but I'm exploring and liking. Hardware has a few quirks, but its a beautiful piece of machinery. I'll post some pics soon not as if everyone doesn't know what a Macbook looks like, but this one is mine.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Updated Blogs and Links

I added some blogs and links that I enjoy:

On the blog side you will find the blogs of the people that have truly inspired as well as educated on the topic of the Singularity. These guys are all very active in their respective fields. If my blog serves no other purpose other than to link someone to their blogs, well I'd call it a success.

I've also got links to some of the pages that I view on a daily basis. I'm sure most people are familiar with most of them, but if not check them out. Tech Dirt is a nice tech news site that comes at things from more of a political/legal aspect, intentionally or not. They are very sharp and direct over there. I find it to be much more professional that a lot of other sites. Check out Kurzweil AI too. It is Ray Kurzweil's home page. Be sure to check out MindX. It's a very sloppy forum but it is filled with some very interesting and forward thinking minds.

And just to add some awesomeness to this heretofore cookie cutter blog; I present you DragonForce.


Welcome to my blog. I'm not sure why I decided to start one, but it's 2006 and it just seems like the right thing to do. There are a number of things that I am interested in which I will get into later, and it would be cool to get in touch with some people with simliar interests. I've decided to separate my True Name, in all aspects, from my blog. I want to focus more on my thoughts, theories, and the like rather than on the person who is me.

My biggest interest is the Technological Singularity, a term coined by Sci-Fi writer Vernor Vinge and recently elaborated upon by Ray Kurzweil in his book, "The Singularity Is Near." The basic idea for those who are unfamiliar is the belief that we are quickly approaching a point, from many different points, where technological progress will overcome our own human intelligence the world as we know it will cease to exist. It will be replaced only by something which is far beyond the mind of the greatest thinkers ever to have thought. There will be many more posts on this for sure.

I enjoy reading very much. I like to stick to science fiction and non-fiction books in the realm of physics, psychology, philosophy, and technology in their many incarnations. I suspect I will make some posts reviewing and dicussing whatever book I happen to be reading. Recommendations are quite welcome.

Next on my list of interests: gadgets, gizmos, and games. Apparently I have a thing for alliteration as well. I'm a big console gamer, ps2 to be precise. Expect to see some game reviews and maybe some ps3 fanboy action. Some of my other techie toys include a 17" Mac Book Pro (doubles as a personal space heater), 42" Samsung DLP, a ghetto T22 Thinkpad that I plan to give some Ubuntu lovin to, a crappy Epiphone ES-200(or 300 I dont remember) that I show zero love to, and all kinds of other crap that I surely don't need to live but make me feel happy none the less.

I guess that is all for now. I hope this gives a general overview of what this blog will be about. Expect some slightly more interesting posts when I can focus on a single topic.

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