Friday, December 29, 2006

Sam Harris

I've been watching some of Sam Harris' talks on various television programs and conferences and find him to be a very eloquent and capable spokesman for atheism. His points are so clear and he backs them up with real life examples so well. I haven't read his books yet, but I plan to soon. I am greatly looking forward to deeper elaborations on all of his points. For a quick summary of his thinking check out this video from Idea City 2005. Make sure to play it to the end. The comment the presenter makes was exactly what I was thinking in my head.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Gmail Trick

So I recently learned of a neat little Gmail trick that will come in handy. You can use the "+" character after your real email address to add any other characters you want to display. The most obvious application of this would be to use it to identify a site where you are giving away your email address and then you will be able to track if they have sold your info to advertisers. So it would look like this: Then when you get an email showing you how to Enl4rg3 your sh00rt d!ck w/ V1111agra11!, you'll just know where it came from.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Ideas That In Retrospect You Just Can't Live Without

It's amazing how quickly we start to take things for granted. It's only in a rare bout of retrospection that we realize just how much an idea or technology has changed our lives. There are the big ones that most people know about, the industrial revolution, the automobile, computers, the internet, etc and lots of smaller ones that get less attention but collectively contribute vastly.

So how about looking forward? What are the imminent disruptive technologies that people 20 years from now will look back in awe at how we ever lived without it? It's going to happen. It always happens.

One thing that I think people soon won't believe that it didn't always exist is the ability to record every moment of your life and store it. This ability would vastly change the way we lived yet it is currently completely possible with the technology we have. It won't catch on until the ability is seamless and easy, but that's how it is with everything else. Imagine having the ability to instantly search through any moment of your life and play it back. Think of all the things that you could do. Now put yourself in the shoes of someone who has always had this ability and imagine us in 2006 as we live our lives and lose so many of our precious memories forever (until they are simulated after the singularity or worst case at the omega point).

This is definitely something people won't be able to comprehend living without. Any others that you can think of?

Greg Egan: Best Sci-Fi Writer of Recent Times?

Greg Egan is the man. So far I've had the pleasure of reading Permutation City, Diaspora, and just recently, Distress. These books are full of so many mind-bending ideas each that it makes most other books you read a bore. Very few authors that I've read have the ability to take advanced (and pretty accurate) math and physics and mold them into genuine stories with deep character development. So many times I'll be reading a book and I'll think, "Come on man just take this idea to the extreme. What do you have to lose?" Greg Egan takes ideas to the extreme and makes them work. If you are interested in math, physics, technology, computing, and the far future, pick up some Greg Egan and thank me later.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Microsoft's New DVR Patent

In an effort to balance my karma a Microsoft bashing post is needed. It seems Microsoft has patented a DVR application that will ensure advertisements with time sensitive information can be seen by viewers. In other words, they want to put new commercials into old shows you've recorded.

Uhhhhh Double You Tea Eff, Mate? Are they serious? They must know one of the biggest reasons people buy a DVR is to skip ads entirely. I guess they are banking on advertisers coming up with ways to beat this, whether it be commercials with fun content, fast-forward viewable ads, or legislation, I do not know.

Microsoft DVR Patent (Engadget)

I've always thought a better idea would be to make advertising truly specific. TV commercials do ok basing content on location, likely demographics for the show, and such. Adsense is obviously working to a degree though it suffers from click fraud and the possibility that the content of a site someone is viewing isn't something they are in the market for. Why not have people declare things they are interested in and then let companies compile information and send it off in exchange for programming content, etc. I guess various instances of such a system are already in place.

Hey, companies. I'm in the market for a DVR (ironic), a surround sound system, and some Xbox games and accessories. Get the hell to it.

Intelligence Amplification (IA) Vs. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

In the past I have thought that a safer singularity would be brought about through the use of intelligence amplification, loosely defined as the merging of biological and machine/silicon intelligence, rather than artificial intelligence. The logic being that a human who has undergone IA and reached godlike powers will remember his humanity and remember it fondly.

Will there really be any difference between a human with extremely powerful IA and a straight up strong AI? Once either being reaches the level of intelligence and power where they hit the explosive curve of exponential growth I don't think that it will not make a difference. Their intelligence will have come so far that the origin of it may be insignificant.

However, I also tend to believe that a super intelligence will be inherently benevolent.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Went Out for a Wii Came Back With a 360?

I got an inside tip that the local Circuit City was getting a shipment of Wiis this morning. Unfortunately, waking up early on weekends isn't my forte. I got there at 10:15am, 15 minutes after opening and was greeted with a large Wii Temporarily Sold Out sign. I went in to survey the scene anyhow and found the Wii aisle looking like the canned good section of a supermarket before a hurricane. Games, controllers, wires.....gone.

What is a rabid, techie consumer to do? That's right buy something else equally or more expensive than the original planned purchase. As it turns out Microcenter is having an Xbox360 sale; premium console for $299. This is the cheapest they have been available, and I snatched one along with Gears of War. If you would have told me a week ago that I would be an owner of the 360 I would have told you that you were a crack monkey.

So the 360 is pretty large. It doesn't fit on my TV stand shelves. It's also a little loud. The fan goes on full speed immediately after powering on, not really a big concern when I'm blasting games. The power brick is colossal and that's not a word I throw around often. Otherwise, I'm pretty impressed with it. I like the xbox live setup where you have a single name and stats are available across all of your games. Initial setup was fast and easy.

Gears of War looks pretty sick. The graphics are really good but nothing terribly mindblowing. Game play is fun, but I'm more interested in the online play and haven't gotten that far yet.

So Nintendo and Sony, look what you have driven me to. I had no plans in hell to buy a 360 but your low numbers have driven me to your most feared competitor, who I really don't even like much.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Muslim Haxx0rz

This was the image that popped into my head when I heard a terror alert had been issued to American financial institutions regarding a rumored cyber attack on stocks.