Posts Tagged ‘Friday Night Party Line’

Friday Night Party Line #40.

April 2, 2009

This was recorded on 2/13/2009 and features David, Kelly, Jason & Thaed.

–Economic down-turn and Open Source.  Will it help or hurt?

–(From David)  “The big things don’t love you back.  They take and take, and never give in return.  They’ll drain your blood, your soul, and never let you go.”  The Postman by David Brin.

–If your lifestyle uses a lot of gas and electricity, but you can afford it, should you change your lifestyle to conserve energy? Say you like driving Hummers, your house costs a fortune to heat and you run a hot tub year round. But you have the money, so it has no impact on you financially?  Is this wrong?

–In his book “Brain Rules” John Medina advocates putting treadmills in the classroom because exercise improves mental acuity.  He believes ancient humans walked 12 miles a day and we should too.  Is this

–Contests held to improve technology dates back to contests in England to see who could design the best locomotive.  Now, we have DARPA prizes, the X-Prize and a host of others.  Should there be a prize for every single societal problem?  Should we have a cure malaria prize?  A stop homelessness prize?

–(From Jason) Big corporations are using viral media like “leaked videos” (which are actually produced) like the Kobe Bryant kiddie pool dunk video from Nike and the “fake” music videos which pretend to be indie but are actually backed by a major record label.  Are major commercial and advertising studios intimidated by the amateur video & audio movement?

–Ask the economist.Direct download: FNPL_40_final.mp3

Friday Night Party Line #39.

February 8, 2009

It’s been out for several days, but I never posted it here because I’m ungodly lazy.

Kelly rejoins the cast including Scott, Rym, Luke and Thaed.  Here are the topics:

–“I let it run overnight” is a fun google search.  What things things do you like to let run overnight and with what results?  What would you like to be able to let run overnight?

–What about a computer game for misers and jerks?  It would allow you to amass huge amounts of wealth, palaces and AI bots to order around. You start out by being born into royalty and deal with the intrigue of
Louis the XIV.  Or something.  Or just a sandbox where you can horde, order and abuse at will.  AI slaves!  Millions of them.  That’s it. If we can’t have robot slaves, we can have AI slaves. Would it sell?

–In a cage match between Naomi Klein and Ann Coulter, who would win?

–How the economic crisis is affecting podcasting.

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Direct download: fnpl_39_final.mp3

Friday Night Party Line #38.

January 10, 2009

And we’re back with a record number of co-hosts!  Tonight features David, Ray, Scott, Rym, Viga, Timo, Jason, Luke and Thaed.  Here are the topics:

–What kind of pen do you use?  Do you write mostly in script or print?  Check out:

— Discuss one interesting side project you plan on working on in 2009.

–There’s a famous computer science lecture running around on the internet that says that you have to almost create a split personality in your head, devoid of any preconceptions, to properly learn programming.  The teacher calls this concept “radical novelty.”  Have you encountered it?  What are your thoughts.

–Ask the Economist

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Direct download: fnpl_38_final.mp3

Computer Vagaries.

December 24, 2008

I was reading this article on Slashdot the other day and I couldn’t help but think about how many times I’ve seen this before.  I had actually started writing a post on this back in July, but I didn’t have enough ammunition to make my point.  This article provides ample evidence of how a user’s experience with PCs is not uniform between individual boxes.  This is not just dependent on operating systems.  Time and time again, I have experienced this.  For example, I could not get iTunes to install on one of my Vista boxes.  On an XP machine, Twitter doesn’t work.  On my iMac, I can’t get Firefox 3 to install. My experience as a hardware fanatic is one thing.  But what I wonder at is the experience of the average user.  A non-geek could buy a computer with Vista on it and try to install iTunes and fail.  Another user might be banned from ever experiencing Twitter and never be the wiser that the problem comes from the vagaries of one machine.

The latest example concerns my daughters’ computers.  I bought identical parts for them to make my life easier.  The free Nero program that came with the DVD drives works on one of the computers but not the other.  I have reinstalled windows twice in trying to resolve this.  It simply won’t run.  Yet, it runs fine on the other one.  I have a workaround.  Sonic works fine on the machine that hates Nero.  So I use Sonic.  It’s no big deal, but it bugs me.  Again it is supposedly identical computers behaving differently.

Digital isn’t supposed to be like this.  This is analog behavior.  The OP from Slashdot was about how computers and cores really aren’t the same from machine to machine. Each box develops its own idiosyncrasies.  I’m frankly amazed that computers work at all given this divergence.

But from an AI perspective and from the genetic algorithm perspective, this is crazy.  You’d have to develop using several different boxes simultaneously to allow for the divergence.

I was talking about this with Jason, AI researcher and the creator of Underworld Hockey Club (and also a Friday Night Party Line panelist) and I thought his comments were insightful:

“[O]ne interesting thing with genetic algorithms is that they learn with the computer.  If I train a checkers player on the cluster in the lab, that player will not be as good when I run it on my own computer.  It’s not stupid, but it’s not as good.  It’s because it’s tuned to the specific compiler & floating point operations of the cluster.  This is why we need online learning.  Genetic algorithms simulate evolution, but there aren’t any mature methods to simulate learning during the life of an individual.  A common belief that I share is that evolution contains 99% of the knowledge we need to survive, but without the 1% from learning, it is completely useless.  Look at deer, for example.  Baby deer (and other quadrupeds) are able to walk within minutes of being born.  Clearly, the basic constructs of coordination are tied to DNA (baby deer don’t flail stupidly until they figure it out), but the deer need learning to make sure that their programming works with their specific bodies.  One student in the lab is looking at neuroplasticity, which is the study of neural networks that can adapt to their environment in realtime.  It’s really interesting stuff.”

Why aren’t I producing more?!

November 8, 2008

This blog means a lot to me, believe it or not.  I can express my thoughts here and actually find an audience.  In real life, my audience pays me to talk about stuff that isn’t really that fun, but that is important to those who employ me.  I’m not complaining about it, it’s part of my living.  However, my job is all consuming and it takes me away from creative fun stuff.  So my videos suffer and Friday Night Party Line goes on hiatus.

The end is in sight, however, for this year at least.  By the end of next week, my travels will be over for this year.  This means I can spend more time doing fun internet stuff.  I have an idea for a video involving moding a broken laptop using power tools!  I also have 3 computers I want to build  And of course FNPL will be back.

So it’s just a matter of time really and then I’ll be having fun again.

Friday Night Party Line Episode 32.

August 16, 2008

David and newcomer Alex and Thaed are the hosts tonight.

Here are the topics:

–A scientist let the fire department in to put out an air conditioner and lost his home chem lab.
Should this have had a different outcome?  Why or why not?
–A 24 hour curfew in the United States?
The ACLU has threatened to sue.  Does it matter?  Is this an effective way to deal with crime and poverty?  If not, what should have happened?
–According to this article, humans are biased toward the beautiful:
Is this dampened by the internet where in theory, no one knows if you’re a dog?  Does beauty work its way into everything anyway? Should something be done about it?
–New Media Expo, SXSW, podcamps, barcamps, PAX do all of these conventions have any value?  Is social media in general overblown? Who is making money?
–Blogger lawsuits.  What should bloggers be sensitive to in order to avoid getting sued?

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Friday Night Party Line Episode #31.

July 20, 2008

Tonight’s show features Scott, Rym, Viga & Thaed. Here are the topics:

1. Which is worse: jealousy or greed?
2. Does being in control add happiness to your life? There were some nursing home studies involving patients who were able to care for a plant and others who could control visits from interns doing the study that indicated that having control is essential to happiness (and well being) So we should aspire to control and we should also give people the power to control?
3. Now that I bought a Kindle, version 2 has been announced for the fall. How about it? Are you going to buy one? Why or why not.
4. What are the top 5 things that every human being should do before he or she dies?
5. (Rerun from Episode 13) If you could meet any three celebrities alive today, who would they be? what would you say to them? How would you like to meet? Over dinner? At an event? In your living room?

Sites where you can find more information about Scott, Rym and Viga:

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Friday Night Party Line Episode 30.

July 4, 2008

Lisa Bettany ( is our special guest on FNPL! Ray, Viga and Thaed are the regulars in the lineup. Here are the topics:

Esperanto related comments from the last show.

Does having children make you happy? Not all of us have kids yet, but this article (as found by Scott Rubin) seems pretty bleak. What do you think?

–According to this article, new software can quantify how many people are at a given place by identifying the number of cell phones present at a location by tying the information to GPS data. Thus, if a person wants to know where the crowd is on a given night, all he or she would have to do is check online. Is this good or bad? What other things could this technology be used for?

–Video editing. What is the best software for editing video for YouTube and home use? Which hardware is best for editing videos? Mac or PC (yes, I want to go there).

–While I think this blogger might not have been serious, what do you think about this concept of a Transhuman Olympics? So long as everyone knows what’s going on, would people watch? Is this desirable? Would it help science?

–Here’s an article about scientists who were killed or seriously injured in the line of duty. Beyond the risks that everyone must face every day by virtue of getting out of bed, would you risk terrible injury or death for your job?

–You have $5000.00 to spend. You can’t save it, you must spend it. What do you buy?

–What are you reading this summer? Plus, Ray creates an image in our minds.

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Direct download: FNPL_29_final.mp3

FNPL 29 with Grammar Girl!

June 21, 2008

Grammar Girl a.k.a Mignon Fogarty is our special guest!  Our regulars this show are Ray (who joins us midway) Scott, Rym and Thaed.  Check out Ms. Fogarty’s new book: Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing.

Here are the topics:

–Nature v. Nurture objectively speaking. What dictates human behavior more?

–Klingon, Leet Speak, Nerdish and Esperanto. If we can agree what constitutes a language, are these languages? Should people bother trying to create artificial human languages? Is the goal of a universal lingua franca a meaningful goal? Why or why not?

–Shakespeare v. Marlowe v. everyone else.  Do you think Shakespeare was a real person? Do you think he stole from other playwrights? Which of the plays is your favorite and why?

–Oak Trees that grow as fast as bamboo; corn cobs full of gasoline. Think of at least two things that could be genetically engineered to make the world better if ethics were no obstacle.

Site where you can find more information about Scott and Rym Thaed:

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Direct download: FNPL_29_final.mp3

Scott Johnson on Friday Night Party Line Episode 27.

May 24, 2008

Scott Johnson from Extra Life Radio and The Instance is our special guest tonight. Our regular hosts are David, Viga and Thaed. Here are the topics:

–Take a look at at this New Yorker article
Are the distinctions made between invention and creation valid?
–In Monday’s WSJ, there is an article entitled: “The Digital Future of Books.” With the advent of the Kindle, and really even the web itself, how many years does print media have before it disappears entirely. What other issues come into play here such as can people even tolerate longer reading nowadays?
–What web comics do you you read? How difficult is it today for an artist to create a successful web comic?
–There were some changes suggested recently concerning orphan copyright procedure. If you could could change the copyright and patent system in the U.S., what would you do to it?
–Given higher gas prices, isn’t it time to do less traveling and more telecommuting? How much more can be done with telecommuting? Will more employers support it now? How high does gas have to go before more people see the value in virtual interaction? Are gas prices even a factor at all?
–Let’s comment on this article on 5 things humans no longer need.
What are some other things that humans no longer need?
–Ask the Economist

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