Posts Tagged ‘opinion’

Thinking the car will stop.

January 31, 2009

Today, as I backed my van out of a parking space, a guy and his two kids ran right behind me.  Since I was being very careful, I did not hit them.  Just a few weeks earlier a guy in a parking lot did the same thing.  I didn’t hit him either.

My question is this: why do people tempt fate with vehicles that are backing up?  When I’m walking near someone backing up, I always assume the person cannot see me and I stay the hell away.  More often than not, the people who are backing up cannot see pedestrians or are perhaps not being as careful as they should be.

Part of defensive driving is believing that everyone around you is an idiot.  I just wish it did not have to be true all the time.  As much as I used to like video games, I really would rather not play a driving game with 6000 lbs. of steel and real flesh and bone.

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.”

Scott’s Box Makes Me Want To Read Comics Again.

July 18, 2008

New Media Will Eat Itself.

April 26, 2008

Two links pushed to me via Twitter are forming enough rumination to generate a post. This original video is blog worthy in and of it self and this blogger has seized upon it. It is biting but true enough to be funny. I must be a new media DB then. Except that I have a day job. I think that there are some new media people who are big who do it all for fun and have independent means (or are on the dole).

My peer group of new media folks are the ones who are doing other things for a living. Someone in this camp (who is far more successful in new media than I) is Scott Johnson. His Extra Life Radio Show is very, very popular and he has a web comic and other podcasts as well. He also has a full time regular job. He must be a very energetic guy to sustain this kind of output. I’m sure he would like to quit his day job, but the thing is that old school jobs pay a heck of lot better. That’s certainly true for me. I don’t even do advertising on my podcasts. I’m not going to be quiting my day job anytime soon.

The other link that makes me write is an article from The Los Angeles Times re: SXSW. Here we see new media doing self-cannibalizing at it’s finest with someone vlogging themselves while interviewing a blogger. If you want to take the analogy to its furthest, new media regenerates as it self-consumes. It feeds on itself but miraculously continues to grow in the process. If it is a Hydra, it bites off one of its own heads and two more sprout. Everyone is making content about each other which in turn generates new content.

How long can it continue? It will peak in growth like everything else. But new media itself is permanent. There will always be a segment of the population that like to write words and make videos. The gateway to entry has been forever smashed with WordPress and YouTube. There will always be someone to consume this. As a consequence, I think one thing that has died is the old media superstar. New media pulls market share and eyeballs away from old media even though it doesn’t pay the talent very well. Just like in the music industry, where there will never be another Rolling Stones, so will go the rest of old media. You won’t have enough money in old media to create an old school superstar any longer. Although, on the flip side, every element of human interest gets its own micro-celebrity. In certain instances, that micro-celebrity becomes big enough to be a micro-celebrity superstar, like Veronica Belmont, for example.

If the loss of superstars paves the road for participation in media by the masses, I think we’re all better off. Certainly, with our cameras and microphones and lighting kits, we are having more fun.