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Tuesday February 25, 2014
Stephen Wolfram's Long Demo of the Wolfram Language
I am not a big fan of Stephen Wolfram -- I think his "A New Kind of Science" was a mess.
Likewise, I experience some real cringing listening to him describe his new 30-years-in-the-making "language" as being great at doing everything. In fact I think from everything we've seen so far, I'm not sure "language" is the best description for what this is. I have a deep skepticism for projects that try to make it super easy to do big complicated things -- because often they make it exceedingly difficult to actually write code that does what you want.
He looks like he's basically thrown everything including the kitchen sink into this -- it looks like a massive amount of work, and a massive amount of work to maintain -- which makes me skeptical about it's survival.
BUT whatever it is, there are some very cool things going on here.. And it looks like a wonderous thing to play with. Well worth a watch:
Friday February 21, 2014
The Voynich Manuscript -- Serious Progress Decoding it
Just finished watching the 47 minute video presentation. Wonderful, dry, humble, relentless, dedication to science. What a pleasure it is to watch something like this (as compared to those things like Ted talks which make me want to set off a suicide bomb in the audience). Fascinating! I can't wait until they can decode it all.
The 600-year-old, strangely-illustrated Voynich Manuscript (which resides at Yale University) has been called the most mysterious manuscript in the world. Not a single word of the secret language has been decoded, at least not until now. Stephen Bax of the University of Bedfordshire says he has decoded ten words from the Voynich Manuscript.
Wednesday February 19, 2014
Amit Patel's Red Blob Games and Game Programming Pages
DC member App103 found this fantastic collection of articles and links by Amit Patel on game Programming.
He discusses pathfinding, procedural world generation, AI coding, and a huge range of wonderful topics. Very nicely organized and presented.
I’ve been helping people make games since 1990. I wrote games earlier in life, with Solar Realms Elite being the most well known, then worked on an environmental simulation game called BlobCity, then took a break for over a decade. The recent rise of indie, mobile, tablet, social, and web games have made me interested in game development again. My current passion is using interactivity on the web for learning, especially learning game algorithms. With modern web browsers, there’s no need for explanations to follow the formats used in magazines, technical papers, and books. We can combine learning by reading, learning by watching, and learning by doing.
Sunday February 16, 2014
What the Heck is Happening to Windows? Article on Windows 8 Disaster
I could not resist posting an extended quote from this article on the Windows 8 disaster and the possible road back for Microsoft:
After watching Windows Vista get mismanaged and then slapped around by Apple, it tapped Steven Sinofsky to reimagine Windows. It's fair to say that this man shares many of the same character traits—and flaws—that defined Steve Jobs. He was belligerent and one-sided, didn't work well with others, had no qualms about tossing out features and technologies that didn't originate with his group, and had absolutely zero respect for customer feedback. Here, finally, was a guy who could push through a Steve Jobs-style, singular product vision.
And he did. Sadly, the result was Windows 8.
The reason this happened is that while Sinofsky had the maniacal power and force of will of a Steve Jobs, he lacked Jobs' best gift: An innate understanding of good design. Windows 8 is not well-designed. It's a mess. But Windows 8 is a bigger problem than that. Windows 8 is a disaster in every sense of the word.
This is not open to debate, is not part of some cute imaginary world where everyone's opinion is equally valid or whatever. Windows 8 is a disaster. Period.
While some Windows backers took a wait-and-see approach and openly criticized me for being honest about this, I had found out from internal sources immediately that the product was doomed from the get-go, feared and ignored by customers, partners and other groups in Microsoft alike. Windows 8 was such a disaster that Steven Sinofsky was ejected from the company and his team of lieutenants was removed from Windows in a cyclone of change that triggered a reorganization of the entire company. Even Sinofsky's benefactor, Microsoft's then-CEO Steve Ballmer, was removed from office. Why did all this happen? Because together, these people set the company and Windows back by years and have perhaps destroyed what was once the most successful software franchise of all time.
Friday February 14, 2014
WARNING! Linksys routers infected with self-replicating worm/malware.
ArsTchnica post copied below:
Bizarre attack infects Linksys routers with self-replicating malware
Some 1,000 devices have been hit by the worm, which seeks out others to infect.
by Dan Goodin - Feb 13, 2014 6:20 pm UTC
Researchers say they have uncovered an ongoing attack that infects home and small-office wireless routers from Linksys with self-replicating malware, most likely by exploiting a code-execution vulnerability in the device firmware.
Johannes B. Ullrich, CTO of the Sans Institute, told Ars he has been able to confirm that the malicious worm has infected around 1,000 Linksys E1000, E1200, and E2400 routers, although the actual number of hijacked devices worldwide could be much higher. A blog post Sans published shortly after this article was posted expanded the range of vulnerable models to virtually the entire Linksys E product line. Once a device is compromised, it scans the Internet for other vulnerable devices to infect.
Thursday February 13, 2014
The Best Security Suites (2013/2014)
PC Magazine writer Neil Rubenking wrote a massive and very useful review of security suites (antivirus + firewall) for PC Magazine recently, with ratings and detailed observations.
The chart below summarizes our findings for three dozen current security suites, highlighting overall scores and category scores of 4.0 stars or better. It's easy to see that some products earned high scores in all or nearly all the categories, while others got just a few high scores.
I may not agree with everything written but it's darn useful. See also some newer PC mag security reviews that came out after the roundup here.
See also: http://securitywatch.pcma...ormance-need-not-conflict
Thursday February 06, 2014
Why didn't anyone tell me I could make the Windows 7 taskbar height non-obscene?
This is a public service announcement for those of you who do not like the Windows 7 taskbar being so damn tall eating up desktop space for no reason.
You can change it go to back to the sane pre-Windows7 height and format:
It's the small icons setting which reduces the height. I also change the taskbar buttons (grouping) option so that each program running gets it's own taskbar entry until it runs out of space; I hate the new behavior of combining taskbar buttons for multiple copies of explorer, etc.
Note: One thing that happens when you reduce the taskbar height is you lose the full date shown in the bottom right. To solve that I install Tclock and configure it to show full textual date+time on the taskbar.
Monday February 03, 2014
How In-app Purchases Has Destroyed The (Mobile Gaming) Industry
Nice little article about how in-app purchases in (mostly mobile) games are nickle-and-diming people to death and getting worse.
I don't like writing negative articles that don't include a solution to the problem, but in this case, there is no solution. The state of in-app purchases has now reached a level where we have completely lost it. Not only has the gaming industry shot itself in the foot, hacked off their other foot, and lost both its arms ... but it's still engaging in a strategy that will only damage it further.
Saturday February 01, 2014
Breaking madden - fun video game experiment
An entertaining experiment (with lots of animated gifs) where someone took a football video game and pitted some lopsided teams against each other.
I'd like to see more experiments with "breaking" video games.
Over the course of the season, I've discovered lots of different ways to hack Madden NFL 25 into a thing that no longer resembles football as we know it. I've played around with rules, injury settings, all manner of player ratings, player dimensions, and anything else the game's developers have made available to us.
This time is special, though, because I'm pulling out every single one of the stops at the same time. No other scenario I've built in Madden has been so abjectly cruel or unfair; no other scenario has even been close.
Wednesday January 29, 2014
The Descent to C - introduction to C from a HLL perspective
I think this is an excellent introduction to what makes C different than most modern high level languages:
This article attempts to give a sort of ‘orientation tour’ for people whose previous programming background is in high (ish) level languages such as Java or Python, and who now find that they need or want to learn C.
C is quite different, at a fundamental level, from languages like Java and Python. However, well-known books on C (such as the venerable Kernighan & Ritchie) tend to have been written before Java and Python changed everyone's expectations of a programming language, so they might well not stop to explain the fundamental differences in outlook before getting into the nitty-gritty language details. Someone with experience of higher-level languages might therefore suffer a certain amount of culture shock when picking up such a book. My aim is to help prevent that, by warning about the culture shocks in advance.
This article will not actually teach C: I'll show the occasional code snippet for illustration and explain as much as I need to make my points, but I won't explain the language syntax or semantics in any complete or organised way. Instead, my aim is to give an idea of how you should expect C to differ from languages you previously knew about, so that when you do pick up an actual C book, you won't be distracted from the details by the fundamental weirdness.
Sunday January 26, 2014
A Table Tennis match turns into an amazing display of playfullness
Just wonderful.. I wish we could all remember to not take things so seriously and have this kind of fun with our skills.
Saturday January 25, 2014
Robot Odyssey - An incredible programming game from 1984
This is a great long read about a game I'd never heard about from 1984, called Robot Odyssey.
Robot Odyssey was apparently an impossibly difficult, programming (well really circuit wiring) game, that had a big impact on those that played it.
It was called Robot Odyssey, it took me 13 years to finish it, and it sealed my fate as a programmer.
See also: http://www.droidquest.com/
When i was just starting to code as a teenager, one of the games that really captured my interests was a robot programming called RobotWar, which I wrote a complete clone for on the original ibm pc.
Friday January 24, 2014
Re: Does anyone here use Bitcoins?
From our (sometimes painful) forum discussion on bitcoin..
I try to avoid this bitcoin stuff because the whole world of finance seems completely insane and make-believe to me. However, i am somewhat interested in the technology issues.
I think the points being made about other currency (gold, diamonds, etc.) being intrinsically mostly worthless -- and in that sense not particular different from virtual/digital currency, are all valid.
But what I think eleman touched on which is odd about bitcoin is that, if i'm understanding it correctly, one of the key ideas of bitcoin is that by design it MUST require huge amounts of otherwise-useless cpu cycles, in order to simulate/create scarcity.
It's a key property you have to have scores of high-powered computers doing nothing but churning through useless operations 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to do "work" that is of no value other than to purposefully slow down the generation of these digital tokens.
That does strike one as wasteful.
But now the interesting technological question that comes to mind is, could you flip that?
Could you make a new crypto/digital currency where the work required to virtually "mine" such things was actually PRODUCTIVE USEFUL work?
Like a crypto/digital coin which was generated by successfully solving protein folding problems, etc.
Such a thing would still enforce rarity/scarcity by requiring massive cpu cycles -- but those cycles themselves would be producing useful work. It would be as if coal/diamond/gold mining helped the environment.. Now *that* could be revolutionary.
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