Thursday, January 29, 2009

Jurisprudence and Imaginary Property Law

Just because the RIAA is able to buy its way into congress doesn't mean that the laws it writes are not subject to jurisprudence.

I believe in the rule of law and do not give 'god-like' status to the government in my mind, or in my obedience to it.

Truth is not a democracy.

The content industry has spread lies and fears based on dubious hypotheticals. Now that it turns out that either they were totally talking out their ass, or had an ulterior motive. This should challenge the system to change, as it is an obligation of politicians and people of a republic.

But given that these multi-billion dollar companies likely didn't get where they are by being stupid, looking at the "real" threat of of a healthy commons, and recognizing the roots of the constitution where it says, "Congress shall have the power to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries", and compare it to what is going on in our legal system today...

...there are people that are very angry. And they should be.

p.s. oh yeah, so don't be surprised if this means there are a few people out there tired of listening to your ramblings and ignoring them, no matter where you manage to get it written. While this may be of limited concern to the MPAA/RIAA's of the world, the government should be wise to the large and growing number of people that are willing to invalidate your laws for you; it is not a problem that is going to be solved through violence or incarceration. You can try, but you can't stop ideas: There will be reform, or there will be revolution.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Big Brain Academy

It sounds like the conclusion of the study continues to confirm that using your brain is the best way to keep it sharp, be it playing Nintendo DS, being engaged in a classroom environment, sudodu, or any other pencil and paper puzzle or homework. I personally don't find any suggestion that Big Brain Academy isn't more than any other method to be more effective to be particularly significant. If it keeps up with other methods, then great, it lives up to its purpose. If children are more engaged, excited, inspired and encouraged to use their brain because of Big Brain Academy, not to mention the possibly more motivating competition through the social use of the game, then the game should be praised.

I would be most interested in feedback from these 10 year old about how they felt about being a part of the group they were in, what they thought of the other groups, level of perceived group cohesion, perceived positive and negative effects of competition, and if they would be inclined to encourage their parents to get them a copy, and if so, felt like it was something to become good to impress their friends.

There is no lack of material out there to stimulate ones brain (or things out there to bring it to a screeching halt for that matter). The challenge is getting kids to take pride in training their brains and feeling like pursuit of academics endeavors would enrich their lives.

Self motivated students will always thrive in rich environments and can pick tools for themselves be it Big Brain Academy or a good old fashioned textbook. For the less motivated student that is open minded but otherwise finds 'math' or solo puzzles boring them to sleep, Big Brain Academy brings new options to parents and students. The greatest thing I love about Big Brain Academy is that it is adaptive to any skill level or age, and anyone with the skill to hold the remote is going to be able to participate.

At very least, when was the last time parents got a fun, challenging brain game that was equally enjoyable for their child?

I played this game for the first time on New Years at an all adult party, and it was a lot of fun for everybody. I don't think a wild game of sudoku in any form would have been nearly as entertaining. From someone that has had no interest in buying a console since the 8 bit Nintendo, I am strongly considering getting a Wii just for this game.

I feel this 'scientist' took a too narrow and flawed approach in assessing this game, particularly with respect to how the game could likely have been improved. Even more reason why personal feedback from participants could have had the greatest value from this study.

Government Support for Propietary Solutions is Obsolete

FutureGuy writes:
All I can tell Obama is the only reason "open source"/free software even exists is because that's one way to compete/gain market share from commertial companies like MS. MS in many ways is the main motivator for "open source"/free software. If you take companies like MS and Apple out of the picture the resources available to enhance and maintain open source software will dry up faster than dry ice under hot California sun.
That is amusing. MS operates in the finance economy where the value of the software is how much money can be made. OSS operates in the real economy outside the finance economy where improvements to software are intrinsic, and censorship isn't the root of its power (value isn't gained through scarcity). The argument comes from whether or not companies can profit from OSS. Of course they can, just not through the illusion of false scarcity. Con artists and middle men hate it when they are beaten out by real value. The only reason government should hate F/OSS is because it can't be taxed.

If what you want is better software / information technology, F/OSS is obviously the best choice, but software can be the means to the end of either profitability or better software. Profitability can mean more money to stay competitive, or better software can be produced that is more productive such that the software can be used to do better business.

As long as there is a need for better faster software to do things and look at problems in new ways, there will be money for programmers. Microsoft has contributed to the software industry as much as, and in the same way the RIAA has contributed to music culture. Great music has always come from the truest music lovers, and I am certain for as long as people could hear, there has always been value in music. Only since there has been money in heavily controlled mass distribution of information has a new type of criminal been imagined in order to ensure control and maintenance of a very profitable business.

The government and other users are not in this business. Just because of the present level of control by Microsoft, and possibly the long for people to get back in touch with culture could be difficult with companies like Microsoft and members of the RIAA and MPAA that have so much to gain from the commoditization of our culture is no reason to continue to support it.

If the best move for the government is for them to gain the most money through the largest bribes and handing out control to large companies that results in "standardization" through exclusive control, then sticking with Microsoft will be the sure way to go. If Obama wants to make a move for the people, encourage transparent culture where people participate in it, rather than just pay for it where a faith in humanity is what will be the most profitable (with regard to value and encouragement of useful labor) then the FIRST thing Obama can do is embrace open standards and free open source software.

bodycoach2 writes:
When I refer to Open Source, I like to call it, "Open for Peer Review". Microsoft and Apple's (1/2 of Apple's, at least) code is NOT open to peer review. Take the cases of the Breathlizer tester machines. The software code on those are not open to peer review. We, the public, are not able to question our accuser (the software code)- a fundamental right in our justice system.

I have no problem with proprietary software. But when government uses software, I prefer that the code be open to peer review.

The Total Cost of Ownership is a topic that can change with each situation, each software package, even with each user. But not being able to review the code is something we cannot afford.

xcal78 replies:
Long as your footing the bill for all the extra costs incurred above what Windows would have costed(sic) the government go right ahead. I'm not interested in spending 2-3 times more for a new system just because. Open source is open your wallet. Research what's involved in a system switch of any kind. See if you can find a TCO vs ROI chart for an OS switch that proves you get a better TCO and when the ROI is from Windows to anything else. It doesn't exist so you'll be looking for a long time.
Cost of change? If you are totally dependent on Microsoft for training and maintenance of your business, then actually taking responsibility for your systems is going to be a big reality check, and just as you did with Microsoft, if you need someone else to make these changes for you, not only is there going to be a diminished benefit, but it is going to cost you. Low end MS tech support is very cheap; they are everywhere. Linux support... different. Not as many Linux people sitting around with nothing to do, AND with so much documentation for open source software also being free, and with so many forums, and advanced howto's for everything, anything left is going to require a guru. This is where there is big money. There is also money for large scale startup, which is more of less and should be an initial training (otrherwise what do you do if/when it breaks?)

The real problem and expense is an issue of management. Microsoft makes it as easy as possible for people to get locked in by the promise of doing all the work for you. With Linux, there is an expectation for people to take some initiative either by learning it yourself, or hiring someone to remember it all. Fortunately this is easy because for the most part, there is primary or third party documentation that is easy to follow and understand. But like with anything else, if you don't try, you are going to pay for it. Between all the people that read the documentation and made an effort and are seeking expert help for a few pieces, they are going to pay the same price for support per hour as you to be hand held through everything.

So average TCO is very misleading, and even median TCO makes some bad assumptions. How about look at the range of TCO and listen and take advice from those that were able to do successful implementations. Listen to what worked and didn't work. When you look for advice, do you want the average story, or the most common story? Of course not! You want to know cost / effort of what works + cost of worst possible scenario. Using this information, you can decide what resources are important to invest in to reduce business expenses. Microsoft, Apple, Red Hat, and Sun want to offer you total business solutions. The first two specialize in simplicity, but at the expense of flexibility and diversification among others. Within those two elements, OSS typically offers modularity, and for the greatly ambitious, well documented code that is easy to add onto, whereas Microsoft and Apple limit you to API's that can't be audited (for whatever that is worth).

A better government I thought Americans appreciated was the idea of participation by the people. Even if most people choose not to participate, the opportunity for all to become active political members has always had a high value. While well managed use of F/OSS has survived the FUD, even if t was more expensive, isn't there an obligation in the digital age to support transparent government through open standards? It is not impossibly expensive to enable our best and brightest to keep us aware of the way things are working, and allow any American to become one of those people?

There is no way this discussion would even be taking place if Microsoft were not an American company. Why? because there is no way we are going to give that away! Why should we take what should be given to the American people and give it exclusive to one very small American company. Sorry, but Microsoft is very small when you consider opening opportunity for all.

The only counter argument is "Just sell out because I don't care". Well, you know what? I don't buy that! The Internet is an example of what can be built on free open source software and open standards. ATM, token-ring, and mainframe systems are what came from proprietary software, which gave us great opportunities to get off the ground. TCP/IP packet switched networks were evolution and birth of digital freedom and ultimately the Internet.

Government is ready to move forward.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Roe v. Wade: Is a fetus a person?

Row v. Wade was a case about a womans right to privacy. Since then the argument has been heated over the life of the potential child, and the potentially compelling public interests to over turn the case. A case may be making it to the Supreme Court soon to argue the personhood of the unborn child. This is one short perspective...

I am not going to rant on about this, but I was listening to this being argued on the radio (Make it Plain: Sirius Left 146) Do you think that a fetus is a person? is a viable argument?

So many aspects to this for so many reasons, but as I said, somewhere so much to say and too much to say, but I think I can cover my opinion of the issue and perspective simply:
  • All Life is sacred.
  • Every Female egg and every menstruation is a growing and developing life with full potential.
  • People need to be responsible in their sexual relationships for MANY reasons.
  • The law does not recognize a life as a person until it is an adult with the majority of normal capacity and 18 years old, or emancipated.
  • Pregnancy is a private matter that should be respected
  • The life of a baby has a compelling public interest once the child has been introduced to society as such, when it has been done so voluntarily. Given the right circumstances, compelling interest could exist before conception.
  • Compulsory maternity mandated by the state is rape under any circumstances, however given appropriate medical technology including safety and meeting appropriate conditions for compelling public interest, allow the pregnancy to be transfered. If by some means those conditions were met, and no harm would come of the mother, but the transfer was not entirely voluntarily, Neither biological parent would retain any rights or liability.
  • To deny a womans right to choose is to objectify life, not embrace it as sacred.
I realize I have left many points very vague, but I think I will cover them by reference, individually in separate articles as I already have much to do today.

For even simpler measure, I look forward to the Freedom of Choice Act being signed into law by Obama, representing progress and respect for life, and women.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ah, the Evidence of FACT challenges. We will always love you!

If you find this evidence compelling, countering the claims of Zeitgeist, part 1, another great site: The Flat Earth Society
Compare the number of users and active discussions going on @ The Flat Earth Society web site compared to Zeitgeist Challenge and compare who has made the better, more comprehensively rational argument for their belief. Personally, I could more easily believe that the perceived direction of the dimensional planes makes it appear that the world is round, but a simple Polar to Cartesian transformation (which is purely perceptual) shows a flat earth supporting all the claims of the Flat Earth Society. That would be my support.

The Bible, just like dinosaur bones, were put here to test our faith, and an attempt to hide the truth.

But it is fun to take on challenges, but why work so hard to win only $250 when you could win $7.5 Trillion just for proving evolution?

Or $100,000 offered to prove global warming

And if Zeitgeist part 2 was true, why wasn't this million dollar reward collected?

All this must prove is that Tom Cruz is our true Lord and Savior. Provide any evidence that I am wrong, and I will write your name on a $2 bill, wipe my ass with it, and flush it down the toilet. I have faith it will get to you.

Afterthought: Looking around some more, I came by this response to Zeitgeist, which personally only goes to show that at best, in the case of religion, both arguments are absurd. However, how about we just say that Zeitgeist was a complete satire with as much validity as The Da Vinci Code. Isn't the simple argument: They are all just stories with as much importance to your belief that you choose to give them. What's pragmatic; should you seek truth from one book or many?

Is the idea of attempting to seek truth beyond the bible just greedy, or an emergent truth just pessimistic? I'm happy believing Jack Black aka Jesus Christ in that there really isn't much of the Bible that is believed by anyone anymore, even though people keep saying they do, or use it as an excuse to justify ANYTHING that they feel like attributing to it.

And yet another note, Nature's Eternal Religion was recommended for those looking for more material along these lines. From what I have read so far, it is a book about the beauty of nature, and the disgusting politics of man. I am sure I will have more to say about it after I have finished reading it.

Final note? Something I couldn't help of thinking as I was driving home after reading browsing this site, the Rational Response Squad was this equation:
Astronomy + Literary Anthropomorphism+ Superstition + Rule #34 = Holy Bible

and possibly...

Holy Bible + Group Think + Democracy = Bat Shit Fucking Crazy Politicians Running This Country!!!

Do I even need to add greed into this?
Too Simple? Nah.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

How do you call this a "study"?

This article seemed interesting, until I realized there was absolutely no data, and technically, there weren't even any results. Just an unsupported opinion. I tried to keep an open mind to see where this opinion was coming from, and there really wasn't much of anything till I came past this little gem:
a good male is more willing to pay the cost of a long courtship to claim the prize of mating.
I thought prostitution was illegal. This sounds very demeaning to both genders. Though I know many treat sex as something a woman sacrifices for a man, can I just say "YUCK!". Women need to empower themselves by taking time to understand their sexuality (let alone men). It does not just come naturally with puberty or just waiting long enough. Take control, be pragmatic, and enjoy yourself, when the time feels right, without being pressured into doing anything you don't want to do, but keep an open mind.

What was their data anyway? Interviews with couples on their 50th anniversary asking how long they waited? People that divorced in less than a year? People that say "I'm sad", or "I'm happy". Was this only people in relationships, or people who were single? Were these people in clinics for nymphomania? I can find happy and miserable people in all kinds of relationships. What science or even matter for that matter are you trying to show? 1 day is short period of time?

Objectifying sexuality and particularly female sexuality this way I find offensive. However, for those of you that can't seem to learn from your mistakes (which sadly maybe the truth of this "study", though who could ever know without the data) then maybe you are better off waiting. I think if things don't click reasonably well on the first date, maybe you should think of cutting your losses. Learn to trust and improve your instincts, both the onces that say "this guy seems to be trying to hard" and the one that says "I bet this guy would be a great lay".

I just keep reading it and am just trying to think of this in anything but a sick and depraved way. "a good male is more willing to pay the cost of a long courtship to claim the prize of mating". While women can get a good vibe that says "let's take things slow", I certainly hope that NO woman ever buys into this misogynistic crap that a women are a commodity to be bought and sold.

Changing the price doesn't make you less of a whore. Try instead to THINK and be WISE about your CHOICES.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

This is annoying...

Ok, this is just an angry response, not a well thought out one, but I am going to leave it as is just the same.

fjpoblam writes:

Creative Commons and the Copyleft movement recognize that, in the web world, it is impossible (there are not enough human "enforcers") to guarantee protection of intellectual property published on the web. No can do. Period. The best an artist/programmer/creator can do is *ask* for credit and *ask* that, if the work is copied, it be passed along, freely, with no more restrictions than the artist/programmer/creator put on it. The artist/programmer/creator can further DEMAND that the artist/programmer/creator has ABSOLUTE right to diddle the original work and gain profit from it NO MATTER WHAT anyone does with the copies. (You can't copyright my stuff in such a way that keeps me from diddling it.)

Wow, you just don't get it.

Just because companies have found a way to profit off of free software does not mean that is what the free software revolution is about. Creative Commons and Gnu GPL are keeping companies like Disney, Microsoft, Sony, and these other douche bags from pirating our fucking culture, commoditizing, and selling it back to us. The financial institutions of this country have raped us, printing money and putting a price tag on everything to take it back at their leisure.

Creative commons and the GPL says you may steal everything else, but you are not stealing our thoughts, our beliefs, our culture. The purpose of life is to share information, and those that try to package it up and take it away from people are the real criminals of the world, and no matter what their talk, no matter what their lies or excuses, I will continue to tell them they can completely go FUCK themselves.

If you don't want it pirated, keep it in your fucking head. It is the last safe place, even if for only a little bit longer.

Ethics of Stem Cell Research

To begin, from what I understand, stem cells are basically blank. Heart cells, nerve cells, liver cells, bone cells, skin cells or any thing that provides a function needs to be told what it is, and how to work. The DNA / nucleus is like a computer chip. Without software, or in the case of a cell RNA, is needed before it can do something or produce any useful work. They do not yet have a purpose. In the case of an embryo, the only job in the early stages is for it to simply make copies of itself. Once there is a large enough group of them, it can be time to start giving those cells any of a wide range of jobs, like become part of a heart, lungs, nerves, or whatever is needed. There cells work together dedicating their life to whatever job they are assigned. They live out a lifecycle like people, but much much shorter. A thing about heart cells though, once they are programmed, they can either do their job as a part of the heart, or divide to make new replacement heart cells. Because they are programmed with a particular code, what ever the job of the parent was, so will be the job of the children. Heart cells can not become lung cells, for example because they were not designed that way.

So here is where stem cells are totally unique. They have no job yet. They have not been told what their task will be that it will provide or that its children will provide in all future generations. Remember that once programmed, they can never be reprogrammed. They dedicate their life to their work.

Amazing things have been done with transplants and graphs. Hearts can be taken from one person that can no longer serve another's life, but can be given to another where both can continue to live. burn victims can have damaged skin removed, and other skin can take its place, and those cells continue to do their job.

If we define our life by who we are uniquely and our role in society by what we do in all aspects, it could be said that stem cells are not yet alive. They are the tools that are used to become life.

There are limits on what scientists can do with transplants. We do not worry that because, say, a liver played the role of cleaning a persons body that somehow the persons soul is going to be damaged by playing that same role in another body.

scientists want to extend that to a smaller level. While stem cells are the building blocks for life, they have not been told what to do yet. In nature, at some point in natural development, those cells will be given a job, and what scientists want to do is guide those cells to do what they do naturally. Instead of becoming an entire new life with enough time and programming, doctors can put those cells into a person with a spinal cord injury, and being near those cells, the stem cells will see "This person needs a section of their spinal cord". even if microscopic, the cells can communicate with each other, and the stem cells will know their purpose in life, and take on the role of being a part of that spinal cord.

Being totally unprogrammed, and being so small, stem cells can take on the tiniest of tasks as they were meant to, and with no prior knowledge, completely integrate itself into the hosts system without chance for rejection of complications due to conflicting programming.

Programmed cells can not be reprogrammed. If the stems cells were a life, or meant to be a baby, the kinds of issues that in adults that could be resolved though stem cell therapy would not work. If the cells were meant to become a new life, they would. Instead, in an adult with a disease or injury, the stem cells will want to help repair the damage and become a part of another life as nature intended.

This miracle of life that we have slowly come to understand is not simple. It isn't just a shot, or a bandaid any more than heart transplants, or skin graphs were just easy things. There is more that needs to be known, and this is why for real progress of medical science, we need to study these things, and understand how this works to provide the environment necessary for these stem cells to do what they do naturally.

In whatever respect stem cells could be considered to be alive, it is not like growing children to harvest hearts where a child is killed and their bodies discarded. Such a wretched disregard for life is and should be deplorable. In the case of stem cells, all the cells can be used in a manner already intended by nature. Even if a group of cells were divided, these cells can still do any job necessary. As we already see in nature, this can happen under normal circumstances to create identical twins. In whatever way we may see identical twins the same, they are not one life, they are individuals as complete as any other person. As we have recently discovered, the opposite can be true. In the case of fraternal twins, two eggs each separately fertilized can be joined together. If this is very late in development when these cells have start to become a complete person, there can be upsetting results, Siamese twins. In Siamese twins, two to be children mostly developed can combine at a stage to complete one part of the body together that is shared. Sometimes this may just be skin, and the twins are easily separated, and being disconnected, a normal healing process will begin to complete the missing parts individually; this is one of the many roles of programmed skin cells. Sadly in earlier development, children may join together to make one spinal column, at which point the pair would either live out life with a very difficult disability, one twin may be killed to save the life of the other, but more often than not, this will result in a still-birth, as the machine that is our bodies will either recognize the result and self terminate, or simply fail on its own.

Another type of twin though has been recently discovered, a Chimera. Like a Siamese twin, but where the combination is almost completely stem cells. In this case, the child will develop completely normal and healthy, just with 2 (or possibly more) sets of DNA. Because they were combined so early, there are no complications because there is so sense of identity by one to reject the other. Perfect symbioses.
but in the way stem cells work, some group may become bone marrow, while the others of the different DNA may become skin. This has brought a whole new complication to DNA testing, because while DNA testing of one tissue type may measure one way, a blood sample from the same person can come back as a mismatch. Checking the same person from different tissue samples was never considered, and in the case of, say, DNA evidence for a homicide or rape, a Chimera has a solid defense in our current system.

So what do we say of these different people, and types of twins; one where we see what we call "life" divided, and others where two lives may have been combined. What does it all mean? It means there is a lot about life and particularly stem cells that we do not understand in their role.

We do separate Siamese twins in hopes of providing a quality of life to individuals, and Chimeras can be totally normal and healthy. We do not accuse identical twins of only having half of a life, nor should we. It is an opportunity to understand what is revealing itself as an amazing process that is life.

Cells without a purpose in life can become any number of things as we have seen in nature in nearly infinite ways. Stem Cell research can take cells that want to provide for a life in a new way to improve the quality of life for many individuals that where either their stem cells or DNA might not have gotten things right the first time. Doctors will hopefully one day to correct such mistakes with Stem Cells doing just what nature intended.

To try and stop stem cell research because one can not open their mind to the multifaceted and nearly incomprehensible miracle of life beyond what we currently understand is brutally unethical. Please allow thinking to guide our progress, not ignorance.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Watch Obama Inauguration Here!

This looks exciting. The publicity seems higher than ever for an inauguration. They even have memorabilia at 7-11. He sure has a good PR guy.

Side note, having greatly surpassed the old blog in size, I think it is fair to say Liberated really doesn't apply anymore, this simply is, NakedPenguins. :)

Friday, January 16, 2009

The more things change, the more things stay the same

I think this is more a reflection of computer users, or even people, than Ubuntu users. People that know and understand Linux, use Linux. I have used a variety of distributions, but I am pretty happy with Ubuntu. I have used Ubuntu exclusively for only a few years now, but I can still see where I am far behind in my understanding of many things based on the forums I visit. Ubuntu irc had been a fun place I would go to get help, and often spend some time helping others. It was very civilized, though there were a lot of new people. Years later, now, it might be hard to distinguish from 4chan or Barrens chat. I don't go there any more AT ALL.

But honestly, I think this is just what happens when popularity increases with anything. I remember when the majority of people on the Internet (if you would really call it that) were between intelligent and highly intelligent individuals discussing a wide range of topic (though usually leaning towards the nerdy side) in a civilized manner.

Going from telnet to web browsing changed everything! The number of people online was approaching a million! The number of servers you could connect to or 'sites' you could now 'browse to' was skyrocketing! People starting making their own web sites and hosting forums at home, and there were just tons of people all excited to be involved in this new medium, despite the fact they had no idea what they were doing.

And then AOL came along, and Geocities. Soon everyone had a web page for their cat, and flame wars seemed to be the thing in every chat room. It was just like the parlor times a million! This was about the time I stopped going into chat rooms at all, because it was just intolerable.

But eventually we got slashdot, google, ebay, wikipedia,, eff, findlaw,, youtube, hulu, piratebay, thinkfree, and so many others both recently and over the years.

I miss the days when every person I knew that had a computer had taken it apart and put it back together many times, they all had some minimal programming skill, and nerdy groups of people would be going around to business or telling our non-nerd friends "you could do that so much better if you had a COMPUTER!", to which they would reply, "that stuff is for nerds, I am doing just fine with my typewriter". "There's nothing I can do with a computer I can't do on my typewriter", and "computers just make it more complicated and expensive".

There was no convincing them. You would try to explain, but they wouldn't listen.

Then one day they would come you you and be all like "Hey, guess what? I got one of those Pentium things! Isn't that cool!" and all you could do is smile and sigh. And after that, it was the endless phone calls for little things that you didn't mind, because it was exactly what you had been pushing for in the first place. But sometimes it made you wonder.

Soon, the round table discussions over new technologies in the library were replaced with sheep-dip seminars (thank you Andy Hunt), row after row of zombies watching someone explain what a mouse was for, and how to put things in the trash. Soon you had all these 'experts' saying that they knew more about computers than anyone because they had taken a class. Oh, the humanity...

So what a surprise that after all these years, we are still seeing the same type of revolution. Yes, I miss the 'Internet' when it was between 10,000 and 100,000 users, but those times are gone, and in the big picture, the new even more nerdy stuff is worth it.

They say that Linux userbase / marketshare (or whatever way Microsoft feels like measuring it one day to the next) is about 1%, but it is easy to see it is the top 1%. Maybe it is just me, but I don't see an even distribution be user base as a whole of computer experts between exclusive Linux users and exclusive Windows users. It is the same one percent 20+ years ago trying to get people to use computers because it was the future. That same group (albeit a new generation) are pushing Linux. The gurus are already Linux users. Who do you think you are recruiting? Ubuntu has made great ground in working its way down from that top one percent to possibly the next 1%. It is going to keep growing, and I can PROMISE you it is only going to get worse. If the goal is Linux adoption, then that is exactly what is going on, but why should the adoption on Linux be any different than the adoption of computers or the Internet was for the general population.

The newbie, beginner Linux user is going to use Ubuntu. It is the pretty flashy cool new thing. And as expected, they are going to flame the boards, and spend way too much time uploading their new theme of the hour to The old school Debian users are going to be like "What the hell have we done?", and the Gentoo users are going to be laughing their asses off saying "I told you so", and things will progress, change, adapt, and get better. Computers now do amazing things, and no longer are our libraries filled with people trying to get their Mouse Skills Certification. I swear the bottom 20% only changes as people die off.

The great thing is that Linux will never have to play to the lowest common denominator. Ubuntu may, and that will be its place. To me, Windows has played to the lowest common denominator consistently, and fighting through their sense of what intuition would be for someone that has never used a computer drives me completely nuts. I was discussing this with a friend who has also been studying the Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition (Anyone familiar with the Pragmatic Programmer series should be familiar), and we came to the same conclusion: If intuition is for experts, how do you create an intuitive interface for a novice?

The implications are nauseating.

This is a great reason for there to be many forks of projects any time it is deemed necessary, and distributions that can all be customized for computer users at any level of from novice to expert. That is part of the freedom I think we all hope for. It is also obvious to see that play out between Debian and Ubuntu users. Linux users may be the top 1%, and Ubuntu users make up the bottom 0.8% of that 1%.

So I can't help but point out that maybe the real fear shouldn't be for Microsoft, but for the Linux community, and to use everyones favorite cliche...

The Year of Linux is coming; brace yourself!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Novice Computer User and the Pragmatic Learner

Some people just need to see things a specific way, or they are totally lost. I know people that couldn't work an upside down door handle. Please never let that difficulty drive Linux development. Fortunately, Linux has always been about options. there may be a distribution out there that is for people that can't find their car if it is parked on the wrong side of the driveway (I think it was called SugarOS), but I believe it will be an evolutionary thing. Kids today are starting at very young ages with much better technology and are getting more intimate understandings. Kids are reaching competency and proficiency very quickly like kids do with anything they can actually get their hands on. Most adults if, say, they were pasty the age of 20 when they first got introduced to a computer, without much concerted effort, ever become more than very well trained novices. For anyone familiar with learning theory should understand that with that type of 'experience', it can't be adapted, no step or detail seems any more 'important' than any other in accomplishing a task, they don't see see the big picture, and the challenge in learning anything new is equal to the number of new steps to memorize. In what way is Linux ever going to be easy for these people to learn, and in another way, the kinds of challenges Linux can deal with, the tools are virtually worthless to a computer novice, those that don't see it holistically.

I think this explains why it is easy for little kids to use Ubuntu. The learning curve is great with just a few bumps, but while the system isn't designed to limit out at novice use, there are plenty of tools and methods to let novices work their way through the system doing basic tasks till they get a better understanding of all whats going on.

Tasks in Windows are just as simple in Linux for a novice, but the methods are different. The big difference between Linux and Windows, for me, is lifting that ceiling. If you begin to understand what all is going on or how things work, Linux gives you new and creative ways to do complex things in very simple, non-obvious ways. This is where I think people get intimidated. A novice watches a proficient Linux user do something seemingly "magical" and the novice begins to believe that is the way they need to do things. While maybe it should be the way to do things, that doesn't mean it is what they need to be doing right away. Linux is a world of possibilities: Be aware of where you are in your understanding with your computer and take appropriate steps to learn things in a way that is appropriate for your level. And if someone that helps you works their magic in ways that are beyond your level, don't worry, it probably took them some time to get to that level themselves.

However, if you really don't care to put in the mental effort to get past novice, I recommend getting a Macintosh. There are fancy expert features of OSX, but they are kept pretty hidden as so not to appear confusing.

It is a lot like a high performance car and their maintenance. Drive it hard, and it is going to need more work. If you need to hire a mechanic every few hundred miles, it is going to be very expensive unless you do your own mechanic work. Some people need to be rich, some people need to be mechanics, some people need to learn to drive carefully, and some people just need to buy slow cars.

Windows is like riding the short yellow school bus; it gets you where you need to go.

The challenge in picking an OS, for yourself or others

Windows is adopted well enough that it is pretty easy in an environment with computers to find other people that have used windows before and can help. I remember decades ago when Windows 3.1 was the hot new thing. I didn't understand what the big deal was, classes on what a mouse was, and how to start applications like word. You would think that this basic knowledge would be adaptable, but it sadly that isn't the way people look at computers. I work at a school, and we had a 2 hour seminar to show people how to use the new photocopy machine. It was pretty fancy and could do cool stuff, but that wasn't what the class taught. It just had the very basics. I didn't get the trouble. We had other copy machines that worked in, what I thought, worked in the same basic way. Evidently not everyone saw it like that.

Linux is fine. People that are very productive on their windows machine and have explored the system past the basics I don't think would have any difficulty in learning a major distribution in a short period of time to get the basics down. But it does take effort. It is different and it will take the same kind of effort it took the first time when people were introduced to windows 3.1 or 95.

But for anyone that insists "But I don't want to learn anything, I just want to use it", get a mac. The important and good software is being ported to mac, and more companies are beginning to understand that it is possible to approach a project from a cross platform approach such that software never need be ported. This will mean hopefully soon, software will pretty much be platform independent, or that adding a platform will require negligible effort. With this in mind, the people that want to be able to mimic other people in what they do with the computer, get a mac. If you want a tool to express yourself without limits, get Linux. Between the two, where does that really leave Windows? I say "good riddance to bad rubbish".

Woman struggles with Ubuntu, online classes

The issue is that Windows is easy to get started with, and there isn't a lot to learn. Simple GUIs for everything, and you wouldn't know about any advanced features unless you looked them up and knew what you were doing.

Linux is about productivity first. Linux is easy to use, but not completely obvious. With the power to begin any complicated task just a click or keyword away, it can feel like being dropped into an ocean and being asked to swim. The most extreme example of this type of design where productivity is valued over obviousness or 'intuitiveness' is Blender3D. Blender is a F***ING nightmare to figure a damn thing out. I used 3D studio max and poked around and was modeling simple buildings and funny creatures in a matter of hours. Blender I was just like WTF!?! and by the time I figured out how to draw a simple cube, I gave up. Last summer, I thought I would give it another go after watching Elephant Dreams. I figured, ok, of they can do this, I must be able to do better than a box. I thought: What would be the pragmatic way of going about this. Hmm.. Read the damn documentation maybe? The first thing the documentation covered was that the GUI ia intentionally designed a very particular way and they are NOT going to change it. While it requires a lot of memorization, once you 'get it', it will enable you to model faster than ever. Despite not knowing how to do anything, the GUI didn't seem so 'stupid' anymore. If every little detail was very well thought out, then I needed to give it a chance. I jumped on youtube and did a search for "Blender tutorial". MANY results. I picked a series and followed along. While the controls were not obvious in any way, they were easy to remember and simple to use. Every few videos or so, I would try to figure something out on my own, but usually with complete failure. But continuing with the videos, each 20 minute segment was showing me whole new aspects of what could be done. I got to give credit where credit is due. super3boy did a pretty good job. The videos were a bit on the crude side, and the examples were really simple and drawn out, but considering how effective he was in assisting me with my learning, it was perfect. I even showed a friend that had never even much used a computer but to check email, and within a week we were making beautiful scenes, fun simple games, and such. Water, fireworks, explosives taking out buildings, whatever came to mind could be put together right away as the thoughts unfolded. It wasn't like having to think of one part then work through it and then think about the next part after the first part was done.

Anyway, the point is, Linux can be over whelming. I know many people are interested in Linux, but watch people who are comfortable with it, and it all just looks like magic. I have been using Linux for several years now, and I still see people do clever things that appear "magical". Maybe that is why Macs are so popular. I don't think there is anything I have ever seen done on a mac that couldn't be copied by a monkey. Maybe that is the appeal. One simple way to do certain things that people want to do with their computer that make them look cool. But while mac is much like a "choose your own adventure" novel, Linux can feel like pencil and paper, but give it a little time and energy, it is more like Harold's Purple Crayon.

I can understand that some people just want the choose your own adventure. I get that. But Linux enables your computer to be a tool, and as with any complex piece of machinery, the novice needs a teacher. Just because its complex and there is much to learn doesn't mean there is anything wrong with the machine. It means people need help. This is why I feel the Linux community is so strong. It is necessary for people to share their knowledge. It requires upstream developers to hang out in their own irc channel. It requires LOTS of third party documentation to address all the various learning styles that may best help people learn.

My local library uses only Ubuntu. They also have free classes on getting started with Ubuntu. I think it is also a cultural thing, because I remember there being very similar classes at local libraries when Windows 3.1 was new. People had no idea what computers were going to be capable of, but saw the advantage of digital word processors over type writers for editing, and businesses were beginning to require basic computer skills for jobs. Linux is revolutionary, and as Microsoft has feared in their internal memos, FlOSS is completely revolutionizing the way people think about computers. The Internet in a very basic way operates around the government; it is not something you can put a wall around because it is designed to work, and circumvent censorship because objectively censorship is identified as a problem within the network and attempts to fix it. Software and just the exchange of ideas operates on a humanistic level above the monetary system where the sole objective of sharing ideas is to be a part of a community of ideas, not trying to scrape together bits of money here and there to get by. Sharing your ideas and having people listen around the world is like printing your own money with whatever value you desire... but guess that it a bit beyond the scope here.

Short of it? Non-computer people and people willing to change need mentors. Start a club. Have a few hours a week or each month where you can teach people about Linux, community center, library, school, whatever; if you believe Linux can really make for a better world. Microsoft will always bribe and pay people to do their dirty work, but a passionate Linux user over a paid Microsoft lacky should be able to win the debate. Each of us just need to make the effort. If you don't really want to leave the house, spend a little time in #ubuntu irc channel. Yes, there are some complete f***ing idiots in there that make you want to just bang your head against the wall till you can peacefully drown in your own blood, but they are making an effort, and if they are willing to be patient with you, maybe they deserve a bit of your time. Hasn't someone else ever done that for you?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

In studying (the) apocalypse...

If you have ever thought about THE APOCALYPSE, the wikipedia article is a MUST read. Evidently there is more to it than the end of the world. In Greek, it just means visions / information revealed to a person by God. More recently (last 1700-1800 years) apocalypses refers to the things Peter was told about in "The Apocalypses of Peter", or "Revelations of Peter" aka "The book of Revelations. But there are MANY books of revelations made to many people, and certainly not all about the end of the world.

If we are only talking about 'apocalypses', then there needs to be room to consider any number of issues. Personally, world destroyed by nuclear holocaust I don't find very delightful, not to mention not really a subject I think is very interesting, in so far as I might have influence or learn something from its study. However, in a broader sense, its relationship to "special" knowledge, like does God talk to people and tell them things that nobody else gets to know and we have to trust them, and about truth and stuff... much more interesting.

As for the broader topic, there is lots of great philosophers out there that discuss 'what is truth', and how do we believe things, and does 'God' talk to us, and what of visions that might make one think that they are directly communicating with 'God'.

Some insightful quotes from various Wikipedia articles:

"[Calvin] states that the whole sum of our wisdom consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.[48] Calvin argues that the knowledge of God is not inherent in man nor can knowledge be discovered in observing this world. The only way to obtain it was to be taught through scripture." ~John Calvin

"[Thomas] Aquinas believed that truth is known through reason (natural revelation) and faith (supernatural revelation). Supernatural revelation has its origin in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and is made available through the teaching of the prophets, summed up in Holy Scripture ... Natural revelation is the truth available to all people through their human nature; certain truths all men (and women)can attain from correct human reasoning." (Thomas Aquinas, Wikipedia)

"[Descartes] attempts to arrive at a fundamental set of principles that one can know as true without any doubt ... he rejects any ideas that can be doubted, and then reestablishes them in order to acquire a firm foundation for genuine knowledge... Initially, Descartes arrives at only a single principle: thought exists." (Rene Descartes, Wikipedia)

"Being a "Spinozist"... was the equivalent in his time of being called an atheist. Jacobi claimed that Spinoza's doctrine was pure materialism, because all Nature and God are said to be nothing but extended substance." (Spinoza, Wikipedia) also has LOTS on the study of the subject and many philosophers that talked about empirical and divine truth, and the difficulties of each.

If we want to take a closer look at apocalypse, or THE Apocalypse, why should we be interested in group think driven Bible lesson?

"[Sarah] Kierkegaard criticizes all systematic philosophies which attempt to know life or the truth of existence via theories and objective knowledge about reality. As Kierkegaard claims, human truth is something that is continually occurring, and a human being cannot find truth separate from the subjective experience of one's own existing, defined by the values and fundamental essence that consist of one's way of life." (Truth, Wikipedia)

This seems like a great argument against apocalypse. In my understanding, truth can only come from sharing and recycling such conclusions one draws themselves until a collective experience is able to project a closest possible approximation of the truth. However, group think and "tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions" (Confirmation bias) can still create mass falsehoods. This is why things must always be up for debate, and in relationship to the scientific method, must be testable such that a model is able to bring about information that wasn't otherwise known, continues to confirm a theory.

The idea of an Apocalypse attempts to completely circumvent such processes to assert truth that can only be confirmed by itself (See Immanuel Kant). No matter how scary such predictions may be (See Revelations of Peter) or consequences of denying such truth, to accept these as "Transcendent Truth" without further empirical analysis is reckless. You might as well give all your money to the next guy you see on tv that asks you too (Like the 700 Club).

There is an strange divide in what some accept as reasonable proof of historical events, and what we would accept today as new truth or better understanding. I will admit that it appears we are a bit more skeptical today than we have been in the past, or at least hope. Many people accept the revelations of Peter as fact, but I would find it very difficult to anyone would take seriously similar predictions if made today (not counting Global Warming), at least with respect to predictions of what "God" wants or will do in either the near or far future. Any such prediction would require some kind of outside confirmation.

It could be argued that people are enchanted with the idea of terrorism. Bush said God tells him to bring democracy to the rest of the world (at any cost), but is this the same kind of predictions made by Peter if we are to accept his 'visions' as truth? If Bush's visions are just a modernization of the same old 'story', shouldn't that give even greater reason for skepticism?

I mean, look what happened last time. Please, when are we going to expect a minimal amount of prudent skepticism of the past that we already expect today, and awknowledged WE HAVE CHANGED.

Guess it would need to be true first. :)

Maybe we don't build upon the past?

SatanicPuppy writes this. Here is my closer look at that argument...

So you do not believe that software is evolutionary where the present is always taking the past and building upon it to create a future where some code grows and some code dies and in the end 'better' is emergent?

You are really going to argue that each person or company exists in a bubble and just writes whatever code is necessary to make / improve their project in such a way that beats out all the competition?

That's great! Must mean we only have a few more years until the software we need will all be written and we will be done. And developers can spend the rest of their days doing seminars showing new people how to use the software.

Yeah, come to think of it, this whole progress just building upon progress building upon progress just sounds like an endless cycle that just creates more and more work for people, like as if for every answer there were just three new questions. Yuck, who wants to live in a world like that?

I think the best part about your vision of the world is that once we have this whole 'science' thing done, technology will be the best, nobody will ever become obsolete because their knowledge will always be up to date because they will only learn the right thing the first time, and schools will save TONS of money because they will never need to replace their science textbooks ever again.

And since we know it is perfect, we can then convert all the religious people because it is unchanging, so they can count on it, and everyone will start calling it The New Holy Bible, and it will be easy to see who is defective and unfit for society: Those who disagree with it are heretics, because only people that understand that we now live in a perfect world are good.

I think we should just give the money all to Microsoft since they are the closest to creating the one true operating system. They must be, just look at their market share. I am sure their team of geniuses are pretty close to making the one perfect operating system for everybody that will never need to be upgraded again and finally everyone can be happy!

And then not long after that, think of how easy Google will have it when it can finally finish indexing the Internet. I am sure it just pisses them off all the time that while they are busy trying to organize the Internet people just keep adding stuff to it over and over and over again. How does that help anybody?

I'm going to write Lawrence Lessig right now expressing my frustration for him lying to me all these years, nonsense about "ideas building on ideas of others". What non-sense! Stuff like that is for Pirates, Communists, and kids who cheat in school. Thanks for setting things straight.

ZooLooK argues "Open Source is the ultimate in re-usable investments in the area of computer technology". The only way I would disagree is that people with the source need to be enabled to share contributions to the code, share improvements with each other in some way.

But dj245 disagrees arguing that anything the government invests in FlOSS wise will just be replaced; it doesn't represent a permanent infrastructure improvement. I couldn't disagree more. Here was my full response:

So what you are saying is that progress always builds on the past? Wow, think you have just made a great argument for FlOSS, because the more we can keep track of past accomplishments, the less likely we will find ourselves reinventing the wheel.

Honestly though, I am not sure if you are being serious or not. There are two things going on with the Kernel to my understanding in this context: Either new things come about, and support is added (old code doesn't change) or people examine the way something is done and find a way to improve upon it (old code still exists in that the improved version is a derivative. how do you make something better without something to start with?).

Another thing I think of is the collective work of the ancient Greeks. Are you going to say that all their math, science, architecture, technology and such were a waste of time because we have stuff that is so much better now? Are you joking? There are many ways that the money could be wasted, but most of that is a matter of poor oversight. I would expect it to go something like Google Summer of Code where money will be given to specific projects that have specific goals and a track record of success... versus these banks that seem to have a history of scams and failures. FlOSS is a real way to invest in the community rather than giving someone money to find a way to get money from others. Government grants for science, medicine and such are released as public domain... so unless these are 'works for hire' (which they usually are) they can legally be GPL despite all the "restrictions".

"Collecting information is only the first step towards knowledge, but sharing information is walking the path to civilization."

Thinking about it further, while roads, dams, rails, and other such infrastructure are vital, and which I have argued should be about the only legitimate purpose of a federal government, they are only snap shots; things like a dam, road, or rail represent where technology was at some point. Roads don't improve because they need to be standardized. same with rail or many other things. We are slowly phasing out copper telephone lines for fiber optic, but what a huge gap in technology. Also, all those things need to be maintained. We spend money on keeping things old because it is even more expensive to make it new. A dam for example if there is some kind of revolutionary advancement, replacing it or fitting it with the new technology is often prohibitively expensive.

Ok, so data storage isn't free either, but updating the information on a hard drive is nothing like having to tear down a power plant and put up a new one. Also, as much as we want to respect people for their contributions and let them make money with patents and such, real progress for civilization doesn't come until those patents or copyrights expire. Creating work toda and putting it into the public domain or share alike licenses like GPL, society advances TODAY, not 70 years after you die.

Room for infinite progress does not mean hopelessness. It is also not quixotic. Working together as humanity to advance ourselves agressivly and to the limits of societies collective mind is the greatest thing our species can ever hope for. As mentioned above, I think the Greeks saw this and understood it, judging from their philosophy, but looking at the way the internet has revolutionized the world, we can really see that nothing can hope to advance our civilization than to push sharing of any and all knowledge to every brain on this planet.

There were some interesting predictions made by the writters of Star Trek. Something Jonathan Archer, captain in Star Trek Enterprise was explaining to an alien at one point, humans were at war with each other, greedy and materialistic to the point of destroying themselves until one day they discovered they were not alone in the universe, and society took on a whole new purpose of working together for humanity.

I know the economy goes in cycles, but I do see people struggling in ways that I can not understand how are necessary for society to function. Unless we believe the Ricardian theory that if wages go up, that just means poor people will have more babies till they are poor again, we need to do something different. From what I have seen of numbers, one of the mai reasons people people have children when they can not afford to take catre of them is due to a sese of hopelessness, a hopelessness that leads them to believe that no legacy can be forged in their own lifetime, but maybe a child will have a better opportunity.

But we know that doesn't work either.

The good information is coveted and restricted though the filter of our monetary system, violating rules of supply and demand due to artificial supply restrictions. Meanwhile the only free access to information is crap that gets throwen in our face whether we like it or not. Advertisments EVERYWHERE like grafetti from television, billboards, windows, and buss stops to spam.

We surround ourselves with disgusting, worthless information, filling and overwhelming our brains with garbage. Some try to fight this brain littering, but for each thing that gets pushed away only creates a void for new crap to take its place.

It is because advertisers know we are hungry for information.

Information is like bacteria. There is good bacteria and bad bacteria. We have evolved from simple viruses to very complex machines. We depend on bacteria for many functions of our systems, even though many bad ones can compromise them just the same. But a system filled with good bacteria leaves to room for bad bacteria to take over. Encourage the free flow of good, useful information, and people will be drawn to it just because it is better. Google, wikipedia, firefox, have dominated because their core have been about encouraging people to express themselves freely. Youtube, MySpace, Facebook, and even Twitter are taking over as popular sources for primary information. Unlike television and movies, these services provide bidirection self-influencing communication.

I figure an argument of it is that from each side, the commercial side, and the commons have a symbiotic relationship, where the commons is the primary source, where the most elite groups are able to produce commercial products, but I am not so sure. I don't believe that the only balance for encouraging development of new ideas is artificial supply restrictions to meet some kind of fake supply and demand. Supply and demand works when different people can bring similar things to market. people compete for good fast cheap, and the best people will find the best value in driving the price up when they can best use those commodities and a balance is found.

But does it work to commoditize information in the same way? Sure, but to a limit.

This wasn't all building up to this conclusion, but a solution neeeds to be mentioned. If companies. people, or whatever can be allowed to artificially manipulate the market through 'limited' (not so limited) monopolies, they should have to pay for it proportionally to its value. Say, for each year after 7 years there should be a tax that goes to schools to create new competitive ideas, based on a percentage of gross profits produced over the lifetime of the work while in copyright, even if VERY small, but something to encouage people NOT using a copyright to transfer it into the public domain to become profitable again for the whole of humanity.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More games should be developed with cross-platform compatibility in mind

The issue though is that overall, Linux doesn't NEED users in the way Microsoft NEEDS users. Sure, Linux community can be vocal and outspoken, but they are not the kind of people to bribe government officials or members of congress. Microsoft will always find ways to distort the numbers. Honestly, Linux is fine just the way it is, and I have seen a huge influx of non computer people looking for help with issues and bad blogs by people I am amazed have the capacity to even turn on a computer.

Even if Linux only has 1%, they have the top 1%. I don't know a developer or tech person that knows anything about how to work with windows that doesn't dual boot some flavor Linux.

The two things that are really measurable? Compare the number of books in book stores with anything of a computer / technology section and there are as many Linux only books as windows only books. The rest are cross platform with development books doing all their example work for a Linux machine / gcc.

Further, look at the Halloween documents. Microsoft is VERY aggressive about protecting its market share, and sees Linux as a huge threat where cheating and lies are their only defense. Admittedly DX10 is awesome, but the license fees to developers as well as Microsoft games, and OEM licensees come at a great discount if you are a Microsoft only developer / retailer.

Linux is everywhere and it dominates in the markets i has penetrated. The LAST place it has to touch is video editing (that is long off unless adobe ports premiere), and desktops. But so much of that is bulk purchases where the end user had no choice. Further, the teachers union has been a whore of Microsoft since Microsoft saw how successful Apple was with getting kids hooked early.

Another 'number' to check out. The profitable gamer right now on desktop computers are the MMO's. Look what what has stayed doing really well, and what good games completely tanked this year. Notice any pattern? The top games gave great Linux support.

While companies can have bad developers that can screw up any game, simply working from the ground up keeping in mind that your program needs cross platform support, it is EASY. You don't need to have two teams writing the whole thing from scratch separately. Windows is the dog in the cross platform battle. All you really need to do is use a cross compiler and debugger. It is not terribly difficult to write, compile, or debug / test for many platforms all on one machine, even without virtualization.

And finally, nothing gets tens of thousands of comments unless it is "stolen" sex tape. Video games as a whole just don't get that much attention from people for anything.

Also, there are quite a few really great games for Linux.. they just end up in repositories, not game stores, or play in web browsers(not a fan myself, but sadly they "make the charts")

This isn't a call for games for Linux, cause they are there. It is a call for MORE games from certain companies we would like to see set free from under the thumb of Microsoft like so many others have had the chance to experience.

What is humanity?

Words are powerful.

We have this idea that things that are good should not be picked apart for the sake of it, as we no longer accept the practice of killing healthy human beings for the sake of getting a better understanding of humanity.

Dehumanization had always been necessary as a past practice in order to over come the mental barriers that naturally kept us from over coming those barriers, just as military are trained to dehumanize any enemy in the name of the greater good. That which is 'bad' can be justifiably destroyed.

But Kali (for lack of a better term) is about rebirth, not destroying ourselves just to see how much we can tolerate, or loosing the present in the name of the future. "We must be the change we want to see in the world", or we only loose ourselves, because the present we create IS the future.

So what of words? Words are powerful, but powerful as tools of communication. Words themselves are not sacred, but without a clear commutable understanding of what the words mean between two people, then the words have no value in communication as only rough shadows of ideas will be expressed in vague terms.

So while I have disagreed from a young time what some have said about 'God', I was generally for the happy thought of 'God' is good, 'God' is truth and love and all that stuff. What could be the harm in that? The thing is that while those terms are used to 'describe' God to help people understand 'His' nature have many 'theories'.

A great and inspirational book, "Pragmatic Thinking and Learning" by Andy Hunt, has a lot to say about the human brain and mind; we have the power to analyze it and retool it through concerted effort, but that moves a bit off the point. The thing that really struck me is that he opens with an introduction to The Dryfus Model of Skill Acquisition. Both that paper and Andy Hunt's book talk about the fallacies of the Scientific Method. In short, the Scientific Method can be used to prove Event Theories; theories that say "When you do this or this happens, then this other thing will happen". By contrast, a Construct Theory is a kind of guide or model. Construct Theories can be used by people with strong understanding of a subject to guide them towards better understanding, but they are NOT rigid sets of rules that help predict events. Construct Theories can not be proved by Scientific Method because there is no measurable level of success that results in hard fact. In a way, I have thought that the "Theory of the Scientific Method" is a Construct Theory for discovering facts. The Scientific method doesn't show you how to find new facts in the world, or build new technology, but a guide for hopefully acquiring a level of certainly in the discovery of facts through observation in the world.

So what definitive meaning is generally understood by people in when you use the word God, what typical assumptions are made in using the term about the person when referring to God, or a God or Gods, and what are the overall implications of the possibly variations between people, or most importantly, myself.

Short version of that, I agree with Dawkins. It is either a meaningless that conveys no knowledge, or has dangerous implications about our general perceptions and understanding of the world around us. I have also discussed this in great detail in previous articles. I do believe in free will, as much as it is obviously observable, but I do not claim to understand how it works within what seems to be a very controlled macro universe. Is there some relationship between the apparent randomness going on at the quantum level in matter, and the guts of the brain tha make up free will? Great question that I think we are very far from being able to answer. Whatever it is, I have no concerns about it being boring.

As far an an eternal soul? I don't get it. I can see why people might like to believe there is something eternal about all our experiences, thoughts, memories, and individuality, but beyond such a 'nice' idea, I see nothing to support such a conjecture. I do believe in the whole of humanity. I believe community is what immortalizes us, and makes our flesh and individuality steps in a greater experience that is all of us. Our individuality are like raindrops towards an ocean. Each rain drop is important as a member of the whole. By contrast, what is one rain drop that does not fall or become part of the ocean?

People wonder what happens to our 'unique spirit' after we die. Well, what would happen of your individual spirit if all the people in the world were dead or gone in some way such that you were all alone on the planet? What of your life if the planet was completely without life but yourself?

From what we know of the development and evolution of the planet, life is simply dependent life. Everything and all relationships within life are because of life. But even between life and death, we see a symbiotic relationship between living and non-living. It is all one big experience to understand, or just be what it is.

Drawing from Religulous, by Bill Mahr, what an irony it would be for mankind to have the power to end such a relationship through the use of nuclear weapons, but that is another topic.

God is a theistic belief for which I full heartedly reject as immature and closed minded. It implies many limits for which can not be proven, and rejects the idea of an emergent truth. I find such an idea to be so empty and sad, so very much not what I feel people had intended when this idea of a great creator with magical powers from an alternate dimension or sitting on a cloud is the reason why there are things in this world for which we do not yet understand.

I just don't need it, and it is hardly even a worthy philosophical supposition. I am ready for a philosophical debate that doesn't keep returning to this silly 'God' idea.

In the past, I have attempted begin from a direction of 'God is...', but as mentioned before, what I was attempting to convey was so far beyond the theistic understanding of a 'personal God', I came to the conclusion that for me to take that term and use it in such a different way should be mutually offensive. If there are true theists out there (I hate to say I know there are, I just can't quite wrap my head round it), for me to say that we believe in nearly the same thing but in a different way... is a joke. Also, to use the word I feel sets a certain tone, a predisposition in peoples mind that they understand what I am taking about. While I would hope that there is a general understanding, I would be most interested in really being able to discuss finer details with people rather than just sharing immeasurable context-free thoughts. How would you ever go about taking such things and assimilating what they have said into wisdom. Simply too much room for cognitive bias.

I have found ways of explaining my beliefs and understand of the world that isn't just God++, and really gets into details. Yay! It took some work, but I feel that taking the time to describe things in a way avoiding that G word has helped so much.

So now the problem. A word that keeps wanting to come into my mind to use in a way I think people will misconstrue is Spirituality.

Am I being too picky? Is this a meaningless word we throw around that has some general meaning that applies to all faiths, or is it a word that people will hear and know that it might be something specific and not necessarily what it means to them. Do most people understand it in Descartes terms; the mind that is not the brain?

I think the mind does exist completely within the brains physical world, but that our understanding of the physical world is still limited in that some respect. This idea of a soul I find to be the result of some kind of closure bias, a necessity to have an answer without respect for the validity. I feel there is plenty of 'evidence' to support a fundamental physical world. I think if Solipsism, or even some kind of collective Solipsism were truth, the world would not operate in the way that it does, but more like a dream. The 'reality' of dreams feels much more inline with solipsism. I find it hard to believe that all frustration with learning is a self inflicted part of the experience. While that frustration CAN be self inflicted, I don't think that is the ULTIMATE barrier to truth.

More simply, Science does work, and it is used to discover all kinds of new things all the time. Truth is NOT a democracy... not matter how much congress might think it is, but not to get off topic...

I don't want to say that I am not spiritual, but what does it really mean to be spiritual? If everyone is spiritual, or everyone sees themselves as spiritual, but not always others, than it is less than meaningless, that can really be harmful towards actually getting a better understanding of ones self, or others.

The thing is, I do believe that if for no other reason than to be negative, all people believe that they are spiritual, but not that everyone else is. I think this my strongest argument to 'reject' it.

But the word does have certain implications. Maybe the word spiritual holds special meaning like mathematics? that word has certain implications. I think many people think of being frustrated at school, but there is a bigger picture. Math isn't real in a physical sense, it is jusy a language for discussing things. Is spirituality the same kind of platform? A direction to take people in? Or does it always mean you believe in dualism, or some kind of spiritual realm that exists differently but over laps with our reality. I am not offended by the thought, just that if I am trying to explain something different, or in particular, that I don't believe in such a thing. I think there is an under estimated relationship between what is believed to be known and that which is not known, but not to imply that there is some alternate spiritual plane where specifically our consciousness goes or continues to exist when we die.

And yet I feel like an elitist to feel the need to make some kind of new word for my belief. Atheist seems to work pretty well, and other people that have identified to me as atheist tend to have similar beliefs, but it is a word theists are very uncomfortable with. I think there are still those that are non-theists that just really dislike the word atheist because all thei can think of is Godlessness, a lack of faith rather than faith in something else. (No, I don't think that makes atheism a religion)

I believe in ubuntu, a unique quality that comes about from people working together; I believe there is something to be embraced within the opportunity for people to work together and a community that is more than just many individuals. There is something special when people work together and what they create or contribute to the world community has benefits to people the creator never knew existed.

So is that Humanism? Rather than saying 'my spirituality says' , but say I believe it is pragmatic to assume value of human life before other judgments are made, and that such a believe or understanding will lead us to a better future? Then the details come after that, such as 'just war' theory, or 'should I punch this asshole in the face cause he pisses me off and I think it would make me feel better' theory.

Well, so far I have tried not to use the word spirituality or spiritual (stopped using the word spirit a LONG time ago to describe ANYTHING). It still catches me every one in awhile, but I fid the challenge encourages me to articulate myself better. However, for the same reason, I certaintly not going to go around saying I am not spiritual. Same implication.

Anyway, found a bunch of quotes on what I am much more interested in than all this God or spirituality talk. First a negative one.

Lawrence Lessig, someone I have repeatedly mentioned as an inspiration of mine, says this:
"Americans have been selling this view around the world: that progress comes from perfect protection of intellectual property."

Do they sell the idea? yes, but it is snake oil / TOTAL BULLSHIT!! I think we have tricked people into putting a false value on the scarcity of knowledge. Also, I think the artificial scarcity created when we hide information from people crates an illusion of progress, when in reality it is relative progress.

When we cripple other industries and countries from developing when we impose trade sanctions on those that "steal" our ideas, that doesn't mean we are suddenly progressing faster than we were before, just faster than everyone else.

Is that all Americans see as progress? Is the only measure of rogress how much better our progress is than anyone else? Sure, on a competitive level, but we actually go to great lengths to cripple world progress in order to sustain the illusion of progress s we can feel better about ourselves.

That is going too far.

I think the US Constitution is VERY clear about copyright, that it can and should only exist so far as "to promote the progress of science and the useful arts". Our congress today just doesn't "get it" as far as what that means. It is talking about ubuntu (not the OS, but the word). We need to find ways to get as much information to all people as best as possible for human kind to process it and assimilate it into wisdom to yet be shared again. Those that prioritize information and the progress of humanity over some convoluted rules regarding the monetary system are called Pirates and Thieves.

But people still do it when it is illegal. People go to prison for trying to share ideas with the rest of human kind because of some belief that some how the individual that made the contribution exists outside of the system and needs some kind of special recognition for their 'accomplishment'.

Thee just has to be something better that can be acknowledged in our law and taught to our children that can end this cultural war.

Here are some other quotes I love:

Collecting information is only the first step toward knowledge, but sharing information is the first step toward civilization.
~Nelson Mendala (I think. If anyone actually knows the root of this quote with some kind of source to show, I would be very happy. The quote is in the linked video in the title. I am not sure who the guy saying this is supposed to be. Maybe Cesar Chavez?)

It is largely because civilization enables us constantly to profit from knowledge which we individually do not possess and because each individual's use of his particular knowledge may serve to assist others unknown to him in achieving their ends that men as members of civilized society can pursue their individual ends so much more successfully than they could alone.
~F. A. Hayek

“In formal logic, a contradiction is the signal of a defeat, but in the evolution of real knowledge it marks the first step in progress towards a victory.”

“The major advances in civilization are processes which all but wreck the societies in which they occur.”

~Alfred Whitehead

The two operations of our understanding, intuition and deduction, on which alone we have said we must rely in the acquisition of knowledge.
~Rene Descartes

Looking at Windows 7

In response to this post:

Agreed (Vista is great if you have the equivalent of a $2000 computer less than a year old). If you got all this fancy hardware, I would hope that you were planning to use it for something. I was fortunate enough to build a pretty fancy machine for myself a bit more than a year ago ( X2 6400+ Black, 4gb ram, 8800gtx, and some other fun hardware ) and I run Ubuntu on it exclusively. It works for me.

I don't see what Vista has to offer that I couldn't get from XP if I wanted to use some piece of software that works best in Windows. Vista has nothing to offer, especially at the price. It is nice to hear that 7 has done a lot of back end clean up work, and if it out performs XP, then awesome, but that really doesn't offer an incentive to switch.

The one application that I find no reasonable alternative for is Adobe Premiere, but all that tells me is that there is an incentive to get a Mac.

Ok, you say Windows 7 != Vista, but Vista == Windows && Windows 7 == Windows, so there many similarities, and some differences. Rather than having an endless list of specifics, how much different is it compared to other possible juxtapositions? Are there more differences between 7 and Vista as there are between Ubuntu 8.10 and 8.04? 7.10? Debian? Fedora? Gentoo? Are there as many differences between 7 and Vista as there are differences between Linux Kernel 2.6.27 and 2.6.20? 2.6.16? 2.4.37? Is 7 as different from Vista as Mac OSX 10.5 and 10.4? 10.3? FreeBSD 7.1? FreeBSD 6.4?

Sorry, but by no measure is 7 a significant leap from Vista. XP was a brilliant merge of Windows 98 and NT 4 as much as Ubuntu was a leap from Debian, OSX was a leap from FreeBSD taking many design principles from OS9.

7 appears to have some significant progress from the original release of XP, but with respect to how long that has been, what has Apple done in the same period of time? Solaris? AIX? Linux? I think the only systems with less progress in that period of time has been OS/2, BeOS, and Debian GNU/HURD.

It is nice they are fixing the Vista problems. It is nice they are removing the bloatware, feature creep and all that jazz, and really taking a closer look at some of the performance issues that may only have been possible to see with a large user base like it has now.

Improvements in back-end performance, AWESOME! Screw the advertising, some of the best empirical data for comparison is the SDK release notes, which is the only think you can really look at after Microsoft's GUIs for everything. This is the only measure I can see as useful for judging what we are really going to see in Windows 7.

If so, what does that say? Some XP people may finally be willing to switch assuming money is not a factor once real software comes out for 7 that will not as well to a significant (even if only perceived) degree over XP. Vista people will be vilified, and thrilled about the new version that "met their attention". If they bought Vista, they will buy 7. Windows 7 user base will certainly pass up Vista long before XP (if that isn't blatantly obvious). The Windows dynasty will continue to live on for awhile longer.

So I think this brings us back to the original statement: Windows 7 != Vista? No. It is Vista done right and is the little step whose name was changed because the marketing department said so.

If 7 is somehow different than Vista after all the above named things, tell me how it is going to attract the Mac OSX user, the Ubuntu user, the Gentoo user, The Solaris User, the *BSD user, the AIX user. By portion, more users of any of those respective systems will upgrade, and if they dual boot, it will be with a Mac. Windows 7 will hope to hold its own users for a bit longer.

On another note, The real back end changed to Vista became a part of XP SP3. While it may be unlikely Windows 7 will be XP SP4, I am sure it will be Vista SP2.

Want to pay for the name change? Be the first one to have it on your system? Patronize Microsoft for their continued support of your favorite OS? Go ahead. It isn't new, its just Windows, sending that collection plate for another round.

But why should you care? You LOVE Windows!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Anti-smoking ads make me want to smoke

Sabre24q7 writes:
How can someone be "proud" that they smoke lol.
A.) Smoking tastes nasty and leaves mouth dry.
B.) It's extremley bad for your health in many ways.
C.) Waste of money.

I dont see one positive thing about smoking, and if someone says it makes me look "cool" i will smack you.
a) depending on why you smoke, the taste can vary. Some people are poor, cheap, and addicted. They eat things like spam with mustard on white break and smoke the cheapest off brand. For me, smoking is like whiskey and chocolate. You can either get the cheap stuff that fucks you up, and the chocolate that will burn ulcers in your mouth it is so nasty, or you can pay $300 a bottle, drink rarely, import fine chocolates from Switzerland and make a fine evening of it.

If I can't get good the good stuff, I won't have any of it. Good tobacco should not leave your mouth dry. Like good anything, the entire experience is pleasant. I'll admit I sometimes have 2 cigarettes in a day, but nicotine affects me strongly. More than that takes away from the experience.

b) so is stress. Nicotine is a poison to your nervous system. How? it blocks your body's ability to metabolize the hormones that make you feel stressed. Just because it is a form os self medication doesn't mean that it is completely meritless. For me, I can work harder and focus on all kinds of straining mental activities without worry of overload, because if it becomes too much for me, I always know I can take a smoke break. Of course there are other ways to manage that, and there are good ways to keep your stress low, such as staying well hydrated, and good night sleep in addition to regular exercise and healthy diet. I don't think I care if I am just lying to myself, but with any medication, there is moderation. If smoking is the ONLY way for you to relax EVER, and so you smoke a pack a day or more, you should consider therapy, or at least some Tai Chi.

c) This I think is a bit bogus, unless you can't afford it. I go through about a pack a week. Sometimes if I need to relax and I am going to be at home, I get a pint of Ben & Jerry's and put on a good movie. In my area, a pack is about the same price as a pint, and I will tell you right now that pack last a LOT longer than that pint.

Many things cost money, and everything costs time. There are responsible and irresponsible smokers and non-smokers. I will admit that I find it dumbfounding that I smoke EVERY DAY. There are few things I do nearly every day: Go to work, eat, sleep, fuck, check news / email, and smoke. Smoking is the only thing on the list of things I do almost daily that pale in terms of necessity. I know how I think about smoking that it is an addiction, and I don't think I would mind being a non-smoker if I didn't have friends that smoked. However, not to say that I like all smokers, just that there is a personality trait I have noticed in people that I enjoy that tends to be mostly in smokers that I prefer.

I think it is a little bit of a taunting death thing, fuck you to authority (in a non-criminal way), and a moment you remind yourself to take everyday just for yourself when you know that the only thing you need to do is kick back, relax, and puff that cigarette. And it is an even more pleasant experience to share with a friend.

Experiences can be cool, particularly when everyone is in sync with a moment, but just like rule #34, for anything that has ever been done, there will always be someone that can look like a complete idiot doing it. Smoking is not intrinsically cool, but I don't think there is anything that is.

Except vagina. Vagina is cool.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

MMO failures of 2008

Ok, MAYBE this is just coincidence, or I have the relationship backwards, but PotBS SHOULD have slaughterd EVE. LotRO is also amazingly successful despite the fact it is a very poorly designed wow with all the drawbacks of DAoC and EQ. Hmm... What do WoW, Eve, and LotRO all have in common that those 4 games COMPLETELY lacked? ready for this? LINUX SUPPORT!!! Yeah, I said it. I played Pirates and loved it, but restarting the computer (let alone having to have a whole other OS installed just to play 1 game) was stupid. Not to mention the LONG patch times. Everyone in pirates was like "wow, this is just like Eve". I ended getting Eve, and while it is not nearly as fun, it doesn't require turning my entire computer into a console. Lord of the Rings is OK, and again, I don't have to choose between a game and having a computer. I stopped playing WoW shortly after Burning Crusade launch for a number of reasons, but Wrath of the Lich King has brought all new fun to the game. So maybe it is just me, but the 3 commercial pay by the month MMOs that are doing really well have full Linux support. Are there issues? Sure! but there are windows issues too. I know Linux gamers are HUNGRY and rumors by many that they would buy ANY descent game just to show their support. Maybe the user base is as small as M$ would like to try and make it out to be, but the user base is pretty dedicated. And while I said my observation may be total coincidence, nothing in that review even eluded to "failed because they over extended themselves to try and support too many OSs".