Archive for the ‘Technical’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Ants & Gods

The subject of Artificial Intelligence and the future of mankind arose in discussions on the previous post. Here is an excellent TED talk on subject, by Sam Harris last year:

 

 

…pretty sobering and thought provoking, no? The analogy comparing ourselves to ants works rather well. His last line about constructing a new god was incredibly profound! Any discussion?

PS: Especially for Chris… be paying close attention to the visual at 4:08; but try not to lose your train of thought.  😉 ◄Dave►

PostHeaderIcon Privacy & Paranoia

On the previous thread, I mentioned to Steel that I had recently acquired an Amazon Echo device, and was having great fun playing with Alexa. He replied with this apropos cartoon:

LOL… Sure, before ordering it, I experienced the old kneejerk paranoia about my privacy. Yet, before I could ask Alexa to spell antidisestablishmentarianism (she did!) or play some Beach Boys, the only time I ever spoke here in my hermitage was to my little dog, or the occasional rare telephone call. I have always assumed that my telephone conversations are being recorded somewhere anyway. Even if I never turned the microphone off, or unplugged her, and Alexa was actually recording every sound here 24/7, those tasked to search through the recordings for my transgressions would be bored to death, unless they shared my nostalgia for the popular music of my youth, and enjoyed the sound of rain, a babbling brook, or ocean waves playing while I am sleeping. 😊

Until one experiences it for themselves, it can be hard to imagine the sense of relief derived from escaping the stultifying paranoia of Big Brother, which is just another weapon in the oligarchs’ tool chest, for maintaining their dualistic society. The ubiquitous ‘us against them’ mindset is designed to keep the sheeple at each other’s throats, rather than their own. All that is required to reacquire personal freedom, is to opt out of their cruel game, as an individual refusing to choose sides. If one concludes he has no need of a ruler, or even a political leader, then it becomes ludicrous to consider sanctioning their authority, by participating in the obnoxious process of choosing one.

Several months ago, it occurred to me that, now in my dotage, I am no longer a threat to the powers that be. If they have nothing to fear from me, I see little point in fearing them. Frankly, at my age, were they to haul me off to prison as a subversive, it would represent a marked improvement in my austere lifestyle. Air conditioning; pest control; three hot meals a day; regular hot showers; laundry service; free medical attention; gym; library; cable TV; internet; armed guards 24/7 to protect an old man from terrorists, gangs, flash mobs, muggers, and lonely widows. No wonder so many codgers who are released, soon deliberately re-offend to get back inside, and resume the carefree lifestyle to which they had become accustomed. It sure sounds more appealing than a retirement home, populated predominantly with addled dementia patients, no?  😉

Since this epiphany, I switched back to using Google as my search engine, and have found I much prefer Google Chrome to Firefox for several reasons, so it is now my default browser. I even stay logged into it and YouTube, with my real identity. I notice that the ad blocking extensions do such a good job, that I have not experienced any of the targeted advertising that is supposed to be so off-putting about allowing Google to collect data on my surfing habits. I do not even experience advertising on YouTube, and appreciate the way it tracks my tastes to offer new clips that might interest me. So, with nothing to hide, what exactly have I lost by relinquishing my privacy? ◄Dave►

PostHeaderIcon 30 Video Mashup

This mashup isn’t from conspiracy theorists; it’s from the NYT:

Listen carefully to the audio. Notice how much of the time the shooter is firing single shots, or not at all. Note: they counted a couple of short consecutive bursts individually, which I had counted together when I found only ten episodes of automatic fire, approximately once a minute.

Their count of 900 rounds fired at the crowd comports with my own estimate of 1000 rounds or less. In any case, 900/12=75. The only way to fire an average of 75 rounds per burst with an AR-15, would be with drum type magazines. I have heard nothing regarding such magazines being at the crime scene, and the leaked photos do not show any.

I still think that many of the sustained ~100 round bursts were probably from belt-fed weapons, such as the M-249. This would also make a lot more sense out of the time and effort expended to set up tripod tables. Although designated a ‘light machine gun,’ which can be shoulder or hip fired, the M-249 still weighs over twice that of a M-16. Then again, I suppose firing 1100 rounds (counting the 200 fired through the door) offhand with either weapon, would be a bit daunting for a pudgy 61-year-old besotted gambler.  ◄Dave►

 

PostHeaderIcon Up Periscope

Do you Periscope? If so, you may wish to experience the debate tomorrow night, as I intend to. I will watch it on TV, while simultaneously enjoying Scott Adams’ (Dilbert) running commentary on my iPad tuned to his Periscope channel, “@ScottAdamsSays.” It will be similar to someone “Live Blogging” a political event, except Periscope is an actual streaming audio/visual experience. Speaking of visual, his very hot neighbor will be co-hosting the “Scope” with him. 😉

If you are unfamiliar with Periscope, don’t feel too old. Since I eschew most social media, I didn’t even know what it was a week ago; but I easily became addicted to the technology, once I tried it. It all started when YouTube recommended a replay of one of his daily morning “Coffee with Scott Adams” Periscope episodes, which one of his many followers, using the handle, “CyberDurden,” now converts and uploads to his own YouTube channel. E.g. here is yesterday’s episode:

You may not wish to invest the time to watch the whole episode; but if you are unfamiliar with Periscope, watching a few minutes will give you a feel for how Scott uses the platform very effectively, to communicate with his “Persuasion” oriented fans, Read the rest of this entry »

PostHeaderIcon More Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice or medical BS? The latest:

 

It happens that I own a couple of pulse oximeters, which I have used at least once a day, for the past nearly three years. I referred to them as my “E-Cigarettes,” in this old post a couple of years ago. I can confirm that my own oxygen level generally tests at 93-94%. By doing some deep breathing, I can pump it up fairly easily to 95-96%. I really have to hyperventilate, with emphasis on complete exhales, to get it to ever go higher than 97%.  For her doctor to claim Hillary’s tested at 99% while suffering pneumonia, is downright laughable! Read the rest of this entry »

PostHeaderIcon Related Posts

After reading a recent Jetpack blog post, I decided to try turning on the “Related Posts” feature. Now, at the bottom of every post, one finds three purportedly related previous posts, which is supposed to entice the casual reader to spend more time on the site getting to know us, and hopefully return for more.

In testing it, I wasn’t always in agreement with the algorithm making the choices; but at least the first one offered was usually pretty relevant. It can be entertaining, and often somewhat satisfying, to read old blog posts one has forgotten ever making. This will likely be a good way for me to stumble across them. One I just read from early 2012, I thought particularly insightful: ” Robin Hood vs. Good Samaritan,” which included: Read the rest of this entry »

PostHeaderIcon Information vs Wisdom

Recently on the “Eliminating Authority” discussion thread, Chris offered an enigma:

Just to throw out a bit of a muse that I can’t quite figure out yet. In this day and age anybody can carry in their pocket the wisdom and knowledge of all recorded human history and every technology known. All the great philosophers, leaders, and critical minds works are at our finger tips. Yet we remain so stupid.

…that deserves its own topic for discussion. First, I would suggest that information ≠ education. All the information in the world, is useless to anyone not willing or able, to access and learn it. It is certainly not PC to say so; but there are a significant percentage of people in the world, for which what we might consider as ‘educated,’ is simply beyond their ken. Ever meet someone with an IQ of 100? Now, ponder the unavoidable fact that fully half the world’s population, are dumber still! Read the rest of this entry »

PostHeaderIcon Eliminating Authority

For the first time in our society’s seemingly inexorable death spiral, I have regained a significant measure of hope for the future of America, and indeed all of mankind. Once again, it seems, technology will come to our rescue.

Would a world without any rulers, where war was rendered impossible, be such a bad place to live? If there were a way to eventually nullify the power of all states, not just our own, would it be worth doing?

“Anarchy is not lack of order.  Anarchy is lack of ORDERS.” -unknown

What if there were nobody left daring to even follow unpopular orders, much less issue them? Without so-called ‘leaders,’ and disciplined followers willing to execute their orders, no form of tyranny or warfare could possibly exist. Think about that undeniable fundamental truth for a moment.

I find it astonishing that I had never heard of Jim Bell, and his 20-year-old 10-part essay, “Assassination Politics,” in which he described and defended a technological method for eliminating unpopular politicians from society. Read the rest of this entry »

PostHeaderIcon Global Cooling

…must win in the end, and there is nothing whatever man could do to prevent it.

This rather obvious truth occurred to me while reading an incredibly fascinating, informative, and must-read article entitled: “Climate and Human Civilization over the last 18,000 years” by Andy May. It includes a PDF of an 18,000 year timeline of what is known of earth’s climate and human efforts at civilization. Do download the poster and view it at about 100% zoom in your PDF viewer, so you can read the text. This means you will have to scroll left and right as well as up and down; but it is worth the effort.

The subject was skepticism of AGW, of course, and the historical timeline is juxtaposed with the best estimates we have on global temperatures, which purport to show the historical effects of natural temperature variations on human activity, particularly migration. What struck me most, however, as I contemplated all the time covered by various civilizations I had never even heard of, much less studied, was how insignificant to the whole scheme of human history is a single human lifespan. Consider how exceedingly few people’s lives and deeds are remembered even one hundred years after their death by their own descendants, much less leave an indelible mark in history. Read the rest of this entry »

PostHeaderIcon Happy Valentine’s Blind Dating

Although I have proudly owned a couple of them,  I am no longer a Corvette man, since I am still pissed at GM for becoming “Government Motors” for a bailout. Now, even though I haven’t driven a Mustang since I bought a brand new one in 1969, I could go for the latest model:

 

 

…but I would want to drive it myself. 🙂 ◄Dave►

PostHeaderIcon My E-cigarette is Cheap and PC

E-cigarettes have been much in the news lately, both pro and con. While they are clearly a healthier way of consuming nicotine than inhaling tobacco smoke, there is concern that they legitimize smoking, and kids are drinking the refills. The Progressive PC control freaks are starting to ban their use in many circumstances and locales. What if an electronic substitute for smoking were available, which never needs refilling and would be considered PC to the most radical fanatic?

I have been smoke free for almost 5 months now. Nicotine itself no longer has a hold on me; but there are psychological triggers that still cause me to miss lighting up occasionally. Stress and/or anger is a big one. In the past, I have managed to quit for several months, only to blow it over a quarrel with a woman! Fortunately, no woman has such power in my life anymore, so that won’t be a problem this time. 🙂

Other triggers are circumstances which habitually induced me to light up in the past. Something as simple as being interrupted by phone call, can cause me to recall that I used to light up at such times. A classic example has surfaced since I recently reacquired my dog. Because I never smoked in my vehicles, every time I stopped to allow her to run around, sniffing and eliminating, I naturally lit a cigarette. The length of her potty break was the time it took for my smoke break.
Read the rest of this entry »

PostHeaderIcon Text View

For we news and politics junkies, much of our web surfing is in pursuit of interesting articles to read. We are interested in the text itself, not all the distracting animated graphics, advertisements, photo albums, and other inducements to keep one clicking up advertising revenue for the site. I do have sympathy for their motive, and understand why they tend to break up longer articles into several page views; but I just don’t have time for game.

One of the reasons I came to prefer my iPad for news and commentary surfing, was the availability of popular apps that allowed one to create a reading list for later viewing offline, and a ‘text’ mode, which combined multiple page articles into just one continuous single column text file, without any extraneous graphics (although some can be configured to include inline pictures, graphs, and videos that were part of the article itself). The colors, font type and size, the margins to establish column width, and day/night mode, etc. are configurable. I couldn’t live without them.

The two most popular were ‘Read-It-Later’ (now called ‘Pocket’) and ‘Instapaper.’ I have both; but generally settled on Pocket, because it had a add-in for Firefox on my Windows machines, which is kept in sync with my iPad by their server. I can trash the article after reading it, or save it in my archives. These utilities are so popular, that a native reading list and text view are now part of mobile Safari and some other iPad browser apps.

When on the first page of an article, all one need do is tap the ‘text’ button, and the rest of the site disappears, leaving only the complete text of the article in an easily scanned, newspaper-like, column down the middle. This, of course, could be zoomed to full screen width for tired old eyes, by simply double tapping on it. Marvelous! For those articles I wanted to read right away, and doubted that I would wish to archive, this became my standard procedure. I have been spoiled by Safari having it, and wish Firefox did too.
Read the rest of this entry »

PostHeaderIcon Visitor Participation

Thanks for visiting. We truly appreciate feedback. WordPress has a very efficient spam cop, thus no registration is required to rate or comment on our posts. The rating system was just installed, to try to get some feedback from those disinclined to leave a comment, so please at least rate them 1-5 stars for us. It only takes a mouse click, and the data never leave this site for any other purpose. The discussions in the comment sections can get quite fulsome, interesting, and lively; but are always polite adult discourse and debate. Please feel free to join in. The more the merrier. ◄Dave►

PostHeaderIcon My New Daily Newspaper

I enjoy reading a daily newspaper; but gave up on my lame local paper years ago. I have enjoyed the ability to read news and commentary from all over the world here on the internet and count on aggregation sites like The Drudge Report to point out interesting content elsewhere. Unfortunately, I just want the text to read and find all the gee-whiz graphics, videos, banners, ads, etc. irritating and distracting. I use the Firefox browser and eliminate most of it with Adblock Plus and especially NoScript (which Troy turned me onto a few years ago) add-ons.

Recently, I have installed a new add-on called “Read-it-Later” that is marvelous. When installed, it puts a gold chevron shaped tool button in the upper right beside the search field and the outline of one within the URL field beside the bookmark star. Then, when surfing one lands on a page one wishes to read later, but would not necessarily wish to bookmark, clicking on the empty chevron fills it and places it’s link in a reading list accessed by clicking on the tool button. One cool thing for me is that it keeps my reading list online and synced between my desktop and my laptop from anywhere.

More importantly, one can also right click on a link and select “Read This Link Later” to add it to the list without even opening it. I can and do quickly go through Drudge or other aggregation sites marking interesting links for reading later. I now do this even if I intend to read it immediately, because of its neatest feature.

When one opens the reading list and points the cursor at a link, to the right an icon of a capital “T” appears. If one clicks on the “T” rather than the link, a superb text parser displays just the article’s text, full page, somewhat similar to the “Printer Friendly Format” available on some sites. No pictures, no graphics, no ads, etc. Awesome. For old eyes, <Ctrl-+> a few times zooms the text to a readable font size with text wrapping changing as appropriate. It seems to work on most sites flawlessly, although for those which use “Read More” multi-page formats to force more page views, it may parse only the first page.

Now, for the newspaper. I happened to be watching Fox News yesterday when Rupert Murdoch and Apple formally introduced his new online newspaper called simply “The Daily.” It is available for a subscription price of 99¢ per week, but only on an Ipad. Now, I have been looking for an excuse to get an Ipad, and this may be it; but the Ipad II is coming out in the Spring and I will wait until then to decide. Meanwhile, it would be nice to check-out the quality of “The Daily.”

Then, this evening I stumbled across: The Daily: Indexed, which also archives past issues. It will be interesting to see Murdoch’s reaction to this site. I wouldn’t be surprised if it get’s shut down by his lawyers; but then it might be useful to hook potential customers for the future who do not yet have an Ipad. In any case, Read-it-Later’s text parser works beautifully on its news and opinion articles. I will be visiting it daily as long as it lasts.

Check it out while you still can. Murdoch has invested millions in this venture, which he sees as the newspaper of the future. He has reportedly staffed it with some serious journalistic talent. So far it looks pretty good, and I haven’t even seen all the cool graphics, 360 degree pictures, etc. that are supposed to be dazzle the Ipad kids. I’ll stick to the text. 🙂 ◄Dave►

PostHeaderIcon Creative Distraction

Yeah, you are where you thought you were going. I was becoming depressed watching this (so far) bloodless coup the Progressives are so rapidly perpetrating on our country. As a distraction, I decided to try designing my own theme for my blog. I enjoy such creative endeavors, and it has been a welcome break from politics. I am sure I will be tweaking it forever now that I can; but I have been wanting to widen the article column for quite some time, and so far I am pleased with the results. Critical comments welcome. 🙂 ◄Dave►

PostHeaderIcon Be Rational

My cyber-buddy Troy has started a new forum that I have agreed to help him with. We spent an enjoyable year together on a forum with a small group of other rational thinkers, before we burned out and broke up to start our blogs. Some of our old friends dislike the blog format for discussion and debate, so Troy has started one of the Ning.com social networking sites at:

berational.ning.com

I hope many of the regular commenters here will check us out and join in our discussions there. Any other readers who might be interested in reasonable discourse are invited as well. If you already have a Ning.com identity, you can just log in using the same user name and password. If not, you will need to register with them first. Once registered as a member of the Be Rational site, you will have your own home page and blog and have access to the common BBS type forum, where most of the debate will happen. I hope to see you there. ◄Dave►

PostHeaderIcon Tweaking

OK, I have been poking and tweaking the back end of this thing today. I have enabled gravatars now, so those with a global gravatar at WordPress.com or Gravatar.com et al ,should have it show up here on your comments. If you do not have one uploaded there, it generates a pattern that is unique for you. If you look at one of my comments, it will be obvious that I created my own gravatar and uploaded it as a picture file to the WordPress site.

I also enabled a spam checking plug-in that is supposed to catch most of the robotic spam. I made a test comment and it was just as fast as usual, so I hope it doesn’t slow down the commenting process appreciably. I will be more dilligent at looking in the moderation cue to make sure it didn’t trap a legitimate comment. ◄Dave►

PostHeaderIcon Adventures For Pay

Bloggers are starting to post their life’s job history, and some of them are interesting. I first encountered it at American Digest, and traced the meme back to one called Stageleft:

The most interesting things about blogging is the bloggers. I’ve only ever met four of you out there in the real world, but in some ways I think of many of you as friends.

But I don’t know very much about anyone. And it’s been a long time since we had a new meme. So here’s one.

It’s simple. Just list all the jobs you’ve had in your life, in order. Don’t bust your brain: no durations or details are necessary, and feel free to omit anything that you feel might tend to incriminate you. I’m just curious. And when you’re done, tag another five bloggers you’re curious about.

Serendipitously, I mentioned in a comment just a couple of days ago that I have had a lot of interesting life experiences; but still hadn’t decided what I am going to be when I grow up. I’ll play. So far, I have tried:

  • Lawn Mower
  • Fishing Worm Breeder/Wholesaler
  • Snow Shoveler
  • Paper Boy
  • Pig Farmer
  • Pine Cone Gatherer
  • Chicken Farmer
  • Car Wash Attendant
  • Farm Laborer
  • Fruit Picker
  • Almond Knocker (hardest job ever)
  • Grease Monkey
  • Grocery Box Boy
  • Busboy
  • Ice Cream Dipper (Thrifty Drugstore)
  • Sales Clerk
  • Radio/TV Repair
  • Grocery Clerk
  • U.S. Army Soldier
  • Microwave Radio Repair
  • Morse Code/RTTY Operator
  • Waiter
  • Bartender
  • Bouncer
  • Policeman
  • Electronic Test Equipment Repair /Calibration
  • Satellite Tracking Station Telemetry Technician
  • Computer Engineer
  • Computer Programmer
  • Computer Designer
  • Electrical Contractor
  • Burglar Alarm Business (Seychelles Islands)
  • Farm Manager (Rhodesia)
  • 2-Way Radio Repair (Rhodesia)
  • Quasi-mercenary (Rhodesia)
  • Solar Energy Contractor
  • Solar Collector Manufacturer
  • Solar Collector Traveling Salesman
  • Charter Boat Deckhand
  • Commercial Fisherman (California)
  • Newspaper Columnist
  • Yacht Captain (Mexico)
  • Tuna Boat Captain (Hawaii)
  • Marine Electronics Business
  • Fishing Magazine Columnist
  • 2-Way Radio Business
  • Cell Phone/Fax Machine Retailer
  • PC Clone Manufacturer
  • Computer Consultant
  • FM Radio Station Engineer
  • Cattle Rancher
  • Retirement Care Facility for the Elderly
  • Montessori Preschool
  • Business Consultant
  • Webmaster
  • Ghost Writer

Many were entrepreneurial pursuits rather than jobs, so I just listed all the different ways in which I have earned money. I have lived in eight countries and sixteen States, so home is where my bunk is at any particular time. Several were repeated in new locales; but the list was already long enough, so I didn’t repeat the duplicates. I suspect I may have left a few out. 🙂

I tag all the other few bloggers who happen to read this. You know who you are, and I would be interested in reading your background. ◄Dave►

PostHeaderIcon Do U Twitter?

Well, I didn’t know what it was either, until I read this post from Hugh Hewitt. After following a few links there, including the one to get the Twitter 101 beginner’s guide, which explains how useful it could be, I signed up for an account.

My Twitter URL is simply twitter.com/thoughtsaloud and now I need some associates to “follow” and “tweet” to. So, if you Twitter send me a tweet and I will add you to my list. I suppose I will tweet every time I add a post or comment here, and perhaps make quick comments on things I surf across that do not merit a post here.

If you do not currently Twitter, it is probably because you are a fossil like me. Lets give the kids a run for their money and join in their new paradigm for staying connected. Sign up and reply to one of my tweets and I will reply to yours. Good grief, this sounds silly; but I think there is perhaps some utility to it, if for no other reason than to expand our horizons and perhaps attract more commenters to our blogs. ◄Dave►

PostHeaderIcon Gagged

As a followup to my Child Wind post below, here is another example on Michelle Malkin’s website:

Jeffrey Rosen’s piece there is rather interesting.◄Dave►

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