Thursday, May 5, 2016

Donald Trump

"I will be America’s greatest defender and most loyal champion.

I will view as president the world through the clear lens of American interests. I will be America’s greatest defender and most loyal champion. We will not apologize for becoming successful again, but will instead embrace the unique heritage that makes us who we are.

The world is most peaceful and most prosperous when America is strongest. America will continue and continue forever to play the role of peacemaker. We will always help save lives and indeed humanity itself, but to play the role, we must make America strong again.

a timeless principle. My foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people and American security above all else. It has to be first. Has to be. That will be the foundation of every single decision that I will make. America First will be the major and overriding theme of my administration."

Here comes war again!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Lions and the civilized man


Looking back, I see all these mes. Some of them boasting with life, others with lots of self-confidence, others lost and confused, others trying to please. In all these mes it's hard to find a common ground. Something which connects all of them. It reall shows how the self is just a construction and a context.

But there are contexts in which I more frequently "fall to the ground" and, once there, it is almost impossible to come back up.

The opposite of that is when I'm doing lots of exercise and going to Kung Fu classes. Then my light shines. These are the times where I "own" my self, these are the days full of stars where I can, like a surfer, ride my own feelings and thoughts and penetrate, without falling on some inner recesses of my mind. Some of the mysteries of the world open up their frangrance and I can smell and live a little of their magic.

When I fall... my mind becomes the center of my attention. Specific things in my mind occupy me for hours and days without end. I loose the sense of the all. I get lost in details. Feelings that arise from an unconcious daily life start to dominate me. I loose control of myself, of who I am and where I am going. In deeper and deeper voyages I become less and less conscious of the journey. I become less and less like the surfer glinding in the wave, I become more and more like a fisherman swept by strong currents. I loose sight of the bigger picture, where things make more sense. Instead I focus more and more on the detail, until I loose it all.

Some people I'm with also inspire me more or less to go into the broader or shallower picture of what's happening. In a very specific case, some people seem to be incompatible with the broader vision, with the "lion" vision. When I'm the lion, they seem to want to tame me. They don't like the lion. I don't think they're afraid of it, they really don't like it. They think it's rude and ugly. Unproportionate to the occasion. Something is deeply wrong with the lion, in their view. It shouldn't roar, it shouldn't smile, it shouldn't tumble. It's a capricious lion. And they don't like that either.

They try to tame the lion,
to tame the lion,
to tame the lion...

But then the lion just dies.
In fact the lion never existed. It was just an expression of freedom. And freedom cannot die, it just disappears. It stands in waiting, until a new opportunity comes for its arousal.

You cannot tame freedom. But can you deal with the tamer? Can you be with the tamer, talk with him, spend the day with him, eat with him, spend the night with him, share your whole life with him, and still... be free?

Perhaps it would even help the tamer! Perhaps it would free the tamer. Knowing that such a happy lion was roaming about, has his friend. Would he become a lion too?

What divides the lion and the tamer might be this: both like the lion, but one of them like him better in a cage. So, to change, the tamer would have to see, not only the beauty of the lion, but the ugliness of the cage.

The problem is, probably the tamer loves more the cage than the lion. He also lives in a cage, he is a cage man, or, in other words, a modern man, a civilized man. He doesn't even exist without a cage!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Bluefish in another language

Bluefish is an intelligent piece of software that automatically adjusts its interface to the language of the operating system. The problem is, it doesn't give you a choice. If you want to choose differently, the manual says something like: "change the language of your operating system" - which is kind of difficult / impossible in Windows. But there is an obvious solution. Just go to the program's folder, generally in:
c:\Program Files\BlueFish\share\locale\
and erase all the sub-folders that don't correspond to the language you want. Easy really!

How I love smart software!!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Time travel and determinism in three 2014 movies

I know basically three theories about time travel:
1) it's impossible
2) you would go back but into a parallel universe
3) you would go back but your actions would have to be consistent with future events.

The first two are compatible with indeterminism the last one with determinism. The problem with movies that assume time travel is that, when they choose indeterminism they are very slack about how little changes in the chain of events would get amplified in the future. Even a movie called the "butterfly effect" doesn't take it seriously.

"The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the metaphorical example of the details of a hurricane (exact time of formation, exact path taken) being influenced by minor perturbations such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier." Wikipedia

Which means that even if you appeared my just milliseconds in some desert location, perhaps in the middle of the ocean, no one has even seen you, that appearance would change the weather patterns significantly in such a way that it would change, after a few weeks, among many other things, the thought patterns of the entire human population (including news, etc). Which means that, just by going back in time a few years and appearing momentarily in a desert location, you would be creating a future where the self that made that trip would not exist. In fact, in a non-deterministic perspective of reality just making time run again, even if all the details were the same, would yield different futures. Because, in a non-determinist perspective, the exact same causes do give rise to different actual events (they do give rise to the same set of possible events, but then the one that gets chosen from that set is taken unpredictably).

Now, we have no idea whether the universe works deterministically or not, or even if there are parallel universes (like Everett, Deutsch and other physicists have argued). But if it doesn't it is impossible to predict what will happen from our actions. The future becomes so unpredictable that we can't go back to change the past and make it this or that without changing everything else (unless for tiny time travels, with just a few minutes perhaps).

So, in a story-telling perspective, determinism is much more appealing, but, so far, I had only seen the 1995, Terry Gilliam's "12 monkeys". But now I saw three movies that render time travel in a deterministic perspective, and so far as I can see, do it extremely well, they are:

Time Lapse

All from 2014! Now perhaps there are really lots of movies out there that I don't know of that deal with time travel well, but I was pleasantly surprised with these three. At least something coherent! Great! Let's have more like that!

From our human perspective determinism is not easily imagined, because we necessarily see ourselves as free. I think these movies (especially the last two) make it much easier to understand that there is no difficulty in compatibilizing our inner feelings of having free will within a deterministic world. Of course that does nothing to show that the world is in fact deterministic. But at least it opens up our imagination to what, as far as we know today, might be a real possibility (non-determinism is also a real possibility but it is much more difficult to depict in a movie, essentially because it does not apply only to human actions, everything would be happening slightly differently, you might "correct" something in your past, only to be overwhelmed by a huge set of unrelated differences regarding which you would have no control).

PS - as you might deduce from this text I don't expect the movie industry to just entertain me, I would also like that my conceptual abilities be expanded as well, when I go to the movies.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Microsoft: reinventing mathematics

A Microsoft product! and it's free!!!

Including original results like the one above!!

Microsoft: reinventing mathematics!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Today the sun was born

Today the sun was born. And at what an immense speed was he blazing through the sky...

given that he is at one astronomical unit (AU) from us, and he (from our point of view) circles the earth once per day, then he must travel π * AU / 2 per day, which is an approximate value of course (given the elliptical orbit the distance is not always an AU, and then there are also all the other orbits - around the galaxy, the local group, etc), but is about 234 987 786 kms per day, or about 9 791 157 kms per hour, our about 2719 kms per second.

So there was the sun, blazing through the sky at 2719 kms per second. Effortlessly, it would seem.

on the horizon the ocean, and scattered clouds on the (relatively) thin atmosphere. Mountains, plants, small animals... I was on the planet Earth. And what a sight.

A few ants, humans and other beast were going about their daily lives, completely oblivious to the monumental grace going around.

But I'm usually blind to it too. And I will be again. But not to worry. Lot's and lots of microscopic things can make a mountain.

So we all, with our microscopic beauty and even more microscopic understanding,

make this whole.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Giving up on Chrome (again)

I have a thing for Chrome, it's beautiful, simple, fast and tightly integrated with Google accounts. It is also usable on Android and so it seems simply the best choice.

However there is this thing in the Google dev team that makes it seem like an Apple kind of thing, you know, the kind of thing that "just works", which is a nice way of saying that you're too stupid to mess around with it and customizing it in whatever way you may want to.

I really don't like to be called dumb, although that's probably a sign that I am dumb ^_^. But, more importantly, it's important for me to be able to shape things in my own particular way. As Karen Holtzblatt has explained so well, we need to feel we can show ourselves, our individuality, through the products we use.

That applies to themes and stuff, but also to more functional important decisions like page zoom and whether we want all the open tabs from the previous session(s) to load at startup.

A few years ago I've abandoned Chrome when I realized that the dev team was simply not interested in giving users a chance to change the default zoom level globally (applied to both images and fonts). They simply stated that it would add to the complexity, and they wanted it to "just work" from the start. I find that approach really useful for some users (the kind that like Apple products), but I really hate that approach for myself, besides, I couldn't really comfortably use the net with the screen and OS I had at the time. So I went back to the slower Firefox.

A few months later that problem was solved but then I was already a happy firefox user and just didn't went back. However, in the last week or so, I found out that Firefox dev team had just completely changed their Sync servers without making it automatically change for users. That means that I have to go manually into each of my computers and OSs (which are a lot), and manually unlink each one from the old server and link it to the new. It just seems like someone at the Firefox team suddenly thought: «hey, let's try to kill Firefox in just a few weeks!! What's the most efficient way of thrashing all of our clients?» Well, that's certainly a great idea to do just that!! And so I just went back to Chrome and the simplicity of synchronizing everything just using your email login and password!!

I was happily using Chrome but I was finding annoying that all the tabs were loading at boot time, which is fine if you have unlimited bandwidth, which, unfortunately, is not my case. So I searched for the checkbox for something similar to Firefox's "Don't load tabs until selected" in Chrome settings, and I couldn't find it. To my disbelief I ended up finding again the same "we know better than you" Apple mentality:
We're simply not going to add a bunch of options to let people individually tweak tab-loading behavior, for the same reasons that we don't add fine-grained options to control all other Chrome behaviors [...] in order to move forward here, we need a refinement of our progressive-loading algorithm that does a better job balancing responsiveness, overall startup time, etc.

So the way is not to let people choose and customize to their hearts content, but to force them to accept the best algorithm coders can offer. I strongly sympathize with that solution. iPhone's success proves that it works wonders for many people who just want something simple and ready-to-use, something that just works out of the box, intuitively, without tinkering. It just doesn't work for me and for all those who want to tweak with no-end the gadgets they use.

The thing that really bugs me is that I cannot see any incompatibility in using both approaches at the same time. Phone lines can still be used to transmit Morse code. In the same way that we can have default options that work great for the majority of users while still maintaining the fine-grained options to control many other detailed behaviors for those who want to tweak them. In fact, that's precisely what Firefox does. What is the problem with giving users to choice to go with an intuitive and well-working default or tweak their engines? I don't get it. It seems to me that these are complementary approaches.

So I am just another disgruntled user who went happily back to trusted old Firefox. I'm quite happy with it actually : ). Thanks to the Firefox team for making a wonderful product. I know you wanted us out, you made that awful Sync thing to test our faithfulness, perhaps you had already realized that the competition out there is worse, at least on customizing.

Other (ex?)Chrome disgruntled users:
The devteam has decided to mark this and related requests "Won't Fix". The decision denies that a significant share of the user base find themselves hardware resource / bandwidth speed / cost of bandwidth (wireless) constrained in many instances. And, it denies that this same subset of users wants to keep multiple tabs open session to session.
The preferred algorithmic loading solution has not fixed the problem. It took Chrome 3 mins to become available with 10 tabs open at a friend's house. Firefox, loading only the in-focus tab, 30+ tabs open, was ready for use 5 seconds after opening. No wonder my friend gave up on Chrome.

I now use Firefox by default when I need to pop in, do a quick task and move on. I know I'll never find myself trapped by a massive set of Chrome page loads. If I'm on a network I know to be fast, I'll choose Chrome. Unfortunately, that is the case less than a quarter of the time.

The decision seems to be motivated, in part by design consideration and in part by a stubborn belief that lazy loading would be useful for only a fringe set of users.

Quoting pkasting:
"We're simply not going to add a bunch of options to let people individually tweak tab-loading behavior, for the same reasons that we don't add fine-grained options to control all other Chrome behaviors. ... In particular, we're not going to do Firefox-style lazy tab loading, because when we tested it we were extremely frustrated with it.  This isn't an issue of not thinking of it, or not listening to people suggesting it, not "taking you seriously", etc.  We simply don't agree that the benefits of this are higher than the costs.  One great thing about having multiple browsers is that other vendors can make different design tradeoffs and users can use other browsers when they find something that suits them better."

An interesting parallel discussion of lazy loading developed here:

in an issue thread entitled "Flash videos etc. on background tabs are started automatically after session restore".

Lazy loading became the dominant requested solution in the issue thread, and pkasting closed the thread to external comment.

Extensions, not options, are the preferred dev solution, given belief that restoring all tabs in a resource constraint environment represents a fringe use case. Until devteam beliefs on the matter change, that's what we're left with.!topic/chrome/Paje9Zit8AE

In fact, Google is becoming more and more difficult to like and love. The things I would like to have are precisely more control but the development of Google products (including the search engine) show more and more automation. It makes me wonder if someday the internet will feel like watching the telly: not a way to express your intelligence, but to blindly follow the intelligence of others.