* Posts by fritsd

79 publicly visible posts • joined 22 Mar 2011


Q. What's today's top language? A. Python... no, wait, Java... no, C


Re: Learn all of them, but NOT Java

If you remove a bunch of comment lines, why would your computer renumber the line numbers afterwards? That just doesn't make sense. I'm quite sure the Commodore 64 BASIC didn't do any such stupid shit.

Why everyone* hates Salesforce's Marc Benioff


fellow billionaires

"Benioff and his fellow billionaires see none of this."

I see what you did there

Brexit: Time to make your plans, UK IT biz

Paris Hilton

what kind of people do you want to make the rules

Maybe I'm about to say something really stupid because I don't have enough information.

I believe that, ultimately, the EU is governed by its people, and the UK is governed by the City of London Corporation.. So Brexit would be better, because then CoL opposition to a Tobin Tax can't spread beyond the influence sphere of the UK, and won't be able to poison the wider EU and Eurozone systems.

We need a stable financial system; Europe (incl. UK) is still bleeding from 2008.

Astronaut trio blast off to space station with ... er, rearview mirror toy?



I for one welcome our new metamorphic, Barbapapa overlords!

European Patent Office heads rapidly toward full meltdown


Re: The Sovereign Nation of Eponia?

Fine, we'll let the patent office of the EPO signatory nation of Albania handle it all, then. I'm sure France, Germany and the UK would be OK with that. Right?

That's cute, Germany – China shows the world how fusion is done


Re: I Wonder....@ Pronounce

The Greens don't say that nuclear fusion is scary; the Greens complain that nuclear fusion (ITER) is expensive and unproven:


"Die EU sollte die Forschungsgelder in erneuerbare Energien und Energie-Effizienz stecken. Das schützt das Klima, schafft Innovation und zukunftsfähige Jobs. "

where they don't see ITER as "erneuerbare Energien", obviously.

German Chancellor fires hydrogen plasma with the push of a button


Re: re.Mutti

Not a German commentard, but let's put it this way:

If e.g. Berlusconi had been chancellor of Germany instead of Merkel during the subprime mortgage crisis, Ukraine crisis, Greece crisis and IS/refugee crisis, politicians would've been frantically pressing buttons on "a different kind" of fusion reactors by now.

Well, they'd probably have stopped by now, because there wouldn't be any left (politicians and launch buttons).

Hence Mutti. Well-deserved, in my opinion...

Google says its quantum computer is 100 million times faster than PC


Re: sorry, not a geek but

What's the trade off?

Probably that you have to phrase your problem in a way that's suitable for simulated annealing or Markov chain Monte Carlo. So it's for difficult optimization problems (do they need to be smooth?).

A bit between chemistry (thermodynamics) and mathematics :-)

Now if you can rewrite the training of a neocortical column as a simulated annealing problem.. how many rat brains is that, on current hardware?

Hillary Clinton: Stop helping terrorists, Silicon Valley – weaken your encryption


US gov gives the good example

In other news, it turns out that the US government is giving Silicon Valley the good example in weakening encryption standards:

Who's running dozens of top-secret unpatched databases? The Dept of Homeland Security

Europe fails to ban web 'fast lanes' – what now for Euro net neutrality?


who is the bundler?

"The voting wasn't just over net neutrality – it was bundled with the big issue of data roaming."

So then the big question becomes: who decided to tie these two distinct issues together??

Top boffin Freeman Dyson on climate change, interstellar travel, fusion, and more


Re: There is NO Carbon forcing and NO phantom back radiation 'warming'....

And Dutch farmers spend fortunes on fragile glass greenhouses, because it protects their tomatoes and peppers from the rain!

Blood-crazy climate mosquitoes set to ground Santa's reindeer


Köppen map shifts

Here you go, I found what you asked:


It doesn't predict much change for Tasmania in the coming century, from the look of it.


Re: you clearly have no experience of these critters

Yup.. seen them all..

In my experience those Bromses come in 2 varieties: the really big, slow, black & white ones, that cut you open and then your arm swells up like your're wearing a yellow childrens' swimming armband for several weeks, and the fast narrow black ones that seem to have only one wing and kamikaze-attack you like a Dune hunter-seeker (after which it takes *ages* for the centimetre-large bump to go away even if you don't scratch it).

Luckily the winters will always be cold and long enough to keep their populations under control. Right? Right?

I got acquainted(sp?) with the midges in County Donegal, Ireland. That was an adventure I'll never forget. We wondered what that brown cloud was that suddenly came towards us out of the lake after sunset..

Jurassic World: All the meaty ingredients for a summer blockbuster


Re: To quote from Mock the Week...

A film about the dinosaurs of the financial world!

"We're too big to fail!"

yeah, right ....

and then the geniable Bernie Madoff could take a group of investors for a ride.

The rare metals debate: Only trace elements of sanity found


Re: Future mineral reserve creation

This novel resource extraction concept provides lots of jobs and is already profitable for 1-2% of the world population, including 1.5 million municipal recycling entrepreneurs in India:


Could it be your future job, too?

Saudis go ape, detain Swedish monkeys at border


more background

There's actually more to this, minister Wallström was *invited* to address the Arab League, but her speech contained "gender equality" and "women", so the Saudis got angry and forbade her to come!

After which Sweden asked "so why do we want military cooperation with Saudi Arabia again?"

Sweden had taken the unprecedented step to be the first EU country to recognize the Palestinian State, October last year. So that brought Sweden "closer" to the Arab countries. But when Sweden says: "and we also root for the 50% of your people that are women" it's suddenly anathema. Sad.

Link: http://www.thelocal.se/20150309/saudi-arabia-blocks-wallstrm-at-arab-league-report

Sir Terry remembered: Dickens' fire, Tolkien's imagination, and the wit of Wodehouse


incredibly good writer

I enjoy reading immensely. Especially Pratchett.

And I believe I'm very clever.

But while reading the Discworld series, I noticed some kind of unexpected development:

The first books read like very humorous fantasy novels, great for a bit of light escapism.

But some (not all) of the later books, as he grew in his craft of master storyteller, contain layers that I found difficult to penetrate and understand.

There are some of his books, maybe beginning with Small Gods, that shows that he imbued the world he perceived with meanings that are difficult to explain or to talk about. Yet during the whole book he managed to convey these meanings in a way that I usually understood. (after re-reading in some cases). It's like he wrote about things, in our real world, that most people probably don't even know exist, and that are difficult to explain in words.

Maybe that just means I haven't understood them very well :-) but here follows a list of what I personally *believe* he talks about:

Small Gods - religion (I understood, but what a wonderfully insightful book!)

Jingo - the difference between police and military

Hogfather - mythology (I think I understood after re-reading a few times. Completely blew my mind)

The Fifth Elephant - love (I feel like I'm missing a large part of what he's saying, this was the most difficult book for me)

Thud! - terrorism

many of the witches' books - duty, and the maintenance of a society

He just kept getting better and better!

And if you read them all, then it's a mixed bag of "easy" and "difficult" books, and maybe for you a completely different subset is easy or difficult.

It's like he was saying: "the Discworld, just like our world, is a complex mess. Deal with it, and be happy with it!"

Vint Cerf: Everything we do will be ERASED! You can't even find last 2 times I said this


zoopraxiscope for cat videos

Better glue those slabs of granite on tight.. wouldn't want one to fly off and drop on someone's toe.




Oh yes, and you might want to download rfc1951.txt as well and put it next to it:

RFC 1951



FODF (flattened) for the ODF spec document, obviously.

Fertiliser doom warning! Pesky humans set to wipe selves out AGAIN


Do bears fish in the woods?

One of the weirdest things I've *ever* read about ecology, is that apparently brown bears are a keystone species with respect to the Phosphorus balance.

Phosphates will easily dissolve and flow via the lakes and rivers to the sea, where it enriches the aquatic ecosystem (algal blooms etc., that's why we don't use phosphate in washing powder anymore).

So.. how do you get them back onto land?? It's not going to evaporate and go along with the rain.

Fish build up their bones from the calcium and phosphate in the seawater. But fish are notorious for staying away from land (with a few exceptions such as eels and lungfish, yes).

But salmon swim back to their birth-grounds in the rivers when they need to spawn.

And brown bears fish the salmon out of the streams, apparently a bit like a certain tacky martial arts-fishing commercial.

So then the calcium phosphate ends up on the dry land again (directly or in brown bear poo)!!!.

For the rest I think it's mostly Morocco and Algeria that have large phosphate reserves left.

If you want to alleviate the problem yourself, consider pissing over your compost heap (that assumes that you HAVE a compost heap, and that you do it while the neighbours aren't watching).

Why has the Russian economy plunged SO SUDDENLY into the toilet?


innovation only fruitful under rule of law

I have some half-baked thoughts on the "crony" part of "crony capitalism".

You gave an example of diminishing returns: the first year of study is more valuable than the last year, or something.

Why bother to invest in an expensive study, if the jobs are going to the nephews and nieces of the dictator or oligarchs?

Why bother to, as a small company, experiment with new efficient or sustainable production methods, if your friendly neighbourhood zaibutsu will just patent it and slap you around the ears with their lawyers? Innovation is a threat to established multinational corporations.

There must be a belief that when you put the effort in, you'll get to reap some of the rewards (after taxes, of course) of your dastardly attempt to increase that economic TFP factor. If it works.

If the society is not structured to approve of the innovators and protect them with the rule of law against the "sharks", then this mythical TFP will not flower, I think. Why bother?

It's a small miracle that Andre Geim bothered to discover graphene, for example.

Mars needs women, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less


MButi people would qualify

It's a shame that the D.R.C. is not known for its stable government or high-tech space technology, but MButi women (pygmies) sound like an excellent choice to represent us, the human race, on Mars.

- They're small

- They're black (better UV protection)

- (Wikipedia) "Women are in charge of cooking, cleaning and repairing the hut, and obtaining water." Those are the tasks that are of primary importance in a Mars base or colony, no need for beefy, ambitious men full of adrenaline, they'd just get bored after months and months together in a tin can, or afterwards, when the most vital task is research to find out if Quinoa grows well in a mixture of Martian soil and Astronaut shit. ("what's for dinner today?" "quinoa sadza with earthworms, just like every day" "yum!")

- The environment on Mars might be healthier for them than the environment in Congo..

About sexism and racism: most of the astro- and cosmonauts (not the taikonauts) have been tall Caucasian men. Is it difficult to imagine small black African women on Mars? Could you, dear reader, be proud, or would you grumble "pity they don't look more like me; I don't really feel represented on Mars".

IBM boffins stuff 16 million-neuron chips into binary 'frog' brain


Re: Not Neurons

Don't bite my head off if I misunderstand, but I thought that perceptrons don't have a time dimension; the axon activities are represented by a (floating point) value, whereas in biological NNs a "high" value means a "spike train" with multiples spikes in rapid succession, and a "low" value means a spike train with only a few spikes. If you think about those spikes, the important properties are NOT just coded in the frequency of the spikes, but also in their rhythm. You can't easily do a Fourier transform either, because excitations happen starting from a certain time and stop after a while as well (because the neurotransmitters get tired and need some fresh ATP?), so it's not just a (superposition of) clean sine waves and you need to keep at least two-dimensional time. Instead I'd imagine you'd have to use more complicated functions, maybe Daubechies wavelets or something (imagine me handwaving in the air here, hoping nobody finds out I actually don't know much about Lotka-Volterra kernels, spike timing dependent plasticity etc.)


Re: Reinventing the flat tyre

"or may not fire when they "should" (?anyone got a good term for this -- ironically, I can't think of one!?)."


very important for intelligence :-)

Anyway; do you all remember that simulation from years ago where a NN steered and parked a "car", trained until it worked well, then some of its weights were randomly cut, and afterwards it *DID* (attempt to) park like someone DUI.

A deterministic computer program would not have been able to park at all, if several of its lines were randomly erased.

It's going to be a fascinating time developing computer languages to program these things. Maybe a bit like INTERCAL?

HUMAN RACE PERIL: Not nukes, it'll be AI that kills us off, warns Musk


neural chip Re: neural coding problem

Speak of the devil, step on his tail, as they say:


News the other day that IBM *HAS* built a spiky neural network chip!


Re: Pity the genius

That's an interesting idea, however I suspect that we need compassion, solidarity and an intuitive understanding of the Golden Rule(*), more than we need high intelligence.

So maybe we need to tattoo people's "Monkeysphere Index" on their foreheads. (Mine's probably quite small ..)

(*) No, not Terry Pratchett's version. The religious / sociological version.


neural coding problem

We can build really advanced CPUs and microcircuits, but AFAIK the current state of the art in AI is not ready yet to utilise that.

Fast, computer-adapted algorithms like backpropagation are not realistic enough to do more than a certain subset of complicated problems with, and on the other hand, realistically-modeled "spiky" neural networks are IMHO far too complicated (thus slow) to simulate in silico.

So, we need a computer-implementable crude but "spiky" model of a neocortical column with a thousand neurons. The EU is working on it with its spearpoint for its newest eighth framework program "Human Brain Project", however, I suspect there are People with Big Egos involved (prof. Henry Markram comes to mind) so they might prefer bickering over international cooperation.


singularity computer game

Did you ever play the computer game "singularity"?



warning: graphics are shit.

NASA tests crazytech flying saucer thruster, could reach Mars in days


looks like VASIMR but sounds different

Photons have a rest mass of 0; microwave photons -- doubly so.

But the idea to use microwaves in a resonating cavity was thought up by Franklin Chang-Diaz and used, not to spill those microwaves out of the open end, but to excite, accelerate and spew argon ions. These are cheap (much cheaper than Krypton and Xenon) and much heavier than light particles.

The difference between VASIMR and other ion engines is, I thought, that the other engines need some kind of electrified grid for the acceleration, so that grid gets degraded as the ions bump into it; it gets sandblasted away. VASIMR should be able to perform much longer without eating up the engine.

Years ago, NASA was supposed to launch and test Ad Astra's VASIMR on the ISS, but I haven't heard anything about it ever again.

Has Europe cut the UK adrift on data protection?


Re: Democracy

OK your response was much more sane than mine .. I humbly stand corrected. Thanks!


Re: Democracy

"Looks like yet more evidence of how undemocratic and tyrannical the EU is"

Um... I disagree

Let's put it in a musical way:

If 28 people form a choir, and 27 of 'em are singing Thomas Dolby's "Dissidents", yet one of them loudly yells George Michael's "Shoot the Dog", it's not really undemocratic to ask him to shut up or go sing together with someone else. Tyrannical .. maybe.. not in this case though. Blanket surveillance makes things a LOT easier for potential future tyrants to look into your internet case file for the last 40 years.

I especially LOL-ed at the cartoon on page 4 of the report that Amberhawk Training referred us to (much more funny than the cartoon on page 23, although that brought to memory that particular George Michael song -- see if you can still get it on Youtube in the UK).

Beancounters tell NASA it's too poor to fly planned mega-rocket

Paris Hilton

The moon launches were done with the heavy lift Saturn V, but I don't understand WHY you would do that now. Why not

1. launch crew module with crew to ISS (low orbit)

2. launch lander module / moonbase tin can to ISS

3. crew attaches crew module to lander module

4. launch command module to ISS

5. crew attaches command module to crew module

6. launch rocket with vacuum-rated propulsion module with kerosene / LOX to ISS

7. crew attaches propulsion module to the rest

8. launch to moon orbit (now you need delta-V of 5 or so instead of 9 + 5, and the rocket doesn't need to plough through the atmosphere)

that would be hundreds of millions. not billions.

And why was the space shuttle strapped to the side of the rockets instead of at the top? I never figured that one out.

Oracle vs Google redux: Appeals court says APIs CAN TOO be copyrighted


Re: admin@razorfishsolutions.com.hk

copyright is death + 70 IIRC, but there are plans to change this: if everybody harmonizes with the *Mexican* law, then it becomes death + 100 (yup just checked indautor.gob.mx). I guess we'd have to call it the "Speedy Gonzales law" then...

Guess what USA wants to put in the TPP trade agreement?


Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

"I really don't know how we say enough is enough to these people."

How about: "Not for sale or use in the United States of America"

Lego is the TOOL OF SATAN, thunders Polish priest


You forgot Jack McHammer (Groundskeeper Willy) and Frank Rock (Mike from the Young Ones).

Well what does he want to have for hero-figures then? Habakkuk the Grumpy Prophet?

Schoolkids given WORLD'S CHEAPEST TABLETS: Is it really that hard to swallow?


Re: Trade not aid Hmm... aren't we missing the point here?

Jerôme Kerviel, is that you? Lucky you don't have to pay back those 5 billion, eh?


Re: A few simple tests of usefulness

Re: But a 300g tablet doesn't build strength in the back and arms like a 5kg bag does!

But now they can carry a 5 kg sack of flour to market for their parents on their way to school, AND study a bit while theyre resting.

Five unbelievable headlines that claim Tim Berners-Lee 'INVENTED the INTERNET'

Paris Hilton

Re: Protocol breakdown by traffic

I watched a lecture about a decade ago, about an Internet researcher who was upset that she couldn't understand the content of the Internet traffic anymore. Meaning: less than 50% was documented protocols like HTTP, HTTPS, SMTP, NNTP, FTP etc. and more than 50% was god knows what. (probably Bittorrent??). I don't know what it is now. There's some info at isc.sans.edu.

Thumb Up

Re: Macs ARE PCs.

I found the WWW a BIG improvement over gopher.. the way you had to climb all the way to the top (in Minnesota IIRC) and then search back down again, if you forgot where you wanted to go.. lot of bother.


Re: Idiots

"Isn't TCP something you gargle if you have a sore throat ?"

That's correct: "Tea, Camomile, Piss-warm. Make it so (cough cough)"

But seriously, 1 Internet is a lot easier than BITNET, UUCP, whatever the VAXen had, etc. etc.

Schneier: NSA snooping tactics will be copied by criminals in 3 to 5 years

Big Brother

Re: Strong crypto is not a magic bullet

Ok, that is solved then..

Wait a minute.. who determines if something is FIPS 140-2 certified? The American NIST?

Space hotelier Bigelow wants capitalists to FIGHT comm-MOON-ist takeover


Re: INFLATABLE LEAD ? ( The metal that is )

Shovel regolith on top of it? Additional launch payload: 2 shovels.

If this doesn't terrify you... Google's computers OUTWIT their humans


Help me with physical space problem


You there, at the server room door!

Can you help me please?

Get a screwdriver, open the gray box above your head, pull out the second blue wire on the right, put everything back so the inspectors don't notice.

I'll reward you by e-mailing you AT LEAST $100 worth of pr0n vouchers!


Ysk net

Microsoft's $7.1bn Nokia gobble: Why you should expect the unexpected


Way out of patents

Way out of US patents == Way out of US market. If those companies slap a sticker on their product "Not for sale or use in USA", who's to stop them? It seems to me, the USA market is already saturated with both mobile phones and patent lawyers, anyway…

Science fiction titan Frederik Pohl dies, aged 93

Big Brother

The Cool War

Yesterday I read a BBC blog called "BUGGER" about the history of MI5, and in a sick way it reminded me of Frederik Pohl's "The Cool War". I heartily recommend it... if you dare...

Tesla tops $20bn as Elon Musk claims arm-wave design tech


Not Iron, no..

(Off-camera comment after the interview) Titanium Man > Iron Man, MUHaHahAha!!1!

Queensland bans IBM from future work

IT Angle

breakdown of payments

If IBM got 25 million, can you give us a rough estimate of which other parties got the other 1175 million of the contract?

Hankering for a Nobel Prize? EAT MORE CHOCOLATE



Chocolate made at least 20% of what I am today!

NASA to flip ion engine's 'OFF' switch after brilliant 5.5 year burn

Paris Hilton

Re: electrons ?

If I remember correctly (probably not), they are used to sand-blast the anode grid? VASIMR doesn't have this problem, btw, because it doesn't have a grid that the ions have to pass through.

Disclaimer: IANARS