6 Oct 2002 Bram   » (Master)

movement: I suggest you view recentlog with a threshold greater than the default of 3, and rate diaries which are better than trolls but not what you want to read ratings somewhere between 3 and whatever threshold you set.

Circuit Complexity

Here's a page on circuit complexity. If only it used programming terminology instead of math notation I'd probably understand all of it.

I have a conjecture that given 2*k lists of n strings, each of them a small multiple of lg(n) long, the question of whether it's possible to select exactly one string from each list and have their xor be all zero has O(n^(2*k)) circuit complexity and O(n^k) real complexity, give or take a few log(n)s. The faster algorithm is to make a set of all sums from the first k lists, and do look-ups for all sums in the second k lists. This is a very well-behaved tradeoff between time and memory - it exactly matches the lower bound implied by the circuit complexity.

If proven, this conjecture would imply that P != NP, which suggests that it's very hard to prove, but it does have a very approachable feel. I think the people searching for proofs than P = NP is undecideable are being far too pessimistic.

Computers

My new computer is now working with the pre-installed Windows XP. XP detects all the peripherals properly, and has a useable command line, so I'll probably leave it this way. The user interface differences are interesting. XP now has lots of mouseover highlighting, which is nice, but still has far too little pre-installed, and the pre-installed windows media player and musicmatch are garbage, I'm using winamp.

Sadly, most windows application UIs have gotten worse since I last used them. Mirc's new server dialog should be a huge improvement but instead makes logging into multiple servers a UI disaster, and it still doesn't have a decent custom widget for displaying chat. X-chat is way ahead of it in many regards, but mirc does have the very nice feature of grouping channels you're on by server and alphabetizing them, the as-opened ordering in x-chat is ridiculous. Mozilla should open new tabs in the position after the current one instead of at the end.

Paint Shop Pro's usability has gone retrograde in a major way. They seem to be trying to compete with Photoshop, instead of being happy in the quick and easy but serviceable niche for people like me who have no aspirations of becoming graphic artists.

All the ftp clients have become almost unuseable. The only one left which lets you just say 'put this file here' is, ironically, WinSCP, presumably because they haven't spent enough time destroying its UI yet.

Command line CVS, surprise surprise, didn't seem to work at all, and there aren't even any decent help pages left on it. TortoiseCVS is quite good though, I'm happy with it.

But all of those pale in importance to stability problems. Under Windows, peripherals generally just work, which is wonderful. But the CD auto-play is flaky and refuses to work even when configured properly. And there's some bug in windows explorer which causes it to occasionally turn the whole screen gray which I have to control-alt-delete to get out of. Qwerty/Dvorak conversion continues to be a complete disaster. The converter is even harder to find than before, and still changes each process individually instead of system-wide, a behavior I can't even imagine wanting as a special feature, much less default behavior.

Thankfully I'm behind a firewall and never going to use outlook on this machine, so the biggest security concerns aren't a big deal, but I do worry about the multiple chat clients I've got running. Security's a big problem on everything though.

Conclusion - I still hate computers. OS wars continue to be a competition of who has fewer unacceptable deficiencies.

I can't complain about what the hardware people have done though - the new machine redraws graphics almost instantly, even in mozilla, and that's by far the most pratical difference for me.

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