Older blog entries for kholmes (starting at number 6)

I hate applications in web browsers. If I had my way, I wouldn't use the web.

Sometimes my GNOME desktop does funny things. Like once, I logged in and nothing happened--no panel, no desktop icons. Then I got desktop icons, but no panel.

I think that desktops should be stable. So I'll find a way of dislodging GNOME from my startup and stick with sawfish (we need less lisps--one size fits all).

The usual answer is to report a bug. The kicker is that the bugs have to be reproducable. What hope is there for stable software with this requirement? Functional programming using formal methods of proving correctness? Code audits? I have a better idea. I'll just draw windows and dialogue boxes on the screen of my computer. Afterall, I only use computers to fit in with everyone else. :)

Right now I am reading "Atlas Shrugged" by Rand. So far, its been an entertaining read.

Reading "The Future of Ideas: the fate of the commons in a connected world" by Lawrence Lessig. Probably has summed up all the political problems that many in this community are concerned about. The increasing power of copyright. The DMCA. DeCSS. Lots of stuff like that. And he seems to be able to express this stuff eloquently. Sometimes dramatically but the drama is right on target.

The only problem I see is this book seems to be for people who aren't already aware of the issues. But who, of these people, would read the book?

He, overall, feels that the problem is that these legal problems will stifle our culture. And I think thats not too far from the truth.

I haven't finished the book yet, in fact, I haven't been able read the book cover-to-cover. I just skip through it until I see some topic I find interesting.

On the side I am having a conversation on gnu-friends where I argue that Episode I was very weak. I even made the statement that most Star Wars films are a step backwards for our culture. Whoops :)

If I was smart, I would stop posting to online forums altogether. I have this strange gift of stepping on all the mines. I'm not trolling either since I really feel the way I do.

But I'm not that smart.


Well...I'm playing with emacs again. Its not the editor I like but its potential that fascinates me. And Lisp, by many opinions I've read online, is the subjectively best programminig language out there. I guess Paul Graham's advocacy did me in. Still looking to order ANSI Common Lisp when I get the money together.

But personally, I'd like an editor with a bit more eyecandy.

In response to this diary thread that I seemed to have picked up on, there is something I've been wanting to say for a while about the what you may say is the "Linus Torvald's philosophy" which I don't really consider a philosophy.

One thing that has always bothered me about getting into technology was how people involved with technology were seen by others. Its not the perception that bothered me-- what concerned me was how much reality there was behind it. The perception is that technologists are the pawns of society while someone else leads the show. As someone who has deep value for my independence and autonomy, this bothers me.

So what do I see when investigate this "Linux" thing? I see a movement of software lead by a large collaborative group of hackers. And it almost seems that this movement has a motive--a real goal.

On further inspection, it turns out there are two barely compatible sides of this community of hackers. One side, the Open Source Movement tries its best to be as accomidating as possible to the needs of society. Success is measured in popularity. The point is to legitimize the "hacker culture" to the popular media.

The other side is called the Free Software Movement. This is a social movement that works toward a goal--an ideal of ethics and freedom with regards to software.

So it should be obvious which side I take seriously. And everytime I hear a programmer say that software is only a tool, I see someone who has accepted their position as a tool of society. Since if their only goal with what they create is to be well used and to amuse themselves, then what other purpose can they serve?

And thats why I don't regard Linus Torvalds as highly as many people do. He tells us to write software to amuse ourselves, not for any more lofty goal. He wrote a popular kernal and has had his face on Forbes magazine. These things don't matter to me. And he even offends me at times when he says to us, more or less, that us technologists should be happy with the way things are. And if any of the many national governments or large corporations do anything we consider unethical or wrong, that leaves us left to making fun of them on slashdot or on internet mailing list. Because thats the fun thing to do. At least thats my interpretation of some of his public comments.

Now, I don't mean any disrespect on Linus Torvalds. But some people are so public that it is very difficult to not have an opinion on them. This is my opinion.

I promise...I won't speak any more on this subject since it is well used up. On other notes, I am still trying to figure out what the various orbital elements mean. I think I might go major in Astronomy rather than CS since it seems to have a lighter course load. Although I consider myself intelligent, it seems I have a difficult time staying on task. Now I just need to find a school....

tk, disciplined thinking is difficult and is somthing I strive for. Bologna thinking is not intentional but a learning experience.

"Indeed, one often brings in intuition to obtain wisdom, but intuition can at the most help to ask questions; only the rules of logical deduction can answer these questions."

So you agree with me. It almost sounded like you were raising an objection.

"Wait a minute... why then do I find people writing about the Tao of Programming?"

I've learned better than to say absolutes like "all" especially when I am not entirely convinced by my own thoughts.

But, you're right, my thoughts need more chewing before I can make beef from bologna.

I know my diary entries are intermittent but so is my life. Thanks to badvogato for a very questionable certification.

On God

Really, I don't intend on arguing against the existance of God. There are perhaps as many spoken unrational arguments for the existance of God as there are spoken unrational arguments against his existance. And lately, I have concluded that little true wisdom can be percieved from logic alone. As Spock once said "Logic is only the beginning of wisdom, not the end." Wise man for a vulcan.

However, a conclusion on God's existance isn't needed to wonder why people believe in God. Since there is no proof and no real evidence for him, why do so many cherish this belief? And that is why I said that is just one other common dilusion that we as humans invoke. It answers many of our philosophical wonderings--which it seems just as much to human nature.

It seems that perhaps the most devout (if this word has any true meaning here) atheists are materialists and can't believe in a God since they, by definition, don't believe in spirit. Also, it seems that many of these materialists exist here in the hacker and technical cultures since it is the material world that we spend so much of our time with. And it is harder to believe in spirit when you learn of the magic computers bring are really the products of the material world--of electrons flowing through semiconductors, forming logic gates which provide the basis of further and further abstractions. In fact, it is the materialists who most believe in artificial intelligence (pardon the vague use of "believe") since they believe that human intelligence can also be taken apart just as a computer can be built.

In my last paper in English I wrote how I believed that artificial intelligence was possible with computers and how I thought that computers are universal machines. I no longer hold that view. Because while some believe that the nature of computers are numbers and the on/off nature of Boolean values, some more thought leads me to believe that the nature of today's computers is symbolism. Because while in the material world digital signals rise and drop to certain levels, it is we humans who interpret these signals as one's and zeros. In fact, there can be no real computation without programmers to hold within their minds what these symbols represent. That is why we need programmers and is why computers can't really program themselves.

But imagine a computer capable of symbolism. It simply boggles my mind. But I believe that intelligence requires the ability to symbolize and therefore AI with computers isn't possible. Not that I'm an expert or anything.


Heh. Not trying to parrellelize "On God" with "On RMS" or anything, BTW.

But I can't understand how people can expect someone as fiercely individual and independent as Stallman to submit his will to a more collective will. That is the very nature of compromise and it is what people are asking of him. People talk of dividing the community as a bad thing. While, there are pros and cons--there is one release- critical bug in the community as I see it is an unproven theorem of "popular, therefore good". And that is why most people here seem to be after. They want more users, they want businesses to use the software they create. When people speak of user interface policy--I can only think that its the noncommercial form of marketing. Since it seems that a nice interface is whatever interface that will draw the most users.

Let me point at a different goal. "Whatever allows me to do what I want to do is good." Extend this philosophy to a community of users and developers and you get Unix and you get Emacs. You get a flexible environment to achieve your own goal.

The thing is that humans are not very sophisticated. Most of us will only use a computer as a fancy typewriter, arcade machine, or messaging device. But for the rest of us who have sophisticated needs, we have almost everything we need to meet them needs. This is what attracts me to free software.

But I have to say the Stallman's ideals have been very influential to me. The concept that software should be free is a very challenging philosophy to understand. I am still uncertain on its validity. If anyone wishes, I can elaborate.

Badvogato, while it should be natural to question why so many men and women believe in God given the unreasonableness of presuming His existance, it turns out-- no surprise--that a belief in God has nothing to do with logic. Rather, God is a disallusionment from reality.

Atheists should not be so quick to snicker, however, as I believe disallutionation are the very nature of being human. Every single religion reveals a disallusion in how they feel connected to the universe, how they believe that they are able to be pure and noble, that they have a purpose, that if they are virtuous they will live forever, and that life has a meaning. Even atheists, I believe, must choose their own fantasy to live on whether it is that technological achievements can bring about global prosperity, that humans are noble, gentle creatures, or that they can make a difference in the world by will alone.

We do the same thing all the time in smaller ways when we root for the underdog, when we walk into a casino, and when we believe in ourselves, and often when we decide to go to school. When we take on political tasks, such as joining the military, voting in an election, writing our congressmen, or discussing politics. We believe in a reality that doesn't quite fit into an entirely material world. And is thus, unprovable.

As an athiest, I did not suddenly decide not to believe in God by reason alone. It just kind of happened one day when I questioned pure evil.

(sorry for my spelling and grammatical problems)

Just as I thought that advogato had few people who comment on articles, someone writes an article on user interfaces and everyone responds. I actually thought I was bored on the subject of UI but the article by hp really breaks new ground for me and I thank him for the article.

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