Older blog entries for maphew (starting at number 7)

Hi Y'all, just wanted to let everybody know there is a really good discussion on The Edge right now. It's called "One Half of a Manifesto" (~100k) and written by Jason Lanier.

My favourite byte to chew on:

... Turing's mistake was that he assumed that the only explanation for a successful computer entrant would be that the computer had become elevated in some way; by becoming smarter, more human. There is another, equally valid explanation of a winning computer, however, which is that the human had become less intelligent, less human-like.

An official Turing Test is held every year, and while the substantial cash prize has not been claimed by a program as yet, it will certainly be won sometime in the coming years. My view is that this event is distracting everyone from the real Turing Tests that are already being won. Real, though miniature, Turing Tests are happening all the time, every day, whenever a person puts up with stupid computer software.

(emphasis mine)

Oh, and don't head over there until you have a good block of time so you can think about the ideas, and also read the extensive Reality Club response (274k) which is arguable more interesting than the article itself.

Enjoy, I know I am.

mojotoad: What if there was a (wonderful) VCR that automatically filtered the commercials?

I'm told the Panasonic VS-9670 is such a beast. I think there are others as well. And then there's TiVo.

...answering here because I didn't feel it was appropriate to fragment the discussion on the front page.


Viruses are yucky. We just got hit with VBS/LOVE this morning. Aren't we just sooo lucky that ISB decided NT and Exchange were the corporate standard? And McAffee as the AV Guardian-At-The-Gate?

McAffee is moving to a completely online version of security. The way it's supposed to work is: an ActiveX/Java-enabled web browser connects to their site, grabs the latest virus definition files & (java) scanning engine, disinfects local computer. A wonderful idea for ensuring you *always* have the latest version.

But what happens when X Million users all get hit at once? You're dead in the water, that's what. I been trying for over an hour to get through on McAffee's site to find a love-fix that will integrate nicely with our setup. I've now managed to navigate through 3 whole pages. What progress eh?

Anyway, F-Prot came through as usual though their site is pretty bogged too, so here is a mirror for those of you who happen to be stuck in the same situation I am.

the problem with names I can sure empathize with this one. Professionally, I'm Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tech. So I called my first attempt at my own business "Perigee". Perigee is the word used to describe the point in the moon's orbit where it is closest to earth. I thought a GIS company named "closest to earth" was pretty cool synthesis of my work and the word's meaning. Unfortunately, nobody I encountered knew what the hell it was, or if they did they thought I was trying to capitlize on Apogee Ltd. or Inc. or ...)'s popularity. yuk. So I chose an even worse name: "patawi", shamelessly pilfered from Sanskrit and spelt like it sounds. It means earth. After explaining that away a few thousand times I gave (but not wised) it up as a business name. Then I got the bright idea of mixing my and my SO names up to produce Tammik, which appears to be a popular last name in estonian.

I'm still explaining the name with every new encounter, but I've stopped trying to generate the "right name". One of these days I'll spring wake up at 3am and it'll be there. Or so I've been telling myself for the last 3 years anyway. :)

I really like des' idea of a dual trust metric.

meat space
Like jwz, I thought my teeth and I had a mutual non-aggression pact. Like all alliances though, things are subject to change and treachery. The sappers have been busy undermining the castle walls. Four of the perfidious bastards got yanked last friday and I'm very happy to report that my experience was much less horrific than Jamie's. A word of advice though, even if it doesn't hurt (much), don't yap too much on your first day back at work; my jaw hurt worse this morning than it did the day after.

weird thing happening with the preview code: <a href="http://advogato.org/person/somebody"> turned into <a href="http://advogato.org/advogato.org/person/somebody">

The Great Certification Name Debate

To my mind, a Guru is more accomplished than than a Master. Most anybody can master their craft given a suitable number of years and hours of practice or devotion. Very few have the wherewithal to become a Guru no matter how much they try. Think Allah, Christ, Buddha, Gloosecap, Confucius, etc. You are not likely to meet or work with a Guru, but your great great grandparent/child may.

A [some term I've not identified yet, use Wizard for now] floats somewhere between Master and Guru, and maybe even above and below both levels of accomplishment. Shakespeare, Leonardo, Miyamoto Musashi, Darwin, Newton. There are more Wizards than Gurus and it's conceivable that you could know and work with one.

They are a very great number of Masters and in all likelihood you will become one if you stay in the same place for enough years (a decade or two). You are pretty much guaranteed the opportunity to work with and befriend masters.

Adept is the most suitable alternative term to the emotionally charged Journeyman and the different meaning Journeyer. In most trades, it takes four to seven years of five days a week, both school and practical work experience, to become an Adept. Adepts are probably a better souce of practical day to day learning than masters because they are easy to find and the gap between their understanding and yours is not so great.

Initiate may be a more suitable term than Apprentice and Novice which are even more emotionally laden with subtext than Journeyman but for entirely different reasons.* An Initiate intends to become an Adept or a Master eventually.

Observer should be Dilettante. Or perhaps Dilettante should be it's own category, yes, that's the way I see it. A Dilettante is somebody who plays around with the craft but has no (serious) intentions of ever becoming truly adept or masterful. An Observer is curious and hangs about just to take in the atmosphere and get a feel for the goings on.

* Nobody wants to be inexperienced or ignorant or uninformed. That is unfortunate. It is -precisely- in the areas where we are foolish and ignorant that we have the most potential for growth and power. An electrician friend (a journeyman btw, 3 yrs school, 10 years experience) put it nicely:

"I look for the places where I feel the most stupid and that's where I hang out. It's there that I really learn things."
This friend is becoming quite accomplished in a variety of areas and is a true physical hacker. If it's made out of metal, wires or wood he can adapt (note the similarity to adept) and form it to fit his needs. If he can't find it, he builds it. Trucks, cars, houses, tools. They are all putty in a constant state of transformation in his hands.

Anyway, the point is, the whole reason for this diary entry is, being a babe in the woods is not something to be ashamed of or a state to get rid of as quickly as possible. It is a place to play in and fully explore. 'Be ye as a child' and all that. The secondary point is, it takes time and hard work to become really skillful at a craft. There is no shame in not having that skill yet.


Look for where you are stupid and hang around in it.

for the record, a Dilettante.

Given the current story on stupid error messages, I think this is an appropriate time to bring up the Coy perl module which replaces standard error messages with runtime generated Haiku error messages:


Too bad I hardly ever use perl. ;-)

Just read the old stories on Conglomerate. Competent/experienced developers, please check it out. This is one tool I want to see flourish.

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