Monday, February 28, 2011

A new semester

Well a new semester has started and the subjects I'm doing include Maths and Philosophy (not to be confused with psychology).

Here's what they give for maths.

[Maths] gives you mathematical tools and understanding which will both enhance your appreciation of your world, and also improve your chances of solving problems in your chosen career.

And here's what they say for philosophy.

Psychologists know that human thinkers make a surprising number of mistakes in their reasoning. This course is an opportunity to encounter, enjoy and lament these mistakes as they crop up in publicity, politics, public debates and personal relationships. We will introduce techniques from logic for analysing the ways in which people reason. (We won't, however, be using any symbols of the kind we use in our stage one formal logic course.) We will explore what it means to say that some methods of reasoning are better than others. This in turn should equip us to spot the predictable errors made by others and to avoid making them ourselves. Such skills are invaluable when interpreting texts, constructing arguments for and against controversial positions, writing essays and reports and thinking clearly.

This should be an interesting year hopefully.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Sorry, haven't been posting for a bit. Been busy with other things.

Christchurch's recent earthquake has made that day the darkest in NZ history.
But one thing that come out of it was that we no longer had to do the census forms.
Our family has donated $300 to it.

I've tried to install Mac OS X Lion on my MacBook Pro but no go. Probably torrented the wrong version or something. Oh well, still reformatted and going to restore. Nothing like fresh installation to keep your system up in good condition.

One more thing, been watching some of these videos. It's so fascinating and addicting how these crimes were done.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

british humor

I love British humor. I remember growing up with Mr Bean. And right now I've decided to rewatch Hot Fuzz and The IT Crowd.

Damn that chick in the IT Crowd is hot!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

the darkest day

Another earthquake hit Christchurch, NZ. It was much shallower this time than the one in September. In other words it was closer to the surface and cause lots more damage. Deaths have been confirmed. 65 with more to be found.

My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Christchurch.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

domain seziure

Anybody else really scared about the domain seizures?

At first there was the seizure of a long list of domains selling actual counterfeit goods. Also included was bittorrent meta search engine (a search engine that searches other search engines). The seizure of this site, TorrentFinder, was concerning as it did have and copyrighted files. Rather it linked to sites, which linked to files, which may link to copyrighted files.

These seizures are part of a US government (ICE, DOJ) operation called "Operation In Our Sites" and they target .com domain names.

In another similar operation "“Operation Save Our Children" (btw don't you just love that name? The genius is that no one can oppose it without being branded a child abuser). In this operation domains of sites related to child porn were seized. I'm not too sure why they were seized because I'm sure any reputable DNS provider would drop the domains if they were alerted to the nature of these sites by the Feds. Also, distribution of child porn is a crime. These people aren't going to have public facing websites but rather a darknet comprised of topsites, hidden irc servers, Tor, etc.

But the most concerning thing is that 84,000 domains were seized but these were from a free DNS provider. With these service providers you get a name eg. and point it to an ip of say a private minecraft server. People who use these free dns services are individuals working on a personal websites or very small businesses who want a name for free. Well all these domains were seized and then a banner was placed accusing them of child porn crimes. That is the worst thing that a person in this day and age can be accused of - and this would have scared and shocked the owners and users of these websites.

Why is the government so incompetent with technology?

Thursday, February 17, 2011


"I for one welcome our new computer overloads"

Is anyone else scared the computers will take over / have been taking over.

I mean the Google is probably the closest thing yet. It can predict our preferences in entertainment and even our health!

And now machines can speak our language (Watson).

(social) Media

Social media can also depress you like news media.

What happens is on social network sites people post shit that puts them in a flattering light - something that makes them look good - pics, status updates, etc. Other people read this and compare that person's life to their own and they feel less happy than the other person. Over time this can make a person feel depressed.

But hey its just facebook drama. No need to take it all seriously.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

(news) Media

The world really isn't scary. But the news media will tell you otherwise.

News became crap after it was tied to profits. Suddenly it was in the company's financial interest to get as many eyeball as possible.

Attention grabbing headlines and shocking news reports are a few techniques they use. These invoke the feeling of fear inside us. We evolved to be highly susceptible to fear otherwise we would have died easily due to predators lurking about.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011



It's the game show where an answer is given: "The Father of Our Country; he didn't really chop down a cherry tree" and a short question is to be given by the contestant: "Who is George Washington?" So this involves using language, understanding and knowledge to get the solution.

IBM took the challenge of making a computer system that could compete, like a human player, in this game. It's called WATSON. It sits like a contestant and gets its input as a text file and processes it itself - no outside internet access or human intervention. And the results were amazing.

This brings an interesting question. What does it mean to understand something? Right now what WATSON is doing is looking all the word in the answer given up in its database and assigning a probabilty to the correct question. Outside the system it looks like the system understands it. But imagine WATSON played Jeopardy! in Chinese. And imagine instead of a computer running the program it was a non-chinese speaking person running the program by hand. It takes in Chinese characters as input, processes it by hand according to the program, and outputs Chinese. Would you say that the human understood Chinese?

Sunday, February 13, 2011


this bit is a bit related to the previous posts.
"Scarcity is what drives economics, and when you have people distributing products for free it creates this huge supply which will drive prices lower, so it's in their best interests to keep their products scarce." - Zoe

This is what happened at the turn of the 20th century in 1900. People were working in factories to produce stuff that people bought to improve their livelihoods. Machinery was getting more and more efficient at that time meaning that people would have to work less and less hours to meet the demand for products by consumers. Business owners saw this as a bad thing as that would mean they would loose power. Introducing the Gospel Of Consumption. Techniques have been used to create new needs in consumers causing more and more products to be made thus keeping business leaders in power.

Their tool of choice? Advertising.

A wise man once said "advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. "

Saturday, February 12, 2011


woot! The Egyptians have did it. 18 days of protests starting from Jan 25 and ending Feb 11 and Mubarak has gone! Right now the military is fulling in as the government until a formal democratic election is organized - a first for Egypt. Sweet sweet democracy.

Egypt was once ruled, like all nations, by king and queen. At the end of that however, democracy didn't come - rather a military dictatorship has been in place with Mubarak as the president. And he alone has ruled Egypt for 30years.

And now a bit about al Qaeda.

Egyptians have played key leadership roles within al Qaeda since its foundation. Three in particular -- Ayman al Zawahiri, Mohammed Atef, and Abu Ubaidah al-Banshiri -- helped radicalize Osama Bin Laden, turning him against Arab regimes.

The radicalism of these Egyptians stemmed in no small part from the brutal repressive techniques of the Mubarak era.

It is no accident that many of the radical ideologues al Qaeda has turned to for guidance have also been Egyptian.

Human rights organizations allege that human rights abuses, and even torture, have become routine under Mubarak's rule. The simmering anger that results risks another generation being similarly radicalized.

But now that Mubarak is out, the world will be a better place now that these people are no longer repressed and thus don't have drive themselves to terrorism.

I'll end on two videos:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ps3, btw

This will be the last post in this series I swear.

So what will happen when we no longer have to slave away all day to make money in order to having a living.

We're going to have a lot of free time. This will free us to do better things. This phenomenon is called cognitive surplus. It is going to make the world a better place. The internet has given us great things and allowed us to do amazing things.

LOLCATS. These are images with text superimposed on it. These are created and shared for their entertainment value - and its done for free. This is one result of having cognitive surplus.

There is also other things that people do as a result of cognitive surplus and that is to help other people through the internet. Ushahidi is a platform that allows web users to share information to make a better world. It was used to map incidents of violents after the 2008 Kenyan elections.

During the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake web users made maps which were then used by rescue workers on the ground to locate survivors.

Map mashups were also used in the 2011 UK student protest to avoid running into police kettles (traps) and in Egypt to document protests hotspots.

These can help make a better world for us all.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

PS2, btw

Last post was fascinating so I think I'll add a little more on that. Technology has deskilled many professions so that we don't have to pay others for their expertise as much. For example I didn't have to pay anyone to get this site up and running. With things like Linux, Apache, Wordpress you can get your own site running too - using open source software you gain the benefits of a large number of programmers working on the code with out actually having to pay them for it.

"its already hit, tho i don't really believe that basic necessities will be provided for free, this has been happening in third world countries, and thus keeping them third world countries" - kal

I think you mistake this for something else, other third world countries as given free supplies to keep them dependent on the supporting company. Give a man a fish v teach a man to fish. Here people will be given the necessities for living for free because there are no or not enough jobs - they've all been deskilled, automated or made redundant. Though I do believe that with this free time we will have we can improve the livelihood of others.

But yeah it's great to see a lot of agreement on this and seeing the US and UK perspective on this.

they've gotten rid of electronic checkouts in some places here in the US, takes peoples jobs away. - James

This is a very interesting approach in order to delay the inevitable.

Not just the check outs but entire grocery stores will be made redundant after this takes off.

BTW do you know why RIAA and MPAA sue people so much over mere music and movies? It's because creativity is the last strong hold for the american economy. From this post (404'd google cache) it says 'Scarcity is what drives economics'. RIAA and MPAA are trying to enforce that scarcity. They want you to ignore the fact that this content can be pirated free over the internet.

If you'll bear with me on this I have just one more post to say on this matter.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

PS, btw

Post Scarcity is something that fascinates me.

The world's manufacturing is being done in places like China. Call centres and IT services are being outsourced to India.

Right now the jobs we do are in the service industry. We operate checkouts in supermarkets or we made works of art or write software for example. For these jobs, we get money.

Technology is going to make these jobs irrelavent, redundant, or unprofitable. Checkouts? replace them with machines. Works of art or software? pirate it. And people don't make money when these happen.

What is money used for anyway? Above all, it is for the basics for survival.

When post scarcity hits, we wont' have money and as a result, all the basics of survival will be provided for free and you are free to spend your time doing something that you really love now that you don't have work to survive.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


The Chinese use chopsticks to eat. They are a pair of sticks of the same length, both manipulated with one hand. They say the chopstick is the extension of the finger and thus much more harmonious with the surrounding environment unlike the knife and fork which is all about cutting and stabbing.

But hey, they ain't go anything on the spork:

reader feedback: what do you use to eat?

Friday, February 4, 2011


Evolutionary homosexuality doesn't make sense. I mean, if you were gay you wouldn't have the desire to reproduce. Evolution favors traits that aid reproduction, and being gay clearly doesn't do that.

It turns out that if you are gay then you mother would have a 'man-loving' gene. This makes your mother have more sex with your father creating more children thus ensuring survival of the species.

Unfortunately this gene is sometimes passed down to the child, thus causing homosexuality.

So yes there is a gay gene, and no homosexuality is not a choice.

woot! evolution!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Oh Canada. You really think people these days can survive on a 25GB cap? What will all that media, 'cloud computing', socialisation, news that now takes place online? Oh you crazy - and thats why its scary.

As time passes technology suppose to make things cheaper and more efficient. Why are you adding caps now? Why are you suddenly going backwards? The best part is that according to many internet companies it costs as little as $0.01 to transfer 1 GB. Remember, you're not transferring physical items, but rather electrons instead.

Of course data caps on broadband is something we deal with here in Australia and New Zealand, the difference is that we're in the middle of the fuckin' ocean! What's your excuse Canada? Oh and the broadband situation in AU and NZ is going to get better over time, not worse:

What I don't like about this whole thing is how something as essential as broadband is provided by companies who puts profits above everything else. Broadband should be provided by the government just like water service, sewer service and roads. Or the other option is to treat them as power companies and heavily regulate them.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

the matrix

I really like this TED talk:

The stone. They were a popular tool during the Stone Ages. Simple to make and use, just sharpen it and then you use it for whatever (say cutting or chopping). One person can understand how to make the whole stone tool.

But we don't use stone to interact with the world. These days we use electronic devices. These are much more complicated than mere stone tools. Not one person knows how to make the whole thing. In the case of iPhone someone knows how to extract oil, someone else knows how to turn that into plastic, someone else knows how to prepare circuit boards and silicon ships, someone knows how to program the chips and the list goes on and on.

Things like iPhone are possible because someone wrote the processes down, these processes are shared and the come together to make great things. As a result, humanity progresses. Just look at how far we've come!

Thats when I realised, we're living in the fuckin' matrix! We use all these tools and equipment to make life easier, but we don't know how they work exactly or how they're made. It's like a fake reality to us - the ability to use and control what we don't entirely understand. Stone tools were easy to understand, but iPhones? mind-blowing. How do iPhones work? But most importantly...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Apple Inc is the second largest company in the world in terms of market capitalization.

It is now among the ranks of oil companies.

The difference? The world runs on oil, not just for transportation but plastic packaging etc. The world doesn't need to be run on apple products.

Each purchase of an apple product is the result of a deliberate choice on the consumer's part. Unlike say Microsoft products which powers many businesses and schools.