Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Twenty muses

There exists a beloved wicker that lies above the edge of the sea. Foamy mist, congregating in deep swarms of vivid red, hues of green, dense folliage that covers the night, it is all very alone. Idiotic men, jumping jacks and lumbering lulls all come out to witness the spectacle, that is, the spectacle of the kindred.

There is no solution. Inevitably, there would be a giant largess that triapsed across the ages, across time, to the final destination of love. Perhaps it would be some sort of mental masturbation that pleased the eye, inner eye, but therapeutic treatment is a non-logism.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What the hell isn't Google doing?

So recently, it seems google is coming out with endless new projects, and endless rumors to these projects. In recent history, after the search engine came out, they have created a myriad of projects like Gmail, Google Messenger, Google Earth AND Sky, Google News and whatnot. Google has also bought youtube, is not working with Blogger, and still has more projects rumored to come about. So why are they doing all of this?

Sources say that these projects result of employees being allowed to work on their own projects. Then the question arises, why does Google allow employees to work on these. It might be that google wants employees to enjoy their work. That is very likely to be a part of it. However, it seems the logical conclusion is google wants to be in on the next big thing. After the search engine, google hasn't exactly put out another project that can caught on like the search engine did. In allowing employees to work on individual projects, google is increasing their chances to creating "the next big thing."

However, there might be another reason behind all of this. Google appears to be trying to keep its image as a groundbreaker, and a pathfinder. Despite any huge hits other than the search engine, Google's stock has still risen. By buying youtube, and continuing with other new projects, Google's reputation stays where it is, and such confidence helps it stock. News such as google employees 1 dollar salaries only help boost consumer confidence.

Alas, these are all guesses. The only real question is what will come next.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Innovation in harddrive technology

I decided to do a little research on the current hard drive technology after my previous article, and guess what I found. It turns out that Fujitsu has already promised better storage technology. Though the basics of recording upon a spinning disk through magnetism hasn't changed, Fujitsu has promised a hard drive with much greater density than previous models. The process used, "patterned media", enables the storage of data upon more densely packed tracks. In the future, Fujitsu is aiming to create 13mm nanoholes which would allow up to 4TB per square inch of data storage.

At the same time, another issue that arises with the increase in storage - retrieval. Yet again, Fujitsu has made innovations in the field. The main improvement in data transfer speed is the revolution per minute (rpm) of the disk. Fujitsu boasts about their new hard drive - the MHW2 BJ series - which is capable of 7,200 rpm whereas Toshiba's, the current leader, only runs at a mere 4,200 rpm. Transmission speed is said to be boosted up to 300 Mbps.

With greater storing capacity in smaller physical unit combined with faster retrieval speed, there is great hope for the future. I myself would like to see some truly innovative technology advances, such as new method of storage or a new storage unit.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The information age

IDC estimated that last year the world generated 161 exabytes, or 161 billion Gigabytes of data. This is including both originally produced data as well as replicated data. Regardless of the data type, this poses the question - how are we going to store all this data? It is estimated that by the year 2010, we will be incapable of producing sufficient storage to keep all the data that will have been generated by then.

The year 2010 does not seem nearly so far away. That is a mere 3 years ahead in our future. Compared to the energy crises and oil crises that are estimated to climax around 2050 or so, 2010 seems just a blink away. Well, what are we going to do about this upcoming issue?

Several possible solutions:
1. Better storage units - innovation from the traditional hard drives
2. Master copy of data - maintaining only one master copy of data allows replications to be deleted when not needed
3. Deletion of old data

Personally, I am hoping for the first of the three. I feel that when the need arises, companies will naturally seek out new and better ways of storing data. With ever improving nanotechnology as well as miniaturization of computer components such as CPU's, I believe that we will be able to find more efficient methods of storage for data as well.

wikipedia trends

This wikipedia chart shows what the most popular articles on wikipedia for certain time periods. Aside from the huge number of sex-related topics, the chart shows very interesting trends in what is popular for a given period of time. Looking at past months, we can almost track what happened just by looking at the most popular pages. For example in the February 2007 list, Anna Nicole Smith spiked in popularity as an article after her shocking death. The Battle of Thermopylae is also popular due to the movie 300 coming out.

At some point we have studied things like Carbon-14 dating, but with things like this, we can almost create a timeline of culture. It'd be interesting to look back and say 50 years and look at things like this and have a record to popular interest of people at any given time. Combining information like this along with TV ratings and other charts of public viewing would allow us to remember the past better than ever before. Yet just how much would the internet let us see?

Privacy has always been a concern on the internet. Who knows who is watching what you type or surf while you are on? Many companies are monitoring for harmless purposes, like wikipedia is. However, many more are monitoring to advertise or other purposes. The question is what information should be availiable or what should be kept secret-and how.

Until then, I wholehearted support keeping information like wikipedia is keeping-not individual specfics, but a broad overview. Sites like google of course have been and will continue to do so.

Imagining the Universe

I've always wondered what would happen aliens suddenly came to Earth, and then, as an ultimatum, declared that humanity would be spared if and only if one human was taken and put in some kind of stasis field for eternity -- literally forever. What that one person would see would be an endless white expanse, so he/she would have nothing to but to sit and think. Forever. And I always imagined what would happen if that person was me.

That's kind of a disturbing thought, to be trapped like that, with nothing to do. It's sort of a childish flight of fancy (but quite intriguing to think about, I have to admit), but these days I've been sort of using this as the foundation for a thought experiment.

Recently, I've come across several articles aluding to the possibility that mathematics, the traditional abstract, ideal, removed-from-the-universe branch of science, was actually just another observational science, like astronomy or biology. Now that's preposterous, you say. Mathematics is one of those lofty pillars of human thought that transcend observation and experimentation -- a truth of mathematics is immortal and can be derived independently of any physical observation, right?

This brings up the question of "What is derivation?" Plato believed that mathematical objects already "exist" (in that realm of universals), and we are merely observing "instances" of these ideal objects. So are we truly discovering mathematical truths when we prove something? Or are we simply observing what is already there in the universe?

Mathematicians like to believe that there is some special, unique faculty of humans that allows for that jump of insight, that flash of intuition that leads them to epiphanies about the mathematical universe. Most junior-high students taking plane geometry will tell you it's damn hard to figure out proofs. Indeed, to come up with a logical pathway to some truth in question seems like the act of creativity, which we believe to be a quality unique to humans. It's that feeling that humans are being creative that leads to the conclusion that, indeed, humans are creating mathematics. Proving a conjecture is as much a process of creation as painting.

My thought experiment: would this man, stuck in eternity with nothing but his logical faculties intact, be able to derive -- no, create -- all of mathematics? And from there would he be able to formulate the laws of physics exactly as they are in our universe? He would become a God, in a sense, creating the universe in his mind.

The idealist in me says "yes." I (wish to) believe this because I like the idea of the universe's existence being contingent only on the rules of physics, those being contigent on the rules of mathematics, and those being contingent on the irrevocable laws of logic. In other words, the universe is ideally perfect.

But it is hard to believe that this is so. Much of our mathematics comes from physical observations. We hear of Greek mathematicians (such as Pythagoras) verifying the now-irrefutable laws of triangles and geometry by scratching very precise diagrams in sand. Newton invented a branch of mathematics dealing with infinitesimal sums and limits to explain the cosmos. It seems that for most of history, mathematics has been tailored to the beck and call of physics.

(Slight digression: I wrote Newton "invented" calculus. The subtle question here is: did he really? Or did he merely "observe" the process of calculus taking place in the universe, and put it together in a conceptual framework that humans can understand?)

It is only a recent development of mathematics (past 2-3 centuries), it seems, to deal with the incredibly abstract that have no direct connection to physical reality, such as number theory. Number theory is a sort of a "meta-mathematics" - a formalized logic system to verify the validity of mathematics itself. Can you really call it mathematics? Perhaps we should really divide mathematics into two camps: mathematics used to describe and model physical reality, and the mathematics used to describe the first. It seems that one is yet another framework attempting to model the previous one.

So here we have sort of a hierarchy (top-down):

  1. Physical reality (as is), which leads to:
  2. Physics, man's capacity to model physical reality using:
  3. (Physical) Mathematics, which is described by:
  4. (Logical) Mathematics, which is based on the pillars of:
  5. Logic, which is __________
Thus far in history, the cause-and-effect of the development of the branches of science and mathematics has been top-down: observing the cosmos led to physics which led to development of physical mathematics which inspired mathematicians to create logical mathematics which is inspiring computer scientists and mathematicians alike to-day to ponder the foundations of logic.

My question is: in the universe, is the hierarchy reversed? In other words, does simply having the foundations of logic give growth to everything else?

More to come in Imagining the Universe, Part 2

Monday, March 5, 2007

Microsoft not up to par on anti-virus software

It is truly surprising that one of the biggest names in the computer industry, Microsoft, fails time after time to improve the security of its software. Microsoft's OneCare Program finishes last in a test done by AV-Comparatives. OneCare failed to live up to the standards of other anti-virus programs in the categories - viruses, macros, worms and scripts; backdoors, trojans, and other malware. OneCare received the worst score of 17 other tested softwares.

Launched in May 2006 with the intention of beefing up Win XP's security, the software has been trailing behind other commercial softwares and quite frankly has not been able to catch up. The program was launched in numerous countries following the release of Vista, aiming to tighten up the security holes of Vista. Despite Microsoft's advertisement of much improved security in Vista, there are apparently still flaws. With OneCare's poor test results, it would be wise to think twice before deciding upon yet another Microsoft product.