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.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
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.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
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
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
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.
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.
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):
- Physical reality (as is), which leads to:
- Physics, man's capacity to model physical reality using:
- (Physical) Mathematics, which is described by:
- (Logical) Mathematics, which is based on the pillars of:
- Logic, which is __________
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
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.
Although there is no lack of new games coming out, i find myself coming back to playing the same games. Lately, I've started to play starcraft and counterstrike again. Despite supposedly "better" RTS (real time strategy) and FPS (first person shooter) games out there, I still prefer playing those two. Yes I have tried Warcraft 3 and CS:Source, but for some reason, they aren't as enjoyable. Maybe I'm just experiencing nostalgia?
Then again, most of the games I see coming out seem to be re-hashes of the same type of game. I'm not only talking about the series such as the Final Fantasy games, but almost all games that are coming out today in general. So many games are just a newer, better looking FPS, or a generic RPG with a battle system similar to what has been seen for 15 years. Looking at the games coming out in the near future (IGN), a lot either seem to be sequels, look alikes, or a game based on the lastest movie. There are some new innovative games coming out, such as Spore, but like I touched on in a previous post, many companies don't want to take the risk of trying to do something unsuccessful. But just by looking at the list of games coming out, so many just seem to advertise as being a next flight sim, RPG, RTS, FPS or whatever gets them a secured profit. Maybe that is why I don't have an interest in many new games anymore.
Maybe I'll just have to wait for Duke Nukem Forever to come out. Guess I'll just play starcraft and CS until then. Time to construct some additional pylons.
China is setting the launch date for her first spacewalk flight in 2008.
The shuttle Shenzhou VII is set to launch in 2008, but with no specific date. However, promise has been made that the safety of the astronauts will be placed first. Scientists deny the claim that the launch will coincide with the 2008 Olympics.
China's space program has seen the launch of several unmanned flights as well as the first manned flight in 2003. China is one of three nations to develop manned spaceflight independently, after USA and Russia. The three astronauts aboard Shenzhou VII are scheduled to orbit Earth for up to 5 days and perform extra-vehicle (EV) activities. This will be the third manned spaceflight and another notch on the belt for the Chinese space program.
Microsoft recently released their newest, slickest, Vista-ready version of their office productivity suite, imaginatively dubbed "Office 2007." I got my hands on a copy recently, and I must say, it is very slick. Most of you have probably heard about this wonderful new ribbon menu system, so I won't belabor it here. But kudos to Microsoft for this cool idea. Time will tell if it's a useful cool idea.
But I do have some minor gripes with the new MS Word: the default font was set at 11 pt Calibri. Calibri is one of several of Microsoft's very pretty-looking "Longhorn Fonts" (which I had acquired two years ago). But Calibri is not a suitable font for essays... or any serious document for that matter. It's like Arial - it burns the eyes to read.
Another gripe I had with it was the paragraph spacing. For some reason, the default is set to add 10 points spacing between your paragraphs. I suppose that's fine for some types of documents, but I don't appreciate it as a default. So finally I moved my lazy ass to find out how to change it. It's very simple:
Just click on the icons that I circled, and up will pop a dialog box that will allow you to change the default font, etc. Hope that helps.
Thursday, March 1, 2007
One of the shortcuts that I use all the time in Firefox is the "wp" feature. I type in "wp" (without the quotes) in the address bar followed by a space, and then followed by whatever query I want, and it automatically takes me to the Wikipedia page for the query (or a search page, if the query yielded no results).
But it turns out that there are a lot of these shortcuts -- and you can even configure your own! This website shows you the ones that are built in (such as dictionary, wikipedia, google, urban slang dictionary), and shows you how to add your own. My favorite is the ability to right click on any search engine text box and select "Add keyword for this search". You can go bonkers with it.
I just learn new things about firefox everyday.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
I stumbled across http://www.hamaddarwish.com/content/index_2.html; this is the website of the photographer hired by Microsoft to create all their pretty, pretty backgrounds in their newest operating system, Vista. Well, apparently a lot of his shots did not make the cut so he has kindly released them, in a very high resolution (1920x1200) format for our use and delight. And I must say, if these pictures are that great, how great are the ones going to be in Windows Vista? Or maybe Microsoft just doesn't know quality.
Anyways, I couldn't decide which one to set as my desktop background (there's a lot). And they're all very pretty. So I wondered, is there a program that allows me to cycle my wallpapers periodically, like a slideshow? And lo and behold, a Google search for "Wallpaper Cycler" yields this fruitful result: http://www.tucows.com/preview/291538(Wallpaper Cycler Lite) which does just the job.
So enjoy the combination of the two!
Friday, February 16, 2007
Even though the lastest high-tech developements are always interesting, the small advances in common technology are also important. With things like vista coming out, its easy to forget that the majority of people aren't up to that level yet.
So what about the common person, or even under-priveledged people? The One Laptop per Child program is interesting in its aim. Instead of trying to be the fastest and costing ridiculous sums, it provides an affordable option for kids to learn. "The OLPC Foundation mission is to stimulate local grassroots initiatives designed to enhance and sustain over time the effectiveness of XO laptops as learning tools for children living in lesser-developed countries."
What would be interesting is if this type of initiative could be taken for the lesser-developed in general. Instead of creating a computer with lots of options and features that people who can barely use a computer will not be able to operate, why not create a computer with only the essentials? This will create much more affordable prices for those who are having a hard time buying a new computer, yet the computer will still be able to perform needed actions.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
The entire physics community is pretty excited these days, but it just seems that this excitement is only prevalent in that community. I suppose that's to be expected -- after all, why does it matter to non-physicists?
What is this excitement all about, anyways? I speak of the near-completed Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland. It is a monumental addition to the existing CERN particle collider that has served as the forefront of particle physics research for a good half century now. Places like CERN have produced an amazing amount of good experimental research that have propelled the frontier of physics ever forward. Experimental verification of quantum theory, the electroweak theory, and most impressively the Standard Model have all come out of particle colliders.
I suppose the question could be extended to all this: why do huge, multibillion dollar projects that do nothing but smash infinitesimally small particles matter to anybody? It seems like a very, very large and expensive toy for a physicist, doesn't it?
The core reason is because we have generally reached the upper limit with our current particle accelerators -- they can only accelerate particles to a certain energy level and the results we get cannot answer the burning questions of physics anymore. It seems like a paradox, that it takes higher and higher energy levels to probe deeper and deeper into the world of the small -- so small, in fact, that quantum mechanics is an inadequate description of this world.
The most intriguing area of physics, in my opinion (some physicists will disagree), is string theory. It is also the most tenuous area of physics -- because it is so theoretical (and in the words of my friend, Benedikt Riedel: so full of bullshit) and mathematical we do not know if any of it is "true" (in the sense of experimental evidence). The fact is, there is not a single piece of evidence supporting string theory -- and physicists have been working on modern string theory for the past twenty years. But what has been keeping them going is its sheer mathematical elegance. Can something be so elegant that it has to be true? Certainly, many physicists think so.
But the LHC is the reason why many physicists are starting to place bets now -- because they're hoping with the awesome level of energy that is attainable with this machine, it can start to shed some light on the most fundamental questions of physics today. For example, physicists are eagerly awaiting the experiment to test the existence of the fabled Higgs Boson. Of all the particles predicted by the Standard Model, the Higgs Boson is the only one that remains unidentified by experiments. The Standard Model has proved its success and versatility with everything else so far. The Higgs Boson is, simply, the particle hypothesized to give everything a property of mass (for everything that has mass, of course). That's pretty big stuff. Can you imagine that without this particle, nothing would have mass?
Hopefully, too, some aspects of string theory can be tested. That would re-instill a much needed sense of purpose, direction, and excitement in the field of high energy physics. And some deep, fundamental questions about the fabric of reality and its constituency could be answered.
We all know about YouTube and have benefited from the hours of entertaining video selection on the site. Of course with an upload network such as YouTube's, it is only natural that people would post copyrighted material on the site. The fight against piracy has been ongoing for almost a century now. I still remember the day when Napster was brought down over the piracy issue. And now, it seems that YouTube is facing some of the same problems. YouTube was ordered to remove 100,000 illegal videos and asked to put up more stringent filtering system against copyrighted material.
The problem with piracy is that in the internet age of today, it is near impossible to stop the spread and open access of these information. However, due to the pressure of large corporations - i.e. Disney, Time Warner, Sony, NBC, etc. - YouTube is putting up an effort to stop the uploading of copyrighted material. Of course, YouTube says they don't have the necessary technology and the major corporations say YouTube isn't using the available technology. So the question in this epic battle is will copyright technology be able to keep up with the ever growing network of file sharing?
Thursday, February 8, 2007
More money than ever before is being spent on research. We have more resources to work with to due to better computing speeds and techniques. Yet why is it that the majority of new products coming out are just small improvements on past ideas? We see the fighting over HD-DVD versus Blu-Ray, both of which advertise better resolution, graphics, and data capacity, but not much else... Ever since the iPod made mp3 players popular, many companies have tried to duplicate that success with their own. Yet the iPod itself was not new, as mp3 players had been around for a while. Windows Vista has just come out, but for the most part, it has just improved on many of XP's functions. Of the newest games many are rehashes. So are the game systems. Many of the big companies are fine with just beating the dead horse.
However, there is still ground being made. Quantum Computing is making its debut. Artificial Intelligence is becoming more and more prominent (see previous post). Nanotechnology research is definitely progress. The wii shows some originality.
The question is whether our generation is for actual progress, or will the stagnation over come us? Join me in taking a brief outlook at different fields (coming soon).
Friday, February 2, 2007
We've all heard about it on the news and we've all read about it on various forums and sites. Microsoft has taken 5 years to release their latest operating system - Vista.
As an employee of Best Buy, I am glad to say that we have had a glimpse of the many features included in the brand new package.
Major works have been done in turns of user interface, rendering the desktop much more aesthetically appealing to the average user. The new Aero interface generates a glass-like look which simulates depth and gives you a better idea of what's going on with your other windows. Another cool feature that has been implemented is that alt+tab provides live view of your applications, even the videos.
Browsing has been made a lot easier, search feature improved and some new features in terms of viewing options. Folders now give you a glimpse of the various files contained within for better browsing. Live icons give you an idea of the file content rather than generic icons. Start menu has been made to be more compact, no more annoying window sized "all programs" bars. I have to admit, I like the ease of browsing under the new windows.
Ready Boost is one of the cool features in addition. We've all had experience tweaking the settings of windows to boot faster for our needs. Who wants to wait 30 seconds for windows to boot up? Microsoft has designed Vista with ready boost buttons which will focus on certain programs when booting up and ignoring peripheral applications. for example, if you use ready boost to start up media center, it will load up media center before other programs, giving you much faster boot times.
Security underwent some changes. There's better control over program installation. For the price of windows asking you to confirm every action you take, you get the convenience of a spyware free computer. I suppose that the security of Vista will be tested in the upcoming months. I'll have my fingers crossed.
There has been a new feature in terms of Battery Management for laptop users.
Packaging has been changed up a little for better merchandising. Vista comes in four editions - Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate.
Home Basic - it's the skeleton of Windows Vista. It meets the basic needs of the average computer user, internet, email, etc. (lacks features such as Aero)
Home Premium - Home Basics with specialization in media center. Essentially it is for the younger generations. More dedicated towards videos, music, entertainment. One cool feature is the compatibility of Vista with TiVo for extra storage space.
Business - The name explains it all. Dedicated to small to medium sized business owners and has better security features. Other features that aid business owners are applications such as meeting place, think of it as skype.
Ultimate - The whole package. It has all the features listed above.
Much higher system requirements:
Premium package(minimum requirements):
1 GHz processor
1 GB RAM
128 MBs video card
40 GB harddrive with 15 GB free
This almost reminds me of the latest trend in video games, focus on graphic upgrades. Anyone heard of the move towards Counterstrike: Source? It has greater graphic demands so of course the big companies are going to be reeling in some more moolah. If you want Vista to run smoothly, I would recommend getting above those requirements.
Conclusion: I was fairly impressed with the changes Microsoft has done to their system. Definitely a viable upgrade in the future. I'm not quite ready to do major upgrades to my system yet. However, the required hardware are not so outlandish in today's computer industry, so it is definitely a consideration. There ARE some features which resemble OS X from Apple, but it wouldn't be the first time competing companies have imitated each other's products. But Vista includes features beyond those features and should be given consideration.
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Wikipedia says of "Hamath":
Hama is a city that is located on the Orontes in Syria, north of the city of Homs.That's how we open our introduction to the Hamath blogger, which has nothing to do with the city "located on the Orontes in Syria." Simply, Hamath is the juxtaposition of HAM and Mathematics, and HAM is an acronym for Henry, Abel and Mike.
Once upon a time HAM used to be HAM Computers. We promised the friendly citizens of Tustin cheap, reliable and skillful computer repair/construction.
But now HAM combines with our love of Mathematics -- because that is how the three of us were bonded together originally -- to form Hamath, a blog of science, technology, and interesting tidbits we find interesting. It is as much for readers as it is for us; through Hamath we hope to learn and appreciate the ever-accelerating frontier of science, and bring that frontier to you.
We hope you find our blog posts interesting. Also, this blog isn't just a one-way channel of information; we think of it as two avenues of conversation between you and us. So feel free to add your thoughts and comments, to build a forum of discussion.
Project Hoshimi looks extremely interesting; it's a programming competition to develop AI code to control a bunch of nano-bots in the quest to cure a human body. Of course this is all virtual, these nano-bots are only video-game entities -- but I would like to say that the AI code is very real. The informational session for Project Hoshimi at USC is at 5:00 tonight, and I think I'm going to attend (and hopefully take part in this competition).
In addition, Project Hoshimi is apparently an international competition, with finals in Korea and prizes of $8,000. So if you think you've got the smarts and hacks to create an intelligent nano-bot immune system, join in!
I haven't taken a deep look at the details of Project Hoshimi, but I'm pretty sure the coding will involve techniques from flocking-AI. In other words, the approach for this will be trying to get some overall intelligent behavior from an aggregate of relatively stupid constituents. For example, have you ever noticed a flock of birds flying around? As a whole, the flock seems to be fairly intelligent. It doesn't "run" into telephone poles, the birds seem to know how to separate and rejoin around the pole. But when you look at each individual bird, they're pretty dumb. They only know two things: don't fly into things, and try to maintain a constant distance from all your other bird-mates. When you put a lot of these agents together, you get flocking behavior.
Flocking agents are pretty low on the ladder of AI complexity, but it does serve as a basis for complex intelligence as emergent from the large sum of simple agents. I have a belief that real intelligence (human-like intelligence) can be constructed from smaller parts. What's complex is not the constituents themselves, but the interactions between them. In physical terms, we already know that's how the brain functions: it's just millions and billions of neurons that only know one thing: fire if the signal reaches a certain threshold.
I don't propose that we try to emulate the brain by building the electronic equivalent of neurons, but we should examine, in more detail, emergent properties from interacting agents. A rigorous system of mathematics to describe such dynamic networks would be indispensible towards constructing "true AI."
Follow up on Hoshimi: After attending the informational meeting I am really excited about Project Hoshimi. Apparently it is sponsored by Microsoft (which explains why it only works with .NET languages), but people with no coding experience can take part too -- there's three modes, Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert Mode. The first two require no coding experience, and give you a really flexible and powerful user interface to control the AI of the nanobots. The Expert mode gives you the tools to write your own AI code, which is really cool too. So I encourage all of you to take part at least in Round 1 of the Hoshimi competition, you have until sometime in March to pass a really simple, simple test.