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Three Tiers of Mind

November 11th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Society | #
This is a long piece but one I've been thinking through for a long time.  I've come gradually to see people as being in one of three Tiers when it comes to their motivations, mindset, and ability to make things happen.  Before I begin, I want to make clear that this is not about one group of people being better than another.  It is also not a relative scale or spectrum; the conditions for each group are discrete.  There is no in-between.  It's how you think and are motivated most deep down, not how you want to be or what you portray outwardly.  Lastly, these are mindsets, not people.  It has nothing to do with social status, quality of character, etc.  For sake of discussion, we assume everyone is well-intentioned, honest, and overall good people.  

This topic can be easily misconstrued as judgmental or arrogant, but it’s important to see that I am not saying people should be one way or another, just that there exists the dynamic...[More]
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Microsoft Word Now Spellchecks Writing Style

November 6th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
I normally run my stuff through spellcheck just to check for quick errors.  The other day I had about 100, all for "readability" and "conciseness" under the pretense of grammatical errors.  What?

Here are some of the examples:
"perhaps as a result of..." => "perhaps because of"
"the only thing they really have is the past" => "the only thing they have is the past"
"it's absolutely essential that..." => "it's essential that..."
"someone who says their ultimate goal is to..." => "someone who says their goal is to..."

The biggest issue here is none of those phrases are actually grammatically incorrect (MS Word just corrected what I said to "actually grammatically incorrect").  It's someone's opinion on how I should write, and it actually changes the meaning of what I'm saying.  That is pretty ridiculous.  Sure, I can strip out every adverb and adjective from my writing, but that would make for some pretty dry and boring - sorry, some pretty dry and boring - literature.

The sad part is people learning to write for the first time would likely trust the spellcheck to clean up all "errors" in their writing.  It's not an error to say more than you have to to make a point.
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Shaping Dreams

November 5th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
Some let the world shape their dreams.  Others let their dreams shape the world.
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Unlimited Clean Energy From Solar Winds

October 29th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Ideas | #
From what I've been able to read so far, it seems there's enough energy right at the edge of our atmosphere to power the entire planet for free.  The energy comes in the form of charged particles from the sun called solar wind, which is much more energy rich than what makes it past the Earth's magnetic field to our ground-based solar panels.  It is what you see responsible for phenomena like the northern lights (aurora borealis).  Our atmosphere shields us from harmful radiation, likewise reducing a lot of this to just the sunlight you feel on Earth, but if you go outside the atmosphere, it is practically unlimited energy, free for the taking.  This could be collected through a sail, kite, or even just a regular conductor (at the ionosphere just before space, it's pretty close to actual electricity) with no worries of pollution or detriment to the environment.  What I'm surprised about is there hasn't been more interest to reach it, as it seems like such a land grab.

The main problem I read about is the practicality of transporting the energy back to Earth, as much of it can be lost if you try to just beam it or conduct it through a massively long wire.  If we go further out than near space to collect from the solar wind directly, that problem becomes even larger; the distance grows from perhaps just 50 miles to now on the order of thousands of miles.  It seems to me a silly problem though if you really are able to collect that much energy; surely you can spare just a tiny bit of that energy to power whatever it takes to bring the load back to Earth.  According to some articles such as, every 200 sqft of collection could power a thousand homes, which is more than enough for a city or two if you just send roughly a closet-sized sail into space.  If you stay at near-space to collect the ionized form instead of going all the way into space itself, the collection area can be smaller as it is closer to just raw electricity that you can tap into.  What probably wasn't in consideration before was the means of storing the energy at large enough capacity and transporting the energy in loads, rather than trying to shoot it back to Earth.  What's exciting to me though is that it seems Elon Musk might have similar ideas here with his almost perfectly arranged trio of companies focused on space (SpaceX), battery efficiency (Tesla), and solar energy (SolarCity - not solar wind collection but close enough); you could almost see Musk one day deciding to merge SpaceX and Tesla as well to then build spaceships and space stations powered directly by the sun without ever having to refuel back on Earth.  The storage and transportation problem almost seems like it'll solve itself over time as clean energy technology gets better.

An interesting proof of concept might be to set up a weather balloon or lightning rocket to first tap into the charged particles concentrated at near space and send it back to a lightning rod or tower back on the ground.  It's not the full utilization of all the energy up there, but it's still a massive amount of energy that would be useful to power a city or two, especially if it's free.  It's also fun to imagine a city with a super long kite in the sky causing man-made lightning to continuously strike the center to keep it powered.  Perhaps one day we can figure out how to generate lightning without the trailing wire.

What would...[More]
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It Only Takes One

October 22nd, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
If you drop a book a thousand times and just one of those times it doesn't fall, then that is the one datapoint worth looking at. (inspired from "I Origins")
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God's Flashlight

September 20th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Ideas | #
This is also available as the first chapter of the book on Amazon.

I was thinking about light the other day and how we only see a very narrow part of the spectrum (visible light).  A funny thought came to mind that if we were able to see higher-energy light like x-rays, we would actually not be able to see most of the world, first because there aren't enough x-rays but second because even if there were a lot of x-rays, it'd go through most things on Earth, so we'd only see the densest matter like bone and rock.  In other words, something with x-ray vision wouldn't be able to see our flesh and blood.  They might think creatures like us have telepathy or telekinesis because the parts of us that connect our bones or contain our vital processes are invisible.  And then something with even higher-energy vision, such as gamma rays, wouldn't be able to see us at all.  The whole time we think we are living in daytime, to these creatures, it would be pitch-black night.  Such a creature would likely have to be made of extremely dense matter to not only survive but actually thrive in an environment of high-energy light, where it is normal to constantly be bombarded by the likes of x-rays and gamma rays.  They would likely be so dense they probably wouldn't even notice if they passed right through the softer materials they couldn't see; they'd literally walk right through us and not flinch.  It gets difficult to speculate any further on such a universe from this angle.  Just trying to picture a creature made of lead or mercury is too out there.

But what if we took this in the opposite direction instead? What if there were creatures that could see much lower-energy light than us? We already know that some creatures have what we dub night vision, in that when it's dark to us due to the lack of visible light, these creatures can still see, and some do this by using the infrared spectrum which is lower in energy than visible light but more abundant in their environment.  The best example is the bottom of the ocean, where it's pitch-black to us, yet there are whole ecosystems of creatures that live and see in this darkness via other spectrums of light.  The most interesting part is both our previous points about higher-energy creatures fit right in.  Just as x-rays see through our flesh and blood, our visible light often sees right through their skins into their internal organs and probably even harms them.  In fact, one of the biggest critiques of our ocean explorations is that we so carelessly shine our flashlights on all the deep sea creatures without realizing that we are literally burning their eyes out.  The second point about density is also spot on.  Some deep sea creatures, such as the blobfish, are actually made up of matter less dense than the water they're swimming in.  Suddenly, all this speculation is becoming eerily less farfetched.

What if we...[More]
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Free Will from Determinism

September 11th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Ideas | #
Free will can arise from a deterministic universe, just as life arises from the inanimate, just as infinite arises from the finite.  The same numbers that compute finite values can compute infinity, the same atoms that create inanimate matter can create life, and the same laws of physics that lead to cause-and-effect can lead to free-willed agents on the stage that is fate.
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The True Potential of Ripple and XRP

September 3rd, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Ideas | #
"Anything can be traded, issued, and sent in real time anywhere in the world."

Note: This post is my own recollection from 2013, when there were only a handful of cryptocurrencies (before even Ethereum existed).  Most the points made here, however, can be applied to blockchain in general as a high level of what the technology really capable of.

     I first heard of Ripple and its cryptocurrency token XRP back in 2013.  At the time, it was obscure but considered one of the more promising alternatives to Bitcoin.  Not only did it reduce Bitcoin's minutes-to-hours settlement time to mere seconds, it allowed anyone to create new symbols to represent practically anything - new currencies, companies, debt, even countries or people - anything - with just a few mouse clicks.  Just like that, your new symbol was then tradable 24/7 by anyone with its value determined completely by the free market.  Ripple was not just a currency; it was literally a global decentralized exchange.  Already there were symbols to represent the US dollar, the Euro, gold, even other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, and just like the base currency XRP, these could all be traded or sent within seconds.  On top of that, the technology did not require mining, meaning the energy costs of the millions of computers crunching computations to maintain Bitcoin would be unnecessary.  Best of all, the technology was already done and live.  Anyone could create an account on the Ripple website and use this functionality firsthand.

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Removing 30-Min Video Limit in Sony Cameras

August 31st, 2016 | Posted by pftq in 42 | #
For some reason, newer cameras (for me, the Sony RX100 IV) have this built-in 30 min limit to any video.  The supposed explanation is that companies don't want the camera to get categorized as camcorders which get extra import tax, but it's crazy to think that the camera I had back in 2009 could do more video recording than any camera I could get today.

Luckily this is all software, and at least for the Sony cameras like the RX100, you can run this hack here that would remove the limit:

The hack itself might be getting dated though as you need Internet Explorer to run it.
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A Company with No Customers or Employees

August 19th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Ideas | #
    The single greatest achievement of the Autodidactic I project is not its endeavor in autonomous trading.  It's much more subtle than that.  Autodidactic I itself has become a self-sustaining and autonomous company with no customers, products, or employees.
     Think about that for a moment.  This is a company that will grow and generate revenue year after year completely on its own with no work done anywhere by any human being.  It is completely independent to the world.  It doesn't need to sell anything to anyone.  It doesn't need anyone to work in the company to keep it going.  It neither takes from nor gives to society.  It simply exists, its members benefiting from a fully automated revenue stream that requires absolutely no human input.  It is an Island, an off-the-grid company, dependent on nothing and beholden to no one.
     In the past, people would dream of "living off the fat of the land" or moving to some place isolated from society to be completely free.  That idea is much more metaphorical than literal today due to the near inescapable globalization and the ever-increasing scarcity of land.  You can still buy a piece of land and try to live off only what you grow, but you would pretty much live at the mercy of quite literally the rest of society changing the world around you, always running away rather than truly holding your own.  During the late 1800s and early 1900s, industrialists pursued this idea with a different approach by attempting to build utopias out of corporate towns, where the company both funded and owned every property in the city and quite literally the city itself (see what Disney World was meant to be before Walt died).  The problem is that these companies themselves still depended on the rest of the world as well as on their employees.  When demand for Pullman's products dropped in the panic of 1893, for example, both the company and its town fell apart.  When cultures clashed and people disagreed with how Ford saw life should be, Fordlandia crumbled before it even began.  The closest thing to a success (and closest in spirit to what we later are trying to do here) may be Oppenheimer's Los Alamos, which doubled as both a vibrant community of scientists and a place with unlimited resources dedicated to nuclear research, but that ultimately only existed for the war.  The utopias were an illusion because the prosperity required ideal (or in the case of WW2, need-driven) conditions and the cooperation of the employees keeping them running.
     Autodidactic I completely uproots these past views of what's possible in creating a company as well as what it means to be completely free and unbounded by the rest of the world.  First, it eliminates the constraints and dependencies of past examples by not having any products or customers to tie it to the outside economy and then by not having any employees on which it relies on to keep it running.  Everything is automated and all revenue is generated from within on the sheer merit of the underlying AI.  If you've ever read science fiction novels by Asimov or Clarke about cities or societies maintained entirely by fully autonomous AI with no human intervention, the concept is similar here in that it's been running for over 4 years now untouched, perhaps not yet to the scale of managing cities but enough to allow members of the company to focus on anything except the money making aspect.  That aspect at the moment manifests as trading, which in itself embeds a degree of independence.  Unlike traditional customer-serving companies, nothing anyone else does or thinks has any effect.  There is no one whose decision you must win or consent you must earn.  It is a modern-day version of farming, in that what we create for ourselves is done completely on our own with no reliance or ask of anyone else (or in this case, anyone at all).  This cascades into a number of other effects.  For one, the company no longer has to be geographically tied to any one location because there are no physical offices, retail spaces, nothing.  All automation is run online and distributed around the world.  The humans meanwhile can be anywhere at any time and have absolutely no impact on the operations of the company.  The Island and City have become metaphorical.  The independence from the rest of the world no longer requires physical isolation.  This is already a step beyond the previously mentioned ideas of the past that would tie one down geographically, but we can actually go further.  Not only does one no longer need to stay in any particular place, one no longer has to do anything at all to create or maintain the structure.  Your freedom is in both where you want to spend your time and what you want to spend your time on.  It goes all the way.  It is everywhere you go and everything you do.  You can continue to live a normal life in a normal city if you choose, or you can be a free spirit and travel the world (and one day the universe).  That's really who this is for - the adventurer who wants to keep exploring, creating, and doing things that have never been done before.  This is the ship with which such a person can set sail.  It's not about changing society or affecting the masses - and by far not about replacing companies in general - but instead about the fact that we have a new kind of company that's never existed before, never could exist before, and it's exciting to imagine what could come of it.
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What No One Else Wants

August 18th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
Why put effort into something no one else wants? Because I want it. Is your life dream just to serve everyone else?
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Leap Motion on NuVision Windows Tablet

August 8th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
It's insane that this $99 8-inch NuVision tablet can run full Windows and even has enough power for VR / Leap Motion, yet there's virtually no marketing or talk about it.  The only place that sells this is the brick-and-mortar Microsoft Store, and literally the two times I went, the demo was always sitting off to the side powered off.  You can't even find this to buy online even if you wanted to.  Leave it to Microsoft to fumble the marketing on their own products.

Obviously this is not powerful enough for any serious gaming or production work, but if you just need a computer around for basic office, demoing, or media (it even has HDMI output), it's pretty useful and dirt cheap for what it can do.

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More Projectors and Standing Desks

August 7th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
Some more fun with projectors and standing desks... Not as massive as the last one but a more spacious setup for production work.  The desktop PC is pretty much the fastest components you can get as of now crammed into a Node 202 case you can carry in one hand.  The standing desks are a modded (removed shelves/back-panel for room to hold PC) Techni Mobili and Quiklok.  Virtual Reality is especially fun with this set-up using a Leap Motion, but it seems these days that people are more obsessed with boxing themselves in via a headset than seeing it blown up on the big screen.

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Time of Night

July 24th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
The music was playing faster, yet the tempo was the same as before. No, in the dead of night, time was just moving faster. Asleep and awake becoming one and the same.
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Stretch of Mind

July 9th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
Your body can only stretch so far, but your mind can stretch forever.
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Butterfly at the Windowsill

June 30th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
A butterfly lay dead at my windowsill this morning, inside, having been unable to escape to the world just beyond the glass.
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Ambiguity of Race

June 30th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
     This is a funny thing that's dogged me since I was a child, but for whatever reason, people often seem to have a really hard time identifying my ethnicity by my appearance.  I've had people who were the same ethnicity as me literally tick off every race they could think of except their own race, of which I was the same, despite having known me for years.  I guess it doesn't help that my last name is one of the rarest in the world, and it is all the more ironic that it actually translates to "nobody" in the original language.*

     Just the other day though, someone completely off the streets of NYC just bumped into me and actually tried to speak Spanish to me first before switching to English (spoilers, I'm neither Spanish nor Mexican).  That was a surprise even to me (and perhaps to the other guy as well who kept talking for 5 min before realizing I didn't understand a word he was saying).  It's one thing for someone who's known me for years not to know we were the same ethnicity.  It's a whole new level for a complete stranger who is not the same ethnicity to mistake me as one of their own.

     It's not even like I'm mixed heritage or anything.  Both my parents are straight up full-blooded natives from their home country, the same country.  Maybe it comes from the way I grew up.  For one, I'm not religious nor do I have any cultural traditions.  It doesn't mean I just do whatever though or that I'm atheist, just that I'm agnostic about a lot of things and adopt what makes sense to me.  The irony is that people who are white or Americanized would frequently think I'm not Western enough, and people who are not would constantly accuse me of being white-washed.  I get criticized for being too conservative in the way I live my life, yet those same people then say I'm way too crazy and risk-taking in my endeavors.  Maybe I'm just the only normal person left (note: sarcasm - apparently it's too much to assume people have context clues now - also sarcasm).

     The funniest part is people often think I have an accent, but I grew up with and can only speak English.  I mean, it'd make sense if I had another primary language that I was more proficient at, but if you take away my one and only language, then uhm... I mean, what else can I say?

* I get always get people who are skeptical on this point, but I've had complete strangers who are actually native to my family's home country, meet me for the first time, both read and pronounce my last name, and then ask me what kind of last name is "nobody." If someone (and many people over the years in this case) from the original language thinks it means nobody, then there really is no "technically it is this or it just sounds like that."
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Life is Strange OST

June 19th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Stuck in My Head | #
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Just Atoms and Electrons

June 15th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
Just ones and zeroes? You're just atoms and electrons, but I don't see you equating yourself to the rock on ground.
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Sound and Light

June 14th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Ideas | #
Sound is vibration across space. Light is vibration across time. You hear sound from everywhere at once but only one point in time. You see light from one direction in space but literally across all of time.
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