Blabberbox:Random blog-like posts from pftq.Share on Twitter

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]
290 unique view(s)

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.
466 unique view(s)

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.

    ...[More]
9258 unique view(s)

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:
https://sony-pmca.appspot.com/plugin/app/com.github.ma1co.openmemories.tweak

The hack itself might be getting dated though as you need Internet Explorer to run it.
1144 unique view(s)

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.
    ...[More]
3294 unique view(s)

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?
396 unique view(s)

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.

341 unique view(s)

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.




...[More]
453 unique view(s)

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.
369 unique view(s)

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.
308 unique view(s)

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.
295 unique view(s)

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...[More]
102 unique view(s)

Life is Strange OST

June 19th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Stuck in My Head | #
296 unique view(s)

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.
290 unique view(s)

Arc of Life

June 14th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
In the comfort of youth, I long for the worlds beyond.  In pursuit of the unknown, I yearn for the older, simpler days of familiarity.  In realizing the world I seek does not exist in reality, I run away into my dreams, only for them to fade into memories of what I tried to leave behind.  Hence, God created death.
234 unique view(s)

Stereo Mic Recording on Creative Sound Blaster Z

June 12th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
This wasn't immediately clear to me and all search results seem to point at this being a bug that the Creative Sound Blaster Z cannot actually record its mic input in stereo, but after some messing around, it turns out that the solution is to just switch the jack configuration to "Line-In" in the Sound Blaster control panel.  It actually even clears up all the buzz/static/noise as well that normally comes with microphone input.  I'm guessing mic mode itself is mono, but literally the cabling and audio is the same whether you are on mic or line-in.  You might as well always leave it on line in and even get the benefits of no static or noise.  Hopefully this saves other people the hassle and starts clearing the confusion on whether this card can actually record in stereo (it can!).
325 unique view(s)

False Modesty

June 9th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
Calling yourself pathetic is not being humble. It's actually being pathetic.
237 unique view(s)

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

June 2nd, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Essays | #
     Most people struggle to see past their own actions.  The world is dark, the light at the end of the tunnel dim.  I spent my life being told to doubt my intuition, to be more modest, humble, more open-minded, less naïve, to let go of what I think I know, only to realize later that was always the opposite of what I needed to do.  Others lie to themselves to grapple with what they don't know.  They convince themselves they are more knowledgeable than they really are and seek structure to shield themselves from the unexpected, to give themselves a false sense of control and certainty in their lives.  But my lie is to myself when I do know.  I close my eyes, purposely forget things, throw myself into the wind, whatever it takes in hopes that something might surprise me for once, to give myself a false sense of hope, the false hope that there might be more to the world than what I see before me, the mystery and excitement, the possibility of...[More]
246 unique view(s)

The Universe's Time Machine

April 12th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Ideas | #
Suppose some time in the far future, we figure out how to travel great distances across space in a short period of time.  We figure out how to move light years away from Earth in mere seconds, whether it be through interdimensional travel or otherwise.  Our telescopes become strong enough that we can capture light from ground level activity of a planet or star light years away.  Our virtual reality and hologram technology become sophisticated enough that we can take that light from galaxies far away and cast it around us to recreate and experience a scene.  

At some point, a stargazer realizes he is so far from Earth that the Earth he sees in the sky is actually many years in the past.  He begins to experiment with this, repositioning himself either farther or closer to the Earth by light years at a time to see the Earth either older or younger.  It is entertaining at first, especially with telescopes being strong enough to see things on the surface like you...[More]
94 unique view(s)

Equality in Differences

March 25th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
You don't treat two people equally by forgetting both their names.  Equality doesn't mean removing what makes us different.
410 unique view(s)