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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]
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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]
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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.
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Machine Learning is Not AI

March 24th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
It's pretty hilarious that Microsoft's AI chatbot Tay went "full nazi" in less than a day after coming online but not surprising.  I wrote before in my piece Creating Sentient Artificial Intelligence that much of what's considered "Machine Learning" right now is more akin your senses or motor skills - the muscle memory part of your body - than to your brain and that it's really not suitable to just throw these algorithms at more general problems and expect them to work.

Right now the algorithms learn solely on repetition and trial-error, but if we think about how we teach in school, the last thing we want is for students to learn by rote memory (parroting the textbook rather than understanding the concepts) - so why do we design our algorithms that way? It's because these algorithms are only a piece of the puzzle. When we as humans do things on repetition, it's to train it into muscle memory so we do not have to think about it.  In the same way that we are not conscious of every step we take or every muscle we use to swing our arm,  what we've built and dubbed machine learning so far are more like our muscles or senses; they have some level of learning to automate lower-level functions that the higher level intelligence (the mind, decision making piece) does not have to think about.  It's just that somewhere along the way (or perhaps we never really stopped to reflect on this), we forgot to look back on how our own intelligence works and see if it makes sense to how we're designing or using the algorithms we have so far.  You wouldn't touch a hot stove 100 times to train your hand to avoid it, even though that'd probably work to build up your reflexes - but that's the thing, these are your reflexes, not the thinking conscious part of your brain.

That said, I'm not against machine learning or saying it's not useful, just that it's not artificial intelligence; it's only part of the bigger puzzle.  We're less than half way there but flaunting it as it's all the way there.  We've come really far in creating a reflexive hand or eye with strong muscle memory, which is a great thing, but intelligence and autonomy is a whole other layer we've still got to add before we can expect anything meaningful on more general problems.  We've built the eyes to see the data but not the mind to think about it....[More]
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Before My Eyes

March 12th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
The world I see when I close my eyes is clearer than the one before me.
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Noise and Splattered Colors

March 12th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
This cage that is my mind... The noise and splattered colors that is my reality... What good is it all if no one can see what I see, feel what I feel, in here... You want to escape but not into that world out there.
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Everything Stays (Instrumental)

March 7th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Stuck in My Head | #
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Temple of Heaven

February 16th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Stuck in My Head | #
Temple of Heaven by Deane Ogden
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Talking with an Ivy Leaguer on Wall Street

February 15th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Society | #
Another memoirs of sorts, this time reflecting the Ivy League alumni I've been meeting in NYC, both in the startup community and on Wall Street.  I've been spending more time in NYC instead of SF for a change of location (and people), but ironically, I'm running into sort of the opposite situation to that I had in my short story, Talking with an Engineer in Silicon Valley.  Whereas many I met in Silicon Valley lacked empathy, considerateness, and other traits but at least wanted them (even if superficially), the circles I'm getting into in NYC seem to simply accept that these traits don't genuinely exist and are always superficial.  Maybe it's just my luck that I'm just somehow always meeting the most 1-dimensional people, but the frustrating part is they always start off seeming normal in the beginning.  As with my other short story, the conversations below are nearly cut-paste from my personal experience, besides obvious name changes and other details to keep individuals anonymous and the story somewhat coherent.  For those easily offended, this obviously doesn't reflect every person from Ivy League or in Wall Street and is just a likely biased, limited subset of the real world from my own experiences.

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Sam: Hi, I'm Sam.  Nice to meet you.
Ivy Leaguer:...[More]
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Firebird

February 14th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Stuck in My Head | #
Firebird by Deane Ogden
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City Guides

January 24th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Random Stuff | #
Just my thoughts and notes on where to go in each city, what's worth seeing and doing, what I enjoy in each city anyway.  Not so much a guide as much as a set of bookmarks for myself.  For a more anecdotal sense of what the three major coastal US cities are like, check out NYC vs SF vs LA.

General tip: Amazon.com login works in other countries too (Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, etc). You'll be able to order and deliver locally rather than ship internationally if ordered from Amazon.com

United States

Chicago...[More]
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Massive Projector Screen and Adjustable Stands

January 18th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
Having some fun creating a new room setup with a massive projector screen (aka the entire long wall of the room) and going a bit crazy with the amount of adjustable stands/standing desks all around.  The screen is so massive (20ft wide) and so close (less than 10 ft away).  The tables/trays literally rotate and unfold in front of you, are adjustable to any position, and disappear when you're done using them.  Makes the whole room feel like a starship of sorts.  Tongue

The projector is the Optoma GT1080 and the stands don't even have a name, some obscure Asian item sold on Amazon here.



[img]...[More]
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What Would God Do

January 14th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
Why would you not aspire to be God? Isn't he supposed to be the best? Why wouldn't he be your role model instead of the guy beneath him?
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Toki ni wa Mukashi no Hanashi wo

January 10th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Stuck in My Head | #
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Journey's End

November 26th, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Stuck in My Head | #
Journey's End by Kaz Okamoto
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Buried Memories

November 9th, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Stories | #
Another dream I had that played out like a movie.  Seems to be how all my ideas to come to me now.
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I am living off in the country side for some time.  There, I have a small isolated plot of land that I planted a farm on and regularly tend to for fun, but the house near it is pretty high tech and is where I do a bunch of more serious work for coding and other hobbies.  One day, some guy shows up while I'm out on my farm and tries to tell me I ought to work for his company and get a real job or something.  He starts telling me how it will be good experience to build resume and get real software skills, etc so I don't have to live on a farm anymore.  I ask if he knows what I actually do, and he says he can't tell, which just annoys the heck out of me that he'd dare even tell me what I should do with my life.  I show him that my farm is actually also a grave for past lives I've had and previous bodies I've...[More]
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Helping vs Changing Goals

October 26th, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
You don't help someone by telling them to change their goal.  If you're going to help them, help them achieve it.
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Imposing on Others

October 11th, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
Having a person complain while he imposes his will on others is like watching a dog cry while it devours a child.
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Performance Issues in SQL Server 2014

October 10th, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
I just spent the last week trying to figure out why some of my SQL queries were suddenly taking hours to run on a large dataset when they used to take seconds on an older machine.  The queries I have use a lot of subqueries and left-joins across several tables with hundreds of GB of data each.  At first I thought it might be because my dataset has grown to the point my queries were no longer efficient.  Perhaps I had too many joins or subqueries that were not using the indexes on the table.  I actually tried removing every case of "OR" condition in my queries, which seemed to help a little but nowhere near bringing down the hour or so it still took to run.  After messing with indexes and re-arranging queries non-stop, it turns out it's because of an update to cardinality estimation on the back-end in Microsoft SQL Server 2014.

Luckily, you can disable the cardinality estimation update on a query-by-query basis by doing:
Quote
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Wasting Through Time

October 3rd, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Stories | #
This was another story idea I got as a dream.  I suppose it reflects my mood lately with everyone seeming to get older around me, not just physically but mentally as well.

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Two friends have known each other all their lives.  They are able to time travel but only by skipping forward in time.  They've been doing that for a while and have experienced centuries of history past by, but one day, one of the friends loses this ability. 

The other...[More]
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