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

God Formula

March 24th, 2019 | Posted by pftq in Stories | #
Another one that came to me in a dream. Made more sense right after I woke, but I unfortunately started losing details as soon as I got to writing it down.


The story is essentially a sci-fi thriller movie, where the founder tries to create AI from a math perspective similar to induction instead of the more common approach of fitting to data.  It's counterintuitive but rather than try to create a general algorithm that adapts to specific cases, the founder wants to start from one case and solve for the rest of the world - ie letting the AI define the rest of world on its own volition. In other words, instead of adapting or being an agent in the world, this algorithm plays God and creates it from scratch.  The idea is similar to trying to understand or simulate the current universe by instead creating a new one altogether via man-made blackholes in a lab.  It's also similar to what you do in theoretical math where you define hypothetical systems or...[More]
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Economic Literacy

March 7th, 2019 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
"I don't see why universal healthcare can't work. Other countries do just fine having it. In fact, they're doing better than us. Look at the pound - it's worth way more than the dollar!" And everyone agrees and cheers. Sigh...
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In the End

March 4th, 2019 | Posted by pftq in Stuck in My Head | #
In the End by Marcus Warner (@MWarnerMusic)
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Dreams Adrift

February 5th, 2019 | Posted by pftq in Stories | #

This could either be an animation or short film. The imagery of someone walking upsidedown against the night sky is what stuck in my mind.
Scene starts panning down from a cloudy, moonlit night sky to a girl standing on the edge of a highrise rooftop with her arms out.  It looks like she is about to fall, but as she goes over the edge, the camera rotates to instead show her walking down the side of the building, apparently sleepwalking.  There is a wistful element as her hair is constantly flowing and her arms are out to balance.  The elements seem to whirl around her as she walks, as if animated by what she is dreaming.  The iconic scene is of her walking upsidedown on the bottom of a plank between two highrises against the backdrop of the moon and night sky in the background.  

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No More Outsourced Teams

January 27th, 2019 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
Why I'll never outsource my ideas again - tired of teams thinking it fair if I pay everyone's salary out of pocket + give up half equity. I get 100% of the risk while they get zero risk + salary + half upside. Their worst case is getting paid and moving onto the next client, while mine is losing everything and starting over.
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Run and Record Games on VM Server

January 23rd, 2019 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
More a reminder for myself how to set up a remote server/vm like Azure to run and record games.  Otherwise, you'll run into issues like lack of GPU/DirectX or no sound.

1. Create a VM with Windows 10 and a GPU (for Azure, it is the NC series).
2. If your GPU is a Tesla, make sure to install Nvidia drivers and enable graphics rendering on it.
3. Install VB-Audio virtual sound card to be able to capture sound from the game.
4. If an Unreal Game, most likely you'll need .NET 3.5, which needs to be enabled from "Turn Windows Features On or Off."

Once this is all done, you can run the game as you would at home and use GameDVR (Win+G) to record.  One thing I haven't figured out yet is how to keep the recording going if your Remote Desktop window closes (but server still running).  The only work-around it seems is to have an intermediary VM always logged into the primary VM to keep the recording + audio going, which works even if you log out of the intermediary VM.  This was also reported as a bug here.  If anyone has suggestions, let me know.
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Fixing VR Controllers Out of View

January 21st, 2019 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
If you use inside-out #VR / #WindowsMixedReality headsets like @Samsung Odyssey, you'll run into the controllers glitching out when out of view (below or behind your head). In an #UnrealEngine or #Unity game, a workaround is to store the location of the controllers but avoid updating if the location moves too far from the headset (the glitching out when out of view). The rotation of each controller still works as they're based on gyroscopes instead of cameras, so you'll still want to update the rotation, just not the location which is now some absurd unusable number.

In Unreal Engine, it would look like this:

This really should be internalized into the headset driver itself, as it only makes sense to not update to a location that is physically impossible.  For now, you have to do that check yourself.
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January 20th, 2019 | Posted by pftq in Stories | #
Another story that came as a dream, ironically as a movie I was watching in the dream.

The movie initially starts as a horror film about boy initially trying to escape the home of a crazed family with a murderous cyborg child.  The home is more or less a cave with no open windows or exit (all boarded up).  The parents are human but very old and clearly insane, sort of like the fake grandparents from The Visit.  The cyborg behaves more like an animal and is Frankenstein-like, with loosely pieced together scrap metal for arms, blades for hands, barely functional prosthetics for what's left of the face (doll-like eyes, unmoving lips, etc), etc.  Often it crawls on all fours or climbs the walls, staying in the shadows.  It is unclear if it was once human at all or entirely machine to begin with.  The pacing and feel is almost like a Saw movie at first, with no indication how the we arrived here or why things are.

After about halfway through...[More]
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ETC Probability

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
Not surprised about ETC 51% attack since everything in blockchain is only "statistically impossible" (low odds) instead of true certainty. Expecting more problems like this over time. More surprised some now defend lack of certainty as a feature instead -
In line with what I wrote before:
"If they're going crazy right now on how some random hashtag should be "statistically impossible," wait till two people generate the same wallet (which is not supposed to happen until the sun dies... "statistically"). #Bitcoin"
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Flax Master

January 5th, 2019 | Posted by pftq in Random Stuff | #
Recipe for the best smoothie (originally from Earthbar).  Serves 2 16 oz cups; half the amounts for 1 serving.
- 1 frozen Sambazon Acai bar (pure and unsweetened)
- 1 cup of frozen wild blueberries.
- 2 bananas (preferably still green -> more fiber, less sugar).
- 2 teaspoons of unfiltered flax oil (lignans for anti-cancer).
- 2 tablespoons...[More]
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Makeshift Sit-Stand Desk and Second Screen

December 29th, 2018 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
Surprisingly comfortable ergonomic-wise since everything from the screen position/height and keyboard/mouse are adjustable.  But the screen isn't big enough for me to see without my glasses sadly.
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Japan and Norway

December 23rd, 2018 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
Finally uploaded pictures I took in Japan and Norway last year.

Kyoto, Japan
Tokyo, Japan

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End of Adolescence

November 27th, 2018 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
There's a feeling you get when summer hits and school is out.  When you were younger, it might have been excitement, freedom.  As you got older, it became more an interruption, an emptiness, time crawling by as you waited to see your peers again, an interlude as you waited for the next adventure. Except... on the 12th time, summer doesn't quite end.  It keeps going, no matter how long you wait. That feeling - when you're the only one still wandering the campus while everyone else already left - gradually becomes your everyday.  And at some point, you look back and realize this is the rest of your life.
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Haiiro to Ao Cover

November 17th, 2018 | Posted by pftq in Stuck in My Head | #
Haiiro to Ao Cover by Kobasolo (@kobamakolts)
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Trying to Using Google Cloud

November 14th, 2018 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
Seems there's a reason @GoogleCloud's market share trails behind Microsoft's @Azure and is nowhere near Amazon's @AWSCloud.  It's just insanely difficult to get up and running.

First is the error that I need to enable the Google Cloud service in my Admin Console, but Google Cloud is not even listed there.  The specific error is "Google Cloud Platform service has been disabled. Please contact your administrator to restore service in G Suite Admin console."

Have to contact support (which itself is a puzzle to avoid having to pay for a support plan). Enabling Google Cloud turns out to be tied to enabling Developer Console (how is anyone supposed to know that?).  They say it's a recent issue with migrations, but this StackOverflow thread shows this has been an issue for over a year at least.

Now that the service is enabled for my account, I try to spin up an instance.  If you use GPUs in your project, it then turns out you need to increase your global GPU quota (starts at zero).  Makes no sense because all of the specific non-global GPU settings already start at 1.

I try again to spin up instances, but now I keep getting "not have enough resources available to fulfill the request. Try a different zone, or try again later." Tried 6 different zones all with the same results.

Contacted support again, who suggest I not put all my instances in one zone.  I tell them this is my only instance.  And the response to that seems to basically acknowledge you can't really spin up instances at this time?

Very bizarre and frustrating experience.  It just seems like no one is even testing Google Cloud to make sure anyone can actually use it.  Or that they care if anyone can figure out how to use it.
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Enabling Graphics for Nvidia Tesla GPU in Azure VM

November 11th, 2018 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
If you're trying to use the GPUs Azure VMs for actual graphics like in game development, DirectX, or other things where the GPU has to be detected, you need to set the Tesla GPUs to WDDM mode.  By default they are in TCC, which doesn't let them be detected by the system in RDP and has graphics disabled.  Not even Nvidia control panel will see the card.

Solution is pretty quick - just a command line entry.  It can just be done in Command Prompt, no additional software needed.  Credits to the comments on Reddit here:

(Make sure you first have the Nvidia drivers installed, either by starting the VM with an image that has them or installing manually.)

1. Open Command Prompt.
2. Enter: cd C:\Program Files\NVIDIA Corporation\NVSMI
3. Enter: nvidia-smi -l
4. Ctrl+Break to stop the loop. Note the long 000:00:00.0 number under bus-id.
5. Enter: nvidia-smi -g <bus-id> -fdm 0
6. Reboot.

Once you're done, you'll notice Nvidia control panel will now detect the card.  DirectX applications will see it as well, etc.
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Placebo Effect on Mind

November 10th, 2018 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
Very interesting article that sounds a lot like the ideas portrayed in @MNightShyamalan's @SplitMovie
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Double Tax Issue on Patreon

November 3rd, 2018 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
The Hidden Patreon Double Tax...

Would love to be shown wrong here, but as far as I've found, money on @Patreon is taxed for both patron and creator. In any other situation, only the giver or receiver is taxed, not both. Donations to non-profits are deductible, salaries of employees are deductible expense for the employer, even traditional non-Patreon patron/sponsorship arrangements are at least some form of write-off/expense for the sponsor.  But for Patreon, unless you go through the excessive effort of establishing yourself as a company with an elaborate case for how giving to artists is business-related or straight up start a non-profit organization yourself, the money you give on Patreon is going to be from income you paid taxes on, and then that creator also pays taxes on it as their income.

This is a simplification of the math but just to illustrate: If you made $100k this year and wanted to give away half to artists on Patreon, you literally can't because $50k is owed to taxes and you actually only have $50k afterwards for yourself, your own expenses, etc.  Half of your money on $100k income would actually be $25k.  If this were any other situation like hiring or donating to a non-profit, you get to give away as much as you want from the $100k and then only get taxed on what is left over *after* - in other words, half of $100k instead of half of $50k.  It is basically doubling the amount of money someone can give and is normally what happens anywhere else, just not at Patreon.

The best way to solve this is if there is a non-profit through which all patrons are giving through and can treat as a write-off tax-wise.  Then only the creators are taxed, just like any other situation for donations, salaries, sponsorships, etc.  Ideally it is Patreon itself, so no one else has to think about these tax questions or look for some other organization to participate on Patreon through.  It's what you would expect when pledging money and aligns with what Patreon is.

It would also open the doors to large corporate patrons.  Think of how many big corporations already give money for causes, branding, etc. The perk of doing this on Patreon is that you can actually point to your company profile there as proof of you supporting artists, projects, etc.  It can easily become like every company having a Facebook or LinkedIn profile.  But they won't do this if for every million they give on Patreon, they still have to pay half a million in taxes on money they don't even have anymore.  They're better off just giving through traditional means or even just straight up hiring artists - any other situation where again the giver isn't taxed for money the receiver is already taxed on.

Right now Patreon is a for-profit company with investors, which makes all this tricky as they must prioritize maximizing profits.  The only way for now would be if a third party started a non-profit for others to contribute through or if, as mentioned earlier, you set up your own company to give through (which has to be a seriously legitimate business reason or you'll find yourself with a large IRS bill down the road).  I've also received pushback that artists do not want to be "sponsored" or donated to, that there's a negative stigma attached, that they want their work treated as product or service, but this just goes back to the point that you might as well just hire the artist instead.  It's hard to tell what percentage of the userbase is on one side or the other, but at least for me, the goal was to support the artists on a monthly basis.  It's also what a patron actually does and what pledging means.  The point though is that on both sides, whether Patreon is supposed to be a platform for selling goods or supporting artists, it is doing this worse than traditional means, at least from a tax perspective, because of the double taxation.  While this is not a big deal for smaller pledges, it really adds up for those wanting to contribute more significant sums and makes it difficult to sustain long term because it is effectively costing you double what the artist is actually receiving.
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SF Place on Fire

October 28th, 2018 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
Guess that's my cue to finally leave SF... (esp with the asbestos exposed)
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Free Fax Online

September 14th, 2018 | Posted by pftq in 42 | #
Save you the trouble of buying a fax machine or paying for a service.
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