Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

K-Meleon
July 25, 2009

I just downloaded K-meleon, and I have to say I’m very impressed of how fast it is. Unlike in Chrome, Flash works smoothly even in Youtube.

Besides I like the fact that it looks like any Windows program. It lacks the extra layer where a Windows application tries not to look like one.

It’s so cool that for a while I even thought I shouldn’t disclose it to anyone.

I began to think about a suitable companion for K-Meleon, and came out with Foobar 2000.

Spotify looks real trashy now.

Fear
April 7, 2009

Just turning the fear off is

surprisingly easy.

Actually too easy for most of us,

they fear.

 

But useful if you want to

act like a psychopath 

while talking to your boss

or something.

Chadwick Tyler
April 3, 2009

Chadwick Tyler’s decadent photographs are worth checking out.

Getting out
March 25, 2009

Today at noon I’ll stop using Facebook. 

It messes with my brain, takes my time and spoils my concentration. 

Yet there are some deeper reasons too. It has to do with the concept of friendship. This has very much to do about why I think Facebook isn’t good for my thinking and my quality of life.

Many people seem to think the human world is divided into two categories: the people you know and trust and to the others. I understand the motivation behind this but I don’t think it is as useful as mine, where I think friendship as a cursor or a lens.

We all have limited time to use, and secondly we can’t divide our time between different friends indefinitely. Our understanding of friendship as a social act implies at least some degree of regularity. No matter how much friends we have, we use most of our social time among the very few of them. 

As I see it, friendship means spending time considerably more with some people–regardless if I like them more or less than the rest (even though it’s hard to imagine wasting time with someone you don’t like)–than the others. 

I told my friend yesterday that I think social life is something physical and that I’d visit people instead of keeping in touch with them in the Internet. We’ll see if this works out.

Unbalanced trees and the usefulness of trivial
March 25, 2009

Late last night I was walking home through the empty city. It was dark and very cold.

I remember I was thinking about the redundancy. Then I thought about teaching binary trees and how to balance then. My imaginary student asked me laughingly if unbalanced trees are of any use.

I answered him – mentally of course – that we can suppose we are trying to express a sequence of things where some things appear more often than the others as shortly as possible. Text for example.

You can think we’d need eight bits for every character, and when the text is n characters long, it will take n * 8 bits. However, if the text consists mostly of a relatively small set of characters (‘a’, ‘t’, whitespace, …) while some others are rare, it would be smart to give these common characters a shorter code than the others. While we don’t want to use bits to denote the end of a character or a beginning of the other, we need a way to tell which string of bits is a character and which isn’t.

This is simple: make it so that no character is a prefix of another. However, it might be hard to see readily how to attain this, but if we think it as a binary tree where each character is a leaf node and bits as instructions to go through the tree from root on, like “0 stands for turn left and 1 for turn right”.

Now the most common character might be ’00’ (left left), the second ’01’ (left right), the third ‘101’, (right left right) where each code leads to an unambiguous leaf node and no code is a prefix of another.

The less evenly the characters are distributed, the less balanced the tree should be. In some extreme cases it might be even degenerated into a list (0, 10, 110, 1110, etc.). Of course the tree hasn’t to be uniform. It the frequqncy distribution reminds of, say, power law, we can give the most common atoms very short codes while the long tail might be a pretty much balanced subtree on a right.

Of course this all is pretty much trivial to everyone who knows anything about data compression and probably too abstract to most who don’t, so it isn’t something you’d tell to your mates in pub. However, it was very delightful to come up with (while walking slightly bored in a cold weather) and I actually think the most important things to think about (both psychologically and pragmatically) are things that aren’t probably worth telling to anyone.

There are more important things than impressing your audience.

Firefox unsafe?
January 7, 2009

I had a virus on my computer a few months ago, and I have a hunch that Firefox is a bit more susceptible to viruses than, say, Safari, Opera or Chrome.

However, I haven’t seen it documented anywhere.

Composers, evolution and entitlement
August 8, 2008

Besides being great composers Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven share another interesting feature. None of them have living descendants. Beethoven was childless and Mozart had six children, two of whom survived in the adulthood. Bach had whopping twenty kids, eleven of whom died before adulthood. 

Yet, all their family lines dried up eventually. I came to think about this when I read Is there anything good about the men which stated that we all stem from a small minority of men ever lived. It is interesting that extinction might hit men as eminent as these three. They all were world famous (even though Mozart was a drunkard and Bach stubbornly kept composing music that was so last century), and while they weren’t exactly rich, all three were economically high above the vast majority of contemporary Europeans. 

But is this just cherry picking? Ok, Haydn: married, no kids. Schubert and Handel probably never even had sex with anyone in their lives. 

Except for a very short period in mid twentieth century, getting married and having children has never been something that could be taken for granted. And – this is even more important – even if you managed to get a wife and produce offspring, it is far from certain that your children will be as lucky.

I remember hearing about some famous Renaissance prince or something with last male heir in eighteenth century. I thought they had daughters too, but no, most died unmarried and even if they had children, their lines ended in some generations. How about the bastards? Famous name and nobody else to claim it, must have been a chance of a lifetime. No signal.

Bloodlines really die out. Evolution is still at work, even in a relatively modern societies and economically secure surroundings. We just don’t come to think about it because all of our ancestors and especially forefathers belonged to a tiny elite of evolutionary winners. Of course these processes are random to some extent and we don’t know what “makes” (of course strictly speaking evolution doesn’t have a purpose or direction) a winner, but it is evident that the race goes on.

Biologically speaking it is natural for men to die childless. Of course we can have a marriage institution which provides wife and family for the majority of men, but it happens only by outside force, and is besides probably very much at odds with our natural instincts. Have you ever seen photographs of hen parties with male strippers and drunk women? That’s female sexuality in its purest form. How about men? Do they fantasize about their old wives instead of lusting after random young girls? 

Monogamy might be a good choice and provide a steady and harmonious society, but in relation to human psychology it likens to an agriculture. Europeans lived for centuries and millennia on bread, but given a choice, we still prefer fat and sweets, which is a modern hyperreal version of meat and fruits, our main course of the 95 % of human history.

So, mister lonely guy, you might find a woman. You might even have kids with her and live happily ever after. That doesn’t mean you’re safe. How about your children’s mating success? Or their children and so on? Especially if you think you and your wife are both children of evolutionary winners but if you are below average in sexiness scale and so is your spouse, what kind of starting point it gives to your children? You might raise your chances by getting a hot wife, but that’s a lot harder. The step from ugly spouse to hot spouse is far harder than the step from no spouse to ugly spouse.

Background noise
August 8, 2008

People use to sneer at those who always have a television or radio on at home. A friend of mine has, and he says it is because he thinks silence and wallowing in your thoughts deteriorates your brains. They’re meant to process information, and if they don’t get anything new, they have to do with what they already got. This leads to a ever tightening feedback loop, creates a short-circuit of a kind.

He considers this harmful. He says it lowers the IQ and leads to a depression. I asked if he ever thinks, and he said if he has to think about something, he just puts the radio off, thinks the problem through until it is solved, and puts the radio on again. 

Now when I think about it, I remember the time I was at school. That was the time when my life was very scheduled. When I sometimes stayed at home alone at weekdays, for example while being sick, at first it felt wonderful. Crawling back to bed when the rest left for work and school. Then I had this weird fuzzy feeling like sensations and thoughts pouring in my brains. Probably that was because it was the time of a day I used to be at my most alert state. Then came an unpleasant rather unreal feeling. I became tired and restless for the same time.

At the time it didn’t happen often, but now I realize that when my days have became less structured, I’ve had this feeling as my dominating mental state. I’ve spent years in that mode in my later years. Having a radio on probably wouldn’t help, but I only now I understand how hazardous the boredom and mental deprivation have been in my life.

Writer’s block
August 8, 2008

This summer I’ve written my blog for about once a month. There are several reasons for that:

  • Lack of routine. I just slipped out of daily writing. When I used to blog regularly, I sometimes had to force myself not to blog. Breaking a routine, be it writing or not writing, is very hard.
  • Personal interests. I used to write about some topics I’ve completely lost interest in now. When I blogged I took part in discussions and themes I didn’t want to have any contact with. However, it was hard to avoid them while everyone else kept on writing about them.
  • Eternal September. Blogging was big around 2003 but now when I look at the popular blogs, they’ve changed. They’ve changed in a direction I’m not interested in. Now the themes, insights, and styles are exactly the same as they’ve always been in the old media. Media took over blogs, political correctness makes people wary of expressing their real thoughts, at least straight. I still remember the net before 1995. It was full of weirdos and fanatics and culture equalled Star Trek, but still there was an assumption that people were adults. If you made a fool of yourself, you were considered an adult making a fool of yourself. I really believe letting the others in was a mistake. It took the mental atmosphere not even decades but centuries backwards. No wonder the netizens have fled into their caged communities like Facebook. When the circle is wide enough, you can’t avoid meeting people you don’t want to deal with. 
  • Language issues. Writing in English is still hard for me. I have to write for a while before I get on the flow, but I get easily discouraged, and to get forward I really have to force myself. On the other hand if nobody corrects my mistakes I don’t learn anything and I start losing my motivation. The routine is vital here too. No matter what I’m taught, if I don’t use it regularly for some time, I’m bound to forget it.
So why don’t I write in my native language? There are several reasons for that too:
  • It’s a small country. What you say doesn’t matter much. The only important thing is who you are, what people think of you, and who you know. About the third of comments and criticism consist of personal threats or attacks. The reader base is so small that there are few if any people who know enough or are interested enough to really appreciate or criticize constructively what you’re writing. 
Yet there are reason for writing.
  • Firstly, it is good for your brains. Recently I’ve had some problems with my short time memory and concentration. I’m suffering from an intellectual deprivation, and it shows. It causes some depression too.
  • Secondly, if you don’t write down your thoughts, they become fuzzy. I’m having trouble talking to people because I find out I really haven’t thought out what I was saying, and I realize the real weaknesses of my thoughts for the first time when I’m expressing them to someone else.

Allergic to music
August 8, 2008

I haven’t been able to listen to any kind of music for about a week or two. I’ve tried, and every time it feels the same. For the first seconds I listen to it with some concentration, but it leaves me completely cold. After some thirty seconds music starts to annoy me. After that I put it off or if it’s not possible, lose any interest.

At home I’m completely music free. It’s ironic because I just copied some records I’ve been looking for for a long time. They don’t work either. Of course at bars and at my friends’ places I’m forced to hear music, For example yesterday night at club I sat on a table near to a dance floor. DJ was fairly good, sound system one of the best in town, and volume was loud but not too loud. 

No response. It was like I lost my sense for music. It sounded just the same, but didn’t mean anything to me.

I cannot recall when this started, but one morning I was surfing and suddenly realized the music that was on annoyed me, and that I preferred the noise of the street outside. There’s quite a lot of traffic and actually if I have any response to aural art left, the noise of cars through the window triggers it best. It’s my current favourite music, and really in a musical sense.

Now I only wonder it this is permanent.