Tinkerer and CompSci major at UC Davis. Trying to get the hang of the University thing.
HumanInterfaceDisorder joined on Feb 23rd, 2013, since that has made 34 posts that are still accessible today, 4 of which are threads. Helping shape the community, HumanInterfaceDisorder has given 53 upvotes, and was last online on May 5th, 2015.
Takumi Nishijo, from Chaos;Head. Pretty delusional, a little ill, but ultimately trying to do the right thing. Though honestly I probably fall somewhere between him and Okabe Rintarou from Steins;Gate.
This one's in my C programming playlist - fits right in with my weird electronica/EDM collection!
Author: Greg Bear
These days I've found myself reading a lot of Greg Bear's work. A solid author, he knows his way around the English language and makes more technical concepts (relatively) accessible. That said, if reading about superspace geometry (no, I didn't make that up) and having to derive the meanings of alien colloquialisms through context sound nightmarish to you, Bear's work probably isn't going to bring some epiphany. To understand what makes his work special, it's best to know the difference between what's known as 'hard sci-fi' and regular old science fiction.
Why the Difference Matters
Science fiction, as a general category, has a lot of definitions. But for our purposes here, just imagine most mainstream works divided much as they would be at the local Barnes & Noble. So, that would include things like The Hulk, Spiderman, The X-Men, and the sort. These works all tend to have one thing in common: Their writers start out with the thought, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if-...?" This means these stories share another trait: They have about as much credible science in them as Harry Potter.
Writers of hard science fiction, on the other hand, do their homework. Due to the nature of their audience, they do their best to understand the nature of the technologies they're writing about. This allows them to make reasonable extrapolations as to what the future could look like without pulling hitherto-unmentioned, unfeasible technologies out of their characters' proverbial asses whenever the author writes him- or herself into a corner.
While there might be little appreciable difference to people who just aren't into technical fields, there's a world of difference to fans of hard sci-fi. A lot of us work in technical fields, and this kind of fiction shapes the attitudes and technologies to come in real life. For example, the PADD units in Star Trek (basically the equivalent of modern e-ink readers) were posited almost 15 years before anything of the sort entered the market.
Asteroid Ark Ships
The idea of an asteroid being hollowed out by autonomous workers and prepped for space-flight has been kicked around for some time. In fact, NASA is currently working on capturing an asteroid and bringing it into Lunar orbit. Kind of a stepping stone on the way to such a ship.
Another example of an asteroid-based generational ship would be the Sidonia, from Knights of Sidonia.
The BIG Questions and Transhumanism
Something I love about Bear's writing is that he frequently pushes the limits of what we're capable of perceiving. On the broadest scale of the universe, we must remember that humanity is in its infancy. For all our advancements and technology, we still don't really understand much at all of how things around us function on a very fundamental level. Until just this last year, we had no way to prove our understanding of how and why things have mass (that is to say, 'why shit has weight' for those of you who slept through physics). And to do it, we have to build this huge fucking thing.
Seriously, we built that to find out why things have mass. Imagine what it'll take to crack faster than light travel!
Something hard sci-fi (with Bear's work being no exception) tends to examine is transhumanism, also referred to as 'human augmentation'. The basic idea is that humans are now evolving in a technological manner, integrating more technologies onto and into our own bodies. Think everything from cellphones to pacemakers to synthetic hearts to 'wet' computing implants. As our understanding of these technologies grows, we'll see their performance improve, and - according to proponents of transhumanism - eventually see people voluntarily replacing or adding limbs, organs, or implants. For example, Gwynn herself one day hopes to see her left eye replaced with an occular implant once the technology has matured sufficiently, as she has been blind in that eye from birth.
Gwynn wants an occular implant a lot like this theoretical model from Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
The interesting thing about transhumanism is the plethora of ethical and philosophical questions it raises. If you duplicate your consciousness (say, 'back-up' your digitized cyber-brain, a la Ghost in the Shell) and your original dies, should the others in your life treat the remaining copy as though it were you? If your spouse made love to said copy, would that be cheating? How many modifications can you make to a body/mind before you can no longer call it human?
As out there as some of the above may sound, it's important we - as a society - ask ourselves these questions, so when the posited technology (or something akin to it) rolls around, we'll have some inkling of how to respond. As we've seen in third-world nations time and again, there are points in a culture's development where it's just not ready for certain technologies.
Tell Us About the Fucking Book Already!
Eon, the first book of its trilogy, was written in 1985 and takes place in 2005. In Eon's version of '05, a 290 kilometer asteroid is detected in an erratic, near-Earth orbit just after an anomalous burst of radiation from just outside the Solar system. The U.S.S.R. and the United States (remember, this was written before the fall of the Soviet Union) are the two major players on the world stage, and were on the brink of nuclear war even before the arrival of 'The Stone'... And now the two powers are vying for control of research aboard it. The Americans have the upperhand at the book's start, but things quickly get complicated. And I mean complicated.
The story that unfolds from there is told from the perspectives of about a half-dozen characters, though it mostly focuses on the stories of Patricia Vasquez, Greg Lanier, and Pavel Mirsky. Vasquez is a young 20-something math prodigy from Santa Barbera, CA who was recruited to help analyze anomalies in the laws of physics onboard The Stone. Lanier's a jaded ex-pilot who later moved into high-level airforce administration. He was placed in charge of the Stone by the USAF and ISSCOM, managing investigation into the Stone's origin. Pavel Mirsky is a Soviet soldier, recruited from elite ranks and trained for zero-G combat (think pressure suits and vacuum-ready firearms), who becomes ensnared in an existential crisis.
I can't say much more without giving it all away, but let me leave you with this: Eon is a book you'll have to be able to dedicate your attention to when you read, so don't read it when you're tired. It's a book that requires, and is definitely worthy of, your attention.
For instance, this ship - called the Tuberider - is a V/STOL (Vertical/Straight Take-Off/Landing) vehicle with a special turbine engine designed to bolt around 'the flaw' - a kind of singularity generated by folded geodesics in space-time. One posited theory regarding singularities in modern physics involves their queer properties with the translation of force vectors into odd directions. Applying pressure to this singularity causes acceleration perpendicular to the axis of its longest 'side'.
A Little Recommendation
If anyone wants to check out a hard sci-fi anime/manga besides Knights of Sidonia, I'd recommend watching/reading Planetes.
This post made me buy the game. Installing now! Will be sure to /reply with more soon!
Useful Info for Programmers
To anyone who's looking for a solid, legible, fixed-width font (necessary to keep all your whitespace sync'd up), I say to you look no further.
Anonymous Pro is the font that I've taken to using for source editors and my terminal. It has excellent special, greek, cyrillic, and latin character support and - as mentioned above - it's monospaced, which is a necessity when working with any kind of source editor.
As always, the post is appreciated, man. I'd heard about the CNN incident - still can't believe it, reading it a second time. It's fucking amazing the morons the populace at large (and by 'at large', I mean internationally) trusts to deliver relevant information.
Back in my days at the Dept. of Defense, I worked with some guys from Blackwater. Both with their consultants and their 'specialists' (as their corporate suits loved to call them). The suits struck me as snakeoil salesmen, but their specialists were some of the most heartless, calloused bastards I've ever had the displeasure of meeting. Once, on a smoke break, I heard one of them talking to a locally-stationed jarhead talking about how he'd checked a room after they'd 'cleared' it with gunfire, popping anyone half-alive in the skull on the ground (a violation of the geneva convention for any of its signatories). The jarhead just nodded along muttering something about wishing he didn't have to deal with all the oversight.
I read that Petro Poroshenko 'won' the election (with so many allegations of electoral fraud, I'm not sure what to think there)... Any thoughts on what the government's agenda is going to be going forward? I know he served as the Minister of Affairs and Minister of Trade at different points in very recent history. Hardly seems anyone could think of it as a new start post-'revolution' given those ties with previous 'cabinets'.
On that note, how would you refer to the President's 'cabinet' over there? I haven't found a clear answer on that yet, but it would be good to know how to refer to not just the President but also his body of Ministers/advisors.
Pfft, never seen anyone take that so literally before. Not even a sodding period. XD
As much as they influenced MP gaming, I can't say that it's a shock they're going under. Their business model hinged on being a glorified gameserver indexer - something largely being accomplished by either the game publishers themselves or the hardware makers (on console at least) these days. While it will suck that a lot of games are getting their MP abilities orphaned, if those games are popular and with active communities, I'm sure the users will work out an alternative method for finding/joining multiplayer sessions.
DC has a great point, too - the majority of publishers have AWFUL support for Multiplayer. EA is the most puzzling, really, since they force their in-house dev teams to focus on creating multiplayer experiences for pretty much every game (regardless of whether it meshes well with the game's concept), and then promptly abandon their products' multiplayer support. For what reason I can only guess. My sneaking suspiscion is that their shareholders start crying like little bitches every time an EA release doesn't magically blow up like WoW overnight.
This will teach you to disable ads in Skype!
Alright, so for the moment I'm just going to write up the method for Windows users, though I'll add the procedure for Mac users soon. This guide is being written with accessability in mind, so please don't click away thinking it's going to be hard. It's really not! ;)
It's worth noting that Microsoft sometimes changes how Skype serves ads, so if they ever make a change to it (likely to come in September this year), I'll update this guide accordingly to disable their new method!
Something worth noting is that editing the hosts file in Windows 8 (but not Win7 or previous versions) can be a bit more involved, though not much more. Here's the handy guide that Gwynn linked to in her post.
Disabling talking ads/ads at the top of chat windows!
The first thing you're going to have to do is open up "My Computer" (or just "Computer" in current Windows releases). You can either go the way you know and are comfortable with, or you can just press CTRL+E on your keyboard and it will open up an Windows File Explorer window showing a list of all your hard drives. We'll want to navigate to:
Once there, you'll see a list of only a few files. We're looking for a file called "hosts" (not "hosts.txt" or anything like that - this file we're looking for has no file extension). Your computer should ask you which program you want to open the "hosts" file with - I recommend Notepad++, though Windows' built-in Notepad application works just fine.
A standard, clean hosts file from a new installation of Windows looks like this:
# Copyright (c) 1993-2009 Microsoft Corp. # # This is a sample HOSTS file used by Microsoft TCP/IP for Windows. # # This file contains the mappings of IP addresses to host names. Each # entry should be kept on an individual line. The IP address should # be placed in the first column followed by the corresponding host name. # The IP address and the host name should be separated by at least one # space. # # Additionally, comments (such as these) may be inserted on individual # lines or following the machine name denoted by a '#' symbol. # # For example: # # 18.104.22.168 rhino.acme.com # source server # 22.214.171.124 x.acme.com # x client host # localhost name resolution is handled within DNS itself. # 127.0.0.1 localhost # ::1 localhost
Now, we're going to want to add a single line to the end of that file. DO NOT PUT A HASH SYMBOL (the '#' symbol) IN FRONT OF THIS LINE OF TEXT. The text itself that we will add is:
Now, just to be ABSOLUTELY clear, your file should now look like so:
# Copyright (c) 1993-2009 Microsoft Corp. # # This is a sample HOSTS file used by Microsoft TCP/IP for Windows. # # This file contains the mappings of IP addresses to host names. Each # entry should be kept on an individual line. The IP address should # be placed in the first column followed by the corresponding host name. # The IP address and the host name should be separated by at least one # space. # # Additionally, comments (such as these) may be inserted on individual # lines or following the machine name denoted by a '#' symbol. # # For example: # # 126.96.36.199 rhino.acme.com # source server # 188.8.131.52 x.acme.com # x client host # localhost name resolution is handled within DNS itself. # 127.0.0.1 localhost # ::1 localhost 127.0.0.1 apps.skype.com
You'll want to save the file and close it (CTRL+S, then ALT+F4). Quit out of Skype (including closing it in the taskbar, at the bottom-right of your screen) and open Skype again. You should no longer see ads at the top, but you might see them in your contact list at the bottom-right. The next section will show you how to disable those (much, much simpler than what you just did in this section).
Disabling the ads at the bottom of your contact list!
This section of the guide will be handled entirely in the following images. Sorry, it's just easier to convey that way. >_>
Hopefully this guide helps some of you reclaim your screen real-estate!
Jesus, man. Sorry to hear about your friend - that's an ugly way to go. On our end, the following quote effectively sums up Western media coverage of the referendums today:
There were no international observers, no up-to-date electoral lists and the ballot papers were photocopies. With heavily armed men keeping watch, ambiguous wording on the ballot slip and a bungled Ukrainian attempt to stop voting in one town that ended with one dead, it was clear that this was no ordinary referendum.
But as pro-Russia separatists prepared to announce a landslide victory for the proposition that called for the creation of two new, quasi-independent entities in eastern Ukraine, it was equally clear that Sunday's voting marked a new watershed in the country's crisis.
One of the separatist leaders promptly served warning that all Ukrainian troops on his territory would become illegal.
"All military troops on our territory after the official announcement of referendum results will be considered illegal and declared occupiers," Denis Pushilin said. "It is necessary to form state bodies and military authorities as soon as possible."
The referendum in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which Russian president Vladimir Putin advised local leaders to postpone, comes as widespread anger mounts over Ukrainian military moves against armed separatists.
-The Guardian, pro-Russia separatists set for victory in eastern region referendum, 2014-05-11
My gut feeling is that the Western media outlets are attempting to appear more neutral, as they're just starting to grasp that the Kyiv 'revolutionary' government isn't some flowerchild protest-turned-coup, but rather an illegitimate occupation. That said, their efforts come across as a bit forced as Putin has been thoroughly demonized in all media outlets I know of out here.
This is why their mention of Putin's urging to postpone the referendum is just that - a brief mention. In previous weeks, they would devote a few paragraphs to irrelevant Russian domestic issues, like the ban on exposing under-18's to what the west is translating as 'gay propaganda'. Or the fact that he served in the KGB - an acronym that stirs a lot of ill-will here in most people old enough to remember the 80's, even in the most liberal American.