Archive for June, 2011

Will AI “Selves” Work One Day?

22:55 30 Jun 2011

This afternoon, a conversation at work centered on the fact that it’s possible to “teach” text analysis software with a corpus of a user’s instant messages such that when presented with a new message, the software can identify which of the user’s contacts sent that message—without any other data, just the body of the message. Which is interesting, but I was more interested in whether or not the software could learn what the user’s responses to the individual contacts were like, and from that point learn to effectively feign being the user. Essentially, whether one could successfully train a bot to conduct IM conversations in your stead.

So I was quite intrigued to see this post from JWZ tonight discussion more or less that same idea, although apparently without some of the learning aspects. Apparently the implementation isn’t too good, but it’s definitely an interesting concept, and I wonder if we’ll eventually get to the point where bots (or “smart agents”) handle this kind of thing for some significant number of people.

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Google Tries Again: Google+

23:36 28 Jun 2011

Before, there were Orkut, Wave, and Buzz; now, there’s Google+, Google’s latest foray into social networking. I don’t have an account (if any of my Googly friends want to help me out there, I’d be happy to try it out), and most of my info comes from the intro, the announcement, and Stephen Levy’s piece.

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Avian Thievery

21:49 27 Jun 2011

I’m pretty sure this is a piece of viral marketing, but even so, it’s too cool not to post:

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Wimbledon 2011 Midpoint Notes

16:53 26 Jun 2011

On the men’s side, it hasn’t been an eventful tournament so far, with the Big Four all through to the second week and looking like they’ll meet in the semis. The only other major threat is Juan Martin del Potro, who has looked strong, and who plays Nadal in the fourth round.

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Kirby on Remixes, Part 3

23:55 24 Jun 2011

Everything is a Remix Part 3. Definitely worth watching, particularly because the ideas discussed are presented effectively, and because the concepts of “originality” that govern our ethics and laws are definitely in need of major revision (a subject that will apparently be tackled in Part 3…)

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The Videotex Revolution

23:49 23 Jun 2011. Updated: 01:30 24 Jun 2011

In June 1982, the Institute for the Future published a report, “Teletext and Videotex in the United States”, which discussed the likely impact of teletext and videotex services on American homes, jobs, and lifestyles; an article summarizing the report was published in the New York Times. While in many ways it was utterly wrong, in the sense that those technologies never succeeded in the US, in perhaps more important ways it was almost prescient, describing quite well how the Internet has changed things.

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CrossFit Milestones, June 2011

23:22 21 Jun 2011

Warning: this post contains images of me barely-clad.

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Don’t Try This at Home

23:57 20 Jun 2011

I find this video, of a diver entering the ash-covered Nahuel Huapi Lake in Argentina, eerily disturbing:

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The Kindly Ones Review

23:50 19 Jun 2011

Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones is the best work of fiction I’ve read in the last couple of years. It is the story of Max Aue, a Nazi military bureaucrat, as recollected by him in his old age. It’s powerful, gripping, disturbing, shocking, and insightful, and I highly recommend it.

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Friday Game: Space Rubbish

23:45 17 Jun 2011. Updated: 00:46 18 Jun 2011

Like Asteroids, but with better physics, and an upgrade system. Lots of fun, quite addictive, I highly recommend it: Space Rubbish. There’s a playable demo as well, which is also fun—one of my few quibbles with having bought the game is that the “arcade mode” of the demo isn’t available with the purchased game.

It’s cross-platform, and definitely worth the minimal amount the author is charging for it.

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Telehack Interview

23:54 16 Jun 2011

Most of you who need to know about Telehack doubtless already do, but you might have missed this interesting interview with its author by Andy Baio.

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Distant Beauty

23:24 14 Jun 2011

This is beautiful:

CASSINI MISSION from Chris Abbas on Vimeo.

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The NSA Style Guide

23:29 13 Jun 2011. Updated: 21:37 20 Sep 2013

That’s not an ironic title, or one referring to some fictional work—Government Attic has secured the release of the NSA’s writing style guide, and BoingBoing cleaned it up, so that you can now find it on Scribd.

I love the fact that it includes a section instructing NSA writers not to use “bureaucratese”.

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Favorite Books of 2010

19:52 12 Jun 2011

2010 wasn’t a great reading year for me.

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Clearly it’s not Dead Yet

23:54 10 Jun 2011. Updated: 01:25 11 Jun 2011

This has been out a while, but is awesome and worth watching. Background: Newsweek listed Grand Rapids, Michigan, as one of America’s “top 10 dying cities”, and Grand Rapids made this in response:

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Nothing on Facebook is Then

22:56 09 Jun 2011

This is an excellent post/rant about Facebook from Jason Scott; one of the key aspects of being a proprietary walled garden is that it’s very easy to be an information black hole, with the attendant ill effects on historical archiving.

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One Intersection in New York

22:58 07 Jun 2011

This is a rather cool video:

3-Way Street from ronconcocacola on Vimeo.

I gotta say, cyclists in NYC seem to be significantly crazier than cyclists here. It’s probably necessary given New York traffic, but still.

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NCAA Inanity">More NCAA Inanity

22:04 06 Jun 2011

The University of Southern California football team has been stripped of its 2004 season national championship, because their star running back Reggie Bush was receiving “improper benefits” while he played for them.

What this story is really about, however, is trying to ensure that the players receive as little as possible of the vast revenues accumulated by the colleges, the leagues, and the BCS cartel.

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Nadal Wins 10th Slam/6th French

15:10 05 Jun 2011

For almost an entire set today, it looked as if Rafael Nadal would have considerable difficulty in reining in Roger Federer’s resurgent play. Trailing by a break in the first set, 2–5 down, Nadal faced a break point and an opponent who had hardly put a shot wrong through seven games. On that point, Federer went for a drop shot that landed oh so barely wide, and Nadal survived that set point.

He wouldn’t face another for quite some time, as he reeled off that game and the following four to take the set 7–5.

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Federer Stops Another Streak

23:57 03 Jun 2011. Updated: 14:49 04 Jun 2011

Way back when, Federer stopped Pete Sampras’ streak of 31 straight Wimbledon wins. He stopped Rafael Nadal’s streak of 81 straight clay court wins. And today he stopped Novak Djokovic’s overall win streak at 43, in a match very few people expected him to win. The story of this French Open was supposed to be whether Nadal could fend off Djokovic in his stronghold—instead, it’s another Federer–Nadal Grand Slam final, their first since the Australian Open final in 2009.

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Don’t Mess With Harry Hanrahan

23:30 02 Jun 2011

Another fantastic list. I love it, even though I think the very last one is terrible:

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