One Aging Geek

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Singularity wiki

I read Singularity Sky by Charles Stross.  Great book. I'm keeping an open mind about the idea of The Singularity.  But I'm mostly leaning towards "ain't gonna happen, folks".

Cory Doctorow: The Singularity is the moment in human history when things go non-linear because of the ability to upload consciousness to computers. Hitching human intelligence to PC industry's growth curve will make incomprehensible transhumans out of us, rupturing history. It's a lot of fun for science fiction writers to write about.

Charlie Stross -- who is all over this year's Hugo Ballot for a ton of fiction about the Singularity and other topics -- has created a Wiki for mapping out the contours of the Singularity.

If you live through the SIngularity and you do not try UpLoading and are not rendered PostHumous by feral calculators or get eaten by GreyGoo, you may be one of the PostHumans. PostHumans are humans who are not human any more. Some of them work for the Post Office, which keeps track of the PostHumans and sees that they do not cause outbreaks of GreyGoo, but the rest of them live a leisured life, pampered and cosseted by their UtilityFog and BushRobot an' other frightful servitors. Bein' PostHumans looks wonderful from here, much like being a late 20th century Accounts Clerk or Call Center Worker would have looked for a Hungarian peasant in 1420 with the nobility trying to kill them, i.e. grey, boring, and extremely well-fed. Only it'll be more exciting than that because we'll have World of Warcraft 21.499! Or something even better to play!

PostHumans are all inhumanly handsome or pretty, live infinitely long, get free unlimited resurrections if they're killed by dire boars or feral calculators or eated by Buick-eating aliens, and they get to have magic PixieDust NanoTechnology skillz. Being PostHumans is the bizniss.


Stross's Singularity wiki

Having a copy of PGP makes you guilty... ???

This one is really hard to believe!  It seems that the mere presence of PGP on this guy's computer was evidence that he was "up to something".  I guess everyone with Windows 2000 or later is now guilty since those include an encrypting filesystem.  Doesn't seem to matter if you've actually encrypted anything. 

The Cheeseburger Bill

Makes me proud to be a naturalized Texan.  Well, no, not really.

This is one of those dilemmas.  While I'm a fan of personal responsibility, which would make me no fan of blaming MickeyD's for obesity, I'm also not at all happy with the many many new pro-corporation laws we're getting.  It seems to me we've undone 50 years of progress in the last 5 years.  If we keep heading this way we'll end up back with things like "company towns".  "Another year older and deeper in debt... I owe my soul to the company store...".

Monday, May 23, 2005

Dive into GreaseMonkey

Haven't had time to read the book on GreaseMonkey yet but that hasn't stopped me from downloading it and slapping in a few scripts. Very cool! But I have a prediction. Someone will find a way to sploit this.


 This is a subject that was explored by Larry Niven a few decades ago.  Not a piece of science fiction that I was interested in seeing come true.

David Pescovitz: The black market organ trade is apparently taking off in Baghdad. The Daily Telegraph reports that wealthy "tourists" from Arab countries are now visiting Iraq to score inexpensive kidneys and other organs for transplant. For example, a kidney can be had in Baghdad for thousands of dollars less than than the market price in Turkey or India. From the article:
Would-be buyers with an eye for a bargain can now pick up a new kidney for as little as $700, given the desperation of fit and healthy Iraqis for money.

Young men like Mr Hameed can be seen loitering around many big hospitals in Baghdad these days, open to bids passed on via networks of shadowy middlemen who lurk in nearby cafés.

With unemployment in Iraq at about 60 per cent, the chance to earn money by touting body parts is a more calculated risk than, say, becoming a $150-a-month rookie policeman at the mercy of suicide attackers.

Black market organs in Baghdad

Friday, May 20, 2005

Hey, now maybe I could add TAL to my podcast list! Woot!

Mark Frauenfelder: A round of applause for Matt Katz, who has written a greasemonkey script that changes all the stream links for This American Life to download links.

If you don't use Firefox, you can still download any episode by pointing to[EPISODENUMBER].rm Link

Download This American Life as audio files, not streams

Update: Doh! That lets me download 'em, alright, but the wretched things are still in Real format and my portable player don't do no Real.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Another artist decides that their fans need to be treated like criminals


Monday, May 16, 2005

Is podcasting the medium or the message

The think about KYOU radio got me started thinking on this and I think that both KYOU and an "all podcast radio show" were slipped in here from the planet of Don't Get It.

For me, podcasts are about two things:

  1. Enormous variety of content.  I get scholarly lectures from the BBC, music from the Caribean, blues from three different continents, geek stuff from all over and a ton of other stuff.  There never could be a radio station like this because it's personalized to my tastes.
  2. Listening on my schedule.  I listen on my commute, I listen at work to drown out inconsiderate neighbors who do teleconferences via speakerphone, I listen in the middle of the night when I can't sleep.  When I turn the player back on I haven't missed a beat or syllable. 

I guess there are people who think that "a podcast" is a particular format of "show" such as what Adam Curry does.  A little rambling pointless talk, a few songs, some words and references that wouldn't be allowed on commercial radio.  I disagree, frankly.

In my opinion, podcasting is the medium.  I'm not sure I'm being very clear here. Podcasting is the channel, not the content.  What makes a podcast is the "touch free" delivery from the producer all the way to my player, more or less with no intervention.

So the whole idea of playing podcasts on the radio is a total non sequitur.  If you play it on the radio, it's a radio program, not a podcast.  Some of the programs I get via podcast originated as radio shows.  But to me they're podcasts because I get them via a podcatcher, not a radio.

Xeni Jardin: Last Friday, Adam Curry kicked off his new all-podcast radio show with Sirius -- 4 hours each weekday, hand-picked selects from the pod-o-sphere. Here's a Q&A I filed for Wired News with Curry from his home in Guilford, UK.
WN: The audio on your new radio show will be donated by listeners. What kind of material do you expect?

Curry: People will be submitting podcasts, promos for podcasts you can find online, podsafe music, mashups, sound-seeing tours, maybe narrating a walk down the street in their neighborhood. These are things we haven't heard on radio for the past 20 to 30 years. Using the theater of the mind, using sound as art -- this is something we've forgotten how to do in radio.

WN: Tell me about the very last podcast you created. What was in there?

Curry: I just uploaded one today (.mp3). I talked about the Dutch Marines who stopped by my house last night.

I talked about the Sirius show, and about an audio trivia quiz that Jan Polet does. He selects three songs, and you have to identify who sings them. I suck at it, but I love that there are people out there sitting on subways, with their headphones on, screaming, "That's the Doobie Brothers!"

Link to Wired News interview.

Previously: Xeni Tech on NPR: Pod People invade radio

An audience with the Podfather

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Print your own graph paper