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Given how software patents turned out (we are still mopping up the damage and it has set technology back years) perhaps someone should start a website accepting user submissions for specific ideas for how 3D printers and other rapid manufacturing technology could be used in the future; so that when these parasites start patenting things that can be predicted in 2013, then they can be shut down by pointing to this as evidence of quite how obvious they were.

Thoughts, anyone? Maybe this already exists?

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Was explaining how figuring out full dependency information in a system where you can run arbitrary code is hard to the point of impossibility. Think it is best summed up with this image, what I made in gimp.



Beneath it should of course be a proof of the undecidability of the halting problem.
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The ZX Spectrum was launched 30 years ago today. I was not even three, so I don't remember exactly, but we had one by 1983, and it was the best £125 that my parents have ever spent. This was a hefty amount of money to them at the time (by RPI it's £375 in today's money), but they saw that it was the future, and found it. I am profoundly grateful to them.

So, I was dabbling with programming from a very early age. Somewhere, perhaps, there is still a programme listing I wrote out in longhand with very wonky childlike letters testifying that I could programme before I could write. And there was a fair bit of playing games, too. Some of my earliest memories are related to the Spectrum. When we sent it away to get upgraded to 48KiB, and the shop lost it and we got a brand new one. Happily playing in the garden while counting in binary (ugh, can you believe I used to say zero-one-ten-eleven-hundred? I am cured of that now). Playing Atic Atac, which has probably led to my life-long fear of mushrooms. Watching TV coverage of the 128 KiB and being upset that it wouldn't have a joystick. Being really upset when Amstrad bought out Sinclair. (I hated Alan Sugar 20 years before it was fashionable). Helping my father with his football orrery. Learning about machine code and trying to hand-assemble bits of code despite being 9.

I never did anything big on the Spectrum itself - we moved on to the SAM Coupé when I was 11 (that being an attempt to provide an upgrade path for the Spectrum), and my juvenilia is largely for that, in the native BASIC with the odd routine in Z80 assembler. Later we got a PC and I started writing VB and then when I started sixth form college Turbo Pascal. Maybe some of those things would have happened without the Spectrum. But such early exposure had a profound influence on me and how I think.

Can kids today get that experience and come to grok computers? I am a bit worried that this was only possible in a short window. The Raspberry Pi is all very good as a learning platform, but I think it was the excitement at the roll-out of computing, and the future possibilities, that was the real reason so many of us got so into it, rather than the kit itself. That can't be recreated artificially, can it?
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So, there was an article going around about the possibility for 3D printing to make easy-synthesis kits for various chemicals - they have in mind pharmaceuticals and detergents. The printer can even be coaxed to spit out the feedstock itself. This will probably happen, although I don't know about their timeframe. The New Scientist article on the topic notes the applicability to illegal drugs. I quote:


Potential health dangers from allowing people to print their own legal or illegal drugs would be minimised, says [Lee] Cronin [of the University of Glasgow], as his team would only write software for specific end products that would be difficult to modify into making other reactions. "We would have pre-evaluated the reactions in the lab so no one would be allowed to hack."


Yes. Really.

Any attempt at stopping this is utterly doomed. The moment you put the general-purpose hardware in millions of people's houses, you lose control of the ability to restrict what they do with it. Sorry. It will get hacked, and it will be no more possible to stop them from printing illegal drugs than it will to stop a computer playing a pirated movie.

And if you think the attack and attempt to roll-back general-purpose computing from the entertainment industry is savage enough, then just you wait until the War-on-Drugs lot decide that general purpose computing hardware that can be used to drive a fab is drugs synthesis equipment. Ouch.
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It's London. The distant future. The year 2012.

Some friends gather at a house to play D&D. Two of them are catching a taxi there for the first time, and don't know the way, so they find out where their host is at the moment on Google Latitude, and use the "get directions" feature so they can tell the driver where to go. Their hostess knows they are nearby and hears car doors opening. She opens the door to see them looking around trying to see where the door number is.

Shortly afterwards, the hostess is bemoaning that she ran out of codeine. They use the internet to find a nearby Sunday-opening pharmacy, and make plans to send someone out to get some. Then they check the location of people again, and notice that another friend, who is on the way, is at a junction right outside the chemist, probably waiting for a bus. A phone call is made, and codeine is acquired, with no more than say 5 minutes delay to that person's arrival.

(If you want to add me I'm abigailb@gmail.com)
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So, it turns out the web mud client runs mostly fine on the Kindle's web browser:

MUD on a Kindle

I think I've done everything I need to make it ready for a public beta. Well, apart from actually porting the thing to the 2.5 codebase we are still running on the live site.
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I have a Roomba! (a robotic vacuum cleaner)

It has been tested under supervision in all the dry rooms of the flat and it seems to work great, although it can get stuck under the cover of the sofabed.

I am a little sad to discover that it doesn't try to do mental mapping of the rooms it cleans, it just does simple behaviours tweaked for a good probability of 95% coverage. This isn't the future I was promised. (Mind, even 20 years ago watching Tomorrow's World, I was rather cynical about such robotic dreams, knowing what little I did about programming then... Wolfram Alpha is another in a long line of people solving the easy half of a problem and then assuming the difficult half will be just as quick.)
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A prize to anyone who can spot the mistake (or possibly simply an innovative stylistic decision) here? Tsk. Google Maps data quality is pretty poor, but this.... Tsk.

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[livejournal.com profile] darkscape_club was very good last weekend. was worried about head but managed to stay out quite late. had hell to pay on the Sunday though. Cafe Scientifique on Tuesday was about ancient Egyptian astronomy and was really interesting. To top off yesterday's excitement, when I woke up and turned my computer on, I discovered that the hard disk had died. Put off buying a replacement until this afternoon and I'd had the phone call. In other news, I have been developing a cold. I'll try not to give it to anyone at [livejournal.com profile] zootalures amd [livejournal.com profile] 561's wedding on Saturday. (I'm very glad I took the precaution of phoning the hotel earlier this week confirming my booking: they hadn't got it on record. But do now. And I even have an email to prove it.)

Oh, and it's my birthday on Monday. I shall be 27.
morwen: (Default)
so, i seem to have upgraded to ADSL MAX! it worked, and bt didn't even need poking. now getting peak download speeds from mirror.ac.uk and bbc.co.uk of around 5 Mbit/sec - which is very nice indeed. I'm 100 times faster than my first modem! But it's still not enough. *cackle*

europe

Apr. 25th, 2006 02:20 pm
morwen: (Default)
so i was looking at google maps today and I noticed something a little different. whee!
morwen: (Default)
to add another item to the list of IM clients I use, I have started using Google Talk. username same as on here. if anyone needs a gmail invite then i do have 50.

Google Talk is based on Jabber, the only real IM standard, which is really good as it means that I can use gaim to connect already, without someone having to hack it. Woo.
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Software patent bill thrown out (BBC). Vote was 648 to 14! This is a fantastic result. Now, will this be the end of the matter?
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Google maps now seem to have good detail images of the Donington area.

Ratcliffe power station, East Midlands Airport. Can't seem to find Donington Park, though haven't looked very hard.
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google maps now have more detailed satellite imagery of bits of the rest of the world.

The Oval, The Tower of London, Canary Wharf, Old Trafford, Medway Estuary

Found what appears to be a bridge under construction in Greece - which would be the Rio Antirio bridge.
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Google Maps appears to have acquired a knowledge of the rest of the world, although only outlines and borders and very zoomed out imagery.

Hurrah.

And map of Leicester City Centre is greatly improved too, with one-way systems marked, as are some major institutions/buildings. (the universities, the infirmary, golf clubs, the shires, a few parks (but not viccy park). but not the haymarket or the stadiums.

still needs a lot of tweaking but it is nice to see some change.
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back in Lesta now.

have discovered that USB cablemodems tend to work better if you plug them into the machine you are actually trying to use them in. introduced [livejournal.com profile] secretlondon to sudoku and strangely whilst explaining it got better at it.

read most of Stranger in a Strange Land now. this is probably the least-well-ageing science fiction book i've ever read, due not to any technical advances or anachronisms or suchforth, but to the pervading misogyny in the work. you can tell stuff changed a lot between 1961 and 1966.
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iRiver now happy with re-rips of the old stuff that didn't work (it needed re-ripping anyway, due to improvements in the ogg encoder since the dark ages). have written a cheap synching tool that copies stuff into the iRiver that should be there and deletes stuff that shouldn't - and can set that status by just clicking a toggle link in my webui. woo.
morwen: (Default)
also crashes on sgt pepper. think I have localised the problem - it crashes on ogg files with no nominal bitrate set. which appears to include a bunch of very old ones I have.
morwen: (Default)
My iRiver arrived yesterday. I have been playing with it. Some observations -
  • wow, USB2 is fast.
  • It crashes on the White Album for some reason. Will upgrade firmware and see if this helps.
  • I need to write a synching tool that interfaces with my home-grown web-interface for music
  • Is a shame the use of usb-storage prohibits me from being able to copy stuff to the device whilst playing stuff on it

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Abigail Brady

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