December was a 20% growth month here on classy.dk - we are always happy to welcome new webcrawlers. I recently took Google's crawlers out of my stats for a whopping 15% reduction in total site traffic. And indeed most pageviews are webcrawls. The increase in traffic is proportional with the increase in pages (from 150 entries to 180 entries) so this is consistent with a complete stand still in human readership and page-number proportional crawling.
Surely we know that more people than an italian doctor will be willing to do human cloning, but there's a stretch from more people to The First Cloning Superpower, which might be China, as reported by Wired.
No surprise there, but it just goes to show that bioethics commitees shouldn't be used as oracles for legislative purposes. Decisions taken like that simply can't keep up with the science that is done, and forcing science to the pace of the committees would be a very bad idea.
Jeg tror ikke jeg har stjålet den, så jeg tror lige jeg vil coine en frase, som man siger: At v?re beruset er at v?re i godt hum?r på kredit. Man tager lidt af ens gode hum?r fra i morgen og nyder det idag. Imorgen har man så t?mmerm?ndene i stedet.
Kedelig som jeg er g?r jeg opm?rksom på at man ikke kan spare op af godt hum?r. Det er en ford?rvelig vare, som er v?k lige så snart tiden er gået.
The SWIG C/C++ wrapper generator no longer comes with a Visual C makefile. Here's one. Place it in the Win subdirectory of the Swig distribution and run using nmake. Why bother when there's a binary to be had? Well I was thinking about doing autoswig a perl interface to swig itself - using swig of course. The idea would be to access the swig parser from perl. I'm not sure about using the generation stage from perl, but robust C/C++ parsing has tons of uses. The XML output format exposes the parse result relatively directly so using that and a command line is a slower, but maybe less work-intensive way to access just the parser. The output looks rather ugly though.
For my own reference mainly a few notes on lightweight languages workshop 1. In particular you should follow the link to the beatiful thoughts about language design at Paul Grahams site. His description of the goals of his new language would be arrogant if they weren't so very well written up.
Dr. Dobbs carried a story about the workshop which was much better than their usual material.
After reading Linked one has to ask the obvious: What is the exact distribution of Google PageRanks and does Google publicise this data?
Clearly, there is renormalization wrt. search terms going on. That's why the PageRank actually works both for rare search terms and common ones. An exotic or topic specific search accesses a subnet within which PageRank in itself makes sense.
In The Cluetrain Manifesto Wired is rightfully ridiculed for plugging PUSH as The Next Big Thing back in 1997 (it's ironic to be reading this near the end of post-boom 2002) and while I used to like Wired a lot as the only place where one could get a proper feel of the new, the list of ridiculous claims about the immediate future that havae appeared in Wired is getting rather long (along with PUSH, one can mention 'the demise of Apple', 'The Long Boom', all of 'The Wired Index' and countless others) and you're left thinking: Are these just the bold mistakes of the daring, or is it really ridiculous hype with magazine sales as the only reasoning and function?
I like to think that the balance has shifted towards poor, and that the magazine really was better back when I liked it so much in 1995. If it's just me getting wiser I guess I shouldn't complain, but in general I think there's little enough magic as it is.
After a particularly humbling fight with the Xerces parser - trying to find a simple way of outputting the text of a tag and all tags contained therein - I had to think a little while about the ease of use of natural language interfaces and the difficulty in using artificial language interfaces.
Natural language interfaces are extremely simple to use. We know so many ways in which to derive meaning from a particular statement. Use of the ambient context of the statement implicitly. Standard rhetorical figures that form naturally to create new meanings around old ones. Rephrasing of the statement in similar forms. Just the many ways in which we can derive meaning from a word, just because it is a word of a particular kind. From nouns we can create an amazing number of different parts of speech through derivation from the noun. Our ability to derive meaning from letters, tokens, words, sentences, and conversations is extreme. The pipe dream of productivity tools is to create as rich a conversation using artificial languages.
Creating such a rich environment has so many aspects and for each of these aspects there seems to be a programming technology devoted to making that particular aspect appealing and straightforward.
What I've yet to see native language support for is the promiscuity of natural language, when it comes to describing objects. When you talk about some object you adapt the understanding of the object on the fly. In a conversation it is you not the provider of the object who defines the properties and interface to the object, simply by describing them. Maybe you have to start with the description you've been given - but from that you can rapidly adapt your own description and work in terms of that instead.
The point compared to the mechanisms available is that the object remains of the original class, you're just creating a temporary interface appropriate to your situation.
Another related candidate for language innovation is 'code-free delegation' i.e. how to use stock implementations in interfaces.
The true metalanguages, and the low level text-based ones like perl, allow for something like this, but either they are not languages with rich libraries - which really defeats the purpose of something like this, or the feature is only available by accident and certainly not in a type strong fashion. The idea with an extension like this would exactly be to hang on to type strength but make crossing of type boundaries possible when needed.
The object way of doing that is to write an adapter class presenting your own interface which is then implemented in terms of the existing interface, but to write your adapter you typically have to aggregate the old object, and that then means you have to actually construct a new object which can be a time-consuming and not very on-the-fly experience.
What I'm looking for is the ability to specify - for a class already in existence - an interpretation which I guess would be the keyword used to describe it. It is basically an implicit adaptor created on the fly for another class. It cannot add data to the original class (that would just be aggregation) but only implement a new interface in terms of the old one.
This is sort of a backdoor into generics. You'd specify an interface for e.g. a containerclass, and then you would create an interpretation of an existing class to make the container hold the existing object.
An adaptor refactoring tool in a modern IDE could be the solution if done in proper two-way fashion.
It's clear that the only languages with any shot at resembling natural languages are the self-morphing text based or just very richly reflective languages. The problem with most of these is that keeping languages that open also means contracts can be hard to enforce, and you can't prove any kind of behaviour even with the sloppiest understanding of program proof without contracts of some kind. The type-system is of course the weakest type of contract and that is only enforced by a few of these languages.
A while back there was a story here at classy.dk about how Developers are more important than development environment, based on an informal study of different programmers doing solutions in different languages of the same problem.
I found another programmer who took the bait. This time it's a C++ programmer inspired by Peter Norvigs Lisp arrogance. He manages to demonstrate that the developers of the templating system had a bad case of abstraction envy when they designed the template mechanism, and is able to basically copy the Lisp version into templated C++.
The template mechanism is wonderful except for two facts:
First, the C++ compiler - under heavy use of templates - is basically the slowest runtime environment for ideas I can think of. Clearly a new approach to the use of clock cycles is needed to make the C++ compile cycle acceptable. I'm sure any heavy user of templates can understand that sentiment, even if he doesn't agree.
I think basically what is needed is to stop thinking about the compile cycle as an offline activity - which is inherent in C/C++ think with the use of preprocessing, makefiles etc. Things like 'precompiled headers' are just hacks to work around the underlying issue that the model for how C and C++ generates code needs an overhaul.
The second fact is the more serious: Templates violate the fundamental principles of good productivity enhancers. Debugging template rich code is terrible, since the names of things that you use as short hand to make your code legible have vanished in the debugger, i.e. you cannot debug in your thought medium. In fact it can be hard enough to create even facades for your template rich libraries that let you wtop worrying about the templates themselves. STL and some of the 'gold-standard' libraries around make a very good effort in this respect but it is punishingly difficult for the average programmer. And it is not made easier by the poor interactive qualities of the template processor. (Basically you want to single step compilation - which is what I mean when I say the C++ compiler is really a runtime environment)
Generics are poised to enter both C# and Java. For J2EE programmes the obscurity of templating techniques should provide a welcome pause to the arcane work they have to do to write millions of classes (not to mention deployment descriptors) to provide J2EE services, but one would hope that the Java and C# language designers come up with a better way to open up the template processor for debugging etc., while hiding the results of running it from client programmers.
It's all to frequent to find yourself really annoyed at the information you find on the web. It's been there too long. It's not good enough. It's all business or technology. What happend to the fun, the sheer joy of the hyperlink, the disorientation of the early internet. Why is the web so much like a shopping mall, and why exactly is it that I find that I do indeed shop at chain-stores. All of these questions are important and hard to answer (mostly it's just that I'm a a really boring guy of course) but the sad fact of all this boredom is rapidly washed away with a quick surf off the Rageboy weblog. The title says it all: all noise - all the time.
That's what surfing is all about! Can I just say right here and now that 'sites' are really the scourge of the web - only pages should matter (that's right the notion of deep links is absurd - it's old world - it's just not getting it). You can spend a happy if boring life surfing slashdot and amazon and wired and mayby a newspaper or two but in the end it just gets so boring, and it's not only that it's boring - it is just a sad replica of a good time with a decent book, or a beer, or some really loud music.
Weblogs in general are no better - but of they are as strange and off-linking as Rageboy's they really do offer something you couldn't possibly have without hypertext.
Classy.dk fails miserably in being as wild. Maybe it's because it's tamed by Moveable type or maybe it's just that I actually manage to spend my log-life at the boring edge of digital society.
An interesting site-statistic, completely computable, is how diffusive a site is. Given markovian off world linkage, how much ground do you cover by linking off a site. 'Sites' are not very diffusive, since they have mainly intra-site links, weblogs are very diffusive.
For weblogs alone this is already enabled at the myelin blogging ecosystem and WMDI would probably like to be enable something like that but I would really like it for the whole web.
Tim O'Reilly has some very good points on copyright, piracy and digital distribution in an article on his website. Best quote: "Obscurity is a far greater risk to artists than piracy".
A mention of the article would be incomplete without a reference at the very same time to Creative Commons - which could be called CINGO - the Commons Is Not the GNU Organization. In other words it is an organization branding, and publishing a set of new open licenses with specific rights from public domain to right before an actual exclusive copyright.
Wired is carrying an article in the december issue about something billed asThe New Convergence. It's mainly there because of the holidays, one would think, and it's about what is billed as the reemergence of faith in the sciences. Not in a 'backlash against rationalism' kind of way even though that is certainly en vogue these days, but more as a restatement of the belief that not everything can be proven by science, and at the very ends of science faith comes in and grounds our thinking.
This is hardly news. If you like to think about Really Big Questions you've never been far from the idea since all attempts at avoding the ends of rationalism by applying more rationalism invariably ends in infinite arguments or ridiculous arguments pulled out of a hat to avoid the infinte argument.
A prominent flawed attempt at avoiding belief and the irrational is Roger Penrose's invocation of quantum theory to explain consciousness, since he can't help but feel there's something lacking in all the rational explanations he is able to give, and couldn't possibly accept not to have a rational explanation of consciousness.
The whole discussion reminds me of 'The two cultures' - C.P. Snows famous essay about the rift between the humane and the natural sciences. I guess faith comes into play here as a third culture all its own.
I'm very fond of a naive if hard to understand statement of my own making: 'The hereafter is the compactification of the infinite'.
To explain : In mathematics a compact set is a set that is finite in a very particular way which for the real numbers roughly translate to sets contained in finite intervals (If you're a mathematican you know I'm way off and need to talk about closed sets but that is not really important here).
Obviously the real numbers aren't compact by this definition, but to make them easier to work with one often inserts a special 'infinite point' bigger than all real numbers, so that the interval from 0 to this infinte point is actually compact. This lets you argue about the real numbers as if they were compact. Doing so is called a compactification.
What has this got to do with faith? Well, not so much, but it has got something to do with morals.
There's an idea in economics called the prisoners dilemma. Imagine two criminals, partners in crime, both caught by police. If none of them give each other up they walk. If one gives the other up, the one who gives the other up may get some limited sentence say 1 year , but the he can cut a deal whereas the other will get 10 years. But if both give each other up they both get 5 years. Tax payments are the same by the way: If everybody pays you don't have to pay much. If you can get off without paying and everybody else pays, you're on easy street. But if nobody pays there are no mutual benefits.
What's interesting about the prisoners dilemma is that while we can all see that it would be best for both parties if they said nothing, the uncertainty about the other guys behaviour means that the only rational thing to do is to give him up, so the prisoners both rat on the other guy.
This has troubled economists, because if this is so, how did economic cooperation ever begin.
Of course this applies to non-economic transactions also, why be a good guy if you won't suffer any consequences from your behaviour.
The solution lies in the fact that we play many such games with each other, and if you have to face the other guy in the same game tomorrow it does make sense to cooperate as long as he does.
You can continue this argument, so that if you have an infinite number of games to play, it will not pay to defect. But if you only have a finite number of games the argument doesn't work Surely in the last game you might as well defect, and if the other guy's going to defect next game, you might as well get a head start and defect right now, etc. etc.
And that's where the hereafter comes in. It establishes the infinite replay, or at least the indefinite replay as a concrete thing, and thus it grounds our arguments about infinte consequences in something concrete. It is the compactification of the infinite.
The interesting thing, and the reason why my original statement has any interest at all, is that if you believe in the hereafter your choice to be good is not a question of faith, it is just the rational thing to do, and darwinian creaturs that we are we tend to do rational things to stay alive. So if you stretch it a little you actually have here a darwinian argument for the emergence of morals.
So what has this got to do with faith and science. Well personally I believe that faith plays the same role with respect to rationalism that the hereafter plays with respect to morals. It is simply a stopgap measure to fill in the blanks. I like to think of this as a Kantian point of view: We see the world with the eyes that are available to us, in the logical forms available to us. Making rational arguments about things we cannot rationally perceive is futile. That this should come as groundbreaking news, seems strange to me.
The flip-side of the argument is that science always and without fail will push our morals in front of it. Our morals cannot exist as beliefs that are not affected by new rational insight. Beliefs have no place where there is knowledge. And if you think that makes me a bio-ethics hardliner ( cloning is inevitable etc. etc.) you're probably right.
Weblog analysis offers many surprises. The words 'consumer asshole property desire' without a doubt make the best search engine search words that lead people to classy.dk!
An IBM scientist has an old new idea as reported on Wired News: Charge spammers a nuisance fee.
The net is basically free today, and making people pay for anything has been an uphill struggle. The most successful campaign has been the RIAA/MPAA campaign against napster et al, and even that is a partial failure.
This anti-spam concept is misguided for two reasons. First of all: open email - even with the spam - is still a benefit to the consumer, and spam is simply not a big enough problem to make 'priority email' a killer-app. If you don't think so, you simply have forgotten what the world was like without email.
If this assumption was wrong in any significant way, mail clients with listed senders would be out there. It is entirely possible to stop spam completely using an intelligent mail client verifying senders, and issuing an 'I don't know you, so I won't receive your email' receipt to unknown senders automatically. Nobody I know uses such a system.
But even if my assumption was wrong, a scheme as radical as the one proposed without strong corporate sponsorship is unlikely to succeed, and corporate sponsorship of traffic limiting technology is hard to see as a very possible event. It could only work as an ISP value add or something like that, and it seems to me that the main theme of the internet today is that nobody cares who their ISP is these days - hence AOL's current problems.
We're left with the slight possibility that the OS monopoly power would get into this as a new way of extracting revenue from users.
Mr Nyholm - the same guy who had the nerve to suggest I have too much spare time on my hands since I post so much - has donated this story to classy.dk.
Calling this 'culture' is maybe a bit much, but it seems there's a turkish remake of classic trek out there.
Characters have been not so much renamed as respelled so their names make sense in Turkey and one would assume some of the storylines have been suitably turkified. Infinite respect goes to the first commenter to suggest a store location where one can obtain this marvel of kitsch.
If you've got nothing better to do I warmly recommend this search for 'classy køkken' suggested to me by my colleague Jasper. There's me, barbie dolls, a restaurant and lesbian porn. What more do you really need?
I firsernes slutning og 90ernes begyndelse var der en r?dselsfuld bem?rkning der blev så popul?r blandt socialdemokratiske, vindjakkekl?dte byr?dder at den n?ste var emblematisk for deres let ?l-n?sede seri?sitet: Jeg vil gerne knytte en bem?rkning til det punkt. Der var n?sten ikke nogen punkter hvortil de ikke knyttede bem?rkninger, og n?sten ikke nogen bem?rkninger der ikke var punkttilknyttede. De skulle have knyttet sylten i stedet og frelst os for den slags omst?ndeligt automatsprog.
I sen-90erne h?vnede den almindelige handelsskole elev sig så grusomt da han engageret fortalte os at Der er det så vi går ind, og siger.... Urgh. Her er det så jeg går ind og siger at du skulle tage at gå ind i dig selv og lade v?re med at gå så frygtelig meget ind i alt muligt andet. Jeg er ikke interesseret i at k?be det alligevel.
Hverken den knyttede socialkammerat eller den indgående s?lger er dog skyldig i den tredie r?dselsfuldhed som jeg virkelig, virkelig hader. Her skal der professionelle til. Tidens absolutte vinder er nemlig TV-journalistens Det vender vi tilbage til. I indslag efter indslag hvor almindeligheder slås fast med syvtommers?m, punkteres pointerne at man evig og altid vender tilbage til det det egentlig handlede om. Det er åbenbart angstfremkaldende bare at fort?lle hvad man har at sige. Man kan ikke gå til sagen, kun vende tilbage til den. Det er r?dselsfuldt.
Min gode ven Martin har tidligere nomineret socialp?dagogen i forhold til dårligt sprog. Jeps, det var lige pr?cis den han nominerede. Når man godt lige vil sige et par ord om alt i forhold til noget andet. Hans pointe er at hvis noget skal stå i forhold til noget så skal det v?re sammenlignelige st?rrelser. Det er jo rigtigt nok, men jeg har også altid syntes den var lidt for hård, for det er i orden at tale om noget betragtet i den sammenh?ng det har med noget andet - med andre ord, så står i forhold til for reduktionen af 'X' til 'X i sammenh?ng med Y', og det er ikke så slemt endda - og så har denne faste vending den fordel i forhold til de andre at den består af kun tre ord. Det v?rste ved at knytte en bem?rkning til et punkt, ved d?r så at gå ind og sige og ved evigt og evindeligt at afbryde sig selv for senere at kunne vende tilbage til det om et ?jeblik er at det er så fandens omst?ndeligt fyldsprog.
Jeg mindes om et fantastisk interview med rapperen LL Cool J. Som bekendt er der i sort amerikansk storby dialekt en fast vending, know what I'm saying?, som ikke betyder andet end 'ikk?' Det er bare en pause. I interviewet som foregik stille og roligt og langsomt og pr?cist fyldte LL Cool J ligeså mange gange omhyggeligt, ikke spor afsnappede eller sammentrukne Do you know what I'm saying? ind, som en dreng fra stenbroen engang sagde ikk i en almindelig s?tning. Det gjorde samtalen helt surrealistisk at fyldordene hele tiden var hele s?tninger.
Do you know what I'm saying?
November was another 10% growth month on classy.dk - more people, more pages, more information. I guess I should do something serious about offering more service with more depth to my evergrowing audience of web-crawlers and searchbots. Oh, and a few friends also.
I mediebranchen lever .com ?konomien åbenbart endnu. Eller det vil sige, den levede indtil i fredags. Dagen havde det hele:
Det dyre setup, den elendige ?konimistyring og for risikabalt lav finansiering blev for meget af det gode til sidst - og der henstår i det uvisse nogen uger endnu, må man tro, om udtalelserne fra Dagens ledelse og redaktion om at 'det lykkedes n?sten - l?serne var der' står til troende. Hvis det kostede alt for meget at få l?sere, og alt for meget at lave avisen, så er historien om dårlig styring, for spinkel finansiering og halvsvagt annoncesalg ikke nok til at forklare miseren, så er det bare kalkulen, og luksusmanererne den er gal med. Hvis det omvendt viser sig at de manglede abonnementsindbetalinger og marginalt bedre annoncesalg havde reddet avisen, så er det ?rgeligt.
På trods af lidt for meget smartness og for mange fejl og mangler i d?kningen, så var det en forn?jelse at få et radikalt andet bud på hvad en hverdagsavis skal v?re hver morgen sammen med sin Berlinger. Guderne skal vide morgenaviser let bliver for kedelige.
Oddsene for at lave andet end l?ssalg med en rekonstrueret avis, og chancerne for at opnå nogen som helst kredit igen på det risikable projekt må v?re så dårlige at det kr?ver endog meget velhavende nye ejere at få Dagen til at k?re igen.
A while back I made a comment about the differences between e.g. drugs and software when it comes to intellectual rights, and how this should lead to different rules for copyrighting these very different intellectual properties. It seems from this article that I'm in good company. Well, in company at least. There's a quote in that article from Lawrence Lessig's The Future of Ideas that is almost to the same effect as my position. I gather Lessig is a controversial character - at least in the US - and all the talk of the commons would tend to brand him as left wing, but really I don't think this as to be a partisan issue.
The argument is not against the idea of property at all, but rather that the claims of property- in the case of software - are too weakly formulated to hold merit. Since nobody documents software properly, closed source means that the claim of property becomes rather vague and you can make all kinds of claims of infringement from a relatively broad purely functional definition of software. You need that physical aspect of the software that is the actual construction process, i.e. you need the source at some point.
The second part of that argument is that the vagueness of software interfaces means that any property claim is effectively much wider than it appears since nobody but the source holder can figure out how to make good use of the copyrighted software. This effectively broadens the patent beyond any original claim, which is of course very much the case with Windows and the blurry distinctions between the platform and the Office applications.
For a related discussion of the entertainment industry's killer grip in online freedom, this article is just great.
The new keyboard browsing features of the mozilla browser are great. Using the keyboard you can key through anchor text to any link, indeed to any text rendered on a page. This is the closest I have seen to an anti-mouse, and pretty ground breaking. Code editors should be that good.
All I need now is eye-focusing to do the kind of rudimentary focal shifts that are useful and the mouse could be a thing of the past.
Update : I just need an Eye Mouse with the anti-mouse to be rocking.
A meta-comment was made about the Notes from Classy's Kitchen by Nikolaj Nyholm: 99% of all bloggers are unmarried and childless. Mr Nyholm himself is in the 1% who got away. Clearly not having a family is important to have sufficient time to ramble on at a brisk pace, there is however one important demographic he forgot, and I am not thinking about pro-bloggers like Jon Udell. No the ones he forgot about are those who work a lot but are really bored while doing so.
You can also get Your Personalized Shakespeare Insult on the web.
With a government unwilling to stop Microsoft from 'upselling' the operating system as everything they consider profitable or interesting (i.e. the Office suite etc. etc.) - leaving competitors without a fighting chance - there's little chance of stopping Microsoft. Latest case in point is the beginning of the end of an alternative platform for digital authentication as Liberty Alliance Waves White Flag at Passport.
A luxury goods company is now making $19,450 luxury cell phones. The phones have not been augmented technically in any way, just been made very expensive by plastering old-world design values on the outside.
Style matters of course, but the complete lack of technical excellence in the product makes it look like stone age arrowheads made from green bottle glass to me. A meaningless artifact made by and for somebody left behind by the modern world, to - by appearance only - adapt to something new that is simply beyond the comprehension of the makers and users.
While there's a beatiful embedded statement about tradition and the resilience of cultures in this, the flip-side of that statement - the inability to understand rapid change - is really the important one. It doesn't help any Nokia is involved in the making of this phone. That only tells us that technology is really boring right now.
I just generated this wonderful product idea with the Prior-Art-O-Matic: Googleized milk.
The most wired piece I've seen in Wired for a while was in issue 10.11: A wonderful debunking of 'pop' technology books about the connectedness of the internet and information and all the wonderfull stuff that will appear out of this. The piece hilariously identifies all the common, overdone examples of connectedness and complexity (from amazonian butterflies to The Oracle of Bacon)The piece is pure graphics and translates poorly to the web.
Also in that issue is a debunking of a national report on progress in science and technology as a throw back to starry eyed 30s science fiction. I think it is a little unfair since even the overhyped technologies of nano and infotech do exist and progress has been made, even if it was also once a crazy dream.
Btw calling it
the best wired piece in a long time' is only in reference to the short graphic rich pieces. I think the magazine articles - if a little on the short side - have recovered quite well from the bubble greed that made the magazine be all about IPO's a few years back. That sucked. Starry eyed lame brained out there ideas are a wast improvement.