Sunday, March 08, 2009

Mind-reading machines

I'm sorry if this sounds like bragging. (I'm not sorry about actually bragging, I'm just sorry about sounding like I am.)

I love when I manage to outsmart a computer, just by understanding how it thinks in general, not by actual education. (I haven't a clue about programming.)

The earliest and the latest examples come to mind. The latest one was just now: there was a large file I'd been downloading in Safari, which was interrupted by me putting the machine to sleep (as an experiment to see if it would be picked up again like my FTP app does). Then after it woke up again, I started the download, and it only downloaded as some tiny 4kb file. Trying again didn't change anything. So what did I do, I downloaded it in a different browser, and viola, it worked.

The earliest example was when I had my first computer in 1995, before I even got Internet. The wonderful and funny (but sadly no longer updated) book Mac Secrets by David Pogue had free apps, which came on floppy disk. I copied them (from my library copy) to my hard disk. But one of the zip files wouldn't unzip. I looked at it, and saw it had a dot in the file name before the usual dot designed to show where the suffix started (my.greatapp.hqx). So I figured this might be confusing the likkle machine mind, so I removed that dot. And viola, it unzipped. As a total newbie back then I felt especially pleased.

Chris said:
BTW, I know how you don't like typos and such in other blogs... [huh?] it's not "viola" (which is an instrument a bit bigger than a violin) but "voila", from French meaning "there it is". Or perhaps you were writing for your girlfriend named Viola? he he.

I just think "viola" is funnier. Besides it was my mother's middle name.

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Sunday, March 08, 2009   8 comments links to this post

8 Comments:

At 8 Mar 2009 19:59:00, Blogger Monsieur Beep said...

Humans gave those machines their brains. We are to them what "God(s)" is/are to us.

The real "God" also likes to outsmart Her creation.

:-))))))))

:-Q

 
At 9 Mar 2009 02:12:00, Anonymous Chris S. said...

BTW, I know how you don't like typos and such in other blogs... it's not "viola" (which is an instrument a bit bigger than a violin) but "voila", from French meaning "there it is". Or perhaps you were writing for your girlfriend named Viola? he he.

 
At 9 Mar 2009 02:35:00, Blogger eolake said...

I just think "viola" is funnier. Besides it was my mother's middle name.

 
At 9 Mar 2009 03:00:00, Anonymous neeraj said...

A computer is not doing, what you want -
a computer is doing, what you tell him ...

(using some weird language, derived from keystrokes and mouse handling, invented by ... who was that?)

Sometimes a big difference.

Sometimes not - if so, what a relief. I love it, too - gives me an illusion of understanding ;-)

 
At 9 Mar 2009 04:22:00, Blogger Pascal [P-04referent] said...

I'm entirely self-taught in computering. But still, I managed to get rid completely of Microsoft's "non-removable" Genuine Advantage Notification annoyware, which had installed without my consent (during shut-down, automatically), and simply did unannounced things I didn't want.
When an application starts removing my wallpaper and insistingly demanding I connect to a company site to check that I'm not a criminal under their arbitrary standards, my answer is "fuck off!" Don't try bullying a Lebanese, ya khaweja!
I don't trust MS. Their very methods are repelling.
So I tried and managed to uninstall their most intrusive and antipathetic crap. Humble amateurish me.
Dang, it IS true that a Lebanese is expert at anything! And all those years I thought it was just bragging. :-)

I think Microsoft has a computer mind. Can be quite easy to outsmart. :-)
It's incredible the possibilities that'll open up to one who simply checks all the options.
They tried to sneak it back in with Service Pack 3. To Hades with SP3, this system becomes slower and more unstable with every update anyway. I'm convinced they deliberately sabotage it over time.

Neeraj programmed on his keyboard...
"A computer is not doing, what you want -
a computer is doing, what you tell him ..."

And what an elegantly formulated algorithm this is, my fellow biological application. :-)
You just have to tell it precisely what you want, "what is well thought is clearly formulated" and all that. Provided you're the one writing all the programming, a computer forces you to learn to say precisely what you mean. Can be very educational.
I like the intelligence skills it trains me into. Fundamental logic.
I love to rant and be of blatant bad faith, but I also have deep respect for the acquisition of strict logic in speaking. It has its uses... ;-)

 
At 9 Mar 2009 05:06:00, Blogger Pascal [P-04referent] said...

One of my aunts is named Violette. Pretty name(s).

 
At 9 Mar 2009 12:36:00, Anonymous neeraj said...

I don't trust MS. Their very methods are repelling.
So I tried and managed to uninstall their most intrusive and antipathetic crap ...


Me, too. So, I have learned to build my own system, removing all which is annoying me. An easy way for non-programming people is found e.g. at www.litepc.com. It is even possible to remove the security risk "Internet Explorer" without bigger problems - MS claims that this not possible, because "IE is an integrated part of the OS and therefore not removable", but that's a strategic lie.

... fellow biological application

Also elegantly formulated, I love it ;-) It leads directly to the basic question "Who am I, and applicated by whom or what?"

You just have to tell it precisely what you want ... exactly, but "well thought" is somehow very different for computers and for Humans - I have a few times programmed on the machine level ... weird, but interesting.

Fundamental logic ... yes, Boolean Algebra. Useful and educational, I like it. Just a rather philosophical remark:

Logic as it is understood today (since Gottlob Frege ... Gottlob = praise God, that's a German prename!) has nothing to do with truth. It only asks: Given any statement, what kind of logical operations can I do with it without changing the content of the statement (may it be true or not, that's not needed to know)?

Even if you have formulated as clear as possible what you want, you have to translate it into a language, which is so reduced that it is only partly human, and may as well called nonhuman - computers can be seen like an own species pretending to be human on the surface ... and the engineers are doomed to produce this illusion. Making a dream-machine.

(BTW I have worked on man-machine interfaces :-)

 
At 13 Mar 2009 22:10:00, Blogger Joe Dick said...

I just think "viola" is funnier. Besides it was my mother's middle name.

Really? My mother's middle name is harpsichord.

 

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