Jach's personal blog

(Largely containing a mind-dump to myselves: past, present, and future)
Current favorite quote: "Supposedly smart people are weirdly ignorant of Bayes' Rule." William B Vogt, 2010

On OAuth

This is more of a technical article, but it's pretty concise. Still, if you fear technology, you might want to stop reading, shut off your computer, seal it in cement, and drop it off in the ocean.

OAuth, to put it simply, is a protocol that securely allows users to trust a third party application with their data somewhere else, and never have to give up their password. I discovered the protocol when I was doing some Twitter stuff for work, and I'm quite impressed by it.

I'll give an example of how Starwing (a message board I frequent) might use such a service. Say I made an application that made the forum seem like an email client, namely Gmail. (Gmail organizes emails into "threads", like a message board, but that's as far as it goes without getting into extra details.) So, my client acts like a Gmail reader for Starwing, and allows you to read and, optionally, write new messages.

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Programming is the closest thing to magic

It's true. If you want to practice magic, but know there's no empirical evidence for such things, start programming. To illustrate this more, let's think about what magic is, and what it requires. Magic is simply a control over natural forces. It often involves precise instructions (through means of spells or potions), and a deep understanding of the world the magic influences and the magic itself.

This is directly akin to programming. If you brought a computer back in time (you wouldn't have to go far) you would probably be accused of witchcraft and burned. Computers can be made to do anything very fast and very accurately, and eventually with greater intelligence than humans. (Though that's a subject for another post.) Anything magic can do, a programmer can simulate it with the computer, and in many cases could get some hardware together and accomplish the same thing. Flying? Science did that, but ever since computers came on the scene Science has been using them to perfect its models and creations. Flying today is much more powerful than it was with the Wright Brothers. I hope it's not too much of a stretch to see why programming, just as magic, exerts a control over natural forces. Leave me a note though if you disagree.

Now to address what kinds of magic you get. When you program, you are giving precise instructions to a computer. Depending on the programming language you use, you might have to explicit more or less instructions. This is similar in magic: the types where you simply say a single word aren't usually so powerful (at least by themselves; that is, uncontrolled), whereas the most powerful types of magic usually involve multiple practitioners, each with great control, and a complicated series of rituals, sacrifices, and so forth. It is important to note, however, that the higher single-word magic can be greatly increased in power when some intention is added, and the user has more control over it. I don't really want to bring up Harry Potter, but it's widely known and has an example of this. Harry tries to use Crucio without entirely meaning it, as if the magic just resided in the word or the wand.

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