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

Obama's Cowardice

What happened to the Obama of the campaign? People have said he's broken their hearts, since he's not living up to expectations. He promised health care, and what we have now has some accomplishments but still needs work, he promised educational reform, that's nowhere in sight (I love how the Senate Republicans got the pathetic gesture of the Pell Grant increase out of the health care bill to stall it), he promised he'd attempt to improve the economy, but while people call him socialist he just gives money to the very banks that contributed significantly to the problem of the economy. Socialist indeed.

He's done some good things, for sure, and he's a better President ethically than Bush. A couple nice things: the FCC is probably going to end up enforcing net neutrality, so Comcast can suck balls, we can do stem cell research again, and (even though he's starting to flounder) his stance on Guantanamo and torture in general is good. But is he unable to multitask at all? Why can't he attack all the problems at once? He's had a full year in office, he's only got until November of 2012 to do more stuff. (I can't really see him getting reelected unless the Repubs throw up someone like Palin or the Democrats in their infinite party-wisdom dictate no one can run against him with the backing of the party.)

He hasn't broken my heart, I've come to expect these sorts of antics. But what's the reason for his actions? Was he like this all along, just another liar and coward in the sea of liars and cowards, using whatever rhetoric and propaganda he could to get votes in the election? Maybe, but I don't really think so. He convinced a lot of intelligent people of his sincerity, and it's really hard to do that without being sincere. If he was that skilled of a manipulator, the Republicans wouldn't have been such a match for him with this latest bill.

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Tao Te Ching Reflections, 14 through 25


Look, and it can't be seen.
Listen, and it can't be heard.
Reach, and it can't be grasped.

Above, it isn't bright.
Below, it isn't dark.
Seamless, unnamable,
it returns to the realm of nothing.
Form that includes all forms,
image without an image,
subtle, beyond all conception.

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Tao Te Ching Reflections, 1 through 13

Before I was atheist, I was an agnostic Taoist. I still retain some Taoist principles, but lately I've noticed myself forgetting them when I need them most. I've read the Tao Te Ching several times, and I am going to read it again now. I will be reflecting on each of the chapters as I go along. This will encompass a series of posts, and I will put the chapter numbers in the title.

I will be posting the translations of the chapters one by one in quotes, along with my thoughts or interpretations or disagreements. (Skip over them if you don't want to hear what I think; my thoughts are underneath the chapters and not in quotes.) If I say nothing, it can be assumed that I consider the message clear and agree with it.

So, let's begin. The copy of the Tao Te Ching I have is apparently translated by Stephen Mitchell.

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Brief Intro to Memory Mapping Into Structs

Learning how to memory map was a frustrating topic to hunt down, despite how easy it really is. First I'll share my main source, then get to what I was doing. For a great intro to memory mapping, follow that link. It will explain the code below while I'm just going to show it and tell what it does on a high level.

#include <unistd.h>
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <sys/mman.h>
#include <sys/stat.h>
#include <errno.h>
#include <fcntl.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <malloc.h>

struct GamColor
unsigned char d_red;
unsigned char d_green;
unsigned char d_blue;
unsigned char x_pad;

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Get rid of copyright

"Imitation is the highest form of flattery."

"Bad artists copy. Good artists steal."

Invention is made by standing upon the shoulders of giants. The last couple hundred of years has seen immense benefit toward humanity: why? Science. Science has allowed everyone willing to understand the universe, and to manipulate it all the better. Science has for the longest time resisted the traditional forms of control, for what is true is true, and what is false is false, regardless of what politicians say. And when you know enough true statements, you can use that knowledge to create something amazing.

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Get rid of trademarks

Let's get what trademarks are for out of the way right now. They're for protecting businesses who can't out-innovate (and would normally just out-advertise) their competition. They're also in part for helping the public against fraud, but that's more of a side-effect.

Consider I made an Operating System, and called it Windows. (Remember, "Windows" is just an every day word that people use for at least several concepts.) Regardless of the quality of my OS or the effectiveness of my advertising, I'm in trouble for violating trademarks.

What is the danger to customers? They may buy my OS thinking they're getting Microsoft's. That's all. "Customer confusion." But frankly, this happens regardless. People sent back laptops to Dell, when they sold Ubuntu-loaded machines, because they didn't realize they weren't getting Windows. "Ubuntu" looks nothing like "Windows", yet people still made mistakes. And how was that handled? They sent the product back, and all was well.

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Get rid of patents

Software patents have been under heavy heat recently and have never been favored to begin with; I'll talk about them a bit. But really, the problem is with all patents, not just software ones.

Software has very little manufacturing time. What amounts to an "invention" is a mere algorithm or data structure at best, and a vague "look and feel" at worst. In one corner we have a patent for a Linked List, one of the simplest data structures ever, and in the other corner we have Amazon's One-Click patent and Apple's multi-touch implementation.

Perhaps the biggest offense to those two patents is their obviousness. Linked lists are obvious data structures, if you tell any web programmer worth his salt "Make me a button people can click to instantly check out and ship", he'll just say "Okay." Patents are supposed to be for innovative (and new) ideas. In other words, these patents should never have been granted in the first place due to their obviousness alone. In the case of Linked Lists, those have been around probably since before computers.

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