Archive for category Technology

Some answers on Climate Change

Someone asked some questions on climate change elsewhere, and I took some time to answer them. I’m cross-posting the questions and my responses here for the benefit of any of my visitors who might have similar questions:


Why should I support fighting climate change?

Do you have kids? Are there any kids in your near family, or do friends have kids you care about, or (reaching, but) do you care about kids in general? Because if this isn’t stopped, they’re going to be at least miserable, and possibly much worse.

What action should I take to help reduce climate change?

Change, if it’s coming at all, must come from both the top and the bottom.
Starting with your own actions… drive less, set your home to warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter, keep appliances off that don’t need to be on. Do this even if you’re in an area with hydro or other non-stank power, because power you don’t use can be shared to other areas that may not be hydro or other relatively clean power. Unless you’re 100% power independent, for instance, if you run your own isolated solar installation.

How much money is it going to cost me?

Your own actions will probably save you money, potentially quite a bit, but how much depends on your present circumstances. Next is getting your representatives — senators, congresscritters, the president — to take political action, which can be much more effective, but is comparably much more difficult to achieve. They can fund the science and technology that will be needed to counter the effects, and they can set emissions regulations that can slow the onset of the more serious problems somewhat, thus providing more time for the science and tech folk to create and implement remedial counters.

What will happen if I do nothing?

In the nearer term… food shortages as crops have to be moved to more northern temperate bands into the hands of farmers who are unfamiliar with them, and as ocean acidification increases and blows out the balance of life there, resulting in changes that may in fact turn out to be catastrophic — a lot of the world depends upon the ocean as a food source. If it’s unavailable to them, they’re going to want the other foodstuffs, and that will change the market price and availability — not in a good way. Violence is definitely possible over this issue. Harsher weather, generally speaking warmer and carrying more intense storms. In the longer term, some ocean rise, which will cause people in low-lying coastal areas to relocate, which will (a) reduce the available real estate people can live on, and (b) destroy or very seriously inconvenience all businesses that are presently operating in those locations.

End game… probably this will get solved, IMHO, but it may be well into some of the above problems before it is if our politicians and citizens don’t get after it. If it isn’t solved… might be pretty much apocalyptic within a few hundred years. Worst case… runaway warming… ever look at the climate of Venus?

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Kenwood and Yaesu, where are you?

ICOM’s R-8500, IC-7300, IC-7610 and IC-9700 are making huge impacts on AROs everywhere. This is no surprise to those of us familiar with SDR technology; older analog radio designs simply cannot offer the kinds of performance advantages a good SDR design can.

However, one thing these radios from ICOM have in common are some poor design choices; spectrum span choices are crippled compared to a center/demodulator tuning scheme; spectrums and waterfall displays that are insufficiently adjustable; noise blankers in the least useful portion of the signal path; insufficient “knobbiness”, so that the user interface of the radio is a great deal more clumsy than it actually needs to be.

The opportunity for Kenwood and Yaesu is clear: there’s an opening here to step in and knock ICOM off the hill they climbed up on.

Imagine a stand-alone SDR transceiver where:

  • You could conveniently place the spectrum/waterfall anywhere
  • You could adjust the amplitude/level of the waterfall and spectrum separately
  • The noise blanker reduced the noise on the display as well as in the audio
  • The display was capable of high resolution output to a monitor
  • Transmit pre-distortion provided very high quality TX
  • Important controls were given their own front panel placement
  • Full mouse/trackball integration was standard
  • Broadband IQ output was available for external use
  • Multiband EQ and compression / limiting for TX audio was provided

These are just some of the obvious places where ICOM’s radios, thus far, have fallen woefully short.

Yaesu? Kenwood? Where art thou?

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On the likely inevitability of AI and AC

We can (if we are honest) observe that progress, and the potential it unleashes in many cases, is not all that closely linked with what’s commercially available or common around the time of the fundamental invention. In the first decade after lasers were invented, for instance, there was no significant commercial application. When the integrated circuit was invented, it wasn’t much to look at and functionally speaking, for decades, it was outright pitiful compared to ICs today. We’re still dealing with developing a full understanding of how neurons do what they do. In laser parlance, in 2017 we are yet pre-laser, and in my opinion, anyone who tries to tell us that lasers, figuratively speaking, can’t do X at this point should be considered, at most, a hand-waver in the grips of a fit of profound hubris.
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The FFT definitively explained by me, a signal processing expert

The Fourier TransformHere’s how to properly explain the fast Fourier transform, or FFT: Okay, it’s a Fourier transform, or FT, right, but while you’re doing it, you fold the buckets and the coefficients like origami, see, yes, basically like a unicorn, so you have to cut the code here, and here, and here so the head will come out right, yes, that’s it, and this code over here, it only runs if the unicorn is facing south, plus, you pull its tail so it makes little unicorn poops,uni and those have to go back into the unicorn’s little feed bin for next time around, because otherwise, the feedbin is too sweet, see, and the buckets are all funny-like and time goes back to being partially frequency. And you don’t want that.

So that’s it, yeah, and I’ll need your code example by tomorrow morning. Class dismissed.

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Real Change is Coming

We are facing a brand-new set of oncoming challenges. There’s never been a situation previously where a significant (and likely unlimited and continuously, and rapidly, growing) wave of higher-qualified workers who did not require wages entered the workforce.

LDNLS vs. AI


I discuss LDNLS vs. AI over in this other post. These things are affecting the job market now. There’s no remaining time to feel or act complacent.

Increasingly sophisticated LDNLS Workers that never cheat, never steal, are never late, very rarely “sick”, have no unions, no wages, no insurance, no internecine or even trivial conflict, don’t get pregnant, who never have to stay home with sick kids or spouse, don’t need or want a cafeteria, a gym, breaks, a lunch hour, tips, or stock options; are unfailingly polite, even sympathetic, immune to office romance, gossip, corporate espionage, complaints of mistreatment; have no interest in and do not require promotion, will never misuse company time, and are replaceable the very moment something more effective is available without any consequences to social security charges, unemployment tithing, legal costs, or need for security personnel to walk the previous “employee” to the door.
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AI – Just how close are we in 2016?

Many like to try to guess at how long it will take to develop artificial intelligence. Like many in the field, I have my own ideas about it. I don’t think guesses that look at evolution as found in nature in order to apply those time scales to our own efforts are worthy. What follows is why I think that is the case.

Here’s the thing. Evolution in the sense most are familiar with it is basically a biological hardware development process. It took a long time for nature to produce the right computing hardware using that process. In the current “version” of humanity, consciousness arises automatically upon input and organization of enough data. That’s very good hardware from the perspective of consciousness or no consciousness.

With computer hardware, however, the odds are excellent that the hardware is already more than sufficient. If that’s the case, then we’re just dealing with one last step, which is strictly based on varying software.
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Some OS X DHCP Esoterica

Because I develop Software Defined Radio (SDR) software, I have occasion to connect, and disconnect, various network devices to my wired network in order to test them all day long. Most of the SDRs are designed to configure using DHCP, or can be convinced to do so. That saves some fooling around, and is a good thing. However, my network is extensive, devices are always being moved around, WiFi devices arriving and leaving, and so once the SDRs are assigned an IP, I have to go hunt them down. It was annoying that they’re always showing up somewhere different.

However, my Mac Pro had an unused second ethernet port sitting. right. there. Hmmm. So…
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Why I Target OS X 10.6.8

OS X has come a long way since OS X 10.6.8; among the pluses: better multiple monitor handling, considerably improved memory management (part of which was fixing the leaks in the color management pipeline that OS X 10.6.8 exhibits) repairs to the bugs in 10.6.8′s CUPS printing system, and so on.

So why, then, target OS X 10.6.8?
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