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Archive for January, 2012

2.2 Trillions of The Federal Reserve’s Money: Who Got It?

I have been looking through some videos of Senator Sanders recently. He does not belong to the two faux parties that represent corporations in the United States, so his stance on many issues is unique and commendable. Here is an old but very important video.

Testing GMDS With Denser Voronoi Cells

I have put a colleague’s code to use and explored the possibility of doubling the number of points given the vastly faster implementation. Surprisingly, however, with additional points there is somewhat of a struggle to find the correct macro-correspondence, even within real pairs of surfaces that are not so intrinsically different (and 15 levels in the multi-scale approach, coarse-to-fine).

I am running some more experiments that look at what can be refined for better recognition/classification performance. Shown below are segmentations (based on correspondence) of pairs of surfaces with 400 and 600 Voronoi cells.

Overnight I ran a GMDS-intensive experiment to see how good a signal — for discriminative purposes — one can get with a 40-step geodesic dilation iterative process — the type of process that previously gave very good discriminative power (mistake once in about 40 comparisons). It would be heartening to believe that given the right formula (black art of adjusting parameters) GMDS will provide a flawless test, or maybe make up one of a series of tests that achieve it. At the moment, all experiments measure 5 different things at the same time in order to reduce the need to rerun lengthy experiments.

Why I Consider Myself to be Progressive — For Now

Roy Schestowitz plays pool

FOR quite some time I’ve affiliated myself with progressivism, not libertarians, maybe because I became familiar with the subversion of the term libertarian when people like Ron Paul came to the scene, supporting all sorts of things like banning of abortions (so much for liberty, eh?). Over at Techrights I promote some progressive values, but these mostly relate to the utility of software (or contrariwise, the limitations). It probably won’t take long for the word progressive to be co-opted, just like republican (as in Republican Party) came to be associated with what we sometimes call here conservatives, or right-wingers. This is why, for the lack of words we have left (not incited against like anarchism), I would describe myself as “progressive”, at least while the word retains its true meaning. Some people characterise The Guardian as “progressivie”, but after it took a bribe from plutocrat Bill Gates I lost all respect for it. I want nothing to do with The Guardian anymore.

One thing is for sure: in the 2012 elections in the United States a Republican will win. This Republican will most likely be Mr. Obama with his Republican-esque policies.

Konversation: Best IRC Client for GNU/Linux

SEO

XCHAT is a GNOME/GTK classic and it comes in many flavours, for different operating systems as well. To GNU/Linux users, XChat is like mIRC, an all-time classic (I used it when I was 14). But XChat is not the best thing out there. Its principal drawback is not the toolkits it uses, which render it ugly under KDE (even with QCurve). Its main drawbacks are the lack of functionality; Quassel and Konversation not only look better but also do a whole lot of stuff. But overall, Konversation is the winner among the two and it keeps getting better. I was stuck with XChat for almost 2 years (under KDE) until I discovered Konversation through recommendation from Sebastian. If you are using anything other than Konversation, do consider giving it a go. Quassel was a little too messy when I tried it, but if things have improved, please leave a recommendation or suggestion.

ixquick: Another Good Search Engine

Search

A few weeks ago I moved to Scroogle as the default search engine everywhere. All was fine and dandy, but Google is said to be blocking some nodes of Scroogle, which makes search inaccessible sometimes. In that case, ixquick.com comes in handy, but frankly, its results are not as useful as Scroogle/Google results. In Konqueror, the syntax to use for ixquick is http://ixquick.com/do/metasearch.pl?query=\{@}.

Why People Buy Apple

Sale

APPLE has an undeserved attachment to some perception that it is so much better just because of the brand. Some brands do earn their reputation, but what about Apple? There are some companies that studied the defect rates of hardware components in Apple products compared to the competition and found Apple to be inferior. When it comes to software, Apple’s side is usually lacking advanced functions and thus can be considered less potent.

So what is it that motivates some people to buy from Apple?

Thee appears to be some consensus — even if merely a manufactured one (by marketing) — that those who have Apple gadgets are wealthier. Apple’s advertisers subscribe to this strategy and like Gillette’s the “Best a Man Can Get” Apple sought to make it seem like everything from Apple is the best of a kind, even when rival phones, for instance, are better and cheaper than the iPhone.

One could argue all day about what’s “cooler”, but on technical grounds alone there is no reason for anyone to buy from Apple. From economic ground too there is never a compelling reason. It’s like fashion, it’s worth what people claim it to be worth.

Disinformation on the Web

Jesse Ventura

TERMS like “conspiracy theory” have become increasingly common when describing particular stories that are dubious. These terms (there are variations) have become synonymous with “false story” because more often than not they comprise scare-mongering and misdirection. There have been suggestions that sites promoting those “conspiracy theories” should be banned, but really, such theories have always existed and spread verbally. One of the fun things about the Web is that we can give visibility to such “conspiracy theories” and then bedunk them, helping people acquire or strengthen their critical skills. Like lateral thinking, critical skills equip people with a set of tests to apply in order to assess the validity of an argument, be it about religion, history, or whatever. So I’m all in favour of letting “conspiracy theories” spread. They help show people that not everything they hear is true, not even what they see on their television set. (Credit: image by Cory Barnes)

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