Archive for the 'Singularitarian' Category

1985: Beginnings of the Digital Age

May 12 2012 Published by under Religion and Mythology,Singularitarian

According to a mathematical interpretation of the measurements of the Great Pyramid, late 1985 marks a significant time of influences for our current age. Taking a look at the publicly contributed list of events on Wikipedia for 1985,  a number of items form the fabric of our society:

  • First release of Windows
  • Free Software Foundation founded
  • Richard Stallman writes the GNU manifesto
  • NeXT, which much of Mac OS X is based on, is founded by Steve Jobs
  • Nintendo is released with Mario Brothers bundled
  • First Calvin and Hobes comic

Another source summarizes:

 As the spread of aids increases Governments round the world start screening Blood donations for AIDS. On the technology front the first .com is registered and the first version of Windows is released Ver 1.0 . Terrorists continue to perform acts of terrorism including the hijack of TWA Flight 847 and the Italian Cruise Liner “Achille Lauro “. Famine in Ethiopia is shown more on TV News in July and Live Aid concerts around the world raise many millions to help the starving in Africa and the pop industry in US joins together to sing “We Are The World”.

The major trends of a global awareness and people working together to solve problems are apparent.

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Planning For the Next Version of Fiddle Salad: How I Nearly Jumped to My Next Project

The work done on Fiddle Salad this month would not have been possible without last month’s planning. Furthermore, Fiddle Salad would not have been my idea if I did not invest time in building Python Fiddle. Python Fiddle was really the end product of 9 years of dreams of running a high performance computer and the result of my experience using Gentoo Linux. So I bought a computer to build Python Fiddle, which also turned out to be necessary to run the latest IDE and development tools to build Fiddle Salad.  When I started working with the Python interpreter in JavaScript,  it was horrendously slow. It took about 20 seconds to load and took up almost 1GB of memory. Any text editor except Vim without syntax highlighting was quick enough to edit the 12MB source code file.

Fiddle Salad is an evolution of both the original idea and code base that belonged to Python Fiddle. Now it is really Fiddle Salad that’s driving the development of Python Fiddle, because they share much of the code base. 

So this is the third major milestone, which I almost gave up on before I embarked on it. Before I started work on this milestone, actually a day or two before I planned, I suddenly noticed huge, discouraging signs. They came as shocking surprises. For example, I discovered a hidden option in an application I have used often before that had some of the functionality I was going to build. If that wasn’t enough, it was actually quite popular and many people probably knew that feature. As another example, I discovered another application that was more innovative in certain aspects than the application I planned to build. I got still more examples, but they aren’t worth repeating here.

As a habit, I reached for my next plan and the best tools I have available. I then realized that I would be throwing away about 8 months of work and the plans for this month, which worked out so well. Although I had no reason and no incentive at all to work on Fiddle Salad, I did so only because I enjoyed every moment of it. I believe that’s what we are all here for, the very drumbeat of the universe.

In the end, those serious signs got swallowed up by my project, as I managed to either include their ideas or integrate them right into it. Fiddle Salad is really the culmination and peak of all live web development environments, having the best features in all of them and in my imagination.

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Several Thousand Visitors Second Day Launch

Aug 30 2011 Published by under Python Fiddle,Singularitarian

A recent site I launched received a lot of attention. It may have been the only way to get the momentum going, since Google wouldn’t index a site with no content.

Fortunately, I spent a week before launch optimizing the page loading, serving static files from Amazon, and fixing usability bugs. So the result is a very smooth launch, even when serving many visitors per second. Some users who experienced slow loading issues may have been waiting for the browser to download a 1.3 or 2.0 MB file, which could have caused a traffic jam on a static file server. The technique used here was to serve files that are already compressed with lzma and gzip, respectively. Due to htaccess configuration not being available on Amazon, it was decided to serve these from another server.

The most surprising effect was that Google seemed to have picked up the link as soon as it appeared, along with other sites that mirror content.

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Stoicism and Confucianism: the Thread of Society

Jul 09 2011 Published by under Singularitarian

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius is the indisputable classic of Stoicism. Similarly, the I Ching has a comparable history in Confucianism, with the Ten Wings being modified by each generation of scholars. The I Ching begins with two symbols, representing Heaven and Earth. Understanding this is the key to the philosophy. The Will of Heaven is done on Earth. One Will, One Universal Cause, and One Purpose that unites all.  The Mediations expounds on a similar philosophy: reason governs society, which rules men.

Now the good for the reasonable animal is society; for that we are made for society has been shown above. Is it not plain that the inferior exist for the sake of the superior? But the things which have life are superior to those which have not life, and of those which have life the superior are those which have reason.

Heaven is represented as reason, Earth as society, thus humans are to follow society. When Heaven and Earth come into being, human life begins.  The third symbol in the I Ching is appropriately named Beginning. From these three symbols, the ten thousand things follow.


The I Ching has another name, the Book of Changes.  The symbols alternate, with lines changing from yin and yang, representing the interplay of energies. The entire book represents a sequence of changes with each symbol. Within each symbol, the lines show how the situation develops. Thus, the I Ching is a suitable simulation, or conceptual model, of the Universe, as Marcus writes,

Now the universe is preserved, as by the changes of the elements so by the changes of things compounded of the elements.

The Role of Philosophy

Philosophy is not logic. It is a metaphysic of quality. The I Ching is not a book, because it encompasses all things in existence and all that have been or will ever be.  Indeed, if one truly knows the essence of the I Ching, all things past and future is not beyond his grasp.

Without going outside his door, one understands (all that takes place) under the sky; without looking out from his window, one sees the Tao of Heaven. The farther that one goes out (from himself), theless he knows.

The sage knows everything, yet perceives nothing. Perception belongs to the realm of time, but Heaven lasts forever. In the realm of time there is philosophy, for without it society has no way to speak of Heaven. There is no justification for the existence of humans other than philosophy, which is why philosophers have always asked for the meaning of life,

Of human life the time is a point, and the substance is in a flux, and the perception dull . . . What then is that which is able to conduct a man? One thing and only one, philosophy. . .

The Nature of Things

The I Ching as an oracle, reveals the true nature of the situation being asked. Each symbol, composed of yin and yang lines, shows how the situation develops. When taken together, they form a picture showing the nature of the situation.

Marcus asks the same questions of himself,

This thing, what is it in itself, in its own constitution? What is its substance and material? And what its causal nature (or form)? And what is it doing in the world? And how long does it subsist?

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The Mind and the Machine: the Book

Jul 07 2011 Published by under Religion and Mythology,Singularitarian

A book has been written by the title of this blog, The Mind and the Machine: What It Means to Be Human and Why It Matters.  This topic becomes more and more relevant as computers take over human tasks. Each human is partly machine, partly something else, and it is that part that distinguishes humans from the machines. This book explores each aspect of the human. Let the machines take care of themselves, they neither perceive nor feel. The rest of life will be more meaningful.

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Coursetree 2.0: An Intelligent Backend Coming Soon

Jun 24 2011 Published by under CourseTree,Singularitarian

The goal of coursetree 2.0 is to leverage the current cloud infrastructure to deliver semantic applications that help users find the information they are looking for.

Features currently planned:

  1. Course search that understands what the user wants
  2. Filtering of irrelevant links
  3. Pattern based degree data mining

Draft implementation strategy:

  1. Let Google search index Wikipedia and video links
  2. Bayesian classifier will be used to categorize link content into subjects
  3. Template induction and template scraping

Features under consideration:

  1. Adaptable prerequisite semantic analysis
  2. Fully automated template learning and template extraction
  3. Relevant course links/suggested courses

Tenative ideas:

  1. Genetic algorithm for grammar rule generation with fitness score assigned according to the total number of parse errors
  2. Use hashing algorithms to detect similarity in sections of a page, feed similar sections using wrapper induction to generate template
  3. Build map of courses using anti-requisites and display nearest neighbors

Unsuccessful incubation features:

  1. Using genetic algorithms to generate templates for wrapper induction
  2. Switch to parse trees extract noun phrases for Wikipedia link candidates
  3. YQL for video link scraping

Lessons learned and salvaged:

  1. Don’t use genetic programming methods where scores cannot be assigned to each individual “program”, as many of the templates were simply fails with zero scores
  2. Although in some cases successful (with a comma separated list of noun phrases), in other cases single words were marked as noun phrases in the parse tree instead of a more desirable longer phrase
  3. Due to frequent changes in video sites, nested JavaScript callbacks with closures to glue previews to links made the code a target to be recycled

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Do you remember grade 7?

May 27 2011 Published by under Life,Singularitarian

I still remember grade 7, better than grade 1 or grade 12. Grade 1 is somewhere out on the ocean, on a foggy island. Grade 12 seems to be covered by a layer of snow. All I see is white, among the trees and bushes. I can’t name ten significant events there, compared to fifty from grade 7. Let’s not forget, I loved school (in grade 7)! Now grade 12 is a different issue. After learning much math and a lot of science & societal issues, grade 12 just fit into the fabric of our modern society. It’s just one step in the production. But I still love the idea of grade 7, like a grassy knoll frozen in crystal clear ice. What is so memorable and what do I remember about it?

  1. Missing school for about a month in Canada. Cool!
  2. Getting brand new chairs during Christmas (school chairs were replaced)
  3. The math teacher taught the wrong lesson at the start of September which showed up as the last lesson
  4. Humans have evolved from monkeys (specifically referencing Geography teacher, who had more body hair)
  5. Geography teacher plays catch against the wall
  6. Someone wore a loose shirt while picking up a book
  7. Spelling Islam as “I slam” during spelling test
  8. Not to boast about knowledge that other people can’t understand after discussing biorythms in English class
  9. Math teacher mentions the Kenedies
  10. Math teacher talks about spanking in schools
  11. Kelley showed me a drawing which he thought was funny
  12. Having a starred conversation sitting in front of two people on the bus
  13. The road beside the bus station getting a ditch
  14. Walking home across town after missing the bus
  15. Getting whiplashed by long hair standing behind the lines of someone turning
  16. Oh yuck! Found a piece of black paper in the corn in the cafe
  17. Making an airplane that flew straight and never sank (paper airplane)
  18. Summer nights playing games on the grass
  19. The hat as it flew off while I was running
  20. Watching comedy with a man named Josh, who had the same name as my other friend Josh, who had the same name as my old best friend Josh
  21. Maybe Joshua means “one Jesus”, as I thought, reading the Bible
  22. Reading an encyclopedic book of short stories for children
  23. At the end of the year, various animals as a collection of books each day
  24. Exhaustion, after not sleeping well and taking a test during the summer
  25. Clarity, reading a poetry book of experiences on the sea
  26. Spending some days in spring break walking mazes in NeoPets
  27. Fall break, reading a book on vocabulary
  28. The worst flu of my life!
  29. A commercial tower appeared in SimCity in the first year
  30. Winning an Easter bunny machine from a community event
  31. Dissecting cow hearts with the surgeon of the class
  32. Don’t tell the truth, Ben will be disappointed by the literal translation of his name to Chinese
  33. Eating seaweed, the joke being other people mistaking it for grass
  34. Teacher says I should give animal crackers
  35. Three interpretations of “Favorite Bird” (Iraq): duck (bombardment), turkey (nearby country), chicken (playing chicken)
  36. Guy named Thomas dreams about harvesting resources on other planets
  37. Visiting the Secret Cove with Kelley
  38. Kelley’s fish tank
  39. Playing an alien shooter game on the cellphone on the way to Niagara Falls
  40. Stephen Hawking’s book on the tape on a cross continent journey
  41. Tree in front of the house being split by lightning
  42. Indian gives a penny for Halloween trick o’ treat
  43. The math teacher, who was also a coach, talks to Richie about his recent performance in class
  44. I still remembering trying to answer Frank’s question in English class
  45. The meetings with the advisor to decide whether or not, “to be, or not to be”, and I decided to switch
  46. Getting skin on my feet scratched off after walking a distance in the shoes
  47. Feeling despair and hopelessness one night, Fall
  48. The voice, a military commander through the morning routine
  49. Shower music, to avoid the monsters
  50. Drinking tea before the afternoon jog
  51. Playing the piano after dinner at Mrs. Ting’s house, the start of lessons
  52. Oversleeping by the breezy window, arrived at class late
  53. See You at the Pole (911 event), which I never understood

Maybe there is an infinite pool of memory in which I can remember every minute detail. Just how much digital memory is it? A dot, a speck, in the world of Mona Lisa Overdrive.

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Hamlet Tricks

Mar 11 2011 Published by under Life,Religion and Mythology,Singularitarian

Like Odysseus, Shakespeare’s Hamlet played the role of the trickster to fulfill his mission. “How now! a rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!”, Hamlet yells, when he suspects a spy, putting his sword through the wall. How about the play within the play where the king is poisoned? Then there is the incidence where he writes off two of his best friends and joins a pirate ship.

As in the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,  Hamlet has overwritten parts of his memory several times. Each time, things happen differently, and he forgets in order to remember the parts relevant at present. What is left, what I believe about the past, is it the present or the past?

What actually happens in Hamlet is a scene being played over and over again in the mind. Hamlet is attempting the perfect revenge.  Each time, more characters are erased from memory, until an underlying factor turns.

Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damned Dane,
Drink off this potion. Is thy union here?

Hamlet finally comes to peace of mind.  Seen in this light, every single event in the play had a totality, beyond good and evil.

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From Reiser3 to Reiser4 and Uncertainty Beyond

Mar 10 2011 Published by under Linux,Singularitarian

Reiser3 was the first Linux filesystem with journaling and received mass adoption in the period of 2001-2006. Reiser4 is designed with lessons learned from the mistakes in Reiser3. It is still the fastest Linux filesystem.  That is without filesystem compression. Reiser4 has been around since 2001, but it has never been accepted into the Linux kernel. It is a testament to the failure of a free society to recognize greatness. The Linux kernel maintainers are still human.

Before Namesys

Reiser was about 12 years old in high school when he was accepted into Berkeley. He studied on and off, working at companies like IBM, before earning a degree at middle age. The development of Reiser3 and Reiser4 can be traced to his senior thesis, in which he studied the difference between computer science and empirical sciences. As a result, Reiser3 and Reiser4 were exceptionally fast filesystems, because ideas conventionally regarded in computer science as junk were given a second chance.

To start Namesys, Reiser went to Russia in 1993 and hired a team of programmers. Russia had just come out of a huge failure. To summarize the period:

The Russians are just taking into their hands the ashes of incompetent industry, collectivized farming, Stalinist paranoia, military machoism, the Gulags, Leninist madness…

They turned out to be the best programmers that money could buy, full of bright ideas.

Reiser3 (ReiserFS)

When I used Windows 95/98, I remember those colorful screens and the long wait. It turned out the OS was checking the filesystem, because it didn’t shut down properly. So is there a way to make it start faster and not loose any data? Reiser3 was the first Linux filesystem to implement journaling, one method to solve both problems. With Reiser3, data centers did not have to worry about loosing power, even just for 1 second.

Major Linux distributions all offer Reiser3. SourceForge was hosted using  it, and Novell made it their default filesystem. Since then, there has been a decline due to kernel locks used extensively, resulting in non-concurrent operation on multi core systems. However, there are patches, because Reiser3 users still haven’t switched.

Reiser3 development was funded by DARPA and Linspire. Another source of funding when it was included with the kernel was database implementations.


Reiser4 is a non-continuous increment of Reiser3. A Reiser3 filesystem cannot be converted to a Reiser4 one. This decision in itself reflects how continuous innovations are adopted quicker. For example, C/C++ are almost synonymous compared to C# and Objective-C. Switching to Reiser4 means compiling a kernel with it, formatting another partition large enough, and copying all the data.

However, the benefits of being non-continuous outweighs the costs. Reiser4 is designed to support an on-disk database, within the filesystem. This is implemented by using two separate layers, graphs for relationships, and trees for efficient searching. Reiser4 also implements extents, mapping a section of a disk to a file, which makes fragmentation non-existent.

Another feature is the plugin system, where a userland SQL interface can be placed. Kernel developers argued for moving it to VFS, while Reiser insists on keeping it as part of the filesystem. There are many other reasons why Reiser4 was not accepted into the kernel. The plugin system allows compression and encryption of the entire on-disk structure. LZO compression increases filesystem performance by two times, placing Reiser4 head and shoulders above the rest.

Whereas Reiser3 became the standard journaling filesystem,  Reiser4 had no special feature associated with it. Being the best filesystem at the time, Reiser4 was never included in the kernel. Compared with ext3, which still used an H-tree and had a double write penalty for journals, Reiser4 was better technology-wise. If Reiser3 was adopted for data-loss protection, then Reiser4 needed a similar reason. An interesting application for the graph layer is a Baynesian network. It would have high scalability and performance due to its on-disk structure, and could be sold as an out-of-box solution, like Google Search for Enterprise. Such a product would have applications in real-time business analytics, data warehousing, and as a component of a CRM system.

The End

Now as Reiser4 has been forgotten for 4 years, you may wonder how the story ended. Sadly, the story ends with a telltale heart, which I saw as a play and now in real life. Reiser must have liked Lord of the Rings a lot, since he used metaphors in his talks. It’s usually popular with Dungeons and Dragons players, or Linux fans. The terminal is another way of seeing the world.

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The Power of Computing (Skyping with Yuguang)

Sep 23 2010 Published by under Singularitarian

[9:05:00 PM] Yuguang Zhang: how did you know roy? was he working in canada office just last year?
[9:13:47 PM] Peici: ha, just leave for some other thing
[9:14:07 PM] Peici: Roy left on April this year
[9:14:34 PM] Peici: and, I heard from others that, he left because he want to attend friend’s wedding, and plan to travel
[9:14:51 PM] Peici: (rofl) I reallu curious if it’s true
[9:25:49 PM] Yuguang Zhang: he got a job in shanghai, plans to buy a car, and a nice house
[9:26:38 PM] Peici: (inlove)wow, he could afford to buy house in Shanghai. This work should pay very much
[9:27:06 PM] Yuguang Zhang: 65*7/hour?
[9:27:18 PM] Peici: $?
[9:27:27 PM] Yuguang Zhang: that’s what rob paid him here
[9:27:32 PM] Yuguang Zhang: $65 an hour
[9:27:48 PM] Yuguang Zhang: mus tbe a joke
[9:28:08 PM] Yuguang Zhang: I think average is $32 canadian
[9:28:33 PM] Peici: I really want to earn morny in Toronto, and live in China
[9:28:46 PM] Yuguang Zhang: rob makes lots of jokes throughout the day
[9:29:03 PM] Yuguang Zhang: He has some serious moments
[9:29:04 PM] Peici: 😀
[9:29:11 PM] Peici: really? when?
[9:29:20 PM] Yuguang Zhang: likes to say the company’s doomed
[9:29:34 PM] Yuguang Zhang: failure on business strategy and management
[9:29:49 PM] Yuguang Zhang: website gets changed, and management wants changes undone
[9:30:34 PM] Peici: (rofl) seems Rob is some kind of prople who is directly
[9:30:51 PM] Yuguang Zhang: prople?

[9:30:59 PM] Peici: people (blush)
[9:31:18 PM] Peici: did Rob mention me anytime?
[9:31:32 PM] Yuguang Zhang: just tells me to get tasks from you
[9:31:37 PM] Peici: I feel I am a little nasty, always puch work
[9:31:47 PM] Peici: my boss always push me
[9:32:27 PM] Yuguang Zhang: I like challenges, as long as I can do them
[9:33:02 PM] Peici: (F) good boy
[9:33:20 PM] Yuguang Zhang: you are only 5 years older than me
[9:33:37 PM] Yuguang Zhang: reminds me of some school teachers
[9:34:16 PM] Peici: 😛 heihei, I love the feeling to call others little friend
[9:34:39 PM] Yuguang Zhang: have not been called “good boy” since grade 6
[9:34:58 PM] Yuguang Zhang: maybe “nice guy”, but more often “quiet”
[9:35:34 PM] Peici: (chuckle) “nice guy” heard like from girls
[9:35:47 PM] Yuguang Zhang: it’s actually true I’m a bit off-centered
[9:36:00 PM] Yuguang Zhang: I mean eccentric
[9:36:33 PM] Peici: really? nowadays, we need eccentric to make life funny
[9:37:25 PM] Yuguang Zhang: it may be because I know some things other people don’t
[9:37:53 PM] Peici: wow, which kind of things? :O
[9:38:13 PM] Yuguang Zhang: let’s talk about the philosophy behind this company
[9:38:47 PM] Yuguang Zhang: the software built here is used by AMD to do what?
[9:38:59 PM] Yuguang Zhang: chip design
[9:39:37 PM] Yuguang Zhang: they build better hardware that allows more complex software
[9:40:26 PM] Yuguang Zhang: and look at how much computation the average desktop could do only 1.5 years ago
[9:40:34 PM] Yuguang Zhang: half
[9:40:42 PM] Yuguang Zhang: so it doubles every 1.5 years
[9:40:53 PM] Yuguang Zhang: 4x in 3 years
[9:41:42 PM] Yuguang Zhang: 1 048 576 times in 30 years
[9:42:24 PM] Yuguang Zhang: don’t forget, the first computers started with a few bits
[9:43:19 PM] Yuguang Zhang: so you can imagine what is possible
[9:44:09 PM] Yuguang Zhang: in 30 years, a computer for $1000 will have as many bits as neurons in the brain
[9:44:18 PM] Yuguang Zhang: actually, 20
[9:45:24 PM] Yuguang Zhang: not to count supercomputers, a lot of tasks done by humans can be replaced

[9:46:53 PM] Peici: so, boy, work hard to build powerful software that can make use of that powerful computing resource in future (rofl)
[9:49:04 PM] Yuguang Zhang: but on the other side, I know technology does not make life better
[9:49:21 PM] Yuguang Zhang: that’s the part other people don’t get
[9:51:05 PM] Peici: en, you really think deeper than many others
[9:51:31 PM] Peici: by the way, do you buy apple product?
[9:51:46 PM] Yuguang Zhang: no need, too expensive
[9:51:55 PM] Yuguang Zhang: I’m a student
[9:52:09 PM] Yuguang Zhang: I use Linux for a unix environment
[9:53:07 PM] Peici: really not easy to keep this mentality. I know young people like these apple things
[9:54:45 PM] Yuguang Zhang: a coherent hardware/software experience
[10:00:56 PM] Yuguang Zhang: talk to you next time
[10:02:50 PM] Peici: :) good night
[10:03:37 PM] Yuguang Zhang: bye (I can’t find the animation for this one)
[10:06:27 PM] Peici: (chuckle)(wave)
[10:07:09 PM] Yuguang Zhang: I guess this is why they left this one out

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