Saturday, June 25, 2005

Planet Intelligence

I'd like to see if there's any interest in a planet site for weblogs that are geared towards machine intelligence, AI, neuroscience, etc. A site like this would provide a way to keep updated about what other's are doing and encourage the exchange of ideas.

In the mean time, check out Yaroslav's site for links to other related weblogs.

EDIT: Found a group weblog, neurodudes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Looking forward to watching BBS: The Documentary.

Though I was only a whelp during the end times of the BBS, I have fond memories of playing Barren Realms Elite, downloading shareware games, and chatting with sysops. If anyone from the BizZ BuzZ, R/C Connection, or other boards that ran during those years in northern VA reads this, please post a comment or shoot me an email.

The 703 BBS List.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


I have delved even further into the world of weblogging with my new technorati profile. I'm interested to see how long and how much effort it takes for an individual blog to get linked into the saturated blogosphere.

Friday, June 10, 2005

More on Intel processors, Macs, and the future of Linux

This post is in response to an opinion piece by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols in eWeek. This is Vaughan-Nichols second editorial on the topic and he's trying to defend his position that the Linux desktop is in danger from Macs with Intel inside.

Some quotes from the piece, followed by a response:
"One of the most common themes I've been hearing is that Apple will not—will not, I tell you!—be letting its precious operating system ship on anything except its own branded hardware.

Yes, that appears to be what Apple is planning, but I don't think it'll be able to pull it off.

The Intel-based PC architecture is an open one. How is Apple going to keep people from installing Mac OS on non-Mac PCs? Proprietary firmware? A BIOS, a la Phoenix Technologies' TrustedCore, which can enforce DRM (digital rights management)? Pick a method and I foresee hackers cheerfully breaking it."

Whatever mechanism Apple uses to require Apple hardware can be reverse engineered. This is a fairly obvious concern to Apple, I think they just might have a solution ready to go. One method that would be hard to emulate could use a small chip embedded on all Apple motherboards that the Mac OS would query during boot up. No response from the chip, no Mac OS. And in case someone patched the query checker, run md5sum on the binary to verify it's unmodified.

It's entirely possible Steve Jobs has decided that it's time for the Macintosh to become an OS and Apple chooses a weaker method of hardware authentication. I hope not, a principle of the Macintosh design is tight hardware and software integration - that's part of what makes it such a great user experience.
"I've also had people tell me that they don't think Apple will have as much trouble with device drivers as Linux has, either because Apple will use only a small subset of all the possible equipment you can stick on a PC, or because Apple will be able to get better deals from hardware vendors.

There's no question that Linux still has a long, long way to go with device drivers. It's just that Macs have even farther. Macs support only a very limited range of hardware.

In the past, if the equipment wasn't built by Apple, or had its making overseen by Apple, the odds were the device wouldn't work on a Mac. Linux still has big driver problems. Mac OS on Intel will have enormous, but conquerable, driver problems.

On Intel designs, Apple will have to contend with a much wider variety of external equipment. From Webcams to scanners to, heck, even mice, Apple will have to deal with tens of thousands of new devices. Even if "Mactels" turn out to be hermetically sealed boxes, Apple and friends are going to be spending a lot of time working on device drivers. And, lest we forget, historically, Apple hasn't gotten along well with equipment vendors."

First off, since when is Linux device driver support poor? I can plug any old mouse into a machine running a desktop Linux OS, and it works just fine. For that matter, I can connect many digital cameras, printers,
mobile phones, PDAs, video cards, sound cards, monitors, digital I/O boards and they all work. Oh, and in all but the obvious cases (video cards, sound cards) Mac OS has the same level of support. Obviously, MS Windows has the best device driver support since most hardware manufacturers consider it to be the most important platform due to the install base.

On Intel designs, Apple will have to contend with the same variety of external equipment as they do now.
Using Intel processors and chipsets has nothing to do with, for example, Apple choosing to only provide drivers for iSight and no other webcams. It's technically possible to use third party webcams on a Mac, but Apple doesn't provide it.
"I've also been hearing from a lot of people who insist that it doesn't matter what Apple does, since Linux will survive no matter what the companies do. Would someone please send these people in their basements the memo from a few years ago that Linux is a business operating system and not just a hobby?"

Linux has support from commercial interests, but it didn't start out that way. The term Linux, as it used in your piece, refers to Linux-based operating systems. There are both commercial and non-commercial Linux distributions, therefore Linux is not a business operating system. On top of that, some contributions to Linux and related software are made from hobbyists and many are from developers that started out as hobbyists.
"So, to get back to the original point of my column, if you want Linux to play a serious role on the desktop in the years to come, the time is now to get serious about creating an outstanding Linux desktop operating system. Mac OS X is coming to Intel and, unless things change, it's likely to be unchallenged as the best Intel-based desktop operating system around."

I don't understand the importance of Linux dominating the desktop world. Users will choose the best (that they know of) tool for the job.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Future of AI

Starting grad school this fall for computer science. There are several concentrations available and I was looking at artificial intelligence. It appears to be frustatingly needing innovation, and I think it will be coming soon with the memory-prediction framework.

Is it worthwhile to study traditional AI concepts if we're finally realizing that they're useless for machine intelligence?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Apple Macintosh and Intel

Plenty of people have weighed in on the implications of Apple switching to Intel processors for their Macintosh computers. I figure I'll add my two cents...

I think there has been some inaccurate prophesizing over what this change means to Linux and other alternative operating systems. Some editorials on (here, and here) along with Dvorak's recent post and an eWeek opinion piece all seem to believe that Linux is in trouble.

This is what they're missing, the Mac is not computer hardware and it's not an operating system, it's a complete computer system. Why do you think Microsoft is still developing their "standard" products like MS Office for the Intel-powered Macs? Because they understand that Apple is selling a different product.

To understand why Linux isn't in trouble, we have to do some stereotyping. Who uses Linux anyways?
Anyone that is going to actually use Linux as a desktop OS is either a geek, or has been convinced by a geek that it's the way to go (and said geek provides tech support). This means that Linux users have the ability to manage their OS, directly or indirectly.

Now, what sort of machines does Linux usually run on? Intel/AMD x86 is the most popular, and almost any hodpodge arrangement of a computer will be supported by Linux. So, along comes Apple with their new Intel-based Macs - why would current or future Linux users care? A Macintosh is still a Macintosh, it's a marriage of hardware and software. If you want a Mac, you buy a Mac computer and it comes with the Mac OS. Sure, you will likely be able to install MS Windows or Linux, but again, so what?

The two most important things that Linux has going for it are its price (free as in beer) and killer hardware support.
Mac OS is completely opposite: it ain't free, and it's hardware support sucks. The Mac OS is meant to run on Mac hardware, and that's that. MS Windows emulates being free by being the default OS installed on most mainstream computers and it also has killer hardware support. For those that aren't interested in purchasing an integrated computing solution, the best known choice is MS Windows, the second is Linux.

Many of those editorials did get one thing right, Microsoft is vulnerable until Longhorn is released, now is the time for Linux to gain some users.