Category Archives: general gyan

The Technoramus Chronicle – 1

When I told Policewoman that I was going to buy a cell phone, she said, ‘AGAIN?! You must buy the most that I know because you keep losing them or doing something to them”

“No way. This is like my third phone and I have only ever lost one”, I defended myself. Policewoman being who she is, made me count. The final tally was more than 3, but I still think I’m too much of a technoramus to be counted a cell phone junkie.

6 years ago… The Alcatel: The first cell phone I ever bought was this Alcatel… My favourite moment with this one, someone asking me “So, did you pick it up in Europe?” To a then extremely untraveled, 22-year-old me, this was pleasing at 2 levels… the tiny swish corner was rather thrilled the someone (on whom I had a bit of a crush) would think I was ‘picking up things’ in Europe and the rest of me fell off chair laughing at the thought of ‘me’ doing such a thing. 

All this phone did was voice calls and SMS, but it was my first phone, had lovely round edges, was not the ugly Nokia 3310 or 3315 that every one else had and had these replacable panels that could make my phone red or blue or whatever other color. 🙂

The First Phone!

The First Phone!

 

Singularity

The cutting edge can cut through.

Vernor Vinge published this  about the dawn of a post human world in ’93. Lots of stuff about the internet and Usenets and the group mind. He did this followup in 2003.  This is his homepage, last updated in 2004 / 2005. You would think, given the nature of his interests, he would have done a better job of putting his ideas out on the net. Where is the blog, the twitter, the facebook? Sigh.

But the article did make me think.

In ’93, I was 14, worrying over my inability to solve quadratic equations. The first thing I would have done, if I had access to this super intelligent system – uploaded a little module on quadratic equations a la matrix, into my head. I would certainly not have any traumatic experiences of failing unit tests (Yes. Failing a 15 mark unit test caused enough trauma that I worked butt out for the next 5 years to make sure I never went through the pain again)

Every life decision would have been presented to the ‘network’ in pretty much the same way as some ancestors (and some contemporaries 😀 ) present questions to astrologer du jour. I’d get one of two things

a) An ideal decision and my little mind would be free to… to what? What would I think ? How would the mind stay occupied if it didn’t sort through the mistakes of my past and contemplate all the possible disasters of the future? Wither surprise and where joy , if I knew outcome going in. While I crave certainty, I’m sure this is not a craving that should be fully satisfied.

b) All the information necessary for the ideal decision and my little mind would ‘process’ it. The sucess of this method though depends on the ‘little’ mind. The unideal decision happens not because one didn’t know the facts, but because one didn’t know oneself. Consider a question like ‘should I be a journalist’. The deciding element of information came from experience And I can’t think of any other way to gather it other than going through it all.

Or maybe there is.

You know what they say about knowledge expanding the mind.  What if this really did? What if information included a simulation rich enough to make you feel the reality? 

If the length of the simulation was the length of human time, it would be no different than living life. If it didn’t… if you just lived the life, felt the mistake/ non-mistake and came back in time to live your choice, why would you? You’ve still already lived it in the simulation and your mind has not forgotten. Unless the simulation wipes the memory out for you and leaves you at the point of having made the choice.  Or…

Sigh. Clearly the mind is too little for this thinking.

Podafone

Every time I saw one of the new Vodafone ads, I’d get this sinking feeling. The Zoozoo (as I discover they are called) depressed me no end. Driving to work this morning, I realised why… they reminded me of how persecuted Jews in Art Spiegelman’s Maus were drawn.
Maus

Maus

 

Source: Zoozoo's Facebook Photo's

Source: Zoozoo's Facebook Photo's

Random Post

Mid day of a week where the work of Wednesday has bled well into Thursday is obviously a very bad time to want to post. But also the time when inspiration really strikes and head feels like it will burst if something doesn’t get written. Wanting to do exactly what one can’t do. Sigh. Such is life.

This post then, is in the nature of compromise. Its about all the things I want to post.  Keep watching the ‘Elegance of a Hedgehog’ … it actually proceeds. The novel is still puerile but I can’t resist posting on a topic that gets me such interesting search strings. E.g. ‘Bad breath in hedgehogs’. It really is a problem. Get to know all about it here.

 My own feeble attempts at translation have given me a new respect for the difficulty of it. Now, every-time I read, (a translation) I wonder more than ever, whether the book is really the author’s or the translators. More on this in the review to follow.

Famous

The Romans it seems had a Goddess of Rumour and her name was Fama. She repeated all that she heard – first in soft whispers and then in louder and louder tones till all heaven and earth knew. And its from her name that we get the word ‘Famous’. Its a bit odd that the word is more ‘famous’ than the goddess , but hey! that is the way of celebrity.

Consider the case of the Mann-Whitney U Test. (Okay. The only reason I considered it is because my paapi pet sort of depends on it.) Still, I ask you to consider the Mann-Whitney U Test. Now if you will go back to the deep dark days when you did Introductory Statistics and some stupid prof droned on about non-parametric methods and sign and rank tests? Ringing any bells? (other than the ones that woke you up when you slept through that class).

 Anyway, the test itself is not so important. Its Mann & Whitney that I want to talk about. In whatever limited way, Mann and Whitney got famous enough to have a statistic named after them and their name is in print in hundreds of research reports and thousands of text books and yet, I can’t find their first names. Sigh. What kind of fame is that?

But then again all of us know of Diana, Princess of Wales. Some of us may even remember her maiden name – Diana Spencer but how many of us remember her as Diana Windsor?!