December 13, 2017

I gave some money for Doug Jones in Alabama, but jeez, their data science team must have really dialed into "pleading whining desperation" for the their subject lines - "Kirk - please?" / "Are you online, Kirk?" / "Do not ignore [from Doug Jones]" / "We're PLEADING Kirk" and then my favorite, after I gave, from "FINAL CONFIRMATION": "Please confirm: Kirk Israel wants Roy Moore to lose?" (Oh, actually I remembered the text as "Please confirm: Kirk Israel wants Doug Jones to lose?" which would have been even more insufferable.)
Sibilant Snakelikes - exploring different game options with the basic "Snake" mechanic. Shadow of the Coloussus and Sensible Soccer were especially sssssmart!
Cool, animators brought to life the original Ralph McQuarrie art for The Star Wars - I think someone made a comic adaption of the original outlines too, but seeing things come to life is a trip.

December 12, 2017history

Interesting thoughts about when family's just had one "the computer" All my life, all the way back to the early 8 bits (Atari 800XL and Commodore 64) I cut my teeth on, my computing resources were just mine, an only child with non-techie parents. But there was a time, before the rise of the smartphone and cheap powerful laptops, when my main connection to the world of computing (online and off) had its own permanent deskspace - I came to It, it didn't wander around the house with me. Sometimes I see those lovely Apple iMacs and think about that time, when my computer was its own little shrine of sorts - crossing the boundary in space demarcated boundaries in time as well.
A Predictive Keyboard is trained on Harry Potter books and writes a new book in the series: Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash!
Back to vertical monitor land!

(though not my first trip to this rodeo 2011/10/20)
Just testin' out the camera on Melissa's best lil buddy...

December 11, 2017

Consumer Vigilante
"and if you see me first
 you say hello

and if i see you first
 i'll say hello"
--bingo gazingo
How our housing choices make adult friendships more difficult Yarr. Sometimes I think my favorite post-college housing was "the big yellow house", 6 or 7 people, some in couples, sprinkled across 3 floors.

December 10, 2017

"Most phrases of affirmation sound hot during sex, saying "yep" during sex would be awkward, however."
--/r/showerthoughts

December 9, 2017

Intriguing multi-sgment digit displays from the Soviet Union...







via and via

December 8, 2017

So I volunteered as a helper at my local elementary school "Hour of Code" day. Kids K-2 ran little programming games (generally "give step by step instructions to this little robot-y thing to make it to the goal") on iPads, and the 3-5 kids did similar on netbooks.

Some random thoughts:

December 7, 2017

Is it just me or are conservatives a lot more likely to use a term like "wonderful" non-ironically than liberals? And is Trump leading that or just part of a trend or larger reason for that?
AI AlphaGo Zero started from scratch to become best at Chess, Go and Japanese Chess within hours - This is pretty incredible stuff, and damn near my idea that "I'll be impressed when the same program that wins at Go wins at Chess, and for the same reasons."

I remember hearing about the core idea (setting a game-playing AI against a copy of itself to improve) used in Arthur Samuel's checker playing program back in the late-50s.

All the games AlphaGo Zero plays are "perfect information" games. I wonder how it would do with games of ambiguity and bluff and randomness, like Poker (or Stratego, even.) I suspect when you have a computer play a version of itself, you're vulnerable to the "hill climbing" problem (i.e. if you always head towards the highest ground NEAR you, you might end up stranded on a local high peak, but not the highest in the land) - that you get a certain type of genius at playing another certain type of genius, but vulnerable when playing a more wildcard player, and that vulnerability is increased if you don't know the full state of the game.

Of course, my favorite emergent chess program behavior remains the stories around Atari 2600 Video Chess; the screen would blank as the computer was "thinking", and sometimes when the board returned you'd find some pieces weren't quite where they were before...

UPDATE: better summary The future is here – AlphaZero learns chess