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[OT] "Pre-announcement" of Python-based "computing appliance" project.

 
 
Richard Hanson
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      09-24-2004
[A heads up: Slightly longer post; somewhat serious, but with (I hope)
some humor -- after all, what would life *be* sans humor? ]

Istvan Albert wrote:

> My opinion on this matter is that this project has
> no chance of succeeding in any palpable way. It will
> always remain at this semi-conscious level of making
> some generic statements that may make feel one better
> but have no actual relevance to the way things work.


"I try to be cynical, but it's *so* hard to keep up."[1]

Less non-seriously, at this stage of my life, such a project will
likely not make *me* feel better -- I fully realize that implementing
the *complete* vision is a quite daunting task. If you read my
follow-up post to Carlos Ribeiro, you may realize that actually
implementing daunting tasks may well make me feel worse. (Explicit
NB: I'm *not* complaining, whatsoever; indeed, I feel quite fortunate
in the big picture.) However, discussing the theses I mentioned *is*
making me feel better. Criticism is *quite* welcome, Istvan.

I'm primarily of the intellectual persuasion. I have evolved into
mostly not personally identifying with or becoming attached to, ideas
-- whether they're emanating from me, or "stolen" from others. I
*enjoy* intellectually honest critiques -- seemingly, that way lies
the path to knowledge of the "self" and of the world.

> The Beach Boys have already properly captured
> this design in their song titled "Wouldn't It Be Nice":
>
> "Wouldn't it be nice if we were older
> Then we wouldn't have to wait so long
> And wouldn't it be nice to live together
> In the kind of world where we belong"


Hmm... That song came out in 1966. Considering your age as you
recently posted (32-years-old) suggests that you have an interest in
"my generation's" music. Good show!

> And here is how to wake up from your dream.


Please, don't wake me! -- I'm sleeping.

> Pick a simple task,
> design a program that does it and make it as simple
> as you can. Then grab a few people off the street,
> take them to a room, ask them to perform the task,
> leave the room, then watch them try to accomplish
> that task.


As Jerry Pournelle so often says, "Despair is a 'sin'" (I added the
interior, single quotes; I'm areligious, as well ). But, I can as
easily get into disillusionment about the state of society as the next
guy. However, I'm finding it much more productive -- and fun -- to
keep on doing my art and science, even as a non-intentionalist[2] who
finds incoherent such things as: humans are a rational species; the
existence of the ego or agency (free will); and many other dubious or
undecidable things left unsaid for now. It is a commonly accepted
thesis that the universe is evolving following some, possibly
ultimately unknowable, immutable set of laws. Humans *do* seem to do
art, though, so I'm concentrating on thinking of the behavior which
comes out of Richard as art. And I continue on.

> The lessons you learn in a few hours
> will last you a lifetime. You'll then understand
> why this "generic computing appliance" serving the
> "needs of a typical user" makes no sense whatsoever.


Ahem. My life has already lasted a lifetime. Be that all as it
may, however, you're not suggesting that the status quo serves the
needs of the typical user, are you?

But thanks for the critique, Istvan. Sincerely. These theses and
proposals would be well served to be shot down early if they can be;
life is way too short to spend on side-trails, and all that.


undauntedly-but-with-a-twinkle-in-my-eye'ly y'rs
Richard Hanson
__________________________________________________ _______
[1] A possibly paraphrased rendition of a humorous comment by Lily
Tomlin which I can identify with.

[2] See Daniel Dennett's many writings on such. The web is full of
much of his shorter works and critiques of such.

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Richard Hanson
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      09-24-2004
If I disappear temporarily, it is likely from connectivity issues --
nothing more...


running-straight-into-the-demarc-box-at-the-moment'ly y'rs,
Richard Hanson

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Ksenia Marasanova
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      09-24-2004
> Ah, but there's plenty of thought about neocon ties to Israel (and the
> hard-line Zionist movement(s) there, in particular) and related
> (rumored) connections to extreme Millenial religious groups who'd be
> happy to see the arrival of Armageddon (and thus the Second Coming)...


Hey, this is just the right date for this discussion

Greetings from unusuall-still-because-it's-Yom-Kippur Tel-Aviv,

Ksenia.

 
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Ville Vainio
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      09-24-2004
>>>>> "Richard" == Richard Hanson <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:

Richard> undecidable things left unsaid for now. It is a commonly
Richard> accepted thesis that the universe is evolving following
Richard> some, possibly ultimately unknowable, immutable set of
Richard> laws. Humans *do* seem to do

Is it? For some reason or another, many seem to believe that quantum
mechanics provides some blissfull exit from the immutable set of laws
(and deterministic universe). It's a place where God throws dice every
time a particle hits another.

Yes, it's absurd and entirely unpythonic, according to the law of "If
the implementation is hard to explain, it's a bad idea."

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Ville Vainio http://tinyurl.com/2prnb
 
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Jeff Shannon
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      09-24-2004
Ville Vainio wrote:

>>>>>>"Richard" == Richard Hanson <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:
>>>>>>
>>>>>>

>
> Richard> undecidable things left unsaid for now. It is a commonly
> Richard> accepted thesis that the universe is evolving following
> Richard> some, possibly ultimately unknowable, immutable set of
> Richard> laws. Humans *do* seem to do
>
>Is it? For some reason or another, many seem to believe that quantum
>mechanics provides some blissfull exit from the immutable set of laws
>(and deterministic universe). It's a place where God throws dice every
>time a particle hits another.
>
>


Ah, but quantum mechanics are still a (supposedly) immutable set of laws
-- they are nondeterministic laws, to be sure, but that doesn't prevent
them from being laws. Quantum uncertainty follows a specific set of
rules, even if we haven't figured out what all of those rules are, and
even if those rules are expressed in probabilities. If one were to
believe that the universe did not follow an immutable (or nearly so) set
of laws, then one would also necessarily believe that science is
pointless, since the purpose of science is to try to figure out the laws
by which the universe operates. God may throw dice, but if we're
careful we can reconstruct the rules of the game He's playing.

Jeff Shannon
Technician/Programmer
Credit International

 
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Richard Hanson
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      09-24-2004
Carlos Ribeiro wrote:

> My candidate for QOTW:
>
> "You *did* signal that quite adequately. This, however, is
> comp.lang.python and clear signals never stopped anyone. <wink>"


+1

(And I'm not biased at all... )


Richard Hanson

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Richard Hanson
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      09-24-2004
Carlos Ribeiro wrote:

> On Thu, 23 Sep 2004 17:53:16 -0700, Richard Hanson <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> > (I've already thought of Doors... -- doors are more useful than
> > windows, aren't they? )

>
> "Traps" are even more useful sometimes
>
> (...running for cover..)


LOL!

Ahem.

(Note to self: I must maintain *some* sense of decorum in this
forum... uh... for 'em.)




stole-most-of that-one-from-the-"Cheers"-TV-program'ly y'rs,
Richard Hanson

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Richard Hanson
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      09-24-2004
Ville Vainio wrote:

> >>>>> "Richard" == Richard Hanson <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:

>
> Richard> undecidable things left unsaid for now. It is a commonly
> Richard> accepted thesis that the universe is evolving following
> Richard> some, possibly ultimately unknowable, immutable set of
> Richard> laws. Humans *do* seem to do
>
> Is it? For some reason or another, many seem to believe that quantum
> mechanics provides some blissfull exit from the immutable set of laws
> (and deterministic universe). It's a place where God throws dice every
> time a particle hits another.
>
> Yes, it's absurd and entirely unpythonic, according to the law of "If
> the implementation is hard to explain, it's a bad idea."


Ahh... Yeah -- you're quite right about the "many." I was using
"commonly accepted" for a suitably restricted subset of the "many."




Richard Hanson

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Richard Hanson
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      09-24-2004
Jeff Shannon wrote:

> Ville Vainio wrote:
>
> >>>>>>"Richard" == Richard Hanson <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>>

> >
> > Richard> undecidable things left unsaid for now. It is a commonly
> > Richard> accepted thesis that the universe is evolving following
> > Richard> some, possibly ultimately unknowable, immutable set of
> > Richard> laws. Humans *do* seem to do
> >
> >Is it? For some reason or another, many seem to believe that quantum
> >mechanics provides some blissfull exit from the immutable set of laws
> >(and deterministic universe). It's a place where God throws dice every
> >time a particle hits another.

>
> Ah, but quantum mechanics are still a (supposedly) immutable set of laws
> -- they are nondeterministic laws, to be sure, but that doesn't prevent
> them from being laws. Quantum uncertainty follows a specific set of
> rules, even if we haven't figured out what all of those rules are, and
> even if those rules are expressed in probabilities. If one were to
> believe that the universe did not follow an immutable (or nearly so) set
> of laws, then one would also necessarily believe that science is
> pointless, since the purpose of science is to try to figure out the laws
> by which the universe operates. God may throw dice, but if we're
> careful we can reconstruct the rules of the game He's playing.


And -- keeping it well in mind that I am only a mere autodidact --
I am starting to align with the quantum-loop-gravity, spin-foam,
M-brane (generalized string theory), and such theorists. It is
possible that in the higher-dimensioned theories, quantum mechanics
will turn out to be deterministic. Or, at least that's what I'm quite
foggily gathering from hanging out on sci.physics.research and other
suchlike readings.


Richard Hanson

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Richard Hanson
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      09-24-2004
[A heads up: Post of moderate length and moderate content. ]

Alex Martelli wrote:

> Ksenia Marasanova <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> ...
> > > are discussed there too -- namely, they're hiding folders, drive
> > > names, etc, from the user view, and creating a new and much simplified
> > > user interface.

> > Fortunately, Apple has been working even harder and is already there
> > with Tiger:
> > http://www.apple.com/macosx/tiger/spotlight.html
> > http://www.apple.com/macosx/tiger/search_finder.html

>
> Even more fortunately, Apple has learned some lessons over the last 20
> years, so its systems, while quite usable for grampa, do also appeal to
> power users and geeks -- Tiger will seamlessly let you use its wonderful
> search facilities _together_ with good organization of your materials
> (if you take the bother of the latter). Consider Mail.app: its search
> functionality works across all mailboxes or on a single mailbox --
> you're _still_ encouraged to do a little decent filing of your mails,


It *does* seem necessary to "educate" the database about our own
preferences and styles of organization and the like, as well as
"rating and filing" specific, individual objects. I'm interested in
figuring out ways to make it *very* easy to "add value" to the
database with a more efficient HCI -- unless it's very, very simple to
do (nearly automatic, even ), the user won't do it.

> though the search does make it more feasible to survive with the popular
> "one big inbox and never bother filing" paradigm.


I'm thinking one database with some auto-indexing helped along with
specific user guidance re the "value-adding" aspect. Without some sort
of fast auto-indexing, of course, and without the easy ability for
user attribute-adding, the "one big box" paradigm could be painfully
slow for precise narrowing of large collections of heterogeneous
objects. Presumably, the above mentioned apps, and Google, of course,
do the auto-indexing part.

> Consider Google:
> it doesn't eliminate the advantage of well-organized, navigable sites,
> even though it gives you a chance of surviving the typical "designed by
> marketing, what's this ``usability'' newfangled thing?!" ones...


Heh. Don't get me started re the latter...

Apple's work definitely sounds like a step in the right direction. Is
there *complete* integration of *all* object types?

As I see it, the user should be able to tap a button and change an
email into a snailmail doc, or vice versa, say, with the system
handling the details automagically. And, with a few appropriately set
filters using attributes, sorts, and such, the user should be able to
see all the emails, documents, pics, sounds, flicks, etc. relating to,
for example, "Pink Floyd" -- all in one, narrowed view even though the
objects are of disparate types.

(Some of my early inspiration was XTREE for DOS from the 1980s --
XTREE provided a global view which could be narrowed; although, things
were still a bit primitive back then.)

I don't have access to the modern Macs -- they sound more interesting
to me than the Wintels I'm using. (Although, pedantically speaking, my
currently not-working Fujitsu laptop uses a Transmeta chip, not an
Intel one.)

Mike Meyer's link to an implementation of Jeff Raskin's work also
sounds quite interesting. I note from scanning the smaller zipfile
referenced in the link some similarity with my own ideas -- no save or
delete, for example, such being either unnecessary or is transparently
handled under-the-covers.

(I'm having connectivity problems, so I won't be able to review the
implementation of Raskin's "Humane Interface" till I can get wxPython
DL'ed again. Perhaps tonight.)


civilization-wobbling-along'ly y'rs,
Richard Hanson

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