Thursday, December 18, 2014

Being oblivious

Yesterday in the computer science building, I needed to visit a professor and student at the third floor.
Exiting the elevator, someone with a serious face told me `if you could please leave and come back in 10 minutes'.
I thought `ahh some silly security drill, or VIP visiting the department'.
Anyway 15 minutes later from the 5th floor, I heard screaming and crying.
Just then I ran into a friend and asked him `do you hear that? Sounds like something's seriously wrong.'
He kind of shrugged and seemed not to really notice.

Later, it turned out that someone suddenly died in his office.

What occurs to me most is that if I hadn't happened to be blocked from entering the third floor,
I would have also filtered out this screaming and crying (which was not gentle or subtle)..
or brushed it off as some students fooling around.
So just makes you think what kind of things are we filtering out that happen around us every day.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Scott Adams about being embarassed:

You can’t control luck directly, but you can move from a game with bad odds to a game with good odds. The world is like a reverse casino. In a casino, if you gamble long enough, you’re certainly going to lose. But in the real world, where the only thing you’re gambling is, say, your time or your embarrassment, then the more stuff you do, the more you give luck a chance to find you. If you do one thing and stop, you didn’t give luck a chance to find you. You only need one thing to work.

Read more:

I also like how Adams talks about combining different skills for success -
he says I'm not the best cartoonist, buisness man, writer, not the funniest guy in the world,
not the most knowledgable in the world about the corporate world,
but the combination of being decent at all these things is what created Dilbert.

I like it cause I'm trying similarly to position myself well using a combination of skills:
I'm not the best mathematician, programmer, or bitcoin expert,
but the combination of being decent at all three, seems to be rare and useful.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Israel - 4% Vegan!

By recent statistics. Whether this statistic is accurate or not, you can definitely feel Veganism getting into the mainstream in Israel: In most Gas stations you can order a Soy-milk cappucino.
All the big coffee and restaurant chains have quite a few vegan options in their menu.
This is of course in addition to hummus and tahini that were always in the main stream making Israel much more vegan-oriented even before the word vegan, or things like tofu and qinoua were known about.

People become activists and want to change the world.
Basically, there are two ways to try to change the world

- try to make others do their role differently
- change the way you do your role

and I think most would agree that the second option is more effective.
And what is our `role' in the world? I think if you are part of the western world,
whatever job you have, your main role is being a consumer.
That is, if you are working 9-5, as opposed to working 24 hour shifts in an Adidas factory in Malaysia,
your main role in the global economic system - that seems to be roughly divided to consumers, workers, and the few that run everything behind the scenes- is mainly that of a consumer.

The choices you make at the supermarket, the shoping mall and the coffee shop are where you have the most impact in this global system.
And it doesn't have to be black and white..
just making a larger percentage of those choices choices for less suffering and more peace,
you could have a tremendous impact.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Thoughts about decentralization

Many people's excitement about bitcoin is that it uses mathematics to create a system
that is inherently decentralized, where no minority can gain a lot of power.
This is the idea behind the motto `In Cryptography We Trust'.

I am skeptical about this as in any system you put human beings in,
their natural tendency would be to accumulate power, and they will find ways to do so the system had not anticipated, and ultimately the most greedy and\or talented of them will gain as much power in this system as a dictator has over his country.
Indeed this is what is happening in bitcoin with the so-called mining pools and mining farms.

This is why I first thought - technology can create a different world, and perhaps the historical process of change is an interesting experiment the universe is conducting, but it cannot create a better world.

..but maybe the following is true: The more  a system has a decentralized structure,
the less violent will the expression of power and control be.
 For example, in democracies the people controling the banks and the media might have as much power as a dictator for practical purposes, but the expression of that power tends to involve less killing and torturing, at least of their own citizens.

Why would it make it sense for this to be true?
I think because the minute those with power would use it too violently, it would break
the illusion of decentralization - the facade that the power is with the common people.
And if the system is working well for them, breaking this system is not in their interest.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Two things that make me hate visual studio less

After many years of doing only theory, I joined a large C++ programming project 4 months ago,
working in Microsoft visual studio. The frustration I had from the difficultyof the most basic tasks - e.g. adding a class to the project,  (just use add new Item *don't dare using add class or the class wizard or you'll never see the end of it!*)
lead me to write this facebook post:

 think Microsoft was cursed by a witch. Maybe she was once in love will Bill Gates and he broke her heart. She cursed him like this: "Although you will have a multi-billion Dollar software company, with the smartest people in the world working for you, you will only be able to make one program that works well - and it will be called `notepad'". I had these thoughts before, but thought maybe I was wrong cause I did not know Microsoft's more serious software. But recently starting to write C++ on Microsoft Visual Studio, I see how bad it is. Join me in installing ubuntu

 Well , I did install Ubuntu, but not really using it. I guess when you are spoiled and used to an IDE that takes care of everything for you, it's hard to start dealing with makefiles and stuff..
I owe a big thanks to Idan Elad for helping me out with doing things the `right way' in Visual studio after seeing my facebook post.

Anyway here are two really cool features that made me think life isn't so bad at Microsoft:

Peek Definition:

You are browsing in your code and want to see a function definition - answerConsistencyChecks_p0p1 in the picture below.
Everybody seems to know that pressing F12 with the cursor on the function name
will take you to the file with the definition.

But at least I didn't know for a while that pressing Alt-F12 instead will just `peek'
the definition as in the picture below.

This way you can just see the definition without getting out of the workflow you were in at the current file.

Seeing the stack-hierarchy - especially when error\exception has occurred.

Say you're running your program...

and then an error occurs:

Till recently, I would try to put breakpoints in a `binary search' way, and keep
rerunning until I pinpointed the precise line where the bug occurred.
Here is the smart way, that saves the time of this search and multiple reruns:
Instead of pressing `Abort' above, press `Retry'.

Now MSVS will ask you if you want to Break or Continue:

Press `Break'. Good chance the breaking point is somewhere that doesn't tell you much:

Now press Ctrl + Shift + ` , (or right click and select Show Call Stack on Code Map)

You will see on the right the entire stack of calls that lead to the error!.
More than that if you double click one of the methods on this stack,
you see on the left by the green arrow precisely the place, or just the place after, where the run is
at this stack level.

And even better: If you go to `locals' you can see the value of all variables at this level of the stack,
so a lot of rerunning and couts for debugging purposes are saved.

Monday, October 27, 2014

I just love Google they make life so easy! Say you wanted to write a program that automatically retrieves text from your emails and automatically sends reply mails according to that text.
You would fantasize `wouldn't it be great if I could just go to some website, maybe a good name for it would be `', and just start writing something that looks like gmail and I would get suggestions about script commands that can do what I want'
Well , this fantasy is a reality

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A cool thing I just discovered .
Google has an awesome programming language that
let's you mainpulate it's apps automatically.
I discovered it cause I need to program something that sends an automatic
ack email whenever someone donates through paypal to the Israel Vipassana center.

This simple program creates a google doc called Hello World, and sends you an email
with a link to it.. very cool!
Mark Zucerkberg is an interesting guy,
but forced to be boring because of being responsible to shareholders of a something billion dollar company.
I really enjoyed this lecture of his from earlier times.

One nice quote (not precise words) from the Q&A part:

`It's better to get things done and say sorry later, than to worry about dotting all your i's and not get things done'

I know this question will make me unpopular in the tcs community, on which my future livelihood may depend , and I know it's probably a sensitive, possibly even offensive to some people, question ... but it seems to me odd that while this issue has received so much attention, I had not seen this obvious question addressed once. Does it really pay off for microsoft to hire pure theory researchers?
I talked to a friend who is in msr - but in computer vision. His opinion was:
- The theory part of msr was started as part of Bill Gates's philantropic project, not as a strategic business decision of Microsoft.
- If a researcher at msr theory comes up with an amazing revolutionary idea that is worth implementing and publishes it, Microsoft could implement it just the same after he publishes it if he was not from msr, and
then wouldn't have to pay his salary all those years.
(I agree that the suddenness of the layoffs, to people whose options are in academia and can't hop to the next IT company the month after, has an ugly element)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How can you every be happy without her, you think.
Is life just this miserable game where you are chasing someone,
and someone else is chasing you? Everybody trying to get somewhere?

Life forces you.. `Now it's your lesson'
Now it's time to just sit and feel the emotion.
Now it's time to learn not to be a slave of your emotions,
just let them pass through you, not to fear them.

And sometimes they come strongly.
One after the other, and not the nice ones.
Despair, anger , sadness,...

You go deeper into them instead of fighting them.

For a moment you feel the peace underneath,
and then another one comes.
Like waves in a stormy ocean, with brief interludes between them

Perhaps there is no shortcut. This is the way to dissolve you karma.
If there is a shortcut, looks like nobody has found it,
or at least not advertised it.

Otherwise there would not be so much conflict in the world.

Technology develops, but the world is not a better place,
just a different place.
Cause technology is just a set of tools, and humans use any tool
equally for good and bad, perhaps even more for bad.

If you could only know she is just another person,
not a goddess that can take you out of this life.

But you don't know that, she is just a perfect image in your mind.
And she is not coming to your rescue anytime soon..
all there is to do, is to sit and feel the emotion.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The present and future of brain-computer interfaces: Avi Goldberg at TED...

Writing music by hearing it in your head.

Communicating by telepathy rather than facebook.

Maybe real sometime soon.

Any tool can and will be used for good and bad.

Because technology advances, but human nature does not.

Mind control will become a bigger concern than rape or murder.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Playing with your phone. In these modern times every moment there's a chance , something will come to take you out of this hard long day. Parents would keep there child alive when he cannot breathe.
I would keep a dead body rotting in my living room and watch it everyday for the once or twice a year some latent nerve reaction makes it move.
This is what we call hope, and we prefer it to the long day in front of us .

About Me

My Photo

Hi! I am a computer science postdoc. For some reason google is not finding my new homepage so I added a link from this profile