Sunday 17 February 2013
Inventing Chromebook ☀
While working for Google back in 2006, I had the good fortune to create a new operating system.
I confess it wasn’t created from scratch. It was a chopped down Linux distribution - as so many “new” operating systems are, these days.
This new operating system was originally code-named “Google OS” and since 2009 has been released to the public under the product names, Google Chrome OS, Chromebook, and Chromebox. I wrote a patent for it, #8,239,662, titled “Network-based Operating System Across Devices” that was finally granted in August 7, 2012. Long after I left Google.
Wednesday 30 May 2012
Apple's Crystal Prison and the Future of Open Platforms ☀
Two weeks ago, Steve Wozniak made a public call for Apple to open its platforms for those who wish to tinker, tweak and innovate with their internals.
EFF supports Wozniak’s position: while Apple’s products have many virtues, they are marred by an ugly set of restrictions on what users and programmers can do with them. This is most especially true of iOS, though other Apple products sometimes suffer in the same way. In this article we will delve into the kinds of restrictions that Apple, phone companies, and Microsoft have been imposing on mobile computers; the excuses these companies make when they impose these restrictions; the dangers this is creating for open innovation; why Apple in particular should lead the way in fixing this mess. We also propose a bill of rights that need to be secured for people who are purchasing smartphones and other pocket computers.
Apple’s recent products, especially their mobile iOS devices, are like beautiful crystal prisons, with a wide range of restrictions imposed by the OS, the hardware, and Apple’s contracts with carriers as well as contracts with developers. Only users who can hack or “jailbreak” their devices can escape these limitations.
Wednesday 28 March 2012
We now live in a world where everything he dreamed of really did happen. And, for some reason, von Neumann never publicized Barricelli’s work. I don’t know if there was a personal rivalry or what happened, but von Neumann died, and his papers on self-reproducing automata were published posthumously [edited by Arthur W. Burks] and there was no mention of Barricelli. Part of it was this fear that it really would provoke the public. They called computers “electronic brains” at that time. It was scary enough that we might be building machines that would think. But the idea of producing artificial life was even more Frankenstein-like. I think that’s one reason we never heard about that. Just as we later worried about recombinant DNA, what if these things escaped? What would they do to the world? Could this be the end of the world as we know it if these self-replicating numerical creatures got loose? But, we now live in a world where they did get loose—a world increasingly run by self-replicating strings of code. Everything we love and use today is, in a lot of ways, self-reproducing exactly as Turing, von Neumann, and Barricelli prescribed. It’s a very symbiotic relationship: the same way life found a way to use the self-replicating qualities of these polynucleotide molecules to the great benefit of life as a whole, there’s no reason life won’t use the self-replicating abilities of digital code, and that’s what’s happening. If you look at what people like Craig Venter and the thousand less-known companies are doing, we’re doing exactly that, from the bottom up.
George Dyson ☀
Monday 5 March 2012
Violent Young Men and Our Place in War ☀
I am a private military contractor, and I have an issue with the depiction of war in videogames — or more specifically, the soldiers in those games.
When I say soldier, let me be clear that I am talking about the Infantryman and the Special Forces operator, as I have next to no knowledge about anything outside of this relatively small percentile of service personnel.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of games featuring the military focus on these frontline combat troops in “realistic” action. And that’s where we get problems.
Imagine a war game where you could only move at a slow walking pace. Imagine Skyrim when your inventory is too full, except you can’t drop any of it. This war game has a prone button like Call of Duty, but your character takes 2-3 seconds to change position. Every time you press it, the animation gets slower because your character becomes more and more tired.
Nearly Half of American Adults Are Smartphone Owners ☀
Nearly half (46%) of American adults are smartphone owners as of February 2012, an increase of 11 percentage points over the 35% of Americans who owned a smartphone last May. Two in five adults (41%) own a cell phone that is not a smartphone, meaning that smartphone owners are now more prevalent within the overall population than owners of more basic mobile phones.
Sunday 26 February 2012
Half million could lose Internet access in coming months ☀
Imagine trying to get online and finding out you’ve been cut off from the Internet.
It’s expected to happen to millions of unsuspecting computer users because of something referred to as the Internet kill switch.
It all started with six guys in, of all places, Estonia in Europe, who infected more than 4 million computers worldwide, half a million in the United States.
The DNSChanger Trojan virus takes over users’ domain name system settings.
Tuesday 21 February 2012
Besides being disrespectful to your attention, notifications like this do something else that’s much more nefarious: they train you to be a passive consumer of information rather than an active one. If we don’t control the notifications we’re receiving, we’re forced to react to them: from Google’s big red box, to Living Social’s notification for a deal on backwaxing. Left at the default, we create an economy of sensational notifications, with the brightest minds of our generation trying to figure out how to get us to click on the next command for our attention. Can you imagine what would happen if they were instead focused on providing us content worthy of it?Do yourself a favor: kill the notifications off. Don’t participate in the notification economy. Change your relationship from passive to active. Instead of relying on Facebook to command your attention, schedule a meeting with it. If Facebook’s important to you, put 15 minutes on your calendar for it and make that the time that you check Facebook. Kill everything you can with a number by it. Eliminate anything you can that makes a noise that might tempt you into giving your attention away.
Notifications are evil ☀
Wednesday 13 July 2011
In attempting to construct such machines we should not be irreverently usurping His power of creating souls, any more than we are in the procreation of children. Rather we are, in either case, instruments of His will providing mansions for the souls that He creates.
Alan Turing ☀
Sunday 22 May 2011
The question of whether computers can think is just like the question of whether submarines can swim.
Edsger W. Dijkstra ☀
A GNT creation ©2007–2013