Archive for the ‘ Metaverse ’ Category

My Quest for Some Sanity

Okay — I’ve not published an article in what seems like ages.  I know – I’m not meeting one of my personal new year’s resolutions/predictions – that I would blog on at least a weekly basis – but (and there is always a but, isn’t there?) the story that was supposed to go here has grown to such proportions that I ended up lost down a rabbit hole.  Now that I’ve climbed out, I realize I will probably have to break that story up into several installments.  Additionally (the second but) I have been busy reorganizing my space to get maximum efficiency/benefit out of the resources I have because, looking at our finances we (when discussing finances I must always use the plural ‘we’ otherwise I get in trouble) determined that I am going to have to make do with the gear that I currently have on hand (that is the other personal goal/prediction that I’m going to be missing at the end of the year).

To that end I’ve been moving furniture, and rearranging cables, and relocating devices.  I’ve also been doing some selective cleanup on the old area that was my last office space — and managed at the same time to open up the space a bit while also bringing my electronic piano keyboard into the office.  It’s now cozy and useful.  In short I’ve achieved some level of sanity, and have more levels to go.  Which brings up a question, are there really levels of sanity?  I imagine they are much like the levels of Hell – certainly related in opposite measure (the more sane you are, the less hellish your existence).  So right now I’m mid level crazy on a caffeine jag.  I do, however have a plan and a budget.

The plan is to actually get stuff done.  To enable the doing – I’ve allowed myself a modest budget.  With it I’ve accumulated a few useful things.

First – I was thinking of getting a USB mixing board…but instead I decided to keep my old analog mixing board, and instead figured out what I needed to do to connect it to my computer more effectively than a mono- 1/4″ Phono Jack to USB cable that I happened to have laying around.  Instead, I got a purpose built stereo RCA In/Out to USB converter with cables to match – so I can jack into the mixing board and output stereo.  Additionally – the output provides a monitor link that I can feed to either speakers or the headphone jack.  Added a 4 port stereo headphones amp and cable to allow my friends and family to listen and participate  in the creativity (music, podcast, whatever).  I’m thinking maybe it would be easier just to podcast this blog…a ‘plog’?  Do people do that?  (I’ve only ever seen video blogs – not dedicated voice blogs before…perhaps it’s an antiblog?)  More to contemplate there.

Secondly – I got a 1 TB USB/Firewire external drive.  This allows me to do more work on the laptop without filling up the disk, and provides a target for backups/time machine.  With this in place I was able to backup my Windows 7 game box’s files – and then wiped it and reloaded with Debian Linux 64 bit.  This lead me through yet another adventure loading various applications on it to regain equivalent+ functionality to what was on the Windows machine (The only simulations I had going on it were Second Life, and Flight Gear – both of which I was able to get going again after a bit of coaxing – loading of 32 bit compatibility libraries and updating to the latest NVidia driver).  I was also able to get Code::Blocks, Blender, Gimp and various development tools loaded as well, including GCC, Python, Make, etc.  I have a few items I’m still trying to get working including a driver for my logitech joystick/keypad and a 3D world development framework.  This Linux machine now becomes my primary software development platform; my Macbook Pro is the video and audio recording/editing and drawing/writing platform.  Finally my ancillary machines will serve other purposes (DNS, Email, Webserver).  As a result of all this rearrangement, I’ll not be building a hypervisor laboratory as I originally intended.  I’m thinking it might be better to focus on the creative aspects more than the administrative aspects at home anyway.  We shall see.

So now I’m feeling saner and with some quiet focus time coming up soon(tm)- I should be able to make headway on my projects this year.  More on the project list in a future post.  Ciao for now.

Do We Need A New Political Party For The Internet?

The SOPA-PIPA and ACTA debacles are a clear indicator that our elected officials in both the Democratic and Republican parties are not merely ignorant of their civic duties, but corrupt as well.  Clearly the influence of powerful lobbying groups’ dollars resonated more than destroying the keystone of our modern freedom of speech and publication – the internet.

In private discussion with my college political professor back in the day he was of the opinion at the time, after having tried influencing things as an independent, that it was better to work within one or the other political parties – to make the most impact, and if need-be change them from within.  However, after observing several political grass root events in both parties over the years (I’m a registered Republican btw – but very disappointed with the party) – the prospect of working with and attempting to influence the people currently in positions of leadership in either party is distasteful.  I would rather try to argue with a rabid pit-bull – than spend time with these dogmatic people.  When people can’t find common ground there is no way to convince them to compromise on any issue for the greater good.

Instead I am thinking it would be better just to scrap support for either party, and instead form a new party based upon a more moderate/centrist view of things.  Ideally this party should align with the views of the 14 million Americans who are currently awake – with their antenna fully extended and listening.

What would the platform of such a party look like?  Here is my attempt:

Internet Party Platform (IP Platform)

1.  Civic responsibility is everyone’s responsibility; the population must educate themselves and make such education available (e.g. get out the vote, email/phone campaigns) on the issues and watch and respond to threats to our basic liberties.  The response to SOPA-PIPA tells me that this is possible, if not happening already.   “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” – Thomas Jefferson.  We have been silent for too long.

2.  Revolutionary Republicanism – the view that limiting corruption and greed is of utmost importance.  Virtue of our elected leaders must be restored through strict limits on monetary compensation and ‘donations’ from all parties.  Get the influence of money OUT of government.  The population has a right and a duty to remove from office by legally scheduled election and recall election those elected officials who are shown to be abusing their power to the detriment of society.  Make it so only virtuous women and men seek public office in the spirit of ensuring, ” rich and poor, magistrates and subjects, officers and people, masters and servants, the first citizen and the last, are equally subject to the laws”, to quote John Adams.

3.  The internet and the vast majority of people who spend their daily lives inhabiting, growing ‘micro’ economies in, communicating and publishing words, arts and music in, and increasing the public good through – is the heart blood of this country and the world today.  We recognize that the communications and computer technology that makes up the internet is disruptive of the previous business and political order.  We pledge to make this revolutionary transition peaceful and respectful of everyone’s human rights and civil liberties.

4.  We do not apologize to previous generations and interests for change –  “no society can make a perpetual constitution or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation.”  We will fight all attempts to stop useful public progress in the interests of private financial gain in perpetuity.  To that end we will fight to limit the length of time the assignment of monopoly (e.g. copyright)  can be applied – so that real public good within the same generation comes from invention – and America can remain a leader in innovation.

That’s about all I can think of that most people would agree upon.  Anything else would start the pendulum swinging too far right or left.  I also tried to make it general enough to cover most situations that cause the most problems – the 80/20 rule would apply – the idea here being you’ll never be able to clean up everything, but if you focus on the top 20% of issues – you’ll impact 80% of the things that effect people.  Given the core values expressed here – I think taking action on them would have the most good.

Then another thought occurred to me…

Does it even make sense to think in terms of nation-states and political boundaries in a medium that by design contains no such distinctions?  It is a great contradiction.  To ensure the continued unlimited communications medium across the world, you must play the sovereign’s game within the boundaries of the state.  But what’s to stop an association of parties with the same platform from springing up all over the world?  Think about it – helping each other in many nations to focus upon the internet problems that we are all impacted by as a community.  I would argue this is happening already in an adhoc manner – but aside from the reactive Anonymous and Occupy movements – there has not been a consistent platform put forward that is proactive.  What I’ve seen so far is a statement that there is a problem, and a list of 50,000 divergent views on how to fix it.  Maybe we just need to start with some simple values, like these here, and act upon them to get to the variegated state we desire?  Maybe we already are, and I’ve not been paying attention?

To Grok, or not to Grok – That is the Question

I’m still working on the article that is supposed to be here  – so in the interests of providing a more consistent output – I give you this expansion on a brief comment I wrote on another blog regarding how I learn and the epiphany I had when I stopped gazing at my own navel:

When I was young, and by young I mean 39 (LOL), I couldn’t grasp that people just didn’t think the way I do about learning. For me – when I want to learn something, I research everything I can about the subject in books. In fact, I’m fat, dumb, and happy when I have an excellent book on the subject, and a computer at hand to try things out for myself just to see how it really works.  My stint in the military also had a similar pattern, both as a student and as an instructor the method of study was always 1) read the manual, 2) get some hands on to verify your knowledge; as an instructor the pattern was 1) lecture, 2) give the students hands on – the only difference being in an instructor lead course the instructor can critique and show the students proper methods as well as answer questions to help them clarify their knowledge.   As a student, I rarely if ever had to ask questions, or needed the instructor to verify my work – I was an autonomous learner – and could never quite understand why others around me needed help in this way.

One day it started to click for me. It was the day my wife decided to take a C++ programming course. Now, I’ve been trying to get her interested in geeky things – including programming for years – and I gave her reading lists and some of the best books on the subject – things I wish someone had done for me back when I was just getting started.  As much as she tried – she just never got it alone… or especially, it seems when I would try to explain it to her. For her the ideal learning experience is in a formal classroom setting with a emotionally distant teacher she can ask questions without feeling she was being judged, and a solid curriculum with homework and all the rest – the works.  90% of communications is nonverbal – and try as I might, she would detect or think she detected a scolding when I would attempt to explain.  I won’t go into all the reasons she may have come to that impasse.  Suffice to say – she required a different approach than I was capable of giving.

I knew something significant was going on when she started talking to me with excitement about her first project – the archetypical hello world program. When she came home with an ‘A’ in the subject – I knew there was a qualitative difference between the different modes of learning – and those modes are different and unique for every person.  Everyone is capable of learning just about anything – the key is to put them in the right learning environment for them.  When that occurs, they will be more likely to be motivated, and the subject matter will be more accessible to them.

After sulking for several years, I have now come to accept that reality – and by doing so it has helped me communicate with and help others find their best way in spite of my own limitations in this area.

So the upshot of my torturous journey is to tailor education for the students – and today we have more than enough CPU cycles to go around to make that happen technologically at least.  So – how can we do that for the large majority of students who are not autonomous learners?

I need to think about that – and I’ll get back to you.  In the meantime – let me know what you think should be done, both in terms of technology and the practice of teaching, in the comments section below.