Saturday, February 17, 2018

My Disneyworld vacation - overview

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My wife and I just returned from a week vacation to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It was a great trip. A lot of fun, but unfortunately not without its share of headaches as well.

This article is the first of three, describing our trip. This one is an overview of the trip, discussing the planning, dining plans and travel. Subsequent articles will discuss what we did there and about the restaurants we ate at.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Washington Free Beacon: MSNBC Shows Error-Ridden Graphic on Trump’s Approval Rating

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MSNBC Shows Error-Ridden Graphic on Trump’s Approval Rating
BY: Katelyn Caralle,

Host Katy Tur said she usually does not like to "rely too heavily on numbers" but wanted to discuss this poll in particular.

But the graphic that appeared on screen, showing seven states and their corresponding approval and disapproval ratings for the president, was laden with errors.

According to the graphic, only two percent of Pennsylvanians approve of Trump's job performance, while 53 percent disapprove. The actual poll shows that 42 percent of Pennsylvania residents approve of the president.

Furthermore, five of the seven states' names on the MSNBC graphic were paired with the wrong image of a U.S. state.

Very embarrassing, especially given the fact that the previous day, MSNBC slammed the Republicans for a typo on invitations to the State Of The Union address.

You know what they say about people in glass houses...

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Nine (and a fraction) short movie reviews

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I recently had to take a business trip to Singapore. This is a very long trip from Virginia (about 24 hours each way, including a connection), and since I can never sleep much on a plane, I had the opportunity to watch a lot of movies. I ended up watching nine and drifted in and out of sleep watching a tenth.

Because I'm crazy enough to think others might want my opinion, here's the list of films, complete with trailers and my comments. No plot-summaries (you can follow the IMDB links and watch the trailers for that), just my random comments and opinions.


Thursday, January 18, 2018

GM to offer fully autonomous ride-sharing in 2019

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No pedal to the metal in GM's planned self-driving Cruise AV car
Nick Carey, Paul Lienert, Reuters, January 12, 2018 / 1:07 PM

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co (GM.N) is seeking U.S. government approval for a fully autonomous car - one without a steering wheel, brake pedal or accelerator pedal - to enter the automaker’s first commercial ride-sharing fleet in 2019, executives said.
GM is part of a growing throng of vehicle manufacturers, technology companies and tech startups seeking to develop so-called robo-taxis over the next three years in North America, Europe and Asia. Most of those companies have one or more partners.
GM wants to control its own self-driving fleet partly because of the tremendous revenue potential it sees in selling related services, from e-commerce to infotainment, to consumers riding in those vehicles.

At a Nov. 30 briefing in San Francisco, GM’s Ammann told investors the lifetime revenue generation of one of its self-driving cars could eventually be “several hundred thousands of dollars.” That compares with the $30,000 on average that GM collects today for one of its vehicles, mostly derived from the initial sale.

GM’s Cruise AV is equipped with the automaker’s fourth-generation self-driving software and hardware, including 21 radars, 16 cameras and five lidars - sensing devices that use laser light to help autonomous cars “see” nearby objects and obstacles.

This is amazing. Two years from now, we will be seeing true driverless cars on the road, at least in some cities in the US. It may be a while before the tech matures enough to let us have this capability for ourselves - to own one and use it everywhere we currently drive, but this is still an incredible next step.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Meteor lights up Michigan sky

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"Likely" meteor lights up sky over Michigan, National Weather Service says
By Peter Martinez, CBS News, January 16, 2018, 10:09 PM

The National Weather Service in Detroit said a flash seen over Michigan and the boom heard was not thunder or lightning -- but instead a likely meteor. According to CBS Detroit, residents have been calling in to report what some describe as a boom or blast heard just after 8 p.m.

That must've been a sight to see. I should get a dash-camera installed in my car, just in case something similar happens when I'm around.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Classical Music Mashup

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I just ran across this incredible set of mash-ups that combine lots of different pieces of classical music together. Thanks much to Grant Woolard for this really fun work.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

MacRumors: Source Code for Apple's Lisa Operating System to be Released for Free in 2018

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Source Code for Apple's Lisa Operating System to be Released for Free in 2018
Wednesday December 27, 2017 5:57 pm PST by Juli Clover

The Apple Lisa, released in 1983, was one of the first personal computers to come equipped with a graphical user interface, and soon the operating system that ran on the Lisa will available for free, courtesy of the Computer History Museum and Apple.

As noted by Gizmodo, Al Kossow, a software curator at the Computer History Museum, recently announced that both the source code for the Lisa operating system and the Lisa apps have been recovered. Apple is reviewing the source code, and once that's done, the museum will be releasing the code publicly.

This is really awesome news. Hopefully it will spur some people in the emulation community to make a Lisa emulator we can run on our modern computers under macOS, Windows and Linux. I, for one, would love to be able to try out this historic computer and compare the experience with what I remember from the early Macs, with the design ideas Jef Raskin developed, and other contemporary computer systems.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Michelangelo of Microsoft Excel

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h/t Daring Fireball

It had never previously occurred to me that Excel's drawing tools could be used for actual art and not just business graphics. I'm impressed.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Naked Security: Google AI teaches itself ‘superhuman’ chess skills in four hours

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Google AI teaches itself ‘superhuman’ chess skills in four hours
by Lisa Vaas,

Human chess grandmaster Peter Heine Nielsen tells the BBC that he’s “always wondered how it would be if a superior species landed on earth and showed us how they played chess.”

Well, move aside, ugly, giant bags of mostly water: now we know, because Google’s “superhuman” AlphaZero artificial intelligence (AI) taught itself chess from scratch in four hours. Then, it wiped the floor with the former world-leading chess software, Stockfish 8.
From the paper, whose authors include DeepMind founder Demis Hassabis: a child chess prodigy who reached the rank of chess master at the age of 13:

Starting from random play, and given no domain knowledge except the game rules, AlphaZero achieved within 24 hours a superhuman level of play in the games of chess and shogi [a similar Japanese board game] as well as Go, and convincingly defeated a world-champion program in each case.

A very impressive achievement. A huge leap forward in the field of machine learning.

Is it actually intelligent? I suppose that's going to depend greatly on how you define the word.

Monday, December 04, 2017