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Category Archives: Text

The Rise of Artificial Intelligence | Off Book | PBS Digital Studios

Artificial intelligence is an ever evolving goal for researchers, and the object of endless fascination for writers, filmmakers, and the general public. But despite our best science fiction visions, creating digital intelligence is incredibly difficult. The universe is a very complicated place, and humans have had millions of years to evolve the ability to navigate and make sense of it. Contemporary attempts to create AI have us looking more at how our own brains work to see how a computer could simulate the core activities that create our intelligence. No matter how we get there, it is certain that artificial intelligence will have tremendous impact on our society and economy, and lead us down a path towards evolving our own definitions of humanity.

AI (Artificial Intelligence) is a branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers and/or the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior. Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

When it comes to AI, people have ideas of human-like robot that seems to have some degrees of human intelligence and reasoning. I as a programmer think it is just another “tool”. A tool is an object that creates for certain purpose(es) to performance certain task(s) to make our lives easier. Anything that has built-in AI component is a “smart tool”; that is, a tool has sense to detect and respond when the condition is met. Programmers do that all the time (generally speaking :P) – having listeners for different events and making function calls accordingly. There is an argument against AI robots – job loss. I am not too worried about job loss. Even though we know that when the technology advances, there will be job loss, we also know that more new jobs will be created as well. Hence, there will always necessary short-term pain for the greater good. Once we pass the “initial costs of upgrade”, we will not want to look back.
I too share the same view that AI robots do NOT have to have human-like form. They can be in any different shape, size, and form based on their purposes and functions because (design speaking) the form should reflect their functions. Last, I remember the team at IBM that created the computer, Watson which won the Jeopardy game, did an experiment in which they let Watson “learned” urban dictionary. Watson had some interesting (human-like) replies to certain questions – It began to use profanity languages and sometimes replies, “This is BS.” Fortunate unlike human, Watson could easily make unlearned by deleting urban dictionary from its database, so it may not be too good to be too much human-like. Of course, there is a fear that if we create something super intelligent, and without all the human flaws it may one day wipe human off the surface of the earth.

How to Survive a Plane Crash

The odds of dying in a plane crash are about one in 11 million (about the same as being attacked by shark and much lower than the chance of being stuck by light), while the odds of dying in an auto accident are about one in 5,000. More than 95 percent of the airplane passengers involved in a crash survive, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Scientific America has an article that gives a few tips that can increase your chances of survival in a plane crash.

  • Dress for survival – Wearing practical shoes, long pants and long-sleeved shirts. (Cover your skin to protect your skin from flames and sharp objects)
  • Choose your seat wisely – Passengers in the rear of an aircraft were significantly more likely to survive, and people sitting behind the wing had a 40 percent greater chance of surviving. Also, try to sit in or near an exit row because most crash survivors moved five rows or fewer before exiting a burning plane. Last, aisle seats are somewhat safer. (Not first class)
  • Takeoff and landing – The most accident-prone times of an airplane flight are the three minutes after takeoff and the eight minutes before landing – keep your shoes on, keep your tray table up, make note of the two nearest exits, placing a carry-on item under the seat in front of you.
  • The 90-second rule – Stay calm and move out of the plane quickly. (Fire can spread very quickly)

After surviving a plane crash, if we can learn from the Flight 214 plane crash at SFO, don’t get run over by emergency vehicles arriving at the scene.
Source: Scientific America – How to Survive a Plane Crash

Last Google Reader Visit

Today is the day when Google officially terminates its Google Reader. A few hours ago, I logged on Google, accessed its Reader, finished up all the posts for the last time, and took some screenshots. Not that I wanted to preserve the memory of Google Reader (it is JUST a tool, I told myself :P), but I found on its Trends page there were some interesting statistics glimpsing into my RSS usages.

The first screenshot shows that I’ve read 300,000+ since April 5, 2012. That is, 300,000 posts / (365 + 30 + 31 + 25) days ~ 665 posts per day. This is slightly higher than the monthly average, which is (19,298 posts / 30 days) at 643 posts/day. Therefore, I can say that on average I read about 650 posts a day, which may explain the reason that I feel I don’t have time to play computer games – there is just so much to learn, and new things, information, and knowledge keep increasing daily.

The second screenshot of a histogram displays a weekly pattern of my RSS consumption. That is, I read most during the weekdays and read less on the weekends beginning every Friday. Websites posts most of posts during the weekdays and fewer posts to read on weekends for the obvious reason.

The last screenshot,the most interesting one I think, indicates (I would call) a pattern of a typical work day. Even though websites put out posts throughout the day, most post items are posted between 4am to 4pm (the East Coast of the US is 3hr ahead of my local time). The time I read posts items also follows a typical schedule of a working individual. Posts are read after dinner time, and few to none of posts are consumed from 12 midnight to 12 noon.

In conclusion, it is okay (a bit sad) if Google Reader has to go, and I can only hope there is an alternative that offers similar statistics. So far, there is none. Oh btw, it is now 1:45am Pacific Time, and apparently Google Reader is still working. I have not logoff the Google Reader yet. I wonder when Google will poll the plug.

Android 5.0 “Key Lime Pie” UI Concepts

Droid-life posts some images of Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie UI design – lockscreen and homescreen. I like it a lot more than iOS 7 UI design.

Youtube Audio Quality

  • Original: 192kbps
  • 1080p: 192kbps
  • 720p: 192kbps
  • 480p: 128kbps
  • 360p: 128kbps
  • 280p: 68kbps

Note: Original is the resolution of the video that is larger than 1080p

I was curious about audio quality information on youtube video. Here is I found if you also wondered about it. :)

Source: H3XED

To the distracted drivers of the Web

According to the Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center of New York, texting and driving has just surpassed drunk driving as the leading cause of death in teenagers behind the wheel. Last year, more than 3,000 teens died as a result of sending and receiving SMS messages.

It is quite shocking although not completely surprising to learn that texting and driving has just surpassed drunk driving as the leading cause of death in teenagers behind the wheel. I hope anyone who reads this does not repeat the same mistake. Do the wise thing to put down your phone and concentrate on the road for the safety of yourself and others.

Source: To the distracted drivers of the Web

SQL Join Diagram

A diagram shows the general items of SQL joins.

Here is a list of SQL joins:

  • Inner Join
  • Outer Join
    1. Left Join
    2. Right Join
    3. Full Join
  • Cross Join

Cross join is missing in this diagram, but cross join is rarely used.


Google Axes Google Reader on July 1, 2013

There is big news today, which caused me to run around and shout, “the end is nigh”.
No, it was not about the first non-European pope.
No, it was not about a newly appointed China president.
It began as an ordinary day until I logged in my Google Reader and was greeted by a popup notifying me that Google Reader would be retired on July 1, 2013. Of course, I am talking about Google Reader, which has been my time saver. I am subscribing to 60+ websites, and before Google Reader I would spend hours each day to visit every single website.

Among services that Google offers, I only use three regularly – search, gmail, and reader. Google has been trying hard to evolve and expand in the past 4 years, and so far I feel they have not had anything worth noticing, but failure after failure. There are lots changes and movement, but very little progress. On google blog, it posts a list services that will end in its second spring of cleaning:

  • Apps Script: Sept 16, 2013
  • CalDAV API: Sept 16, 2013
  • Google Building Maker: June 1, 2013
  • Google Cloud Connect: April 30, 2013
  • Google Reader: July 1, 2013
  • Google Voice App for Blackberry: Next week
  • Search API for Shopping: Sept 16, 2013
  • Snapseed Desktop for Macintosh and Windows: Mar 13, 2013

So what are the alternatives? I have looked up a few alternatives. Interestingly, many of them are slow, and a few are down. It seems a massive exodus is on the way and people are looking for an alternative. As the result, those websites are flooded with Google Reader refugees. I feel retiring Google Reader could turn out to be a big mistake for Google. Now it may be too late for Google to do any damage control. I won’t go back even if Google Reader avoids the axe.

So far I have three alternatives that seems okay: Feedly, The Old Reader, NewsBlur
The search is still on. Features I look for my next RSS readers:

  1. Browser Add-on (adblocking ads in the RSS feeds)
  2. No Google/Facebook/Twitter login required (More secure and less trouble)
  3. Very user friendly (This one is given)
  4. Offline mode
  5. XML import (Use Google Takeout to export data from my Google Reader and import into the new reader. Quick, simple, painless)
  6. Simple and maybe similar to Google Reader (Clean, little or no clutter; simple, if not simpler.)

I am sure that more RSS feeds/readers will use this opportunity to update and expand, and many websites will also look for alternatives. If you know a great alternative that are not mentioned, feel free to tell me in comment.

Linux Cheat Sheet

I randomly came across this Linux Cheat Sheet.
For many beginners in Linux, this can be extremely helpful.
So far the document contains 550+ lines, and it is too long to copy everthing and paste it here, so I only post 100+ lines here. Go view the complete document at github if interested.

# (C) William Hackmore, 2010
# The contents of this file are released under the GNU General Public License. Feel free to reuse the contents of this work, as long as the resultant works give proper attribution and are made publicly available under the GNU General Public License.
# Best viewed in emacs org-mode.

* Reference:
** Basics:
*** Getting help:

# View the manual for target command
man command

# Get help with a target command (probably the same as above, but not always):
command -h

# In case you forget the name of a command, print possible commands relating to guess:
apropos guess

# View index of help pages:

*** Command Line Utilities:
**** Basic File and Directory Operations:
# Print current working directory:

# Show files in current directory:

# Show maximum information about all files, including hidden:
ls -a

# Recurse into subdirectories and list those as well:
ls -R

# Move/rename a file or directory (be careful that you don’t move the source over a destination with the same name):
mv source destination

# Delete target forever (be very careful), use -r recursive flag for directories:
rm target

# Copy file or directory:
cp source destination

# Mount filesytem:
mount /dev/device_name /media/device_name

# Unmount:
umount /media/device name

# Forensically clone filesystems and do other low-level operations on files. Be careful with this one. Can be destructive:

# Work with filesystems and partitions. (Easier, still quite dangerous):

**** System Administration:

# Execute command as an administrator (can be destructive/insecure. Use only for system administration tasks):
sudo command

# Become system administrator:
sudo -s

# Quit system administration:

***** Installing software from a .tgz (also known as a tarball):

# First, unzip the tarball (see section on tar, below)
# Next, move into unzipped directory:
cd software_directory

# Always read README first if it is provided, in case there are any modifications to the procedure outlined below:

# Automatically check for appropriate configurations and generate a MAKE file in the directory:

# Compile software. May require sudo:

# Move files into their appropriate locations. May also require sudo:
make install

# Clean up files in directory, in case make command fails, or just to remove unnecessary cruft:
make clean

***** Ubuntu/Debian Software repositories:

# Check distro repositories for software updates:
sudo apt-get update

# Download and install updates (update first):
sudo apt-get upgrade

# Search for package in the repositories:
apt-cache search keyword

# Get more detail on one specific package:
apt-cache show package_name

# Download and install a package:
sudo apt-get install package_name

# View the output of a command in a more convenient format:
command | less

Tea Tip Infographic

It’s an inforgraphic that shows the ideal temperatures and during for brewing different types of tea. I used to brew tea between 195 to 205 F (95.5 – 96.1 C) degree. Yes, it is the temperature for making coffee, so one ‘size’ does not fit all. I’ll certainly check this infograpic next time I make my tea. However, the infographic did not provide reason(s) that different leaves needs different temperatures and lengths of time to brew. I am still wondering the negative outcomes of brewing tea in hotter temperature than recommended and leaving it in the hot water too long. Very bitter tea?

Source: Utility Journal: Tip Sheet: Tea

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