Teaching IBM’s Watson the meaning of ‘OMG’

The biggest difficulty for Brown, as tutor to a machine, hasn’t been making Watson know more but making it understand subtlety, especially slang. “As humans, we don’t realize just how ambiguous our communication is,” he says.

Case in point: Two years ago, Brown attempted to teach Watson the Urban Dictionary. The popular website contains definitions for terms ranging from Internet abbreviations like OMG, short for “Oh, my God,” to slang such as “hot mess.”

But Watson couldn’t distinguish between polite language and profanity — which the Urban Dictionary is full of. Watson picked up some bad habits from reading Wikipedia as well. In tests it even used the word “bullshit” in an answer to a researcher’s query.

Fortune Tech

Thinking the Unthinkable

On the intake form, under the question, “What are your expectations for treatment?” I wrote, “I need help.”

And I do. This problem is too big for me to handle on my own. Sometimes there are no good options. So you just pray for grace and trust that in hindsight, it will all make sense.

I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am Jason Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

According to Mother Jones, since 1982, 61 mass murders involving firearms have occurred throughout the country. (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map). Of these, 43 of the killers were white males, and only one was a woman. Mother Jones focused on whether the killers obtained their guns legally (most did). But this highly visible sign of mental illness should lead us to consider how many people in the U.S. live in fear, like I do.

When I asked my son’s social worker about my options, he said that the only thing I could do was to get Michael charged with a crime. “If he’s back in the system, they’ll create a paper trail,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.”

I don’t believe my son belongs in jail. The chaotic environment exacerbates Michael’s sensitivity to sensory stimuli and doesn’t deal with the underlying pathology. But it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise—in fact, the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated population.

The Anarchist Soccer Mom

The US federal government spends 8.1 billion dollars on the Toilet Safety Administration, but somehow can’t manage to get a proper mental health medical program for it’s citizens. (( or provide States with the funds for it ))

I’m not an american citizen but if i were, i would say that you’re doing it wrong. Terribly wrong.

Remembering John Hunter

John Hunter, author of Matplotlib, founding board member of NumFOCUS, husband to Miriam, and father to three daughters: Clara, Ava, and Rahel, was diagnosed with cancer in late July 2012 after returning from his keynote address at SciPy in Austin, TX. He passed away on August 28th from complications arising from necessary cancer treatment. See the announcement email by his good friend, Fernando Perez.

John has given so much to all of us in the Python community, now is our time to give something back to his family by providing for the education and support of his children. We have setup the John Hunter Memorial Fund to provide a mechanism for individuals and companies who have appreciated John’s work, to give back to him by ensuring that his children have funds available for their education.

John Hunter Memorial Fund – NumFOCUS Foundation

Almost all of the advancement of mankind is done by small pieces, a bit here and there that, altogether, provide us with a platform to go higher, faster, stronger. Most is done by virtually unknown to the “masses” engineers and scientists. John Hunter was one of them (us!), and he designed matplotlib, the Python library that anyone that uses python for science and mathematical computation uses.

It’s only worthy of us remembering him and, anyone that can, helping out his family and his children. Please see the link for more information

The Brooks Review paywall

But an ad supported site is, ultimately, not the site I want to run — so before I go any further I thought it prudent to craft the kind of site that I actually want to run, or as is actually the case: a site much closer to the one I want to run.

I want a direct relationship with you, my readers.

So starting today the business model becomes even more clear 1 :

  • You pay me.
  • I write.

Ben Brooks

There are usually two ways of getting paid for your non-fiction non-journalist writing:

  1. It’s called teaching. You write an article or book teaching me how to do something.

  2. You’re a respected member of some technical area (philosophy, politics, science, etc) and you write an essay reflecting, interpreting, explaining (( also called teaching, it’s point 1 again )) on your area future / present / interaction with society. It’s usually presented and sold as a printed book.

Most “personal tech blogs” don’t fall on two these categories neither on the other possible categories of written works. I started this site mainly as my personal international/english-speaking soap-box AND as way of teaching mac “newbies” how to do stuff in the mac. (( I failed miserably at the second point as i got sidetracked by other stuff… )) Most “personal tech blogs” are simple “opinions” of lay man of the general tech world, random links to something they thought was cool and the occasional “people’s perspective” on some issue. Not writings of “grand players” of such world, or by big “experts” of such technologies. Regular folks, like you and me. Interested, opinionated, knowledgable but still mostly “sofa managers”. (( from the portuguese expression “treinador de bancada”, the strongest faith that every football fan has (americans call it soccer) that he is the really knowledgable team manager and the single one that knows all what the team needs to do in order to win, right from his kitchen dinner table… ))

I like most of what Ben writes or links to and i have read him since i started this blog, but i fail to see what added-value his writing really have to offer me. Think of it like this, if his website would vanish tomorrow would you really miss it? And from all of the websites that you check daily, which ones would you really miss and strive to recover back from?

If a developer would write a really good blog about the Apple developer experience and know-how, and if i was a developer, i could see the point in paying. A single person wouldn’t be able to keep the high volume needed to keep interest and payers, so it would evolve to a team. And then into a newspaper/magazine : “The Apple Developer world! – everything you need to know”. I could also see why one would pay to get the incredible insightful analysis of Asymco.

Now, if a guy writes or links to interesting pieces about general stuff or his random opinions but he is not really from the “area” or doesn’t have anything to add apart from his “interested regular joe” perspective, which i also have, then what exactly does his writing provides me that i should spend money on it?

I fail to see the answer to this in most blogs/sites that i check every day. Some i’m reading more now, others i’ve read in the past, many are just short-term playgrounds for the author. (( as i must also admit, is this one. )) What i do see is that some value their modest input as having a far greater value than what it really has.

I don’t think the “ad subsidized” model is perfect, or great, but it is a working solution that is good enough for the average to low quality of most works out there. Paywalls do work, but you need to really provide great content. Don’t think 99% of the blogs, news sites and others fall even near that valuable 1%. (( and in case i didn’t make it clear, i know that neither is this site, unfortunately. ))

So if you just want to write stuff and “opinionate” baselessly, adjust your expectations.

Stardock 2011 Report

Other Platforms

Stardock expects to make some announcements later this year in this area.

Windows 8 concerns

Stardock remains concerned about the direction of Windows 8. Since we are not currently a crossplatform development shop, our success relies heavily on the success of Windows.

It is our projection that if Microsoft does not address the following items in Windows 8, then that version of the OS will be considered a general failure:

  1. Allowing desktop users to use Windows 8 entirely as a desktop OS. Specifically, interface and experience changes are necessary to prevent users from being shifted back and forth between the desktop and “Metro”.

  2. A realistic way to organize programs on Metro. Currently, Microsoft has termed “Groups” as being columns of tiles with a column label. Users are expected to either show a tile or hide it. If they are hidden, they can only be found through searching (typing). There is no folder concept in Metro as there is on the desktop, Android, Mac, or iOS.

  3. A migration away from mouse-over discovery of features back to visual discovery features. In the present consumer beta, Windows 8 requires the user to move the mouse around the screen to discover new elements, which work inconsistently depending on the context or the application.


Stardock Customer Report 2011

The times, they are changing…

Death of a data haven: cypherpunks, WikiLeaks, and the world’s smallest nation

“Sealand was an inspired choice for the data haven project. Roy Bates’s son, Michael, was running Sealand on a day-to-day basis as the Prince Regent by the 1990s. Michael inherited his father’s distaste for authority and his fondness for swashbuckling antics. A professional fisherman, he was hardly a computer geek. But he recognized in Hastings and Lackey the same cheeky outlaw spirit that had brought his own family to Sealand and kept it there for decades. Hastings and his wife flew out to visit Sealand, and a mutual love-in quickly followed.

Like any good dot-com-trepreneurs, Hastings and Lackey incorporated. They called the new venture HavenCo, for “Haven Co-location.” The pitch was simple. HavenCo would offer secure, anonymous hosting from Sealand. Microwave, fiber, and satellite links would provide fast and redundant bandwidth. Sealand’s concrete legs would be kitted out with server racks and uninterruptible power supplies—and then, for additional security, flooded with nitrogen, so that only authorized techies wearing scuba gear could would have physical access.”

Ars Technica

Sealand has one of the world’s strangest stories. And each time i read an article about it, it doesn’t get any duller.

The son of an analogue and digital world

“Often I find myself longing for a simpler life, a life that might be harder – like those of my grandparents and parents – but a life that was simpler. People didn’t buy disposable, people bought quality when possible.

People bought quality when possible.”