Thursday, 24 November 2011

Freewill and language

When I finally got round to reading what the current thinking on freewill was, I have to say I was pretty disappointed. There seem to be in general a view that freewill and cause and effect cannot co-exist, or in other words the ability to predict actions therefore makes them non free. This is nonsense.

Mainly it seems obvious to me that thought is not fundamental to the universe, you perceive the universe you are not of the universe. This however does not imply that there is some other force at play in thought, merely that you cannot define thought as a bunch of atoms interacting, not least because the only way we know there are atoms is because we perceive them.

This line of thought has however forced me to expand my beliefs, as well as the barrier between thought and language I also believe there is a barrier between the universe, thought and language. A fairly logical step I think.

This turned out a lot more succinct than I though it would, hopeful it’s still clear.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The language problem

In this post I will attempt to explain something that is by its very nature quite difficult to explain. It ties in to my previous philosophical posts at a fundamental level but is a bit further along in its thinking. Anyway…

My explanation starts with though, I believe though is an incredibly complex summation of a person’s total experiences and current perception, it also flows and a static thought is a nonsensical idea. Perception is affected by  many things such as the senses and hormones and such. Memories are imperfect and too numerous to be accessed in a direct way most of the time.

Language is used to take a thought distil it and enable it to be used as an external reference for a new thought. This distillation process however is an issue. The thought from which language is derived is of almost limitless complexity but the language that is created is considerably simpler. You can liken the process to that of recording live music, the original is an amalgamation of the venue, the people, the musicians, and of course the music and almost certainly many other possible variables. You record this music and only the sound waves are preserved and even then not completely accurately. You then have the sound engineer’s influence imposed upon the recordings and then its probably compressed into little mp3 files. The gist of whatever was recorded might be there but that is it.

Of course current language has its place for simple tasks, and like old valve amplifiers its beautiful because it does its job badly. I think however that philosophy has to as matter of urgency find some way of communicating more complex ideas through language. Invent the FLAC of language, instead of continuing to use dodgy mp3’s as it were.

This is not an easy task, thoughts are by it’s nature vague and written language for example is absolute. I however have come up with a preliminary idea. The idea of using shifting definitions. Or in other words a definition that changes(within a larger vague definition) each time you look at it. I have not worked out the practical aspects of how one would go about creating a shifting definition completely but I am confident I will create a couple soon.

This concept warrants more discussion but I think I need feedback first.

Thursday, 6 October 2011


A thought has crystallised today that I think could be one of my more important ones. The purpose of philosophy, it's end game, but my new goal. To discover, invent or just reach a method for expressing vagueness and the pseudoabsolutes that vagueness produces.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

What is next for DSLR’s?


First off if you haven't seen the new EVIL(electronic viewfinder interchangeable lens) cameras you should check them out pretty soon, they are amazing. By using a smaller sensor than dslr’s and by forgoing the viewfinder, you get a camera that is as small as fairly large compact but with interchangeable lenses and some really cool features. Things like burst fire mode of 60fps, full hd video and decent low light performance. As a keen rock climber a rugged EVIL camera could be the idea solution, balancing the performance of a dslr with accessibility of a compact, and those video and burst features. In fairness the features I have just mentioned come on the nikon V1 and it costs about £850 but it is a first generation, the prices are going to come down.

So the DSLR has some competition, the question now is what can it do in response? I am aware that DSLR’s don’t really have any self interest, they are a product made by several companies and if there is no demand they will not be made. But I feel that another leap is due for DSLR’s as a few years ago they gained hd video and excellent low light performance and now the next generation of processors is coming at around the same time that these new EVIL cameras are arriving. They are bound to of incorporated some of the features from the new challengers.

So the 5D mkiii, even better low light performance, smoother video, live-view only superburst mode? I’m excited by the possibilities.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

My tablet experience

So I got my hands on a HP touchpad, it was a hell of a lot of work. Apparently £89 tablets sell quick. Anyway back to my point, I now have a tablet. Admittedly its a tablet that I had to devote an afternoon to modding to make it work as well as its competition, and it runs an unsupported OS. Neither of these things really bothered me, firstly I like tinkering so having to modify the kernel and OC the cpu was fun for me, and having a really good android phone I know that you really don’t use that many apps.

So I’ve had it a while now and something has dawned on me or at least re-dawned on me(I have never been a fan, but a fire sale made me forget), tablets suck. They are in their current iteration in an unhappy middle ground between something portable and really productive(laptop) and something really really portable and completely unproductive(smartphone). The only thing tablets have going for them and it’s a pretty big thing is that they are really cool, but is it just me or is something that relies entirely on cool also know as a fad?

To talk specifically about the issues with the form factor a little: first off a 10.1inch screen that seems to be the most popular makes using two hands to type really hard, and typing with one hand slow, its still not possible to make a device that size light enough for comfort but also sturdy, its also quite large fine to carry if you have a bag but not really pocketable. In other words it’s harder to type on than a decent smartphone and less easy to hold, there is more screen estate though and it is a nicer experience than my phone but not by a lot.

Tablets also run OS’s that really are designed for phones and happen to be able to scale up. Apps are great and all but to be honest most of them don’t give anything over what a decent webpage can give you, there a definitely a few that give novel features to your hardware but these are typically for very specific things that are used occasionally.

So how would I make tablets good? Well I would do what I think Microsoft's doing. essentially instead of beefing up their phone OS they are shrinking down their desktop OS to fit on a tablet. So next year we could have tablets with a touch orientated interface for “tablet mode” and the option to use a keyboard dock or a a wireless keyboard and have access to a full windows experience. So a device that can be very mobile and very productive, I’m looking forward to it.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Subjectivism then…


So I’ve had a go at saying why I don’t like objectivism, now to try and say why I think subjectivism is a better way of looking at things. Well I thinks it’s best to say what I think subjectivism is. It’s the view that as our thoughts are separated from the the world by a layer of perception and due to this we can never have a perfect grasp of reality. This leads to a bit of a problem, if we can never know what is really true then what do we work towards? How can we really justify what we do?

And the answer to those questions is we can’t, at least not without making some unjustifiable decisions at a basic level. If you think this is somehow wrong and that people can’t function without well justified beliefs, you clearly haven't met people. In fact I find this desire or need for an underlying truth to be a little odd, I liken it to the question “Why is there something instead of nothing?” it assumes for some reason that nothing is the norm despite living in a world of something and observing things we still seem to think that we must be special and nothing must be how it should be. We live in a world with little justification for what we do and yet assume that justification is required.

I’ve come to the opinion that no one that reads this will understand it unless they already understand… but I can only get better at explaining right? Another Philosophy post when I can work out what to say next. probably a tech post before then.


Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The post-PC world! or the everyone still uses a PC but also has a convergence device world.


So It's official, the PC is dead. Everyone that matters thinks so, or at least many Apple fanboys tech bloggers seem to think so. In 5 years time most people will have a smartphone and a tablet and therefore not need a desktop PC and by extension Windows.

I have to say that I think this is a very narrow minded view, possibly brought about because tech bloggers tend to only need a web browser and a lightweight blogging tool. I'm going to look at it like this, are we going to need a stationary device that has high performance and a full keyboard and mouse in the next five years. I have to say that we are, I see no reason to suggest the contrary. The main reason against losing the PC is that tablets and smartphones are awful at content creation. Touch is really cool and intuitive but it is also inefficient, error prone and inaccurate. Tablets and smartphones can only really use touch, in order to maintain the form factor. Their are a couple of Asus tablets that have keyboards but the another medium term reason against this change is software legacy, they run android which is a great OS but at the moment doesn't have any productivity suites, nor I think will it( at least for a few years). I envision that soon if you need to edit office files on the go you will use a cloud based solution and hope your tablet has a keyboard.

In fact if I ever meet someone that makes the argument that we will no longer need a PC I will say what your really saying is that you no longer need a keyboard and mouse and that is clearly foolish. The keyboard/mouse combo is and shall be for the foreseeable future the cheapest, simplest, most tactile, most customisable, most efficient and most supported input device. Nothing comes close. Not even an Apple track pad( a wonder of advertising, buy something for more money that was originally designed to be a worse version of a mouse because it has shortcuts!!!)

Man I rant a lot.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

My problems with objectivism.

I have tried several times to write something about my philosophical views, I think the main problem I had was that of scope. I found it hard to cover everything I felt needed to be said, and my writing tended to spiral out of control. I hope that by writing shorter blog posts on some subjects I will be able to get my point across more concisely.

So objectivism, the idea that there is an ultimate truth or ideal that should be the basis for our decisions. To argue against this is often mocked, and portrayed as absurd. Somethings are obviously true they say, if you drop a stone will it not fall? To not believe in objectivism is to not believe in science, apparently. However I believe that this kind of argument displays a fundamental flaw in their understanding of how we perceive the world, or to put it simply how science works. Science does not work by inclusion. That is to say that experiments cannot prove anything, they can only disprove things. Disprove enough of the likely possibilities and an explanation becomes the most likely by a considerable amount.

So I cannot accept objectivism because the layer of perception that separates our consciousness from the universe does not allow certainty of anything, only a degree of probability. So if there was any universal truth we would never be able to test whether it was true to a 0% probability of error. And if we could never find truth what use is an objective belief system?

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Why I don't like Apple's current media direction.

I do not like Apple, I respect the company's ability to use marketing to it's advantage and acknowledge that it has written some great software. The problem I have always had with Apple(well since I have had an opinion on the matter so since maybe '06) is in its control of media. Actually to be honest I think I just dislike Steve Jobs and his influence on the company which can be summed up in a story about the NEXT and the choice of case material but that is best described in another post.

I think it started with iTunes and iPods. I mean on the face of it iTunes is a perfectly usable piece of software but it demonstrates the starting of the current Apple media philosophy. To start with there is the way that it is written in OS X native libraries, but there exists no windows version. This is a bit odd as when it was released windows had a majority market share and today windows has a majority market share. iTunes has a huge userbase on windows yet they don't deserve a less bloated (80MB for a media player?? True it has a web store built-in but you could download firefox, VLC and media monkey to give a random selection of programs that encompass all that functionality separately for under half of that.) , smoother performing, less buggy bit of software? Second it is the only option for managing iPods, iPhones and iPads. This gives iTunes an effective monopoly over the iDevice userbase and funnels the users into its music, film and app stores. Then inside the app store it's contents are scrutinised so that no functionality is duplicated on an iDevice i.e. you cannot download a phone app on iOS as it would replace the original functionality.

To be honest my first two points can be put down to Apple just doing good business, it makes sense to make a rival platform look bad and funnel people into a store. The controlling of app sales I think just stifles creativity, just look at the jailbroken iPhone store. I don't think any of these things improves the end user experience.

Up till now I have been talking about the software side of Apple (there is more to talk about such as the consumerising of its professional media editing software, screwing over people that have invested money and time into the ecosystem) there have also been changes to hardware that I disagree with. The removal of internal disc drives, the addition of a proprietary chip to its hard drives to stop user replacement and the support of thunderbolt over usb 3.0.

The removal of disc drives was justified by saving that the disc format is dead. Apparently nobody uses cd/dvd/bluerays anymore and if they do its because they are to stupid to work out that they don't need to. This is just wrong, even if it was possible to get the same information stored on disc's from Apple sanctioned outlets this would still mean if people wanted to access their collection of music/films on their new mac they would have to fork out for a less than elegant external drive. I can imagine the less computer literate finding this a confusing task. Maybe if Apple hadn't ignored the rise of blueray as a format it could except that there is still some life in the technology, can they really argue that downloading a 30GB high-def movie is going to be a nice experience. I have a fast Internet connection roughly 3MB/s(or as ISP's would say 30Mb/s) and it would take about 2:50 at that speed, sure after a while you could maybe stream it but to be fair according to the last Ofcom report the average UK Internet speed is 5.2Mb/s so planning would be needed. Also there is the space requirement of moving to cloud(?) distribution for instance you can only download your film once from iTunes you would have to store everything locally on your hard disc. I doubt even a few terabytes would be enough for a film lover who enjoys a high-def experience. Also ever had a hard drive break? discs allow us to spread the risk of data loss and corruption. From this I can only be lead to believe that this is a move designed to funnel mac users into the iTunes ecosystem.

The change in hard drive replacement is odd, the average user will never replace a hard drive. The only people that are likely to replace a hard drive are the kind of people that will be more than a little annoyed that they now have to buy their drive through Apple rather than from their manufacturer, at extra expense and less variety.

And there support of thunderbolt over usb3.0? Sure thunderbolt blows usb3.0 out of the water from a shear speed perspective, dual 10Gb/s channels compared to usb's 5Gb/s single channel. But really that is just too fast for almost everyone, unless you have some really excessive SSD raid hard drive setup you computer can't even read the hard drive that fast. But you cry you can daisy-chain monitors, to which I reply who in the entire world has gone you know what I really need is to be able to connect one monitor to another with a £60 cable instead of connecting both to the computer with at most a £10 cable. That's right thunderbolt cables cost £60 or at least £59, for a CABLE! And mac user's don't have a choice it's thunderbolt or usb2.0.

So in conclusion I don't buy Apple because they don't even pretend to care and that makes their products worse.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Rage against the politicians.

I am not by nature a person quick to anger. I am for the most part I believe reasonably, well... reasonable. Recently however I have witnessed some of the most blatantly irresponsible and self-centred actions of my entire life. I am not against personal irresponsibility - it is our right to be able to screw up our own life however we want - what I take exception to however is irresponsibility with power. We are not entitled to screw up other peoples lives.

Recently politicians have had a great deal more power over international affairs than they are used to. There have been several problems relating to the global financial crisis that have require governments to step in to protect people outside of their electoral. This is not easy, there is rarely an easy solution to these kinds of global problems. However this is the time for politicians to do the right thing, they have scope to act out of the bounds to which they are accountable, they should take the rights of the rest of the world seriously and act with respect applicable to this level of power. What they should not do is squabble about petty short term and nationalistic goals and the furthering of their career.
There is a counter argument that I'm sure supporters of this kind of politics would attempt to use. It follows: Politicians are elected to serve the people that voted for them and uphold their beliefs and act their combined will. If the population is very nationalistic and believes their country is an island unto itself then it is right for it's politicians to behave this way. This is a very naive argument. It makes many assumptions, such as it assumes that politicians have the ability to extract some form of perfect consensus from the population. my view of politicians is more pragmatic, I would say that it is incredibly difficult and impractical to ascertain a good approximation of the population's opinion and in several cases a bad idea to use that opinion to govern. Modern government is incredibly complicated and it would be impossible for an average person to solve any of the big issues with a high degree of success armed with only some shallow knowledge and an opinion. The politicians job is to provide options, they in theory should state the general direction they wish to take a country and get elected based on whether people agree with that direction. It is not their job to be liked by the nation it is their job to make the nation better.

To take the recent American debt ceiling debates as an example of the how politics should not be done. There were three groups to this argument: the democrats, republicans and members of the tea party movement. To start with the most extreme of these groups the tea party. These people are delusional extremists no better than terrorists(admittedly they wielded economic weapons instead of physical ones, but think about the suicide rate if they had managed to let America default.) I will perhaps defend this position at a later date. The remaining two parties each have differing views on how to solve the problem which I will not try and explain or choose a favourite, however they have both failed in one key aspect. They are playing the game to be liked and refusing to make tough necessary decisions. They played a game of refusing to compromise(some more than others) and then as a deal NEEDED to be made the best they could do was postpone until another politically divisive date. This may have harmed more than careers, and all it would of taken is for a key figure to say this is bigger than me, this is bigger than America, we cannot survive without the rest of the world maybe we shouldn't say we would be happy to toss them of a cliff in order to look strong.

This is the first of hopefully many posts. It is not well written but has let me vent.

Thanks for reading!