Articles, Reviews

Embedded Personalities

Today I was watching the first part of a BBC documentary called Visions of the Future : The Intelligence Revolution. It was all about how virtual reality is slowly turning into augmented reality. Well what is that exactly? Augmented Reality is the ability to make the technology (through the medium of the internet) part of our lives. At the moment it’s limited, by slowly growing. For example if you own an iPhone, with a specific application installed you can walk into a store (at a shopping centre) and hold you phone up to the music that’s playing at the time. This app will tell you the song that is playing, the artist, and gives you the option to download it. Another example is that some high-end motor vehicles have computer chips embedded in their bumpers, so if you car approaches another too rapidly the chip will automatically activate the brakes, and will stop you from a near collision. Folks this is just the start of machines enveloping our world…

As a teenager I could sense this Artificial Intelligence debate, coming and immediately deny that we can’t be replaced by machines, although I’m starting to think otherwise. We’re living in an online culture and it’s starting to become far more apparent than simply a few bumpers on cars. For example there are computer games such as World of WarCraft (WOW) and Second Life, whereas the latter suggests, you can create your own world, and interact with other people in an artificial world. WOW is more of a fantasy based game, where you running around joining guilds (groups of other online players that have their own village), slaying creatures, journeying on new quests, buying better clothes and weapons for your character, and stumbling across other new players.

To those people who aren’t really into computer gaming, it may sound like a feeble attempt in re-creating ourselves, however, the number of people devoting their time to conversing behind the computer rather than in real life is growing quickly. You can’t see the other characters that you relate to and therefore players find that they are free to say what they like. Friendships are made, hearts are broken, and people get married…all online. By married I’m referring to one couple who were playing Second Life. They met each other there and decided that they liked one another. Eventually this lead to hours of chatting, and getting married in real life. (For more information on this couple, you should go and check out the documentary that I mentioned earlier.) IRL is a piece of slang I’ll use that many devoted WOW players use occasionally when speaking to each other. It stands for ‘in real life’, when referring to activities that occur away from the computer.

Now what if computer gaming isn’t your thing? Is there something else that is proof of augmented reality? Well, you just need to look for it. In Japan there are robots that will greet you and bring you something to drink at a restaurant if you are thirsty. They’ve also created robot puppies. That will bark and respond to you when you rub them on the back or under the chin. There are also depressed patients who have had computer chips inserted into their brains to allow the neurons to fire more rapidly and increase their mood. According to one patient it’s helped far more than any other form of therapy included anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, electric-shock therapy and many others. If I am misquoting you’ll have to forgive me and go and watch the film.

Now these interesting and profound experiments leave me with a question. What happens when we embed a chip into ourselves? OR… What happens if we ’embed’ our minds into a computer game environment for 80% of our day and spend the other 20% IRL? Can it affect our choices and our mood? I would love to see an experiment that takes a child and allows them to spend their teen years behind a computer screen. Take another child and give him only a cell phone and no computer. My question is will the child on the computer become bored and frustrated and get out of the house more? OR… Maybe the computer-less child will spend an increasingly more amount of time on the internet, talking to people. Maybe he’ll eventually nag his parents to buy him a computer, and delve into the world he isn’t part of.

Personally I’ve been on the web in many different aspects whether is to do research, chat to people, share poetry and writing, or simple hunt for interesting articles to get boredom out of the way. I’ve done a bit of online gaming as well, although I’ve never really got myself involved in games like Second Life or WOW. The reason is that any RPG (role-playing game) sucks a lot of my time. I’ve played other non-online RPGs like Diablo 2, Titan Quest, WarCraft 3 (dota) and so on. I try to avoid it like someone might avoid a good bottle of wine. Because, unlike the wine, I know that it might end up lasting a few days and maybe even weeks and I don’t want to be apart of that right now.

I’m part of facebook; I have a blog, and subscribe to a few writing forums, as well as IRC (Internet Relay Chat). My personal feeling is to keep the internet as a tool, when I need it. I would still prefer to meet people face-to-face for the time being and see a real kind of emotion wash over their face.

Maybe I’m just old-fashioned!



Predictions from the Past

Here’s some interesting quotes i came across on the web. Feel free to to leave a comment if I’ve misquoted someone 😉




“Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.”

Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949


“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943


“I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.”

The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957


“But what … is it good for?”

Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.


“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”

Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977


“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”

Western Union internal memo, 1876.


“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would payfor a message sent to nobody in particular?”

David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.


“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.”

A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.


“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?”

H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.


“I’m just glad it’ll be Clark Gable who’s falling on his face and not Gary Cooper.”

Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in “Gone With The Wind.”


“A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make.”

Response to Debbi Fields’ idea of starting Mrs. Fields’ Cookies.


“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”

Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.


“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.”

Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.


“If I had thought about it, I wouldn’t have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can’t do this.”

Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M “Post-It” Notepads.


“So we went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we’ll come work for you.’ And they said, ‘No.’ So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet.'”

Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and H-P interested in his and Steve Wozniak’s personal computer.


“Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.”

1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard’s revolutionary rocket work.


“You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across all of your muscles? It can’t be done. It’s just a fact of life. You just have to accept inconsistent muscle development as an unalterable condition of weight training.”

Response to Arthur Jones, who solved the “unsolvable” problem by inventing Nautilus.


“Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy.”

Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.


“The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.”

Admiral William Leahy, US Atomic Bomb Project.


“This fellow Charles Lindbergh will never make it. He’s doomed.”

Harry Guggenheim, millionaire aviation enthusiast.


“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.”

Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.



 “Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.”

Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.


“Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances.”

Dr. Lee De Forest, inventor of the vacuum tube and father of television.


“Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.



“Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.”

Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872


“The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the instrusion of the wise and humane surgeon.”

Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria, 1873

Philosophy, Rantings

The Age of the iPod

Nowadays we’re living with a huge amount of noise. This is a very loose way of saying that we’re bombarded with technology, and let’s not forget the advertising and subcultures that go with it. It’s hard and confusing, but if you can master the technology of today, then you and I are open to endless possibilities.

Ever since the iPod and various other media devices became a norm, people have been obsessed with music and now anyone from a teenager to a middle aged father is listening to music. It’s a great thing to know that you can carry your whole cd wallet in a little pouch that is lighter than your actual wallet where more crucial information is stored. But also your wallet has become a little less relevant to how you want to feel about life. Your wallet has now become a product of the noise of our generation.

Balancing noise and narcissism

A while ago I was talking to a Doctor at my work. He told he doesn’t like technology at ALL. He told me that it’s made us removed from the world and with what’s going on. Although he’s not entirely correct, I’m forced to wonder how much of what he’s saying is actually true. One tragedy about an iPod is that it can cause us to introvert. One out of every ten customers I deal with, I don’t approach and ask them for help since they’re glued to the music on their belt, and simply want to waft in and out of the shop, in their music and their own thoughts. It gets on my nerves because I’m unsure if they want help, or they want to just be left alone instead.

I also understand them, because I’m a natural-born metal head and some days I enjoy the idea of simply plugging into a great album and forgetting about everything else for a while. So is this Noise (in the positive sense of the word) or blind Narcissism that’s provoking us?

It’s both to be honest. I don’t see life as an ultimatum, because that would be cruel and unfair to my own morals. The Greek legend of Narcissus is still a powerful one, so here is the story:

[Narcissus] in Greek mythology, the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Leiriope; he was distinguished for his beauty. His mother was told that he would have a long life, provided he never looked upon his own features. His rejection, however, of the love of the nymph Echo or of his lover Ameinias drew upon him the vengeance of the gods. He fell in love with his own reflection in the waters of a spring and pined away (or killed himself); the flower that bears his name sprang up where he died. According to another source, Narcissus, to console himself for the death of his beloved twin sister, his exact counterpart, sat gazing into the spring to recall her features.

The story may have derived from the ancient Greek superstition that it was unlucky or even fatal to see one’s own reflection. In psychiatry and especially psychoanalysis, the term narcissism denotes an excessive degree of self-esteem or self-involvement, a condition that is usually a form of emotional immaturity.

Narcissus. (2009). Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica.

In short we have a man who is forced into a period of water-gazing because of external factors in the environment. Our fallen hero has now become blinded by what he sees. In my opinion you could replace the harmless bowl of water, with an iPod, for our generation. It would seem absurd to argue that an iPod could actually kill someone. I won’t even make that statement for fear of living with the consequences and court cases. It is a strong example of how too much of a good thing could be detrimental to what we are unaware of.

An iPod at best can make us look antisocial, angry, happy, relaxed, meditative and internally engaged with ourselves. How then can we listen to music without breaking social barriers? My advice is to keep your life (and what you listen to) to two big containers.

The Two containers

The first is labeled ‘Online’ and the other ‘Offline’. These terms can be translated as Public and Private Life. Although society may try and merge these two categories, I think that is important we keep them (for the most part) separate.

So when you are at home, or in your car, or any other private space, that would be a good time to listen to your iPod. Although if you are in any kind of public place I would suggest that you whip it out of your ears, and engage with your external environment. This may seem like a massive shock to an introvert who is terrified of talking to people, although I still think it’s important. The only small exception I’ll add to this list is if you use an iPod for exercise. So if you are running down the road or going to the gym with an iPod plugged into your head, you should keep it there so you can continue pumping iron and jogging. If you don’t (when you’re in a public space) and you keep listening to a song of yours, it may seem fine, but you would be missing out on an opportunity to talk to your external environment.

Next you get the internet which is an equally vital part of our culture. So should we allow ourselves to become Offline with regards to the internet? Well, I’m afraid that the ball is in your court on this one. With software like Facebook and MySpace, we feel a great deal safer to be open about what we think and feel. Tread with caution, for once you have stuck your feet into the electronic river of information, is virtually impossible to get away from it.

If you are, like myself, addicted to burrowing into the corners of the internet, then for goodness sake research exactly what you are burrowing into! I have a very active mind, and I’ve always made it a habit of mine to investigate my own behaviors. For example in high school I started listening to heavy metal, much to the horror of my parents, and from then on I decided to read numerous articles on the internet. Some would be album reviews, while others would look at metal as a whole (from its birth with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath) right up to the present day (with names like Metallica, Slipknot, Cradle of Filth and Korn) swarming the charts.

On the same topic I’ve read books and articles on the blogging and Facebook so I feel satisfied with what I’m getting into. If in doubt of what to do next, research your subject in question.

The River of Creation and Chaos

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus argued that you cannot step into the same river twice. The reason is that he argued that river is in flux. So try to picture the Greek symbol for infinity which is our numerical symbol for 8, which has been pushed on its side. The river, like the symbol for infinity, is never-ending…hence the word ‘flux’. The river we may swim in may last longer than our existence on earth does. The reason for this is because that’s just the way it is. It’s a form of energy that never stops.

What does the saying mean then? Well, every time you dip your foot into the river, you are in different particles of water, because the river is constantly flowing. You can then argue that we experience the river differently every time we immerse ourselves in it, because some time has passed since when we last dipped our foot in, and at the same token, we may be older people (if even by a few minutes) compared to our initial encounter with the river. Now consider the internet… 😀

In philosophy there are three questions we start off asking ourselves, to stimulate our minds.

– Why are we here?

– Where have we come from?

– Where are we going?

It’s a tough one to consider; now if you ask the internet those same questions (by replacing ‘we’ with ‘you’) then the outcome is equally flabbergasting. The internet is an unknown river to most of us. We will just find one small spot where we enjoy swimming and make use of it! So as an ‘iPod generation’ I think that we should choose to embrace this river that, like it or not, we’re bound to come into contact with.

It may not always be what we’re expecting, but it gives us a sense of peace and solace in a strange way. So even if you haven’t read up on the river you’re dipping into, and are feeling a little nervous about it, just be aware of it, and a little research is always a good idea. 😉


Rantings, Reviews

my war on iTunes

Today marked the first day of being bored at work on my first day. I’m glad that I got the job, however playing chess can only amuse you for so long until the evil clutches of the internet grab you and your soul. I was pretty lucky because halfway through my shift the manager decided to go home, and that left me to my own devices.


Enough about you…what do you think of Apple?

Well I’m a gamer so any non-Microsoft normally would cause me a lot of concern…although its gradually growing on me. I never thought I come to love this new subculture in the computer industry…but my knees get weaker everytime I see a Macbook. They just LOOK so damn sexy…something that Microsoft couldn’t achieve. Microsoft is a technician’s tool which is why I initially liked it. It made me look clever and smart, and I learnt to fix things that newbies struggled with. now I’ve reached the point, where I’m pretty tired of fixing things and just want something that won’t break in a hurry.

Let’s not forget my pet hate with mac…iTunes. When the iPod came along every teenager got a bit giddy and decided to give it a go. As a result they ended up crashing their Mum’s precious computers (non Apple ones of course) and spending tons of money of the next best iPod gizmo to hit the shelves. When the same teenagers turned around to their iTunes they realized that their music had gone, and they were now having numerous glitches with song names, albums titles, and album artwork. This was the first time that I really hated Mac. A friend of mine got all psyched about them and told me to use ITunes. After a while I realized the iTunes made up its mind that I was no good at organizing things and decided to move around my music.

Anyway I got a bit down in the dumps about the whole thing and decided to give up on Apple for a while. Now back in the deep end, and have to put on a valiant smile and tell customers that a Mac is the best thing since since brass door knobs. I think I should manage, just got to keep my focus on all the other great applications that Apple offers and bury iTunes in the back of my mind;)


Reviews, Technology, Thoughts, Uncategorized

BoSD…One error you don’t want to see!

The Blue Screen of Death, or known as a STOP error is the last thing any user wants to see. For the unenlightened I simply talking about when your computer stops working and sooner or later you see a big blue screen pop up with an error script. It usually starts with about five to six zeros and turns into gibberish as it progresses. Below I’ve shown what this all looks like:


Anyway, most people will simply sigh and go and take it into the nearest computer repair shop. Then there are those of us who are just not satisfied to leave it at that, and want to fix the damn thing our self! So here is how you’d go about it. The following information was taken from this link: Hopefully you’ll also find it useful if you are technologically inclined.

  1. The most important STOP error troubleshooting step you can take is to ask yourself what you just did.

Did you just install a new program or a piece of hardware, update a driver, install an update, etc.? If so, there’s a very good chance that the change you made caused the STOP error.

Undo the change you made and test for the blue screen. Depending on what change you made, some solutions might include:

    • Startup with Last Known Good Configuration to undo recent registry and driver changes.
    • Use System Restore to undo recent system changes.
    • Rollback device driver to version prior to your driver update.
  1. Verify that a minimum amount of free space is available on your Windows partition. STOP messages and other serious issues, like data corruption, can occur if there’s not enough free space on your primary partition used for the Windows operating system.

I recommend that you maintain at least 200MB of free space.

Scan your computer for viruses. Some viruses can cause STOP errors, especially ones that infect the master boot record (MBR) or boot sector.

Important: Make sure your virus scanning software is completely up to date and that it’s configured to scan the MBR and boot sector.

  1. Apply all available Windows service packs and other updates. Microsoft regularly releases patches and service packs for their operating systems that may contain fixes for the cause of your STOP error.
  2. Update drivers for your hardware. Most STOP messages are hardware and driver related so updated drivers could fix the cause of the STOP error.
  3. Check the System and Application logs in Event Viewer for errors or warnings that might provide more clues on the cause of the STOP error.
  4. Return hardware settings to default in Device Manager. Unless you have a specific reason to do so, the system resources that an individual piece of hardware is configured to use in Device Manager should be set to default. Non-default hardware settings have been known to cause STOP errors.
  5. Return BIOS settings to their default levels. An overclocked or misconfigured BIOS can cause all sorts of random issues, including STOP errors.

Note: If you’ve made several customizations to your BIOS settings and don’t wish to load the default ones then at least try returning clock speed, voltage settings, and BIOS memory options to their default settings and see if that fixes the STOP error.

  1. Update your BIOS. In some situations, and outdated BIOS could cause a STOP error due to certain incompatibilities.
  2. Make sure all internal cables, cards, and other components are installed and seated properly. Hardware that’s not firmly in place can cause a STOP error so try reseating the following and then test for the STOP message again:
  3. Perform diagnostic tests on all hardware you’re able to test. It’s highly likely that the root cause of any given STOP error is a failing piece of hardware:
  4. Start your PC with essential hardware only. A useful troubleshooting step in many situations, including STOP errors, is to start your computer with the minimum hardware necessary to run the operating system. If your computer starts successfully it proves that one of the removed hardware devices was the cause of the STOP message.

Hope this comes in handy to some frustrated users! If there are those of you who are even more geeky and are interested in the error codes themselves, here’s a list of STOP codes you can download: bsod error code list