February 2024 Fifty-two posts
A finite game is one you play to win, while an infinite game is one you play so you can keep playing. I’ll keep playing.
Blue skies again
Appreciating and identifying with Delana Delgado’s talk at @creativemornings_sd as a San Diego kid making art in a world that doesn’t often appreciate artists without the right “pedigree.” Genuine success story. Love her photos. Gotta get down and see her solo show “Around The Way Girl” at Liberty Station @strawb.unny #CreativeMornings #CreativeMorningsSD
As of this writing I have 8 drafts in WordPress.
Some of them are more than a year old.
Some drafts are fun markers in time and are hard to delete, yet still somehow impossible to publish. Even just a flippant incomplete sentence can communicate a feeling I had 10 years ago. I think I’ll let some of those be.
I like it when drafts evoke a positive memory.
Sometimes they read to me like failure. Like technical debt. Unfinished manuscripts. Expired coupons. Overripe avocados.
Why didn’t I make that guacamole? What a failure I am!
I’m mostly kidding.
I don’t like a feeling bad about blog drafts. They are not hurting anyone. They take no real space. Just a few bytes of database storage in WordPress. Blogging has been positive and useful to me. It’s weird when aspects of it feel bad.
I don’t want it to feel like drudgery.
So a few years back I decided to fix this bad feeling. Remove the negative dynamic.
I needed a regular reminder.
I tried adding an item to my TODO text file.
I tried regularly sending myself an email reminder.
I didn’t heed either very much.
The avocados just kept sitting there.
After a lot of false starts I landed on a solution that has fixed it for me.
It’s a calendar event: “Revisit Blog Drafts”
Every 23 days is the interval that works for me.
When it was weekly or monthly I tuned it out. If it was always on a weekend there were better things to do. If it was always a weekday I could use work as an excuse. If it was weekly I would see it coming and sometimes would push it forward. Or delete it.
And so. Every 23 days assures it’s alway a on a new day of the week. It also assures that I’ve not thought about them in a while. It’s like I took a walk around the block. My head is cleared. My palate cleansed.
So to honor Aaron’s idea I’ve reset my weird every 23-day draft revisit event to fall on the 29th.
Leap Day Blog Draft Revisiting!
I’ve never seen a computer player’s score go negative. Ticket to Ride is the example of a game I’ve never played on a physical board but feel like I could. I do love a train.
It’s been 10 years since I signed up for an account on Tilde Club.
And it’s been 10 years since I added anything to my page at tilde.com/~artlung.
Paul Ford was responsible for the idea initially. And now it’s a new set of folks responsible. And when I asked them to add my SSH key and reset my password they did so lickity split. Wonderful.
I’ve been a big fan of #indieweb for a while now. Own your stuff! Feel free to experiment! I suspect Tilde Club was one of the earliest “return to the smaller innocent web” projects I ever heard of. Amazingly, I never blogged about it here. I think I mentioned it on Twitter but don’t go visit that site. It stinks.
Today I updated the page.
I wrote a little bit about using HTML 2.0, which is how I created the page. An antique page deserves an antique HTML specification! And HTML validation.
I also joined the Tilde Club Webring. I didn’t add a guestbook but I was this close to doing that.
Fun facts about HTML 2.0 I re-learned today:
- No <ABBR> tag
- No BORDER attribute on <IMG>
- No client side image maps, so I rewrote the webring code as a server-side image map. (in PHP)
- No TARGET attribute on an <A> tag.
- The HTML 2.0 spec refers to the idea of style sheets, and that you would link to them in <LINK> tag, but doesn’t describe anything about what a style sheet might look like. Adding a stylesheet worked fine, and still validates.
You don’t have to use HTML 2 to make a web page. In fact, I encourage you NOT to do that. HTML5 is great. So make a page! Learn some web development over on MDN today!
Benji has an article on Fun with Image Maps and SVGs that’s a bit technical but also really fun. At one time I could rattle off the code for an image map pretty easily. And a few months ago I put up a page in the lab about server-side image maps (best left in 1997). Lately I’ve been writing more code that’s spacial in nature–CSS gradients and backgrounds are 2-D canvases where we place items in position using numbers. He discovered the fact that image maps scale based on pixel width, and so they don’t quite work right when we have the capability to set images to scale based on device and screen width. His solution is novel and involves SVGs, which is terrific.
In talking about it today on the IndieWeb Homebrew Website Club I decided to play with another approach, using percentage based absolutely positioned elements. I’m not totally happy with the result. It feels brittle. And if the image changes to be a different aspect ratio or the styling on the page changes the container it’s possible what works now won’t work in the future.
Benji’s SVG approach feels a bit more robust. Something about having the code for the map refer to the image, all in the same markup, and without relying on CSS, makes me think that as long as you have that pair the code will work when the thing you made gets moved, copied, and repurposed.
I’m pretty sure the first time I had my hands on a “computer” I made it myself. It was made from a milk carton and it was in the 1970s.
The way it worked was to write a question on one side of a card and the answer on the back. It was a fancy cardboard “flash card” viewer.
Even as a child I knew this was not really a computer. The question and answer was predetermined. It could not answer a new and interesting question.
Years later I encountered an Apple ][ in Mrs E’s 8th grade homeroom. The computer could make graphics and do calculations and make things to read on screen and send things to a printer. And whether it was a calculator or a clock or a game like Oregon Trail or a word processor it was all computer code written by people. I could write
10 PRINT "HELLO"and
20 GOTO 10and make it do things.
But you put in INPUT and got out OUTPUT and in theory there is a sensible relationship between those two things.
Back in October I wrote Artificial Intelligence is not that.
Lately the idea of “AI” is that it is a magic conversationalist that knows everyone and can answer any question. Yesterday, it was not operating that way. People and news sites described it thus:
- ChatGPT has meltdown
- ChatGPT starts sending alarming messages to users
- ChatGPT went berserk
- ChatGPT spat out gibberish
- ChatGPT going crazy
- ChatGPT went haywire
- ChatGPT starts spouting nonsens
- ChatGPT off the rails
- ChatGPT went full hallucination mode
- ChatGPT has gone mad today
- ChatGPT has gone berserk
The incident status page describes described it more dispassionately:
- Feb 20, 2024 – 1547 PST
- Investigating We are investigating reports of unexpected responses from ChatGPT.
- Feb 20, 2024 – 1547 PST
- Identified The issue has been identified and is being remediated now.
- Feb 20, 2024 – 1659 PST
- Monitoring We’re continuing to monitor the situation.
- Feb 21, 2024 – 0814 PST
- Resolved ChatGPT is operating normally.
It feels strange to read about code and algorithms as having a meltdown or going mad. That doesn’t sound like a machine. “Went berserk” reads like a mental health problem, not a computer malfunction.
ChatGPT seems more capable than that old milk carton computer, but when ChatGPT output reads like output from a hallucinating person–clearly it’s not better, and might be far worse.
I don’t have any final thoughts on this other than to be vaguely troubled about how we talk about these devices. I leave you with a quote from the writings of Alan Turing, the whole thing is worth a read to get the context of that famed Turing test that comes up often in discourse about advanced computation: em>Mind, Volume LIX, Issue 236, October 1950, Pages 433–460 [source]
An interesting variant on the idea of a digital computer is a ‘digital computer with a random element’. These have instructions involving the throwing of a die or some equivalent electronic process; one such instruction might for instance be, ‘Throw the die and put the resulting number into store 1000’. Sometimes such a machine is described as having free will (though I would not use this phrase myself). It is not normally possible to determine from observing a machine whether it has a random element, for a similar effect can be produced by such devices as making the choices depend on the digits of the decimal for π.
Most actual digital computers have only a finite store. There is no theoretical difficulty in the idea of a computer with an unlimited store. Of course only a finite part can have been used at any one time. Likewise only a finite amount can have been constructed, but we can imagine more and more being added as required. Such computers have special theoretical interest and will be called infinitive capacity computers.
President’s Day at Scripps