Posts tagged ‘ipad’


Days of splines and toeses

So in the morning when I wake up I am vaguely surprised to find that once again I am in the same bed and the same room, the same universe, as when I went to sleep.

’cause it seems like a big coincidence!

But, it occurs to me, that’s not necessarily what’s happening; memory is just as unmoored as immediate experience.

Maybe tomorrow morning I will wake up in my nest, surrounded by M and our other flock-group members, curled up in our diaphanous salmon-colored leaves, stretch and yawn, attach the platinum blades to my hind set of legs in case of hungry sleet-flies en route, and fly off to work, thinking all the while that it’s funny I’ve woken up yet again in the same nest, in the same mile-high tree, that I went to sleep in last night.

The King’s Country, as the royal precincts with their streets and shops and storehouses have come to be called over the paranoid years, is saturated with security, and eye-patches.

In order to present a disadvantage to anyone who might mean ill toward the monarch, anyone entering is given a tight black eye-patch, and must wear it over one eye as long as they remain within the walls.

A one-eyed man came to the Gate to King’s Country one autumn afternoon, upon a commission to repair a water-wheel. He assumed that, already equipped with an eye-patch, and more importantly a non-functional eye, the rule would have no effect on him.

But, due to zeal in defense of the sovereign, or perhaps certain reservations about the cut of the mechanic’s clothes, the Sergeant of the Gate declared that, in order to present a disadvantage as intended, the patch would have to be worn over the newcomer’s good eye, not the bad one.

Appeal to the Chief of the Guard did no good.

So, in the country of the King, the one-eyed man is blind.

(That was the easy case, I think, mundane and cloudy. One could as well have done “In the country of the King, the blind man has one eye”, which might have been about how the monarch’s deity-infused aura provides sight to the sightless, or alternately “In the country of the one-eyed, the blind man is King”, which might have taken more thought.)

And there was some third thing that I was going to write down, and that in fact is the thing that got me to open up this computer and start writing in the weblog here, but at the moment I have entirely forgotten it (phah!) so I will just say that I have been playing Real Racing 3 on the iPad here, and it is fun. And the graphics are woot good heavens! Right now I am working on upgrading my second car, a BMW M3 Coupe which I have “resprayed” all shiny red:

Real Racing 3 cars

That’s my first car, a now-fully-upgraded Nissan Silvia S15, behind it.

The In-App Purchases have not annoyed me, or tempted me, yet (unlike in certain other pad games).

Vroom vroom!


And people call me a packrat!

So I’m cleaning out my office here in preparation for moving to a different office (a bit closer to home yay!), as vaguely alluded to the other day, and in this ancient dusty briefcase with amusing random stickers all over the top, that I’d forgotten was pushed behind a file cabinet a decade or two ago, along with like the number 17 bus schedule from September 1991 and a bunch of ATM receipts from the 90’s, I find a book review from, posted on 30 January 1995 and probably printed out not long after, for Anatole Broyard’s “Kafka was the Rage: a Greenwich Village Memoir”.

And reading it over it sounds quite interesting, so I click a few buttons on the computer here and a copy should arrive at home in a few days. (I could have had it arrive instantly on the iPad over here, but it would have cost more than twice as much, and it seems like the kind of book one wants an atomic copy of anyway.)

So who says it doesn’t pay to keep random bits of paper around for ten or twenty years just in case? And, plus, also, by waiting this long I had a much easier time getting a copy, and paid probably less than half as much.

Although maybe not in constant dollars…


Friday, October 7, 2011

I’m taking the day off at random; it is very nice! We don’t have Monday off, so it’s a mere three-day weekend, but still.

Hos, Boobies, an’ Orgasms

So we signed up for HBO for a month, mostly so we could watch this George Harrison Special that they had. The program on HBOHD right before it was “Making it in America”, which seems to be a satirical comedy about naked people having uncomfortable-looking sex. Then the program right after it was “Cathouse” something, a hard-hitting documentary about what it’s like to be an escort, including numerous scenes of nudity and/or sex. And then after that was “Katie Someone on Sex Toys”, which featured sex, as one might expect from the name, and also a blonde ditzy stark-naked narrator with large artificial breasts (as one might also expect from the name I suppose, since Katie Someone is apparently a relatively well-known porn star).

Surprisingly the George Harrison Special didn’t include any gratuitous nudity or sex, at least not that I noticed. But the other programs suggest a certain theme, or one might even say obsession.


The Aren’t Like Us, You Know

So (maybe all subsections should start with “So”) I finished listening to that Learning Company course on consciousness, and it was indeed pretty basic. It was also disappointingly simplistic on the whole “what kinds of things have consciousness, and how could we possibly know?” question.

The professor says things like “to be conscious is to be the subject of sensation” as if it actually told us anything very interesting. He also talks about how impossible it would be for fish to become aware of, or know anything about, water, as though that was anything more than the flimsiest of metaphors (flimsy because it falls apart as soon as one asks whether humans could ever know anything about air).

And in general he has very definite, but apparently completely unsupported, opinions about what is or might be conscious. He is always talking about what he is “inclined” or “strongly inclined” to “say”; but I find myself rather definitely uninterested in what he is inclined to say: I want to know what is true.

He is for instance inclined to say that there is something that it is like to be an amoeba, but that there isn’t anything that it is like to be a “machine” (where “machine” is not further defined). My suspicion is that that inclination comes from a sort of unthinking “carbon compounds good, silicon compounds bad” meme with nothing very interesting behind it, or at least he gives us no reason to think otherwise.

The question of what things might be conscious is rather a different question from the question of how we might come to know that a thing is conscious. We come to know that other humans are conscious because we observe a strong correlation between our own actions and our own consciousness, and probably-justifiably conclude that people that take similar actions have similar consciousnesses. (One thing the professor gets right is pointing out that the claim that we each have only one datapoint, ourselves, on the subject is wrong; actually we each have a huge number of datapoints: all of our conscious actions.)

But it’s important to distinguish between things that we can come to know are conscious (other humans, probably other relatively high-level animals, possibly unicellular microorganisms although I would take some convincing), things that we can come to know aren’t conscious (not sure what if anything is in that set, although the professor seems to think that “machines” are in it), and things that we can’t come to know are conscious (or at least can’t come to know it in the same way), but still might be conscious for all we know.

Even if I bought the argument that an amoeba’s actions are more like mine than the actions of any machine could ever be (which I think is in fact utterly false), that would still not be any reason to think that no machine could ever be conscious. It would just be reason to think that I could not come to know that any machine was conscious by way of the behaves-like-me argument.

Conflating the truth of a thing with one’s ability to find out that truth is the height of arrogance, not to mention silly.

“Are there any apples in the box?”


“How do you know?”

“The box is closed, and I can’t see inside. Must be empty.”

I don’t know if there’s something that it’s like to be an amoeba, or a tree, or a jackhammer, or Deep Blue. I think the whole question is deep and mysterious and fascinating. Pretending to answer it by just examining one’s pretheoretic inclinations to say things is completely unsatisfactory, and I’m disappointed in this professor for doing not much more than that.

One possible reaction to all this is to say oh, well, phht, it may be philosophically fun to speculate that maybe there’s something it’s like to be a tree, but really there isn’t, and it has no practical interest. I think it was Nagel or someone who pointed out that some extremely alien Martians might examine us and their more practical citizens might say the same thing about us, and they would be factually wrong, since in fact there is something that it is like to be one of us.

And I’d like to not be factually wrong, when feasible.

Blue What?

So I am really liking this wireless Bluetooth headset thing! It’s ummm this one. I bought it to work with the iPad, which it does very nicely, and it turns out that the Windows 7 laptop here also has Bluetooth, and also works nicely with it.

My only complaint is that when anything of interest happens (the signal momentarily dropping or reconnecting, one accidentally trying to turn the headset volume higher or lower than it goes, etc) it makes a LOUD BEEPING NOISE in one’s ear, which seems uncalled-for. Also switching it from the iPad to the laptop and back requires a bit more messing-around than I’d like, but maybe I just haven’t found the right buttons to push yet.

So anyway I can now listen to sounds being produced by either the iPad or the laptop without having to untangle wires, keep my head carefully within N inches of the device, or worry about having the things rudely ripped from my ears by passing cats or the corners of things.

It is very modern and shiny!

There was some other witty section title I was going to use

But I have forgotten it. :) I have also been playing Glitch, which is fun and silly, and some WoW, and always Second Life. And watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes on Netflix on the iPad! Which is also fun and silly. :)


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

That’s how I used to title all of the entries in the original weblog. Well, not exactly like that. But you get the idea.

It was easier to be rambling and stuff with titles like that, since they don’t even hint at subjects or anything. And/but you can really only post once a day…

I thought today, since the list of random books lying around in a previous entry was so wildly popular with our readership, I would post a list of random books that are lying around on the iPad.

It’s very book-oriented, in some sense. It’s the size and shape of a rather thin book, it opens book-like (’cause I have a cover of that kind on it), and it has all too many apps (“apps”) for reading books (none of them really as good as one might expect, but there one is).

So anyway!

In the “Kindle” app:

The Quantum Thief, by Hannu Raganiemi. I’m about twenty percent through this; pretty good if not wildly original (so far) vaguely singularitarian SF. I think I saw it recommended in one of the magazine digests below, and prodded at the screen until I had my own copy.

Parmenides, by Plato. zomg what a random collection of meaningless statements! Of course that’s what they may say in (um) a couple thousand year-equivalents about anything a philosopher (or even me) might write today.

And the one that is not, being altered, becomes and is destroyed; and not being altered, neither becomes nor is destroyed; and so the one that is not becomes and is destroyed, and neither becomes nor is destroyed?


I find the easiest way to read this is as Plato showing that if you get overambitious and reify things like “The One”, you end up all tangled up in knots. But that doesn’t seem to be the general consensus interpretation.

Anyway, I finished reading that, as it is a quick read once you stop trying to figure out how to read it as actually saying anything.

Fantasy & Science Fiction, Free Exclusive Digest, Sep 1, 2011. I haven’t figured out how to subscribe to any SF magazines on the actual iPad (Amazon has a bunch, but they are downloadable only to actual Kindles, due to evil). But I can get this free Digest of F&SF, which has most of the non-fiction columns, and like one short story. (The short story in September is a kinda fun if sorta obvious “being an imperfect human is good” thing.)

Griftopia, by Matt Taibbi. See previously. This is contributing to the current turmoil in my economic and political theories, as mentioned.

The Celtic Twilight, by W.B. Yeats. This was in the pile of books in the basement, as mentioed also previously, and as speculated there there is indeed a digital version (of at least this part). Free, even, I think. I ain’t read in it to speak of yet.

“The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Seventh Annual Collection, Gardner Dozois (ed). Some pretty good SF, all of which I have now read.

Treasure Island, by R. L. Stevenson. Famous! I may eventually read this.

Retro Demonology, by Java Oliver. I’m not sure why I have this, it looks awful, um, that is, not really my thing. It’s one of the Enormous Raft of popular “soap opera with some magic or vampires or something for spice” books that seem to exist, and having read a few pages I don’t see any reason to continue. Maybe it’s just a sample, or it was free for some reason or something. I think it’s like book 4 of 9 or something, like these usually are.

Aesop’s Fables, tr. George Fyler Townsend. “A Wolf, meeting with a Lamb astray from the fold, resolved not to lay violent hands on him, but to find some plea to justify to the Lamb the Wolf’s right to eat him.”

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. One of my favorite books ever, only partly because I first read it while riding in trains in England, a situation in which I very seldom find myself.

In the “iBooks” app:

Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days, by Alastair Reynolds. Two longish short stories or novellae or somefing. “Diamond Dogs” was a well-written but somehow shallow “big alien plot device posing puzzles to the characters” story; “Turquoise Days” was more interesting, if rather apocalyptic.

Pellucidar, by E. R. Burroughs. “The roar of our rifles was constantly shattering the world-old silence of stupendous canyons upon which the eye of man had never before gazed. And when in the comparative safety of our hut we lay down to sleep the great beasts roared and fought without the walls, clawed and battered at the door, or rushed their colossal frames headlong against the hut’s sides until it rocked and trembled to the impact.”

Songs of Innocence and Experience, by William Blake. Tyger, Tyger, burning bright!

Writings of Thomas Paine — Volume 1 (1774-1779): the American Crisis. Free I think, and I haven’t read much of it. People did go on so back then! But Paine’s always been a favorite, the ol’ heathen.

The Manga Carta. In case of emergency.

A Goodly Apple: Narrative desire and the problem of truth in The Good Soldier and La vida breve, by the little daughter. “Regenerative truth, then, takes place within the framework of the events handed us by life; its function is to make that life bearable as far as possible.” I greatly enjoyed this short but incisive essay, even though significant swathes of it are in Spanish, which I don’t strictly-speaking speak.

Desire is Death and Fulfillment: The fear of women in Light in August, by the little daughter. In this altogether admirable paper, Ms. Daughter claims, and thoroughly convinces us, that in Faulkner’s novel “the fear of women is an indication of the primal conflict between the heart and the heart’s flesh, between immortal volition and the finite vessel of the body.” Also it is entirely in English!

(The reader may not have an easy time acquiring the latter two pieces, at least until the little daughter’s Complete Collected Works are published.)

The Future of the Internet and how to stop it, by Jonathan L. Zittrain. Ironically or fittingly, this book which I am reading on the iPad is largely about why “tethered appliances” (like say iPads) are bad in various ways compared to more “generative” devices like ol’ fashioned general-purpose PCs, and what we might do about this. I’m about half-way through this, and while I think Zittrain is wrong about various things (how important viruses and malware are in the move toward appliances, how well-defined the notion of “generativity” is, and some others), it’s still an interesting overall thesis, and I’m eager to see what solutions he’s actually going to propose.

In the British Library 19th Century Collection app:

Em, or Spells and counter-spells, by Mary Bramston. I’m not actually sure whether or not I have this locally on the iPad; the app sometimes implies that I do, but then sometimes won’t let me read it if I don’t have a network connection. Another disadvantage of appliances! Anyway, this is (so far) a heartwarming love story about loyalty and patience and stuff, written in 1878, and containing lots of cultural references that I don’t get at all, but in general it’s possible to tell what is going on and why.

And that is probably about it, he said, frowning at the iPad ummmm desktop-analog, wondering if there might be some things sufficiently like books filed away in some ummmm folder-analog besides the one called “Books”. Probably not.

Of course thousands and millions of other books could be caused by be on the iPad with minimal poking at the screen and expenditure or zero or more dollars or pounds or quatloos, but that’s what I’ve got at the moment.

Maybe I will go read the Magna Carta…

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More shininess

The SF340b is a very small airplane. With propellers!

So one advantage of the WordPress iPad app over the web-page is that you can use it when off the network.

Like for instance when rising into the pink and grey and salmon and blue and orange clouds of a gorgeous late-summer day, in a very small SF340b (with propellers), with the cute 14-year-old stewardess, I mean, flight attendant, about to bring around the complimentary beverages, and if we are lucky the little packages of cookies and/or pretzels.

(One of those evocative decisions: the cookies or the pretzels? Is it luxury vs. practicality and health? Or a question of which studies on the effects of sodium intake you disbelieve less? Or which word you decide, in some preconscious social calculus, you would rather say to the cute 14-year-old flight attendant, on the spur of the moment as so many things in an airplane are always spur-of-the-moment, despite, or because of, how many billions of times they’ve been done before?)

Or at least I hope you can actually use it when offline, and it’s not going to toss these words away in some fit of error-message pique when it for some reason tries to contact the server, and finds that there is no there there, ‘way up here in the soft pastel sky.

We’ll see!

(So far she has asked me only what I’d like to drink (orange juice). Little packages of crunchies, if any, still wait in the future.)

I wonder if it’s possible to learn to touch-type on an iPad? (Does it look odd when “I wonder” sentences end in questionmarks? Is the iPad correct that “questionmarks” should be two words?)

The two persons in the seats ahead of me (by great good fortune I have this pair of seats here all to myself) have an old-fashioned actual laptop computer, with a physical keyboard and everything, and they are watching a movie on it.

I suppose I could watch a movie on this iPad object here, if I had one in iTunes and had replicated (excuse me) synced it down onto the iPad. Maybe someday! (Although movies are so passive; you can’t even annotate them. Yet.)

No crunches appear to be on offer, so for the time being I do not need to renew my self-definition as a Cookies or Pretzels (or even Nuts) Person. I think I will go to some other part of this embodied logical space, and read a book. See ya after landing!

(time passes)

Aha, free wireless in the terminal. Fly, little weblog entry,fly!


And here I am…

… composing a really tiny weblog post, from the iPad, using the special wordpress iPad app (“app”), rather than the web page via Safari.

It works better! Which isn’t surprising, but… shouldn’t safari have worked right in the first place?

Back in the old days of (wow what was it even called?) the special quasi-HTML just for cellphones, I opined that it would be short-lived, because cellphones would just get smart enough to do normal HTML; and I was pretty much right.

It’s more complex for “apps” of course, they aren’t just about being lighter weight, but also about being friendlier, better-behaved. But still, why not just have the website work?

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this iPad!

I have an iPad! This is not because I am a shiny early-adopter; it is because M is a shiny early-adopter :) and she got an iPad while back, and then I got her an iPad 2 for a recent birthday, so there was this iPad sitting around sort of spare, and so…

I am somewhat gabberflasted by how much I like it, and how much it is changing my relationship to computers and books and the Internet and stuff.

This is not what I expected. I expected that it would be a sort of pointless little computer, with a small screen, no useable keyboard, not much disk space, and an underpowered CPU and GPU.

But what it actually seems to be is a really shiny and smart book, which can get to the Internet when there’s WiFi, let me read various books and maps and play games and things even when there isn’t an Internet, automatically get the latest versions of various periodicals and so on, play music, and really do pretty much everything an actual computer can do except for () World of Warcraft, () Second Life, () Program development, and () Protracted typing of long things.

Which is pretty impressive, for a book! And like a book it has the almost-negligible weight and footprint and ease of use just about anywhere that the big fancy computer most definitely lacks (especially given that carrying around the big fancy computer to use it for the things it’s best at means also carrying around its cooling pad to keep it from overheating).

Over the weekend I took a train to New York City (a very large city in New York), and then walked from Grand Central Station to Pennsylvania Station (the one in New York City, as opposed to the one in Newark, New Jersey, which is confusingly on the same train line as the New York City one), all with my iPad serving as a number of books, and a music player, and various diverting games, as well as (yay free Bryant Park Wifi!) connectivity to the world, and a set of downloaded-on-the-fly maps of the city for use when no longer near Bryant Park.

(Then I took another train to another station, and then a very small train to another station, and helped the little daughter finish packing and put all the stuff in the car, and then I drove the car home again while the little daughter took trains into New York City to see friends, and then another train home the next day to be with us for a bit also yay.)

And the iPad was an extremely convenient and fun and useful thing to have along the whole time.

Of course some of this may be shiny-new-toy effect; we’ll see!

Geekishness: here are some of the “apps” which I have on my “Ipad”:

  • Twitter – ’cause Dale my SL persona likes Twitter; takes all kinds.
  • Netflix – for watching movies (which I haven’t really done yet but it looks kewl).
  • Flickr – which is actually an iPhone app, and when running on an iPad all I can get it to do so far is show random pictures from the site in a little iPhone-shaped window; I mention this one only because I hope is is better eventually (i.e. they have a real iPad app).
  • SomaFM – Listener-supported Commercial-Free Internet Radio! Lots of nice music, again an iPhone app that doesn’t get along perfectly with the iPad, but still, nice music.
  • iBooks and the Kindle app, both with books in them (including both of the little daughter’s amazing Junior Papers snarfed as in PDFs, and also Zittrain’s “The Future of the Internet and How to Stop it” which is basically about why iPads are bad)
  • A great app from the British Library, giving access to entire scanned in books from their 19th Century collection, which is really wonderful because you can see every little blot and grain and British Library stamp, as well as reading the words.
  • A whole mess of little games and puzzles, including Dwindle and The Incredible Machine (now apparently a Disney property!), and Pinball HD (just the free tables), and Unblock Me and sudoku2 and “Swamp Talk”, which is a great little word-forming game that I got free during its free period and I play constantly.
  • TumbleVision – A kaleidoscope; and not just one of those simple modern digital kaleidoscopes that make random eight-way symmetrical patterns, but a fancy simulation of a “glass and wood and strange things” physical kaleidoscope, where the pretty things tumble around in a very physical way and it’s all very mesmerizing. (Additional pretty-things packs cost money, haha.)
  • The Blue Mars iPad app, which seems bafflingly pointless, and “Pocket MV” (“MV” for “Metaverse”), which gives one text-mostly access to Second Life and other compatible virtual worlds, which I’ve played with a little but not quite actually used.
  • Yelp – an app that like tells me about restaurants in places, which is cool in principle but I haven’t used much yet,
  • 700 City Maps – one of those “free” free apps, which gives you maps when you’re attached to the Internet (just like Google Maps, basically, only Open), and also lets you download maps locally, but oh yeah that costs money, haha. Not much money, though; and I downloaded the NYC maps while sitting in Bryant Park, and that was useful.
  • The iPad client for Dropbox, which is a wonderful little thing that cleanly (if perhaps not all that securely, depending who you trust) makes a copy of all of the things that you put into a particular directory tree, appear magically on all of the machines where you have a client installed, and which is a great way to get things onto one’s iPad (although email mostly works too).
  • System Status – the pay-for version, which gives various geeky facts about one’s iPad, like that the battery is 100% charged (for an estimated 10 hours of Internetting time), the drive’s 27.3% in-use, the machine’s been up for over twenty-seven days (I don’t actually know how to turn it off, in that sense, which is fun), there are 28 visible processes running (including the ever-popular usbethernetshari), I am running Darwin 11.0.0 (kernel build 199506), and that something is constantly trying to write to or otherwise modify my iTunes library even though it is read-only (all sortsa interesting groddy stuff in the system log). This app gives me the illusion that I am actually in control of the innards of the machine (whereas in fact Apple is, as Zittrain notes at some length).
  • FileSystem – another iPhone app, that lets me browse and even in some cases look at the files on the hard drive. No idea how much of what’s there it can actually see, but another “pretend to be in control” app.
  • iSSH – so I can log into remote Real Computers from my iPad, which is somehow extremely amusing.

And that’s just the ones that I use or that are otherwise notable; there’s some other ones too not worth mentioning. (And of course there’s Google Maps an’ iTunes an’ a YouTube client an’ the app store an’ stuff that all came with it.)

Whew words, words, words! :) But anyway I have it, and I carry it around with me and listen to music and read words and play games and stuff, and it is fun.