Category Archives: General

Third Logicboard a Charm?

I love MacOS X, and I generally like the hardware it runs on, but my iBook has been a sore trial to me. Not three hours ago its video went to shit and gone, producing particularly interesting screen effects before locking the machine up solid. It won’t boot any more, either. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and I know from previous experiences that a logicboard replacement will be Apple’s solution when I send it in for repairs. To date this iBook has gone through three logic boards, three batteries, two hard drives, two LCDs, one power inverter, and probably various and sundry other bits that didn’t hit my radar. All in 13 months’ time. I’m growing damn tired of it.

Maybe I’d be more forgiving if I hadn’t just lost my hard drive two weeks ago. When it came back with a fresh drive in it, I spent three days reinstalling and reconfiguring it to be the old friend it had become, but *then* the LCD inverter blew and it had to make another trip to Apple and back. I picked it up on Friday and set to completing the personalization project — ripping my favorite CDs back to the HD, etc, and now this happens!

The one bright spot in all of this is that I recently read a posting in MacInTouch about a guy with similar problems. He had an identical iBook 700, which had been through three logic boards (it’s the second email). Ultimately an Apple rep agreed to declare it a lemon and exchanged it for a brand spanky new one. Of course, you can’t get 700s these days, so he had to settle for a 900Mhz iBook with twice the video ram and hd space. I could live with that. Indeed, I’m hoping to.

Bots are Dumb

I’ve recently revisited the state of AI (as available to the common man, at least — who knows what’s going on in government research), and frankly the news isn’t too good. Some friends from Slashnet have been mucking about with AI bots to run over IRC, and I am seriously underwhelmed.

MegaHAL doesn’t do a bad job of learning new phrases from conversations he observes, but has no real ability to parse them out into parts of speech. He cuts and pastes from his store of knowledge with some facility, but it’s usually nonsense, and if he does
manage to make sense, it’s almost always rather surreal. A.L.I.C.E. is a much more realistic conversationalist, albeit in an ELIZA-like manner, and can learn things, but all of her data has to be marked up in AIML — she’s unable to learn things on the fly from conversations — which means that she’s a fairly static creature. You can spend lots of effort coding knowledge into her, but then she’s done.

Most promising of all seems to be Hal2003, an honest-to-goodness neural net, which begins life as the veritable mewling infant and is instructed through interaction. The user tells Hal2003 when he has made an incorrect statement and provides an example of a correct response. And so he learns. I look forward to seeing what comes of Hal2003. Unfortunately for those of us looking for an AI to run right now, Hal2003’s source has not been released to the public, and he is only accessable through an interface on his creators’ website.

Klezmocracy Rocks

Portland-based klezmer band Klezmocracy had a fabulous series of gigs this winter, bringing their manic improvizational stylings to the Tugboat Brewery and Mississippi Pizza Pub on alternate Tuesdays. Then, suddenly, they didn’t show at the Pizza Pub one night. Their schedule said one thing, the Pub’s said the other, and I was stuck listening to some seriously avant noises instead. I’ve got to figure out when they’re playing again… and Klezmocracy needs to update their damn website. Ignore the audio clips — they’re really not representative of what you’ll hear, if you can track them down.

Technorati: music, klezmer