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  • We Are Moving... - Unreal Blog
    had over 130 posts to migrate When I moved them to the new blog on the new server they looked like new posts To the unforgiving logic of a computer that defies common sense and manages to foul up life this pronouncement of newness is accurate I have to admit they were indeed new posts on the new server So on the 10th of January my regular readers who had signed up for updates received over 100 email notifications about new posts on my blog Needless to say I started getting angry emails from my annoyed regulars demanding that I remove their names from my list excessive as one of them put it If you were one of those who got excessive emails please accept my apologies Rest assured that I have turned off email notifications and I will look and hard into the innards of my blog before turning it back on And when I do turn it on I will prominently provide a link in each message to subscribe or unsubscribe yourself As you grow your web footprint and your blog traffic you are going to have to move to a bigger server In my case I decided to go with Arvixe because of the excellent reviews I found on the web The decision of what type of hosting you need makes for an interesting topic which will be my next post Share this Click to share on Reddit Opens in new window Click to share on Voat Opens in new window Click to share on Facebook Opens in new window Click to share on Twitter Opens in new window Click to share on LinkedIn Opens in new window Click to share on Google Opens in new window Click to share on Tumblr Opens in new window Click

    Original URL path: http://www.thulasidas.com/we-are-moving/ (2016-02-16)
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  • dropbox Archives - Unreal Blog
    start by saying that I am no noob when it comes to computers I started my long love affair with computing and programming in 1983 Those late night bicycle rides to CLT and stacks of Fortran cards those were fun filled adventures We would submit the stack to the IBM 370 operators early in the morning and get the output in the evening So the turn around time for each bug fix would be a day which I think made us fairly careful programmers I remember writing a program for printing out a calendar one page per month spaced and aligned properly Useless really because the printout would be on A3 size feed rolls with holes on the sides and the font was a dirty Courier type of point size 12 in light blue black barely legible at normal reading distance But it was fun Unfortunately I made a mistake in the loop nesting and the calendar came out all messed up Worse the operator who was stingy about the paper usage interrupted the output on the fourth month and advised me to stop doing it I knew that he could not interrupt it if I used only one Fortran PRINT statement and rewrote the program to do it that way I got the output but on the January page there was this hand written missive Try it once more and I will cancel your account At that point I ceased and desisted I started using email in the late eighties on a cluster of Vaxstations that belonged to the high energy physics group at Syracuse University At first we could send email only to users on the same cluster with DecNet addresses like VAX05 MONETI And a year later when I could send a mail to my friend in the next building with an address like IN naresh ee syr edu or something the IN signifying Internet I was mighty impressed with the pace at which technology was progressing Little did I know that a few short years later there would be usenet Mosaic and e commerce And that I would be writing books on financial computing and WordPress plugins in PHP Despite keeping pace with computing technology most of my life I have begun to feel that technology is slowly breaking free and drifting away from me I still don t have a twitter account and I visit my Facebook only once a month or so More to the point of this post I am embarrassed to admit that I had no clue what this cloud computing was all about Until I got my MacBook Air thanks to my dear wife who likes to play sugar mama once in a while I always had this problem of synchronizing my documents among the four or five PCs and Macs I regularly work with With a USB drive and extreme care I could manage it but the MBA was the proverbial straw that broke my camel of a back By

    Original URL path: http://www.thulasidas.com/tag/dropbox/ (2016-02-16)
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  • geek Archives - Unreal Blog
    The first compiler for instance was written in the primitive assembler level language The second one was written using the first one and so on Even in hardware development one generation of computers become the tools in designing the next generation stoking a seemingly inexorable cycle of development While this positive feedback in hardware and software is a good thing the explosive nature of growth may take us in wrong directions much like the strong grown in the credit market led to the banking collapses of 2008 Many computing experts now wonder whether the object oriented technology has been overplayed Sections Zeros and Ones Paradigms All the Way Magic of Object Oriented Languages Functional Programming A New Kind of Binomial Tree Columns geek quantitative finance wilmott Quantitative Finance The Wilmott Magazine Zeros and Ones March 9 2009 manoj Computers are notorious for their infuriatingly literal obedience I am sure anyone who has ever worked with a computer has come across the lack of empathy on its part it follows our instructions to the dot yet ends up accomplishing something altogether different from what we intend We have all been bitten in the rear end by this literal adherence to logic at the expense of commonsense We can attribute at least some of the blame to our lack of understanding yes literal and complete understanding of the paradigms used in computing Rich in paradigms the field of computing has a strong influence in the way we think and view the world If you don t believe me just look at the way we learn things these days Do we learn anything now or do we merely learn how to access information through browsing and searching Even our arithmetic abilities have eroded along with the advent of calculators and spreadsheets I remember the legends of great minds like Enrico Fermi who estimated the power output of the first nuclear blast by floating a few pieces of scrap paper and like Richard Feynman who beat an abacus expert by doing binomial expansion I wonder if the Fermis and Feynmans of our age would be able to pull those stunts without pulling out their pocket calculators Procedural programming through its unwarranted reuse of mathematical symbols and patterns has shaped the way we interact with our computers The paradigm that has evolved is distinctly unmathematical Functional programming represents a counter attack a campaign to win our minds back from the damaging influences of the mathematical monstrosities of procedural languages The success of this battle may depend more on might and momentum rather than truth and beauty In our neck of the woods this statement translates to a simple question Can we find enough developers who can do functional programming Or is it cheaper and more efficient to stick to procedural and object oriented methodologies Sections Zeros and Ones Paradigms All the Way Magic of Object Oriented Languages Functional Programming A New Kind of Binomial Tree Columns geek quantitative finance wilmott Computers Topical WordPress How to save a string to a local file in PHP January 27 2009 manoj This post is the second one in my geek series While programming my Theme Tweaker I came across this problem I had a string on my server in my php program the tweaked stylesheet in fact and I wanted to give the user the option of saving it to a file his computer I would ve thought this was a common problem and all common problems can be solved by Googling But lo and behold I just couldn t find a satisfactory solution I found my own and thought I would share it here for the benefit of all the future Googlers yet to come and go Before we go into the solution let s understand what the problem is The problem is in the division of labor between two computers one is the server where your WordPress and PHP are running the other is the client s computer where the viewing is taking place The string we are talking about is on the server We want to save it in a file on the client s computer The only way to do it is by serving the string as an html reply At first glance this doesn t look like a major problem After all servers regularly send strings and data to clients that s how we see anything on the the browser including what you are reading If it was just any PHP program that wants to save the string it wouldn t be a problem You could just dump the string into a file on the server and serve the file But what do you do if you don t want to give the whole world a way of dumping strings to files on your server Well you could do something like this php header Content Disposition attachment filename style css header Content Transfer Encoding ascii header Expires 0 header Pragma no cache print stylestr So just put this code in your foo php that computes the string stylestr and you are done But our trouble is that we are working in the WordPress plugin framework and cannot use the header calls When you try to do that you will get the error message saying that header is already done dude For this problem I found the ingenious solution in one of the plugins that I use Forgot which one but I guess it is a common technique The solution is to define an empty iFrame and set its source to what the PHP function would write Since iFrame expects a full HTML source you are allowed in fact obliged to give the header directives The code snippet looks something like iframe id saveCSS src about blank style visibility hidden border none height 1em width 1px iframe script type text javascript var fram document getElementById saveCSS php echo fram src styleurl Now the question is what should the source be In other words what

    Original URL path: http://www.thulasidas.com/tag/geek/ (2016-02-16)
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  • techie Archives - Unreal Blog
    advantage that no physical real thumbdrive can offer you With real thumbdrives I personally have lost files despite the fact that I am fairly religious about regular copies and mirrors due to USB drives dying on me With DropBox it will never happen You have local copies on all the computers where you have DropBox running and a remote copy on a cloud server But you might say Ha that is the problem how can I put my personal files on some remote location where anybody can look at them Well DropBox says that they use industry standard encryption that they themselves cannot unlock without your password I chose to trust them After all even if they could decrypt it how can they troll terabytes of data in random formats in the hope of finding your account number or whatever Besides if you are really worried about the security you can always create a TrueCrypt volume in DropBox Another use you can put DropBox to is in keeping your application data synced between computers This works best with Macs and symbolic links For instance if you have a MacBook and an iMac you can put your address book in your DropBox directory create a symbolic link from the normal location in Library ApplicationData Mail app and expect to see the same address book in both the computers Similar trick will work with other applications as well I have tried it with my offline blogging software ecto and my development environment NetBeans Want more reasons to sign up Well you can also share files with other users Suppose your spouse has a DropBox of her own and you want to share some photos with her This can be easily arranged And I believe the photos folder in DropBox behaves like a gallery although I haven t tested it So if you find these reasons to have a virtual thumbdrive in addition to or instead of a real physical one do sign up for DropBox via any of the million links on this page Did I tell you that if your friends signed up using your link you would get 250MB extra for each referral Photo by Debs ò ó computing techie Computers Topical WordPress Blank Screen after Hibernate or Sleep March 26 2009 manoj 7 Comments Okay the short answer increase your virtual memory to more than the size of your physical memory Long version now Recently I had this problem with my PC that it wouldn t wake up from hibernation or sleep mode properly The PC itself would be on and churning but the screen would switch to power save mode staying blank The only thing to do at that point would be to restart the computer Like the good netizen that I am I trawled the Internet for a solution But didn t find any Some suggested upgrading the BIOS replacing the graphics card and so on Then I saw this mentioned in a Linux group saying that

    Original URL path: http://www.thulasidas.com/tag/techie/ (2016-02-16)
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  • php Archives - Unreal Blog
    do it is by serving the string as an html reply At first glance this doesn t look like a major problem After all servers regularly send strings and data to clients that s how we see anything on the the browser including what you are reading If it was just any PHP program that wants to save the string it wouldn t be a problem You could just dump the string into a file on the server and serve the file But what do you do if you don t want to give the whole world a way of dumping strings to files on your server Well you could do something like this php header Content Disposition attachment filename style css header Content Transfer Encoding ascii header Expires 0 header Pragma no cache print stylestr So just put this code in your foo php that computes the string stylestr and you are done But our trouble is that we are working in the WordPress plugin framework and cannot use the header calls When you try to do that you will get the error message saying that header is already done dude For this problem I found the ingenious solution in one of the plugins that I use Forgot which one but I guess it is a common technique The solution is to define an empty iFrame and set its source to what the PHP function would write Since iFrame expects a full HTML source you are allowed in fact obliged to give the header directives The code snippet looks something like iframe id saveCSS src about blank style visibility hidden border none height 1em width 1px iframe script type text javascript var fram document getElementById saveCSS php echo fram src styleurl Now the question is what should the source be In other words what is styleurl Clearly it is not going to be a static file on your server And the purpose of this post is to show that it doesn t have to be a file on the server at all It is a two part answer You have to remember that you are working within the WordPress framework and you cannot make standalone php files The only thing you can do is to add arguments to the existing php files or the plugins you have created So you first make a submit button as follows form method post action php echo SERVER REQUEST URI div class submit input type submit name saveCSS title Download the tweaked stylesheet to your computer value Download Stylesheet div Note that the name attribute of the button is saveCSS Now in the part of the code that handles submits you do something like php if isset POST saveCSS styleurl get option siteurl wp admin themes php page theme tweaker php save This is the styleurl that you would give as the source of your iFrame fram Note that it is the same as your pluging page URL except that you managed to

    Original URL path: http://www.thulasidas.com/tag/php/ (2016-02-16)
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  • plugins Archives - Unreal Blog
    REQUEST URI div class submit input type submit name saveCSS title Download the tweaked stylesheet to your computer value Download Stylesheet div Note that the name attribute of the button is saveCSS Now in the part of the code that handles submits you do something like php if isset POST saveCSS styleurl get option siteurl wp admin themes php page theme tweaker php save This is the styleurl that you would give as the source of your iFrame fram Note that it is the same as your pluging page URL except that you managed to add save at the end of it The next trick is to capture that argument and handle it For that you use the WordPress API function add action as php if isset GET save add action init array thmTwk saveCSS else remove action init array thmTwk saveCSS This adds a function saveCSS to the init part of your plugin Now you have to define this function php function saveCSS header Content Disposition attachment filename style css header Content Transfer Encoding ascii header Expires 0 header Pragma no cache stylestr Whatever string you want to save ob start print stylestr ob end flush die Now we are almost home free The only thing to understand is that you do need the die If your function doesn t die it will spew out the rest of the WordPress generated stuff into your save file appending it to your string stylestr It may look complicated Well I guess it is a bit complicated but once you implement it and get it running you can and do forget about it At least I do That s why I posted it here so that the next time I need to do it I can look it up geek php plugins string wordpress Corporate Life Email Flotsam Humor Geeks December 10 2008 manoj 4 Comments I have been doing a bit of geeky stuff lately writing WordPress plugins Okay it is because I m suffering from a terrible writer s block You see I m supposed to be working on my next book I foolishly promised a couple of chapters of The Principles of Quantitative Development to my commissioning editor at John Wiley Sons within a month now I find myself writing everything other than those darned chapters Including plugins Coming to think of it writing those chapters wouldn t be any less geeky would it That made me wonder We all started off as geeks didn t we No use denying it Remember how our teachers loved us and the sexy cheerleaders well didn t Later in life due to exigencies of circumstances we may have tried to lose our techie halo and simulate a managerial posture But in our moments of panic we go back to our geek roots At least I do You think you don t Well check out these geek jokes If you find them funny chances are your roots are not too different from mine

    Original URL path: http://www.thulasidas.com/tag/plugins/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Man as Chinese Room - Unreal Blog
    still don t understand Chinese Now that raises an interesting question if you know enough Chinese symbols and Chinese rules to manipulate them don t you actually know Chinese Of course you can imagine someone being able to handle a language correctly without understanding a word of it but I think that is stretching the imagination a bit too far I am reminded of the blind sight experiment where people could see without knowing it without being consciously aware of what it was that they were seeing Searle s response points in the same direction being able to speak Chinese without understanding it What the Chinese Room is lacking is the conscious awareness of what it is doing To delve a bit deeper into this debate we have to get a bit formal about Syntax and Semantics Language has both syntax and semantics For example a statement like Please read my blog posts has the syntax originating from the grammar of the English language symbols that are words syntactical placeholders letters and punctuation On top of all that syntax it has a content my desire and request that you read my posts and my background belief that you know what the symbols and the content mean That is the semantics the meaning of the statement A computer according to Searle can only deal with symbols and based on symbolic manipulation come up with syntactically correct responses It doesn t understand the semantic content as we do It is incapable of complying with my request because of its lack of understanding It is in this sense that the Chinese Room doesn t understand Chinese At least that is Searle s claim Since computers are like Chinese Rooms they cannot understand semantics either But our brains can and therefore the brain cannot be a mere computer When put that way I think most people would side with Searle But what if the computer could actually comply with the requests and commands that form the semantic content of statements I guess even then we would probably not consider a computer fully capable of semantic comprehension which is why if a computer actually complied with my request to read my posts I might not find it intellectually satisfying What we are demanding of course is consciousness What more can we ask of a computer to convince us that it is conscious I don t have a good answer to that But I think you have to apply uniform standards in ascribing consciousness to entities external to you if you believe in the existence of other minds in humans you have to ask yourself what standards you apply in arriving at that conclusion and ensure that you apply the same standards to computers as well You cannot build cyclical conditions into your standards like others have human bodies nervous systems and an anatomy like you do so that that they have minds as well which is what Searle did In my opinion it is best

    Original URL path: http://www.thulasidas.com/man-as-chinese-room/ (2016-02-16)
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  • consciousness Archives - Unreal Blog
    a perfect parallel between brains and computers We can easily think of the brain as the hardware and mind or consciousness as the software or the operating system We would be wrong according to many philosophers but I still think of it that way Let me outline the compelling similarities according to me before getting into the philosophical difficulties involved A lot of what we know of the workings of the brain comes from lesion studies We know for instances that features like color vision face and object recognition motion detection language production and understanding are all controlled by specialized areas of the brain We know this by studying people who have suffered localized brain damage These functional features of the brain are remarkably similar to computer hardware units specialized in graphics sound video capture etc The similarity is even more striking when we consider that the brain can compensate for the damage to a specialized area by what looks like software simulation For instance the patient who lost the ability to detect motion a condition normal people would have a hard time appreciating or identifying with could still infer that an object was in motion by comparing successive snapshots of it in her mind The patient with no ability to tell faces apart could at times deduce that the person walking toward him at a pre arranged spot at the right time was probably his wife Such instances give us the following attractive picture of the brain Brain Computer hardware Consciousness Operating System Mental functions Programs It looks like a logical and compelling picture to me This seductive picture however is far too simplistic at best or utterly wrong at worst The basic philosophical problem with it is that the brain itself is a representation drawn on the canvas of consciousness and the mind which are again cognitive constructs This abysmal infinite regression is impossible to crawl out of But even when we ignore this philosophical hurdle and ask ourselves whether brains could be computers we have big problems What exactly are we asking Could our brains be computer hardware and minds be software running on them Before asking such questions we have to ask parallel questions Could computers have consciousness and intelligence Could they have minds If they had minds how would we know Even more fundamentally how do you know whether other people have minds This is the so called Problem of Other Minds which we will discuss in the next post before proceeding to consider computing and consciousness computing consciousness Philosophy Books Creative The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil November 5 2008 manoj It is not easy to review a non fiction book without giving the gist of what the book is about Without a synopsis all one can do is to call it insightful and other such epithets The Age of Spiritual Machines is really an insightful book It is a study of the future of computing and computational intelligence It forces us to rethink what we mean by intelligence and consciousness not merely at a technological level but at a philosophical level What do you do when your computer feels sad that you are turning it off and declares I cannot let you do that Dave What do we mean by intelligence The traditional yardstick of machine intelligence is the remarkably one sided Turing Test It defines intelligence using comparative means a computer is deemed intelligent if it can fool a human evaluator into believing that it is human It is a one sided test because a human being can never pass for a computer for long All that an evaluator needs to do is to ask a question like What is My 4 calculator takes practically no time to answer it to better than one part in a million precision A super intelligent human being might take about a minute before venturing a first guess But the Turing Test does not define intelligence as arithmetic muscle Intelligence is composed of higher cognitive abilities After beating around the bush for a while one comes to the conclusion that intelligence is the presence of consciousness And the Turing Test essentially examines a computer to see if it can fake consciousness well enough to fool a trained evaluator It would have you believe that consciousness is nothing more than answering some clever questions satisfactorily Is it true Once we restate the test and redefine intelligence this way our analysis can bifurcate into an inward journey or an outward one we can ask ourselves questions like what if everybody is an automaton except us you and me of course successfully faking intelligence Are we faking it and freewill to ourselves as well We would think perhaps not or who are these ourselves that we are faking it to The inevitable conclusion to this inward journey is that we can be sure of the presence of consciousness only in ourselves The outward analysis of the emergence of intelligence a la Turing Test brings about a whole host of interesting questions which occupy a significant part of the book I m referring to the audio abridgment edition although a bit obsessed with virtual sex at times One of the thought provoking questions when machines claim that they are sentient is this Would it be murder to kill one of them Before you suggest that I or rather Kurzweil stop acting crazy consider this What if the computer is a digital backup of a real person A backup that thinks and acts like the original Still no What if it is the only backup and the person is dead Wouldn t killing the machine be tantamount to killing the person If you grudgingly said yes to the last question then all hell breaks loose What if there are multiple identical backups What if you create your own backup Would deleting a backup capable of spiritual experiences amount to murder When he talks about the progression of machine intelligence

    Original URL path: http://www.thulasidas.com/tag/consciousness/ (2016-02-16)
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