Category Archives: Uncategorized

Preemptively deplatforming my own website: a ludicrously overbuilt WordPress hosting setup

It’s cheap, easy and fast to host your videos on YouTube! Why would you bother to do anything other than hosting your videos with a hosting provider? You can just paste the video URL into WordPress and it’ll Just Work, embedding your video! You don’t even have to think!

Here are a few reasons: major hosting platforms aren’t in the business of agnostically hosting my content nearly as much as they are in the business of soliciting uploads and driving engagement with their userbase so they can maximize ad revenue. They constantly push “views” and other metrics on you if you start uploading, which drives one to care more about the popularity of uploaded content rather than living ones life and taking the odd video or photo for friends and family. The press is always to be a good serf for the digital sharecroppers, although the term of choice these days is “content creator”. Me, I’m a bit old-school, don’t fancy producing content to line the pockets of Google’s shareholders. Moreover, I don’t trust them to not pull the rug at the slightest provocation; start charging for uploads, for hosting, to completely de-list my videos en masse for malicious copyright infringement claims (or who knows! merely including my childrens faces or voices!), the list of possible downsides is pretty much endless. I’m also extremely paranoid, and expect that every frame is scraped for faces and pumped directly into the NSA and probably mainlined over into Zuckerberg’s machine in some nightmarish data-sharing arrangement.

Continue reading Preemptively deplatforming my own website: a ludicrously overbuilt WordPress hosting setup

Teaching children tools by building things

I was sorely disappointed by the cardboard cranes out of the crappy magnetism book Cedar and I have been playing with for the past few days, so he and I took a few hours yesterday to build a crane that he and his sister can experiment with. I asked him to draw a crane, and this is what he came up with:

C: “Sorry Dad, it kind of looks like that…hanging thing.”
B: “A gallows”?
C: “Yeah, yeah. A gallows.”
B: “No worries my man, I think a gallows and a crane have generally the same design requirements, just at different scales.”

Continue reading Teaching children tools by building things

Today i almost lit my house on fire with electrical experiments!

There I was, full of Covid brain-fog, attempting to put together the simplest of electrical experiments, building an electromagnetic coil for my kids, when I got distracted and nearly burnt the house down!

Yes, yes, it’s missing a ferrous core to make the coil produce a truly B-eefy field, and yes dumping 5A through the coil for 15s should have made the Jerry-rigged water compass do more than the nothing that you can see in this video.

Continue reading Today i almost lit my house on fire with electrical experiments!

Wanted: blockchain games that actually run on the blockchain

Extremely late to this party, just like everything else for my generation. I’m looking for “blockchain games” that actually encode their logic into the blockchain. I’ve drawn a blank on pretty much everything that I’ve looked at so far (in that there’s typically some UI that runs animations and performs game logic and then writes the results of individual rounds back to the underlying store).

For all the hype, I’ve yet to see an NFT/blockchain game where all of the logic is encoded in the smart contracts. Likely because the space is full of scammers who don’t actually understand technology and have never encountered Andrew Parker’s user-driven minting mechanism.

Anyways, if you know of a game that’s fully encoded on the blockchain, let me know in the comments.

Filter the generative horde with hard cryptography

Hannah Wiggins wrote The Piece (née “Shall Be Delivered”) on how asymmetric cryptography distinguishes humans from the mob, strong recommend even a decade after publication[1]Goodness gracious, has it really been a decade? The world has changed such, we’ve all lost so much and learned so much. Can it be that Trilema is truly off the public net for good? From … Continue reading. All the more disappointing then, that Maggie Appleton doesn’t even mention it in her piece on how surprisingly adequate GPT and friends have grown at imitating the output of your typical human. tl;dr Maggie, if you’re reading text that wasn’t published by an individual who publishes a GPG key you got from some channel you trust, you are axiomatically unable to distinguish them from internet noise. Go, read! Wiggins’ “Shall Be Delivered” still chills and inspires me.

Continue reading Filter the generative horde with hard cryptography

References

References
1Goodness gracious, has it really been a decade? The world has changed such, we’ve all lost so much and learned so much. Can it be that Trilema is truly off the public net for good? From intellectual poverty came, and to intellectual poverty apparently we must all return

Bash Bitcoin Miner

A little tongue-in-cheek, it’s missing several practical elements but nevertheless here’s some filthy bash to mint sha256 coinbases in the least efficient way possible:

#!/usr/bin/env bash -eu

DESIRED_DIFFICULTY=1

GENERATED_NONCE_COUNT=0

while true
do
nonce=$(xxd -l16 -p /dev/urandom)
hash=$(printf $(printf "$nonce" | shasum -a 256))
diff_string=$(printf '%*s' "$DESIRED_DIFFICULTY" | tr ' ' 0)
if [[ "$hash" = "$diff_string"* ]]
then
printf '%s %s\n' "$nonce" "$hash"
[1]GENERATED_NONCE_COUNT=$GENERATED_NONCE_COUNT+1 fi
done

You’re welcome!

References

References
1GENERATED_NONCE_COUNT=$GENERATED_NONCE_COUNT+1

AGI needs goals, and satisfying curiosity has to be the first

I spent some time with ChatGPT last night, out of curiosity about the state of the art and how close we might be to runaway artificial general intelligence (AGI). I’m entirely underwhelmed at its inability to model conversational state, its incuriosity towards interlocutors, the obvious polite/inoffensive response templating, and just how far the AI industry appears to be from achieving anything remotely capable of passing for a human.

The rationalists are convinced we face a high risk of AGI going into runaway mode, where it relentlessly optimizes itself, establishing enough control over enough humans that in the large “we” (for some value of we) won’t actually be able to turn it off. Matthew Ward works an example through the lens of Facebook, saying something along the lines of “there’s a ghost AI embedded in Facebook’s myriad of recommendation systems that has financially motivated a bunch of people to prevent turndown: Continue reading AGI needs goals, and satisfying curiosity has to be the first