Links June 2008

Paul Graham has recently published an essay titled How To Disagree [1]. One form that he didn’t mention is to claim that a disagreement is a matter of opinion. Describing a disagreement about an issue which can be proved as a matter of opinion is a commonly used method of avoiding the need to offer any facts or analysis.

Sam Varghese published an article about the Debian OpenSSL issue and quoted me [2].

The Basic AI Drives [3] is an interesting papar about what might motivate an AI and how AIs might modify themselves to better achieve their goals. It also has some insights into addiction and other vulnerabilities in human motivation.

It seems that BeOS [4] is not entirely dead. The Haiku OS project aims to develop an open source OS for desktop computing based on BeOS [5]. It’s not nearly usable for end-users yet, but they have vmware snapshots that can be used for development.

On my Document Blog I have described how to debug POP problems with the telnet command [6]. Some users might read this and help me fix their email problems faster. I know that most users won’t be able to read this, but the number of people who can use it will surely be a lot greater than the number of people who can read the RFCs…

Singularity tales is an amusing collection of short stories [7] about the Technological Singularity [8].

A summary of the banana situation [9]. Briefly describes how “banana republics” work and the fact that a new variety of the Panama disease is spreading through banana producing countries. Given the links between despotic regimes and banana production it’s surprising that no-one is trying to spread the disease faster. Maybe Panama disease could do for South America what the Boll weevil did for the south of the US [10].

Jeff Dean gives an interesting talk about the Google server architecture [11]. One thing I wonder about is whether they have experimented with increasing the chunk size over the years. It seems that the contiguous IO performance of disks has been steadily increasing while the seek performance has stayed much the same, and the dramatic increases in the amount of RAM you can get for any given amount of money over the last few years have been amazing. So it seems that now it’s possible to read larger chunks of data in the same amount of time and more easily store such large chunks in memory.

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