Lion of the Blogosphere

Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

19 years of being an Amazon.com customer

with 47 comments

Before I had broadband. I bought this book using dial-up! (Or maybe I bought it from work, which did have broadband.)

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

March 29, 2019 at EDT am

Posted in Books, Technology

Facebook amps up censorship

with 66 comments

Standing Against Hate

“White nationalism” is now banned from Facebook. With no definition of what that means. But Facebook proudly announces that their AI will get better at automatically censoring “white nationalist” posts.

Is being against immigration “white nationalist?” Is human biodiversity “white nationalist?”

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

March 27, 2019 at EDT pm

Posted in Technology

People will still own cars

with 78 comments

There’s a really dumb NY Times op-ed which says that Owning a Car Will Soon Be as Quaint as Owning a Horse.

No, it won’t be. How can people be so stupid yet still get to write op-eds for the world’s most prestigious newspaper?

Horses were replaced by cars, and cars will be replaced by self-driving cars, but people will still want to own them, because personal transportation, on call whenever you want it, is very valuable. Can you count on a ride-share vehicle for busy times of day, like the rush-hour drive, or on especially busy travel days like when you need to drive to the beach on July 4th, or to your mother’s house for Thanksgiving? I don’t think so.

Also, a car is more than just transportation. It’s also storage and a personal space. When you drive somewhere, you can keep extra provisions in your car, like a coat in case it gets colder than you expected, or an umbrella in case it rains. You can keep your stuff in there when you park at a store and quickly run in there to buy something. When you have to use ride-share vehicles, you can only take with you what you are personally able to carry.

Furthermore, the cost of ride-share vehicles will be higher than expected because they will have to deal with destructive passengers who don’t treat it with the love and care that you would treat your own car. Passengers will be more destructive when there’s no human driver present. And I bet that the ride-share companies won’t be able to deny service because there will be laws against various kinds of “discrimination.” Just as it’s illegal today for yellow cabs to pass by passengers who look undesirable.

I’ve noticed that liberals have always hated cars. Even in the early 1980s, before global warming existed, liberals hated cars. Liberals love public transportation, even though it sucks compared being able to drive your own car. And self-driving cars will make cars even better.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

March 25, 2019 at EDT am

Posted in Technology

Robocalls: Has Andrew Yang been reading my blog?

A while back, I wrote:

Why doesn’t Donald Trump do something about this?

Why can’t we create a system where it’s impossible to spoof caller ID?

Why can’t phone service providers figure out that a huge number of robocalls are coming from a certain entity and put a stop to it?

But Andrew Yang talks about the issue on his website:

It’s ridiculous that companies can call us all day every day pitching us unwelcome services, particularly when the calls are automated. Our time is the most valuable resource we have. Companies need to value our time the same way that we do. If you call me you’d better be human.

You may say, no way is he reading the blog, this is just an obvious problem. Andy politician with common sense would address it.

But if it’s so obvious, why has no other politician besides Andrew Yang ever mentioned the issue? Donald Trump has ignored the issue. He obviously doesn’t read my blog. Is Andrew Yang the only politician with common sense?

* * *

Andrew Yang actually hasn’t addressed the technological and legal issues. That the calls come from outside of the United States, they spoof caller IDs, and our telecommunications network, for whatever reason legal or technical, is unable to stop them. But at least he mentions it as a problem for government to solve.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

March 18, 2019 at EDT pm

30th anniversary of the world wide web

https://www.google.com/

However, I was not aware that such a thing existed until the summer of 1994.

And when I was given a demo of the web in the summer of 1994, I thought, there’s no way this will ever catch on, it’s too nerdy. I was never so wrong about anything.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

March 12, 2019 at EDT am

Posted in Technology

More videogaming layoffs

https://www.wired.com/story/arenanet-layoffs-fortnite-season-8/

How many different videogames does the world need if the games are so good that people play the same game for months or even years? The answer is, not that many. The move from offline gaming to online gaming has made the industry more of a winner-take-all market than it used to be. With the most popular game, Fortnite, being free to play, it’s hard for small startup games to compete against that and make a profit. A game has to be mega-successful otherwise it’s not profitable.

A commenter will write: “Lion, videogames are stupid, why don’t you write about something important?” My answer is that with robots replacing human labor, there will be lots of free time to play videogames. So they are very important! And it’s important to parents who can’t get their kids to stop playing Fortnite.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

March 1, 2019 at EDT am

Posted in Technology

Are human-controlled robots finally on the verge of arriving?

https://www.wired.com/story/how-i-became-a-robot-in-london/

I wrote about human-controlled robots 15 years ago, and so far they haven’t really happened yet. But perhaps we are finally on the verge if this being a viable technology.

The journalist who wrote the article shows a lack of imagination, discussing the technology in terms of dangerous jobs like disposing of bombs. The biggest economic benefit is that human controlled robots will allow people in poor countries getting paid low wages to be virtually physically present in rich countries, so it creates yet another way to outsource labor.

Today, robots aren’t smart enough to cook a meal or take out a trash or clean your bathroom. But we can solve that problem by having someone in India working for $2/hour who can take over control of the robot when you need it to do something like that.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

March 1, 2019 at EDT am

Posted in Technology

Viral high school students video Twitter scam

https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/21/tech/twitter-suspends-account-native-american-maga-teens/index.html

Wow, looks like the video alleging racism on the part of Catholic high school students on a class trip was promoted by a fake Twitter account powered by an army of bots. It wasn’t just a case of a video accidentally being discovered.

Who was behind this disinformation campaign? The Russians again?

(Thank you, “destructure,” for bringing this to my attention.)

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

January 22, 2019 at EDT pm

Posted in Technology

FFXIV and MMORPGs

FFXIV is short for Final Fantasy XIV, a game designed by the Japanese company Square Enix, and what I think is the absolute best of the genre of MMORPGs, that is massively multiplayer online role-playing games, of which World of Warcraft (WoW) is the most well-known example.

Yes, FFXIV is definitely the better starting point into this genre than WoW. I’ve been playing it since Christmas weekend. Great way to kill time. (Yes, I am aware that killing time is a very low class thing to do. SWPLs want to use every ounce of time left until they die to do SWPL things like learning a foreign language or traveling around the world with the meager time left over from their hopefully self-actualizing career. Playing videogames is not considered to be self-actualizing, therefore it is low class.)

You do want a PC with a discrete GPU to play this game. I was able to run the game and get 15 fps at 720p resolution on a computer with integrated Intel graphics, but it’s not that great. The game looked choppy. With my Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti (but note that the GTX 1150 is probably coming out in 2019, making the 1050 obsolete!) I get 30+ fps running at 2560 x 1440 with all the graphics settings maxed out. And the game looks beautiful! While 60 fps is considered the gold standard in gaming, you really don’t need 60 fps in a slow-moving game like FFXIV.

MMORPGs are a dying genre of game. People have gotten accustomed to faster-moving games. Like Overwatch. Or Fortnite. Games that also cost less money to play. Overwatch is pay once than play as much as you want. And Fortnite is totally free to play.

I believe that most people playing FFXIV (or WoW) are older players, older meaning at least old enough to drink. Teenagers these days would be playing Fortnite or some other “shooter” game. The monthly subscription tends to keep away players that don’t at least have their own credit card. Most teens would have trouble convincing their parents that they “need” $12.99/mo or (or $14.99/mo for WoW) to play a time-wasting videogame, and besides, all of their friends are playing Fortnite or first-person shooters.

For the most part, battle in FFXIV consists of you pushing a button every 2.5 seconds, and then your skill automatically hits the enemy. In some fights, especially “boss” fights, parts of the ground turn a different color, a warning that something painful is about to hit, and you have a certain amount of time to run the hell out of the way to a non-indicated area. That’s the extent of the fast reaction time needed, which can still get dicey for a middle-aged person with middle-aged reflexes during intense fights where you have to dodge out of the way but still hit the right buttons to trigger your abilities. But it’s not like Overwatch where I am stuck below 1000 skill rank because I can’t compete against younger players.

While FFXIV has a huge amount of complexity with respect to the many things to do in the virtual world, the game slowly introduces everything to you. You just keep following the “main scenario quests” (which are clearly marked) and you will slowly learn everything about the game. Plus there are some important side-quests marked in blue with a plus sign that unlock things you may need. The other quests you can just ignore. If you select to start a character on a “preferred server,” you get double experience up to level 60, which means that you get all the experience you need by just following the main quests, without having to do any “grinding” or side quests. (“Grinding” means the repetitive killing of monsters or other repetitive activities to gain experience points or other beneficial things like better armor.)

The story behind the main quest isn’t horrible. While I find many of the cut scenes tiresome, some people might enjoy watching the story unfold. One of the important quest-giving NPCs is this blonde babe wearing an outfit that shows off her bare midriff. Yay for fan service!

And there are these evil guys called the Garleans who came from outer space in these steampunk spaceships. You know they are evil because they wear evil-looking armor, and evil music plays during their cut scenes.

The main quest line requires you to do “dungeons” and “trials” along the way, which are instanced activities requiring a group of four. Don’t worry, you don’t need to make any friends, the “Duty Finder” will assign you three random teammates. This is why FFXIV is such a better experience than WoW, because it mixes things up and coaxes you into doing group activities like that. Eventually, when you reach max level and get to the “end game,” most of your time will be spend doing group dungeons and raids. Furthermore, WoW is so old that most of its low-level content has become completely irrelevant to the current state of the game.

It is my understanding that WoW offers a better endgame for the top-tier players because it has the most complex 40-man raids, which I don’t think that FFXIV has, however I have never personally played WoW’s endgame, so I’m just going off of what I read on the internet. My impression is that FFXIV offers a sufficient endgame experience for regular players who are not completely addicted.

FFXIV has a free trial that allows you to play the game up to level 35, which is quite a bit of content. The free trial has no strings attached, the whole game is yours up to level 35, except that a few things that would be useful to gold farmers are turned off: no access to the marketplace (where you can buy and sell to other players), and you can’t initiate chats with other players (to prevent gold sellers from using the free accounts to advertise their wares). Unfortunately, to continue past level 35, you need to buy the game ($60, or $30 if there’s a half-price sale) and then pay $12.99/month.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 31, 2018 at EDT pm

Posted in Nerdy stuff, Technology

Most-watched games on Twitch

https://www.twitchmetrics.net/games/viewership

There are some interesting observations here.

For background, Twitch is a website where people can watch other people watch videogames. Theoretically, people can stream other stuff, thus the category “Just Chatting,” but the vast majority of hours spent on Twitch is spent watching videogames.

We can assume that what people are watching on Twitch closely correlates with what games people are playing themselves, because generally, it’s pretty boring to watch someone playing a game that you’re not familiar with. However, it’s possible that some games are more conducive to playing yourself rather than watching. For example, World of Warcraft being so time consuming, who has time to watch other people play it?

The first thing we learn is that videogame success is winner-take-all. The most-viewed game, Fortnite, has more than 6 times as much viewership as Overwatch, the #11 game (really the tenth because “Just Chatting” isn’t a game), and Overwatch in turn has more than 5 times the viewership of Black Desert Online, the #41 game.

World of Warcraft gets talked about a lot around here, but at #12, it’s actually an old and fading game in an old and fading game category. No doubt, the $14.99/mo subscription fee keeps away many players when there now exist much more popular free-to-play games like Fortnite, or in the case of League of Legends, free to get started.

Some readers are going to say, “Lion, why don’t you write about something more important than videogames?” But videogames are very important, because after computers and robots replace all of the jobs, what will humans do all day? I predict a lot of free time will go into playing videogames.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 21, 2018 at EDT pm

Posted in Technology

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