Would you like fries with that Singularity?

There he goes again, making up nonsense and making ridiculous claims that have no relationship to reality. Ray Kurzweil must be able to spin out a good line of bafflegab, because he seems to have the tech media convinced that he’s a genius, when he’s actually just another Deepak Chopra for the computer science cognoscenti.

His latest claim is that we’ll be able to reverse engineer the human brain within a decade. By reverse engineer, he means that we’ll be able to write software that simulates all the functions of the human brain. He’s not just speculating optimistically, though: he’s building his case on such awfully bad logic that I’m surprised anyone still pays attention to that kook.

A lot more actual grounded science can be found in PZ Myers’s: Ray Kurzweil does not understand the brain.

A Java primer for Oracle v Google

Oracle was the opening keynote for Linuxcon this year, where they talked about how much they did for Linux and open source.  The moment everyone had checked out of their hotel in Boston, they filed a massive patent suit against Google’s open source java like implementation in Android.  Oracle, you can suck it.

This has led to a lot of virtual ink in the blogosphere on the subject, and you can see that for the most part, we all sit inside our tech valleys, unable to see the wider world over the hills.  This is especially true for folks that have worked in the same kind of tech for a long time.  Charles Nutter provides a really good background on what the Java space looks like, and gives his own thoughts on the matter.  Much like Linux, Java is really just about everywhere, some times in surprising places.

The Java platform is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is. And by big, I mean it’s everywhere.

There are three mainstream JVMs people know about: JRockit (WebLogic’s first and then Oracle’s after it acquired them), Hotspot (Which came to Sun through an acquisition and eventually became OpenJDK), and J9 (IBM’s own JVM, fully-licensed and with all its shots). Upon those three JVMs lives a gigantic world. If you want the details, there’s numerous studies and reports about the use of Java in all manner of business, from the hippest new startups (Twitter recently switched much of their stack to the JVM) to the oldest of the old financial concerns. It’s the favored choice for government server applications, the strongest not-quite-completely-Free managed runtime for open-source libraries and applications, and now with Android it’s rapidly becoming one of the strongest (if not the strongest) mobile OS platform (even though Android isn’t *really* Java, as I’ll get into later). You may love or hate Java, but I guarantee it’s part of your life in some way or another.

It’s a long read, but well worth your time.  The why people hate Java section is particularly useful for people that hate Java.  It may or may not change your mind, but it will at least give you a broader view.

Are you from the past?

Music labels and radio broadcasters can’t agree on much, including whether radio should be forced to turn over hundreds of millions of dollars a year to pay for the music it plays. But the two sides can agree on this: Congress should mandate that FM radio receivers be built into cell phones, PDAs, and other portable electronics.

The Consumer Electronics Association, whose members build the devices that would be affected by such a directive, is incandescent with rage. “The backroom scheme of the [National Association of Broadcasters] and RIAA to have Congress mandate broadcast radios in portable devices, including mobile phones, is the height of absurdity,” thundered CEA president Gary Shapiro. Such a move is “not in our national interest.”

“Rather than adapt to the digital marketplace, NAB and RIAA act like buggy-whip industries that refuse to innovate and seek to impose penalties on those that do.”

It’s pretty impressive how entirely screwed up the big media industry is.  Really guys?  Mandating FM radios in all mobile devices?  Don’t get me wrong, I bought a quality FM antenna for the house so that we get NPR crystal clear here…. but this is just nuts.

Journalism Warning Labels

These are brilliant:

It seems a bit strange to me that the media carefully warn about and label any content that involves sex, violence or strong language — but there’s no similar labelling system for, say, sloppy journalism and other questionable content.

I figured it was time to fix that, so I made some stickers. I’ve been putting them on copies of the free papers that I find on the London Underground. You might want to as well.

Isn’t this what we were afraid Microsoft would do?

There is one main reason people in the open source community get so violent over Mono (the open source .NET implementation): the fear that Microsoft could shut everything.  There is long standing fear that MS has patents on core parts of the system.  People were afraid their investments in software written on top of it would be at risk.  Java was always held up as the much safer choice, with a longer legacy, being more open source friendly, with a company behind it that everyone trusted.  Of course, companies change hands some times….

Oracle sues Google for patent, copyright infringement

Oracle filed a complaint in federal court in California, alleging the infringement of seven patents and copyrights by Google’s Android mobile operating system software.

I was once told that Sun actually made money off Java, and one of the big sources of revenue was the J2ME market, which is what all those dumb little snake games are written in.  Google has undercut that by making a really popular cell phone platform with a version of Java they wrote themselves.

It’s still not a good world to be in, where innovation comes with a 10% patent tax.

An incredible night of observing

Last night was our monthly star party for the Mid-Hudson Astronomical Association.  It was just about a perfect August night, not too hot, not too humid, and with very clear skies.  Apparently the effort that I’ve been spending on publicity for the group has been paying off, because we got at least a dozen new folks there last night.

Once we got enough dark to start seeing things, Bill managed to give a nice tour of the night sky, which people really loved.  This hit some of the major high lights of the big dipper, the little dipper, lyra, cygnus, scorpio, sagittarius, the the milky way, which was in quite full force last night.  Rick and I managed to effectively hide from the building lights behind a few trees, which left us in a nice dark environment.

With so many folks, and Sagittarius in good striking zone, I spent the first half of the night hitting globular clusters and the lagoon nebula over there.  My new ultra high contrast filter got it’s first work out on the lagoon nebula, which was striking.

As the evening wound on we saw two waves of people head out, until just Rick, Bruce, Ray and I were left.  Jupiter popped up to greet us, and we got a few views of that, though through that much atmosphere you were hard pressed to get it above 100x and still see anything.  I randomly found (only identified this morning) the Omega Nebula and the Wild Duck Cluster as I was just exploring around Sagittarius.

About 12:30 the four us decided to call it a night.  I got home at about 1, too wired to go to sleep for the next 45 minutes.  It was a great night.