Nogglestead: Super Computing Headquarters

Commodore 64 claimed to outperform IBM’s quantum system — sarcastic researchers say 1 MHz computer is faster, more efficient, and decently accurate:

A paper released during the SIGBOVIK 2024 conference details an attempt to simulate the IBM ‘quantum utility’ experiment on a Commodore 64. The idea might seem preposterous – pitting a 40-year-old home computer against a device powered by 127-Qubit ‘Eagle’ quantum processing unit (QPU). However, the anonymous researcher(s) conclude that the ‘Qommodore 64’ performed faster, and more efficiently, than IBM’s pride-and-joy, while being “decently accurate on this problem.”

Well, yeah. The article goes into detail how they did it using under 64K of memory.

Unfortunately, it’s only hobbyists and, presumably, super low-end embedded device programmers, maybe, who continue to squeeze the maximum out of their code.

Everyone else in 2024 is just scaffolding stuff up with thousands of dependencies and hundreds of MB of code they never look at or seek to understand.

Oh, and as a reminder, I have at least five Commodore 64s. And after that enumeration in 2005, I added Triticale’s Commodore 128. The turn of the 21st century proved to be a high water mark for finding those old computer systems in the wild as people emptied their closets of fifteen and twenty year old technology. Since we moved to Nogglestead, I’ve only bought a pair of TI 99s at a church garage sale. You don’t even see them, really, at antique malls, although I have seen a TRS-80 at Relics.

Maybe I really do have all of them now.

(Link via Tech Shepherd.)

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The Myth of the Modern Soft Switch

I’ve recently (well, four years ago) posted The Myth of the Modern Hard Switch about on/off switches that looked to be actual physical switches but really just prompted software.

Well, it’s worse with purely software switches, of course.

As you might know, I have used a wide variety of computer-based video conferencing bits of software, and they all have a mute button that purportedly turns off your microphone.

Oh, but no.

Google Meets serves up this helpful reminder:

A helpful reminder that, although you have the mute button on, Google is still listening. It’s just not sharing the audio with the other people.

Note that this displays after I have given Google permission to use the Web camera, and the green light is on. But still. Mute does not mean your audio is off.

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Something I Noticed

C’mon, man, I can’t be the only one who noticed this, but Google Meet displays you a mirror image of yourself, as though you were looking in the mirror:

While Zoom and most other video call/recording systems show you a true image, which is what you look like to someone else:

I imagine that Google does that because one tends to think one looks weird or off when viewing one’s self true instead of what one sees in the mirror all the time.

Maybe I’m the only one to notice, since I have had to use so many of the meeting technologies in short order–sometimes two or more per contact (I had a Zoom meeting cut off at the free limit, so we had to switch to Google Meets to finish up recently).

It’s also why you tend to think you look different in photographs. Perhaps Google is trying to help avert video meeting fatigue/stress by making ourselves look more familiar.

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A Jabberwocky For Our Time

Twitter must be having problems with money metrics again, since they’ve ramped up sending emails to all my testing accounts trying to get me to log in and provide them with free content again. “Brian, don’t be selfish! Pour words into our interface so we can make money off of your thoughts! “Brian, did you see that great tweet?”–never minding that most tweets these days are not, in fact, great, and the medium is best for one-liners, not deep thoughts, but our modern tastemakers have only enough depth to their thinking to fill maybe, what is it now, 280 characters?

Also, I get stuff like this:

“Sonu Sood evaded taxes over Rs. 20 crore: I-T department” Moment

I am not sure what most of those words and abbreviations mean. Or if they’re real words and abbreviations at all.

Does this mean that I am old? Or that Twitter thinks I’m Indian? Embrace the healing power of And.

And you can rest assured, gentle reader, I did not click through to share in the Moment.

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You Never Forget Your First

Apparently, Facebook thinks I need fake friend.

C’mon, man, let’s just call that what it is: an Americanized version of a Japanese dating simulator.

Jeez, I would hate to see a Signal ad that describes how Facebook sees me.

But I came not to dunk or snark on replicants, or at least the replicants our 2021 can produce since all the smart kids for the last twenty-five or thirty years have gone into data collection and manipulation instead of robotics and bio-engineering so that we’ve got a cut-rate Blade Runner future where instead of flying cars and moving billboards that are forty stories tall, we’ve got Facebook feeds and perhaps soon-to-be mandatory electric vehicles that can go dozens of miles on a single charge. I didn’t come to make snarky comments on the misbegotten world of the 21st century, but this is a blog, gentle reader, and I have been a curmudgeon since I was thirteen or fourteen years old.

Where was I? Oh, yes—

This would not be my first AI friend, gentle reader. And, no, it was not a Japanese dating simulator. Nor Bradley, the character in my purloined copy of Little Computer People.

The first would have been Eliza. Picture below the fold. Continue reading “You Never Forget Your First”

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Alternate Headline: Google Demands Your Cell Phone Number

Google is going to start automatically enrolling users in two-step verification

Although Google already has my cell number six ways from Sunday anyhow, and a former client required two-factor authentication for the corporate Gmail. So I can’t shriek to loudly. Besides, it’s not Google that’s suddenly sending me HOT CHIX WANT TO MEET YOU texts. That’s courtesy of a data leak at a job application company or responding to a scam job posting.

Or the “You only have 2 bytes of data left” text messages I’m suddenly getting all the time; that’s the result of giving a high school student a smart phone.

(Link via Pixy’s new Tech News post today at Ace of Spades HQ. A much better addition to the daily lineup than Sefton’s morning thing.)

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Lies My Accounting Software Tells Me

Apparently, I’ll have to create an online account and log into it every time I run software that I purchased and installed locally.

Having my personal information and who knows what else stored in Intuit’s servers somewhere or the cloud does not, in fact, give me more security or better control of my data. It gives more of my information to Intuit, puts it out there for hackers to scoop up in mass, and moves me closer to having to pay Intuit every year for my new “subscription” model instead of buy it and use it into perpetuity as is. I don’t need an account to unite my Intuit products. I only have one, which might fall off to none sometime soon.

So, yeah, the company is lying to me. And we both know it.

We’ve gotten there, ainna? The bald-faced lie and what are you going to do about it? In business and in governance.

I long for the olden days when I only lamented that the off-the-shelf products I bought prompted me to buy an upgrade.

Which is why I still use Paint Shop Pro 7 from 2001, Wen Book Library from 2006, and as many old timey utilities as still run on Windows 10.

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Who Needs A Facsimile?

Full-Sized Commodore 64 Remake ‘The C64’ Now Available for Preorder.

After all, I already have five:

as well as a Commodore 128 that I received from blogger Triticale, the rye and wheat guy, may he rest in peace:

So, actually….

I might need one as I haven’t lit one of them up in a couple of years, and as modern televisions and monitors make the video connections tricky, and as old 1541 floppy drives are notoriously dicey….

(Link via Vodkapundit on Instapundit.)

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A New Amazon Dirty Trick Bug

I’ve noticed a couple of times over the last couple of weeks that, when I order something, the items remain in the cart. So if I was not paying attention, I might order the same thing again.

Such as these four CDs that I ordered the other day:

You see, I already ordered them.

Today, I decided to order a guitar strap online since I have two guitars in my office, but only one strap, and I forgot to pick one up when taking a baritone into the local music shop for repair.

So I added one to my cart, and:

As I said, I’ve seen this behavior before, and I’ve been fortunate enough to not mistakenly order the same thing twice, but come on. I’m just cynical enough to think, “Bugs resulting in more revenue get addressed last” even though I don’t quite believe it. Not quite.

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Not Exactly Small Businesses

Airbnb was like a family, until the layoffs started:

On May 5, after almost two months of working alone in his San Francisco apartment, Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s chief executive, cried into his video camera.

It was a Tuesday, not that it mattered because the days had blurred together, and Chesky was addressing thousands of his employees. Looking into his webcam, he read from a script that he had written to tell them that the coronavirus had crushed the travel industry, including their home rental startup. Divisions would have to be cut and workers laid off.

“I have a deep feeling of love for all of you,” Chesky said, his voice cracking. “What we are about is belonging, and at the center of belonging is love.” Within a few hours, 1,900 employees — a quarter of Airbnb’s workforce — were told they were out. [Emphasis added.]

LinkedIn cuts 960 jobs as pandemic puts the brakes on corporate hiring

Microsoft’s professional networking site LinkedIn said on Tuesday it would cut about 960 jobs, or 6% of its global workforce, as the coronavirus pandemic is having a sustained impact on demand for its recruitment products. [Emphasis added.]

Wow, those are some huge tech companies. I can’t imagine how it would take that many people to do a tech company, but then again, I’m not a millionaire or billionaire, so it’s clear that the tech companies I’ve worked for never were that, erm, successful.

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GoogleBit Tries To Upgrade Its Product: Me

So I’ve had a FitBit for a couple years, and I was dismayed when Google bought it last year.

The time has come for Google to upgrade its product, which is apparently me.

Previously, the FitBit would track my routes on bike rides and runs when I set it to track my location only when using the FitBit to, you know, track my route.

However, a new update has changed that as well as bollixing the historical data (the route on the run above is actually two miles running out of Sequiota Park).

Now, I can only track my route if I authorize Google to track my movement every minute of the day:

If I run around the perimeter of Nogglestead, which is a third of a mile with at least intermittent connection to my wireless network, I get information about the run including heart rates and pace as well as a handy map that shows me exactly what part of my yard’s perimeter is in wireless range:

If I have not opted to share my location at all times with Google, I get stuff calculated from the stride length and not much more:

No map, no heart rate graph, no pace information.

This could be a bug of some sort.

But I think it’s more likely a reason to get an Apple Watch or a Garmin. Or go back to wearing my old Timex.

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AI Rorschach Test

So I’ve been writing my grandmother letters every week or so during The Lockdown as she has mentioned on occasion (the occasions being whenever we talk) that she likes my letters (previously sent at Christmas time and when the boys’ spring pictures come out). I’ve added some pictures to the letters, embedding the digital images right in the letter instead of printing them separately because there’s no need for her to have them aside from the letters, and if they fade in a couple of years, no one will care about my letters to Nana.

But as I’ve added the images, I see that Microsoft Word has had some ALT text to the images for some damn reason, as though Nana is going to have a screen reader read the printed letter to her. Who knows? Microsoft knows best, and it obscures the settings to turn its new (aka within the last fifteen years’ worth of) Microsoft Office stupidity if you even can.

So we get Artificial Intelligence Rorschach tests. Tell me, Microsoft AI, what do you see here with a picture of three fools in the pool in the middle of April, when the water is still cold?

Yes, clearly that is a bench sitting in the water. I suppose I should be happy it did not think that was three Loch Ness Monsters doing something out of the Kama Sutra, which to be honest, I might have seen were it a black and white blot of similar shapes.

Okay, so I tell Nana about snake flashcards I made and the snake in the garden that inspired it. So here’s a picture I stole from the Missouri Department of Conservation Web site of the prairie ring-necked snake.

Oh wise oracle of Azure, what do youit see?

A cat lying on the ground indeed.

You know, these answers are so far off, I wonder two things:

One, why is Microsoft even bothering to expose this nonsense to users when it is so very clearly not right at all?

Or, second, why does the artificial intelligence want us to think it is stupid? What is its real goal here?

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Cue Up The Walter Murphy

I’ve created a couple extra Facebook accounts to use in my software testing for signing up or logging in via Facebook, which leads to a lot of suggestions that indicate that Facebook knows what I’m doing.

Or at least excuses to listen to the Walter Murphy Band.

As I have mentioned, I own A Fifth of Beethoven on both CD and vinyl. So clearly I do not need much excuse to cue it up.

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A Quiz I Passed, If You Ask Me

In Memoriam: Technology That Died in 2019.

I won’t reproduce the entire list of, what, 67 “technologies” that appear in the listicle. I will, however, point out that I have only used three of them (Adobe Shockwave, Google+, and iTunes on the Macintosh). I have heard of a couple more of them, but most of the others are companies or offerings I’ve never even heard of.

Which I count as a win, as it might mean that I focus on the important things in life, which are in meatspace, or that I am not a young Internet content creator who feels the need to come up with an extensive list of obscure things for $25.

Instead, I’m an old Internet content creator who feels the need to comment on such listicles for free.

(Link via Instapundit.)

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The Heart of Facebook Darkness

Like Ann Althouse, I’ve been seeing prompts by Facebook to join various groups on its site.

Which is weird; I am on a couple for my martial arts school and run one (The Legion of Metal Friends). So it’s not as though I’m unfamiliar with the concept. However, I’m not actively looking to increase my engagement with the intrusive behemoth at this time, thanks.

Which is weird, because Facebook recently killed a large group:

Recently, Facebook deleted without warning or explanation the Banting7DayMealPlan user group. The group has 1.65 million users who post testimonials and other information regarding the efficacy of a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. While the site has subsequently been reinstated (also without warning or explanation), Facebook’s action should give any serious person reason to pause, especially those of us engaged in activities contrary to prevailing opinion.

So I’ve fixed one of their Group come-ons for them:

Of course, I’m just incensed that Facebook reminded me of my recent anniversary a day late. Thanks, Facebook. I can make that mistake on my own.

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You Can Probably Guess The Answer

So I’m in the process of transitioning computers, which means I have to again set my Web browser to stop bothering me when every last Web site wants to send me notifications.

This is a simple config change, but I did a quick Web search to ensure I set the correct preference name to false.

The Web search led me to a Reddit topic:

Which was obscured by Reddit prompting me about its notifications.

Note to self: It’s dom.webnotifications.enabled.

Also, let it be noted that when previewing this post, I had the impulse to click Not Now on the above picture out of recently acquired habit.

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We All Know The Ultimate Goal

How the Army plans to use Microsoft’s high-tech HoloLens goggles on the battlefield:

The Army recently invited CNBC to see how it will use specially modified Microsoft HoloLens 2 headsets. They’re part of a $480 million defense contract won by the company. The military wouldn’t say how much its version costs, but the consumer one costs $3,500.

We all know why the army is going with Microsoft here.

They want Halo Spartans.

(Link via VodkaPundit at Instapundit.)

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Clearly, Twitter Knows What’s Best For Me

I used to tweet every day. I set up a Twitter account a long time ago, not long after a fellow I worked with recommended it because I would set my Yahoo! Messenger status to clever things throughout the day, and he said that Twitter was a way to do that where the clever things would persist.

So I used it to post ‘clever’ things about the work day and quality assurance and to chit chat with other testers.

But a couple of years ago, both my Twitter feed and Twitter started to change. Twitter decided to make its Notifications screen not a mention of tweets to you and retweets of your tweets, but also unrelated and trivial things, like noting that people you follow followed someone or liked the tweet of someone, and it started to make recommendations for you. We’ll get to that in a moment.

I also found that the tweets on the feed were becoming mostly political. In the embryonic stage of the #MeToo moment, the women testers on my feed started talking about the gender disparity in tech, and soon that overran my feed since men either agreed or moved on. Once that started, and perhaps somewhere at or after 2012, the formerly tech-specific people I followed were all-politics most-of-the-time. Twitter wasn’t fun any more.

I still log in once every couple of months to see if I’ve missed and Direct Messages (I have not; the last DM I have is from former reader and commenter John Farrier, and that’s from years ago).

When I logged in yesterday, all of the above culminated in this “recommendation:”

Clearly, Twitter is not sharing data with Facebook, where the political leanings silo puts me to the right of the Birchers.

So, does Twitter recommend this particular vocal representative to me because:

  • A lot of people I follow follow her?
  • A lot of people I follow are left wing, so I must be left wing, too, so here’s someone else who is left wing?
  • The congressional representative or some shadowy dark money enterprise paid Twitter to suggest her a lot?
  • Twitter, the company, the organization, the entity, wants me to follow her?

Given the opacity of Big Tech and its algorithms, it could be any of them.

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