Saturday, September 29, 2018

Natron: The Open Source Compositor


I asked around for an open source compositor and no one knew of anything.  So much for my friends in the motion picture industry.

I looked on the Internet and found one.  It is called Natron.

Now the good news and the bad news:

1. Good news is that it seems to be very complete.

2. Good news is that it is easy to install on Centos.

3. Bad news is that the documentation sucks.  My guess is that there is a forum somewhere you are supposed to use, good luck finding it and using it.

4. My feeling, before much use, is that this is a very annoying but interesting tool and we are lucky to have it.  I recommend you download the source and keep it around because god only knows how long it will be around and "supported".

5. I am not going to add a link here because it will probably be out of date within nanoseconds.  Look it up yourself and good luck.

Friday, September 28, 2018

My Local Congressman


Just for fun, I go to my local Congressman's office. As you can see, the notice on the door indicates that the door is locked at all times. So I knock and talk to a very confused woman who did not understand why I would be bothering them about this supreme court thing. We have nothing to do with that, she explained, as if to an idiot. I said I was concerned, she said, so? I wondered if they were organizing any protests. Now I could tell she was really worried. For all she knew, I would become violent at any moment. She redirected me to local Unitarian church, I guess her attitude was that it was stupid to approach one's congressman. I guess they were just too busy to worry about what a constituent thought about their government.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Gainful Employment, Society is At Fault


Fragment of a larger essay.

I had the misfortune of working at RAND as a college drop out and being part of the early ARPA community, and that set expectations for the workplace which have not been met. Symbolics (an MIT AI Lab spinoff was part of this enlightened conspiracy, so was the MIT Media Lab in its earlier Architecture Machine form). I blame society because I was treated so well to begin with.

No Single Cause of the Disaster


Every month or so since November 2016 I have read an analysis of why Trump (did not) win the election and each time someone says that "this is the true and only reason".  But it is almost certainly the case that no one reason can be identified for the simple reasons that (a) Trump won on a technical having lost the popular vote by a lot and (b) there were so many anomalies.

I maintain that nothing is clear, there was no single cause of this disaster. A failed constitution, right-wing voter fraud, independent and democratic voter indifference, a condidate who utterly failed to connect to an important part of the democratic base, the destructive influence of social media, russian intelligence disruption of the civic discourse, and of course collusion between the criminal right wing candidate with the foreign intelligence services all conspired to create a situation where a flawed constitution could be used to install a right wing thug as president. It was not one thing.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Gainful Employment, The Backstory


Several friends have expressed concern about my lack of traditonal employment (or non-traditional employment) and have offered to help.  I appreciate their offer very much.  Its just that the situation is complicated and there are many things, boring things, that they do not or may not know.

But I want to thank everyone for thinking of me.  Yes, its important.  Yes, pretty much all my friends and certainly those who have volunteered to give me advice have probably done better than I in so many ways.

So lets go over some of these issues.

1. I made choices that resulted in taking risks.  Those risks did not pan out, and combined with unexpected health related issues, means that there are non-traditional gaps on my resume. The generic job opening can not accomodate this without special pleading.  Applying over the internet in some anonymous fashion will not work.

2. In fact, applying for a random job over the internet has never worked.

3. I generally have to think about a job before I apply for it.  Its important to me to feel as though, were I to get the job, that I would do well at it. But this approach does not match the "internet clusterfuck apply in quantity and pray" strategy.  That is right, it doesn't.

4. For better or worse, there are health considerations and not every job can accomodate these things.

5. Money has never been important.  What has been important has been the people I work with and the organization I work for.  Think RAND Corporation, Symbolics (MIT AI spinoff), MASS ILLUSION or the American Museum of Natural History. It can be hard to predict these things I admit.  I had a wonderful time consulting to Viacom in various guises, but that had to do with special circumstances and special people.

6. Its hard to be quanititative about this, but quite a few of my work experiences have involved being abused by management or my fellow workers.  But that would never happen in an elite place like RAND.  So it behooves me to work in such a place and avoid places where management does not protect its people.

7. You can learn technology all you want on your own, but being employable in a field means full time dedication and resources to learn and keep up with that specific field.  So you are not just going to be a web developer, you are going to dedicate your life to web development if you want a job in it. I dont want a job in it.

8. Regarding entrepreneurial activity.  I decided I did not want to try that again with out money.  Now that I have learned that getting a job is impossible, I may as well have abused myself through stupid attempts to be entrepreneurial without money.  It would have been more fun.  Live and learn, I guess.

I could go on, but there is no point.  If you want to help, the best way to do so is to introduce me to someone who might have some project or position where there might be a fit.  A few friends have tried this and it has almost worked, or worked for short periods.  But sadly it has not worked in the long run.

I appreciate your time very much.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Further Thoughts on the Google / DOD / AI Controversy


On further reflection, I am taking back my criticism about the whole Google/US Military kerflop (if thats a word).  I thought it was odd for employees of Google to refuse to do an AI military project given the role of the US Military (aka DARPA) in inventing and supporting AI and in particular computer science at Stanford.  But now I think they have a very reasonable point to make, or might be making, since after all, I dont really know what people at Google think, since what I know comes from the news media and has not gone into much depth.

Several people who know at least as much as I do about the history of AI and post war computer science dispute my assertion(s) about the role of the military elite in the creation of those fields, and the fact is that all I have are my impressions, not the result of serious research into the details of what I think I know on the subject.  So often in the past my impressions have been entertaining but by no means the whole story.

But even if I have a minor point to make about the history of science and technology, other considerations far outweigh this.

These considerations include (a) Our military has been voluntary since Vietnam, so it should certainly be the case that wherever original funding may have come from, people should be able to choose whether or not they work on a military project.  (b) When they chose Google there was absolutely no reason to think that they would be involved in such a project (directly at least, indirectly is another kettle of fish), (c) Google is an international company and their reputation and success may depend on not being perceived as being directly involved with the military, any military, given the bad reputation such militaries have, (d) Other companies that work for the federal government directly (e.g. by taking contracts with the IRS or the DOD) generally set up a separate company or division to deal with such things.  Thus their employees can make the conscious choice to work with such a company or division or not.  I am sure that not all such choices may be entirely voluntary (e.g. we have a project for you over here, you can take the project or be unemployed) but even so, it gives people fair warning about what is up.  And last, but not least, (e) As much as I respect our military, it is the tool  of our political elite, and our elite has been involved in questionable military adventure after adventure in my lifetime.  However much I may respect various aspects of our military, which is iteslef a long discussion, there can be no argument that they are often put to the most appalling use and it is completely reasonable to try and live ones' life without out being involved in such things, at least as much as is possible given that we must all swim in the same ocean.

Finally, and last but not least, to the best of my knowlege, Google has been very open about their work and research, and there is nothing preventing another company from doing this sort of work.  In fact, since working with the US Government is such a complicated thing to do, it is likely that this other company (whether new or existing) might do more of what the DOD really needs.

In other words, even if I maintain (provisionally) my point about the history of technology, there are plenty of other reasons for Google to abstain from this work if their employees so request.

This post is just a work in progress and its very clear to me I dont know the whole story.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Droll or Not I Plan to Continue


Whether or not I am droll, or mean spirited, or whatever I am being called these days, I am sorry to have to report that I plan to keep on expressing myself.  Yes, I knew it was a danger that people would actually get to know what I am like, but that was known going in and so here we are.

I seem to attract people who want to abuse me because of my good nature.  And yes I have been damaged by such people.  But I will keep speaking out, anyway.  Why not?

I definitely get treated badly.