ashnistrike: (lightning)
The 2nd issue of Crowded Magazine is out, with "The Jester's Child" available within.  Transhuman starving artists take in a stray mortal child, and have to decide where their priorities really lie.
ashnistrike: (lightning)
Thank you to everyone who shared data on phone plans.  After some discussion, we decided to stay with our current provider after all, for a single smartphone.  S will stick with a plan-free dumb phone for now, and in a few months when the budget gets more predictable we'll try out the cheap smartphone plan that [livejournal.com profile] danceswthcobras suggested.

So I now have a lovely new Samsung Galaxy S2 with Android, and like everything about it except that, like all smartphones, it doesn't actually fit in my hand.  I'll cope, but I'm a little sad for the passing of tiny flip-top communicators.  Be that as it may, I'm now in the much more fun stage of finding apps.  I once again seek suggestions.

My app aesthetic is that anything that's cluttering up my screen should take advantage of the fact that this is a small, portable device with GPS and/or camera.  Carbon footprint calculator that would work fine on a laptop except that I wouldn't have to squint?  No thank you.  Something that tells me the carbon footprint of the trip I'm taking right now?  Much more interesting.

I'm particularly looking for

  • a shopping list program that can pull up coupons for things I'm already planning on buying, but that is primarily an easy way to track needs and purchases.  Bonus for comparing prices at the stores I visit most often without me having to enter them by hand.  Bonus for pulling up sustainability information.

  • a packing list program as good as Packing Pro is supposed to be, but for Android--one where I can create sublists to add or subtract from a given trip (e.g., a "con costuming" list that means I don't have to remember, every Wiscon, that we need both my belt pouch and S's gloves)

  • good naturalist identification programs--what's that bird?  What's this plant?

  • Anything that will tell me cool things I didn't know about the space around me--for example, right now I've got Google Field Trip running, and it tells me about historic events that happened along my commute.

  • A Twitter client that will let me easily flip between my lists, with one click to open a new message window.  I tried Twicca, which is well-reviewed but doesn't seem to work on my phone.  Right now I'm stuck with the standard Twitter app.

  • A widget that will let me access my camera from my home page.  Maybe this is something in settings, rather than a separate app?

  • A good face recognition app--I don't think this actually exists yet.

  • Apps that can distract toddlers without driving me up a tree.  That means no talking, and the option of turning off sound when the point is to keep the kid quiet for a few precious minutes.  I know I've seen these around--apps that create colorful lines or fireworks trailing behind your fingers.  Right now the best thing I can find is a sort of minimal bubble-blowing-and-popping app.

  • Good adult fidget apps.  May overlap with the toddler apps.

  • Interesting sustainability/environment apps with some sort of enhanced reality component

  • Physiological measurement and tracking--pulse rate, sleep quality, etc.

  • A traffic avoidance program known to work well in the Northeast.

  • apps to facilitate taking over the world and/or showing them all

  • Other things you've found particularly useful or fun.

The future is kind of a strange place.
ashnistrike: (Default)
So, the economy being what it is, and the household budget currently including a substantial behavioral oscillation effect*, we're doing holiday buying a little closer to home this year.  We are trying to give gifts, in order of declining preference:

-home-made or crafted by us--we have what we hope are some nifty ideas along these lines.
-home-made, crafted, or written by people in our community (in-person or on-line).
-items where the money will go to small crafters or other individuals, rather than big companies.

For the latter two, I'm looking for pimpage and suggestions.  Running a cottage business out of your dorm room?  Know a friend with an awesome Etsy shop?  F-List member of an F-List member with an awesome Etsy shop?  Let me know in the comments**.

Some of my favorites:

-[livejournal.com profile] elisem , as most of you probably already know, posts amazing titled shinies about once a week.  Prices range from $15 earrings to $500 necklace crowns.
-GEEKitty makes, among other things, catnip-filled One Rings and D20s
-[personal profile] naamah_darling sells steampunkish baubles and awesome painted bones at her Etsy shop.


*That is a much-too-obscure psychology joke, but the meaning should be apparent regardless.
**Disclaimer: No guarantees of us actually buying anything from any particular source, obviously, especially if the oscillation effect increases.
ashnistrike: (Default)
R.U. Sirius explains "Why Chicks Don’t Dig the Singularity." (Apparently it's because they haven't dropped enough acid at Burning Man. Also because they enjoy, like, social interaction, and don't enjoy science fiction or computers.)

Read more... )
Then again, maybe the future is just not a girl thing.
ashnistrike: (Default)
This is sheer, unadulterated procrastination, but possibly it will help. Because I have a pile of transhumanist and anti-transhumanist books on my desk, and I want to smack the authors of all of them.

Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near.

Posited: "Evolution" can be charted on a graph of state changes, starting with the emergence of life and including major technological developments. Humans are a step above non-sapient animals. Strong AI will be a step above us.

Conclusion: The AIs we create will be intensely grateful to us and devoted to our well-being.

Unstated assumption required for this chain of logic to work: Humans have been utterly devoted to the well-being of our evolutionary predecessors.

SMACK!


Michael Crichton, Prey. (Skip to the next SMACK, if you don't want the whole plot spoiled.)

Set-up: A new military camera is created, using a swarm of flying nanobots. Their movements are based on an artificial life program, in turn based on the movements, but not the actual motivations or hunting behavior, of a population of generic predators. An evolutionary programming algorithm, not entirely in control of the programmers, is used to produce swarms that don't blow apart in a strong wind.

Result: The swarms develop A) the ability to not blow apart in a strong wind, B) a method of drawing energy by eating meat (note, need not be human--they just happen to be carnivores), C) sapience (strong AI), and D) the ability to create utility fog (highly advanced nanotech, capable of eliminating poverty and reliance on non-renewable resources forever).

Conclusion: The only possible way to deal with a fellow sapient that speaks English, has already demonstrated a capacity for becoming fond of humans, and knows that you basically have a gun to its head... is to destroy it entirely, without getting records of how it developed technologies that could save millions of lives.

Bonus Assumption: A developmental psychologist, given the opportunity for first contact with a non-human intelligence, would have to be out of her mind to want to test its mental capacities.

SMACK!


Bill McKibben, Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age.

Posited: "Just because I'm writing an anti-technological screed doesn't mean I'm a luddite."

In Support: Overview of several upcoming genetic technologies, described in such a way as to get the maximum possible kneejerk negative reaction. Use of rhetorical questions about "Is this a good idea?" to which the reader is obviously supposed to answer "No," but to which my answer is, "Well, maybe."

SMACK!


Martin Rees, Our Final Hour.

I haven't picked this one up yet, but it came out in 2003. Perhaps he ought to change the title.

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