Microsoft has the Answer

And they are: Visual Studio (its IDE), F# (its Functional language), and Azure (its cloud).

I have all of them, and am busy reading all about them. One example, is this posting on a Microsoft blog .NET Microservices: Architecture for Containerized .NET Applications. The buzzwords here are Microservices and Docker Containers – hot stuff! The link here will not work for you, you will have to download it for yourself.

Right now, I am downloading Visual Studio Preview 3 – the very latest one. Microsoft knows none of its products is perfect – and it is continually improving them.

Microsoft wants you to spend so much time with it, you will ignore the competition – Amazon and Google. So far, I am willing to do this.

China Is Perfecting a New Method For Suppressing Dissent On the Internet

Slashdot

The Chinese government has long been suspected of hiring as many as 2,000,000
people to surreptitiously insert huge numbers of pseudonymous and other deceptive
writings into the stream of real social media posts, as if they were the genuine opinions
of ordinary people. Many academics, and most journalists and activists, claim
that these so-called “50c party” posts vociferously argue for the government’s side in
political and policy debates. As we show, this is also true of the vast majority of posts
openly accused on social media of being 50c. Yet, almost no systematic empirical
evidence exists for this claim, or, more importantly, for the Chinese regime’s strategic
objective in pursuing this activity. In the first large scale empirical analysis of
this operation, we show how to identify the secretive authors of these posts, the posts
written by them, and their content. We estimate that the government fabricates and
posts about 448 million social media comments a year. In contrast to prior claims,
we show that the Chinese regime’s strategy is to avoid arguing with skeptics of the
party and the government, and to not even discuss controversial issues. We infer that
the goal of this massive secretive operation is instead to regularly distract the public
and change the subject, as most of the these posts involve cheerleading for China,
the revolutionary history of the Communist Party, or other symbols of the regime.
We discuss how these results fit with what is known about the Chinese censorship
program, and suggest how they may change our broader theoretical understanding of
“common knowledge” and information control in authoritarian regimes.


These researchers use the techniques of Data Mining – where huge amounts of data can be scanned, multiple times – searching for useful information. The search techniques can be continually refined – yielding better and better results.

The huge efforts of Chinese Government to deceive its people – can be easily exposed, to Americans who read Slashdot. But the Chinese people have no access to these discoveries.

F# is part of .NET

I am out of my depth here, I might as well confess. I am in the company of very smart people – when my own smarts are very limited.

They are telling me about Using Func<> in C# to Represent Functions – as if I were a child, which in this context, I might as well be.

Microsoft first developed .NET – a very powerful thing, that almost defies explanation – and to make matters worse, keeps upgrading it – making it even better.

It saw the importance of Functional Programming – quite to its credit – and added F# to its C# language, and even worked it into Azure – its own cloud. It does not fit very comfortably in either place – it is too advanced.

This is one of Microsoft’s biggest problems – it is too advanced.

But does not realize this.

Is Artificial Intelligence Intelligent?

For anyone who has been around the Computer Industry – the answer here is easy “Of course not!” There is so much stupid behavior going on there, it’s unbelievable. And some of that behavior is almost criminal – so much so, I can hardly stand it.

And if the question applies to the Development of Software, and its amazing results – I have to say “You guys are smart, and you are making better computers – but you cannot make better people – and that is what counts!”

Take an example of basic computer coding:

If a then b
Else if c, then d
Else if e, then f

The number of lines of code can be as many as desired.

Is this intelligent behavior?

No, because it can only solve problems that the programmer knows about. It has no general problem-solving capabilities in itself.

Let me take another example – the intelligence of dogs. When I was in high school one of my fellow-students was telling one of our teachers who clever his hunting dogs were. Her response startled me “Dogs are not intelligent, as anyone who has been to college knows!”

Stupid teacher!

But I must return to the subject at hand – the intelligence of computers. Computers can now translate between languages – and do this very well! They can analyze huge amounts of data – and find information there that they have been instructed to look for “What kind of products are this person likely to buy?” “What kind of person is this person likely to vote for?”

In any case, the Program is doing what it is told to do.

Nevertheless, some people claim that computers are now smart enough to start thinking on their own – and this day is not far off!

Stupid people!

Cryptocurrency exchange operator indicted over massive bitcoin laundering scam

Finextra

Do I understand this? Not really, but I can understand the main idea – fraudsters are active everywhere – and they can penetrate some of the latest technologies.

“BTC-e was noted for its role in numerous ransomware and other cyber-criminal activity; its take-down is a significant accomplishment, and should serve as a reminder of our global reach in combating transnational cyber crime,” says Special Agent in Charge of the USSS Criminal Investigative Division Michael D’Ambrosio.

Looks like there are still some good guys around – working for the Government, but also working for us.

Audible and Its Software

I am an avid listener of recorded books – and Audible has dominated that market. But I am dissatisfied with its software – that is getting worse and worse.

Their software has two functions (1) download files from Audible to the user’s computer, and (2) transfer these files to the user’s player. I prefer the Sansa Clip Zip player, a tiny thing, that can play music files and Audible files also. Audible has never done a good job of supporting this – and now does not support it at all.

It did all this with its Audible Manager, an app that resides on the user’s computer. After I did the latest update to it, however, it does not work with the Clip Zip – but does work with my Amazon Fire tablet!

Audible is owned by Amazon – that has excellent software, the best in the industry – and it has made sure its Fire tablet works with Audible. But it is not interested in supporting anyone else’s player.

It’s strategy has been simple – first dominate the market, and then benefit from that dominance. And it wants to keep everyone else out of its market – its own walled garden.

You Gotta Realize How Bad Things Are

How many times have I said this? Times without number. How many times have people listened to me? As far as I know – none at all.

That’s life.

I have to say, by contrast – that some things are working very well. I have new issue of National Geographic in my inbox – that is loaded with good stuff, I’m sure. That it wants to tell people about – whether they want to know about it, or not.

Most people do not want to know. They are in too much pain already – and they don’t want more.

I found a new video that explains F#, using Visual Studio – that I have and want to learn more about. I wrote my first program (following the instructions, very carefully) that worked, but was very slow. VS was busy in the background, when I ran it this morning – trying to find out why.

Microsoft is an amazing mix of good and bad – but they seem to be doing this right.

I find that being around places where things are being done right – helps me to do right in my own life, also. The opposite is also true – being in bad places, makes you do bad also.

And there are a whole lot of these.