This is the story of how the UK banking system could have collapsed in the early 1990s, but for the forbearance of a junior barrister who also happened to be an expert in computer law – and who discovered that at that time the computing department of one of the banks issuing ATM cards had “gone rogue”, cracking PINs and taking money from customers’ accounts with abandon.
The Porter stemming algorithm (or ‘Porter stemmer’) is a process for removing the commoner morphological and inflexional endings from words in English. Its main use is as part of a term normalisation process that is usually done when setting up Information Retrieval systems.
Picture a computer keyboard. Picture a computer screen. Now picture a keyboard where every key is a tiny little screen. Now go take a look: Art. Lebedev Studio: Optimus keyboard
Moore’s Law, the guiding principle that has driven the computer chip industry, celebrates its 40th birthday this week.
The “law” was adopted after Intel co-founder Gordon Moore wrote in a 1965 article that the number of transistors on a chip would double every 24 months
Synergy lets you easily share your mouse and keyboard between multiple computers on your desk, and it’s Free and Open Source. Just move your mouse off the edge of one computer’s screen on to another. You can even share all of your clipboards. All you need is a network connection. Synergy is cross-platform (works on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux).
“What?!” people would cry, almost physically recoiling with shock, “you’re still using dial-up?!”. The thing was, I liked my deliberately crippled little internet. I liked the fact that the web didn’t play music at me or coax me into filling hard-drive after hard-drive with media files. I liked the fact that only the good things worked: the fast, efficient, lean and mean things flew in while the bloated crap stayed away. But most of all, I liked the fact that the internet was something that went on somewhere else: I wasn’t surfing so much as spectating, and I could pull the plug as I wished.
I think the real problem was that I liked the thinternet too much, and I spent more and more time using it. But, with the passing of time, it “improved” (as in: got more and more bloated until became unusable). So, I wasn’t simply spending time doing more things, I was spending more time doing things. I can’t remember exactly what it was that provoked it but, one morning in late spring, I snapped. I needed bandwidth, and fast.
People often comment that the leap from coding to carpentry seems giant. Not so: the two professions are more closely related than is initially obvious. In the IT industry, it’s tempting to think that we’re riding on the leading edge of existence: that every day we’re breaking new ground, advancing ever forward, and taking or species to new and uncharted heights. Again, not so. While the materials and language may be new and sparkly, we’re merely recycling our aptitude for much older skills.
I work closely with a decorator, and it interests me that we have almost perfectly complementary skills. While he is highly skilled at painting, preparation, plastering and puttying, he freely admits to being disasterously bad at anything to do with wood. Similarly, I can’t paint for toffee and my plastering skills are a joke. The moment I crack open a can of paint, you know disaster is only minutes away. Fortunately we know our own and each other’s limitations, meaning we can usually avoid major tool-throwing, expletive-inducing catastrophies. It also means that if we’re tacking something new, and either he or I are finding it frustratingly difficult or boring, the chances are that the other will probably take to it much more easily.
About two months ago, I began a project to build a computer program that could learn by probability. I’m not going to write up all the details just yet—only those relevant to this particular story.
As mammals, humans are equipped with emotional reflexes. Fear, for example, allows us not only to become physically prepared for a threat, but also to recall and calculate the events caused by previous threats to aid us in making judgements regarding the supposed imminent threat. Basically, we are designed to learn on a very basic and fundamental level.
Computers do not yet have such sophisticated capabilities. The concept of learning is one of the great challenges facing the information age. However, I came up with the idea of allowing a computer to carry out simple learning processes loosely based on the human emotional reflex—i.e. assess how to handle a piece of information by assessing how previous information was handled. I refer to these processes as the Cohesive Learning Engine.