Archive for May, 2006

Organic Photovoltaics

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006
  1. photon
  2. exciton
  3. polarons

  4. profit!

Leveraging Ideas

Monday, May 29th, 2006

To me there is one important difference between powerful ideas and ideas that are merely correct. Powerful ideas are transferrable. Powerful ideas are usually also correct to a certain degree, but the mindless pursuit of pedantic correctness can often be counterproductive.

Great ideas are great because of their influence on other ideas, and as such are necessarily powerful. In fact, I believe that many great ideas do not even have correct first incarnations. The fact that they are powerful allows the thinker to patch up superficial inconsistencies or realize that another important problem had in fact been solved. I believe great novelty and robustness often exists outside of details.

It is good to have a nose for powerful ideas. I have seen plenty of the opposite: correct solutions that require so much tedious, error-prone, slow, detailed work that they do not empower the reader at all. Worse still, there are those who are oblivious to this kind of failure, and who continue to pour effort into repetitive drudgerous tasks. These tasks are done only once, but are classified as repetitive in my mind because in doing them one does not learn how to do them any faster.

Of course, in completing the same task two people could learn really different lessons, what’s repetitive to one may not be repetitive to another.

Academia as a Career

Saturday, May 27th, 2006

Article about how it really doesn’t make sense to go into academia.. I can’t seem to refute this, haha.


Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

Just saw the best argument against DRM today on Slashdot.

Opportunist (166417):

DRM does not only prevent copies. It allows you to retroactively void information, provided you have power over the keys to that information. If an information is no longer to be viewable, it can be erased. Including the copy you have on your computer. Its key is no longer valid, you can no longer view it. No, you couldn’t print it in the first place to have a hard copy that can’t be erased.

DRM is, in fact, the ability to recreate and reshape statements. While it won’t be as blatant as in 1984, where the announcer changes the name of the enemy mid sentence, it is going to be used, albeit more subtle. Whistleblowing will be incredibly hard, since you won’t have any evidence to back up your claim. The evidence you had will vanish, since there won’t be a key to unlock it anymore when you need it. Your key, the key you used when you were still allowed to view the information, will be deleted.

DRM is BY FAR more than the “threat” that we won’t be able to use our CD writers anymore. The real danger is that you can commit a crime and pretty much flush any evidence, if you’re in a position of power to create and delete keys to it.

NYT quotes LKY

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

NYT quotes LKY

“We’re not going to allow foreign correspondents or foreign journalists or anybody else to tell us what to do,” he said. “There are very few things that I do not know about Singapore politics, and there are very few things that you can tell me, or any foreign correspondent can tell me, about Singapore.”

I don’t believe that there is anything intrinsically wrong with arrogance. It’s just that most arrogance is a kind of ignorance.

Media Lab

Thursday, May 11th, 2006

There was an article on Slashdot about a recent Media Lab product: essentially a bag with a hole in it. Here are some comments I agree with:

It’s a freaking PDA screen showing through a hole cut in the bag. The Media lab keeps getting lamer and lamer.

– MustardMan

Journal Entry – 8 August 2017

Got to work at 8:30. Pradesh, my cubicle-mate arrives ten minutes later, muttering Hindi obscenities. He’s wearing plaid pants in a pattern so garish that it would make a Scotsman commit suicide.

“Yo, Prad. What’s up with the slacks? You rent Braveheart IV last night?”

“Good gracious, no,” he repies. “Someone hacked my pants on the No. 6 train.”

We spent most of the morning doing a system restore on his trousers. Got them rolled back to pinstripes just before lunch.

– ktakki

I thought MIT was a leading technology school. How come we keep seeing this lame crap coming from them? OMG, I twisted some cat5e into a pony and had a fashion show. Or, I cut a hole in a bag so my PDA would show through. Aren’t these best and brightest supposed to be working on cool things like figuring out how to mass manufacture a fabric with OLEDs? Stop posting this crap.

I know of some pretty lame media lab research too.


Tuesday, May 9th, 2006

I can trust that I know myself, at least, better than anyone else does. From this sovereignty flows firm convictions about improvement and happiness, about the manifest desires and ambitions that power my core, and how they instantiate and tie together the actionable principles on the surface. I am whole, and I must accept that. I cannot learn in part, I know only complete assimilation. I do not condone indefinite quarantine – every datum eventually gets discarded or reaches core. This is the sincerity of my thought, the monolithicity of my relativism, the justice of my ways.

Brain Rot

Monday, May 8th, 2006

Do you ever get the feeling that the company was friendly and all, but seriously causing you brain rot?

Should I go to Graduate School?

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006

The writer talks about how graduate school is not a decision to be taken lightly. The part I really like is here:

Academia, especially in the humanities and the social sciences, is a total culture. It colonizes most aspects of your life. You are never not an academic–the little mental tape recorder is on all the time, or it had better be if you want to be good at this life. Anything is grist for my mill as a teacher and a scholar, and that is as it should be. Graduate school is, if anything, even more totalizing than this. It gets into your pores.

I guess it really isn’t that bad in the sciences. I have met dedicated students, but not too many people who connect what they learn to the world around obsessively, which I tend to do sometimes. I think graduate school just isn’t that total for most students in science, although for what reason I am not quite sure. Maybe it has to do with the fact that you can get a normal job with a science degree, or maybe it is because science is so well funded that there is a wider range of motivations among its practitioners.

Wikipedia in China

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006

This story from the Washington Times gives an account of the short history of wikipedia in China. What it tells me is that with the right technology, China is capable of change from within. I think that is a very nice message. Given the current popularity of forums and Instant Messaging in China and how hard they are to control, I think coming up with software to replicate the Wikipedia effect without having to cross the Great Firewall is possible. It might even involve those Trust Metrics I’m so excited about at the moment.