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Henk Devos Henk's Random Thoughts February 2004 Entries
Lori's new blog
Lori Lockwood can really make me sick. So be warned: If you ever catch her coming out of a Romanian hospital, couching, taking anti biotics, and saying she's all better: Stay away from her. Fortunately, we can now safely read her blog from a different continent, without any risk. When Lori left Lockergnome, she also had to give up on "Lori's Lovely Life". Until now. Welcome back Lori! Now just try to get the comments working ......

Posted On Sunday, February 29, 2004 7:28 PM

Ants
Ants are very dumb little creatures. They don't know how to do anything. They just seem to do everything at random. Ant colonies, by contrast, are smart, and can accomplish complex tasks. Ants normally wander around at random. When they find food, they take it to their nest and leave a pheromone trail behind. However, their random behavior is not completely random. The probabilities are influenced by pheromones. When there are more pheromones, there is a bigger chance that they will take this direction. ......

Posted On Sunday, February 29, 2004 5:44 PM

A trojan called Windows
Subject:SPAM - First Warning Imagine my surprise when i received this email from my ISP. They claimed they had received complaints about spam that was being sent through my account. Maybe i had a virus or open relay? Of course at first i thought it was just a case of spoofed email address or spoofed IP number, and my ISP being to dumb to see that. When i asked them, they said sent me a copy of the malicious email. They seemed to be right: My IP address seemed to have been used as a relay. But i run ......

Posted On Saturday, February 28, 2004 6:39 PM

Ross Perot at work
I read this anecdote in a newsgroup. (posted by Alan Canton) For part of my time as a SED, I was Ross's assistant. Not a glamour job... just a go-fer. He called me "little fella" as I was about the only person in the company shorter than he was. We used to talk all the time about stuff and I learned a lot. I once went into his office and said, "Ross, how do you sell EDS services?" In his twangy Texan accent he said, "Well, little fella, what we do is go in to the client's ......

Posted On Monday, February 23, 2004 6:33 AM

E = mc² + hc/λ
An amateur researcher claims he has formulated a unified physics theory. No strings attached, just a generalization of Einstein's relativity, and everything else, including quantum theory, follows from it. Sounds very interesting, but i'm no physicist, just a mere computer nerd, so i have no idea if it has any value. All those Physics PhD's reading this, please comment. Read the theory here ......

Posted On Sunday, February 22, 2004 9:54 PM

How fiction becomes reality
We all know what is said when someone is arrested: You have the right to remain silent. Everything you say can and will be used against you in thr court of law. We have seen this so many times that we think that's how it goes. But in reality, this text is only used in the state California (where Hollywood is located) and is used before an interrogation, not at the time of arrest. So when we see something enough in fiction, we think that's how it goes. When we are placed in the same situation, we ......

Posted On Wednesday, February 18, 2004 7:47 AM

A new kind of science
After 20 years of hard work, Stephen Wolfram, the original developer of Mathematica (a mathematical software package) has released his book A New Kind of Science. The book is now available online. An excerpt: If theoretical science is to be possible at all, then at some level the systems it studies must follow definite rules. Yet in the past throughout the exact sciences it has usually been assumed that these must be the ones based on traditional mathematics. But the crucial realization that led ......

Posted On Tuesday, February 17, 2004 8:42 PM

Pheromemes
Memes are just as selfish as genes: all they really care about is their own survival and reproduction. For a meme to be good at reproduction, there are no objective qualities involved such as truth, beauty and the like. Conspiracy theories that have no ground are usually much more popular than well founded theories that happen tio be true. Even memes that lead to a certain death can be very popular: For example suicide bombing. But just like humans can use genetical manipulation to put genes to their ......

Posted On Tuesday, February 17, 2004 5:44 PM

Windows source code is excellent
A few days ago, large parts of the Windows NT and Windows 2000 source code were leaked onto the internet. The leak includes the source code for the Windows 2000 shell. One lucky guy who gained access to this source code shares his comments. The commenter says: the quality of the code is generally excellent. Modules are small, and procedures generally fit on a single screen. The commenting is very detailed about intentions, but doesn't fall into "add one to i" redundancy. I am not at all ......

Posted On Tuesday, February 17, 2004 5:20 PM

The world, my computer
If god exists, only programmers can really understand how he works. In the beginning there was nothing. Then he started running his program, and space and time started to emerge. If it would be possible to build a big enough computer, we could run a simulation of the universe that would be exactly the same. If this simulated would would contain life, would this be real or simulated life? The creatures living in the simulation would certainly think their world is the only real world, and they could ......

Posted On Tuesday, February 17, 2004 5:10 PM

ESWC 2004
The decision has been made: The European ShareWare Conference 2004 (ESWC) will be held in Strassbourg. I'm quite happy with that: Still very close, hopefully better weather than Cologne, and a place i haven't been to before. I hope to see many people there. The exact dates are not known yet but it will be in November. See also this article in The Guardian ......

Posted On Monday, February 16, 2004 8:41 AM

Cells build cells
The world is filled with cells. These cells are the basic building blocks of life. The cells are themselved complex structures with molecules and smaller cells that work together in synergy, each part carrying out a specific task, so that the cell can perform its tasks as a whole. Cells live together in large colonies. These colonies are commonly known as humans. The cells work together in synergy, each performing a specific task, so that the colony can perform its tasks as a whole. Colonies of cells ......

Posted On Sunday, February 15, 2004 4:32 PM

Windows Terrorism
From The Register: [Microsoft] has repeatedly stressed that it cannot disclose some aspects of its code to rivals for security reasons. If they could see it, it would leak, and then evil terrorists would be able to break into Windows more easily. What does this mean? Does it mean that every Microsoft employee with access to the windows source code is able to break into Windows? Or would the source code make clear that there are certain backdoors built into windows? Is every Microsoft employee so ......

Posted On Friday, February 13, 2004 6:37 PM

Windows 2000 source on the net
It seems like (parts of) Windows 2000 source code have been posted on the internet.
Doesn anyone have more information on this?

Posted On Friday, February 13, 2004 8:12 AM

CodeProject
I have always been very enthousiast about the CodeProject site In the early days (when the CodeGuru site had been taken over, and CodeProject was started as a replacement) i was one of the first members, wrote some of the first articles, and was an editor for some time. I even think i played an important role in making the CodeProject site the number 1 site for shell programming, by writing the first articles in this area and thus attracting programmers who wrote similar articles. The site soon became ......

Posted On Friday, February 13, 2004 7:36 AM

A new society - Part II
Acceptance of technology To understand how new technologies will change our life, we must first consider how new technologies get accepted. I am no expert at this, and what i write here is not based on any type of scientific research, but this is a necessary step to continue this discussion. It is striking that certain new technologies, such as cell phones and DVD players, get accepted easily, while others, such as personal computers, have to struggle for decades before getting a place in daily life. ......

Posted On Thursday, February 12, 2004 8:36 PM

Abusing your position
An employee of TuCows abused his position to promote his own software on the TuCows network and for other methods of obtaining personal financial gains.
Read about it here.

Posted On Thursday, February 12, 2004 7:36 AM

SHOpenPropSheetW
The function SHOpenPropSheetW is one of the functions that have been documented as part of the settlement between Microsoft and the DOJ. Take a look at the documentation. Let's see if you can figure out how to use it. Microsoft clains that the settlement interfaces were documented with the same level of detail as the other documentation. I have tried to use this function, not only based on the documentation but also based on further details i discovered by debugging Windows Explorer. But still i ......

Posted On Thursday, February 12, 2004 6:58 AM

The Rogue State
Since George W. Bush was elected President of the United States (or was he elected?), the rest of the world perceives the US as a rogue state. Today the US, a country that possesses weapons of mass desctruction (unlike other countries such as, say, Iraq), lead by a president who was not democratically elected, is considered an unreliable country, that doesn't wish to honor international treaties and conventions. The US is considered a threat to world piece. Today the world feels that the unreliable ......

Posted On Thursday, February 12, 2004 6:45 AM

In the beginning there was soup.
After the soup had existed for a very long time, self replicating molecules were formed in it. Of course since they were self replicating they soon started filling the whole soup, and many variations of these molecules were formed. The ones that could replicate the best and exist the longest in the environment survived. Later the molecules developed a protective membrane. These were cells. Now the molecules started to replicate the whole cell. Cells exchanged their molecules, united, and so on, to ......

Posted On Wednesday, February 11, 2004 7:58 PM

The human swarm
Our entire society can do many things that no individual human could ever do. The example i have given yesterday is producing cell phones: No human could ever do that. It is interesting to see that many concepts from modern AI and Artificial Life show up here: Emerging behavior: Complex behavior is emerging from many simpler behaviors. We can not explain the production of cell phones in terms of the simple behavior of separate human beings. Synergy: We use complex signals to help accomplish tasks. ......

Posted On Wednesday, February 11, 2004 7:41 AM

How do cell phones work?
I don't think anyone knows the answer. I don't think anyone knows how to make a cell phone. Sure, there are people who know how to put the parts together. Sure, there are also other people who know how to produce the processor inside it. And yes, there are people who know how the plastic and metal parts are produced. And there are even geeks like us who know how to do the programming, or even understand the complicated communication protocols used in a cell phone. But i don't think anyone knows how ......

Posted On Tuesday, February 10, 2004 5:24 PM

Reading your own files
The new Illustrator CS from Adobe can save files as PDF and can read PDF files. So far so good. But there are some problems. Illustrator will save layer information in the PDF file, either in the same format as Illustrator 10 or in the new PDF 1.5 format. But when you read the file back in, the layers are not recognised. Seems like a small bug. When you use Illustrator to open PDF files you created with Illustrator, you might also get some errors like "unknown shading type". Looks like Illustrator ......

Posted On Tuesday, February 10, 2004 6:34 AM

Scott
For those who didn't know it yet:
Scott Swedorski, founder of TuCows, left the company some time ago to start his new venture ProMaxum, a software promotion and review service.
Check it out!

Posted On Monday, February 9, 2004 7:24 PM

A new society - Part I
In his book "Flesh and Machines", Rodney A. Brooks, the father of modern Artificial Intelligence and director of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, claims that we are about to be simultaneously hit by two technological revolutions that together will fundamentally change our nature and the way we live. The first, the robotics revolution, will unleash intelligent autonomous robots into our everyday lives, changing our society and the ways we interact with machines. The ......

Posted On Monday, February 9, 2004 5:40 PM

Chat Bot
Those interested in Artificial Intelligence should try the chatbot. Although quite amusing, the bot is far away from passing any turing tests. The bot doesn't seem to have much context and memory. It seems to consider only the last 1 or 2 sentences in the conversation. It will also give the same answers many times. As someone points out in a newsgroup, when you ask how many fingers a bicycle has, it answers "four". So it doesn't seem to have sufficient knowledge of the world, but this is ......

Posted On Monday, February 9, 2004 8:36 AM

Linux state of mind
When i announced the release of NSELib, this was also discussed in the Linux community (for example in the newsgroup comp.os.linux.advocacy). This is the type of remarks i read: Just imagine that, they ask money for it! Hey have you seen that? They provide source code. Within a few days you can download it all from the internet. This guy probably doesn't know what he is talking about anyway. In other words, the normal way of thinking in the linux world seem to go like this: Software should be free. ......

Posted On Monday, February 9, 2004 7:03 AM

Conference Photos

Everyone likes pictures on the internet, so although they are already rather old, here goes:

My photos of ISDEF in Russia, september 2003.

My photos of ESWC in Germany, december 2003. Please note that i had a flu at the time and this is clearly visible...

Posted On Sunday, February 8, 2004 8:43 PM

Missing Docs - again!
Programming the Windows Shell is considered a very difficult discipline, only for one reason: Missing docs. I was hit by this again recently. The details shown under a file name in Tile View on Windows XP are determined like this: GetUIObjectOf is called to obtain an IQueryAssociations interface. This interface's GetString is called with the constant ASSOCSTR_TILEINFO. The format of the string returned is of the form "prop:{fmtid1} pid1;{fmtid2} pid2 Unfortunately, the docs on GetUIObjectOf don't ......

Posted On Sunday, February 8, 2004 8:32 PM

What happened to associative learning?
With so much research being done on Artificial Intelligence and learning, it is striking that all research seems to concentrate on reinforcement learning, while research on associative learning almost doesn't exist. When you do find research on associative learning, it seems to be reinforcement learning in disguise. What's up with this? The difference between associative learning and reinforcement learning Reinforcement learning means that an agent is rewarded for doing something right and punished ......

Posted On Sunday, February 8, 2004 8:13 PM

Where am i?
So here am I, Henk Devos, looking at my own writing... So here am I, Henk Devos, being read by my own eyes... The dilemma of Hamlet in Daniel C Dennet's "Where Am I", all over again. But the question you are asking should rather be: Who am I? And what is this blog about? This being my first entry, i can't answer this adequately yet. But the following will certainly come up: Windows Shell Programming Prepress and graphics software Artificial Intelligence and Artificial Life Shareware, Software marketing, ......

Posted On Sunday, February 8, 2004 7:01 PM

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