Off Into The Infinite Universe...

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This is for everyone who has a strange fascination with loopy structures, paradoxes, science, quantum physics, the nature of duality, the internet, cyber culture, philosophy, and any one who has stayed up into the late hours contemplating infinities.If any of you have any contributions for posts, paradoxes, mathematical infinities, or anything that has loopy nature send it to

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Meeting Your Doppelganger

This blog won't delve into the occult, superstition, or anything like that all too often, but this topic interests me to no end! Besides i look at this topic as more paradoxical in nature being that a person can't be in two places at once.

Picture this if you can, your walking down a busy street in a populated city trying to get to work. As you cross the street, masses of people are walking in the opposite direction, pushing and trying to get where they have to be. As your pushing your way through the mob of people, you take notice of who shoves and bumps into you while keeping the coffee in your hands from spilling... A business exec on his cell phone, a hipster girl holding a sketchbook, a musician holding a guitar, you holding a cup of coffee.. Wait what? You do a double take and sure enough your staring into the eyes of yourself.
You've just encountered your doppelganger, or "double walker" in German. The doppelganger has its root in mythology and was once said to be searching for you its whole life. Your doppelganger would spend its entire life trying to hunt you down and kill you while you go about your life completely unaware.
Also, the term doppelganger refers to seeing oneself in your peripheral vision. You be sitting in your apartment alone and suddenly see yourself sitting next to you. Either way seeing or meeting your doppelganger has generally been a very bad omen. Usually fore shadowing death.
They say that two types of doppelgangers exist. One is the ghostly apparition of a living person that basically exists as a harbinger of ill fortune. The second is a fully living person who is your exact double who is coming to find you as you read this. Of course there have been many reports of peaceful encounters with their double.

One of my favorite stories about this is of a school teacher in 1845 named Emilie Sagée. She was an Excellent teacher, loved by students and staff but she apparently have a doppelganger that shadowed her and was visible to many. One day as she was writing on the black board, a shadowy image of her appeared next to emilee, following her exact movements as she wrote. Thirteen students saw this happen. Another time, Emilee was eating dinner and from behind her, her double appeared mirroring the exact movements of her eating. One of the strangest events was when the school teacher was outside touring the gardens. The class room inside was being instructed by another teacher. 42 students were in the room and had a clear view of Emilee. The instructor inside the room noticed Emilee outside and left the room to go speak with her. The 42 students saw the double of emilee appear in the front of the room. The original emilee was still there talking though she looked tired. The new doppelganger emilee just sat motionless in the front of the room and stared into space soon vanishing. Emilie Sagée reported never to have seen her doppelganger but said that whenever someone reported it, she had felt tired and drained during the period it was seen.

This one I love:
In a case that suggests that doppelgangers might have something to do with time or dimensional shifts, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the 18th century German poet, confronted his doppelganger while riding on the road to Drusenheim. Riding toward him was his exact double, but wearing a gray suit trimmed in gold. Eight years later, von Goethe was again traveling on the same road, but in the opposite direction. He then realized he was wearing the very gray suit trimmed in gold that he had seen on his double eight years earlier! Had von Goethe seen his future self?

Has anyone encountered themselves? Their Nega? Or their doppelganger? Was it a peaceful meeting or did it result in an epic battle for your life? The thought that there's another me walking around makes me pretty uncomfortable, I'll admit. Share all stories in the comments section!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rotten Core to this Apple?

I was thrilled when I saw this article. About a month ago, I wrote a diatribe on here, about Staples and their deplorable business practices, and now out in the real news is an anonymous Apple employee doing the same. If you've ever been to a large mall in your area you may have seen the big white Apple stores. These medical looking stores look very sterile, clean, and quite frankly, pretty freaky. Minimilism is obviously what they're going for. You can touch, play and fondle all the available apple products. I really really despise going into these stores, the staff is always dressed down in tee shirts, trying to be "everyday" looking. I actually do own apple products, and find nothing wrong with their merchandise, but even I must admit, their marketing, and is so obnoxious. Apple started out as a small company that really strove to be different for the sake of change. Now because Apple is so mainstream, they just like being "different" for the sake of keeping up their facade. Anyway, this anonymous Apple employee, whom we'll call...'Aaron', gave us an inside look at an Apple retail store. What strikes me as the most glaring, is that Apple employees can actually lie to their customers about jail breaking, or switching carriers. All to make a buck. This is exactly what bothered me about Staples. Taking advantage of someone who doesn't know just so you can turn a profit. Like Staples, Apple employee's sales numbers are tracked and posted for other employee's to see. Which makes competition amongst employee's stiff, causing employee's to push the envelope further and further into getting better sales.
Has anyone here ever been lied to by an Apple employee? Has anyone had a good or bad experience at one of their stores?

Read the summary article for yourself, or pick up the full article in Popular Mechanics this month.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Vending Machine Hack?

Has anyone ever tried this? I'm curious to see if it actually works. Well as you know, for whatever reason, Soda Machines and I suppose Vending machines in general, are getting more elaborate. You should see the ones in my school, once you make a selection, this loud, overally dramatic sound hums out and this big mechanical arm reaches up, takes your selection from the shelf and gingerly drops it in the receptacle. All these flashy doo-dads and crap require some sort of programming, meaning they, with the right amount of knowledge can be hacked. Let me preface this by saying, following this will lead to theft, it should be tried with just the advantage of knowledge and pure fun.

What you'll need:
A Machine not out in the open
A bit of luck

Well like I said, I'm not sure if this will even work, it requires that the vending machine still be set on "default" mode. So I'm thinking that any high traffic area won't work. Like a vending machine inside a mall, or movie theater, or anything like that, probably will be changed out regularly, and the default setting probably taken off. So your probably better off trying this on a machine that's not visited so frequently. Once you locate a machine that seems to be out of the way of traffic, look at its number pad, or selection pad. Usually the numbers appear as they do on your keyboard's numpad. But in some cases of new machines, there are no numbers, but just big buttons with the drink on them. So instead of pressing F2 for a coke, you just press the big Coke button. These buttons are technically numbered as well, but its harder to tell how the numbers are ordered. Now according to this hack, if you press the buttons in a sequential order, a navigation menu will appear on one of the LCD screens. The number order is 4,2,3,1. Meaning you'd press those buttons in that order and you'd be taken to a menu screen. Like I said newer machines have those big square buttons but those too are assigned numbers, you just have to find out what number corresponds to what button. Usually the screens are pretty small, allowing only one line of text to appear at a time, so its good if you have no one in back of you waiting to use the machine. You have to scroll through all the options one by one. You'll see options for price changing, finding out how much money is in the machine currently, the version of the machines firmware, and some errors that the machine can run into (jammed, selection switched etc..) So yea this according to a few people can allow you to enter into any vending machine. Now as I said this won't work if the default password of 4,2,3,1 has bee changed. In which, you'll have to guess what password the machine is set too, which would be waaay to many combinations to just randomly guess. If your going to try this make sure no one's waiting in back of you, cause it'll probably take some time, and make sure the owner isn't around, or you'll have some explaining to do. And finally like I said, this may not even work! If anyone is willing to try it let me know, I'll try it on Friday when I'm at school. And I'll let you guys know how it turns out. If you've ever tried this, or heard about it, leave a comment to your findings!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Mind-Body Problem

A topic of great interest to me, is the problem that Rene Descartes and many other philosopher's faced. So much so, that the debate really still goes on to this day, and that topic of contention is the mind-body problem. Or the duality of the being. What I mean by this is, You have in one corner, your brain, your body, your fingernails, your hair, and all the physical attributes that you can feel and interpret pain, touch and feeling. So you can run your finger across a cold surface and it causes certain nerves to fire telling your brain that the surface is cold. All very basic. So where does your mind come into play? Its generally accepted that the mind is different than your brain. You're brain is the physical structure in your head, and most people (I, included) are satisfied with just saying that the mind is swimming somewhere in your brain. Rene Descartes, a French philosopher really questioned this, and came up with the theory of Duality. This proposed that the Mind and Body are independent of each other, and that they could technically survive without the other.

"Body is by nature always divisible, and the mind is entirely indivisible."

Descartes believed that the Mind or the "I" of a person was something immaterial, and that it couldn't be destroyed, and lived on after the body died and whithered.
But where is this? One thought experiment that's pretty fun to think about, is if you had a very long time, and the proper technology, someone could remove your brain, atom by atom, and replace it with identical atoms. You could remove one carbon atom from your brain, and replace it with an identical carbon atom. Do this several billion, billion times, and you could replace your brain. But would this 'new identical brain' still be you? If you reconnected all the neurons to as they were, would you still wake up with the same personality? According to Descartes, you would, because the mind is something inside the brain but doesn't interact with any physical matter.

Now here's how Descartes theory isn't completely sound. In my mind, I wanted to write this blog article. I woke up today with my decision in mind to write this, and so I sat down and wrote it. That right there dispels Descartes idea, he made it clear that the Mind and the Brain are separate. That the Mind is immaterial and because its not anything physical, it can never 'touch' anything in the brain. So by all rights, the mind should have no influence over the body.
A man by the name of Gilbert Ryle saw this fault and said that there had to be some sort of bridge to connect the two. That there couldn't be a "Ghost in the Machine" controlling its actions.

I suggest you find a book called "The Mind's I" by Douglass Hofstadter. The first introduction describes and interesting scenario, in which a astronaut is marooned on the planet Mars. She'll be met with certain death under the alien sky, and the only thing that can save her is the transporter on board her ship. She can be quickly broken down atom by atom, and "rebuilt" back on Earth. She decides that this is the only option to see her kids again. So she steps into the booth and blacks out, only to be "awoken" back on Earth. Every atom in her body is shredded and copied verbatim, and then put together on earth. So what happened here? Did her mind fly from Mars to Earth and insert itself in the newly constructed body? Or did her mind re materialize along with her body?

My last thought on the matter ( I can go on and on with this topic) is that of Artificial Intelligence. We can and have created robots, to talk, listen, understand, and do work. If you look at your computer in front of you, or your ipad, or notebook, one would say, that the computer is a vastly superior in its ability to solve equations, and do tasks. So humans can create a brain. Albeit, a very limited brain that can only operate when given instructions.. but it technically is a brain nonetheless. But can we ever create a Mind? According to writers like H.G Wells, and Issac Asimov, the mind of an A.I brain will emerge on its own. Meaning that one day your home computer will have a 'spark' and be able to refer to itself. Because we have no hard wiring in our brains that give us the ability to self reference, the same would be for A.I, they would soon just know and be able to think about themselves.

So I ask you guys, whats your opinion? Is there really such a thing that makes me, Me? Or is it just a random placement of neurons and memory? If it is just the placement of neurons, then we can re-create anyone by duplicating the arrangement of these nuerons in a new body.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I.P Addresses and Tracing Them

For us telephony and communications geeks out there, I really think this is my favorite tools and abilities of routing. Of course I'm still pretty new to networking, and this is a pretty simple and probably well known feature. But lets say you take any website, to avoid angering anyone, lets use this very site. (Blogger is hosted by google, so I suppose it will anger google lol.) But you ever wonder where these sites are hosted from? I mean seriously of all the millions and millions of websites it really is interesting to see where they come from. And also, the path that your computer or router takes to get to them. Well for those who don't know, you can. Click your start button, or the window icon for you vista and 7 users. Click the run function. A little dialog box will innocently appear and you type in CMD. The MSDos command prompt will appear. You type in this as follows:
Make sure you put the single space after the tracert command. You can do this for just about any website. Press enter and a series of names and numbers will begin to be listed. This is my favorite feature of the command. It actually shows you the path that the information is sent from. When I run this command to this very site, it's first step is my router, then some sort of origin gateway, then it says Newark Core RT2, meaning the big city near me is called Newark, so it probably passes through a routing station there. After a few more of these it hits New York, then some sort of Google server, and then finally down into the routers there and finally to a single machine. (or more accurately a router for the single machine) Anyway I love seeing the pathway that all this information takes from my humble computer out onto the massive servers and routers and switches of the internet at large... Anyway, now that you have the websites final I.P address (the last number in the list), you can go to a site like: , and put the numbers into the small text box at the top. From there it will show you the location of there that I.P address is being served at. Generally though, these numbers are probably router numbers and not the true address of the computer its on.. Routers have that built in fire wall that lets them protect the computer that they're in front of. Anyway, hope you enjoy this stuff as much as I do.
For fun put in to the command screen: tracert and see what comes up. A loop! is the way of saying I want to talk to my own router. So the router sends a signal to itself. One of my favorite ways to cause a piece of machinery to self reference. Until next time!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Exploration or Exploitation?

Does anyone here hack? I mean it in the literal sense, do you find yourself hacking websites, phones, or other communication technology? I find the whole idea of hacking, and phreaking (phone line hacking) very stimulating. I mean to me the term hacker and hacking refers to the ability to use the inner workings of programs and technology to create hidden door ways and paths around the rigid rules of programming. Specifically today though I want to get into the world of phreaking. I don't hear this term used much anymore.. actually I never really heard it used. I'm 23, so the days of phreaking were generally dying as I was being born. Anyway brief history lesson in telecommunication hacking:

In the mid 70's AT&T ruled the telecommunications world. They were the one and only top dogs, and could charge exuberant prices that no one could contest. Obviously people didn't find this price gorging to be fair. Well neither did the US government. AT&T was eventually broken up in the early 80's into small subsidiary companies called the Bell companies.. Bell Alantic..Bell South etc.. Anyway it was too late people, mainly hackers, began experimenting with ways around the phone companies, stiff charges. Free phones calls, and information were but a few tricks away! People soon got creative outside pay phones became victims of what has been deemed "Boxing" Were you can literally trick the phone into believing you inserted money by recording the sound previously.
One of the great methods you can try out if you have an older land line near you is to pick up the handset, and click the receiver down a few times per second. then stop for a second, then click a few more times then again, take a second pause.. Do this 7 times, and you've just dialed a number! You can get good at this, because how many times you click the receiver, the phone translates that number of clicks into a 1-9 number. So you can literally tap out a phone number if you know the proper number. Morris code for the phone!

There's a bunch of other phone hacks that you can research and look into, I suppose with the dying of payphones, these hacks really just aren't viable anymore, but I love the idea..
Some people say, why go through all that trouble just to save a few cents? To me, and I honestly can't speak for everyone else, its really about the fun, and interest in seeing how things work and play out. Phone lines, computers and cable lines have always fascinated me, so being able to play and tinker with this stuff is really my version of playing video games. Pure fun. In fact.. I've been thinking..would the boxing trick work on parking meters? I plan to find out later this week! I'll report back to you my news! Anyway, keep exploring guys.

PS: The photo is just a reminder of what pay phone's have become in the last 10 years...

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Quiet take down. was a streaming video site that streamed out mostly sporting events. Hockey, Baseball, Basketball, Soccer, even some TV shows. This domain was a pretty popular site maybe even more so than, Surfthechannel. It offered completely free streams of live events, that were intermittedly interuppted by ads. Giving the websites its income. According to the article below, it was among 10 other sites that were seized and promptely shut down, including Did anyone here use this site? I can't imagine it will be down long though before another site comes and takes its place.. The Napster effect I say..

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Douglas Ruskoff "...The Internet is Entirely Controlled By Central Authorities"

If you haven't heard of Douglas Rushkoff, I suggest you check out his philosophy, writings, and lectures. His book "Cyberia: Life in the trenches of Hyperspace" is what turned me onto Computer Science, philosophy, media theory, and human interaction with technology. Rushkoff has raised a very interesting and very valid point about the internet as we know it. I mentioned this in my earlier post about the Egyptian revolution. Rushkoff, says that while we think our bottom up internet is free now, due to expressive sites like Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook, in reality, we are still under the careful eye of any ISP and in turn, the government. We can have all the freedom to post anything on Youtube, but if someone picks up the phone and tells Verizon to bring the internet down with a click of a button, then yea, we're not really so free.
I mean I don't think we'd ever see such a mass shut down on the scale of Egypt's..but even when the Wikileaks site was shut off, here in the US, I'm sure it wasn't the first time, a site has been shut down, but it was the first one that recieved public attention

"Isn't it good to have a circuit breaker somewhere? A trusted authority in charge who can prevent people from saying the wrong things to each other? Perhaps.
But if we believe our society is capable of engaging in the democratic process, we must trust its people to share their thoughts and ideas -- their words -- directly with one another, no matter how threatening to those currently in power."

At the end of the article, Ruskoff mentions a new type of networking called Mesh Networking, which would tye wireless connections to each other. So I can broadcast my wifi signal and someone else can connect directly to it, rather than through an ISP.

Whoops, forgot to post this originally..check out the full CNN report:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The ipad Newspaper Vs. Print Media

Three updates in one day? This deals with what I believe just another nail in the coffin of print journalism. The ipad is going to be host for an exclusive and experimental newspapers called "The Daly". While a digital newspaper isn't new anymore, this one is designed to be used with the ipad interface in mind. Streaming videos, and 360 degree photo's, will accompany the articles. The magazine will be pretty cheap, only 14 cents per issue, because the paper will really have no major expenses such as printing and delivery. I'm pretty excited about this, I think we'll be witnessing the final death knells of large newspaper printing within the next 5 years. My local newspaper, The Star Ledger, has been getting smaller and smaller throughout the years. So what do you guys think? Will online journalism, be as prevalent and accepted as the formidable printed journals? I had the pleasure of going to New York City, early one morning, a few weeks ago, and A lot of people on the train, seem to be making use of ipads, on their morning commute rather than reading the 'ol grey and black newsprint.

Groundhogs Day

Happy Groundhogs Day everyone! And in celebration of one of the most looping movies ever, I make this post. The film Groundhogs Day, with Bill Murray, while a comedy, at its core has a pretty meaningful message. If you don't know, Bill Murray, is a news reporter, and you get the feeling that he's kind of a jerk. Ok..he's a big jerk. He gets caught up in the time loop that causes him to repeat the same day, groundhogs day, for weeks. He soon comes to enjoy his fate, but quickly realizes that his life won't move on... He tries to commit suicide multiple times, but to no effect, he just wakes up to the same loop. One of my favorite scenes, is that he befriends an elderly homeless man, and he takes him in, buys him hot soup, keeps him warm for the night, but he ends up dying anyway. So the next night, he goes back to the same homeless man (who's alive again, cause the days repeat) and tries to help him again, but he still ends up dying. The nurse who takes in the man's body, tells Bill Murray, "it was just his time to go." Anyway, if you haven't seen it, check for it on Tv today, I'm sure one of the stations will be running it. Its not the most thought provoking movie, but its nature with time, and repetition, almost required me to put up a post...

And the picture is another droste effect! Remember guys you can send in your own submissions for articles, pictures, and designs of your own artwork of loopy paradoxical structures and images!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Global Village

Is the Medium still the message Marshall? For those of you who haven't heard of Marshall Mcluhan, look him up, he's a really futurist, and really was the first to say, publiclly atleast, that we were heading toward becoming a 'global village'. In the 60's Mcluhan was a literary writer, and philosopher, and a communication theorist. He grew up when radio was first taking hold, and saw the invention of the TV, and even saw the beginings of the computer revolution. He really had a first hand look at these new devices for communication, shape and reorganize the way we talk, share, and store information.
What Mcluhan predicted would come about to change the landscape of the way we communicate forever. First, he really went out of his way to make the point that the new form of communication itself has a greater effect on us, than what the device actually provides.. For example, the effect the telephone has on us, is more important than messages passed back and forth through the wires. He means this to say that, the phone, makes communication quicker, and easier, and that's whats important, not that Jane say John flirting with Jessica at the park. This can still be applied today, in form of communication networks, like facebook and twitter. Because Facebook provides such an all inclusive way to know what you're friends are doing, this has many effects on our social lives, and the same with twitter. Its not an understatement, to say that these social devices can change the way we live. Instead of calling up Jane now, and planning to meet at Starbucks, we can talk to her in cyberspace, via Facebook. That, Mculhan feels, is whats important, in the invention of these communication tools.

Another idea that Mcluhan brought to light was the idea of something called the Global Village. And this idea is easy enough to understand. Marshall grew up in a time when the world was getting smaller. The telephone had recently come into play, then the radio, then Tv, then the computer. With each milestone, the world shrunk a little. People had to travel less to talk, and communicate. And what was even more intriguing, is that the effect of all this mass communication would lead to what his felt was a "tribal collective". Instead of the individual man, learning things for himself, and having knowledge for his own needs, people would be sharing information. It would be universal knowledge, literally. Once upon a time, things like computer repair work would have to be done by a professional. If something went wrong with your computer, unless you were a technician, you would take it to be fixed. Now with the internet and this mass availability of knowledge, there are many people who can find tutorials, and information to to the work themselves. Soon everyone will have knowledge on how to fix computers, or change your oil, or how to play piano, or network a system of computers. Mcluhan feels that this mass shared knowledge is turning the world from a group of individual thinkers, to a collected conciousness. It bringing the world together not so much in peace, but in shared information, such a small village... We would all be aware of what are neighbors are up to. While Marshall never really says rather he thinks this is a good idea or not, he believed that it was unimportant and that the evolution of technology would continue like a butterfly flapping its wings. Unavoidable.

Mcluhan who died in 1980, fell just shy of seeing the birth of the World Wide Web, which he predicted way back in 1962:
"The next medium, whatever it is - it may be the extension of consciousness - will include television as its content, not as its environment, and will transform television into an art form. A computer as a research and communication instrument could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization, retrieve the individual's encyclopedic function and flip into a private line to speedily tailored data of a saleable kind"

I think that says it all, he really foresaw what was coming down the tubes, and remember, its not what the internet gives us in knowledge, but rather what effect the web has on our social and everyday lives. Just as Gutenbergs, printing machine changed the way people receieved knowledge in the 1400's, Mcluhan knew that an interface such as the web would change how we research, development and communicate with information.

Check out this vid of Marshall Mculhan: