Android unit testing and Mazer Rackham

כבר אמר מייזר רקהאם (“המשחק של אנדר”) שאין מורה כמו האוייב.
נזכרתי בזה במהלך המלחמה שלי בבניית בדיקות יחידה לאפליקציה לאנדרואיד בסביבת הבדיקה של API 24 והלאה.
Mazer Rackham (“Ender’s Game”) said: There is no teacher but the enemy.
I was reminded of this during my war of building unit tests for an Android application in the testing environment of API 24 and later.

How to manage money before registration of the Hamakor nonprofit

Hamakor – an Israeli nonprofit for Free Software and Open Code was founded at 2003 and one of its goals is to help deal with money when organizing various activities around Free Software.

Before founding Hamakor, people resorted to other solutions. In one exhibition, we wanted to distribute Linux installation CD-ROMs to the crowd. However, we wanted those CD-ROMs to reach only people who have a serious intent to install Linux. A way to ensure it was to require them to donate money in exchange for their CD-ROM. However, if we collect money, we must issue receipts and do bookkeeping.

Truly Yours had the brilliant idea of inviting other nonprofits to send a representative to collect the donations and issue receipts. It was a win-win-win solution. We get someone to issue receipts and sweat over the bookkeeping. The nonprofits get money for their operations. The people, who paid for their CD-ROMs, treat them seriously.

One of the nonprofits was the Association of the Deaf in Israel.

Thank you letter from the Association of the Deaf in Israel
Thank you from the Association of the Deaf in Israel

The 2010’s John Galt project – Artificial Photosynthesis

The 2010’s John Galt project – the most important technology to be developed this decade:

Artificial photosynthesis.

Technology for using solar energy to bind carbon dioxide with hydrogen from water, and convert them into carbohydrate fuels.

The technology will have the following benefits:

  1. Solve the problem of global heating, thanks to removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
  2. Make it possible to power everything using solar energy – directly during daytime, and indirectly (through burning the carbohydrate fuels) at night and bad weather.

The biggest drawback: drastic change in the economic power structure worldwide, because countries and companies with coal, oil or gas deposits would no longer have power over their clients.

פרויקט ג’ון גאלט של שנות ה-2010 – הטכנולוגיה החשובה ביותר לפיתוח בעשור הנוכחי:

פוטוסינתיזה מלאכותית.

טכנולוגיה לשימוש באנרגיית השמש כדי לקשור פחמן דו חמצני עם מימן מהמים, ולהמיר אותם לדלקי פחמן-מימן.

לטכנולוגיה כזו יש שני יתרונות גדולים:

  1. פתרון לבעית ההתחממות הגלובלית, הודות להסרת פחמן דו חמצני מהאטמוספירה.
  2. אפשרות להשתמש באנרגיית השמש כדי לספק כוח לכל צרכני החשמל – ישירות בשעות היום ובעקיפין (באמצעות שריפת דלקי פחמן-מימן) בלילה ובמזג אוויר סגרירי.

החסרון הגדול ביותר: שינוי דרסטי במבנה הכוחות הכלכליים בכל העולם, מכיוון שארצות וחברות שיש להן מרבצי פחם, נפט וגז, יאבדו את הכוח שלהן על לקוחותיהן.

First Contact Speculations

Given the announcements about finding more and more Earth-like planets around other Suns and potentially life-friendly regions in Jupiter and Saturn’s satellites, I would like to offer the following predictions.

  • Actual First Contact has already happened. People do not discuss the distance between Roswell and Alamogordo, which is near the site of the first A-bomb explosion, and which happens to be only 145Km by air.
  • Since First Contact among two cultures, which significantly differ in their technological sophistication, is usually harmful to the less technologically advanced culture, it was decided not to publicize this fact without preparing the Earth culture for those news.

    Furthermore, it was decided that the Earth people are to be the ones to “discover” the alien culture, rather than vice versa.

  • Several SciFi stories assumed that alien cultures would discover the existence of a technological Earth culture by radiation from its first A-bomb explosions. Arthur C. Clarke’s “2001 Space Odyssey” assumed that this would happen when a certain slab is excavated on the Moon. The Star Trek world assumed that the discovery would by detecting the radiation emitted by Zefram Cochrane‘s first FTL flight using a warp drive system.

    However, I believe that the real “Zefram Cochrane” moment would be when the Earth culture proves its ability to defend life on Earth by deflecting or destroying killer asteroids.

Hence, my prediction is that once a dangerous asteroid has been detected and successfully neutralized, it will be announced that some Earth probe ship has at last found signs of alien life.

Are saccades (rapid eye movements) synchronized to speech during lipreading?

Now I am reading the book “Visual Thinking for Design” by Colin Ware (ISBN 978-0-12-370896-0).  The book starts by describing the way the brain processes visual information.  Essentially, the brain processes it chunk by chunk, where the chunks are separated by saccades (rapid eye movements).

Since my V2V project requires finding a way to translate auditory information into visual information for processing by the brain, I’m looking also for the corresponding information about the way a brain processes auditory information.

One question, which arose in my mind, as I am reading the aforementioned book is as follows.

Assume a hearing (or hard of hearing) lipreader, who follows a speech by listening and uses lipreading as an auxiliary aid to filter out environmental noises and other speakers.  Given that the lipreader’s eyes perform saccades as usual, are the saccades synchronized to times at which the speaker produces vowels rather than consonants?

And would the saccades still by synchronized to vowel production periods also for a deaf lipreader?

How to exploit a revolutionary physical discovery?

Suppose you have the good fortune to make a stunning physical discovery.  However, you are a practical person and would like to put your discovery to a practical use.  Where would you look for problems, which your new discovery can solve?

  1. Measure quantities more accurately than was possible before, or measure previously unmeasurable quantities (example: a sample/hold circuit based upon Josephson junctions).
  2. Non-destructive tests.
  3. Transport energy to long distances (such as superconductive materials).
  4. Transportation, including space transportation (such as various levitation forces).
  5. Improved electronic computers.
  6. Manufacturing much stronger materials.
  7. New energy sources (such as neutrino flows, if a good neutrino trap is ever developed).
  8. Synthesis of novel chemical materials.
  9. Separation of materials (to make very clean materials or simply to desalinize water).
  10. “Molecular engineering” – construction of 3D integrated circuits (or simply, manufacturing materials having layered structure).
  11. More efficient cooling (closer to Absolute Zero and/or easier to achieve a target temperature).

מה אפשר לעשות עם תגלית פיסיקלית מהפכנית?

נניח שהתמזל מזלך וגילית תגלית פיסיקלית מהפכנית.  עם זאת, הינך אדם מעשי והיית רוצה לנצל את תגליתך למטרה מועילה כלשהי.  איפה תחפש אחר בעיות שהתגלית החדשה שלך יכולה לפתור?

  1. פשוט למדוד דברים בצורה יותר מדוייקת ממה שהיה אפשר בעבר, או למדוד דברים שבכלל אי אפשר היה קודם למדדם (דוגמא: מעגל sample/hold המבוסס על צמתות Josephson).
  2. בדיקות לא הרסניות.
  3. העברת אנרגיה למרחקים גדולים (כמו חומרים על-מוליכים).
  4. תחבורה, כולל תחבורה בחלל (כמו כוחות levitation למיניהם).
  5. מחשבים אלקטרוניים משופרים.
  6. ייצור חומרים חזקים ביותר.
  7. מקורות אנרגיה חדשים (כגון שטף נאוטרינוס, אם יפתחו מלכודת-נאוטרינוס טובה).
  8. סינתיזה של חומרים כימיים חדשים.
  9. הפרדת חומרים (לייצור חומרים נקיים ביותר ו/או פשוט להתפלת מים).
  10. “הנדסה מולקולרית” – בניית מעגלים משולבים תלת-מימדיים (או פשוט ייצור חומרים הבנויים שכבות-שכבות).
  11. קירור יותר יעיל (יותר קרוב לאפס המוחלט ו/או יותר קל להגיע לטמפרטורת יעד מסוימת). 

What really prevents us from making 20 thousand NIS a month?

Those days there is a commotion in Israel due to a speech by Yair Lapid, the new Finance Minister, about Riki Cohen who earns 20 thousand NIS a month but cannot make ends meet due to various expenses of living in Israel.

Several Israelis do not reach income of 20 thousand NIS a month. Some of them nevertheless manage to make ends meet but their monthly savings are not enough to buy an apartment at reasonable time. Others do not succeed in making ends meet.

I propose that instead of being angry at Yair Lapid for his failure to know the situation of the lower socioeconomic classes in Israel – each one is to think, check and inquire what really prevents him from making 20 thousand NIS a month.

Usually the reason is a low-paying profession, and the blocking factor is the absence of ability to convert to another, better paying profession. But there are several other blocking factors, and it would be a swell idea if someone is to run a survey so that we’ll know why most Israelis cannot make 20 thousand NIS a month.

Several possible reasons:

  • No funds or time for vocational change course, or the course is held in a place which requires 3 hours commutation from home to course and back each day.
  • During high school years, I could not study, and after army service, while I can study, there is no time or appropriate organization.
  • The rabbi or ADMO”R forbade me from studying “secular studies” lest I sin and deviate from the way of the Holy Torah.
  • I am screwed because I am an Arab.
  • There is a good job in my profession but there is no reasonable public transportation from my home to the workplace, and I cannot move to live near the workplace.
  • My vocation is important for the community but due to some reason has a low pay (examples: primary school teacher, social worker, nurse, caregiver).
  • I have children who need to be taken care of but the regular work hours in my vocation are crazy so I cannot work in my well-paying profession.
  • I have a disability which causes employers not to want to give me a job even though I can do it well.
  • I have a medical problem which prevents me from working.

All this – under the assumption that we are speaking about industrious people, who want to honorably support themselves, rather than be parasites living off at the public expense. This assumption is correct for most people, but we still need to filter out the parasites.

Few thoughts about the American constitutional right to bear arms

After the Connecticut elementary school massacre, there’ll be several calls for repealing the constitutional right to bear arms.

This article points out several aspects of this issue.  I do not have answers, yet.

On one hand, the right to bear arms is important for making it more difficult for an oppressive government to gain power.  On the other hand, this right is abused by insane people, who then commit massacres.  Common criminals are not part of the equation, because a group of armed criminals can always be countered by a bigger group of equally armed law abiding citizens.

One aspect, which seems to be overlooked by both sides of the argument, is the impact of technological advances.  Technological advances mean that arms are no longer the only means by which people and governments can hurt other people.  Such advances can be heavy armory (cannons, tanks, even A-bombs), cyberspace warfare (breaking into computers and cloud accounts, hacking one’s reputation in social networks), advanced radioactive/chemical/biological poisons, “smart dust” programmed to damage people it encounters, and nominally non-lethal weapons such as tasers.

Another aspect is the practicality of enforcing any bans on weapons.  The 3D printing technology will eventually make it impossible to control the spread of advanced weapons by controlling their points of manufacture.

The constitutional right to bear such advanced arms is not as clear-cut.  Neither is it clear whether constitutionally protected arms are effective against the new weapons.