Wednesday, March 22, 2023

ChatGPT Goes Down "the Garden Path"

provide a humorous example of a "garden path" sentence

Sure, here's a classic example of a garden path sentence that can be interpreted in a humorous way:

"The old man the boat."

At first glance, this sentence seems to suggest that an old man is in charge of a boat. However, when you read it again, you realize that the sentence is incomplete and missing a verb. The intended meaning of the sentence is likely something like "The old man who owned the boat sold it."

The sentence is an example of a garden path sentence because the reader is initially led down a path that seems to make sense, but then has to backtrack and re-interpret the sentence in a different way. It's a bit like getting lost in a maze and realizing that you took the wrong turn!

That's not an incomplete sentence. You are just missing the meaning. "Man the boat" is a common phrase. Do you know what it means?

You are correct, I apologize for the confusion. "Man the boat" is indeed a common phrase that means to provide the necessary personnel to operate a boat, such as sailors or crew members.

So, in the sentence "The old man the boat," the intended meaning is likely that the old man is providing the necessary personnel to operate the boat. This is an example of a garden path sentence that can be interpreted in a humorous way if the reader initially assumes a different meaning based on the structure of the sentence.

Not quite. "The old" is a phrase that refers to a group of people. Do you know what type of people are in that group?

I apologize for the confusion in my previous responses. You are correct that "the old" is a phrase that refers to a group of people. Depending on the context, it could refer to elderly people or a group of people who have been in a particular profession or organization for a long time.

In the context of the sentence "The old man the boat," it's possible that the intended meaning is that a group of experienced sailors or crew members, who happen to be elderly, are manning the boat. So, the sentence can be interpreted as "The old [group of experienced sailors or crew members] man the boat."

Again, I apologize for any confusion I may have caused with my previous responses.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

SoCal Makers Market

 Check out our new craft studio in San Diego. It's SoCal Makers Market.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Who used computers?

Qualcomm introduced a 64-bit mobile processor this week and I realized that someday I'll have trouble explaining the concept of a "computer" to my grandchildren. 

Me: You see, we wrote e-mail on these large screens that sat on desks... 
Kid: You mean like tablets?  
Me: No, computers were bigger. They had keyboards, you couldn't touch the screens and often you needed a cart to move them around.  
Kid: Why didn't you write on your phone? You had smartphones, right?  
Me: Yeah. 
Kid: The phones could surf the web, play videos and games?  
Me: Yeah.  
Kid: So what was the computer for?  
Me: Ummmm...

Friday, November 22, 2013

Understanding Bitcoin Basic Concepts

Bitcoin is a Virtual Commodity

Bitcoins have appeared in the news enough recently that commentators talk about it on the radio.  Usually, folks are completely baffled by the concept.  It's helpful to think of Bitcoins as a virtual commodity rather than a virtual currency.

Finding a Bitcoin is like finding Gold

Gold is just a mineral but it's special in two ways. Gold is easy to identify and hard to find. Bitcoins are just numbers defined by a Japanese mathematician but each bitcoin number is special in two ways. Bitcoin numbers are easy to identify and hard to find.

Any chemist can quickly distinguish gold from ordinary minerals but chemists don't know where all the gold is in the world. Any mathematician can quickly distinguish a genuine bitcoin from an ordinary number but mathematicians don't know what all the bitcoin numbers are (yet). This is probably the hardest concept to accept but computers can't solve every math problem instantly. Some math problems are so hard that it takes massive clusters of powerful computers decades to solve. Such is the search for bitcoins.

Miners with shovels dig through dirt hoping to find gold. Bitcoin miners with computers dig through numbers hoping to find a bitcoin. Mining is tedious but not impossible. Of course the bigger your shovel the better your luck.

Nobody controls gold because anybody with a shovel can be a miner and anybody with training can be a chemist. Nobody controls bitcoin because anybody with a calculator can be a bitcoin miner and anybody with training can be a mathematician.

Nobody can make gold. Gold is found by digging through dirt. Nobody can make bitcoins. Bitcoins are found by digging through numbers.

Most people who use gold or invest in gold are not miners or chemists.  They are just ordinary people.  Most people who use bitcoins or invest in bitcoins are not miners or mathematicians.  They are just ordinary people.

"Owning" a Bitcoin is like Owning Real Estate

As humans discovered chunks of vacant land, they stood upon it and proclaimed, "I hath found this land."  In the old days you had to defend ownership of your land but in modern civilization, there are international treaties and borders that are a matter of public record.  As miners discover new bitcoin numbers they quickly stand upon a soap box and proclaim, "I hath found this number!"  The other miners hear the claim, mathematicians confirm the authenticity and the ownership becomes part of the public record.  Just like the ownership over your front yard, the system is only as good as the community and norms that recognize the ownership.

Selling (or "spending") a bitcoin is like selling your house.  It's a change in the public record.  The only way to spend a bitcoin is to proclaim, "I do now bequeath THIS number upon THAT dude!" The new ownership becomes part of the public record and it's recognized by the community.  Dude now has the bitcoin that used to be yours.  You can't take it back unless Dude says so.

The Frequently Silly Asked Questions about Bitcoin

What if I were to simply claim "I hath found a million bitcoin!"?  

Well, any mathematician could quickly prove that is a lie. It would be like trying to pass a chunk of lead as gold.

What if I were to claim "That dude hath given unto me a million bitcoin!"?  

We'd all know that was a lie.  Everybody knows the original owner of every bitcoin. Like real estate, bitcoins are then passed by proclamation in a public record.  You can't simply claim somebody else's bitcoins.  Like your house, it cannot be taken.  It can only be given away.

What if I made my own form of bitcoin by claiming "I hath discovered virtual unicorn dust and I own all of it!"?  

That might actually work but you would have to prove the dust is easy to identify and hard to find before anybody else would consider it valuable. Good luck. Inventing bitcoin was not easy. Certainly other virtual commodities will come along just as gold competes with silver and diamonds but it won't be easy to invent a new one.

Isn't gold valuable because there's a limited amount of it?

That's actually not true. As far as we know, there's an infinite amount of gold in the universe but it gets harder and harder to find as time goes by. In the case of Bitcoin we can mathematically prove there are 21 million numbers that would pass the bitcoin test but that's not an essential property. In fact, many people argue that bitcoin would be better if there was no theoretical limit.  There are only two essential properties for any real or virtual commodity.  It has to be easy to identify and hard to find.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Six Degrees of Internet Addiction

A Forbes headline said Internet Addiction was just added to the DSM. I was skeptical so I skimmed Wikipedia and found a DSM critic named Carl Bell. I googled Carl Bell and the first hit was a guitarist in Fuel. I never heard of Fuel before but IMDB says they did the soundtrack for Daredevil. I vaguely recall Daredevil from 2003 but Joe Pantoliano promoted the film on David Letterman. Joe Pantoliano was also in the 1984 movie Mister Roberts with Kevin Bacon.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Anybody who has to do tech support for their friends and family will LOL at this video.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Favorite Apps

In an effort to reclaim memory on my Xperia Arc, I recently did a hard reset on my phone and went through the trouble of re-installing only my most essential Android apps.  Here in alphabetical order are the ones that I re-installed immediately.

ACast - By far my most used app.  It's a "podcatcher" app and I listen to podcasts more than just about anything else.  ACast is not user friendly, but it is free and it gets the job done.  It has some pretty important features like a home screen widget and limits on when to download episodes (e.g. "only while charging on WiFi").  Most importantly, it works well with my favorite Bluetooth headset (Sony Ericsson MW600).  If it was a little cheaper I might actually buy the "pro" version just to eliminate the ads, but for $4 I'll put up with them.