Archive for September, 2008

Actionscript 3

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

For the last few weeks I’ve been learning Actionscript 3. For those of you who don’t know what that is, I’ll tell you: Actionscript is a scripting language used by Adobe (and previously by Macromedia) to control things in Flash movies. Actionscript 3 (AS3) is the latest version of Actionscript, and it’s a complete rewrite.

Learning a new language is a difficult task. Fortunately, much of AS3 is the same as AS2, which I learned last year. Unfortunately, almost all of the parts of AS2 that I hacked my way through to design and implement a PLM client framework last year were the same parts that were rewritten, changed, or scrapped in AS3. XML handling is different. Event distribution and handling is different. Display management and interactivity is different. So I had to learn all the new stuff and then figure out how to rethink my hacks into the way AS3 lets you do things.

It’s coming together now, in the 4th week of the process, and it’s really a lot cleaner than it used to be. It uses about half the code to get the job done, since the new tools built into AS3 take some of the burden off of the PLM. I just can’t wait for this thing to be finally working! I’m going to go back and hammer on it some more now…

Best Magic Trick EVER!

Friday, September 12th, 2008

Ta Da!

Philosophy of Science

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

I’ve probably written this before, but I feel the need to write it again.

Science is founded on the assumption that the world is both systematic and predictable. An experiment that isn’t reproducible is a failure. The only phenomena that the scientific method can address are those which fit in with the systematic and predictability presupposition. Many regular systems exist and can be described elegantly with mathematics, which is what has made science so popular and successful.

But just because the scientific method can’t tell us about unpredictability doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Chaos theory shows us that even in simple deterministic systems with a positive feedback loop, even the tiniest variation in initial conditions will be magnified until it dominates the system, making it unpredictable in a practical sense. Weather is like this, and that’s why long-term weather forecasting is a fool’s game. We can only make short-term predictions because it takes time for the variations to be magnified.

Many people seem to adopt the view that all of the world is regular and predictable because that’s all science can really tell us about. This is a comforting notion but unfortunately it requires ignoring a lot of data. Scientists call this data “noise”.