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Name: Ryan Muldoon
Member since: 2000-05-23 08:32:05
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Homepage: www.illuminagraphic.com


I am a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University studying Logic and Computation. My primary academic focus of late is in Modal Logic. I'm also very interested in game theory. I work as an IT Architect, where my work is largely focused on security research - mostly authentication and authorization systems.

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I graduated last weekend. Which is a bit strange. But I finished my thesis, so I was able to graduate with honors in philosophy and math. Which I am pleased about. This summer I will continue my job, mostly working on the Shibboleth inter-institutional authorization system (an Internet2 project). I'm trying to integrate x509 client certificates into it, allowing for LDAP failover. It is going pretty well. Other than that, I'm relaxing a bit, and taking a seminar on modal logic.

Now that I'm done with my undergrad stuff, I am trying to get ready for moving to Pittsburgh to start grad school at CMU. So I need to find an apartment, get furniture, pots and pans, etc. I also have to fill out lots of forms and such, which is always a good time.

I am pretty lazy with updating this journal. I think it is because I already recount my day a bit with emails, and so this seems like it is redundant. Oh well.

BenFrantzDale: Cell phone purchasing isn't quite the pain that you make it out to be. You can eliminate choices pretty rapidly, in fact. Start with providers. First determine who will provide service in the areas that you care about (National plans are a much better idea than local/regional ones, now that they are so cheap). That's probably two or three places (Amherst, Santa Monica...). I'd bet that just that will cut a few places out of the running. Then from those, cut out the providers that have reputations for crappy service. Then just look at who has the best $40/mo plan. If more than one provider is still in the running, compare phones. It is kind of a waste to spend money on a phone (especially if it is your first cell phone...), so only pay attention to the phones that you can get cheaply or free. From those, figure out what you care about, like talk time, size, and call quality. Then from the phones that satisfy those criteria, compare their extras like good looks and fun features. Then you're done. ;-)

Hey gabe and BenFrantzDale - How's it going? I have been pretty busy these days. At work I have been working on getting a test instance of Shibboleth up and running, which has proven to be a bit annoying. I'm also working on trying to improve the general level of security of authentication for all the various enterprise apps that require it on campus. A hard problem, because of the huge user demand for convenience.

My thesis research is going well. I am working on multi-valued logics and vagueness in logic. Looking at these in higher orders, and trying to get a reasonable mental model of what is going on without being able to really rely on classical logic is tough. But it is rewarding. Doing a completeness proof for any of these systems would be rather messy. I really don't like it when I find typos in papers though. I recently read an article by Kit Fine, and in a key paragraph, he apparently made 3 typos. Until I realized this, I was utterly confused by his argument. Once I realized that there were mistakes, it became much easier. ;-)

Applying to Grad schools is a reasonably slow process, as my home computer continues to be dead. But I took the GREs, did pretty well, and am gearing up for the LSATs. I need to start writing personal statements and purpose statements. Fun fun.

One thing that weblogs really lack is the ability for threaded conversations. I like the way they work for just browsing recent entries, but if there was an interesting conversation that I want to look back on in a year or two for research, it would be a huge pain to reconstruct it. It would be interesting if there were a way for Advogato or other weblog systems to keep track of conversations between people. That's my thought for the day.

atai:I would continue to urge you to think outside of the world of free software for a moment. I am not one of those who claims that RMS is an egotist - I think he is a very intelligent person, and I think he has done a lot of good for free software. He has also been very steadfast in his beliefs, which I would argue is why he has both accomplished so much and caused people to see him as an egotist. I also have written (I think here) on why I would claim that RMS' and the FSF's ideals are basically direct applications of the ideals of Western Liberalism, as described by John Locke and "refined" by Jefferson. He's pretty far from Marx, if we go back to the source materials and compare them. However, I don't think that he's much of a philosopher, nor does he try to be. ESR tries to assert that he is some sort of guru of the free software community's zeitgeist and tries to use philosophy to back himself up, but I don't think he does a good job of it. RMS doesn't try to do this - he just asserts a set of axioms for the conditions of freedom for software. This is pretty far from an ethical framework, if we want to get into real philosophy. You might recall that a couple years ago Advogato had a long discussion on trying to establish an ethical framework to justify free software. It is no easy task. So again, claiming (or even restating Lessig's claim) that RMS may be the philosopher of our age because he has more of a belief system than Linus Torvalds or Eric Raymond is pretty weak - none of these individuals would be near consideration for such a title. Expose yourself to some "real" philosophy, and I think that you will quickly understand what I am trying to say. Again, I think that RMS is a really important part of the free software community, and I have no trouble with GNU, and I gpl everything that I write because I agree with the values of the gpl. RMS is obviously extremely intelligent, otherwise he wouldn't have received a MacArthur fellowship. But he is far more of a mathematician than a philosopher, let alone the greatest philosopher of our age. Feel free to read some of the books by the authors that I mentioned in my previous diary entry....I can also reccomend a number of others. In case you haven't noticed, I take the field philosophy pretty seriously. ;-) As much as I like free software, the world beyond it is a whole lot more significant in our lives.
atai: I certainly would *not* call RMS the "Philosopher of our Age," although I pretty much agree with his stance on software. All he is doing is taking fairly common and expounded upon ethical principles found in lots of philosophical texts and applying them to software. While I admire him for his tenacity and effort and dedication, that does not make him the philosopher of our age. What about Noam Chomsky, who revolutionized our theories of language, as well as writing a great deal on politics. Or Wittgenstein, who is generally considered one of the five best philosophers ever for his work on logic and language. Or Bertrand Russell, who published on pretty much every facet of philosophy. Or Saul Kripke. Or, strictly in the field of ethics, Derek Parfit, who has done (And continues to do) some amazing work in ethics, including in-depth analyses of consequentialism. RMS may have moral convictions, but that does not make him a philosopher, let alone the philosopher of our age. But that is not to say that he isn't a very very smart person who has done an amazing amount for Free Software. So while I encourage you to support and laud those who do good for the community, please respect them and others enough to not go overboard with praise.

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