Nailing down the Switch

I am still happily playing Zelda – Breath of the Wild every day on my new Switch. However I had to buy some accessories to make that work smoothly. After trying it out once I abandoned the idea of playing with the Switch as a mobile device: I found the screen too small for Zelda and the 2-hour battery life not sufficient for my needs. So I was playing on my TV, with the two Joy-Con controllers attached to the supplied grip, which makes them feel very similar to a gamepad. However the supplied grip has no electric connection at all. Thus at the end of every day I had to unhook the two Joy-Cons and attach them to the main console for charging. Not very practical, and somewhat fiddly.

I considered two solutions and ended up buying both: A wired gamepad controller and a Joy-Con charging grip. The charging grip has the advantage that you can still play wirelessly, and just need to plug in the charging cable in the evening. The gamepad is rounder and slightly more comfortable to play with; however the one I bought doesn’t support motion control nor near-field communications.

In summary, I basically nailed down my Switch and turned it into a regular console, with no more need to remove the tablet from the stand. I can see the appeal of having a mobile console, but unless somebody invents better batteries, the Switch isn’t that for me.

Ex-CIA Director Warns ‘Inaccurate, Unprofessional’ Fox News Against Its ‘Conspiratorial Hit Job’ on Robert Mueller and the FBI

The network has attempted to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller and undermine his Russia investigation.

Ambassador James Woolsey, a former CIA director under President Bill Clinton, has put Fox and their host Lou Dobbs “on notice” amid the network’s continued attempts to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller and undermine his Russia investigation.

In a statement provided to Raw Story, Woolsey’s representative Jonathan Franks said the former CIA director is “extremely disappointed” in Dobbs, Fox Business and Fox News “over this inaccurate, unprofessional [and] conspiratorial hit job.”

“We’ve placed Fox on notice,” Franks added.

He referenced a Friday night Fox News clip in which commentator Christopher Bedford, editor-in-chief of the conservative Daily Caller website, said the special counsel lacks integrity and his probe has been “hopelessly compromised.”

Dobbs then said that he finds it “stunning that [Deputy Attorney General] Rob Rosenstein doesn’t find any need for any concern whatsoever, and even as his entire department has been ripped asunder by so many conflicts of interest.”

Ambassador Woolsey resigned from Trump’s transition team on January 5, 2017 amid tensions between the two stemming from the then-president-elect’s increasingly critical rhetoric about the intelligence community. He was subsequently interviewed in late October by Mueller regarding his knowledge of Trump’s former aide Mike Flynn, who Woolsey knew through sitting on the board of the latter’s lobbying firm. A month later, Woolsey was seen dining with the president at Mar-A-Lago.

Watch the Fox News clip that the former CIA director calls a “conspiratorial hit job” on Mueller below.


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This Visionary Sci-Fi Author Sees the Destruction of Human Civilization: Predatory Capitalism

Ted Chiang examines how Silicon Valley has become its own worst nightmare.

The political theorist Frederic Jameson once observed that “it has become easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.” But what if predatory capitalism finally destroys life on earth? That’s the question posed by science fiction writer Ted Chiang, who argues that in “superintelligent AI,” Silicon Valley capitalists have “unconsciously created a devil in their own image, a boogeyman whose excesses are precisely their own.”

In a new essay for Buzzfeed, part of a series about the forces shaping our lives in 2017, the acclaimed author of “Arrival” (Stories of Your Life and Others) deconstructs our fear of artificial intelligence; specifically, that of tech titans like Tesla founder Elon Musk. For Musk, the real threat is not a malevolent computer program rising up against its creator like Skynet in the Terminator films as much as AI destroying humanity by accident. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Musk imagines a mechanized strawberry picker wiping out the species simply as a means of maximizing its production.

“This scenario sounds absurd to most people, yet there are a surprising number of technologists who think it illustrates a real danger. Why?” Chiang wonders. “Perhaps it’s because they’re already accustomed to entities that operate this way: Silicon Valley tech companies.”

In Musk’s hypothetical, the destruction of human civilization follows the logic of the free market.

“Consider: Who pursues their goals with monomaniacal focus, oblivious to the possibility of negative consequences? Who adopts a scorched-earth approach to increasing market share?” Chiang continues. “[The] strawberry-picking AI does what every tech startup wishes it could do—grows at an exponential rate and destroys its competitors until it’s achieved an absolute monopoly.”

Ultimately, the catastrophe Musk and others foretell has already arrived in the form of “no-holds-barred capitalism.”

“We are already surrounded by machines that demonstrate a complete lack of insight, we just call them corporations,” Chiang continues. “Corporations don’t operate autonomously, of course, and the humans in charge of them are presumably capable of insight, but capitalism doesn’t reward them for using it. On the contrary, capitalism actively erodes this capacity in people by demanding that they replace their own judgment of what ‘good’ means with ‘whatever the market decides.'”

For Chiang, the operative word is insight. Our capacity for self-reflection, or the “recognition of one’s own condition,” is what separates humans from the Googles, Facebooks and Amazons. And it is this deficiency that makes these monopolies so uniquely dangerous.

“We need for the machines to wake up, not in the sense of computers becoming self-aware, but in the sense of corporations recognizing the consequences of their behavior,” he concludes. “Just as a superintelligent AI ought to realize that covering the planet in strawberry fields isn’t actually in its or anyone else’s best interests, companies in Silicon Valley need to realize that increasing market share isn’t a good reason to ignore all other considerations.”

Read Chiang’s essay at Buzzfeed.


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Today Hascon 2017 starts, the convention of Hasbro, one of the world’s largest toy and board game makers. Obviously gamers have little interest in the latest news on My Little Pony or Monopoly, but as Hasbro bought Wizards of the Coast, who previously bought TSR, Hasbro controls two of the biggest names in tabletop gaming: Dungeons & Dragons and Magic the Gathering. But the one reason I am interested in Hascon is the promised reveal of “Magic Digital Next”, the next generation platform for playing Magic the Gathering electronically.

Right now Magic Digital Next doesn’t have a lot of goodwill from the community. Too much went wrong or was badly handled with the previous incarnations like Magic the Gathering Online or Magic Duels. Personally I am still quite angry that Hasbro dropped Magic Duels like a hot potato in June. They should have waited with that until Magic Digital Next is actually available, not 3 months before we get to see the first playable alpha version at a convention. I am also unhappy that they didn’t even make the slightest effort to bring Magic Duels in a state where it would still be viable to play until Magic Digital Next is released. Instead they left it as it was after they added the Amonkhet expansion, so the computer is only ever playing decks around that expansion instead of using decks from all previous expansions. And more than half of the daily quests are still for online multiplayer only, which is a problem when players leave an abandoned game and the remaining players can’t find matches any more.

Then there is of course the issue of “virtual property”. Previous versions of electronic Magic sold you virtual boosters of cards. If you are forced to switch to a new product, you lose your virtual card collection of the previous versions and have to start over. Legally of course you never really owned those electronic Magic cards. But players don’t feel like that, especially with platforms like MtGO where cards can be traded with other players for real money. I liked Magic Duels because it altered the rules of how many rare and legendary cards you can use, which made building up a full collection much more affordable. I doubt the next version will have that feature.

I am still on the fence about Magic Digital Next (I assume they’ll announce another name for it this weekend). I left MtGO long ago because it was too PvP-centric for me, which resulted in an environment full of card sharks, scams, and toxic players. I mostly used the PvE part of Magic Duels, which for me was probably the best incarnation of Magic on a tablet. So my appreciation of Magic Digital Next will mostly depend on whether it supports more than a token AI and PvE play. These days far too many game developers have become extremely lazy, and beyond a tutorial make their games mostly PvP, basically using their customers as content for other customers. As they never solved even the basic problems of that approach for virtual cardgames, like stalling or quitting at the first sign of trouble, I wouldn’t be interested in a PvP version of electronic Magic the Gathering.

[EDIT: The new name is Magic the Gathering Arena, more info here.]

Test Your SQL Basics – Part_1

The SQL SELECT Statement Questions

1. Determine the output of the below query
SELECT ‘6+9’  FROM dual;
A) 15
B) 6+9
C) 6
D) 9

2. At least how many clauses must be present in a SELECT statement?
A) 0 (Zero)
B) 1
C) 2
D) 5

3. Which of the following statement is correct?
A) EVERY table expression is a part of SELECT statement
B) Each SELECT statement does not consist of a table expression
C) Every SELECT statement is built from a table expression
D) All of the above

4. Which of the following are the optional clauses?

5. Which of the following is the last clause that is executed in a query?

6. Which of the following is the correct basic syntax of SELECT clause?
A) SELECT column1, column2,….columnx WHERE table_name;
B) SELECT column1, column2,….columnx
C) SELECT column1, column2,…columnx ORDER BY table_name;
D) SELECT column1, column2,…columnx FROM table_name;

7. Determine the output of the below query
SELECT 36/2-5*10 FROM dual;
A) 130
B) -32
C) -120
D) 175

8. Determine the output of the below query
SELECT sal + NULL FROM emp WHERE empno = 7369;
A) sal + NULL
C) 0
D) 1250

9. Which command is used to display the structure of a table?

10. Predict the output of the below query
SELECT 50 || 0001 FROM dual
A) 500001
B) 51
C) 501
D) 5001

1-B,   2-B,   3-C,   4-B,  5-D,   6-D,   7-B,   8-B,   9-C,  10-C

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Restricting and Sorting Data Questions

1. What are the elements NOT contained in the WHERE clause predicate of the SELECT query?
A) Comparison operator
B) Comparison condition
C) Column Name
D) Table Name

2. Which of the following values can NOT be returned after evaluation of WHERE clause condition?

3. Which of the following statements are correct about the WHERE clause?
A) Column Alias can be used in WHERE clause to refer a column
B) Comparison operator is an optional element in WHERE clause condition
C) Functions can be used as operands in the WHERE clause
D) There can be multiple WHERE clause in a SELECT query

4. From the below operators, which one of them holds the highest precedence level?
A) Division (/)
B) Multiplication (*)
C) Brackets ( () )
D) Subtraction

5. What does the selection of columns in a SELECT statement known as?
A) Retrieval
B) Selection
C) Projection
D) Limiting

6. Which of the following WHERE clauses will NOT fit in the below SELECT query?
SELECT ename, deptno, sal  FROM emp;
B) WHERE SAL IN (‘1000′,’4000′,’2000’);

7. Choose the WHERE clause that extracts the DNAME values containing the character literal “er” from the DEPT table.
A) WHERE DNAME IN (‘%e%r’);

8. Which of the following is used to end a SQL query?
A) :
B) ;
C) .
D) /

9. What is the default date format in Oracle?

10. Which of the following clause defines a Membership condition?

1-D,   2-A,   3-C,   4-C,  5-C,   6-C,   7-B,   8-(B,D),   9-D,  10-D

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Using Single-Row Functions Questions

1. What will be the outcome of the following query?
SELECT ROUND(144.23,-1) FROM dual;
A) 140
B) 144
C) 150
D) 100

2. Which of the following statements is true regarding the COUNT function?
A) COUNT (*) counts duplicate values and NULL values in columns of any data type.
B) COUNT function cannot work with DATE datatypes.
C) COUNT (DISTINCT job_id) returns the number of rows excluding rows containing duplicates and NULL values in the job_id column.
D) A SELECT statement using the COUNT function with a DISTINCT keyword cannot have a WHERE clause.

3. Which of the following commands is used to count the number of rows and non-NULL values in Oracle database?

4. What will be the outcome of the query given below?
SELECT 100+NULL+999 FROM dual;
A) 100
B) 999
D) 1099

5. Determine the output of the below query.
SELECT RPAD(ROUND(‘78945.45′),10,’*’) FROM dual;
A) 78945*****
B) **78945.45
C) The function RPAD cannot be nested with other functions
D) 78945.45****

6. Which of the following commands allows you to substitute a value whenever a NULL or non-NULL value is encountered in an SQL query?

7. What is true about the NULLIF function in Oracle DB?
A) NULLIF(expr1,expr2) will return expr2 if the two expressions are NOT NULL.
B) NULLIF(expr1,expr2) will return 0 if the two expressions are NULL.
C) NULLIF(expr1,expr2) will return NULL if the two expressions are equal.
D) Expr1 can be NULL in NULLIF(expr1, expr2)

8. Which of the following is not a property of functions?
A) Perform calculations on data
B) Convert column data types
C) Modify individual data items
D) None of the above

9. Which of the following are also called Group functions?
A) Single row functions
B) Multi group functions
C) Multiple row functions
D) Single group functions

10. What is true about Number functions?
A) They return both Character as well as Number values
B) They can’t accept expressions as input
C) Number functions can’t be nested.
D) They accept Number arguments and return Number values only.

1-A,   2-A,   3-D,   4-C,  5-A,   6-C,   7-C,   8-D,   9-C,  10-D

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Conditional Expressions Questions

1. What is true about data types in Oracle DB?
A) They are given to columns for sorting purposes.
B) They are given to columns for a structured representation in a table.
C) They are given to columns to constrain the nature of the data it can store.
D) They are not mandatory.

2. Which of the following functions simplify working with columns that potentially contain null values?
A) Nested functions
B) General functions
C) Conditional functions
D) None of the above

3. How many input parameters are mandatory in NVL function?
A) 0
B) 1
C) 2
D) 3

4. What will be the output of the following query?
SELECT NVL(1234) FROM dual;
A) 1234
B) 1000
D) ORA-00909:invalid number of arguments error

5. What happens during an implicit conversion in Oracle DB?
A) Oracle DB implicitly converts one data type to the expected data type
B) The user has to convert the data type to the expected data type
C) Oracle DB doesn’t convert any data type
D) Implicit conversion can be controlled by the user

6. Which of the following expressions can be used explicitly for a conversion of a NUMBER to a CHAR?
B) Use TO_DATE and then convert the date to a NUMBER
D) Such conversion is not possible

7. Which of the following are the functions for explicit conversion provided by Oracle to convert one data type to the other?
D) All of the above

8. Which of the following is true about the following statement in Oracle DB?
TO_CHAR(date, ‘frmt’)
A) The fmt can be written in double quotes as well as single quotes.
B) Case of the fmt doesn’t matter in this function
C) Fmt can include any character or NUMBER
D) The fmt has to be enclosed in single quotes and has to be a valid date format.

9. How many maximum places for display will Oracle DB allocate to the Month element in the following statement?
SELECT TO_CHAR (sysdate, ‘fmMonth’) FROM dual;
A) 5
B) 6
C) 7
D) 9

10. What is true about the COALESCE function in Oracle DB?
A) It can take only 2 arguments
B) All the arguments in the COALESCE function can be of different data types
C) All the arguments in the COALESCE function should be of the same data type
D) None of the above

1-C,   2-B,   3-C,   4-D,  5-A,   6-A,   7-D,   8-D,   9-D,  10-C

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