Tuesday, December 30, 2008

xmas tv computing lecture website - fun for all the family...

Royal Inst. Xmas Lectures of 2008 were all about computing science - the web site has a lot of nice interaction tricks which should be 2nd nature to every primary school kid by the end of the recession:)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Reverse Engineering is like Physics

Its often been remarked that debugging is like science. But reverse engineering is even more like science. So when people measure the internet (e.g. Rocketfuel) to figure out how the topology and capacity have evolved , they are reverse engineering (and in the process, try to infer mechanisms that explain, and don't just describe the phenomenon) - similar work on measuring P2P, and IPTV and skype (the great Blackhat paper on dismantling skype) are all very good.

So next: facebook - lets dismantle that and replace it with something better shall we?

better = something where I get good default security and properties on objects I "own" flow properly/. Where I can pick up and move my entire facebook account to some other OSN, and can insist (provably) that they do not retain any of my data. better is something where one doesn't just write yet another faceboo app that spams everyone, but can modify the internals (e.g. to build a completely decentralised mobile ad hoc version of facebook) - a bit like haggle deconstructed google..

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

3 more internet ideas

after lastminuite.com, what about

lastminute.com - nanotech grey goo stories

lastminuet.com - fine music for arty assisted suicides

lastmenus.com - take out for deathrow

lastfirst.com - fundamentalist christian blog

Monday, December 15, 2008

innovation, provenance, nationalism and competition

recent debates on bail outs (banks, car companies, etc) has revealed an interesting mix of incomprehension and incredulity in the global eco-system we now inhabit.

lotsa people object to the US bailing out ford, chrylser and GM coz it is unfair competition by the US - on the other hand this sort of assumes a level playing field in the world - there isn't one because of lots and lots of reasons - choosing a few

1. initial conditions - different countries started with more or less advantage (lets mention the US stealing British IPR on becoming independent, basing the workforce on slavery, and government subsidy of research - all also true of the EU, the Arab states and China and India

2. appropriation of natural resources

3. economies of scale (e.g. internal market size)

Other examples will occur (supporters and detractors of Boeing and Airbus continually claim the other side started with massive government subsidy - this could apply all the way from grants to colelges to train aerospace students, up to government "buy or fly national only" policy...

and then there's the internet .. .. ... :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

netheads are also foodies...

so i met up with a random set of people in NY yesterday pre-infocom TPC meeting, and we went to a fine bar and then a very interesting Ethiopian restaurant

It has been my general experience (since 1988) that people in the comms area are really not stereotypically geek at all at least when it comes to food and drink - we definitely have interesting (and not necessarily just expensive) taste:)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

From where does authority vest in a post-Internet era?

Reading Ben Goldacre's excellent Bad Science book&column, and reading Robert Peston's exemplary explanation of recent economic trends, and (just hot off the press) the latest judgment reversal by the the IWF, one could be confused about where real authority lies and from where it vests.

I think the problem is that the Internet (and before it, mass media like daily (tabloid) newspapers, radio and TV, while democratizing those previously elite owned systems, also removes the metadata that gives the information its authority.

Goldacre lambasts folks like "nutritionists" for having bogus qualifications (from non "accreddited" organisations) and for citing research that is not "properly" peer reviewed.

Let me say that we came very close in Cambridge University recently to not bothering to have our computer Science degrees accredited by the IEE (IET) and BCS because their processess were so annoying. Let me say that I have been on about 5 programme committees and 3 journal editor duties a year for 20 years and I frequently see papers published which are "peer reviewed" and do not disclose all the information necessary to verify, validate or reproduce (or, more scientifically correctly speaking, to falsify potentially) the results.... ....

so this has all gotten worse because of the Internet, the Web, Google, and Wikipedia etc

The authority possessed previously by Banks, Governments, Medical Science, the Church, partly vested in Big Buildings - impressive looking temples (go look at the bank of england or houses of parliament or guy's hospital - all look like ancient greek theophilists dreams:), all go to make the little guy (or even the middle man - trader, investor, sick patient or supplicant) to trust that the organisation the building stands for wont vanish or fall down ("fly by night").

Now this has all gone - sub prime and fine mortgages, good and bad shares, medical information and nutritionist marketting/misinformation, and random religions (flying spaghetti monsters and the scientologists) are all on a level playing field in the Flat Earth Infosphere...

How could we fix this? what could we add (and I am not just talking about syntactic sugar like the so-called semantic web) information that would lend support to people's discernment (learning and retaining) ? what would go to show that some item was the result of discipline and investment of real effort, rather than (like this blog itself) just a fad/fashion/press release?

I don't know, but we sure need it for all our wealth, health and sanity... ... ...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

loss of meaning in RL

today they are taking down signs everywhere
because everyone has an iPhone with google maps
and every car has a satnav

only the libraries still
have real maps of the real world

so when I virus the GPS and Internet
how will people find their way
to the libraries, eh?

answer that one on a postcard...

zen koan for the day

in a small world
does a goldfish
remember saying
"go ahead,
make my day"
to the lone

Sunday, December 07, 2008

tivo on the radio - oh and finding lost remote controls

so why are there no cheap time shifting radio/ipods? it'd be great to tune in to some live radio show but then pause etc etc...??? eh? simple s/w extension to....

oh, and why don't remotes have in them radios so I can call them from a central gadget (e.g. my cell phone) and make them ring ? like i can with a dect phone?

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misery me, there is a floccipaucinihilipilification (*) of chronsynclastic infundibuli in these parts and I must therefore refer you to frank zappa instead, and go home