Wednesday, September 30, 2009

zipf v. ohm

"remember, son", zipf junior was to remember his
father's dying words
"with great power
comes a heavy tale"

with apologies to xkcd

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Time for Carbon Neutral Conferences (and Standards)?

SOme conferences like Infocom and some standards events like the IETF attract a thousand people who fly around the world - a typical academic trying to get promoted might go to 4 or 5 a year just to find out what's going on (just look at the travel budget on any typical research proposal if you don't believe this). So someone working on internet standards and trying to publish papers might do 7-10 inter-continental flights per year.

According to Professor David MacKay's fine book, on sustainable energy, without hot air, (and he is now Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, which is a very good thing)
a single intercontinental flight is about equivalent to 1 year's worth of communting 30 miles per day by car. So these academics (mea culpa) are basically contributing about 10 fairly heavy commuters' worth of Carbon emmissions.

We've been nattering about using the Internet to collaborate for a long time, and tried all sorts of tools (now we have even more with twitter, wiki, blogs, social nets, skype with video and shared white boards). Why don't we bight the bullet and
replace some big conference event with a virtual event and make it work by necessity?
People whinge about it, but the alternative is to plant a lot of trees every time you go to Sigcomm, Infocom, IETF, IEEE, etc etc....which would be ok, but expensive, whereas we're supposed to be the technologists, so why don't we set an example.

We could use EDAS (erm...) and annotate every author, TPC member, conference registree, with a C02 measure....that'd be a way to name and shame em....

Friday, September 25, 2009

google become critical infrastructure, and government buys them:)

so gmail failed (again) yesterday - and some other google services - I am not complaining as they do a fine job compared with some other companies.
but someone was walkin by my office from their outfit and said
"please don't say we're critical infrastructure"

well, i don't think they understand - it isn't up to them - if you build something and it becomes indispensable, it simple becomes critical infrastructure
de facto. it isn't on a whim of a provider- irrespective of what their contract says or they think - its what a0 the public/users think and, b) what governments say.

and before people think governments have no power, lets just point out the UK gov just bought 175 billion worth of worthles banks last year, so buying google if necessary steps are needed to protect national resources, is entirely reasonable - actually, I wonder if Obama had thought of this as an alternative bailout strategy - instead of
supporting a bunch of useless morons on wall stret and in detroit (car companies) he could have used the 1 trillion dollars to buy a bunch of solar power and hi-tech companies and maybe a few oil companies then let the banks go broke.
1. cancel everyones debts in the banks
2. use dividends on new worth while stock to pay interest of people who saved money in the now defunct banks
3. spin out a few new banks based on this new principle - first
google bank of america...a gift oriented bank, which instead of paying interest to, you give away your privacy and see a lot of adverts...

you know it would work....any objects must surely be exactly the same only worse for bailing out banks...for example people who think
"The Man" owning something outs a "chill" on innovation and success of business...well that is a very American disease, and perhaps the Chinese wont care (!!) but in any case, if it is true, it is even worse that the Man now owns banks and car manufacturers who were already broken, and maybe an arms length investment of taxpayers money in things like high tech would have changed things around about this attitude...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

end2end and neutrality principles

the end2end principle is simplest described
as the right to receive any well formed IP packet
no matter what it contains

net neutrality refines and extends this principle to say
that it shouldn't matter
where it came from.

many victims of unsolicited stuff, end users and ISPs alike,
might retort:
"be careful what you wish for"

Friday, September 11, 2009

more molecules in a cup of water than cups in the ocean

only there are less notes in a good tune than there are good tunes in the world...

why is that, pray?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

liquid bomb effectiveness

previously I "pooh poohed" the idea that you could do in a plane with but the beeb got some explosive expert to try it with fairly
convincing results - while a modern wide body plane would probably survive this, a lot of passengers might not, and there's always a probability they hit some vital controls in some unforeseen it looks like the whole painful thing of not carrying drinks through security in airports was not totally bogus after all....oh well...

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Gambling with only 1 throw of dice...on the Earth's Future

The BBC reports that one could engineer to save the planet

while many of the proposals make some sense (e.g. mirrors in space) in basic physics terms, what they totally fail to capture is the risk. We really don't know what happens if we block a significant amount of the spectrum/sunlight hitting the earth's upper atmpsphere, while continuing to fill the biosphere with too much CO2 and other stuff

what we do kow is that homeostasis works in Very Large Systems whereas messing with basic parameters/operating points might change a whole set of sub-systems stability and is completely reaching in the dark - scientists (especially scientists, not engineers) making these proposals are wholly dishonest and irresponsible to claim these are "stopgaps" until we figure out how to re-stabilize our own behaviour (switch to sustainable culture) since the timescales to understand the impact of massive geo-engineering projects are precisely the same as the timescales to fix the fundamentals in our societies. Frankly, I am dismayed to see the re-emergence of 1950s style naive optimism in the Men in White Coats.

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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