Saturday, October 31, 2009

the day the internet stood still

this has it just about right

Tricycle design

i was lookin at the design of a bike made
simply of 3 circles
front wheel, backwheel and seaterwheel
connected in a triangle by their axes...

/ \
O - O

tryin to realise this in materials... ...

Friday, October 30, 2009

dan brown - the lost clue?

so there's a bit in the lost s symbol when a super hacker
is trying to find the source of a document that a distributed search engine has uncovered magically, but is phoned up by the CIA mid hacking to be asked what he is doing...oh yeah, some super hacker, eh...

meanwhile, the writing "style" (for want of a better word) still reminds me of a small child or puppy that wants to go "wee wee" - it's all breathless urgency, but for no obvious reason whatsoever - the hacks (every chapter starts with a jump forward in time, then has to go back and explain how we got there, then ends with a cliff hanger) reminds me of early TV batman episodes (don't even mention Dr Who:)

THe occasional complete misuse of words is astounding (don't his editors do anything for their vast profit/income he generates...

nevertheless, it was a fun 33 minutes read.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

CS meets news control and CS meets germs and immune systems

1. wonders how easy a provenance tracker for news would be to hack up (hint hint = plagiarism detector + rss feed merger) - this'd automate flat earth news reporting - maybe google news could run it as an aggregator:)

it would be nice to see a threaded source of news, and see when the BBC, Fox, CNN, Guardian, Times of India are "reporting" things that are actually just press releases from Number 10 Downing St or Company X's publicity department....

2. your immune system can cope with a certain number of different viruses and a certain number of different immune responses - has anyone done cryptanalysis to figure out
why? for example, immunising you against a new thing can make you less immune to another thing - this sounds like wherever the T cells store their signatures has a finite heap or stack size

the former would be good for sanity, the latter for general well being:)

Thursday, October 22, 2009


talk yesterday about optimsiing runtime for javascript vm in chrome
by the chrome add-on man:)

i was confused at first as v8 is a nice multi-vegetable drink we have at home a lot
and its also one of the signs on the back of the Rover 3500 they trashed on top gear recently, and both these associations were probably not along the lines the speaker intended....

on the other hand, he obviously hadn't read about making oCaml networking apps go fast:)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

collision avoidance for cell phone walkers (and cyclists (and drivers))

here's the thing - you're walking along and suddenly someone crashes into you - normally, humans use eye contact to avoid this, but nwoadays all humans are only eyeballing their smart phone screen so the obvious thing to do is to give the phone
the awareness its about to hit someone and have it beep (faster and faster as you get closer - like the parking radar systems on fancy cars and airplane collision warning systems do)

this could be made very ergomomic with camera phones in that as you get quite close, your phoen could show you some eyes and have them look the way you should go (the other persons' phones having made sure they do the same so you don't all go the same way in that collison avoidance dance you sometimes see) _ actually another verison would be one that shows you the person you are about to walk in to is a friend and maybe you should say hi rather than texting/emailing them:)

this could extend for cyclists so they no longer need to look where they ride
and drivers too in cars and buses...

then eventually the phones could just do the driving for you

and we could all just stay at home...

Friday, October 16, 2009

privacy, the internet, and asymmetric warfare

A recent paper on Broken Promises of Privacy: Responding to the Surprising Failure of Anonymization, by
Paul Ohm (colorado school of law...)
and a recent report on net legislationby the All Party Parliamentary Communications Group of the UK government, both conclude that there are interesting times ahead when it comes to personal privacy, and both seem to say that "database state" and "database capitalism" are bad ideas. Essentially, the ability to do "joins" on unrelated databases, whether they are anonymized well or not, allows accurate pinpointing on individuals to a very very fine level of detail.

Solutions invlve
1) only gathering data for fit purpose for specific use by specific users and anonymizing it
and (AND, not or)
2) strictly controlling the flow of such data in any way, means or form.
3/ deleting it for ever when you are done (forgetting things is not an evolutionary error - it is a vital part of staying sane for individuals and probably should be wired into the networked society too - c.f. losing freinds on facebook in a friendly way!)

The problem is that Brin's proposal (we all watch each other, so we lose privacy, but so do the watchers), doesn't work when you have assymetric power (large organisation v. small individual), whereas controlling the flow of data might just work if it is legislated and penalties are good. Note that this does not stop useful things like evidence based medicine, because we have shared goals - but it does stop the use of correlation (think, signal processing, minimum entropy information theory etc) between completely unrelated databases.

For me, this makes a lot of sense human behavioural terms. We all present ourselves differently to different people at different times (we "lie" all the time) - this is essential for society to work well - unifying all views flies in the face of good social flexibility - so the government and the advertisers wet dream of combining information about belief, health, education, employment, finance, for every individual is completely and utterly misguided and actually extremely dangerous.

We already have a stressed out society because of speed of change (c.f. John Brunner's excellent shockwave rider). Complete transparency would be (as has also been speculated in various Sci Fi books) like reading everyones mind all the time - we'd hate everyone. it would be a disaster. I doubt we'd survive in fact.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

hard-to-lose money idea

so we could use the fact that now it is possible to have N or S magnets on their own to create a type of money you would find hard to lose -

your money could be South and your money North (other way round woud be bad, since your money would "head south" which would not be good) - then money would stop falling out of your pocket so easily

we could call this (pause for a comic beat)...

Monopoly Money


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

swiss army locksmithereens

a lot of inventions are really just bi-sociation - one simple exmaple is
wouldn't it be nice if your mobile phone was a camera, or your phone was a laptop, or your phone was a razo

now, lost your car keys, your front door keys, your bike lock keys, your phone keypad unlock keys? solution: the swiss army lock smithereen.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

journalists dont get it

some dweeb at the bweeb complained about watching a footie match avaialble only on the interweb, on their 12" display instead of on their 40" plasa tv - doh, why didn't they plug the PC into the TV? all 3 TVs in my house have at least 1 simple way to plug in a mac or a pc....and they're mostly cheaper LCD things....

really we should stop referring to what people produce in newspapers, radio and other broadcast media as "news" - these guys are the "olds".

Sunday, October 04, 2009

comment is content free

so i am not one that subscribes to the idea that the internet is full of sound and fury signifying nothing, but it is interesting how cultures online vary from site to site and time to time , in terms of restraint or thoughtfulness of user contributed content - today's astoundingly stupid stuff includes both youtube commentary

this time: appalingly ignorant comments about the nature and history of the song Helter Skelter, and a fairly hardcore punk/goth version by Siouxie & the accurately named Banshees, apparently a "hippy song" according to some pundits...hmm - i wonder what Charles Manson would do to them; and the BBC's Have Your Say, comments on the significance (or otherwise) of the 2nd Irish referendum on the EU's Lisbon Treaty- case in point, where the most recommended comment at the time of typing this isn't even grammatically correct.


Friday, October 02, 2009


so when i was a yoof, we used to go around wearin ex RAF greatcoats wot we bought from the army and navy shop on hampstead road - this was before punk (and i wasnt yet a post-punk hippy) and we used to go to the Roundhouse and see bands like Magma and Amon Duul and henry cow, or occasionaly famous people like the stones or thin lizzy or whatever

but we woz conufsed as many of us didn;t kno that it was a "greatcoat" - peopel thought maybe it was a Grey Coat...

a bit like
common-or-garden, which some people seem to pronounce common-all-garden

or maybe you can fink of other fings wot we got wrong, i'd appreeshiate u dropin me a line...

maybe you went to the music machine or the electrik ballroom to see madness/speshuls/selector too...

or remember the first gong gig in camden and the global village trucking company, or even Osibisa

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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