The Passing of a Legend and No Not Steve Jobs…

Art in the form of code...

This Sunday, felt it only proper to take moment to recognize a life we’ve lost which has touched most all people on this planet and many simply just don’t know it.  As the passing of the charismatic as well as enigmatic Steve Jobs caught fire with the global media, the passing of Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie has not brought the same attention, however without Ritchie.  Well, let’s just say Steve would have never been Steve, as Dennis came up with two critical things in his life which provide for our technological life blood today.

The first is the “C” programming language which has become the standard of all languages no matter the operating system, all core applications as well as the OS’s are written in “C”.  This allowed [language and compiler] allowed us to write programs which could easily be converted into the computers native language making programs “portable” as well as fast.

The second was UNIX itself, as being the key operating system of the internet as until Windows came along it was really the only kid on the street and even after 30 years it still kicks windows butt for availability as it just runs.  In addition it also fueled the Linux revolution as well as Free BSD and on down the list.  Too least you think that it is reserved only for those anti-social geeks hanging in the back room with some unnatural Kung-Fu your wrong.  As if you’re a MAC user, just look down at your keyboard as you’re using UNIX!  MAC-OS is actually UNIX! This is why you don’t get virus’s and this is why Steve Jobs became Steve Jobs as without UNIX as a springboard, we wouldn’t have the MAC’s we have today.

Since I’m paying homage to Ritchie (this is sort of how he is known by us geeks) is in the day when I programmed, and would hit a spot of rough water if you will.  I would stop and ask myself “what would Ritchie do” and  this was all LONG before the thing about “what would Beakham do”.  As you look at Ritchie’s code, it truly is beautiful as in the way of art how he crafted the flow and logic of what became UNIX.  In fact it almost carries with it a musical quality as if one conjures up and image of the code in their mind, closes their eyes they assuredly will hear Mozart playing away…

If You Can’t Beat Them, Why Not Join Them…

If you can beat them, then you might as well join them and make a buck! This is why I love capitalism!

Well this is exactly what Lloyd Blankfien has decided to do with the Occupy Wall Street movement as being the King of Capitalism why not?  As Lloyd is the chief of the venerable investment firm of Goldman Sachs and to make lemonade of the lemons brought on by this movement they have kicked off the “Rage” fund to take advantage of the rising tide of social unrest.  Is this a great country or what where you can profit from the unhappiness of the populous even if that “unhappiness” is directed at the very people making the profit!

As this is the point which those seemingly unemployed folks gathering in Manhattan are missing as they have sex under tarps and pan-handle for drug money.  Here the old adage goes “the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer” as this like prostitution and attorneys have been with us since the dawn of time and will be till the sun turns into a red giant and consumes the earth.

The point is that this cycle will keep repeating and yes it is a cycle as there isn’t anything wrong with being wealthy, or even forbid filthy rich and so on as what people forget is these folks aren’t hiding this money in their mattress.  In fact it is just the opposite as these folks are investing this money in some shape, fashion or form.  As even Apple who is sitting on over 60 Billion of cash (yes they are more liquid then the US Federal Government) doesn’t have this money stuffed in the seat cushions of chairs in their lobby gathering dust.

This money is in the market working for them and thus making its way down to the “referentially” poor if you will as it has no choice.  So why are the rich hated so much is unclear as personally I love them, in fact a lot as the more rich people there are, the greater likely hood a little of each (with a little hard work) will make its way to me as hey I’m not a charity either.

As to steal another cliché, “how do you expect to soar with the eagles when you hang with the turkeys”.  As remember too, “birds of a feather flock together” so the first thing to do is if you don’t want to be a victim is stop hanging out with “victims”.  Yes it’s that easy, to change and if you think there is something elitist here think again, as this is America so people are free to be a victim just as they are also free not to be.  This is the option most of the western world enjoys is “choice” and it is one that too few people respect or appreciate as they would rather complain then change themselves for the  better…

1984 Has Come, But Not Gone…

America, home of the free and snooped upon...

As for the last two years, search giant Google has released comprehensive reports twice yearly regarding the frequency of take-down requests along with government data requests it has received in the various countries around the world. Here the latest data, released this week provides us with insight to the first half of 2011.  Well the results were surprising as the statistics showed that the United States continues to lead the rest of the world in spying on Google users.

According to the released documents, US law enforcement agencies made 5,950 separate requests for user data from 11,057 separate user accounts. In addition, also Google reported that it complied with the these requests 93 percent of the time and was almost a 40 percent increase in the number of requests compared to the same period one year earlier. For comparison on a per capita basis, France weighed in with a mere 1,300 request followed up by the United Kingdom with only 1,273.  Outside of these three, other nations remained far behind, however who was really left?  China?

For takedowns, both Brazil and Germany were the leaders primarily due to the popularity of Orkut in Brazil, were Google has addressed 224 requests to “takedown” 689 various items from Google services in Brazil. Whereas in Germany they received a total of 125 request’s for the removal of 2,405 various items.  Interestingly enough 1,585 were related to allegedly defamatory search results, which leads one to wonder about the freedom of speech in the farther land.

However what was of greater interest is this gives us a peek into how Google deals with censorious issues around the globe. For example here at home in the United States, Google received many requests from [unnamed] law enforcement agencies to remove videos which allegedly depicted police brutality taking place or the defamation of police officers. Here Google claims that it declined these requests.

Yet on the down side in India, Google was pressured to remove YouTube videos which “displayed protests against social leaders or used offensive language in reference to religious leaders.” Per Google, they declined to remove the majority of the videos, however agreed to blocked access within India based upon cases where local law requires it.

One of the countries which I found interesting was Japan as being a nation of 127 million, Google fielded only a microscopic 75 user data requests and no takedown requests.  However what drives this difference is Google just not as popular in the land of the rising sun, or does it simply reflect legal and cultural differences between Japan and Western nations…

Life In A Fish Bowl….

We are only limited by our decisions about our environment...

It was Ed Bartell, who taught me an important lesson in life, as Ed owned a small  tropical fish shop and as a youth as most do I enjoyed tropical fish and aquariums.  While I didn’t know him well, he however appeared to be a retiree just looking for something to pass his time and keep a connection to people.  However, it was on one day that I was visiting him with my mother to pick up supplies when I noticed a large fish in an equally and unusually large tank.  When I asked Ed about this, he said fish would typically grow in reference to the size of the tank which the fish lived.

Not only was this interesting to me, it also made sense as the larger the tank, the more over all “resources” would be available for the fish, as keep in mind unlike the sea of air we live in.  The Aquarium is a (limited) sea of liquid in a ocean of air meaning the amount of available oxygenated environment was limited.  Additionally, because of this limitation, there is also a trickle-down effect which happens too because of this. Here other variables such as light as well as the amount of food also disperse in a similar ratio to the environment.

This intrigued me as if one understood the things which limited them; they then would have a chance to change those items to their benefit.  Therefore removing the restrictions which restricted them, an opportunity the fish contained in his liquid world doesn’t have.  However for us human animals, even given this opportunity and understanding we seem to miss out on taking advantage of this cognitive ability.

We seem to stay put in the same area where we are raised even though like the fish bowl there may not be the opportunities for employment there by limiting our growth. Education too, as many times we fear venturing away from the nest to educate ourselves be it formal as in university, or informal as traveling to far off lands to experience a new culture.  Instead many of our norms keep us planted much like the fish in the bowl, where we attempt employ and social programs if I can borrow from a popular cliché as “we attempt to bring the mountain to Mohammed” rather than “bringing Mohammed to the mountain“.  As the later is far more efficient than the prior when it comes to investment and return…

Psychopaths Say The Strangest Things…

The "Word" is truly mightier then the sword...

As language is the universal “tell”, it makes sense that the better we understand its construction, the more effective we will be.  To this end, researchers at Cornell University conducted a study which analyzed the speech patterns of 14 imprisoned clinically psychopathic male murderers where each were individually asked to describe their crimes in full detail.

The result of the interviews were then subjected to computer analysis by the researchers and the results were interesting to say the least.  As it showed the psychopaths tended to use more conjunctions like “because,” “since” or “so that,” which implied they believed the crime “had to be done” to obtain a particular goal.  What struck me as somewhat scary is isn’t this what most of us do every day to earn a living?  As if you’re not doing something to achieve a goal, than why do it correct?

To this later point, in conjunction the researchers also found that the psychopaths tended to use twice as many words relating to their physical needs.  Examples were things such as food, sex, or money, yet in turn when the researchers studied non-psychopaths they found the use of more words focusing on social needs that included family, religion, and spirituality.

From this research it was clear that psychopathic murderers use words which reveal a high level of selfishness, detachment, along with emotional flatness, in their speech patterns.  While this post might be perceived as a helpful tutorial to identify (male) workplace psychopathic murders.  In actuality the goal ( dare I use that word) is share the dynamics as “man” being a human animal, and his words are a gateway to his psyche.

As in prior posts, I’ve on the written on the topic of magic words, “tells” and reading movements to establish truths and lies.  So this “clinical” research adds the knowledge base of reading the human animal like an open book.  As even as basic understanding will not only help us competitively, however personally too.  As if we just listen to ourselves (which people typically don’t) we can find out a lot about how we really feel as many times we suppress the thoughts we don’t want to deal with, yet we allow them to manifest via our words.

In fact, not only do we do it, others which we interact with on a daily bases do also.  Where understanding what is really under pinning a conversation is in fact more critical then the conversation itself…

Getting Things Done…

As Larry the Cable Guy would say, Let's git-r-done!

You know if I had a dime for every time in my life I heard that “people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan”, I would not be writing this blog as I would have more money than I would know what to do with.  So, ok maybe then I would be still blogging however it would be about how to spend that much money, as the media of late seems to think the United States is packed with the filthy with wealth stolen from the backs of others.  However I digress as I just finished reading a BBC story on all the (implied) undeserving rich “risk takers” in New York.

Yet back on track, since that’s not the case and here we both sit, figured it would be good to further wax about getting things done and how it might work other than quoting clichés.  As one of the fatherly keys I was given as a youth was to “take small bites”, and I’m not talking meals here.  As the task my father had given me was to break up this large section of concrete walk way and haul it way to make room for a new one.  Well needless to say I stood there in awe of the seemingly immense task ahead of me and stated to pound here ad there in the massive are.  After leaving me to my own demise, my father returned to check my progress.

Well you can guess he was not pleased with what he found, however to his credit, instead of getting mad and delivering one of those “dad” type lectures.  He instead took the time to educate me, he explained “son break your work down n to small pieces”, this way he explained you’re not blinded by the bigger task at hand and if properly managed the small pieces you will surely achieve your goals. To further this he broke one slab and carried it away saying, see doing it this way, you can also see the fruits of your work which motivates you to keep going.

To me this was a viral lesson, as taking a single “small bite” provided not only the path to the next, however more importantly the motivation to move to the next.  In life, I’ve found that be it the manual demolition of a sidewalk, or the construction of a half a billion Euro data center, it all works the same.  As when approaching any large task, the first thing I do is look for the logical break points to create those bites.  I also look out for that face my father saw in me that morning over 4 decades ago in my teammates and instead addressing it with discourse; I take the same route my father took with me being that of education by example.  As if you will to roll up your sleeves and do things which teach, that is worth all the harsh words which are bound up by Webster.

However you know something?  While I promised to stay away from clichés, I didn’t promise to avoid a riddle, as how do you eat an elephant (assuming in the first place you wanted to)?  Yes, one bite at a time!  Bonn Appétit…

To Tell a Story…

Who invests in stories any more?

Anthropologically, stories are very important to us as being the human animal we are the only species which possess the ability to communicate complex social concepts from generation to generation.  As while the greater animal kingdom provides mechanical means to transmit stories say in the way of the ant which secrete pheromones to pass information or the dance of the bee.  The message is not embedded with emotion and neither is it passed via generations building a knowledge base for each proceeding generation to leverage verses relearning.

As this is a key aspect, the ability to not need to re-learn critical pieces of information, as for example just think if man had to keep (generation over generation) relearning to create fire as well as its value?  Instead, the next generation can be “taught” the rote fact and focus the extra time on creating improvements and embellishing upon the prior learning’s again passing these along via story.

In these stories, we also interweave “emotions” which assist in embedding the “rote” learning by tickling our fancy if you will as when we bridge the world of non-fiction with that of fiction we develop a powerful duel hemispherical combination of synaptic significance.  However the point here isn’t so much the importance of the art of storytelling, however the way the telling of a story is changing in our modern digitally driven world.

As we forgo the printed media of the past for our new fangled digital gadgets with all their bells and whistles are we forgetting the “story”?  As you see every day venture capitalists doling out money for tech start ups which have no clue how to make money on a repetitive basis.  Yet how many invest in the art of storytelling, as if anything this appears to be heading backwards as the common man enters the story telling world the “value” of the word is changing drastically in fact one could say it’s in a economic free fall with no bottom in sight.

While in a way this is a good thing as the old machine limited the message and Marshall McLuhan said so insightfully some five decades ago, “The Medium is the Message” meaning you can say what you want however it will still be shaped by the medium in which its delivered to the consumer.  As radio with its medium limited only audio words, left the individuals mind to paint its own picture, while television on the other hand robbed us of that individual enjoyment by providing us with not only the word but also force feeding us a common set of images.

Now with the Internet we have the printed word as in the book, the spoken word as in the radio and the moving pictures as in TV, all like with the ability to actively change these at our will taking another truth (story) and reshaping to our remix if you will.  However again who is investing in the story itself as the old word Media Barons implode fewer seem to be seeking the formal world as way of life as instead it seems to be, becoming craft of a second class nature and while digitally we may be all dressed up, we assuredly be lacking some place to go unless things change…

Trojans Aren’t What they Use to Be…

One Mans wiretap is another mans virus, who is right?

While in the times of old, the term had been adapted from its wooded horse days of ancient Troy to that of semi-modern day protection scheme dreamed of by adolescent boys and adorned in their wallets as a sign of passage.  However in today’s techno crazy world the term has reverted to that of sneaky malware which invades your computer to tattle on you as well as annoy you with nagging pop up’s which you can never seem to kill.

However they have also grown to be somewhat of a tool for state intelligence agency’s to spy on the purportedly bad folks out aka 1984 where Big Brother is watching.   Yet this might be more a kin to the Minority Report were the idea is to punish now for a future bad.  However the ethos of shall I punish you  today for a crime you might perform next Tuesdays isn’t the purpose of the post as is the political faux paux which Hern Merkel the Chancellor of Germany and seemly the only person in the EU with any money finds herself in today.

As it appears that the German government’s “lawful interception” [LI] application, which was supposedly designed only to monitor IP telephone calls, is let us say just a little more powerful than the police originally let on. Of late, the Berlin-based CCC has released its analysis of Germany’s “Quellen-TKÜ” (German for “source wiretapping”) trojan. As you can guess, the results weren’t that pretty and despite a constitutional court ban on the use of malware such as this to crack PCs, the government sanctioned malware  makers didn’t bother to add any technical barriers to ensure that their mischievous creation would only be used for tapping Internet telephone conversations.

One might say this was even a oops on their part,  as on the contrary, the design even included additional functionality which allowed it to clandestinely add more components over the network right from the start.  This ability allowed it to make for a bridge-head to further infiltrate the computer past that of just VoIP calls.

So who has used this darling of an app you ask, Well it appears that our brew loving friends in the  German state of Bavaria says it has used Quellen-TKÜ.  However only legally (of course), its officials insist.  However what is more interesting is its reported that Bavaria approached the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2007 to learn more about the use of malware techniques in the US.  This fact alone points out our friends on the opposite side of the Atlantic aren’t the only ones with a Big Brother ego as it seems we (Americans) are doing a dandy job at it too.

As technology increasing “invades” our daily life, it’s only natural that the tools used to “watch” this also increase in direct proportion.  As time moves on, it’s clear the gray line will not change color, only grow in width. Yet if another 9/11 could be prevented (which it may have and we “Joe average citizen” don’t know it), would it be worth it…

The Death of The Meeting…

How many meeting can a person have?

How many meetings do you attend at work and what percentage of time does this consume?  Yes I hear you my brothers and sisters in arms, as it’s a crazy number isn’t it?  Also, when you walk into a packed meeting room and see all those smiling faces there, do you ask yourself why are all these people here? Don’t they have a job or something like that?

As in the days of old, meetings served two purposes, the first being the sharing of information as in those days (which seems like just a few years ago) we didn’t have dashboards, RSS feeds, IM, corporate blogs, Share Point sites and so on.  Here (using the RACI model) we would gather at least the top three (Responsible, Accountable and Consultative) parties into one room or call under the guise of information sharing. Yet today, companies which still follow this mode of operation are heading for extinction as not only is this a waste of money (of the people sitting in the room), it also a squandering of “time” in the form of agility which can never be earned back.  In this area, Web 2.0 tools have reshaped this objective where for the most part companies having failed to consider these will be heading the way of the dinosaur.

The second reason is for decision making, as here the top two (Responsible and Accountable) may join to form a conclave to create (high value) consensus, around specific topics.  While there are tools for addressing low value [decision] items which should be employed to facilitate rote workflow.  The higher ones typically are focused upon “ideology” which still carry the “face to face” value as while the “logos” can be transferred my tool, the “pathos” of the commitment is better set in person as more can be said by presents then words.

The end is near, resistance to the meeting is futile or is it?

So with this said, why do we still violate these rules even knowing and understanding this?  The reason is while our personal logos (ability to apply logic), matches that of the tools provided by the world around us, the nagging devil in our pathos has not caught up with the outside world.  As we are still bound by our old models as social norms cannot keep up with the rapid pace of Moore’s Law and in fact there will come a point in the future where a shearing point between “technology” and that of “society” will be reached as the two will have separated too far to be reconciled.

As it’s said that bureaucracy is the “governor” of business, it’s also clear that social “norms” will be the governor of technology…

Something is Better Than Nothing…

I still cant tell which one this is, however they are flying off the shelves due to Apples magic touch.

A week or so back I wrote about “disappointment”, in the context of the venerable announcement of the iPhone 4s in the light of expectation of a wholly new if you will iPhone 5.  Yes with the per-verbal tear drop shape, larger screen and just an overall goodness to be had. Yet the new Apple overlords offered us mere mortals nothing more than a few extra cycles with a retro fitted iPad processor (not even a new one of these either) and something call Siri.

Well insert a yawn here still as this is boring stuff however again Apple is proving logo power is the only power as the orders are coming in at record breaking rates so what gives here?  It’s almost as if they could slap that half eaten fruit logo on anything and people would wait in mile long lines just for a shot at owning it.

Yet what we are see here anthropologically is more interesting as it’s a culmination of several different paradigms colliding together.  As people are “culture” starved and the concept of “culture” is typically one of belonging or committing to a common item or ideology.  In turn that “common” item must be exclusive enough to be limiting and here Apple fits the bill with a matching [expensive] pricing structure and product line to boot.

Therefore even lack luster (ie something) is better than nothing when it comes to building a cult.  Also this goes to show the ole bait and switch is still alive as are beer goggles at closing time.  As with so much hype abounding about the potential of the iPhone 5, then boom its vaporware and in steps a remix of the prior version, what are (hot and bothered) people to do?  As they are now all dressed up with simply nowhere to go, conditioned as were Pavlov’s dog to salivate at the ringing of a bell.  The gadget consuming world too has also succumb to the Svengali spell cast by the Hogwarts trained sorcerer’s hidden away at 1 Infinite Loop.

It’s no wonder Apple has achieved the number one brand standing in the world given the fact it can create hype about the same ole, same ole and have millions pull their wallets out with a wave of their magic wand.

Here the other aspect is given the fact everyone was dressed up, and now there was no place to go, and nothing else in sight enabled a one two punch to be delivered to the consumers solar plexus. As while recoiling from this unexpected blow, it seems their wallets have become dislodged from their pants and purses.

So be it the waving of the magic Cupertino wand, or the brut violence of a quick one, two striking the unsuspecting consumer.  There is a lot to be learned here as this is a business dream, something for nothing and your checks for free…

The Mountain of Debt Grows as the Second Shoe Prepares to Drop…

Look Ma, no cash, no responsibly and I can still go shopping! Isn't America a great place?

Well folks the numbers are out, and personal credit debt grew by a whopping 18.9 Billion, yes with a “B” in the second quarter ironically as did unemployment as there seems to be no stopping the personal debt monster from growing out of control.  Assuredly you  all can guess what this means as yes folks we have not seen the last of the bad times and as much as I would like to sit here and prognosticate the world is headed back to the nirvana of the days of old, it instead is readying itself for yet another roller coaster dip.

While some might say, hey unemployment is driving people to the further evils of the plastic monster and while partly true, statistically it does not pan out ratio wise.  What is then we have to ask ourselves and the answer is one which is not that pleasant to face up as its one of entitlement and abandonment.  Yes folks have grown so accustom to “have, have, have” at all cost they have forgotten the costs and that the piper wants to be paid.  As this is the first part of “entitlement” the world owes them something for being, so therefore they feel the rights to take what they wish.

The second is the “abandonment” of the associated responsibility created by the “I deserve so therefore I will have” attitude.  As the new debtor views credit as a throw away commodity, to be used, abused and discarded just as yesterday’s newspaper as like the “newspaper” there will be another [credit card] at their doorstep the next morning.

Yet the issue here which is growing is the fact that the more people who are overcome by this debt based virus, the fewer people there are to feed the beast and trust me the “beast” will feed.  As many of these turn to this dump and run ideology may are justifying it as they are putting it to the man, yes they striking them with a swift upper kick to the family jewels which will assuredly bring them to their knees with tears in their eyes.

However in reality the ones that are taking it to the testicals are us, yes the working class folks who are keeping our plastic in our pocket, paying our bills and putting a few dollars away for a rainy day.  As with shop lifting (which is what this is) that appears victimless, is in fact simply making the rest of a victim of their entitlement based life style.

With this said, it’s also up to us (the working class bill paying folks) to speak up when we see this, as this has become a socially accepted norm which is a bad thing as would we sit there if someone we knew was a shoplifter and we said nothing about it as they did it…

Occupy Wall Street…

I've read the averaging reading ability in the United States is a 6th grade level, now I understand...

Guess my first question would be why, however I digress before even getting started because as I write this I’m sitting here in Asia.  In fact I’m in Taiwan watching the international version of CNN as well as the BBC, as there aren’t a lot of English speaking channels here if you know what I mean.

However the reporting here is wholly different then what we get in the United States as the reporting of both portray America as a land of capitalistic greed with the “upper social classes” stealing from the mouths of those perceived to be lesser fortunate.  Which really gets me thinking as what do these protesters really expect to gain out of this?  While to a certain extent I have to admit part of Wall Street is flawed, yet it also provides for something amazing and that is to allow the little guy to get in on big things.  As just try this elsewhere in the world, I say these folks should move to China and the first thing they will find is they can’t protest and by the way they get what the government wants them to have so forget about investing.

While in this same vein, the right to protest is a key liberty we as Americans have, however there needs to be a point exercising the right. There needs to be a goal and it needs to be valid for society and not just a bunch of grudged up Gen-Yers who’s parents have supported them based upon the same machine which they are protesting the evils of.  Even based upon the news reports, one could easily question if they realize how the stock market works and why it exists at all.

As mentioned the system isn’t without its flaws and if they want to call attention to those so they can be improved that’s a fine and supportable endeavor as even I lose sleep that even after the debacle of 2008 and the mortgage melt down that the regulators have not eliminated nor cracked down on the use of “synthetic” investments.  Also, while I’ve seen some movements towards a return to GlassSteagall type rules, banks should have been immediately banned from trading activities as I said it in the day and will say it again, banks should not trade!

However aside from this, anywhere else, where are you going to get this [the ability to invest], having traveled the world I can tell you that we in the states have it the best when it comes to the open access of financial markets and the ability to profit from them.  So why are these folks protesting, should they instead be grateful that they have a chance few people in the world have?  As they have the right to participate in the greatest capitalistic market in the world which allows them the creation of their own destiny…