We’re the Leading (Insert Description Here)…

Whats the difference between #1 and #2? (answer just one number)

What is interesting is everyone works for a “leader” or so it seems as if I received a dollar (or better yet a euro) for every time I’ve heard this, I would be giving Carlos Slim a run for his money shooting for the spot of the wealthiest person in the world.  So why do I write this you ask, well I’m sitting in the KLM lounge at Schiphol airport here in Amsterdam waiting for my flight home and out of the corner of my ear I catch this conversation of two other travelers making small talk and as one introduces himself (as in person) he’s then announces his company affiliation by saying “We’re the leading XXXXX company”.

Alright no big deal right, you (we) hear this all the time as for me in the lounge this was most likely the third occurrence this morning. Also not sure  why it struck me, however it did that we always want to be part of a “leader” and we are happy to distill it down to a denominator where are.  An example is a colleague upon changing jobs shared that his firm was the largest supplier of IT services to “organic farmers”.  To myself it was “wow, he had to really distill this one down, as it wasn’t agriculture, nor farming, however “organic farming”.  Yet they where the leader and he was at least anthropologically speaking part of the top quartile.

The urge to be part of something is interesting in itself as we are social animals seeking others of like and kind.  However we now seek to also be at the top, and how many people can be at the top?  Good question right, as there can only be one “number one”, so now we must start to “classify” to open up more number “one” slots, then when those run out of those we move on to “stratification” as in having “differing levels” of number one.

Ironically, this is where I found the old Avis commercials of interest as they use to say “we’re number two trying hard to be number one”.  As here is another anthropological axiom in that “everyone loves an underdog”, so why do we “brag” or “boast” (depending on the fact or fiction of the reality) being number one if our goal is to be “loved” (a rhetoric phrase to seek acceptance)?  As wouldn’t it make more sense to be more like Avis if we truly want to seek the love?

As on the other side of the coin, isn’t there always a level of animosity toward those folks we perceive to be higher in “classification” and “Stratification”?  Aren’t we always shooting for (i.e. at number one), so why then place ourselves there?  From here on out, for me it’s going to be the Avis model as I’m happy to be number two, just trying a bit harder…

All The Words Have Been Spoken…

When its all said, what is there left to say?

It’s early in the morning, about 5am and I’m sitting here in Amsterdam, where there is a chill in the air even though I’m sort of sitting inside with a cup of coffee.  The steam from the hot beverage is lazily rising as I stare at it, as it whisks off into what appears to be nothingness and then it hits me.

Yes what hits me is the fact that every “word” which can be said has been “said”, every note that can be played has been “played” and so on. This is a stark cold feeling to think that all things in as such exist in “absolutes” as if every “word” has been said then what do we have to say?  While yes, I fully understand the fact we sort of invent new words every year so is this epiphany really valid?  I could argue till the cows come home that each “new” slang word is really a hybrid of yet a predecessor word which has been “said” already so we are simply messing with destiny.

However that’s not the argument which I’m looking to make today as I’m waxing about “absolutes” and not hybrids.  As what does it mean that everything has been said, is the “fact” of the “actuality” is becoming the “reality”? In other words is our world, our being one of absolutes?

As this reminded me of back in Jr High for a literature class I had to read a story and in fact I can’t remember the name, yet it’s point is sort of set at the dawn of the computer era (big computers not PC’s, I’m old ok) where an Asia Cult (implied near Tibetan) buys a computer from the firm of the day (implied as IBM).  The purpose you ask, simple enumerate all the names of “god”, basic enough task right?

Well the implied hero (if you can call him that) is a computer programmer and team lead whose job it was to achieve the task.  All the while the team feels they are being held captive by the cult (metaphorically) and they will be killed upon completion, yet in turn when the end of the task is near, they are released.  Fleeing the mountainous area on horseback at night with what they believe is their lives, they start to recount their feelings of the task and learning’s while captive.  Then abruptly our hero looks down at his watch then mentions the final job should now be finishing an glances skyward and saying only “the sky is clear and the stars are gone” before the story ends abruptly…

Uncle “Bill’’ Wants You…

Welcome to my parlor said the spider to the fly...

Yes I know technically its Steve Ballmer that’s running Microsoft while Uncle Bill has decided to step back and spend some of his money.  Yet you know he’s still there and Uncle Bill for some reason in the title sounded better than Uncle Steve.  In addition it could be more true to call out Bill when you’re writing a post on world domination either as with Bill, yea I can see him taking over the world, Steve on the other hand, well let’s say I still can’t get that video of him on stage screaming for what seemed like three hours out of my head.

However long [years] ago, there was this show on the Discovery Channel about the creation of the Microsoft Xbox and near the start, there was a Microsoft executive who was in charge of the project say “Microsoft wants to take over your set top”.  In short, they want control of you (as most media companies do), via the “media” you consume.  To do this, Microsoft has now laid out their grand plan to transform that humble Xbox 360 into a “mega media hub” for everything from watching television shows, movies, games and music this year.

To achieve this, they will launch a new dashboard update which will bring to the populace the ability to use the amazing “Kinect” interface to search for content across all your services which are connected to your system [as you want them all connected right?].  Also the Redmond juggernaut isn’t planning on stopping here [why when you’re on a roll right] as will also add Microsoft’s digital storefronts on Xbox Live as well as live television too.

Ok, you say ho hum slow news day and this is just more digital fodder right?  Well that’s what I thought too when I read the story, however it hit me afterwards and had to come back to it as it was one word which I over looked the first time around.  Yes that one word, what was it, oh yes its “Kinect” their new hit interface, you know kind of like Apple’s Siri?  Aah do you get it now, well if not and your still stuck watching Dallas reruns, let me help you out a bit.

In short the world is changing and changing fast in the way we interact with machines, and what is amazing is just how fast the adoption rate has been.  As Apple has brought this power to our hand-sets, Microsoft plans on placing it in our living rooms.  This in short will mean a huge coming paradigm shift in the way we interact with our world and especially the digital one.  As the coming technological conversion of sorts will be focused on removing technology from just being “technology” to simply being a part of our life’s.  As a keyboard and mouse, who needs them when I can “touch”, “talk too” and “physically interact” with it [technology] via my movement…

Just Thinking About It…

A brain by any other name would be just a lump of calories...

Well folks this is the last month of yes, 2011 and the end is nearing as the sands of time in the hour glass of December start to run short.  With this we all know what comes next don’t we?  Alright, here is a hint as it all starts with the New Year and what do people typically do at that time?  Yes, they make New Years resolutions as what do they want to change in the New Year.  In essence it is one of the few times where we “reflect forward”, instead of the backwards as in what do we want to be rather then looking in the rear-view mirror at what we were.

The list is a pretty common one and typically topped with losing weight or quitting smoking.  Yet the problem with these as they are more “wishes” then actionable items for us to tackle which means it’s harder to make them happen.  So why is this, as there isn’t a question all of this is good stuff and good for us too?

Well part of the answer is energy as we create rules for ourselves which we have to think about.  So you’re “thinking” what does this have to do with “energy”, well its simple as your brain takes a lot of this.  As  this heat is generated by burning calories, yet this post isn’t about the physiology of the brain (however you can look at some of the back posts for more info).

Yet what I wanted to wax about today is the absolutes of this as how can we use this to our benefit.  As one of the things when we decide upon a resolution we want to make where we do not have to “think” about them.  As when we think about things, it takes energy; our brains want to conserve energy so no matter how great the logic, our brains still may betray us because of this.  So what’s the trick?

Simple, rules should be hard and not soft and before going further need to give the standard disclaimer as many of these affect our health.  So if they do, then please seek advice of a healthcare professional.  Now with this said, where failure typically takes place is flexible rules as in ramping up or down.  As when things are flexible you have to think about it, and if you have to think about “it”, you will burn more energy.  In burning energy, your brain wants to take the easy way so in the end the process breaks down.

The solution is hard rules on the other hand make for easy action as you don’t have to think about it as it is what it is. Therefore the brain burns less energy and bada bing, bada boom you move on rather than waxing about it (giving in to temptation) and failing.  Yea I know sound easier then it is, yet it does works save for one thing; yes you guessed it, food.  As cigarettes, alcohol and the like you can just say no to as you don’t need them (physiologically).  However food is a different story as you can’t live without it, so we always must think about it which makes it hard to form into an absolute.  This is why dieting typically fails as you always have to think about…

The Bane and Bust of e-Mail…

What was private is now public and you got mail!

With the recent release of a series of stolen e-mails apparently from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit seems to have been timed in a way that they would make it to the news just in time for the Copenhagen climate conference. Yet while in themselves, didn’t impact the conference itself as the perpetrators of the deed had hoped. They did on the other hand spawn many inquiries, “all of which cleared the researchers” of any technical faux-pas leaving them with only the appearance of an arrogant attitude when it came to the UK’s Freedom of Information Act. Yet whomever the parties were who spirited these mails from their owners is also planning the release of yet another batch ahead  of the upcoming  Durban climate meeting.

However the point to note here isn’t about the validity or politics of  climate change itself, instead its about e-mails.  That wonders invention which ARPNET brought us in the ability to push written messages around to many people at once.  As it’s an amazing thing to think that one e-mail can go to millions of people with a push of a single button.  While I’m might be pushing the spam envelope here, the reality isn’t too far off as the venerable e-mail has created a new form of communication medium if  you will which is connected, persistent and highly replicated.

So it is with breaches such as this and other like Wiki-Leaks which show two things with being anything typed in an e-mail is in the public domain like it or not as its replicated over and over by the technology which transports it, so there is no privacy there.  Second is it is persistent as it never goes away, as much like stomping out a colony  of ants, you will never get them all.  The same holds true for e-mails [as with ants] as the copies will do nothing but replicate, so once created they will persist for eternity.

The other thing about e-mails is they are “connected” as unlike a piece of paper one can’t say (claim) its anonymous, as e-mails have a connection to their sender.  As they not only have the message, they also carry the path taken to and from their connected source.

Finally it hit me about this story as who cares, yes who cares that these are stolen mails and that someone done some one wrong?  It seems our norms have shifted to accept the loss of privacy in our [perceived private] communications being made public.  As instead of promoting this as a violation, the concept has been one of rote information sharing and assessment.  Just remember the next time you type a mail, information want to be free and there are many people who will help it along the way.

Power To The People…

Eye sore or icon, as these prickly porcupines like it or not are our new electronic demigods...

As what caught my attention is a  team of researchers with funding from (interesting enough) the Finnish government has managed to develop a technology which  could cut the power consumption used by 3G smartphones by up to 74 percent.  This in turn would mean the extension of services which would include wireless Internet to millions of people residing in developing countries. Here the system is proxy based and uses a system similar to the workaround employed  by Skyfire  to be able to run Flash sites on iPhones, (it’s amazing the one “disruptive” act Steve Jobs did in saying no to Flash has brought with it many add on benefits which is amazing) .

The research was performed at Finland’s Aalto University,  and the research team presented their results at the Africomm 2011 Conference on Telecommunications Infrastructure in Africa. As here is what is interesting is they designed the system with the needs of Africa in mind, and in fact  based their use case testing on data collected from the cellular networks in Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya.

As the adoption of broadband wireless Internet in East Africa has been hampered  by the power consumption issues in the  accessing and downloading of data even while 90 percent of the population in the region lives within the coverage radius of a cellular network.  However the problem is one of power as few in this region have access to reliable sources of electricity. This is where increasing the battery life of low-cost wireless devices, the researchers from Aalto theorized, Internet access could be brought to a much larger percentage of the population base in those countries.

The interesting thing about this system is twofold, as system uses a combination of enhanced Web proxy servers coupled with highly optimized communications between the smartphone and the proxy. The important piece of this puzzle is the proxies don’t have to be part of the cellular network,  as they can be run in the cloud anywhere in the world, and used by smartphones also anywhere in the world.  So what are the two parts to this you be asking yourself?

As the first part of the puzzle is the “cloud” as this is one of the first true signs of a “value” rather than a “cost savings” proposition brought forward by this new paradigm. So no longer is it about just doing the ole for less money, however its now about doing something new.  Second as while this is targeted at Africa, its value proposition is also global in abilities, as this would include other impoverished nations as well as the developed world too.  As in the later example, just think of how many more devices we can embed this  [low power] technology into that we couldn’t in the past.

In short summary, this advancement will allow a significant number of people to join the world wide discussion who were never a part of it before, enabling us as homospaiens to truly become one community with one connected voice…

Slings and Arrows…

Something so simple, yet so patent-able...

Well we won’t wax so much about the later as in arrows, as its the sling which has my interest today as hey!  We all know what a sling is as well as the action of “slinging” right?  Assuredly as a kid you would sling something over your shoulder, maybe a backpack, a BB gun or even a camera as it’s just a natural action, no biggie right?

Well guess what, you’re violating a US patent in doing this as a maker of a camera strap has been recently awarded a patent for this so guess what you won’t be seeing a lot anymore?  If you guessed camera slings your right as they just put everyone else out of business.

Also don’t get me wrong, as protecting ones investment in R&D is a reasonable ask, yet the discovery or implementation must be unique.  Otherwise it is considered “prior art” and not subject to patent protection, so how could something like happen where there is clearly prior art in place?  Well if you find out please let me know too as this is just plain crazy, yet this is a good example of the failing of the entire patent system which I have an issue with.

As for economic growth to take place, one has to be able to perform an “economic activity” which creates “value” such as in manufacturing camera slings.  Second, since we operate in a capitalistic market place, competition is key to control price and drive affordability.  It is here that the current patent laws which are undermining our ability to grow our economy as it has grown to broad in nature and in power.  As just think of the commercial power which is wheeled by the US Patent Office, as while it may appear to be an obscure governmental organization.  It in fact has the power to make or break the US Economy as well as that for most of the free world.

As please keep in mind this is only one example of the failures of the system, and its also worth keeping in mind that “averaging” doesn’t apply as in most cases where for each failure, one missed equals out.  As the original intent of the patent system was never to create monopolies, instead it was to encourage investment and growth.  However in its current state, if there is one thing Mr. Obama could do to spur “job growth”, it would be to force an over haul of the current patent system stricter rules, as well as liberalizing the basis and application of prior art, as it can’t get any simpler then this…

Slings and Arrows…

Something so simple, yet so patent-able...

Well we won’t wax so much about the later as in arrows, as its the sling which has my interest today as hey!  We all know what a sling is as well as the action of “slinging” right?  Assuredly as a kid you would sling something over your shoulder, maybe a backpack, a BB gun or even a camera as it’s just a natural action, no biggie right?

Well guess what, you’re violating a US patent in doing this as a maker of a camera strap has been recently awarded a patent for this so guess what you won’t be seeing a lot anymore?  If you guessed camera slings your right as they just put everyone else out of business.

Also don’t get me wrong, as protecting ones investment in R&D is a reasonable ask, yet the discovery or implementation must be unique.  Otherwise it is considered “prior art” and not subject to patent protection, so how could something like happen where there is clearly prior art in place?  Well if you find out please let me know too as this is just plain crazy, yet this is a good example of the failing of the entire patent system which I have an issue with.

As for economic growth to take place, one has to be able to perform an “economic activity” which creates “value” such as in manufacturing camera slings.  Second, since we operate in a capitalistic market place, competition is key to control price and drive affordability.  It is here that the current patent laws which are undermining our ability to grow our economy as it has grown to broad in nature and in power.  As just think of the commercial power which is wheeled by the US Patent Office, as while it may appear to be an obscure governmental organization.  It in fact has the power to make or break the US Economy as well as that for most of the free world.

As please keep in mind this is only one example of the failures of the system, and its also worth keeping in mind that “averaging” doesn’t apply as in most cases where for each failure, one missed equals out.  As the original intent of the patent system was never to create monopolies, instead it was to encourage investment and growth.  However in its current state, if there is one thing Mr. Obama could do to spur “job growth”, it would be to force an over haul of the current patent system stricter rules, as well as liberalizing the basis and application of prior art, as it can’t get any simpler then this…

3.4 Billion…

Images flow as if grains of sand through our fingers as we attempt to steal a moment in time.

While there are by some estimates (note I use the term “estimates” as rest assured no one has undertaken a formal head count) over 7 billion people on earth so it’s not this.  However what “this” is, is the number of pictures uploaded to Google+ in only its first 100 days of operation.  It also goes without saying that this is an amazing number even compared to the a fore mentioned 7 billion [people] as it would (by stealing a bit of statistical liberty) mean that half of the worlds populous have taken then uploaded a picture to Google+.

The question is what does all this mean anthropologically as one could only guess how many “images” of the past exist if we were to add up all the photo sites, cloud storage and so on.  However a key clue is the word “past” as an image is the closest thing we have to a time machine, as in the fraction of a second used to capture those fleeting rays of light, we are looking at the past.  As what was “now” has just become “then” as we look backwards to what once was yet is no longer.

As we human animals tend to yearn for the ability to hold onto time as it slips through our fingers like sands passing in an hour glass.  As unlike other species, we are the only one to realize an important fact in that the grains of sand as they are pulled downward by gravity are in fact finite in nature.

In turn as the grains fall one by one, we have also the urge to “share” our time as well as to assume a bystander role in others moments.  As when we indulge in the photographs of others, we are stealing our way into their “moments” of time in a voyeuristic way.

As one also has to wonder just as with the growth of the world’s population is crowding out the natural resources, will the photograph (including video which is nothing more than a bunch of still images sown together)  will also “crowd” out the digital landscape? As for each picture, there must be somewhere to store it as think about it back in the day (for those old enough to remember the “film” days) of the shoe box under grand mamma’s bed stuffed with aging photographs of uncle George (who she never liked) and Aunt Rose?

As how big would the box have to be to hold 3.4 billion photographs and growing?  Also what is the value to hold that moment in time, as with everything there is a cost be it an actual  one of paying a regular fee or implied as in “eyeball” time (ad sponsored).  As we find cameras springing up in more and more places (I think my new toaster even has one) how many of these can we hold on to before we are buried alive in our memories…

Game On…

Widgets are coming to a dash (and many other things) near you soon!

Recently, the news blog Ars Technica ran a story on the gamifcation of driving based on the new Chevy Volt the electric-gas hybrid by General Motors.  As several thing caught my attention about the story as the first was the use of the term “widget”  by Jonathan Gitlin ( the author of the story) as he makes firm mention of how the dash appears to be comprised of “widgets”.    As for those who may not be aware, this is a euphemism for a general purpose something put to a specific use.  So what’s the big deal about this as we have these “widget” things on our smart phones, computers and so on so why not our car too?

Well Virginia that’s the point why not and it’s about time as especially for General Motors as while I have to admit to having a soft spot for them having been a GM employee then working many years again for them after leaving, I must say they tended to be a bit hind the times as they where basically last in line to add to 3.5mm audio in jack for people to connect their MP3 players.  Yes, I know those were just fad devices  so why bother right, so it seems here they’ve jumped on the bandwagon with the up and coming paradigms.

As what else these little widget guys bring is modularity as my wife’s Ford Edge with Sync takes a stab at this however the gen-1 version comes up a little short so only a gold star for effort and my fingers are crossed the gen-2 will solve the problems.  Yet auto waxing aside (as I also did a lot of work for Ford too), the main idea here is we are starting to solve our problems in “pieces” rather than in whole as what I find exciting about this is it will provide for a more efficient mix of problem solving at a higher resolution.

What is this higher resolution thing your mentioning there Campbell as a problem is a problem right so what gives?  The answer is much like if we where to steal from the MP3 example as you can sample audio at “bit rates” or in other words speed.  So the higher the “bit rate” the better the sound quality and there for the “higher the resolution”, so you can have two copies of the same song at different “bit rates” and you will have two solutions to one problem with a different quality.  In other words, yes you can use a screw driver as a hammer, however the results will be less then optimal.

So it’s here that the venerable widget earns its wings as before in the car (as well as many other things) we had one solution to a problem as we had one radio, a dash, heater control and so one, however today they are blended yet separated even more to provide for a higher level of “problem solving” as for example in my wife’s Edge, one cluster shows everything and allows her to add instrumentation to   her liking as since she has a heavy foot, she typically has the tach showing so she can use her paddle shifters.  Yet when her less wild child side kicks in, with a push of the button the tach is gone and the car now shares with her, her driving efficiency and yes you guessed it, the tach gets far more dash time…

Why Is It I Always Feel Someone Is Watching Me…

Ignore the man behind the curtain and just go about your business as usual...

We all know that online retailers have long gathered behavioral data about how we shop, by tracking our movements through e-shopping pages and using this data to make targeted offers based on our perceived likes. Now it appears that retailers in the brick and mortar arena are trying to replicate this by making frequent shopper offers, or provide store loyalty cards, to get us to voluntarily cough up data about our buying habits.  While all well and good, these means are lagging indicators rather than a  real-time means of tracking the human animal as they prowl for their pray.   However this holiday season, this will all change as shopping malls around the US have started collecting data about us by tracking  us by using our favorite “cookies” and they aren’t chocolate chip.

It fact it’s our cell phones as new technology name “Footpath “ from Path Intelligence  uses monitoring units spread  throughout a mall to sense the movement of us human animals by triangulating our position using the strength of their cell phone signals.  Yes, you can run however you can’t hide as  so long as you have that thing in your pocket, it is always transmitting information about itself and therefore you.

While “Footpath” only uses the signal fingerprint of the phone, it does produce a fairly accurate and detailed record of where the phone and you the carrier have travelled visiting the mall.  So now what if they decided it was time to put a face with a name, as that is always a good thing  right as we all friends and what a better way to get to know one another right?

While you might think this might be a hard thing to do, think again as what does the mall have a lot of besides stores?  Easy one, as it’s the famous security cameras so your right and it as simple as recording your face and cell signal as you go walking by and bingo.  As it also seems that some malls are even using facial recognition software for the purpose of loss prevention to help them in identifying serial shoplifters much like in Vegas for those nasty card counters.  So no big issue on letting it (the facial recognition software) loose on the general public and bingo there you go a ready built database of customers, cell phone and wait a minute how are they going to put a name with this?

Oh, wait there is Facebook and you know it does a wonderful job adding names to the faces in your pictures doesn’t it?  Well bingo for the second as you go, we now know your cell (id), your face, and your name!  Just think of how far you could easily take this with a small receiver attached to a traffic light camera and bingo for round three for a trifecta.

As waxed here before, privacy was only an illusion created by cost, and with that gone so are the flood gates and welcome to 1984 (just a few years late)…

No Tenderized Meat for You…

Look how many times do I have to tell you the show is only an hour long and 1,600 words is just to much, can we get them down to just 7?

Well it appears that if in Pakistan you text a phrase such as “the lamb was tough, please beat your meat better next time” will be banned in addition to other words such as “fairy,” and even “lovegun” (Kiss watch out) as these seem to be among the list of words to be banned in text messages by the Pakistani Telecommunication Authority.

As on November 14, the mobile phone operators in the country were sent the list of words along with a letter of explanation stating they have to block these words on their networks within seven days, or face the wrath of the legal system for failure. In addition the new rules also required operators to submit monthly reports on the effectiveness of the block, in other words, how many people where using those “bad words”.

Least you think it stops here, rumor (from informed sources say, there are more than 1,600 words in the list which also include indecent language, expletives, swear words (we know there are only 7 here right), and finally slang terms, which all have to be removed. So lets see, wonder if it will be a great inconvenience to subscribers if their SMS was not delivered due to their selection of the wrong choice of words as in our meat tenderizing example.

Having just written about the US high courts decision pending on the rights of the FCC to police the US air waves, I have to snicker at the idea that the list also includes such words or phrases as “roach,” “pocket pool,” “deposit,” “hershey highway,” and “honkers.”   As can you just see a text which says “honey don’t forget to pick up the roach spray on the way home”?  Better yet, “Bob don’t for get to make the deposit”.

While it appears in the media that officials from the Pakistani Telecommunication Authority wouldn’t comment on the ban, it also doesn’t appear to have been implemented as just yet.  As it now appears that a Pakistani official has come forward to say that the texting blacklist is right now meant only for “testing” purposes.  Ok, Clinton didn’t inhale nor have sexual relations either and one has to wonder if there once was a ban on texting Osama Bin Laden too and that was our issue.

Yet joking aside, this is a bigger issue then it might seem on the surface as we here in the US are moving towards eliminating Carlin’s seven words and they been basically gone in most of Europe after 10pm.  You have other countries now imposing (or wishing to)   books of no/no words and phrases to shape their populous thinking.  As there are many words which I (personally) don’t like or find offensive, the reality is if it’s one its all and if there is one liberty which I (again personally) value above all it’s the freedom of speech…