Monday, November 27

Complaints Choir of Birmingham

I may have been (as usual) the last person to notice this. But if you haven't seen this, you should.

Why does my computer take so very long?
Why can't the bus driver talk to anyone
And why is the beer so expensive in town?

I want my money back,
My job is like a cul-de-sac,
And the bus is too infrequent at 6.30.

Why don't they pay me more?
Life was good before
And I am thirsty.

Monday, November 6

The Holdup

I wanted everybody to notice the new look for one of CommerceNet's portfolio companies, ChipIn. To celebrate, I've built one of their new contribution widgets. So, hand me your money.

Saturday, September 16

Are the Reals Really Necessary?

Sir Roger Penrose, distinguished Mathematician and Physicist, prolific Author, and perhaps somewhat confused philosopher of consciousness has written a quite remarkable book.

The Road to Reality : A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe attempts to cover general relativity, quantum mechanics and the modern theories that attempt to unify them both (i.e. String theory, Loop Quantum Gravity & etc.) -- starting from elementary mathematics! His course in mathematics is the first third of the book, but note that he manages to finish-off complex analysis in thirty pages. The Amazon review calls the book "thrillingly difficult". I doubt if I'm going to do more than skip around in it, but I've enjoyed the first 200 pages so far.

Sir Roger's major purpose, I think, is to explore the remarkable coincidence that mathematics is so useful to describe the physical world; he leaves no brick in his edifice unexamined. At the outset, for example, when introducing the real numbers (!) and after commenting that the Pythagoreans assassinated those who admitted to the existence of irrational numbers, he examines the question of whether the Reals are needed to describe the physical universe. If spacetime is quantized, then (for instance) the diagonal of any square is some (exact!) number of planck length -- and the side times the square root of two is only an approximation anyway.

A New Kind of Ringtone Generator

For those who follow Stephen Wolfram or those who were merely baffled by the the book: now it has been revealed what all that stuff was for.

Thursday, June 22

You (had) heard it here first

Apparently it's been available since last October, but I've just been turned on to VMware Player, and their Browser Appliance download fills the bill very nicely for the Safe Computing with Ephemeral VM Environments idea I described two years ago.

Maybe not such a bad idea after all, huh, EKR?

Wednesday, May 24

Tuesday, March 7

More ETech: Ray Ozzie "Building Bridges"

I missed Ozzie's talk, and Rohit tells me I should have because Ozzie's apparently very successful demo featured Microformats, an initiative that CommerceNet sponsors. In the talk transcript, Ozzie says:
I have a concept development team that works for me. I went to them a month ago, gave them rough concepts, and gave them challenge: how can we jam things together in a browser?
I have a concept development team that works for me. Hmm. I need me one of those.

From O'Reilly ETech: "Hunch Engine"

I'm in a function room at the Grand Hyatt Manchester in San Diego for O'Reilly's Emerging Technologies Conference, the people who brought you "Web 2.0" and many other desperately hip ideas that they constantly remind you of.

I just caught the tail-end of a talk about the Hunch Engine by Eric Bonabeau of Icosystem Corporation. The basic ingredients are a visualizer on some solution space, with a parameterized multi-demandingly clustering algorithm, and a random solution generator. Then a user (or users!) guide the system towards results they like better by click in the visualized space or fiddling with some sort of parameter control panel. Combinatorial chemistry approach general-purpose optimization. Guided evolution of search algorithms? Something like that.

I know that sounds like gibberish. It was pretty cool, though -- I guess you had to be there. Or you need to have seen some of the old Artificial Life environments and imagine using this to not breed screen critters, but to (say) choose a company name or design a wallpaper pattern.

Monday, February 6

Non-biological DNA

I really have gotten out of the habit of posting. I'll try to get back to it. Two topics I should be able to write about every day are: 1) CMU Prof. K. Carley's course on Dynamic Network Analysis (I'm taking it this semester); and 2) ideas about WowBar.

As a teaser for the DNA (that's Dynamic Network Analysis, remember) course, I'll mention we've been asked to come up with some new measures for identifying key nodes in a meta-network. A meta-network is a social network graph (where nodes are people, aka "agents") enhanced with additional node types such as task or resource. I've got three node-centric measures I've been thinking about, which I will call:

  1. Coverage (node-centric sum over shortest path distance to all other nodes)
  2. [type] 2-Reachability (count nodes of given type reachable in two hops)
  3. [type] Orientation (ratio of edges to nodes of given type vs. other types)

More on those tomorrow, maybe.