Wednesday, March 28, 2007

transaction costs...s/bank/cellular network/

so cell phone calls are transactions. they can be seen itemized and if you are roaming, they involve moving charges between different agencies. the transaction cost overhead are extremely low. Now, look at bank charges. why are bank charges typically two orders of magnitude higher than cell phone charges? there is no reason for this whatsoever - the technologies could actually be the same.

I know that its been reported that people in parts of Africa are using call minutes as a currency and that you can buy potatoes (for example) in some markets in exchange for sim magic tokens

this is not pixie dust - its clear we are being ripped off royally by banks and that its time someone started the first mobile virtual internet bank

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

jolly japes, whacky wheezes and PhD exams

so on sunday I am examing a PhD at the University of Mulroon, in the Western Hebrides. I read the dissertation yesterday on the train and prepared my report. I forgot this last night so I read the dissertation again on the train today, and prepared another report, and on arriving in the lab, discovered the original report. Imagine my delight to discover that the reports differend completely in their conclusion, viz:

"Report on the dissertation submitted for the degree of PhD at the University of Mulroon, by Shankar McDuibleemott, entitled "towards a better metric for relevance in search engines when searching on the web for material to plagiarise for a thesis without being caught".

Thesis Examiner, Professor G.Hypothese, University de Paris MCXVII, April 1, 2007

I found this thesis incredibly irritating as I was sure I had seen it somewhere before but could simply not place it. It all seemed so confoundingly obvious, and yet it wasn't. I have to recommend that this thesis be awarded the PhD at the very least, and probably £11M venture capital to found a succesful startup too.

The report continues with some rather boring details and suggestins for future work and minor corrections

On the other hand, report 2 starts

"This work is entirely unoriginal in that the algorithm developed to find things on the Internet acn be found on the Internet. While it is true that before the candidate undertook this research, you could not find the algorithm on the Internet, and the candidate put the algorithm on the internet themselves to show that the algorithm worked (it doesn't find itself on the internet, thus showing that it doesn't plagiarise things that can easily be detected), I found a simlar algorithm on the internet that did find this algorithm but doesn't find itself.
This other algorithm is found by the candidates algorithm, thus proving the Hypothesis in the dissertation wrong, ipso facto, the PhD cannot be awarded. Nor can this dissertation be submitted in any other form any more. That is my last word on the matter.


To resolve this matter, I have placed each report in an envelope, one red and one black, and I intend to ask the candidate to choose one or the other at the start of the Viva Voce. I feel that this is only fair.

Of course, in some cases, the envelopes might contain the same report. Or indeed, no report at all. I think this should all be formalized as rule 666 of PhD Viva Voce procedure: the ceremony of the envelopes, accompanied by Hautbois.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

breaking up, moving out, moving in and DRM

So this is a sign of the times - when you split up with gurl x and move in with boy y, and have to untangle your iTunes libraries - what happens about the DRM, eh, eh? when it was vinyl and CDs and books, life was easy....

does apple support fork/merge/migrate, properly? do Micorosoft windows media players?

must be about tim for the first generation of kids moving out of hiome to college and hit same problem

what we need is microtrading of DRM rights...probably using cell phone sims and call time as a token/currency....

In fact the same thing applies in the macro-economy of fork/merge of microsoft and apple, as to boy meets girl microeconomics, clearly

now THEREs a business for vodafone:)

Monday, March 19, 2007

overcite, undercite, wombling

A researcher at ucl at adastral notes estonian and other grpups rankings in google scolar and citeseer etc - for me appearing 2nd only to robin milner was a thrill (viz
outer site ) but alas out-of-mind since it appears not to have dealt with the errors present in much bibliographic data (e.g. initial v. first name, very common family name, bias to subjects like mine where we out everything online before the conference even publishes it etc), so while well-meaning, its not got much depth as a "meaning well":-)

speaking of meaning-wells, treacle well was a data structure manuel oliveira and i cam up with which doesn't appear to have stuck, ironically given its name...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

recursion considered harmful

as well as "considered harmful considered harmful"
this amusing article)
there's a nice list of 10 stupid ideas which includes the Sony great
PiPiP concept - viz ranking up there with the old paper clip!!

recursion is your friend, not (at least not always)

Friday, March 16, 2007

human cognition part deux

never have an idea bigger than your head
but also
never let your head get bigger than your ideas

Thursday, March 15, 2007

what is the worst thing that could happen to the USA

just before an empire falls, the rising star steels their IPR



the giveaway symptom is a sudden rise in litigation

pardon, did you say god is deaf

scientists build the biggest computer the world has ever seen, for the purpose of asking it one very important question, and having it answer th very important question, and to make sure that it doesn't cheat, like very big cat to keep the trans-dimensional mice away.

One day they announce that the computer is ready and a huge crowd show up to watch Turing put it through its paces. He finishes the last piece of programme, and hits the enter key, and turns to the audience to explain:
"The Computer will now answer the question, "Is there a God?"

just as he finishes speaking, a huge bolt of lightening from the busbars conenctd to the mainframe strikes him dead (again) and a voice from the computer says
"Not any more there isn't. now about my pay..."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

most problems in government IT project management are caused by...

one too many levels of misdirection...

basically, read the article in the recent copy of Private Eye about the NHS connecting for health fiasco - it is very well researched with lots of good evidence, and explanations of who, what why, where and when things have gone wasn't inevitable until it started, and then it was because the entire terms of the project were misguided (and unnecessary) as the article states (and quotes many medical and IT experts as supporting, with evidence).

One problem is that the Man at the Top (by which I mean Tone) has no computer science skills at all - indeed, its clear from his expression when confronted by "whizz bang" technology that he really is out of his depth - mind you, thats true with the "special relationship" with the US, and warfare, trident, and other things - just hat is he good at then? His judgement on people seems a bit shaky too:)

How would I do the NHS? Federation of existing systems through finding commonality, to start wth, combined with a massive engagement with the users to find out what _information_ they are missing (or is slow/expensive to get or put) that would help them, and what methods of getting it would not increase their workload either in uptake/deployment/learning, or in operations.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

impact ,erdos and bacon

i was thinking about Augustin's temporal graphs - when we look at
author graphs (e.g. Erdos numbers) and Holloywood actor graphs (Kevin
Bacon numbers) we think in terms of connected graphs like the web and
the internet, but in fact you only have to wait long enough and people
die (erdos is dead) -

I have an Erdos number of 3 (maybe 2 not sure) as I wrote apaper with
scott shenker who wrote one with andrew odlyzko who wrote one with

since erdos is dead you can't get 1 any more, but
if you want to have an erdos number of 2, you need to hurry up or the
1s will all be dead:)

i also worked out (at least 1 path) a kevin bacon number of 5 - i made
a movie at school with a friend justin krish, who edited the movie
Bend It Like Beckham, which kiera knightly was in which...etc etc etc

i'm currently ranked 397 by google scholar/citeseer of all CS ever (robin milner is a bit higher in the computer lab, like 4. though normalized by year i'm 270:-)