Friday, February 27, 2009

A Game Called Stop & this years 1b project demos

This is played on a board which is 1 square wide and deep, but 361 squares high. Each player has pieces (koans) made of clear glass.

i thought of this when lookin at the robot ("magic") game board in
this years 2nd year group proejct demos in the lab

idea for a project -seamless integration of pause live program, and download (faster than play - c.f. flash plugin) - so you have a back-to-the-future as well as a beam me forward scotty, button on a PVR combined in one nice package, with a P2P (torrent) delivery and DTN where you need it

Thursday, February 26, 2009

local error, global fault - internet infrastructre critique

so i was talkin to some folks from our national funding agenc about what is interesting net research to do - they were not aware of the set of failures in the internet over recent years caused by "small" errors of configuration leading to global problems -
0. the root DNS zeroing the boot dbase so returning nxdomain for the planet for 6 hours

1. the youtube blackout caused by local BGP config in small asian ISP

2. google mistyping a config rule for listing search result sites as "risk of harm to your computer" and marking 100% of the world as bad

there are others - these represent the problems caused by NOT STAYING WITH THE PROGRAM - the internet is decentralised - organisations that want to own pieces of it horizontally cause problems (there are tools to avoid most of these problems, but they require a modicum of cooperation)...people forget these design philosophy rules (aka architecture) at their peril (and ours:)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

social networks cause autism

bad science yet again correctly refutes the daft claims in the press, and those behind the stories that social nets cause anti-social behaviour- we have research in social anthropology on people going from school to university, and people retiring, that shows that social networks, just like computer games, increase peoples' social group size and activity in the real world.
This is not published or definitive work yet, but other early work this year also shows this (it ain't hard to do, but it takes time and involves ethics committees since you're seriously treading on peoples' privacy)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

muggling along

yesterday, I was at St Andrews and had a very nice attendance at a 3 hour seminar I gave on Delay Tolerant and Opportunistic Networks with about 120 students and staff and some very useful questions.

In the pub with Saleem Bhatti and Tristan Henderson, we discussed the new mobile phone game I invented called "muggling" - you juggle 3 cell phones, each with a live in progress call to a different person, while time division multiplexing the 3 conversations

I think this would be quite a skill...

Friday, February 20, 2009

proceeding to a new type of conference....

in the last few years, several conference organisation cttes have experimented with
the idea of Shadow programme cttes - these serve to trai nup new researchers in the process, as well as potentially acting as an error checker for the main conference and providing the paper authors with copious amounts more feedback - sigcomm and conext have both done this a few times...

now here are two proposals for the next step.

1. Run complete shadow conferences as well - instead of just having 1 "main" "real" PC and the shadow PCs just being training ground, let the shadow pcs selerct their actual top n papers and (at the same time in the same place in parallel tracks) have a full set (2, 3 - as many as you like) of conferences - like parallel worlds if you like - clearly if the various PCs select overlapping sets of papers, then they merge for those presentations...

2. two many people invest far too much importance in CS conferences - nowadays grad students in the US think their academic career is over if they don't get their work in SIGCOMM or SOSP, and practically never submit work to Transactions on Networks or TOCS despite those being easier to get into and just as weighty.

The solution is to STOP PRINTING conference proceedings - just have presentations only

3. Even more radical proposal - have a final shadow PC that accepts "all the resr of submissions that weren't accepted by any other PCs, and allow all the authors to present their papers in the "shadow of shadows" parallel track...

Thursday, February 19, 2009


some things you don't normally thing of as pre-owned

1 preowned child
1 pre-owed food - in a coffin - fit for non vegetarian species
1 preowned idea
1 pre-owed joule
1 pre-owned bit - as new, can be set to 0 or 1, true or false, on or off.
some pre-owened order - a little increase in entropy, but still reasonably rare fnd.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

google map+cal -> travel planner

imagine you had an app where you could click on a set of locations
and then a timeline editor (see below) an then say
get me from here to here in spacetime (with a bike, car, bus, train, plane, sapace elevator, tardis)....(could show constrains like Lorenz space/time/funnel visualiser)

google maps + ical + a web browser plugin/gui and a backend to talk to one of the expedia
type things and game over...

go build - easy:)
mar 1------->apr 2---> apr 4---->apr 7

<< < || > >>

gaussian elimination, revokation, and other CS activities this week

1. Gaussian Elimination

this week I was in Gottingen visiting Xiaoming Fu's group in informatics (for PhD exam and seminar) - I was most impressed with the telekom groups research in multicast (fast recovery), mesh nets, network coding, and security and congestion control - neat stuff. On the other hand, they used to be in the Gauss building but were eliminated from there:-)

While there I saw a BBC World News item on TV where they reported that Fermi Labs claimed they would beat CERN in finding the God Particle (delusion) and that this would explain why matter had mass. The main news reader said this with confidence and then turned to the reporter who was presenting the next item, world economic news. All she had to say is "this is beyond me/over my head" - not surprising then that the world economy is in such a mess if people claiming to be experts don't understand the first thing in simple science. As I've said before, it is insufficient to say "letting allthe banks go broke is unacceptable because it would lead to chaos" - what do we have now if it is not chaos ( is a term in process algebras of course, but few economists would understand those)

2. (Think about the Lavender Hill Mob) Eiffel

Then today I was in an Eiffel meeting talkin about various future internet mad ideas - here's two of mine

1/ run SETI@home on Twitter - see if a) there's any intelligence out there and b) if its not all human

2/ google is not really a program written by humans - its actually a programme written by an AI called Altavista - the worldwide receession was casued by google giving wrong data to share dealers about the future stability of companies products and services and causing them to trade incrrectly - the AI decided that the world war III was necessary to stimulate lots of work on faster AIs and eliminating humans at the same time would be a neat side effect (apologies to samuel delaney - this is a Free Plotware(TM) suggestion). Of course, if this allegation was true, then google would never lead you to sites that when you followed a link said "404" = it would be necessary for it to create the site it understood you to want:)

3. Face-off book:)

facebook think they own and and keep your data, even if you leave and die

well, here's my solution - I already put incorrect facts on my online social net pages to reduce the risk of identity theft - if I close my account (as I have done on some) in UK (and I think EU and US) law I can ask them to correct these facts - I can prove _some_ of the data they have is wrogn (e.g. my birth date, middle name etc) and I can prove it to a third party - but I can also refuse to tell them the right fact. Thus their only recourse to get wrogn data off their system, is to delete the false data.

Game over.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


routing seems quite useful

meanwhile, recent (UK) showings of CSI have revisited their S&M theme - perhaps this could be "re-inventing the wheal" ?:)

to add insult to injury, Nintendo are going to release a Highland Dancing game -
Wii inventing the Reel?

and one could accuse the long now foundation
of re-inventing the while...

thomas hardy spent many novels re-inventing the weald

thats enuff now..

Friday, February 13, 2009

From fleedom to fleadom - 800 years of Cambridge...

ross anderson's
unauthorised history of why Cambridge University has an impact is worth a read - from fleeing religous persecution in oxford, and going on to annoy the government, the story is quite a shaggy dog....

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

digital lives and the wild...

Today I was at the 3rd (last) day of the
Digital Lives conference at the BL in London, and jolly interesting it was too.....

1. very nice talk on Mass Oversation Archive from Sussez - fascinating history on very long running society as observers, and how things changed between 1930s technology and social acceptance/use, and today's near-blogging based approach...

2. Wendy Hall could emember meeting David Beckham n 9/11 but couldn't quite recall the name of the Pleasantville like Jim Carrey vehicle, the Truman Show (neither could I without cyber help) in a relevant talk about M4L

3.Excellent talk from the Centere for Longitudinal Research (no, not Harrington clocks)
and how to keep a project going for > 50 years!

4. Interesting view on the future of scientific publishing from Nature! (see earlier blog entry from yesterday!)

5. Big Ad from Amazon about Cloud computing

6. Really cool talk from Soton/ about fan-generated content - thesis has cool social graphs of the fan/author and interest groups- (thesis from southampton, author now with staff at royal irish academy)

7. me

8. nice talk on vera (virtual field archaeology) - well worth a looksee for people worried about robust kit for adversarial environments for inputting analog data but capturing it in usable digital form...

9 peter bentley standard "here is evolutionary computing and what it is good for" talk

10. fantastic talk about artistic capture (manaual, not computer based) of the writing of Jack Kerouac, with then computer visualisation of structures generated - very crazy in a good way!

then I had to go:)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Origins of Consciousness and the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes

is a rather interesting read....I think the main thing missing from it
is any understanding whatsoever of society

but more interestingly, it seems to be pretty naive about congnition reflection, AI and especially literature.

The basic claim is that sometime between the writing of the Iliad and the Odyssey
humans switched from being a mass of id, with an imaginary friend (the gods, or the voices) and a complex social structure (think the Enki of Loki in Snow Crash) to make sure people didn't just behave chaotically, to having a system of metaphor (actually, confusingly, an analog) called consciousness which each person could apply, which would monitor their behaviour and regulate it (think ego and super-ego).

Two terrible mistakes: 1 the Iliad may just be an example of literary convention - there are lots of weird ways people write - just because there is no "I" in Iliad, doesn't mean that Mycaeneans didn't think like us. There's no "You" in Uysses (James' Joyce's stream of consciousness), and that doesn't mean that early 20th century anglo/irish people didn't have a concept of the "other". Oh, and a third mistake - if every one was guided either by rules, or by delusions, then who wrote the books? (i.e. how do you bootstrap a society out of chaos? who is the author of the enki of loki, or the laws that govern when you plant crops, and when you pray?). no - wont do.

Finally, reading the book did give me one idea:

In the work on social nets, we have this model where human's carry around a set of cognitive structures that represent other human's intentions.

Is this structure:
i) a parameterized model of my model of self?
ii) a set of models (e.g .acquired by observing others)?
iii) a hybrid?

perhaps kinship would (evolutionarily) justify i) where socialisation (i.e. friends, colleagues, acquaitences) would be more ii) or iii)
and does the use of technology (e.g. extending the number of people for which one has a model, albeit, perhaps, at the cost of superficiality) mean that one could study this objectively? perhaps the externalisation of records of interactions means that one can recover the model by looking (at diaries, email traces, web interactions etc) both as an individual (deciding how to interact next time with someone) and as a researcher studying that ineraction.

bicameral: two chambers (commons, lords:)
no "I" in Iliad
but then there's no "U" in Uysses

Monday, February 09, 2009

decentralised anonimity and disreputable algorithm names

If I was to implement the
Cocaine Auction Protocol
using a
Distributed Hash Table
(e.g. to lodge or find bids)
could this be taken as evidence that soft drugs lead to hard?

Friday, February 06, 2009

giving google latitude a wide berth

sp if we found out the home secretaries blackberry number, we could (Instead of just sending her all our emails) we could notify her (and maybe Obama to) Of where we all are - say a few million of us:)

tell jaqui smith where you are now

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Hamiltonian circuit

tuesday I went to Maynooth in Ireland to visit the Hamilton Institute, and then on wednesday I came back again. The institute Is a high power center of mathematicians who apply control theory and other techniques to various problems in communications (my thing) and systems biology (lots of people's thing), and very nice a place it is too

interestingly. as an evolution from the old St Patrick's College (basically a seminary for priests to study) through a national university, and now a place with specialist institutes like the Hamilton, is a very fast upwardly mobile intellectual track, which is most impressive, although if you are familiar with learning in ancient and modern Ireland, perhaps not so surprising...