Category Archives: Technology

Channeling Louis C.K.

So, I’m gonna go out on’a limb here and share a humorous episode from my life just tonight.  It involves my wife, so if posting is “light” for the next few ummm, days, just assume that I love ya and if I really knew ya, you could have my stereo.

We use ATT&T U-verse for our TV and internet here.  This morning I’m surfing the TV channels and discover the U-Verse 2012 Olympic app.  I’m intrigued, I check it out and much to my wonderment I discover that I’m able to watch almost any previously aired Olympic event on demand.  Only those not yest broadcast are withheld but will be made available in time.

Think of that.

The Olympics.  They began in ancient Greece in 776 BC.  These games, featuring the greatest athletes of the times were honored and revered.  The winners were legends.  And the legacy of those games, some 2,800 years ago lives today.  And from the comfort of my couch, on my flat screen TV I can pick and choose which single event I wanna watch and when I wanna watch it.

As it turns out, my daughter wanted to see the women’s all around finals tonight.  She was lamenting the fact that we didn’t record it for her to see and she had missed the whole thing.  In a moment of pure “daddy delivers” I went to the TV, turned on the app and gave her the finals.  All of ’em.  In their pure glory.

But, it turns out, we only wanted to watch some of the gymnasts, not all of them.  So my wife wanted to fast forward through some of the routines.  Turns out you can’t.  You have to watch the whole thing in real time.

“Pppfffttt…THAT’S stupid!”

I turned to her, “Honey, a technology you didn’t know existed until literally 7 minutes ago has gone from revolutionary to stupid?  Seriously?

In all his glory, I present to you, Louie C.K.

The good starts at 3:50.

Barack Obama: Government Invented The Internet

For the record, I said this first:

Contrary to what Obama would have you believe, it wasn’t the government that created the internet, it was individuals engaging in business that invented the internet.

Now, from the Wall Street Journal:

It’s an urban legend that the government launched the Internet. The myth is that the Pentagon created the Internet to keep its communications lines up even in a nuclear strike. The truth is a more interesting story about how innovation happens—and about how hard it is to build successful technology companies even once the government gets out of the way.

For many technologists, the idea of the Internet traces to Vannevar Bush, the presidential science adviser during World War II who oversaw the development of radar and the Manhattan Project. In a 1946 article in The Atlantic titled “As We May Think,” Bush defined an ambitious peacetime goal for technologists: Build what he called a “memex” through which “wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified.”

That fired imaginations, and by the 1960s technologists were trying to connect separate physical communications networks into one global network—a “world-wide web.” The federal government was involved, modestly, via the Pentagon’s Advanced Research Projects Agency Network. Its goal was not maintaining communications during a nuclear attack, and it didn’t build the Internet. Robert Taylor, who ran the ARPA program in the 1960s, sent an email to fellow technologists in 2004 setting the record straight: “The creation of the Arpanet was not motivated by considerations of war. The Arpanet was not an Internet. An Internet is a connection between two or more computer networks.”

If the government didn’t invent the Internet, who did? Vinton Cerf developed the TCP/IP protocol, the Internet’s backbone, and Tim Berners-Lee gets credit for hyperlinks.

But full credit goes to the company where Mr. Taylor worked after leaving ARPA: Xerox. It was at the Xerox PARC labs in Silicon Valley in the 1970s that the Ethernet was developed to link different computer networks. Researchers there also developed the first personal computer (the Xerox Alto) and the graphical user interface that still drives computer usage today.

But, did the government impact the creation of the Internet in any way?

As for the government’s role, the Internet was fully privatized in 1995, when a remaining piece of the network run by the National Science Foundation was closed—just as the commercial Web began to boom. Blogger Brian Carnell wrote in 1999: “The Internet, in fact, reaffirms the basic free market critique of large government. Here for 30 years the government had an immensely useful protocol for transferring information, TCP/IP, but it languished. . . . In less than a decade, private concerns have taken that protocol and created one of the most important technological revolutions of the millennia.”

Other than delaying the innovation for 30 years, the government seems to have done not a thing.

Obama: Government Invented The Internet

You might have heard by now that Obama gave a speech in Virgina.  And in that speech he made a statement.  He made a statement that individuals can’t claim credit for their successes.  Rather, they must acknowledge that what they have labored to craft is the result of the collective.  And, more importantly, that leading the way is the government.  After all, it invented the internet.


Maybe not.

Most people give credit to the invention of the internet to ARPANet, a DOD agency.

The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) was the world’s first operational packet switching network and the core network of a set that came to compose the global Internet. The network was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the United States Department of Defense for use by its projects at universities and research laboratories in the US. The packet switching of the ARPANET was based on designs by Lawrence Roberts of the Lincoln Laboratory.

But did ARPANet really invent the internet?  Not so fast say some:

In February of 1966 I initiated the ARPAnet project. I was Director of ARPA’s Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) from late ’65 to late ’69. There were only two people involved in the decision to launch the ARPAnet: my boss, the Director of ARPA Charles Herzfeld, and me.

Numerous untruths have been disseminated about events surrounding the origins of the ARPAnet. Here are some facts.

The creation of the ARPAnet was not motivated by considerations of war. The ARPAnet was not an internet. An internet is a connection between two or more computer networks.

-Bob Taylor


But if ARPANet didn’t create the internet, who, or what, did?

On further analysis we come up with at least five distinct theories, each of which can be credibly discussed. We state from the beginning that we do not personally see the theories as mutually exclusive – we have for many years believed in a multiple origins theory rather than a single point of invention one.

But the theories which need to be examined are:

1. Packet switching represents the origins of the Internet
2. The TCP/IP protocol represents the origins of the Internet
3. A range of telco-led activities from the 1960s represents the true origins
4. The birth of the Internet is best explained through a history of applications rather than the protocols
5. The range of inventions and activities emanating from Xerox Palo Alto laboratories, including Ethernet, represent the true beginnings.

All five theories are interesting.  Personally, I find theory 1 and 3 the most compelling with theory 3 possibly encompassing theory 3 almost completely.  Digital transmission and switching was accomplished in 1962, seven years before ARPANet claimed that accomplishment.    Further, the languages of the internet, C and Unix, were developed not by ARPANet but by AT&T.

Who knew?

In any event, what we CAN conclude is this:

So then, where and when did the Internet begin? The only thing historians seem to agree on is that it was not 1969, or the Pentagon, (or for that matter Al Gore). From there on, there is a wide divergence of views as to when, where, and by whom the Internet may have been invented.

Contrary to what Obama would have you believe, it wasn’t the government that created the internet, it was individuals engaging in business that invented the internet.

THe World Is Right Again

There’s no chance I could speak with any depth of knowledge concerning the physics of light-speed travel.  Nor can I tell you the impact of discovering that we just measured speeds in excess of light-speed.  I just know that it was a really REALLY big deal when we did.

And now it might have been a bad cable:

A malfunctioning cable may have been responsible for the claim that some particles may be able to travel faster than light speed, a potentially embarrassing outcome for physicists who had publicized the findings with great fanfare just a few month ago.

In September, scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, said that ghostlike particles called neutrinos zapped from a lab in Geneva to one in Italy had seemingly made the trip in about 60 nanoseconds less than light speed—a finding that garnered headlines around the world. It also induced much head-shaking among skeptical scientists who said they were convinced that the result was an error.

It turns out the only ghost may have been in the machine after all. CERN says it had identified two possible effects that could have affected the experiment: one relates to an oscillator used to provide time stamps for estimating particle speeds, and a possible glitch in a fiber-optic cable.

Again, I can’t say how this would have thrown the scientific community on its head, only that it would have.

Negative Impacts Of New Technology

It goes without saying that technology has changed the way we live.  It’s changed how we communicate, read the news, shop and even pay bills.  Heck, it’s changed a daily routine of mine that’s practiced by millions of Americans:

Getting the mail.

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Free Market: Microsoft Office

The latest iteration in the market delivering goods and services at the lowest price possible:

This week, Onlive Inc., in Palo Alto, Calif., is releasing an app that brings the full, genuine Windows versions of the key Office productivity apps—Word, Excel and PowerPoint—to the iPad. And it’s free. These are the real programs. They look and work just like they do on a real Windows PC. They let you create or edit genuine Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations.

When allowed to roam free, the market will solve virtually any problem you can think of.


Google 2012 Flu Trend: Here It Comes

A phenomenon of technology, specifically the internet and the searching of it, is that we can report on those searches.  In specific, Google does a great job of this reporting..

As it turns out, the fact that people go to the internet before they go to their doctor turns out to be a very reliable source of disease outbreak.  Feeling a little achy with a slightly elevated fever?  Google it and see what you can do.

And by doing so, you allow Google to track you search and tally it.  The result is Google Flu Trends.  And based on history and current trajectory, the United States is on the precipice of the season’s influenza outbreak:

In fact, we just now entering the worst month of the flu season.  In addition to counting the number of searches, Google is able to track location.  And form that data we can see that the flu is hitting the rust belt the hardest right now with Nevada following suit:

The bad news?  The flu is coming.  The good news?  We know it.

Iran and Nukes

There has been significant debate over the idea that Iran may get the technology to build a bomb and what we may or may not do to prevent that eventuality. There are some, many even, that feel such technology in the hands of Iran will result in the destruction of Israel. Others feel that at the very least it will disrupt the region in the middle east and risk increased hostilities. Even others feel that the mere possibility of the creation of such weapons will result in the Israelis attacking Iran.

I’m not in a position to really comment on statecraft. I happen to think that much of such diplomacy and communication is, by definition, based on illusion, deception and subtle impressions of intention. As such, we really have little idea as to the true intentions of people and states. However, I AM wiling to acknowledge that a weapon in the hands of Iran will be disruptive.

But should it? Do we, or any other nation, have the right to deny another nation the technology required to build these nightmares? And if weDO have that right, do THEY in turn have similar claims on our owning such technologies?

I think that any nation has the sovereign right to advance their knowledge in science. That if they desire to learn such technologies, they Ought to be able. Perhaps they desire clean energy? Maybe some other benign use. But to deny that nation access to a technology simply because we fear what they might use it for is not consistent with our concept of liberty.

Can we limit the use of that technology? Certainly. As a collection of nations we have entered into agreement on all kinds of things; prisoners, weapons, war techniques and targets. We have in place laws and rules of use that govern nuclear weapons. I think it foolish and dangerous to attempt to deny anyone the possession of those weapons via coercive force.

GINI: Income Mobility and Disparity

Much has been said during the last few years about income disparity.  And not just the disparity, but the mobility of people from one income group to another.

I’ve done some reading last night and this morning a thought struck me:

GINI measures the disparity in household income.  Consider Dick and Jane and their neighbors John and Mary.

Dick works in retail and is making $28,000 a year.  Jane works in service and makes $32,000 a year.

John works as a manager in a factory making $70,000.  Mary stays home and cares for their family.

The disparity between Dick and Jane vs. John and Mary is low.  Dick and Jane earn $60,000 a year while John and Mary earn $70,000.

Now, consider Dick and Jane get divorced.

The disparity between two households earning $28k and $32k compared to the one earning $70k is much higher, and the GINI goes up.  But nothing changed as far as economic earnings are concerned.  In fact, if you take this one step further, consider John and Mary also suffer divorce.  Now the incomes for FOUR households is:

  • $0
  • $28,000
  • $32,000
  • $70,000

A very disparate view when compared to the initial comparison of $60,000 and $70,000.

In the same way that the demographics of America impact life expectancy statistics [Japanese Americans live as long as native Japanese] I suspect that demographics impact the GINI.  I also suspect that this isn’t calculated into the analysis when people discuss the GINI.

Hurricane Season 2011: August, September October

The hurricane season is near over.  Once Irene hit, I was kinda focused on the damage it did to North Carolina and then I, well, I kinda forgot about the season.  Didn’t seem to be any more storms.  Then I saw that Mexico is going to be hit and I remembered I haven’t posted an update for quite some time.

So, where were we?

The predictions for 2011 are:

  • Tropical Storms: 18
  • Hurricanes: 6-10
  • Major Storms: 3-6

Though August and September we are at:

  • Tropical Storms – 12
  • Hurricanes – 4
  • Major Hurricanes – 2

With November right around the corner, it’s looking like we’re gonna hit the lower end of the predictions this year.  Further, the National Hurricane Center is reporting that the accumulated cyclone activity. ACE, is right on track.

Another good year for the guessers.