Category Archives: Uncategorized


First days with an iPad

I’m one of those seemingly few people who thought they had a real purpose for an iPad. I have a laptop and various old computers at home, but hate hauling my laptop around the apartment just to check email or look up something on wikipedia. So I splurged and bought one, which arrived Friday.

While it has it’s flaws, it’s quickly becoming indispensable!

A word to the wise, though: stay away from the app store. I’ve already spent an insane amount on stuff I really do not need. Those micro charges add up fast!

Cities In The Sea

image of sea cityWhen I was a kid there was a lot of hype about human habitats on and under the sea. The sea was touted as the next frontier (space having already been conquered, symbolically at least, by the Apollo missions.) Decades later– off-shore drilling platforms notwithstanding–the oceans are still mostly a mystery and cities in the sea are still just futurists’ dreams. One of those futurists, Jacque Fresco, dreams in 3D at The Venus Project. There are some cool ideas and images related to future visions of construction and transportation systems, as well.

As for me, I gave up wanting to live under the sea after seeing Jaws.

Agoric Open Systems

With the widespread current interest in loosely coordinated distributed computation and resource-sharing grids, I’m surprised that Miller and Drexler’s papers on agoric computing from 1988 (specifically: “Markets and Computation: Agoric Open Systems” and “Incentive Engineering for Computational Resource Management”) haven’t received much attention in these contexts.

For my taste, Web Services and SOA architecture puts too much emphasis on centralized orchestration and not enough on self-organized, coordinated behaviour in large open systems. As Miller and Drexler write:

“On a small scale, central planning makes sense; on a larger scale, market mechanisms make sense. Computer science began in a domain where central planning made sense, and central planning has thus been traditional. It seems likely, however, that some modern computer systems are already large and diverse enough to benefit from decentralized market coordination. As systems grow in scale and complexity, so will the advantages of market-based computational systems.”

With the heavy, controlling hand of the (closed) enterprise all-too-visible in the current web services technology stack, I expect it will be a very long time before we see true service markets emerging. Maybe the grid folks will do better. I also see some hope in the JXTA notion of the separation of service classes, specifications, and implementations to enable dynamic service discovery and binding–but there’s still, sadly, a long way to go to build the foundations for agoric architectures.