Saturday, 31 December 2011

War on General Purpose Computing

Final post of the year probably and one to think about over the final hours of 2011 and wonder what will happen in 2012...

The Coming War on General Purpose Computation

At least in the mobile arena we've already seen a move from the "general purpose" web browser to paid applications which effectively act as front-ends to (often) freely available content.

Now as the presentation above points out this is partly because of a new revenue model not working in the customers' best interests but also because of the controls being placed upon consumers and users of content and devices. An extremely worrying trend where the distributors have final say over what YOU can read and consume - and at the same time monitoring your behaviour as part of the deal for you to consume that media and information.

Information which used to be free in the availability sense (and not necessarily in terms of price).

I used to joke that Apple said "There's an app for that" - one which already did the job of your perfectly good web browser but for a cost, while Nokia should have said, "You don't need an app for that" due to the presence of a web browser.

The advantage for Apple here is that you had to pay for both the application (to read your free content) but also submit yourself to behavioural data collection and provide numerous personal details for the priviage.

Happy 2012....

Thursday, 22 December 2011


Here's my recipe for stuffing...I have no idea of the amounts per se so you'll have to use your judgement...

  • Breadcrumbs from, 6 or 7 (or more, or less) slices of Finnish dark, rye bread.
  • 1 onion
  • x cloves of garlic,    1 < x < n, where n is probably greater than 4 or 5 - let's say x = 3
  • 2-4 mushrooms - brown
  • horse chestnuts (See this recipe for preparing the chestnuts)
  • herbs, eg: sage, parseley, whatever you fancy
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 egg
  1. Prepare some horse chestnuts, chop finely.
  2. Chop the onion roughly, same for the garlic and mushrooms
  3. Place everything (breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, herbs, chestnuts) into a bowl and mix
  4. Salt and pepper to taste
  5. Add the egg to bind, mix

Texture should be sticky so that you can make balls of stuffing. Too dry, add an egg or butter, too wet, add some more breadcrumbs.

Split the mixture in half and use one half in the goose/duck/turkey/chicken and the other place on a baking tray and roast with the meat - no idea exactly how long this takes to cook or the best point to put it in the oven; I guess everytime :-)    You could try adding a little goose fat to the mixture as well....

Enjoy :-)

Friday, 16 December 2011

Towards an Ontology of Coffee Drinks

An interesting post appeared on Google+ [1] about the various forms of coffee drinks, eg: cappuccino, latte etc, and this was expressed using a Venn diagram. The semantics of the actual diagramatic notation were loose - as is to be expected - but importantly the meaning of what the diagram was trying to convey was clear. There's quite an interesting discussion about what actually constitutes a cappuccino vs a latte vs espresso etc - all good stuff to put in an ontology of coffee.

As a start and as an exercise in diagrammatic notation [2] of such things here's my concept/Euler diagram of the same:

NB: I'm no expert on the various types of coffee drink so I'm not sure if the actual coffee drink types are strictly correct, I took them from the original article on Google+. If I do drink coffee then an espresso or something "normal", ie: coffee (dark roast) brewed in hot water + milk + sugar ... sorry Robert's Coffee and Starbucks I'm probably not a target customer in that respect....I'm a tea drinker.

So that gets me to a slightly more interesting example - that of a Chai Latte, which to my taste should satify the following specification (using the same notation): (Aside: I think these diagrams are really quite beautiful....)

Now we can argue that I should have included other types of tea and blends etc, maybe different types of milk (fullfat, goat etc), but I think the point is clear.

A few notes on these: while the diagrams have pretty well defined semantics, the statement the diagrams are making about the "real world" may not be so easily definable (see the discussion about coffee drink types as an example). My specification of a chai latte might not be yours, however we now have a formal framework in order to have a sensible and meaningful discussion without invoking the nastier parts of Wadler's Law, ie: we can concentrate on the problem at hand and not discuss whether the shade of green for the relationships is the correct shade of green...

[1] Rohan Aurora, A Simple Venn Diagram to Understand Coffee, 7 Dec 2011
[2] Visual langauges an ontologies...earlier blog posting of mine to be found here: Visual Modelling and Ontologies and a link to the Visual Modelling Group at Brighton who have been working on this.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Ontology Conference

This looks quite a good place to submit something:

FOIS 2012: 7th International Conference on Formal Ontology in Information Systems

Two ideas then:
  1. Ontologies for Privacy
  2. Notions of "object" wrt: DL expressiveness
Need to get writing!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


A wonderful moment in physics:

We may have glimpsed the Higgs boson, say Cern scientists

Physicists have seen strong hints the Higgs boson exists, but a firm discovery may not come before the end of 2012

Scientists could have caught their first glimpse of the Higgs boson, the curious particle thought to underpin the subatomic workings of nature.

Hundreds of physicists crowded into a seminar room at Cern, the European particle physics laboratory near Geneva on Tuesday, breaking into applauseas Fabiola Gianotti and Guido Tonelli, who lead separate teams at Cern's Large Hadron Collider (LHC), revealed evidence for the particle amid the debris of hundreds of trillions of proton collisions at the machine.

Monday, 12 December 2011


Found this on NPR's website:

Scary Geology: Mountains In Motion

Here's the thing about mountains: You can, if you are totally insane, jump off them. Or, under the right circumstances, they — the mountains — can jump off you.

and a link to the video which is best viewed in HD and full screen...

SENSE OF FLYING from Goovinn on Vimeo.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Mission to Europa have an article about NASA sending a lander to Europa, or at least a proposal thereof:

Jupiter's Moon Europa Is Target for Possible NASA Lander
by Mike Wall, Senior Writer
Date: 09 December 2011 Time: 03:22 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO — NASA is considering dropping two robotic landers on the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa, a body that many scientists regard as the solar system's best bet for harboring life beyond Earth.

Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., are developing a concept mission that could launch in 2020 and deliver the landers to Europa about six years later. The chief goal would be to investigate whether life could ever have existed on the huge moon, which likely hosts an ocean of liquid water beneath its icy shell.

This I think should be a priority, and should have been the mission flown rather than the relatively boring Juno probe. Europa is extremely interesting from the point of view that it probably, or even more than likely, has life due to its icy surface and liquid water ocean underneath. The only other places that have these possibilities (as we understand at present) are Enceladus and Titan - the latter having been visited by the truely amazing Huygen's lander by ESA.

So this gets me thinking, space probes are extraordinarily expensive as they tend to be one off constructions. However building on mass production techniques would it be possible (almost certainly economically better) to mass produce probes. Make them light-weight with a small RTG, standardised components: visible light cameras, IR cameras, magnetometer, various particle detectors etc.

Make two batches, one orbiter and one lander and take advantage of systems such as SpaceX which provide low cost launching facilities. There needs to be done work on getting the launchers to provide the capabilities to get the things out of Earth orbit.

Now if you built, say, ten or even twenty (NASA's Surveyor programme made seven landers of a standardised design)  you could quite easily send two or more to whatever target, or maybe just one to the "easy" targets and two to the "harder" ones.

So my list:
Just a thought....but might be an interesting method of fiscial stimulus and jobs for tech workers, not to mention the increase in interest for science and exploration this might provoke.


I fear the outcome of this, whether good or bad this is going to be a hell of mess and ultimately much, much worse for the consumer (unless you happen to be a patent lawyer)...

Apple Made A Deal With The Devil (No, Worse: A Patent Troll)

 Over the last two years, Apple has been engaged in vicious legal battles over smartphone patents, many of which are aimed at squelching (or squeezing money out of) manufacturers of devices running Android. And now, for some reason, it has given valuable patents to a patent troll — which is using them to sue many of the top technology companies in the world.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Inspiring Music?

North Korea's news agency KCNA reports on a new composition of music inspring workers:

The song is themed "Let Us Be Responsible for Thousand Years and Guarantee for Ten Thousand Years!" It is a slogan of the solider-builders of the Huichon Power Station.
Encouraged by the song, the DPRK people are performing feats in building edifices symbolic of the Songun (military-first) era under the wise leadership of Kim Jong Il.

I suppose it beats the financial crisis news here - maybe someone should write music for our politicians in some bizarre Juche-inspired, reverse psychology way to inspire them to do some work....

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Science Getaways

Bad Astronomy has a great idea for a more: Science Getaways

Beauty in Mathematics

Sometimes when "doing" mathematics you end up with something that succinctly captures what you mean and presents it in a rather beautiful way. Now while beauty in mathematics has many examples - in particular Euler's Identity and in my opinion the sub-object classifier from category theory (it even has a facebook page) - formal specification is not really one area where this has been seen.

Here's a quick diagram from a paper I've been collaborating on with the Visual Modelling Group in Brighton, I personally think that this very succinctly states the relationship between information entropy and various classifications - at least in the framework we're using...

[0,1] is the 'set' of Reals and the precise definition of infoMeasure not strictly specified but the capturing of the mapping between various IP addresses and their geolocation mapping to various levels of detail of accuracy, and from there to a measurement in terms of entropy is still rather elegant.

Returning back to Euler's Identity...funny how Euler's work has an inherent beauty in it, especially when you consider Euler's Identity was considered the most beautiful mathematical expression and Eulerian circles the basis of the diagrammatic notation used above.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Higgs for Christmas?

Rumours abound of Higgs...maybe as a Christmas present?

A 125-126 GeV Higgs?

Posted on December 2, 2011 by woit
Some more detail on Higgs rumors I’ve been hearing recently. Evidently the latest ATLAS data shows an excess in the gamma-gamma channel around 126 GeV, of the size expected if the Higgs is there, and CMS is also seeing an excess (2 sigma?) around 125 GeV in the same channel.

What would a Higgs at 125 GeV tell us?

The rumours tell us that next week ATLAS and CMS will announce a strong but inconclusive signal for the Higgs boson at about 125 GeV. This may be wrong and even if it is right there may be other candidate signals to think about, and it will take much more data to verify that the signal is indeed correct for the Higgs, but if it is right, what then are the implications of the Higgs at this mass?

Is the Higgs boson real?

Rumours abound that Cern scientists have finally glimpsed the long-sought Higgs boson. We asked physicists to share their thoughts on the elusive entity