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Brett Morgan
I know it's kinda wrong to review a book I'm not even a fifth of the way through, but Warren Berger's Glimmer: How Design Can Transform Your Life, and Maybe Even the World is brilliant.

I picked it up in Wellington airport while killing time waiting for my flight back from LinuxConfAu, and I've had an ongoing love/hate relationship with it. I love to pick it up and start reading, and then my brain fills up and I have to put it down again. And stare at it forlornly. Wanting to partake more of it, but also knowing that it will hurt...

There have been a couple of points that have smacked me hard. The first was that engineers become designers once they start designing for people instead of for the technology, i.e. designers are engineers with souls. The second was that a prime requisite for being a designer is being able to hold contradictions in their heads...

ps: I suck at containing scope creep.
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Using genetic programming to do code fixes from test cases.

Sikuli: programming computers using screen shots from our friends at MIT's AI labs. The trick here is using computer vision to deal with changes in the target's appearance.
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First thing on my phone when i got off the aircraft from LCA? I've been terminated from my current contract. Ack. Foo. Financially, I'm stuffed. That said, I still feel sorry for the poor chumps who are still in the war zone on that project. I was the only one who was maintaining overview, and now that I'm not there, they are going to spiral into the ground in a rather undignified manner.

Anyways, different subject. If there is one thing I detest, it's people shifting blame. The Wall Street Journal's blamefest on quants for the financial crash? Utter coblers. Yes, quants gave the big swinging dicks something to sell, but it wasn't the quants who were robbing the rest of us blind by selling repackaged debt, on the understanding that the resulting explosion would be purchased by the world governments. No, that was Wall Street.

It amuses me that people who caused the devastation always have someone else to blame for the results of their greed and incompetence. The amusement is that I know it the long term, these people can't hide from the truth forever. +)
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There is a great recording on YouTube of Steve Perlman of OnLive Video Game Service where he talks through the engineering decisions behind creating his new video game service. Lots of engineering trade offs, rebuilding video streaming codecs from the ground up to be adaptive, etc, etc.

My real interest here isn't in the engineering decisions his team have made, but in the economic model that is powering his start up. In short, their call is that physical product is so last year. Physical products have massive up front cost of goods sold, with all the inherent risks (you have to pay for the r&d of the game, then print it, then distribute it, then sell it, and then hope it doesn't get returned, resold, or pirated). Steve's crew are bringing web economics to gaming. Steve rightly points out that video games are different from movies and music in that each play of the game is unique, and interactive, thus it can't be recorded and sold, the same way a movie can.

My interest here is in flipping this around, as a way of "saving" the movie industry. I think we all agree that Avatar is a massive tour de force of 3D story telling. But what if you could cruise around inside the story while it's being told. What if you want to look at the world from the lead character's point of view. Or from the hill above him. Or from space?

What if you could cruise around inside of the Avatar story line, cruise out to the various locations, and leave location sensitive story tags. Upload youtube style videos of you talking about how you think about the story, from where you stand?

This would make movies social environments. This would make the movie impossible to steal by making it highly social. Hell, you could run an entire class inside the movie world, where the teacher and his/her students can write/narrate/critique from inside the movie.

I think Steve's technology could be used to power this style of story telling environment, along with many others.
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I'm reading a nice lil article on outsourcing failure, and it mentions a cute measure of power in countries called Power Distance Index and I float over there and notice something bloody amusing. Australia is 36, and New Zealand is 22. For reference, USA is 40.

I'm currently in Wellington for LCA, and the difference between Australia and New Zealand in the power differential is palpable. There are people here willing to step up to me and take me on. Admittedly, usually female, and usually Maori, but most importantly without the adrenalin shakes that oz females get when they decide to go toe to toe. But still, it's an invigorating change. I like it over here. Pity there is not much of a tech scene to talk of. =)
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An article in the Boston Globe looks at the intelligence failures in the CIA and concludes it isn't a lack of information, but cognitive failures in the ways human process information. Thing is, these failures aren't limited to the CIA, they are endemic world wide. The problem is one of confirmation bias - people will focus on information that confirms their belief system, and actively attack that which disagrees with their world view.
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I want to see this thing live.
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So this morning started with a keynote where we had an American telling us about irony of the conflict between the open source movement and the intelectual property trade groups (RIAA, MPAA, & BSA). The irc back channel was full of references to Alanis Morrissette. So let's look to wikipedia for a definition of irony:

Irony (from the Ancient Greek εἰρωνεία eirōneía, meaning hypocrisy, deception, or feigned ignorance) is a situation, literary technique, or rhetorical device, in which there is an incongruity, discordance, or unintended connection with truth, that goes strikingly beyond the most simple and evident meaning of words or actions.

What I have realised recently is that a lot of people who i interact with don't realise how often I use irony. Actually, it appears quite a few people are irony blind. My statements about females needing to take on risk to become equal with men are deeply ironic.

Why do I use irony, when I constantly complain about being completely misunderstood? Wouldn't it be clearer if I communicated a clear message? The truth is that I am trying to communicate the deeply conflicted position I have on matters. Irony is the only way I know of communicating what I feel.

I am a walking contradiction.

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I found my mistake in my code. It was a newbie concurrency mistake, i was bleeding state outside of the transaction, and I was even doing it in a non thread safe way. Whoops. With that fixed, suddenly it works like a charm. Choice.

That said, I'm going to ditch the AppEngine required brain dead polling based strategy, and move to a long poll model. Which implies I need to move to AWS, or some other cloud provider. This has the downside of having to do my own sysadmin and scaling, but on the upside I get to use Scala or Clojure in their preferred style, as opposed to having to wedge memcached in the middle of the mix.

It's also time to start getting serious about the user interface. It currently looks like a five year old was playing with crayons. Not exactly what I want.

Update: I spoke too soon, there is another bug. Heh.
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