The Redshift Techno-Economic Theory

The Redshift theory basically categorizes computing needs as either growing faster or slower than Moore’s Law. Traditional business is over-served by Moore’s Law, whereas applications such as financial market simulations, drug industry research, computer animation, and the high-growth end of the internet industry (Facebook, You-Tube, Flickr), are needing computing resources faster than Moore’s Law. These industries are apparently the ones going to generate above-GDP levels of return to an investor.

This theory was advanced by Greg Papadopoulos of Sun Microsystems. One of Sun’s solutions for servicing the computing needs of “Redshifting” companies is Project Blackbox – providing as much computing power as possible inside a shipping container.

Facebook!

OK, so I hear Facebook is where all the cool middle-aged people are hanging these days. I just joined, and I have a total of 1 friend in London! Count ’em people!

I did check out an Atheist group, and found a link to a funny stand-up rant by George Carlin:

Birthday Post!

Another day older today. Helen made me breakfast – sausages, bacon, mushrooms – which we ate on the balcony overlooking Oxford Street. I have been having a completely self-indugent day, watching DVDs and playing on my notebook. Almost too lazy to post a blog entry! I figure I’ll type something up to mark the day.

Tim and Anna and kids should be arriving from Tokyo, so the evening may be structured around bottles of champagne in their hotel room. Just a guess.

In Yorkshire

Helen has taken me to Yorkshire for an early birthday weekend. We are staying at a place called “The Devonshire Arms” near Bolton Abbey – a beautiful ruined abbey. The hotel is great! There are two heli-pads, and throughout the day choppers buzz down like giant metal gnats to drop off a fresh batch of gourmets for the restaurant. We wanted to get out of London to soak up some nature. I guess you can still call thousands of years of farmed land “nature”, can’t you?

We went for a long walk – over 20 kilometers over moors and farms, and I am now sunburnt as hell. The skeletal remains of ancient ruined buildings were languidly picked over by the weekend hikers as we ambled the day away.

Meditation on chopsticks…

Chopsticks are great – until you get to that last bit of food at the bottom of the bowl that is. Then you’re left trying to turn a pair of round sticks into a spoon. They’re not so good with soup, or steaks. Maybe the satisfaction of eating with chopsticks is simply the extra effort needed to get food to mouth without detouring to table.

7 days of Yoga and Skiing!

We’re baaack! 1.5 hours of yoga in the morning with the Eiger towering above us. Another hour of yoga in the evening after a full days skiing, and we’re back after 7 days at Wengen, Switzerland with barely an ache. Our hotel was very confortable, and had an incredible view of mountains, snow and valley. There might have also been drunken yodellers as well. Here is the view out the window:

View over the mountains

Helen entertained the locals at Karoke one night in the local pub, doing her best Kate Bush impression (to a standing ovation). I wimped out decided not to sing because of the avalanche risk. I don’t think our insurance covers me singing (more terrorism that natural disaster I guess).

Our hosts for the trip were Michael and Michelle of YogaTraveller, and they really looked after us! I think we’ll book in for the Tanzania safari later in the year.

“Hard” Sci Fi and the Future of the Human Race

I’m a big fan of the “hard” science fiction genre – sci fi that attempts to visualize what life will be like in the distant future, by extrapolating from current scientific knowledge. Authors like Greg Egan, Richard Morgan, Alastair Reynolds, and Neal Stephenson.

I love the following quote by Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal and professor of cosmology, and astrophysics at the University of Cambridge:

“I’d like to widen people’s awareness of the tremendous timespan lying ahead — for our planet, and for life itself. Most educated people are aware that we’re the outcome of nearly 4bn years of Darwinian selection, but many tend to think that humans are somehow the culmination. Our sun, however, is less than halfway through its lifespan. It will not be humans who watch the sun’s demise, 6bn years from now. Any creatures that exist then will be as different from us as we are from bacteria or amoebae.”

Wow! Think how complex we are now, and consider that homo sapiens probably evolved about 2 million years ago, and I think that we are evolving at a faster rate now than we ever have in the past. Also we are evolving ourselves, with body modifications, brain modifications, and tools. I find it hard to imagine what we are going to be like in 1000 years, let alone 6 billion years!

First post for the new year!

OK, better late than never, I guess. I actually promised myself that I would be posting more often in 2007, but that resolution is lying still-born on the birthing room floor. Probably buried in amongst the champagne and party poppers.

I have stopped working this January in order to concentrate on studying mathematical methods. This has felt very, very weird. I feel far more stressed about taking time off than I would have in the past, I think for a few main reasons:

  1. Things here are very expensive. Rent is expensive. Taking a month off feels like being in a big black tunnel and seeing a light at the other end, and half suspecting that it’s an oncoming train.
  2. Maths is hard. You think you know something, then you encounter it in another form and all of a sudden it’s like a gremlin that just got coated in water – it’s got teeth, a mo-hawk and it wants to differentiate you to the bottom of the food chain. Having a maths exam as a deadline is just no fun at all!

As a consequence, I need to have a holiday from the whole non-working thing. Luckily Helen and I have booked a skiing/yoga retreat in Switzerland for the beginning of February. Maybe that actually IS daylight at the end of the tunnel!

Great Quotes

“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” – Stephen Henry Roberts

“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice.” – Albert Einstein

“All models are wrong but some are useful.” – George Box

“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.” – Epictetus
Note that there is also a great Zen story about this idea.

“I am rarely happier than when spending entire day programming my computer to perform automatically a task that it would otherwise take me a good ten seconds to do by hand.” – Douglas Adams