Monday, October 26, 2009

stargate galactica must go

I have tried to give it a chance, but Stargate Galactica ... uh I mean Stargate Universe must go.

Rush is a ludicrously annoying character poorly acted by Carlyle...someone should push him out an airlock. He seems to understand everything, but actually never has an answer to anything.

The soldiers do not follow chain of command and their CO is a wimp

The plots all resolve through a deus ex machina process or plot lines just get dropped...and the writing chores seem to consist of trying to find as many characters to yell, bluster, and scream as much as possible...the writers are apparently incapable of telling a story...the first three episodes are all the same plot.

The only interesting character...the only one you care about is Eli...he's the only one doing something while the others are shouting

The camera work is that crappy faux handheld stuff that bsg used and which just annoys

The Stargate franchise is suffering from this effort...hopefully they'll kill off half the cast and everyone will get more professional.

Just my thoughts

Sunday, May 31, 2009

a Suggestion for Recovery

I have an idea for helping Ireland recover from the recession.

What Ireland needs is a big (really big) theme park. Ireland needs tourism and with the increasingly inclement weather, this week notwithstanding, a better reason will soon be needed than a trip to the Cliffs of Mohr.

But if a large amusement and theme park was properly designed and built it could attract a huge crowd of tourists and reinvigorate the tourist trade as well as the construction and contracting trade. It could also propmpt the creation of many new businesses in support of the construction, including manufacturing. Not to mention the hotels.

where do you put a big theme park in ireland?

NOT DUBLIN ... The land is too expensive and Dublin is inconvenient to much pf the rest of the country.

You put it in Athlone.

Athlone is beautifully situated ... 90 minutes from Dublin airport, 90 minutes from Galway and not much more from Limerick and Sligo.

Not to mention that it is about that from Galway Airport, Shannon airport, and Knock airport

Cork and Belfast are farther away, but not too bad

Now what would the theme be? I suggest Six Flags of Ireland ... Six flags is a large theme and water park conglomerate int the US ... The original Six flags over Texas commemorated the fact that Texas had six countries which ruled it at differnet periods of time. Spain, Mexico, France, US, Confederacy, and Texas itself (we are the 'Lone Star State' because we were a separate country from 1836 to 1845).

Ireland has certainly had plenty of should be easy to list out six rulers that have played their part in Irish history. The rides and amusements could be designed to highlight these and to let the irish work out some of their historical resentment over invasion (as we do in Texas regarding the Mexican and Spanish invasions)

Now any such amusement park must be covered to some degree. The weather is just too wet for people from drier climates to enjoy outdoor amusements. Not the whole park, certainly, but carefully designed layout, walkways, and the odd clear dome would make for a very peasurable experience.

Educational exhibits can be added as well and even arcologies where unusual or out of season crops could be grown and sold.

All of this requires a lot of land, which does exist around Athlone, a lot of careful construction, the opportunity for utilising alternative energy sources like wind (of which there is a lot) and a great deal of money. But it can be built in stages, financed by joint commercial and government, and can be opened while still under construction. There would be plenty of oppportunities to build hotel complexes, exhibits, car parks, and to enhance the road and rail access to Athlone if not to put in a regional airport of its own.

Governmental tax breaks for the developers, similar to those given to Disney World would spur the development as well.

Obviously, there will be issues and a tendency to say such a project is too expensive now during recession...but now may be the time to do this. After the recession, costs and prices will rise. People will be better able to travel and will be looking for relief from the dreariness of the recessionary period. They will be looking for diversions as their incme comes back up .. i don't just mean the Irish...I am talking about people from all over the world who will be looking for a new leisure diversion, a new vacation spot wher they can also jump off to visit the historical and natural sites of a country they have not been to before.

Building a theme park now would cost less as deflation takes effect and wages can be negotiated to be a bit lower. Then, as the recession lifts, the park will just be opening, all bright and shiny and new. And still under construction of course.

I'll leave it to better trained people than me to work out the details, but I think Ireland, if it wants to re-invigorate the Tiger, needs to investigate alternative economic solutions and an interesting, world class amusement park on a scale to compete with Disneyland Paris and coordinated with Irish-wide tourism using Athlone as a central jumping off spot is an idea to be considered.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Theory vs Observation -- Philosophy of Science

There are essentially two ways of conducting research ... OK, everything can be made binary.

But in this respect, I am talking about what I am starting to call Theory-based research and Experiment-based research ... and I am thinking specifically about IT research.

Theory-based research involves determining an idea or a structure, learning the state of the art, then forming a new theory, perhpas expressed mathematically. Then, in computer science (computing science, web science, IT?) an instantiation of the theory may be created (i.e. a program). The program, however, is a demonstration of the theory in practice...what is desired is already known, the outcome pre-determined (if the theory was fully thought out)

Experiment-based research involves determining an idea or structure, learning the state of the art, then constructing experiments and observing the results. The theory is developed later, from generalizing observations and deriving rules based on them. The program created is the experiment and its outcomes are not known because the point of the exercise is to see what happens.

Both approaches are valid and science mores forward due to both. The first method is more deductive and the second more inductive, although these are somewhat arbitrary descriptions.

Experiment-based research is more to do with engineering in its purest sense as it expects to iteratively refine a design and to discover a rule through observation. Theory-based research is more to do with mathematics and thought experiments, any engineering being, to some degree, superfluous to the point of the research.

They are two sides of the same coin, attempts to come at ideas and discover truths in different manners and each approach has its strengths and weaknesses.

I am fascinated by emergent behaviour in systems. Emergent behaviour is systems is very hard to explore (perhaps impossible to explore) apriori via theory. The 'system' must be created and allowed to operate to observe emergent its very nature, emergent behaviour cannot be predicted, although it can be encouraged.

Consequently, most of my research is experiment-based ... build it and truths will come. I like that approach. it feels more ... satisfying ... to me.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Weak and the Strong

I've begun using the terms Weak Semantics and Strong Semantics to help people understand the difference and the application state of the art. The terms are obviously derived from Weak and Strong AI discussions. The terms have been used before but not, i think, in quite this way.

Weak Semantics are Flickr tags ... simple taxonomic annotation
Strong Semantics are fully constituted ontologically complete triple stores


Applications in the world are somewhere along a continuum between weak and strong. Most of the tagging applications and a lot of the social networking apps we are seeing and working on today fall on the weaker side of the middle of the scale.

Research efforts have typically deal with stronger semantics which ae harder to implement and manage. In particular they are hard to get performance out of.

I've noticed that more and more of our efforts fall on the left side of the scale. They are easier to understand by our partners, easier to implement, and quicker to show results. Butthe time will come for efforts on the right side of the scale. There has to be a committment to solving very hard problems with semantics to get there though and they take a long time.


Saturday, February 07, 2009

Cool news

I learned last night that my book, Critical Mass: A Primer for Living with the Future, co-authored with my long time friend and business partner, Pat McGrew, is being used at a University to explain how technolgoy got to where it is.

That's very cool news.

Critical Mass is a collection of essays written in 2000 on how several aspects of technology would evolve over the next few years. We looked at and extrapolated things like electronic paper, DRM, politics with technology and several other aspects of day to day life.

I re-read it a few months ago and it holds up pretty well...I am happy to be able to say. Pat and I saw a certain inevitability of direction for technologies that were just emerging or on the horizon then and most everything evolved in the directions very similar to those we predicted.

To hear that it is being used now with a historical perspective makes me feel a bit old, but quite happy.


Critical mass is available at or from Amazon