Exprexxo Thoughts

There are no S's in Exprexxo!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Bathroom Segregation is the Real Issue

So there is a lot of press about who can use what bathroom.   And some really stupid lawmakers have decided to pass segregationists laws.  Many of these lawmakers live in the southeast US. You would think that we all would have learned about putting up signs about who goes where.

The real issue is that in public for decades ( centuries? )  architects and builders have decided to save money by reducing privacy protection in bathrooms.   Removing walls removing doors, shoot in some men's bathrooms just having a long trough.  These same people would split the rooms by male and female because of some false assumption on privacy being less important with people of the same sex. Think about how wrong that was in light of locker room harm we have just started being honest about as a society.

Skimping on public rest rooms is wrong. We were all raised in universal bathrooms at home.  Even the outhouse I had to endure in, ah, out of my home in Missouri had a single stall.   Oh yea there were some people who
had two holers but I think they were the Ozark's version of costsavers.   Forget who wants to be what sex and who dresses like what, the key here is we evolved a sense of privacy when we have to go. Probably selected by shortcricuiting some biohazard transport.  We need to address the causal issue to few correctly provided toilets.

To make the point more poignant, how many arena events have you been to where the line in one bathroom is longer than the other?  I know, mostly women's bathrooms end up with lines because the men are all putting up with troughs but that is the same wrong.  Arenas, theaters,  and bars  have all been allowed to but up too few toilets for the actual demand they end up with.  Everyone knows this and we all put up with it.

How to fix this is obvious, full privacy universal stalls with some system for safety.  Ally Mcbeal highlighted it for humor but ended up really making a statement about errors in assumptions we all have.   One World Observitory has universal stalls and now the Starbucks Roastery in Seattle http://roastery.starbucks.com/ has common sinks and private stalls.   But to keep vandalism down and misuse these bathrooms tend to have attendants which gets to another issue that needs to be addressed: tolerance for crime in private spaces.   Why do we put up with damaged bathrooms?  Why do we put up with long lines? why do we put up with troughs? Because we have to go to the bathroom, and at that moment we are willing to compromise.    Don't be intolerant to people, be intolerant to bad bathrooms!

So no more segregation!  Tell lawmakers that instead of laws against "people who have to go to the bathroom", we want laws against "people who provide insufficient bathrooms and  bad bathrooms".  We want laws against "people who damage bathrooms". With these laws there will be incentive to innovate public bathrooms: self healing paint, walls that alarm when being damaged, pull cords for help.  Issues like this should not be about what a few want on either side of this issue. Seriously, we should address issues like this that help us all.  We all want equal access to privacy when it matters most, when you have to go.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Apple and the FBI play Mastermind

You know the game: four entries in a pattern made up of six color choices and you have 10 chances to get it right or you lose.     Or is it four  entries in a pattern of 10 'color' choices and you have 10 chances or the contents and the pattern are randomized.    Perhaps you see the analogy but let me create a little visualization:

In 2016, there is a specific instance of the game being played and it has some important concepts at play.   I am not going to argue about the ethical stance of either player but rather talk about the value of ethical software engineering.    You see the unknown software engineers and product owners had to come up with a security solution that would be respectable in any situation that their product would end up in.   Key would be you would want to have your content protected in the case that your phone was stolen.

So these programmers came up with 10 'guesses' or you loose your content. Who knows they may have even thought of Mastermind in the process. So the FBI is guessing and wants Apple to flip the blind over and show them the answer.  Everyone who has played this game knows the urge and the banter that has taken place over the kitchen table for  decades about this situation.   However our ethical programmers did one thing different: instead on a half cover they created a full cover.    Now this means the only way to reveal the code is to replace the board to see under the full cover.   And there lies another ethical programming edge.  Do you allow and then write a code the would let that happen?  If you did hundreds of Mastermind games could be compromised.

So here we sit with the FBI on one side and Apple on the other. But really it is a present day coder on one side versus the future on the other.  If ever you are building a product,  think well your security model and write from an ethical computer science view.  Make the model both obvious and shareable.   Make it compromisable based on principle.  Backdoors make no sense if you want noone to be able to use them.   You might find a classic logic game as a reference.  Richard Feynman would have loved this dilemma!

 So could you imagine if the Apple coders made the OS unchangeable if the screen is locked ?  Seems  reasonable to me.   Locked should mean it can't change without my permission.  And what if instead of 10 'colors' ( the digits) they had used 36 'colores'  (alphanumeric) ?   One out of 4 to the 36th in 10 tries is just this side of impossible.    Seems reasonable too because if I can't remember in 10 tries, I never will.     In the future the 'phone' will likely be connected to you and such challenges to replace to OS will be very concerning.  This is a very important game of Mastermind we are all watching. May the best outcome win!

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Santa stuffed a 3D printer down our chimney

Classically that would be amazing: If Santa wanted to upgrade his productivity to deal with  the doubling of houses he has to visit since 1959, he could give each house a 3D printer and re-train the Elves to use CAD and then have toy cars and dolls start printing at midnight on the 25th.

But what happened here was, my Aunt captured the true spirit of Christmas by sending us a 3D printer with no markings of whom it was from.  We all had that childhood glee of the unknown that had not happened for each of us since we were very young. There it was a da Vinci XYZ printer ready to print anything we sent it.  And the internet is full of object files.  So we sent it a ring, an elephant, a lion, an iphone case, a key ring, and a game character.   Some worked, some failed, all taught.

So now each day we think:  What are we going to print?  And I look at my HP paper 'mult-function device'  and see where this all could lead.  In some years you could have a real 'multi-function-device' in your home that is capitalized by Amazon and Walart and their suppliers.  One that could print plastic, and metal, and glass at fine resolution and understandable speed. So then I decide to make you a gift and I send it to your 'address'.  Or you create a blog post for "I need a thing that does XYZ, willing to pay $50 to the first person who can deliver it". Or .....{your imagination goes here}.  If we can abstract the manufacturing from the design from the inspiration, well, things will be showing up everywhere.

So Santa, before you invest in a new Space-sleigh to deliver gifts to people on Earth and Mars,  how about you deliver a 3d printer to everyone?  It would reduce the need to ship finished mass and would reward the creativity of everyone.   "not a creature was stirring not even a mouse, (well except for the 3d printer of course) ...."    

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A great PUE points out an opportunity

I spent many years poking at the default assumptions of data centers.  It really bothered me that as we scaled; things got ever harder, not easier.  When the concept of PUE became popular, we all notice that we had built support systems that consumed as much power as the computers, PUE of 2.   Many of us  then started attacking the assumptions and we reversed that trend getting back to a more understandable level of  Non Value Added power use of 20% or a PUE of 1.25, and less.  But I still wondered about the fragility of servers.  Why do we have work creating heat inside a box inside a box inside a box ....    Then spend time and money routing heat!

So why can't servers exist in the open on the planet?   (Whoa that was a leap !)   I mean after all I have a PUE of 1.0 and can compute(think) while swimming.   There it is, we have not isolated electrons from the environment as well as biology has.   Ok, as one of my favorite mentors, Doug Busch, said "turn the thought experiment to full, and what do you see?"   So why not put servers out in the open?  PUE of 1.0  Just like me and you.  Well of course there is theft and bugs, real bugs, and lots of issues.  But think about it: CPUs are engines just like our original forges, can't we find a way to have the waste heat escape into space in the most direct way possible .. up   straight up?  have you seen a 2014 Mac Pro? Its a chimney, it breaths from the bottom and exhausts vertically.   No stacking this server but,  could it be outdoors? Not likely, but plausible, if the heat fins extended into the air paths and the rest was sealed.  Then you could see hundreds of these chimneys placed between two screens some small distance off the ground..........

I know your saying " but would you need some cool 2kW 4 plug pigtail to power each quad of Mac Pros because they could have their connection plates face a common gap? "   Yes you are right and you will need a micro four port gigabit ethernet switch in that same gap. Or you could mesh them with wifi.   Well then you would have a linear scaling PUE 1.0 compute strata at ~2kW /sqft that computes at ~28TF/sqft.    I hear you saying " if it got really big you could not replace the the middle one.  Have you not seen a submarine movie?  We have grate squares on top that you can walk on an lift off. It will be a little warm but not unsafe as the heat does not concentrate. Yes you could mount 2U servers vertically changing from the grates too, but it would not be a stylish.       

I see you shaking you head...... its just a thought experiment, got a better idea ? Blog it, Model it,  Build it! 

Now did I tell you about the same structure in two feet of water like talpia?    Would be a DataPond? 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Knotty Thoughts

    For years I have been tortured by knots. Be it my shoelace, the headphones, or the long extension cord.  When I go to use one of these, I am delayed by the WORK it takes to remove the knot.  When I realize the garden hose will not reach the garden due to a bevy of knots, I usually exclaim "How is that possible?!   When my kid says, "Dad can you help me ?" and hands me knotty headset cable, I will often retort "What is the probability of that wad of knots?".  They now all laugh back in my geeky style and say "At the moment,  100, Dad".

   The interesting thing is, I have spent my life thinking a straight sting, cable, wire, hose, rope, cord is the simplest arrangement of these things and thereby inferring that the knotty configurations where the complex more difficult arrangement.  All the while not noticing the WORK I was doing to detangle, unknot, unbind these way too common structures.  I wonder how much time (WORK) I have spent de-knotting over my life?  I wonder how much, more organized people then me, have spent keeping such things straight to prevent knots.  If you work in a cable business, knot prevention has to be a huge priority.

   By now, if you remember your physics, you have guessed what I finally realized:  knots are the lower energy state of a string, and I have be WORKING to undue entropy and return these long lines of bounded atoms to their higher energy state.  More organized people do this WORK more proactively and more incrementally but they too are combating entropy.   

   This let me jump to bigger concepts, abet, smaller objects.   Long ago my family had a 20ft corded phone.  This was so you could listen to someone go on about their life while sitting on the couch watching TV.     The cord went from the hand set to the base which was mounted on the wall.  The cord was in the form of a helix to prevent it from twisting into a knot.  But after many trips to the couch by several different people, all not wanting to detangle the cord while talking on the phone, we would get the most amazing balls of cord knots you can imagine.   I wish I had a image to show you of those but phones did not have cameras built into them back then.  
  Of course this leads me to DNA. I love the knotty behavior of DNA.  That there is a three meter long knotty string of information stuffed in to all of your cells is amazing, fantastical, and in my old way of thought impossible because it would tale too much WORK to knot up a 3 meter thread in to a ball so small it could fit into one of our cells which is so small we can not even see them?    But now I understand.  If a 20ft helix phone cord was used in someone's living room for a billion years with no one unwinding it, you would have to keep the handset on the cradle to talk be cause it would have wound down into something the size of  tennis ball.    Of course there has to be some great theory about this that has be documented in some journal out there that I am completely ignorant of.    It probably has some beautiful but unreadable formula that shows that the size of the smallest full knot state is based on the length of the string, the diameter of the string, how many times the sting moves, the angles the string is bend over.........   Now I get it: DNA is the lowest energy state possible for storing that much information in a line!   Makes sense because life can not spend a lot of energy keeping its information stored or else it would die.   So if millions of engines storing millions of bits of data need to keep going for millions of years ( 100 years at a time) of course the information is stored at the lowest possible energy state.  And if we humans discover our DNA is stored in tiny knots then we have strong evidence that knots are energy efficient way to keep everything about us.  

     Where this takes me is fun.   Now I look at a hose knotted up in the back yard and realize two things. One: it is stored very efficiently, not a lot of life effort has been spend continually looping a plastic sting. Two: the history of what has happened is stored in that knot, wife watered garden, son sprayed the trampoline, daughter sprayed friend.     Now I understand why by brain is so folded and bent and wiggly: perhaps it is a surface falling into knots. It is what a bedsheet looks like coming out of a dryer.  It's Amazing to think about a bed sheet made out of straight strings, as an analogy for a sheet of brains made up out of tiny knots of neuron stings.  I know I have over generalized this concept but then this is a brain-log(blog).   Sagan told me I am Star-stuff contemplating the stars.  With this blog, I am also knot-stuff contemplating knots.  When I die, the strings of my knots will sever and will decay into simple star-stuff atoms, no longer able to contemplate because of the loss of knots.

     The analogies that leap to mind are amazing.  Human created information storage systems do not have knots.  They are lots of lines.  Lots of WORK went into creating the lines of tape, sectors of disks, cells of memory as such they may be less efficient at storing information than DNA but DNA probably is less efficient a high speed reads and writes.   I imagine that the energy needed to unzip a knotted DNA and combine with another knot must be relatively high. There certainly is a lot of energy spent at the higher order efforts to get the two DNA strings in the same place ;-)

    Now that I have spent a couple hours straitening out all those thoughts, I will return to my normal knotty thoughts.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

War between the Clouds

Everyone should have expected this cloud price war (“Microsoft joins Amazon and Google in cloud price war” ), after all Moore’s  Law ( Or more generally the learning curve for manufactured logic  ) has recorded logic costs falling  50% every 18 months, on average, for many decades.  Therefore, anytime cloud compute prices fall slower than logic prices, the cloud vendor is likely taking additional profit or is inefficient.  A friend of mine in the automobile fuel business ( he owned a dozen gas stations) told me once that, "I don’t make money when prices go up, I make money when they go down, because we all linger at a price even though our raw costs have fallen. It benefits all stations to do so.  What causes it to fall is when one provider knows they have access to more supply than another does. That's when you can win new customers."

The difference between gas and cloud compute, is humanity has not yet created easy mobility across providers, yet.   I can gas at any station. I choose differently on a daily basis, but for me to move my compute, well that takes effort, for now.   Compute hour prices are really more like cost-per-mile numbers.  So cloud prices contain  the energy cost equivalent to the gallon of gas, along with all the other ingredients, software, buildings, labor, insurance, Bezo’s clock, I mean stock ;-) .  So computing is more like taking a trip, but even when taking a trip, you do not have work hard at deciding which station to stop at or even which car to take.

Cloud computing is creating its own learning curve cost reduction rate.  This rate could be drawn from a provider’s price announcements, just as Moore drew his long ago (Vogels law?)  .   Once you have that rate, then you have to look at your own compute costs and hold your organization to the same rate of reduction.  If you are slower then you have to realize someone is inefficient or taking additional profits because they control access to supply.

Now think about what will happen when you can move compute easily from AWS, to Azure, to AppEngine ( why do these all start with A?  Alpha order in a broker table? Is Acme compute soon to be? AAAA Compute?)   Prices should then fall a bit faster, but remember all are benefited by a slower reduction, unless, one knows it has more access to ingredients than the others…….  

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

A way for the Affordable Care Act(ACA) to work with less dependancy/burden on the government

I propose that the US Health and Human Services take a page out of the SEC playbook: XBRLeXtensible Business Reporting Language. In the market place of public companies, it became important that 10k statements become comparable. The SEC created an expectation of embedded tags that allowed for common query and an parsing of statements made by hundreds of companies.   By doing so they were able to shift the burden of comparison to the marketers of the information.   The ACA could require a similar tagging expectation and placement of the policy offerings in the internet.    Call it XICL, (eXtensible Insurance Comparison Language, for this conversation.  Each insurance company would be required to place xIcl tags around the terms of an insurance policy such that google/yahoo/bing can find the data.   The government would then only have to audit the internet postings instead of presenting an application.  The market place would then be two fold: many compatible policies in the internet, and many apps to compare them with, as developers decide they can do better that what has been done before.    The concept would be global, meaning all states would see what other states have and there would be additional pressure for national equality.  There is no need for the government to provide app, only the need for governance of the data format and data availability.  As to rebate/subsidies, they would be presented at check out like discount coupons are in any internet marketing model.   The government would distribute a discount code during the processing of tax returns. There would be no second look-up needed and the insurers would need to only match discount code and social security code to a single IRS provided table.   We could move the national policy signup window from Oct15-Nov15  to Apr15-May15 as a result of connecting the process to filling taxes.    The ACA needs simplification from an information view point and the internet already has vibrant marketplaces, no need to make a new one.    

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Long ago, I wanted to be an astronomer.  Long ago I wanted to go into space.  But history took a different path and I ended up in the information business.  Short ago, I lamented the road not taken, I wondered about the Feynman History I did not energize.  Now I think maybe, just maybe, I did invest my life time into human pursuit of space exploration.  How so ?   Space X is founded by a founder of Paypal. The founder of Amazon is pursuing space, Google funds the Lunar X prize, the creator of Ubuntu has stayed on the space station.    I am beginning to realize that, along with a lot of energy, it takes a lot of information to get off this planet.

With that said, I am INFORMing you that I am working to help further humanity into space.  It may not look like it, it may look frivolous, it might seem like a waste for energy, regardless, that is what I am doing.  So to boldly go where humans must go, I update this blog : Way to go Space X !!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Future is Forever and I am Counting on it, with addresses

Well it is finally here: WORLD IPv6 DAY!!!!! You have been waiting for it ever since you found out we were going to run out of IP addresses.

I know you have. The memory of the ridiculous under-sight of the IBM PC Memory address space still haunts you every time you have to code a constant, and you had vowed humanity would never suffer that again.
Then the day you got your first IP address you paused, did the math, tilted your head back and screamed "NOOOOOOOOOOOO" with fists clenched.
You knew then that 256 to the fourth, or really 32 to the second, or 4,294,967,296 was simply too small to address all the humans there were going to be, much less all their personal devices.

Well on June 8th you can finally relax, loosen you mental fists and partake of the IPv6 web WORLD IPv6 DAY is here http://www.worldipv6day.org/
Thats right a limitless address space for your taking. There may be a hiccup here or there but there will be new address space everywhere, forever.........
well, lets think, do the math...IPV6 is 128 bits or 2 to the 128 .... carry the two... WHAT ?!?! We are only planning for 3.40282367 × 1038 addresses ?!?
How could we be so short sighted! Hasn't anyone ever heard of Bill Gates?
How are we going to handle the explosion of humans when we go into space?
How are we going to handle the fact that all pets will have address for human to pet tw-petter?
How are we going to handle the fact that all human made devices will have network ports, at least 4 of them for promise of a wide mesh network?

Well, at least we did something in the interrim, so until IPv8 day, go out an ping addresses, route to addresses, and most of all know that you can get addresses because you were alive on WORLD IPv6 day !

John G Miner
Member of the

The Internet Society (ISOC)

To learn more see:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Syllabus Burning

My new visualization of the ranking of award winning scifi books has pointed out something odd is happening in the buying of books: Fahrenheit 451 is in the top 200 best selling books at Amazon. That is not to odd considering it is famous and it did win the Hugo in 1954. However the next best selling Scifi award winner is in the thousands place and most are in the tens of thousandths place. I have asked people, young and old, if they were thinking of buying Fahrenheit 451 and not one person has said " Yes, how did you guess? That book is the next on on my list!". I also have confirmed that it is not the Oprah Book Club read. My hypothesis is that people are not buying Fahrenheit 451, syllabuses are buying Fahrenheit 451. As school starts, teachers list out the books the students are to read and by default Fahrenheit 451 is on the syllabus again. The syllabus triggers schools to buy, and PTAs buy, and Parents buy, and all of that syllabus forced buying results in 181st place at Amazon in September. This is very odd to me since there are 88 other great Hugo and Nebula winning novels that tell equal, if not more relevant stories. If there was ever an indicator that education is stuck in time, this is it.

So I say: "Burn the Syllabuses of old!, Watch those bulk order lists go up in smoke!"

Make teachers rethink the novels to be read in light of that fact it is the 21st century. New great authors have written new hallmarks of society. Let Fahrenheit 451 become an occasionally included read for understanding the 20th century. Perhaps the only time it should be required reading is for people who declare in public they want to burn some book they dislike.

Ironically the programmatic buying of Fahrenheit 451 is making it one of the more common, least valued chunks of wood pulp in the world and therefore more likely to be burned....