Monday, December 31, 2007

mad world...

no, not tears for fears, or donny darko - no, the sci fi story i just remembered after someone commented that URI's have feelings too - fred pohl (I think) once described a future where science was based on electron psychology....mainly so he could get away with saying how impossible it would be for someone from the 20th century to understand. of course, we are from the 21st century, where nothing is incomprehensible, and everything is accelerando...

frankly, my pohl, after string theory, I am prepared to believe in electron fenh shui, if it passes occam's razor...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

combat reductionism! [1]

bl**dy g**gle are banin on about capturing all of human thought in things called "knowl"s - obviously meant to sound like atoms of irreducible knowl-edge - but, as we all know, much really useful knowledge is holistic, and therefore not reducable to some sort of lego ball and spoke trivial model

i dunno, really!

[1] after the Marx paper, Combat Liberalism, a rant about how all liberals turn into bourgeois irrelevances)

Friday, December 14, 2007

spam from pluto

I recently gathered a large body of spam recently and sent it into the SETI@home project, and it turns out, you know what, it is from an extra-terrestrial source. Yes, Asimov was right, but not about jokes. Spam is from approximately 100 light years away - it turns out friendly aliens heard Marconi's early broadcast SOS message across the Atlantic
and realized that earthlings needed help, and so they cooked up lots of useful things like viagra and low cost loans of 25M pounds of gold from Sierra Leone, and sent off messages immediately on how to get these

the only reason that people don't get the thing they want, when they reply to spam, is that we havn't connected the internet to the Intra-Galactic Internet yet....real soon now, when the Interplanetary Internet reaches Pluto, we will be able to respond to the right email addresses and web sites - then the health and welath of the planet will be assured for the unforeseeable future.

Then you will here "this is the voice of the mysterons" coming over your skype connection loud and clear.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

computer scientist + coffee => code - for example, carbon copy offsetting...

not sure that this is quite what they meant...

anyhow, too much coffee, and bjorn scheuermannn and I came up with the idea of a carbon copy tax - well he did with soem friends, but then I thought of a use for it...

I call it carbon copy offsetting(*)

the loss of privacy, just as with the (temporary) loss of identity is not
a simple black&white matter - for example, I have a bunch of cards/devices that let me pay
electronically for various things, but only work in limited domains and have limits
on the amount of credit they can be topped up with - so while someone masqerading as me
can do some damage to me with them, it is a (roughly) known quantity

so rather than saying to the government:
"do not hold this data because you don't know how to do it"
say to the government:
"here's some escrow rules for holding this data"

i.e. say I trust a bank some level X to not reveal my bak account information -
X is likely high because the bank has reputation to lose in its primary business area.
I am likely to trust other agencies much less with the same information,
as their incentives are not setup right to take due care with the information.

So instead of taking them to task legally after they screw up and
instead of preventing them from potentially usefully doing somethign with my data,
I ask them to offset the higher risk by putting some money in escrow somewhere, that,
in the event of a leak, accrues to me

so for example, if they screwup with my bank account, I can use money to get on with
life while the bank fixes things up. if they screwup with passport or other ID, I get
some compensation without having to do anything ...

if the escrow schemes are run by 3rd parties,
then we just let the market set the prices....

its a bit like the government wanted all my keys in escrow
because they didnt trust me
but the boot is on the other foot...

[(*) originally the idea was to do with spam, hence "carbon copy"]

Monday, December 10, 2007

five degrees of seperation - make it so

so someone on facebook is trying to reach everyone else to run a "complete"
six degrees of seperation experiment (given the original experiement only counted people that answered and used postage, both of these guys are severeely misled if they think they aer doing science - ever heard of random samples, or control groups, guys?)

anyhow, my goal is one better. social scientists tell us that since time immemorial, humans have gathered in grooming groups (tribes, clades, etc) of around 150 members. But now we have technology, we could make the _degree_ that a given person can handle much much higher - already, electronic address books let us handle, remember, and outcast far more people than in olden days with long tedious letter writing by candlelight, smoke signals, or even (god forbid) sunday afternoon tea.

So I want to start tht "five degrees" of seperation movement- we will bring the world one step closer together - this will, of course, bring about prosperity and world peave and banish hunger, ignorance, and english weather along with most illnesses.

cambridge high fives

s i got given two nice books for a recent birthday - the cambridge quintet, a sort of phantasy intellectual foorball match with Haldane, Wittgenstein, Turing, CP Snow, schroedinger et al, asking and trying to answer the big old "Hard AI" question...
the other was the re-issue of the Night Climbers of Cambridge, about the boys-own derring-dos of a bunch of mad students scaling the physical rather than intellectual heights of colleges and other buildings

I wont say which was more enjoyable....

Monday, December 03, 2007

social networks of social network researchers?

everyone's talking about social nets -but we've been here before several times - the
original fancy 6 degrees of separation of milgram and axelrod and social games, and even nash. then the out-of-work theoretical physicists bored with too many string theories, started to look at the degree distribution of the AS level of the internet and the linkages in the web, and even the encounters and popularity of nodes in cellular and Wi-Fi nets. now we are trying to put it all together in some sort of network science (which has obvious bio/medical applications as well as anti-terrorism, economics, and transport planning).....

so how long is it before someone decides to do a bibliometric study of social network
papers/authors? surely we can see where the gaps are and choose those as alliances to form to probvide for more robust research groupings (mixnets by design)...

post human auto-uploading

so reading more posthuman (upload mind to swarm computer embedded at qumatum level in matter throughout solar system) speculative literature, there are appear to be a few missing considerations
1. not only do you need enough MIPS and storage to run a virtual human (and their sensorum) you need logging and backup
2. latency is going to be a major question - maybe one would replicate the virtualised person across multiple sites and run them in paralelle, and then synch them up every now and then - interesting problems with consistency (and reconciling differences) would then occur
3. one would need a "virtual human hosting" economy

indeed, many of the ideas conceived in the Xen (oh, server) work would apply equally well in this world - perhaps the Sci Fi writers who write this kindah stuff are not quite as hip as they think, even though they do cite Scottish Samba Punk bands:)
(come to think of it, the Spider SYstems folks in Bloco Vomit is a very very old story too:)

alas, alackaday, that we now see "retrospective" speculative, extropian literature:)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

kindle un-surprise

amazon launch e-book tech - so why wouldn't i just use my ipod touch? wot a load of old tosh.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

paper shortage

so one is always running out of space in submitting papers to conferences -here 's a trick I've learned from sociologists:


footnotes are in smaller font, but the submission rules say nothing about this so they are a godsend (or a page end:) so use them - more than 75% of each page could be a footnote - hey, like the Algol 68 programme that appears to have no executable statement, but declares a dynamic array and the size has to be computeed sat run time and causes a function call, a paper could just be authors + title+ address +footnote...[1]

1. This paper was written entirely using html, and invovled the harming of very few cells.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

data types for social networking

so i suppose its very geeky of me as a data type to have the temerity to think anyone would want to socially network with me, but I think we can take an
unsigned hint
that its probably rude to say to people outright, things like
you short
and in a party situation, I suspect that it is terribly 1970s to talk about
being a float or just a double, or, gawd forbid, a union:-)

K&R - 70s just say no!!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

paris netro de plus en plus

networking in paris is as networked as networking in cambridge - so there's a
website for talks just like the talks in cambridge setup, and it includes interesting stuff I've been to including a very nice session at the Academie des Sciences on how new mathematics and computing are underpinning various other areas of technology and sciences...more later:)

so today for the 2nd time, I went to the Acadeie des scinces, last week was about informatics in science in france, and this week was for the Royal Society/Academie/Microsoft prize (to Gerorgio Parisi for work on supercomputers to do spin state complex optimisation w/ constraints stuff - most excellent)

but there was an engineered debate afterwards about "is computing just a tool ,or a science", and "is a computational proof acceptable"; and "where is the future of computing in science, in Europe"???

So all these questions can be asked just about science itself (is physics just a tool
or math (or math just a tool for physics) or chemistry just a tool for physics etc
and "is a proof by a human with a pencil and paper an acceptable proof"; and "what is the state of cosmology in europe, today"???

philosophy, or what....? but i suppose its entertainment before lunch:)

Friday, October 05, 2007

paris netro

so now I am spending 6 months at
which is the laboratory for informatics of the university of Paris 6, Pierre et Marie Curie..., alternating days (roughly) with Thomson Paris Research Lab = research - much the same as in Cambridge... ... far

Aside from the usual Parisian sights (can see Eiffel Tower from 1 lab) and smells (the metro, croissant/coffee etc), there's this col new free bike system in the city - this seems very popular (its similar to the system in German railway stations using technology to make the security/incentives for sensible use work out right! Downside - lots of people riding around with NO clue about safety. Upside: 30 min journey (which just about gets you anywhere in the center of Paris) can be very handy (though we'll see how it competes with the also excellent metro as it gets colder this winter).

Sunday, September 23, 2007

royal society meeting on transport/network modeling

so monday/tuesday next week, I am at the Royal Society at a meeting (and giving a
talk on tuesday- viz:
transport and net modeling

radio 4 had a nice programme about this event where a coupel of guys I work with,
Frank Kelly in cambridge and Andrew Odlyzko in the US, talk quite well (in terms
of good public explanation of tricky stuff in plain english)

if you do podcasts, here it is:
at the material world

my talk on mobility and forwarding elicted some interesting questions on location versus co-location based models (from RIchard Gibbens), and on distributed computation over DTNs (from Brad Karp) (see Rondini's work at UCL).

Most talks were from either transport viewpoint, or communications modeling viewpoint, but most speakers made more than a token effort to explain the applicability of their work to the "other" side - one of the talks on analysing MIDAS road monitoring data (richard gibbens) was very illuminating.

One idea I had was to implement "packet drop" on roads - this can be done one of two ways:- 1/ deflection routing - force people off the optimal (e.g. in shortest path sense) route if it is congested 2/ force people to park - on freeway, this could be done in lieu of a toll - time is money - so if you implement individiaul charges (tolls), or you have pay as you drive insurance, you could increase the "charge" for a given speed til enough people slowed down to get throughput back up - if this is done coupled with averaging speed cameras (e.g. M1 now), then it can be enforced too and would possibly entail a fraction of people pulling over and stopping for a while to "get their cost" down...

Tim Griffin game a nice exposition of how Inter-domain routing works, and how it could be better modelled - this is clearly directly applicable to road and other transport systems since it entails understanding that local optimisation only is necessary for systems that are competing (ratehr than global optimisation that you might get for a monopoly or state provided single monolithic transport system) _ so "joined up thinking on transport" might involve running BGP between road, rail, air, bus, taxi etc as a way to find multi-modal routes:)

More generally, one question arose about the common ethical problems (e.g. privacy) between both transport and communication networks, for example, even just doing experimental work gathering traces of users activities, you can data mine to infer a LOT even without knowing content of car/packet!

BBC reports BT still don't beleive case for fiber to the home which is amusing given Andrew Odlyzko's talk...and 11M japanese homes already have it..oh well...

meanwhile, I am mostly just reading through this year's syllabus for GCSE science, and am pleased to say that while there is a lot of material about touchy feely things like ethics, global warming, GM crops, there is still a clear indication that real science teachers had a say in the content as there is quite clearly a section on "making fireworks" that will let budding chemists blow things up (my favourite bit!). actually there's some good stuff on electricity and periodic table and on waves/light etc, so I dont think its too shoddy.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

"and so" & "once again" those cliches and obsolete metaphors

so travelling to Nice last 2 days I notice CS people start all talks and interrupts with "and so" and all airline staff start all announcements with "once again"
and I notice many obsolete metaphors (pictures of old cameras with bellows for godsakes to n=indicate surveillance - pictures of phones or the word "dial", and talk about records and "spining" - kids will be very confused

so was I as I read Alex James auto-bio - "A bit of a blur" back to back with alastair campbell's "the blair year" diaries - it was fairly hard to see who had the bigger ego or was more out of touch with reality...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

sleepwalking into the cyber-surveillance society

Cory Doctorow writes
yet again, a very perceptive piece on how we dont need DARPA's total awareness project to have very bad things happen in the online world!!!

read it and weep...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

good tech journalism...

I was very happy to read this article in the telegraph about why
IT's still cool to be a computer expert by wendy grossman - we had a long phone conversation about a lot of stuff a week before, and it looks like it captures the key points and removes all the irrleavnt stuff I said, plus the quotes fro mother folks I know seem well chosen - I hope it has some positive impact!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

OLPC news with ears on

So jim getty's did a nice talk on this here monday -see
john naughton's summary - I think the key thing for me (pun intended) is that the machines ship "locked" and seperately. a key is delivered to enable them- and if the machiens are nicked, they can be revoked! this is to stop corrupt interception in some parts of the world - another interesting point came up - what if an older brother tries to sell their sibling's? aswer: the older brother will have one too , as will all households (saturation bombing) in a region

finally, I asked about mesh/p2p voice - bizarrely, on the bbc news site, later that day we get
the news about TerraNet free p2p voice - maybe they should use haggle:)

Jim also recommends you read
hree Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time" by
Greg Mortenson;

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

out of touch...?

it wasamusing to see several US folks at SIGCOMM in Kyoto with very large, expensive
mp3 playeres they'd bought from Apple, which allegedly are some kind of phone - only don't work outside of US GSM coverage:-) My guess is that the iPhone will largely only sell in the US until they a) unlock it b) allow 3rd party apps to run on it and, last but not least c) put a 3G chip/radio in it so it actually works in the 21st century like other products one can already buy in EU and APAC for less (with more battery life), but makes a change

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Today at KAIST in Daejeon, Korea - Workshop ReportTrip Report - Late August/Early Sep 2007, Japan & Korea

Trip Report - Late August/Early Sep 2007, Japan & Korea

I've put my comments on the CCR feedback site for
this years SIGCOMM papers, so this is my trip report
for the Kyoto part of the trip and you can get papers fom here too:

Also see Pan Hui's SIGCOMM Mobiarch workshop paper.


my talk:
H0: what if use haggle fwd for synch comms?
(compare to MANET (dongman lee,, asks) - proactive, reactive, location based)
KAIST results show can always do better!

H1: how to control storage needs of DO for forwarding:
Me: have to implement forgetting (cache), and assume DOs within community for
community relevance has good locality

Mia's talk: chris anderson, "The Long Tail"
(based on IMC student award paper)

Yangwoo Ko - late binding and use of
app. info for deciding how/when/who to forward
definitely haggle relevant!
SGR addresses H0, above!
next steps: use name service (NO/DO like)

Bodizar Radunovic, MC2!
so what do you do about lost tokens (e.g. nodes leave system) or new nodes?
plus do you have any ideas how to stop fake credit tokens?
for one idea (near end) on how to deal with churn...

Levy walk nature of human mobility and its impact on DTN/MANET performance"
Kyunghan Lee (KAIST)
has some very large (well 50+ node) measurement using fine grain GPS, then does
model fitting - shows truncated heavy tail (Levy) is good for people, better than Brownian, but also RWP and Levy yield same gain in forwarding, so
also haggle relevant! - concludes: shows DTN is MANET with higher delay,
but higher throughput! very nice!
see also
Andrew Edwards, who gave a talk at MSR while ago about the albatrosses
experiment in Antarctica, is now in Canada. Nature paper (to appear in next 8 weeks)
shows it isnt a good model after all!

"On the Optimal Resource Allocation in Multi-hop Wireless Networks"
Hyang-Won Lee
and this one too!
capacity as resource, but interference is simple model


"R-BGP: Staying Connected in a Connected World"
Bruce Maggs, as per NSDI paper - jolly good.

"Lessons learnt from large scale P2P systems and how they apply to the Future Internet"
Pablo Rodriguez, ex Inktomi, MSR-C and now at TIS (telefonica's new lab in Barcelona)
now: P2P from an ISP (and telco)'s perspective... ... ...message: its useful, not just for piracy.
But 2 key problems:- interference between P2P overlay traffic demand, and underlying TE and
peering/customer provider relationships between ISPs. Point of view is that there wasn't a way to bill for
ip multicast multiplier, but there might be a way to bill for p2p = by volume.

Note: sender gets money by number of recipients of content.
If use 1-1, easy - if do multicast, get a log cost.
if do P2P, get log net cost and reduced sender/storage costs.
log cost means you need a recursive tree charge based on sub tree.
reduced data center cost is just too bad for CDNs:) - one point about p2p v. multicast:-
p2p requires end user to increase symmetry of uplink -
you don't really need to charge by volume precisely - you could charge by time the uplink is full -
the end user could have this offset against content charge made by the content provider - value chain is
1. telco charges source for attachment rate
2. if net does packet copy, each branch point gets charged by telco for number of branches, recursively
3. leaves get to pay this charge, and have it subtracted from content lehal/drm fee

2bis: if leave does p2p, uplink, they get charged by net
3bis but get it discounted against content fee (since the uplink means that
they've succesfully re-sold content to some other receivers who are
paying for content but not for net yet


rest of talk on ip multicast tv - as per recent work

ed Power-Delay Tradeoff in Wireless Ad Hoc Networks Using Opportunistic Routing"
Won-Yong Shin (KAIST) - info theory analysis to find the advantage of fading in opprtunistic networks,
of getting capacity greater than the gupta/kumar model (e.g. from diversity) - excellent stuff! basically seems
to show that the Tse 2007 idea happens for free in a DTN...assumes only CSI available only at receiver:-
Opportunistic routing based on Biswas&Morris - packet proceeds to next hop closest to receiver; so change this to send and chosenext tx in next microcell to be any node with valid reception - gives diversity thru randomness - gain is ln(N) for N nodes per cell.

"Study on network size estimation schemes for peer-to-peer networks"
Hosik Cho (Seoul National University): reminds me of one of the microsoft research things
done by richard black and austen donnelly to do network discovery (think its in vista now)+and (sue moon points out) also multicast group size estimation.

"Spamscatter: Characterizing Internet Scam Hosting Infrastructure"
Geoff Voelker

All good talks - very active and very timely research, and good awareness of current hot topics and techniques to tackle them!

Friday, August 31, 2007

announcing the e-loo, the cell phone's friend

the ambient loo

it is time for us in the pervasive and ubiqutous computing
community to stop taking the piss, and invest in some decent

Toto(know, I know we are not in Kansas anymore) and UCL and Cambridge should
build an ambient loo - purpose - to stop the overly frequent loss of cell phones
caused by dropping them into the water when they are insecurely perched in shirt
pockets etc - a sensor in the loo would detect the falling cell phone (or the
phone could have an acceleromter like the nokia sports phone, and beacon when it
can tell it is alling) and the ooo would quickly swap the water out of the way,
and turn on the blow dryer to gentler lower the phone to the porcelain and allow
the user to retrieve it safely and cleanly

indeed it might even be a cell phone cleaning service

we could submit it to here (ian wakeman just noticed):-

andy hopper and mark weiser wwould be proud to know that
Calm, seamless and persuasive, and secure, private ubicomp was alive and well,
that collaborations between Japan and the UK are being taken very very seriously

Tristan adds (for Scotland): "Since this is Japanese technology, I think we need to add karaoke to
the mix. If you start singing a song while sat on the loo, the loo
uses a DTN to find the nearest ipod/stereo/server with the correct
song on it, and then starts spraying the water and blow dryer in time
to the music (bass drum and cymbal respectively)."

Signage might be as per Tristan's fine collection
of photos in kyoto's streets.

Friday, August 24, 2007

come on, network people, save the planet!

use combined heat and data - pipe the packets and the kilojoules together - like combined heat and power, but IP over infrared delivers excess heat from big iron routers and data centers together to provide central heating and bath water - you could even parboil potatoes in an XML RPC exchange!!! you know its the way to go

its orthogonal to combined heat and power, or combined IP and power - its the third leg of a stable triangle - buy now!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

personal trainer laptop & mouse - longer human AND battery life:)

More stories from the halls of sustainable computing for the planet and gadgets galore:

1. on long haul flights, have a folding bicycle attached to your laptop, and use it to recharge the battery - while virtually cycling, you could be shown views of a cycling route (tour de france en ciel?)

2. instead of a wireless mouse being battery powered (know this: mine just went flat:), have a self-windingwatch type device that recharges from mouse movemnents and clicks - better still - use a tracker ball, which could also recharge the laptop:)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

why be square? own a parallel-i-pod now

new, no right angles anywhere in site. a parallelipod is a new mp3 player that can give you a sharper sound due to the acute angles on it - don;t be square, dont fall for the obtuse or roundy bits - get a parallelipod now - with masses of spiky features and some groovy artefacts too. features our novel new patent free prick-up-your-ears haptic
selection tool tested after thousands of seconds of user trials.

feelin flat and uninspiured, get the new multicore parallelipod - plays songs 1000 times as fast as any other mp3 player, guaranteed - so fast that they are, if not out of sight, ought of earshot before you can blink - come to think of it, if only we can get it out of the lab before christmas, if you get the quatipod, it plays songs before they are released, solving digital rights problems for all time (at least from then on).

Monday, July 30, 2007

beer marley (not mere barley:)

Until the philosophy which hold beer superior
And another
Is finally
And permanently
And abandoned -
Everywhere is beer -
Me say beer.

That until there no longer
First class and second class booze of any brewery
Until the colour of a mans pint
Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes -
Me say beer.

That until the basic drinker's rights
Are equally guaranteed to all,
Without regard to ale -
Dis a beer.

That until that day
The dream of lasting haze,
World intoxication
Rule of international drunkeness
Will remain in but a fleeting illusion to be pursued,
But never attained -
Now everywhere is war - war.

And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes
That hold our brothers in the eagle,
In the castle,
the Bun Shop
Sub-human inebriation
Have been tippled,
Utterly decanted -
Well, everywhere is beer -
Me say beer.

Beer in the east,
Beer in the west,
Beer up north,
Beer down south -

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

compact routing and the internet

it surely is a shame that the internet is not a planar graph - if it wer, then it would fold up very neatly along various edges until it fit into a small envelope, then we could find our way around it a whole lot easier

as it is, its embedded in around 14 dimensions, which means it would crumple up if you folded it, and maybe even break in places that were more brittle, which would sure upset the ISPs

Saturday, July 21, 2007

graduation re-defined

today several of my PhD students graduated in cambridge (yes, wearing silly gowns etc)

so when i did chemistry, graduation was what you used pipettes to do - dripping very accurate small amounts of stuff out

so maybe I should see myself and the university of cambridge as a sort of grandiose
phdiphdette (pronounced "fuddy fudette")?

perhaps not...

dave allen, woody allen, lily allen, paul allen:
to be sung to the tune of la allen's "Smile"
and without pronouncing ANY t's.

"Computer science aint better
than ICT, but its fitter,
not like plumbing or bein a knitter,
or even bein a baby sitter

programming aint more wicked
than babyshambling, insipid
stuff i aint keane on, like sid's
vids an' cds and my old fake i-d.

can you help me wiv me printer
i lost me passwd and now i'm outta
luck and outta toner, what a bummer
this aint the life i'm into....

can you get me credit back
me tea's gone cold and sorta lacks
the tide's gone out the back
and so has my lift home...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


it aint just coz we is geeks that CSers like SF -
computer science research is often about taking one facet or dimension of the world, and exagerating it beyond all reason - so is SF - what if, one day, it starts raining, or snowing, and doesnt stop. ever. or what if one day, average intelligence increases by 50%, or we all become telepathic, or we stop? similalry, what if we put all the processing in the world in one plae and just had dumb displays in offices and homes? or what if we put ALL the storage and processing in all the homes, and NONE In data centers? or what if a processor only had 2 instructions and no registers? or all instructiosn were self modifying? etc etc

Monday, July 02, 2007


So re-badging a bunch of CS under the banner of ICT was a vain attempt by the telecom industry (see who backed it - principally BT, FT, DT etc) to hitch their sinking ship to the rising star of computing - alas, too heavy was the titanic that was telekon, too
nice, undefensive and not quite buoyant enough Computer Science - so we are now all hands on the same deck, playing mozart while the boat sinks without trace

I blame the downturn of interest in CS (at school and uni) partly on this - they (ICT) made us (CS) look boring, male dominated and engineering-only ish - the dead hand of alexander graham bell and thomas edison, instead of the livewire of maxwell, faraday jefferson and turing (sort of mangling my metaphors and history of science a bit there you understand:-)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

pet area networks

so i've decided that the killer app. for haggle is to put opportunistic networking nodes on pets - imagine your poodle or siamese had a collar with an iMote in it - you'd tell where it had been, and it could carry info around in an emergency - sort of like a St Bernards rescue dog (with the bradny barrel udner its chin) only virtual...

cool tech in daily use in merc

just got a cab ride from frankfurt to darmstadt - the taxi driver's phone rang - he answered withotu taking his hands of the steering wheel - speaker phone mike/volume all adjustable on buttons on the big mercedes steering wheel - but cooler - his cell phone was docked without wires and chardging in a wide slot you just drop it in and pick it up when you get out - very classy indeed - eat yr heart out mit:)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I take a dim view of this:-)

some folks at UW and M have built some tools to take public archives of people's snaps and build really really cool fly around views of the world, mixing metadata, virtual and real in a novel way -

only downside of this is that its possible it may deter people from publishing some stuff (flicr and other things may start to offer more closed community views) - especialyl when pictures contain private components - one could imagine a tool that allows synth-photo-shopping out those components auto-magically so people would have the private view for their friends and famiily, but still publish the public components (mostly this would be a foreground/.background edit since most snaps have one's subject in foreground (person) and the scene in the background (leaning tower of teleon or Voter Damn cathedral in new your or whathave you) -such automatic algorithms exist and are pretty good...

Saturday, June 09, 2007

etch a sketch for the Mac

so the ibook/macbook have accelerometers which you can program - so time to implement a software etch a sketch = use the tracker pad do draw, then shake it clear - easy as pie

about 3 minutes programming...

could be web based acherlly now i think about it...

Friday, June 08, 2007

Human Scale Metrics

When I was a kid I used to measure the price of things in units of Mars Bars (a popular chocolate teeth desctructor in the UK).

as a frequent cyclist (coommuniter) since 1981, I measure time in units of changing inner tubes (around 3 minutes with relevant kit)

I now measure credit and debt in books (loaned) and far prefer pounds (livres) as a measure of weight (4 apples) than kilos (enough potatoes for a rugby team).

SI units do not pass the usability criteria - just think of 1 Farad capacitor, or a 1 Tesla magnetic field - what were these guys doing when they came up with those? :-)

fooled by randomness - rain in cam is mainly on the tracks

Reading this fine book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

so one thing I "observed" is that whenver I come into cambridge by train and it is raining, the rain is either on the track before the station, or on the road after the station, but not both.

this is an observation bias - i only notice this as I will probably have my waterproof ccling gear on already if it is both, but have to put it on or take it off if its exclusively one or other. so i only remember the times i have to change gear:-)

bizarely, steven hand recommended this book to me the day it arrived from amazon for me - of course, he probably bought it because of the same publication and reviews as I did so thats not a "coincidence" - its understandable (else how would "charts" ever work:-)

Monday, June 04, 2007

Building MAD Systems

today I am in Bertinoro at FuDiCo III, a
workshop on building MAD systems - FuDiCo is Future Directions in distributed Compting,
and MAD is not totally crazy, but stands for "multiple administrative domains".

I took some happy snaps with my trusty camera fone:-)

So far, the place is totally cool, and the talks are v. interesting!

So from the network perspective, I offered these notes:

1. End users adapt their rate to maximize utility & network providers provision
routes to maximise profit and minimise costs (through getting high utilisation)

Separately, ISPs compete by offering transit to end users, and to other ISPs
(either in customer / provider relationship, or peering)

However, end users cannot choose ISP - the mechanism that might work is loose
source routing - it could be policed coarse or fine grained, but is in fact
blocked. If a user subscribed to an IS that advertised "long haul provider
selection" it could be done to differentiate traffic (e.g. by delay, reliability
or whatever), but ISPs argue against this option
i) incorrectly, that it would be a security flaw (claiming it would allow
trangular/indirection attacks on the internet - in facty it still reveals the
source, and most indirection attacks on the net relay on higher level relays to
obfuscate the source)
ii) more crucually, that it would "level the playing field" between ISPs - that
is the point - in an ideal sense, by allowing users to game the system, just as
ISPs can do to each other, it wold move them to a marginal profit (i.e. a
"perfect market")

The question is whether in practive it might have other problems if there are
malicious players out there or accidentally bad players as well as rational and
altruistic users and ISPs

how would we show that offering Internet "AS long haul provider selection" is, in
general, not the end of the ISP business (and further is stable or has other nice
properties in terms of deployability)?

2. There are perverser incentives for ISPs to not prevent Distributed Denial of
Service attacks - An ISP in the UK that has no servers measures wuite frequent
traffic flows traversing their network to other ISps at aggregate data rates of
up to 7Gbps! Since their own customers are not impacted by this, AND they get to
claim they are forwarding lots of traffic transit to other ISPs, they get to peer
with those other ISPs instead of just being a customer so they have no reason to
block/ratelimit or blackhole these DDOS attacks!

Other examples of perverse incentives are
Microsoft shipped an anti-vurus advisory system in Windows XP Service Pack II but
did not include their own antivris software because they were worried about
litigation (e.g. under anti-trust law) from the Windows Virus protection software
vendors - default-on anti virus software would mean that less systems would be
susceptible to explotation as (say) botnet bot/farm/ddos sources, but because
microsoft didnt ship a product, many people installing XP chose not to spend
extra to buy antivirus, and so are vulnerable to being used as attacker sources!

how would one mitigate this?
background - distributed systems versus networks - areas of interest, community focus, venues and research approaches:

non gameable congestion control/rate
e.g. dual opt formulation
U: maximise each users utility
N: maximise revenue for min cost

properties we'd like to derive
deviation from fairness?
range and scope of efficiency?
[i.e. quantitative] <- sigcommm

converge (bad gadget)
goal (rational/byzantine/altruistic)
negotiation & revelation

propertues we'd like results for
range of business relationships
[i.e. qualitative] <- podc

DoS-Proof (Next Generation) Internet & MANET
incentive align/game
start with strategy proof
identity/resource use
propertes we'd like to have
risk/impact of attack
percentage free riding
[i.e. quantiative] <- sigcomm

incentive align (upload v. download)
sybil proof (non fakeable ID)
non foregeable token
attack on content (dos on content)
desirable properties
cooperation (whether by altruism or enforcement)
performance of p2p v. server v. multicast
[i.e. quantiative & qualiative] <- sigcomm and podc!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

whither weather back when? backcasting

here's a half an idea

last week in italy it rained like help - the forecast predicted it would rai na bit but was out by a factor of 3, but anyhow who am i to complain, but now i try to find a record of
1/ the forecast
2/ the backcast
for last week, i find nada, nuttin, doodlysquat - there's no record of what people predicted versus what happened. what kind of a service is that then eh? its not like we're giving away trade secrets (like form and horsies). It should be Out There for us to find. The truth (or lack of it) should be in weather backcasts.

the could be a whole new brand of dweeb who stands up on youtube or whateve god forsaken technology comes along next to replace TV, and tries to "do better" given the data - we could have Met Office Bake Offs (oops, sorry, bakeoff is a trademark of some american apple pie company:) - but perhaps, in this era of global warning, it would be a bake off (which city is gonan bake its greenbelt right off next summer? perth? LA? ulan batur?

This has been another barking and reading idea from the Free Plotware Foundation.

(yeah , i know the wayback engine would have sort of provided this, but the wayback engine was wayback, like when the web was tiny (smaller than my memory stick) and even then it was way behind:-)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What defines a really good systems architecture?

whether network, operating system or processor architecture, what defines a really good one, is that no matter how much stupidity is thrown on top of it (whether its unix, the internet or RISC) it mostly survives intact -e.g. people added X to Unix, BGP to the Internet, and floating point co processors to RISC, but they still didnt manage to completely break them

this was promopted by watching yakov rekhter's google video tech. talk about 18th year of BGP hacks with what I would say was a remarkably consistent 10% inability
to abstract

(as in Cool Hand Luke: "what we have here is a failure to abstract")

so there

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Molecular Theory of Bicycles

Glory be to god, today I have seen with these my own eyes, in vivo evidence of the wonderful molecular theory of de Selby, reported in the Dalkey Archive by the learned Father Flan O'Brien.

I was waling by the river in Cambridge when a bicycle went past with an adult home sapiens on it, unsurprisingly, you might observe, but then, right behind, was a much smaller bicycle with a much smaller human, who I can only surmise was a child of the larger human.

One must assume that when the child climbed on the bike, the admixture of molecules casued it to become more childlike, and, further, because of the familial relationship between the human in front, and the child behind, the foremost bike evolved a hand to reach out and hold the rearmost bicycle, just as its rider might do on foot.

Mirabile dictu, the first evidence. An interesting experiment suggests itself, which would be to see if placing the child on a bike in front of its riding parent would systematically work in the same way, or would the riders and bikes turn around to go the other way.

of course, were the council to improve the road surface, as de Selby reports, the problem might go away.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

stunt web pages

so what would a stunt web page be? it is first and foremost a more anonymous looking web page that stands in for the "real" star web page, but then does cool things (like jumping motorbikes through flaming hoops type things)

examples of stunt web pages include tricks like removing the need for subscription,
ddos mitagation, and changing all the text into jivetalk

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

home wifi hotspot web redirect? wireless projectors

so why don't home wifi routers have a hotspot web server to allow one to give liogins to visitors but get info on them and et their agreement (to terms&conditions)
like public commercial (WISP) hotspots?

surely that would make life a lot safer in terms of liability in giving out open access to all and sundry...oh, steve coast pointed me at
fon who do this of course!

secondly, why are there not data projectors with WiFI and VNC so i can do my talk without VGA adaptors/cables and can share the projector space with other people in the room - could easily have a "floor control" implemented (e.g. as a remote control with wifi/bluetooth and some sort of s/w handover)...I am sure one could do this with the
NDIYO on OLPC that michael dales did for example....

I want one now (and then)!!! !!!

thirdly why are blueteeth and zigbeeswax such silly names?

answers on a cartel

post modern blog art

so how about we take
Yahoo Pipes
and combine it with
Post Modern Rant Generation
and put together a sort of uber blog art out of plumbing - sort of like RObert de Niro in the wainscotes in That movie Brasil?

(thanks to john naughton and Q and richard gold for dangly pointers

Thursday, May 10, 2007

fed up with rejection (of papers, not just you:)?

why not submit them to my new conference - like the journal of irreproduceable results, this conference is for unsustainable research...we specialise in accepting papers that are not acceptable anywhere else

my friend richard clayton pointed me at this wonderful site, which includes some quite astoundingly daft

reviews of some quite famous papers
that you might have heard of...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

don't look now but someone stole my MANET

today I am in the middle of nowhere, about 17km from the edge of nowhere, just in front of the back of beyond, at the 7th Ad Hoc Wireless Scandinavian workshop, giving a talk about haggledy-paggledy stuff, and listening to the other work going on round here.

The wireless access is good and free, but I doubt it is ad hoc - as steve hand wisely said, Ad Hoc workshops never go as expected. the taxi driver got lost on the way here from Aarland, but then used a set of multiple multi-hop phone calls to find out how to get to the destination (he had satnav, but it didnt have the name of the place in its database:(

The event itself is jolly good with a lot of technically sound, interesting, and fun talks on DTN, MANET, practice, modeling, and other...seems like Scandinavia (and the related places some attendees came from) is a hotbed of hotnets

my talk is online already; i suppose that one of these days i'll show up but no-one else will as they'll have read the talk and realize i have nothing new to add to the fountain of noise.

Monday, April 30, 2007

vanity, all is vanity, or else its strings, that's my theory

podcast of april 2007
with me in....lord knows why:)

So the musical intro was "interesting" - allegedly, Bowie's Jean Genie (sic) was based on the life of Jean Genet (bit of a reach that - but possible - there was a ballet called our lady of the flowers based on work of Jean Genet which used a bunch of 1970s glam rock, and was choreographed by Lindsay Kemp a while back, and he's a Bowie chum according to fanzines of the time. However, I don't see many netheads or internet geeks knowing that (I do, but I am extremely weird (TM)). Also, as i said, its spelled wrong. Also, I dont know if US congress would like being associated with a notorious french
convicted murderer who wrote rather louche poetry and was extremely aggressively gay (hey, not me that has a problem, but just pointing out some un-reconstructed reborn americans might have "issues"), and was really championed by some rather weird french (freedom) fried people like Sartre....

Perhaps we should ask the guardian to podcast the song by Brian Quinn written for the American Medical Association, about Henrik Celine in his Golden Submarine, out to catch the Illuminati. After all, there's just as good a link to technology, and its got all sorts of other nice associations including the barking mad Ken Campbell's Liverpool Science Fiction Theatre's non stop 8 hour production of the Illuminatus Trilogy, but I can't recall what this has to do with GENI. Oh yes, GENI in the LAMP; LAMP Illuminates; illuminati; imanantize the eschaton; QED.

some folks
say that there's this rule about prime producers, secondary snesationalists and couch potatoes - while this observation might be historically right, the lowering of the barrier to entry by things like garageband+myspace, or youtube+webcams, shifts the distribution in favour of more people contributing. Note Bene - shifting the distribution beyond a certain point may result in a phase shift or emergent property - for example if the distribution causes tipping of the market towards a change in "ownership laws" or there are "flash creationists" or some other new-scary-thing happens that will delight and discombobulate us.
meanwhile, here's a mad idea: can we model wireless mobile ad hoc networks using
String Theory?

go on: you know it makes sense: you saw it here first.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

just one pixel, but 1 billion pounds?

so everyone knows the million pound web page where the guy sold
pixels for a pound each...
and very imaginative it was too...

so i'm interestged in a 1 pixel sale - how many different ways could i
sell a single pixel (lets cheat a bit and make it 24 bit trucolor)

over space (it could be different depending whoo looks at it from what
IP address dmain, it could be _overlayed, or xord with some or all
pixels on another page)
over time - can i sell it for a period, meaningfully - is there some
neat dutch or english auction i can run

can i create a schedule so that the use of the single pixel plus its
sequene of values might be nice

can i write a game based on a single pixel

are there steganographic ways to use the pixel, or covert signaling,
or can i combine all the above

suggestions on a (1 pel) postcard...

hawks and doves and ()rational game theory

mort gave me this paper to read about how hawks often win arguments with doves in a level playing field - essentially, this can be considered as a weighted game, so it could be easily accounted for in various first strike, prisoner's dilemma, iterated/cooperative and non-cooperative games.

It also accoutns for how Programme Cttes often seem to hear out the people arguing to keep a paper out of a conference than those arguing in favour of keeping the paper in. Interestingly (unsurprisingly?) telling people this (that combative is more likely to sway people than passivity) is not sufficient to get them to adjust their I guess what we need is a passive aggresive counter strike:)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

democracy in wireless action:bluemuting and powerpoinlessness

so here's two ideas for democray in wireless nets

1. in a meeting in stead of having 1. a power struggle for plugging in laptops to mains, and 2. a power struggle getting your laptop to talk to the projector, or to the session chair's USB memory stick to then transfer tyo her laptop to plug into the VGA( Daft bloody cable, almost as bad as SCART), why not have the projector have WiFi (some do, but of course, be aware of the alleged health risks:-). and then have it understand a simple protocol (e.g. VNC) and then give people a USB memory stick with an autoexect program which, when they THINK they are transferfring trheir PPT to the memory stick, atually sends it over the wifi to the "shared space" and then lets anyone project it over wifi and then there would be a "floor control" protocol to says who actually has the projector output "channel" (i.e. the floor) right now - in really exciting meetings, severa prople could scribble at once on the visiable version of th shared space

2. voting to turn off people's phones/noise on laptops - all machines should advertise the ring tone.mode they are in (including windows boot songs) and then people in a room can click on an icon to vote to turn off the soun - if enough people vote (e.g. 2, or say (n+1)/2) to turn it off, off it goes...
til they are out of bluetooth/wifi range


nash equilibrium

sitting in Regents Park on sunday in the beautiful weather, i reached a Nash Equilibrium - the Terrace, the Ogden and the Game were all peaking - to take anythign away from any one of them and give to another would have been so unfair...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

shared media denial of service based scheduler

so if we have a shared medium wireless net, we could arrange for a bunch of senders to send "busy idle" traffic (instead of doing some central scheduler) on a set of periodic frequcnies that are distributed over time such that the channel has effectively infinite variance use. in this case someone wishing to use it is dened any useful service unless they first ask one of the senders to give up their channel, and then get that instead to send on - the idea is that I have to pay someone out of the current "incumbents" to stop sending, so I can - this has two effects
1. the payment is distributed
2. cheating is very very hard

this can be done with fairly poor clocks, since the timescales i am talkign about are TCP retransmit/rtt estimation, or RTP playout buffer estimation algorithm times - so we can make the channel effecttiley useles for anythign other than 1 shot traffic (which is allowed as it is used to request capacity off of another sender by a newbie) because the algorithms would be completely screwed up by the jitter from waiting for a non busy channel....(note it isn';t really "busy" but it looks like it is)....

safety in randomness?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Electronic voting systems & other NSDI 07 fun and games

NSDI07 in Cambridge, MA, USA,
is very good. I just saw a neat talk at NSDI by Ron Rivest on the problems and some suggested solutions for electronic voting systems - seemed to me his ThreeBallot system (and some others) are amenable to horrible denial of service attacks on the integrity check (brings whole new power to the ballot spoiler) but I need to go check this more carefully.

On the other hand, why prop up an outmoded form of government like democracy? its like trying to build computer systems that use 25% less power, when we are still expanding the number of cars on the planet at the same rate as PCs:)

Meanwhile, I notice a surprising number of people here are
1) not using MACs
2) are using Windows (XP!)
for an allegedly "systems" conference!!!

wouldn't it be cool to survey OSDI, NSDI, PLDI, HOT*, SOSP, SIGCOMM, INFOCOM for OS/laptop preferences...

First paper
Do Incentives Build Robustness in BitTorrent?

Michael Piatek, Tomas Isdal, Thomas Anderson, and Arvind Krishnamurthy
is clueful work on fixing incentives more carefuly in p2p systems like bittorrent.(won student paper award) - very solid work - bittyrant client well worth a looksee.
anyone using up v. down link strategies should look at this work (e.g. also applies in MANET, DTN, as well as pdp)...

2nd paper
Exploiting Similarity for Multi-Source Downloads Using File Handprints

Himabindu Pucha, Purdue University; David G. Andersen, Carnegie Mellon University; Michael Kaminsky, Intel Research Pittsburgh
is on finding common sub-parts of common downloads for multi-source download using handprints - looking like rabin fingerprint things done elsewhere...but applied to source selection - solid engineering research. This paper also made the
bbc news website the same day!

3rd paper
Cobra: Content-based Filtering and Aggregation of Blogs and RSS Feeds
Ian Rose, Rohan Murty, Peter Pietzuch, Jonathan Ledlie, Mema Roussopoulos, and Matt Welsh,
on aggregating blog/rss feed (argh - am I being aggregated as I speak:)
peter pietzuch was a co author, so essentially this is a mash up of blog/rss with pub/sub/event/notify, and nicely done...very large reduction in bandwidth (as you'd expect given how daft RSS is and how good systems like Siena are) - useful to fix the naivite of RSS, though - either to reduce server load, or improve latency/timeliness!

4th paper
Information Slicing: Anonymity Using Unreliable Overlays
Sachin Katti, Jeff Cohen, and Dina Katabi,
looks rather like Eternity done via Ron with onion routing...! but nice systems paper - definitely worth a read if you want to see how to put all the ideas together in an elegant fashion - Sachin did his usual very fine laid back, but humerous and clear presentation which is a relief from the typical rather over zealous and aggresive MIT thang:)

5th paper is

SAAR: A Shared Control Plane for Overlay Multicast
Animesh Nandi, Rice University and Max Planck Institute for Software Systems; Aditya Ganjam, Carnegie Mellon University; Peter Druschel, Max Planck Institute for Software Systems; T.S. Eugene Ng, Rice University; Ion Stoica, University of California, Berkeley; Hui Zhang, Carnegie Mellon University; Bobby Bhattacharjee, University of Maryland

is what to do if no-one deploys multicast ever (unlike now, then:-), and everyone wants 1 way to do multicast (unlike now, then:-) workmanlike proposal/eval...I'm still waiting for someone to do a decent architecture that uses wide area native IP multicast AND P2P, where appropriate - its non trivial due to the potential overlap

Ricochet: Lateral Error Correction for Time-Critical Multicast
Mahesh Balakrishnan and Ken Birman, Cornell University; Amar Phanishayee, Carnegie Mellon University; Stefan Pleisch, Cornell University

moving to a new model of time critical....this was a sideways look at the Reliable Multicast space - PGM has hooks in it to do this sort of thing, but was never (to my knowledge) engineered to use them so its nice to see how to, especially from folks that have been doing quality RM work since day zero!

Next, wireless networky stuff:-

WiLDNet: Design and Implementation of High Performance WiFi Based Long Distance Networks
Rabin Patra and Sergiu Nedevschi, University of California, Berkeley, and Intel Research, Berkeley; Sonesh Surana, University of California, Berkeley; Anmol Sheth, University of Colorado, Boulder; Lakshminarayanan Subramanian, New York University; Eric Brewer, University of California, Berkeley, and Intel Research, Berkeley

so the reason this is cool is that they basically bring together a number of modest changes to 802.11, which all combined let you run it over 100km (40m) and sort out a few problems with interference and fairness...its based on a real empirical set of results so pretty much more than plausible, but is probably not the kiss of dfeath to Wimax just yet...of course, I joked that this only works in california as the air is so rarified, and it wouldn't have a hope in the East Coast:)

S4: Small State and Small Stretch Routing Protocol for Large Wireless Sensor Networks
Yun Mao, University of Pennsylvania; Feng Wang, Lili Qiu, and Simon S. Lam, The University of Texas at Austin; Jonathan M. Smith, University of Pennsylvania

this really does what it says on the tin - use theory in practice...worth a read if you've seen the small stretch theory papers and want to see how to use them in anger - also nice to see JMS is back in action!

A Location-Based Management System for Enterprise Wireless LANs
Ranveer Chandra, Jitendra Padhye, Alec Wolman, and Brian Zill, Microsoft Research

nice practical results for the problem statement in the title...I guess this will show up in Vista SP2:-)

Poster session:- ones I talked to:

The Case for Conditional Link Metrics and Routing
Saumitra M. Das, Purdue University; Yunnan Wu and Ranveer Chandra, Microsoft Research, Redmond; Y. Charlie Hu, Purdue University

neat way of unifying several ideas under one hat! inclouded network coding and interference (as effective shadow price routing) - several of the ideas are well known, but combining them in thie iead (metric for a link is metric conditional on some other link metric - useful for MANETs, Net Coded, multi-path etc etc - main question is how do you actually know the priors, i.e. in many cases the implication is that there is additional link state info distributed (ok if your routing protocol is a link state flooding protocol, but not so great for distance vector...or proactive manet)

Lighweight OS Support for a Scalable and Robust Virtual Network Infrastructure
Sapan Bhatia, Marc Fiuczynski, Andy Bavier, and Larry Peterson, Princeton University and

Network Troubleshooting: An In-band Approach
Murtaza Motiwala, Georgia Institute of Technology; Andy Bavier, Princeton University; Nick Feamster, Georgia Institute of Technology

were both Vini related ones and i talked about using xen/xorp instead of quagga/click...we (CAM CL ) need to talk to these guys about our xen/xorp work...

there were a lot of other good posters but i didn't manage to talk to them much aside from Marcel Dischinger (who interned in the lab 2 years back, and is now at MPI with Peter Druschel) - his poster was on DSL measurements:

day 2:-
Tolerating Faults and Misbehavior

Beyond One-Third Faulty Replicas in Byzantine Fault Tolerant Systems
Jinyuan Li, VMware, Inc.; David Mazières, Stanford University

defines a new model of consistency ("Fork* consistency") which allows one to consider execution sequences with more than 1/3 of replicas being malicious - requires careful consideration of separation of concerns of consistency, correctness, and eventual completion, under certain specific partition cases....don't have time to think it through here - sounds important and useful (can we use it in p2p/manet/dtn too = not sure we need to as we can triangulate bad guys geographically and contain them?).

Ensuring Content Integrity for Untrusted Peer-to-Peer Content Distribution Networks
Nikolaos Michalakis, Robert Soulé, and Robert Grimm, New York University

attestation based system (viz reputations) in decentralised way...

TightLip: Keeping Applications from Spilling the Beans
Aydan R. Yumerefendi, B

not h/w, not language, and not taint track - but slight change to OS to have shadow process....which is a doppelganger...sounds a lot like what Sugih Jamin did way back for shadowing execution in game servers (with compresed execution state) and also how the euro black hat guys deconstructed skype. also, the assertaion on slowness of tain is a bit outta date i think..

Network Measurement

Peering Through the Shroud: The Effect of Edge Opacity on IP-Based Client Identification
Martin Casado and Michael J. Freedman, Stanford University

next gen NAT detection, writ large

A Systematic Framework for Unearthing the Missing Links: Measurements and Impact
Yihua He, Georgos Siganos, Michalis Faloutsos, and Srikanth Krishnamurthy, University of California, Riverside

Emulation and Virtualization

The Flexlab Approach to Realistic Evaluation of Networked Systems
Robert Ricci, Jonathon Duerig, Pramod Sanaga, Daniel Gebhardt, Mike Hibler, Kevin Atkinson, Junxing Zhang, Sneha Kasera, and Jay Lepreau, University of Utah

hybridized planetlab + emulab - i.e. use besxt of both worlds - seems sensible...

An Experimentation Workbench for Replayable Networking Research
Eric Eide, Leigh Stoller, and Jay Lepreau, University of Utah

Very amusing talk! and sensible....not sure if its the tool - but we should give them benefit of the doubt...

how many papers on the meta agument "we should do reproduceable research" can be accepted before we start to accept papers that reproduce results ? :-)

Black-box and Gray-box Strategies for Virtual Machine Migration
Timothy Wood, Prashant Shenoy, and Arun Venkataramani, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Mazin Yousif, Intel, Portland

Debugging and Diagnosis

Life, Death, and the Critical Transition: Finding Liveness Bugs in Systems Code
Charles Killian, James W. Anderson, Ranjit Jhala, and Amin Vahdat, University of California, San Diego

model checking - peter sewell might like to look at this !!!

X-Trace: A Pervasive Network Tracing Framework
Rodrigo Fonseca, George Porter, Randy H. Katz, Scott Shenker, and Ion Stoica, University of California, Berkeley

spoke to george porter who has some interesting other work with Randy on energy saving in clusters which is pretty much like Anthony Hylick's stuff, but at a higher level...I guess x-trace is a sort of Magpie type project...

for both these papersmight have been nice to have seen them before the pervasive debugging project!!!

Friday: Global Comprehension for Distributed Replay
Dennis Geels, Google, Inc.; Gautam Altekar, University of California at Berkeley; Petros Maniatis, Intel Research Berkeley; Timothy Roscoe, ETH Zürich; Ion Stoica, University of California at Berkeley

Just caught the tail end of this - seems very neat - again, quite like the replay/rewind stuff in Tim Harris' first version of PDB

Friday, Day 3

Network Localization

Network Coordinates in the Wild
Jonathan Ledlie, Harvard University; Paul Gardner, Aelitis; Margo Seltzer, Harvard University

This reminds me of the work when people looked at how bad early akamai cache selection was at finding the right "locality" releative to a particular client.
But I guess the point here is that they've looked at all the recent techniques and gone a lot further in a "heroic scale" big science way that is a sign of good systems papers these days. As with other recent work on coordinates, the idea is not to get an actual coordinate (in the sense of mapping node location onto the surface of the planet geographically, via some embedding), but to get a system that is useful. So they use a spring model with ageing. Unsurprisingly a DHT is also used. Eval is very thorough.

Octant: A Comprehensive Framework for the Geolocalization of Internet Hosts
Bernard Wong, Ivan Stoyanov, and Emin Gün Sirer, Cornell University

so this paper is actually trying to get a real mapping from IP to geo-location. This is worrying, as we know lots of reasons why this actually only possible for a subset of the net with any degree of reality. So what they do is to interatively reduce errors (i.e. not embedding as primary approach). having done this, they get remarkably good results - although they use planetlab (usual warning) for some eval:(

dFence: Transparent Network-based Denial of Service Mitigation
Ajay Mahimkar, Jasraj Dange, Vitaly Shmatikov, Harrick Vin, and Yin Zhang, The University of Texas at Austin

I really wanted to say "Looking over dFence at networking research" basically this is a midbox approach (as opposed to an arbornet front end, or a re-architect the application to be distributed...) and is as such perfectly reasonabl, but there's the deployment argument...worked example was attack mitigation of syn flood. the midboxes need dynamic state management. the eval used IXPs and Xorp:)

R-BGP: Staying Connected in a Connected World
Nate Kushman, Srikanth Kandula, and Dina Katabi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Bruce M. Maggs, Carnegie Mellon University

is about pre-cumputing a failover path so that you can forward data WHILE the BGP convergence is happening - i.e. de-couple forwarding and route computation. Gosh, where's that happened before (phone networks? :-) of course, you do need to think about how you install forwarding state for failover path without a routing update...question for me is precisely why there is any outage in a path (or distance)-vector protocol...they look at that - for me, it shouldn't happen.

Mutually Controlled Routing with Independent ISPs
Ratul Mahajan, Microsoft Research; David Wetherall, University of Washington and Intel Research; Thomas Anderson, University of Washington

So I really like this work since it incoproates a very subtle understanding of what revelation is allowed between "competing" ISPs to permit necessary, but sufficient cooperation to get more fine grain control (and convergence) in a policy routing system. As the speaker/author pointed out, the idea applies across many other networked systems (p2p, e-mail, multiple wireless nets) and so is well worth paying attention to - Sid Chau's work in the area is related...

Tesseract: A 4D Network Control Plane
Hong Yan, Carnegie Mellon University; David A. Maltz, Microsoft Research; T.S. Eugene Ng, Rice University; Hemant Gogineni and Hui Zhang, Carnegie Mellon University; Zheng Cai, Rice University

Every aspect of networking that isn't just forwarding the end user data is control. All control is just another problem for distributed computing. This is a mantra in Cambridge, and other places seem to be buying into this - you don't have to go quite so far as Active Nets or Programmable Networks, but treating every aspect (fault diagnosis, routing, traffic engineering, etc etc) as just distributed computing problems like anyhting else (web serving, CDN, email, p2p) is a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

transaction costs...s/bank/cellular network/

so cell phone calls are transactions. they can be seen itemized and if you are roaming, they involve moving charges between different agencies. the transaction cost overhead are extremely low. Now, look at bank charges. why are bank charges typically two orders of magnitude higher than cell phone charges? there is no reason for this whatsoever - the technologies could actually be the same.

I know that its been reported that people in parts of Africa are using call minutes as a currency and that you can buy potatoes (for example) in some markets in exchange for sim magic tokens

this is not pixie dust - its clear we are being ripped off royally by banks and that its time someone started the first mobile virtual internet bank

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

jolly japes, whacky wheezes and PhD exams

so on sunday I am examing a PhD at the University of Mulroon, in the Western Hebrides. I read the dissertation yesterday on the train and prepared my report. I forgot this last night so I read the dissertation again on the train today, and prepared another report, and on arriving in the lab, discovered the original report. Imagine my delight to discover that the reports differend completely in their conclusion, viz:

"Report on the dissertation submitted for the degree of PhD at the University of Mulroon, by Shankar McDuibleemott, entitled "towards a better metric for relevance in search engines when searching on the web for material to plagiarise for a thesis without being caught".

Thesis Examiner, Professor G.Hypothese, University de Paris MCXVII, April 1, 2007

I found this thesis incredibly irritating as I was sure I had seen it somewhere before but could simply not place it. It all seemed so confoundingly obvious, and yet it wasn't. I have to recommend that this thesis be awarded the PhD at the very least, and probably £11M venture capital to found a succesful startup too.

The report continues with some rather boring details and suggestins for future work and minor corrections

On the other hand, report 2 starts

"This work is entirely unoriginal in that the algorithm developed to find things on the Internet acn be found on the Internet. While it is true that before the candidate undertook this research, you could not find the algorithm on the Internet, and the candidate put the algorithm on the internet themselves to show that the algorithm worked (it doesn't find itself on the internet, thus showing that it doesn't plagiarise things that can easily be detected), I found a simlar algorithm on the internet that did find this algorithm but doesn't find itself.
This other algorithm is found by the candidates algorithm, thus proving the Hypothesis in the dissertation wrong, ipso facto, the PhD cannot be awarded. Nor can this dissertation be submitted in any other form any more. That is my last word on the matter.


To resolve this matter, I have placed each report in an envelope, one red and one black, and I intend to ask the candidate to choose one or the other at the start of the Viva Voce. I feel that this is only fair.

Of course, in some cases, the envelopes might contain the same report. Or indeed, no report at all. I think this should all be formalized as rule 666 of PhD Viva Voce procedure: the ceremony of the envelopes, accompanied by Hautbois.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

breaking up, moving out, moving in and DRM

So this is a sign of the times - when you split up with gurl x and move in with boy y, and have to untangle your iTunes libraries - what happens about the DRM, eh, eh? when it was vinyl and CDs and books, life was easy....

does apple support fork/merge/migrate, properly? do Micorosoft windows media players?

must be about tim for the first generation of kids moving out of hiome to college and hit same problem

what we need is microtrading of DRM rights...probably using cell phone sims and call time as a token/currency....

In fact the same thing applies in the macro-economy of fork/merge of microsoft and apple, as to boy meets girl microeconomics, clearly

now THEREs a business for vodafone:)

Monday, March 19, 2007

overcite, undercite, wombling

A researcher at ucl at adastral notes estonian and other grpups rankings in google scolar and citeseer etc - for me appearing 2nd only to robin milner was a thrill (viz
outer site ) but alas out-of-mind since it appears not to have dealt with the errors present in much bibliographic data (e.g. initial v. first name, very common family name, bias to subjects like mine where we out everything online before the conference even publishes it etc), so while well-meaning, its not got much depth as a "meaning well":-)

speaking of meaning-wells, treacle well was a data structure manuel oliveira and i cam up with which doesn't appear to have stuck, ironically given its name...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

recursion considered harmful

as well as "considered harmful considered harmful"
this amusing article)
there's a nice list of 10 stupid ideas which includes the Sony great
PiPiP concept - viz ranking up there with the old paper clip!!

recursion is your friend, not (at least not always)

Friday, March 16, 2007

human cognition part deux

never have an idea bigger than your head
but also
never let your head get bigger than your ideas

Thursday, March 15, 2007

what is the worst thing that could happen to the USA

just before an empire falls, the rising star steels their IPR



the giveaway symptom is a sudden rise in litigation

pardon, did you say god is deaf

scientists build the biggest computer the world has ever seen, for the purpose of asking it one very important question, and having it answer th very important question, and to make sure that it doesn't cheat, like very big cat to keep the trans-dimensional mice away.

One day they announce that the computer is ready and a huge crowd show up to watch Turing put it through its paces. He finishes the last piece of programme, and hits the enter key, and turns to the audience to explain:
"The Computer will now answer the question, "Is there a God?"

just as he finishes speaking, a huge bolt of lightening from the busbars conenctd to the mainframe strikes him dead (again) and a voice from the computer says
"Not any more there isn't. now about my pay..."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

most problems in government IT project management are caused by...

one too many levels of misdirection...

basically, read the article in the recent copy of Private Eye about the NHS connecting for health fiasco - it is very well researched with lots of good evidence, and explanations of who, what why, where and when things have gone wasn't inevitable until it started, and then it was because the entire terms of the project were misguided (and unnecessary) as the article states (and quotes many medical and IT experts as supporting, with evidence).

One problem is that the Man at the Top (by which I mean Tone) has no computer science skills at all - indeed, its clear from his expression when confronted by "whizz bang" technology that he really is out of his depth - mind you, thats true with the "special relationship" with the US, and warfare, trident, and other things - just hat is he good at then? His judgement on people seems a bit shaky too:)

How would I do the NHS? Federation of existing systems through finding commonality, to start wth, combined with a massive engagement with the users to find out what _information_ they are missing (or is slow/expensive to get or put) that would help them, and what methods of getting it would not increase their workload either in uptake/deployment/learning, or in operations.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

impact ,erdos and bacon

i was thinking about Augustin's temporal graphs - when we look at
author graphs (e.g. Erdos numbers) and Holloywood actor graphs (Kevin
Bacon numbers) we think in terms of connected graphs like the web and
the internet, but in fact you only have to wait long enough and people
die (erdos is dead) -

I have an Erdos number of 3 (maybe 2 not sure) as I wrote apaper with
scott shenker who wrote one with andrew odlyzko who wrote one with

since erdos is dead you can't get 1 any more, but
if you want to have an erdos number of 2, you need to hurry up or the
1s will all be dead:)

i also worked out (at least 1 path) a kevin bacon number of 5 - i made
a movie at school with a friend justin krish, who edited the movie
Bend It Like Beckham, which kiera knightly was in which...etc etc etc

i'm currently ranked 397 by google scholar/citeseer of all CS ever (robin milner is a bit higher in the computer lab, like 4. though normalized by year i'm 270:-)


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Origins of Style and GUIs, and the tidy desktop

I have an hypothesis I would love to test and it is this:
You can tell the date that a GUI designer bought their first HiFi
by the level of gaudiness of the GUI - X Windows for example had a number
of toolkits and look and feel/skins like Motif and Athena Widgets, which reminded me a lot of the late 70s and early 80s design of Amps with lots of knobs and sticky out stuff and shiny brushed aluminium, and then later, with matt black and minimal
exterior stuff, whereas tcl/tk's toolkit first look and feel was more the colloidal/organic feel of late 80s early 90s, even Bang & Olufsen....

Also, you can tell a lot about a person from the state of their home directory - some people organise it with docs, bin, lib, Mail, Arc, Tmp (a bit like / on a unix box)
but some people have a zillion random files called foo bar baz big, tmp, and 044333xxx.arc etc - usually (but not always) this is mirrored in the physical state of their desk/office, but does it reflect their thinking too? I think we should be told...

Friday, February 23, 2007

botanically inspired computing

there's all this chat about bio-inspired computing, and survivable networks, and sustainable computing - but why not do botanically inspired computing eh?

plant, tree, leaf, we already do it, and its greener than cows:)

also, what about opportunistic security as another really bad idea - so think of laissez-faire privacy, for example - encrypt things when its not too much bother, otherwise dont - the basis for this is sound since security is almost always anathema to usability, lets only do it when we aren't using it:)

next:cryptozoically assigned internet addresses

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

anglo saxon chronic words

so why is that that all words of the form
are mean sounding? think about slag, snag, swag, blag, brag, slog and even blog:-)

and how is it that some authors who cannot write for toffee sell well - is it just that their name _sounds nice

euphony versus cacaphony, eh - onomatopoeic, or what?

Monday, February 12, 2007

railing on ruby

I've been reading about Ruby on Rails, and feel like writing an
article Railing about Ruby, to express my dismay with this notion that
higher level programming abstractions somehow get you away from the
notion that we have to learn how to program!

At no point in my experience of programming,
teaching progrmaming, or teaching any part
of CS that involved programming (all:),
or working with people in industry,
have I ever detected evidence of the idea that
as the community develop higher level tools
(whether languages, software development environments or methodologies),
we reduce the need for design, thought, and skills.

What newer tools do achieve is the
ability for a given team to tackle a
larger problem. Not a problem of
ineherently more complexity, but a
problem where many simple (possibly heterogeneous)
pieces have been tackled before. Or
the ability to tackle a problem with
less errors in a given amount of time
with given people resources.

I'd like to christen this the God Delusion
(sorry, again R D)
(as we might term some sort of
panglossian view that one day you will be able
to google for the solution to a problem in
a code base - GOogle Do instead of Exec() :-)

In this new language, GoD,
one can program one's house with expressions such as
"Lux Fiat"
and through some sort of babel search,
this will be translated into:
"turn on the light"
but in one's garage,
it cleans ones Italian Car.
Of course, in the physics lab,
it might cause a tiny nuclear explosion,
and in the bio lab
, the emergence of life from a
primeval swamp in a testube.

In GoD,
Fiat = generic constructor
Lux = light, soap, enlightenment, etc

Other constructs, native inline functions, include
Ecco Homo
which on the screen, prints what men type, but not women.
but in the bathroom, strips off the clothes and uts them in the
laundry basket for women, but drops them on the floor for men,
and in the artists studio, knocks out a quick portrait with
fine chiaruscuro...

As david lodge once famously asked,
How far will you go?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

premature announcement of the death of computer science

some recent letters/articles
death of cs
claim that there is no demand for CS undergraduate university degree programmes of the "classic" kind (ones that teach, say, the ACM CS curriculum material), and that there's no demand for CS graduates (or PhDs) in industry, and that this is because the subject is dead.

what a load of piffle. the subject is more alive than ever and lots of action is out there, and demand for graduates and PhDs who can reason compulationally, AND programme, is higher than EVER. however, schools programmes have completely failed to deliver anythign interesting, so no kids are coming out of british 6th forms with any idea from their teachers of what is cool in CS. the ones that do had to do it on their own (and are often very good as a result) but those that have innate abilities may never discover this and miss out on great careers.

Training people for IT "careers" is, in contrast, consigning them to the dustbin of history, since that is EXACTLY what everone is outsourcing to the countries where labour is cheaper, or to school leavers who discover that at least maintaining a bunch of PCs and printers is better than working in McDonalds....

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Sustainable computing, or not?

Why we need a new kind CS for the 21st century,
and why its the same as the old kind.

1. The business model of the entire computing industry
is based on a fundamentally unsustainable premise:
a form of pyramid sales,
which is quintessential of the late 20th century

The top of the pyramid is the ever faster,
ever bigger infrastructure service, and
"big iron" servers and routers and data centers,
and associated large oligopolistic service providers.

These encourage profligate power consumption,
require absurd heat dissipation, and are centralised in a risky way
(risky in terms of safety, sustainability, security and sanity).
They also require massive investments in ever faster
switch's and processors, disks, memory and software bloat.

The investment cycles are not in a smooth curve,
but are in ever larger step functions -
e.g. to build new plant for new fab for
new chip is now looking close to
getting a new drug to market -
only how much less useful?

ditto operating systems (viz vista).
ditto middleware. ditto any research programme in CS
likely to have an impact on practice.

2. the consumer end of the pyramid (base:)
requires ever increasing numbers of tiny devices run on batteries.
Originating in the switchover from PCs to laptops,
now PDAs, cell phones, and eventually
thousands of ubiquitous sensors and mote processors
per person, per car, many battery powered,
and often toxic to the environment,
with no model of recovery/recycling or even
actually a good cost/benefit requirement analysis!

3. Fundamentally, Moore's law is the wrong model, and
systems like the Internet, peer-to-peer, and cheap disks encourage
the uptake of Metcalfe's law with a vengeance -

of Course, neither Moore nor Metcalfe's laws
are actually true invariants/universals.
they are just observations of the value of
a particular combination of
scale through integration at the technical level
and the growth model of economy requiring
sustenance through ever new replacement tech.

The embedding of these "laws" leads to many
bad practice examples in terms of sustainability...
some modest ones: the Web consists of
many multiple libraries of congress' worth of store,
and the Internet's worth of computers consisting of
multiple millions of cray2s worth of CPU,
when actually we didn't add much to the global pool of knowledge post web,
and 99.999999% of those 1 billion CPUs are idle at any time!

Ditto the 2.5 billion cell phones,
which have now reached a mean lifetime of 18 months - sure this allows
deployment of new tech in phones without due regard for legacy support
for the moment. But it also means that by 2008, we will be disposing of
10^9 phones per year. That doesn't sound like something that can carry
on very long. Intel (and AMD etc), ARM, Nokia, Sony/Ericsson,
etc etc are all going to be in very very bad trouble in short order.

What will this mean for the rest of the pyramid?
well, it also means obviously that Microsoft
(and Symbian and the like) will be in bad trouble,
as the subsequent to next deployment of PCs might not happen in any
significant way at all, then post Vista OS
(and anything else that represents bloat and inability to
shift to some new steady state that doesn't have binomial expansion of
memory/storage/power needs/battery replacement duty cycle, etc etc,
will be very very dead in the water (analogy works well:)

What does this then mean for computer science research?
I think its a mixed bag.
1. fundamentally, an industry that moves to steady state moves to
process optimisation rather than innovation - so industry investment in
serious research might drop, although in some sense, process
optimisation is potentially something that fundamental computer science
can do a lot with (e.g. correct software would be an example)
2. on the other hand, the resources available at that steady state
point will be pretty staggering so exploiting them well will be an
interesting systems task.
3. what about alternatives to the high end power/heat problem
and the low end smart dust/pollution problems? good topic for DTG...

Of course, there are those people that believe technology
can work around the problems and continue "exponential" growth.

In Snow Crash, there's an image of the difference between the
Sumerian's and the Egyptians, both of whom sustained large scale
civilisations that lasted considerably longer than the Euro/US hi-tech
one has done to date, and I don't know why, but the image seems
informative in some way. Sumerian built out of clay, and wrote on clay
which was then baked to preserve it, and was abundant in the
Tigris/Euphrates flood plains. The buildings
washed away, but the baked tablets lasted for ever. The Egyptians built
out of stone, but wrote on papyrus. The buildings are still there, but
the papyrus rotted. Don't ask me what the analogy for
Mac OS X on a power PC versus Vista on an x86 is, as I havn't got a clue.


Friday, January 26, 2007

reviewing ICT

reviewing ICT is the remit of various committes - ICT is the term chosen by various european luminaries to be telecom (commmunications) and IT combined (dunno why:) - reviewing it is often done by self-selecting committees- CS being a younger (sub?-) discipline is full of keen young gunslingers who love seeing other peoples work. EE being an older discipline has young gunslingers who are too busy to do reviewing so guess what ? you get semi-retired people who don't know moore's law from murphy's law. so when you combine them what happens?

search me, but i doubt its fun:)


so suriving cambridge in an affordable way means dealing with non university organisations to bolster up any sort of reasoanble mortgage or rent. Two extreme alternatives are
i) to start a company (which seems to be rather short term, albeit things like xen are very fine) or
ii) to go join microsoft research, which does long term research which is very similar to that going on in the university (e.g. in terms of programming languages, adaptive computing, distributed systems and networks, operating systems etc etc, as well as some theory)....

i) lets you stay in the uni, but is counterindicated for people who want to do long term things, whereas ii) doubles your income but involves leaving

surely shum mishtake>?

the recent professorial pay review didnt particulalry help either, unless you are one of the zillion physicists/chemists/math FRS or the 2 (yes, count them) CS FRS, where it was only worth a point or two -weird, what happened to comparability and market related, eh?

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Systems, systems, systems - are they just the
science of the kludge?

hm - so cross-layer optimisation, for example - isn't this an oxymoron - a decent system would be layered optimally - what are layers, anyhow?

Friday, January 12, 2007


so now will we seen the emergence of i-T, basically clothing made by apple with wearable gadgets made out of i-cloth? i-dunno

Friday, January 05, 2007


here's one for
Steve Coast

The Goblin Ressurrection, by Goddard Slimak.

Reviewed by Mercedes Bandwagon

This is a new book about the so-called "Wst Cambridge Phonomenon", where since the move to the new Center for Metamagical Sciences, and the Picoscience centre, and the new Center For Advanced Phantasmagoria, and the Wilomena Grates Bldg, a fantastic number of new bespoke businesses have been spun out from the National Pomanian University, including
several basemetal2goldband wireless virtualisation and cleansweep broomstick companies, and one or two companies selling model checkers for Rock Star's companions, as well as theorem provers for string theoreticians.

WHen asked about the secret of his success, Professor Dame Anne-Marie ("space") Hopper remarked:
"Out here on the periphery, we are stoned, immaculate".

(ressemblance to previous books about the Goblin Reservation, Cambridge Science Park, and its denizens, is completely uncoincidental)

(No hobbits were harmed much during the making of this review.