Saturday, March 19, 2011

Last post

This is the end of the blog. The class is over and my days as a high priced blogger are over. I thank all three of my followers. I hope you enjoyed my ramblings. I am off to other adventures.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Moon base by 2028

The moon has been hanging over our heads since before anyone can remember. It is there taunting us, wanting us to dream. As for going and living on the moon. That has also been a dream of those that love science, those that want to explore and maybe even those that want to just get away. As for me, I am amazed on how little energy this country has to exploring. We are so focused on just living that we refuse to dream of the possibilities. This is at odd with our current state of affairs. At no time in history have people had it so very good. Today, our definition of poor are those that cannot afford cable TV, internet, and designer shoes.

Yet, today our spirit to explore the vast beyond is so very tempered. In most conversations about space travel or moon bases, people retort that it is a waste of money. We should spend that money on feeding the poor or educating the children. We should not be explores for economical reasons. As a person that is not hungry, cold, or wet I can comfortably disagree with such logic. I can reflect back on all the things that exploration brought to humanity. From the technology that powers today's society to the stories that entertain us our evenings. It would seem that exploration should be a passion of our species.

Beyond the economical reasons there are also political issues that get in way of such great ideals. If one party wants space travel it becomes a drum that the opposing party will beat on how those that fund such activities are wasting tax money. It does not matter which of the two parties has the vision for a moon base the opposing party will use the idea as against them. It is political.

The technology promise book forecast a permanent moon base by 2028. Maybe it is possible. But maybe not in our current economic times. I would love to see this change. How neat would it be if this could spark the scientist in all of us. Maybe it create a new generation of kids that dream of science, exploration, and engineering. This would be a vast departure from our dreams today. We dream of being rich but without direction. We dream of be famous but without purpose. Can this change? Yes, I believe so, but I don't know how.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Animoto Video - Natural disasters

When I grew up cell phones did not exist. Yet we lived. Today how we function depends on cell phones. If the service does not exist people are at risk. It is not that we are more fragile. Or that we got soft. But instead it is that we have changed our behaviors to rely on that little device hanging on hips for safety, security, and piece of mind. However, cellular networks are not designed to be able to withstand a natural disaster. This has been clearly document after hurricane Katrina. Now there are thousands of smaller disasters that interrupt communication services. While scale is small the impacts are huge.


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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Podcast episode 1 or 1

Attached is a link to the first podcast on disaster in a series of one.  This podcast is being cross posted on my Disaster Blog.  All in the name of getting better Google rankings.

Podcast Episode 1 of 1

The loss of our privacy

The trend that I selected was predicted in 2007 in World Trends and Forecast.  This prediction has a little age behind it.  I find it interesting to look at some trends that have started to show progress in become true.  Maybe I am still suffering for the sting of not having flying cars, by 1990.  In 2007 it was predicted that the development of wireless communication would challenge our existing notions of privacy.  Our privacy will slowly disappear.  If it disappears slowly enough we may not even care.  What is the impact to our privacy when the cost of a camera is just a few dollars, the size is as smalls an eraser and there are hundreds of millions or billions of them in circulation?  What is the impact on our privacy when everybody is carrying a GPS receiver that is tied to the Internet?  What is the impact to our privacy when we pay all our bills, perform all correspondence, and view all our entertainment on the internet?  What is the impact when all of our medical records, car records, and school records are connected into the internet?  What is the impact with the cost of a terabyte is less than $100.  What is the impact when face recognition software is near perfect?  What is the impact when you can do picture content search?  Answering any one of these questions starts to paint a picture of the impact on our privacy; the answer to all of these questions paints a picture where privacy may not exist.    Today is not that we cannot gather much of this information.  What keeps our privacy is the fact we are part of a huge crowd.  We just cannot wade through all of it to paint a complete picture of an individual. It is too fragmented on different incompatible systems.  Overtime search engines will get better, integration between systems will improve, and tools to combine all of the pieces will start to emerge.  When that occurs a complete profile on an individual will be simple.
There are forces that both support and derail our privacy.  On the technology front greater computing power, larger and cheaper storage, and greater interconnection of systems will help enable systems to piece together all of your information into a single profile.  You add this together with improvements in face recognition, side-channel tracking, cookie tracking, government systems, security systems, and all the rest of the devices that watch you it seems that shortly there will be algorithms that will be able to create these individual profiles.  A second force that drives the technology forward to remove your privacy is economic.  There are many companies that are working to build profiles on you.  Some of these companies plan and will do it in a way to help you.  Their motivations are good and honest.  They want to be able to predict what music you want to listen to or what shows to watch on NetFlix.  They want to create an accurate credit score.  However, as the technology gets built it will be used for other purposes.  The bad people will get the same technology.  It will be used for bad purposes.  Today, I wonder how much information a person sitting at a desk at Verizon can gather about an individual.  Unless the usage is encrypted, I would expect they could trap every IP packet the person sends both via their ISP landline and their wireless IP connection. 
There are also forces attempting to protect an individual’s privacy.  To start with there are technology forces that are starting to gain ground.  A group of people attempting to push companies to encrypt their internet connect published an incredibility easy FireFox plug in that allows anyone to highjack user names, password, and sessions.  The plugin is called Fire Sheep.  24 hours after the launch of the plugin there were over 100,000 downloads.  I don’t know what the total number of download is but it may be in the millions.  There has been some positive movement.  The plugin was available for download in October 2010 and on January 27th 2011 Facebook announced that they will start using HTTPS, an encrypted page interface.  This really brings into point two forces that are attempting to slow or protect a person’s privacy.  There is a social force of people working to protect a person’s privacy.  There is also a technical force that is helping those that want to protect their privacy.  The third force is again economical.  It seems the economical force always plays both sides of a controversy.  Companies will and are working to help people protect their privacy.  However, it always seems that those helping to protect privacy are behind those that are attempting erode privacy.  However, the force is there.

Protecting privacy will become a growing challenge due to new technologies. A wireless device in your shoes to record your miles while jogging could be turned into a stalker’s handy tracking device. And cameras have become small enough to be disguised as shirt buttons to invade people’s privacy on the sly. Engineers are scrambling to counter that trend with privacy protection devices, such as a light-absorbing capacitor that blocks the signals of digital cameras. — World Trends & Forecasts, May-June 2007, pp. 12, 13

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mountain Project - Web 2.0

I have stated in a previous post, I use a number of web 2.0 tools. The one that I will highlight in this post is a site call The purpose of Mountainproject is to be a social community of rock climbers that share information on climbing areas, routes, and conditions. It also has a few forums for talking about general climbing topics. From what I understand of the site, there are four guys that act as the main system administrator. They do the programming, feature improvements, and some content. It is not their full time job, but instead a hobby. There are 62 mountain administrators. They own specific areas, these can be states or countries. Their role is to police, add content, and organize the their area. They don't get paid. It is just a contribution to the community. These people change every know and then but I am surprised at how long they stay in the role. Many have been their since 2002 when the site started. After that there are thousands of individual contributors. I am one of them. I use the site to get information on climbing areas, routes, conditions, and to meet people. In addition I also contribute content. I have been a member for the past 1 1/2 years. In that time I have contributed 317 items to the site. Some are simple like a comment on a site about conditions or the route. Others are much more involved. I have developed 28 route pages, 8 areas, and added 67 pictures that document the routes. When I add a picture that documents that route I take picture in a specific fashion that allows others to understand the route. I then move it into PhotoShop and add important pieces of information to the picture. I would say each picture takes me 1 hour. In total have probably put 100+ hours into the site development. Here is a link to a page that includes both what I climbed and what I added to the site, link. To encourage people to add content the site provides people points. You don't get anything for the points, just a ranking. Last year I was ranked 493. That is low. It means a lot more people are putting up a lot more information. I know a few of these people. They put in 10 hours a week or more adding content. It is a way to help be part of the community. Here is a picture of a route area that I create. This one is just outside of Barcelona Spain. In an area called Montserrate.

As with all of my Web 2.0 organization it also has a real life aspect. I don't just do this in cyber world. I go out and climb. I meet others that climb. I talk about what I have logged, and we help each other place content. It is using the web to help "real life" not replace it. I see this as an important piece of Web 2.0 for the vast majority of society. I realize that there are people that enjoy and will stay only in a internet world. They will have Facebook friends that they never meet, or different personalities on websites that never see "real life", but for a lot of people the value of Web 2.0 is to build a community that is shared between "real life" and the internet. The internet becomes a tool to organization, communicate, and stay in touch.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Disaster tolerant nationwide wireless network

Outline for Social Technical Plan – Disaster tolerant nationwide wireless network
The United States needs a wireless communication network that can support the needs of its citizens during a time disaster. Today people rely on wireless communication for both safety and security. There is an expectation that they can dial 911 when they need help. However, the need for communication goes much farther than just the ability to dial 911. We use this technology to reach out to others for security. It can be just a quick word of assurance from the baby sitter, or the ability to check on weather before we head out. We rely on wireless communication to keep us safe. This nation needs a wireless communication network that citizen can count on during a time of personal or natural disaster.
Scope - Elements of the social technical plan
• Standards for wireless design that enable fault tolerance
• MANET – Mobile Adhoc Networks
• Wireless priority Service (WPS)
• Cellular Mobile Alert System (CMAS)
• Self Optimizing and Self Organization Networks (SON)
• E911 to support text messaging and data application in addition to voice
• A federal 911 center to handle and support something
• Aggregation of 911 centers from local PSAP to at least statewide centers
Elements that support a disaster tolerant nationwide wireless network
• Social changes where people are more and more relying on these services
• Ethical changes in the expectation of computer systems
o In the past computer and wireless systems have been given a pass on the social ethical requirements of their effectiveness. Ie we don’t treat the development of Twitter the same way we treat the design of a bridge.
• Technical advancements are making the possibilities more probable and cost effective
• Global changes – With the introduction of LTE the world will be on a single communication protocol.
• Side advancements of other technologies – Other more commercially viable technologies will aid in the objective listed above. These objective will get support from other activities.
• Legal – Over time it can be expected that laws will be passed that will start mandating central levels of disaster tolerance
o Katrina order was one example, though it got repealed
 U.S. Court of Appeals for District of Columbia. (2009). CTIA v. FCC Katrina Order Vacated No. 07-1475.(FCC 06-119).
Elements that detract from the development of a disaster tolerant nationwide wireless network
• Economic – The development of a fault tolerant wireless network cost.
o Investment in disaster tolerant systems would not be easy to monetize

• Political – Many of the changes needed have political implications.
o Local 911 centers would loss control and funding
o Power for dispatch would be moved from local to state level
o Elements with the industry will resist government mandates

To achieve the objectives above a few steps or actions can help gain traction
• Seek political support from organizations outside the industry
• Raise awareness of the issues
o Show example of when and where it breaks down
o Write case studies on how and why communication broke down
o Raise awareness to the general end user
• Seek support from those that started with the Katrina order
• Sadly when another disaster occurs political favor and support will help
• Seek support from emergency response organizations
• Start small and invest in the concepts within a single organization
In the 10 to 20 years I would fully expect that there will be good movement towards a nationwide disaster tolerant network. There are forces that will help achieve the objectives even without specific action by industry or government. The key will be the speed and level of safety net that is created. For there to be full success these concepts need to be pulled together into a complete plan. Its growth without a plan can and will create inefficiencies plus it will leave hole within the systems development.