To Infinity... And Beyond

What do you call a belief system without a name? Especially when the followers of it don't even think of it as a belief system because they believe it is "the Truth". Well you just have to find one for it/them.

A common belief of the 'modern' world is that "Newer is Better" and "The Latest is the Greatest". A large hunk of the advertising we are bombarded with, is flogging the new thing to replace the old, often with a simple declaration that it is better just because it is newer. In the Information Technology business, we are constantly pushed to upgrade, such that it has become an endless hamster wheel of repeatedly patching and upgrading as more important than the reasons the systems were implemented for. Never a thought that we might find good enough or any equilibrium.

John Michael Greer articulates this very nicely in After Progress. Where Greer calls it the "Religion of Progress" which describes it nicely, but somehow that just doesn't sound right as a Name. Then it hit me, strait out of the cartoons, Buzz Lightyear's "To Infinity And Beyond!"
Looking ever forward, not at yesteryear, but off beyond the possible. Perfect as the axiom of that belief, to be used as an exclamation mark to what a point being said. It becomes a handy acronym of TIAB that can be said with the same tone as Christian's "amen". So the belief can be called TIABism, with followers being labeled TIABists or TIABers. But will they accept Buzz Lightyear as their patron saint? Messiah? The Buzz? Prime Buzz? or some other possibility.

Sayings and other attributes of TIABists
 - “It’s different this time,” as in That was then, this is now, it’s different this time, that’s history, we need to be thinking ahead of the times, not behind them: i.e. history is the past and we can safely ignore it rather than learn anything. Which just shows that TIABists are just dooming themselves to repeat history.
 - Luddite, used in the same ways that foreigner, goy, heathen, infidel, heretic, etc. are often used.
 - ageism: where any one or thing is of less value because of how old it is. A true TIABist does not collect antiques.

What else do you see as being a part of the TIABist faith?
                       Where else do they take it..  To Infinity... And Beyond?


Watching Crowdsourcing in action

Watching a Kickstarter project can be so entertaining when it is either something you are interested in, and/or one of those that does spectacularly.

The first Kickstarter I backed was one that I jumped in at zero minute and by the time I had finished, it was already hitting 300% funded. It went way beyond what the project creator expected or hoped for ending up at 8572% funded.
A current project at the time of this writing has been most spectacular and watching it has stretched my understanding of the tools to see the differing performances of top projects and I figured they'd be of interest to others.  The basic tools are:
- Kickstarter has some basic functions under its Discover button, with a few selection and sort options.
- Kicktraq has some real nice graphs to see the patterns and that they update hourly during running project. Great for digging into individual projects, especially while they are running.
- KickSpy has a wide range of filter and sort options for comparing projects.

A current project, a Playing Card game by a comic artist that I casually follow, is going big.
In its first hour it became the top "Most Funded Playing Cards (Games)". On the second day of the project it got on the default view (top 20 projects) for "Most funded Games" and on the 3rd day got on the default view for "Most Funded" and has been creeping up since.  It is fun checking and seeing the project as it moves up, sometimes just one spot, other times a refresh shows it jump a few spots.

 Comparing the daily data of the top projects with Kicktraq, I see that it is currently the second highest first day number of backers after "The Veronica Mars Movie Project", but for first 2 and 3 days it has the highest number of backers, and it is just motoring up the number of backers list. I wonder if it will surpass the current #1, Bring Reading Rainbow Back.

Having seen a few projects that went so far past their initial goals but as I dug in, the numbers get warped because there are quite a few projects with ultra low goals that got enough support that you get percentage funded hitting infinity.  On day three this project became the top percentage funded for projects with Goals over 500(any currency) and chasing down top for Goals over 150 which it passed as I assembled this post.

It will be interesting to see where this project ends up, and what other projects will catch my attention in the future.


Is every problem/challenge a nail to be hammered?

As the old saying goes, if the only tool you know is a hammer, then every challenge looks like a nail.  Some people go through the same thing as they grow their proficiency with a new tool, where they try to apply it to EVERYTHING. Just like hammering a window or your thumb is not a good thing, there are many silly applications of a new tool to some task. Just because you Can do something, doesn't mean you Should do that something.

Twitter is a tool going through that very process where people try to push it into all kinds of in appropriate situations. At this point in time(2013, only 7 years after its creation) it has certainly become old hat to the early adopters and has gained mainstream awareness, but is not in regular use or really understood by the majority.

This week I was ran into one of these pushing a tool way too far, a vendor run "Live roundtable discussion" with a video presentation of their higher end corporate IT systems, with questions to be tweeted. Now in a normal Webinar where you can post questions or vendor presentation, you can have a fair amount of anonymity. Usually the vendor knows who you are and where you are from, but how you identify yourself to other participants is up to you.  With using Twitter, you can't ask a question without very publicly revealing; A) A piece of your identity. B) Usually some indication of a challenge you are facing.  This raises a number of problems that mostly have security related concerns:
- Competition can now target you, can you say spam tweets.
- The bad guys doing any research on you as a target or looking to exploit certain vulnerabilities now know YOUR systems may have specific weaknesses they can attempt to exploit.
- If you happen to expose something covered in any None Disclosure Agreements you have signed, you are much more likely to have to suffer the consequences of that disclosure.
- You might not even be able to tweet from where you are, whether technical and/or policy reasons. i.e. blocked by something like WebSense, or in an organization using twitter is a fireable offense.

A long time definition of twitter is 'a short burst of inconsequential information,' or 'to talk in a quick and informal way about unimportant things' and that definition was what lead the creators of Twitter to use the term.  So perhaps that vendor just isn't that serious about their product and their customers.

A related rant against those who insist on one "thing" to rule them ALL that also shows a limit of twitter at the same time. Eviscerati on Writing focus

Some simple answers to the questions of any new technology at XKCD that are worth remembering when ever hearing a vendor pitch.

A great example of such inappropriate use of a technology is THE basis of Scott Stratten's  "QR Codes Kill Kittens"

None Disclosure Agreement (NDA).  A promise to not spread/blab what was heard at such an event outlined in a signed legal document. 


Bar wisdom can also be Vulcan logic

In Spider Robinson's Callahan series (1977+), we are often referred to "Callahan's Law" of  "Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased"
Ever since I came across that wisdom, I have tried to use it to help myself and others travel the challenges of life.  It was therefor a great pleasure to see Callahan's Law expressed as Vulcan logic. I wonder how many others have caught this logical evolution of the concept.

Sarek to Spock in Alan Dean Foster's Star Trek(2009)
"It is true that logic is often its own reward -- but it is a reward best shared with others. That which is beautiful is magnified by being shared with others. That which is painful is often moderated by being shared. Both approaches are equally logical"


The magic button — Make Everything OK

The magic button — Make Everything OK
The sad thing is that there are way too many people who think that such magic actually exists and therefor they don't have to do the hard work needed to reach their goals.  sigh.  but still fun to push.


Modern Togetherness

A couple, each working on their own things in the same small room, with music on headphones to tune out the distracting environmental sounds, staying in touch with instant messaging, even though they could just turn to touch the other (they do some of that too :). 


Link rot

sigh. I just went through a round up updating one of my websites, and a part of that was just dealing with link rot ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Link_rot ). Now I understand whole websites going away when the sponsor ceases to exist, but what is so frustrating are the sites that keep shuffling everything around every few years for no apparent reason, "to improve the user experience" is just too lame an excuse for most of the changes.  Worst yet are the retirement of data just because it is 'old' (aka Age discrimination) as if nobody ever keeps products running past their design life, or that newer versions actually migrated the excellent 1st generation documentation in the the current sets.  I have made use of 20 year old manuals as they were the most comprehensive for what I was doing even if they missed some of the recently added features.  I make a point of trying to keep all my links consistent so that even when the root domain has been switched out from under me, they rest of the links can still be used at the new location.

I try to follow Tim Berners-Lee advice in http://www.w3.org/Provider/Style/URI as much as possible on this front.