July 6th, 2006

Ego surfing when I should have been sleeping I came across this little escapade of a namesake of mine :

“…Authorities say the officers opened the door, and Walters came running at them  — naked.” 

Javascript: The Addiction?

July 2nd, 2006

Part of the ‘revised’ web (web 2.0, ajax etc.) has seen a focus on Javascript like never before. For years developers created great libraries and expanded their knowledge of this scripting language and the browsers it lived in. Proliferation of concepts such unobtrusive javascript and progressive enhancement combined with the demands of web 2.0 properties wanting light boxes, edit in place and other partial page updates has seen collaborative development and examination of Javascript at unprecedented levels.

I can’t get enough of it. But this makes me question why this is. I know that the achievements and constant improvements of simple mechanisms which are enabling the web of tomorrow are motivating. I can also see that there is much work to be done so the opportunity to break new ground (like it was when I first got into web work) is there to be taken. But even that doesn’t quite get to the root of it.

The differences between the popular (and not so popular) browsers and the general paucity of documentation describing them means there is much trial and error involved. The rewards are randomly spaced apart. Sounds like a variable interval schedule of reinforcement. Maybe we will see pokies with JS parsers installed for the web 2.0 generation - fix the backbutton under Safari and you win big!

Speaking of addiction, I realized I'm a warm bath addict. I can't imagine how other people can take cold showers when bathing. So this website Tankless Reviews is one that I visit often. I recommend it to those who need guidance on selecting the right heater. If you'll ask me my main reasons for taking warm baths or showers, refer to this article

Tipping Point

June 25th, 2006

This post is not going to be the tipping point for this blog however it is interesting to think about which one might. The beauty of setting up a blog is that it is almost like writing a secret journal and then leaving it behind, open on a bus. You are really writing for yourself in the first few posts - or even worse - for no one, not even yourself (see my soccer posts for a case in point :) ). But I did not start this blog for myself - I am familiar enough with my own ideas that it is redundant to write them down purely for my own edification.

I read most of Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point last year. I didn’t finish it because I felt it was a fairly flawed work however I did rapidly finish all of (the not-un-flawed) Freakonomics. What was it that I felt unsatisfied about with Tipping Point? Afterall I believed in the concepts Gladwell was discussing - they led me to the book in the first place. Unfortunately Gladwell spends too much time trying to be compelling.

My first annoyance with this book came with the Paul Revere anecdote - something that Gladwell returned to so often that I eventually threw the book down the reference after the reference that caused me to utter “If he mentions Revere one more time…” (you can add fist waving to your mental image if you want to).

Excuse me, everyone else, for a sec… Malcolm, if you ever read this - the Revere annectdote was weak and unverifiable. You chose it because it was something close to the American psyche - a story parents told to kids. For chrissake - Revere is not just his name - it describes how the American public relates to the legend of this man. It worked from an illustrative standpoint however you drew it too close to the core of your argument by so regularly returning to it.    With artifice at the core your book felt as compelling as the news they wrap fish and chips up with.   

Freakonomics appealed to me more as it stands as more than just opinion supported by fairytales. It is not without its own transgressions from the objective to the subjective but only a fool would expect any work to be purely objective. This wouldn’t have mattered for Tipping Point if it was purely a documentation of the phenomena of social inflections. However part of its appeal was that it explored how ideas travelled and how small changes could lead to big ones. Of course that is appealing, it smacks of efficiency, of complexity theory and most of all it hinted at a magic well of infinite success if such phenomena could be harnessed.

But I didn’t believe the Paul Revere story the first time. I didn’t think I needed to - I saw it as a great illustrative story which could be supported by actual research. I didn’t expect it to be used to prop up the research! Most telling was the coincidental cross-over between Freakonomics and Tipping Point. Both discussed the extraordinary drops in crime in New York.

Gladwell posited that the Broken Windows policy of Mayor Giuliani was responsible. Freakonomics much more convincingly put forward the idea that changes in abortion laws twenty years earlier as a reason for the reduction in crime. Big changes versus small changes. It seems to make sense that the work put in should be closer to the magnitude of the resulting flow-on changes.

Broken Windows policy is not a small policy to implement however it is piecemeal. It doesn’t confront the root cause of a problem but rather addresses smaller outward manifestations of it. I liken it to the The Sorceror’s Apprentice. Or a knight trying to fight an infinite-headed hydra. The truth is you cannot expect to affect change by pushing around the edges. Changes in abortion laws meant less children growing up in broken homes. That meant less disadvantage and eventually less crime. It didn’t mean making small changes and relying on some magic flow of social change to catch on pay it forward.

All that makes sense to me and my experience thus far. Do I believe it? Not really. Not yet. Its a set of ideas to continue exploring. Just because Malcolm Gladwell can’t enlighten me to the mysteries of complexity doesn’t mean I don’t think knowledge of how things interact can lead to an advantage. I hope to explore some of these ideas (and many others) here. If the world can truly be manipulated (and my theorizing concludes that it can) then by rights, hard work should get these writings to an audience that is wider than my social sphere. The goal is to accelerate my learning and to feed that back.

Damn its good not to have written about Soccer. Bring on Italy.

Freak! This is turning into a soccer blog :)

June 23rd, 2006

Eh, you’d think we won :) But Australia has actually drawn which puts us through to the next round. Great, more stress. Are Italy any good?

Anyway, some non-soccer posts will make it up here soon after we are knocked out.

What do you think the likelihood is of someone stumbling upon a blog that is not indexed many places and is not yet linked to? What would it take to increase that likelihood? I don’t think submitting to Search Engines will cut it.

I’ll keep you posted…

Halftime and we are nil all with Brazil (Oops not anymore!)

June 18th, 2006

I am impressed and stressed. Everytime Kaka gets near the box my heartrate rockets! We look good in offense so I am hoping we can put a score on the board (Even if there is an equaliser).

We need to maintain the excellent level of pressure from the first half - as long as we can keep Brazil moving into the mode of play they are familiar with we remain a good chance. That’s assuming Brazil’s manager doesn’t find the combo that switches Brazil into ‘Ginga’ mode… (A computer game that features a ‘Ginga’ mode could be popular - hmm maybe it could be called Joga Bonito).

Crap. Well, while I wrote that bracketted thought, I missed Adrianho score against us. Damn my whimsical tangent!

Australia beat Japan in their first World Cup final win

June 12th, 2006

I wish I had some commentary to add against this fact but I don’t. But I may have some difficulty sleeping - Socceroos please score earlier so I don’t stress for 82 minutes before you power home for your 3-1 win.

Hello whirled.

June 11th, 2006

Lets see if I can maintain a decent posting rate. I don’t want this to go the way of my guitar… and my decks… and my pot plant…

Time will tell.