Sunday, 18 November 2012

Deeper down the rabbit hole

The physical world is only there to support our excursions into the virtual. We will reach a tipping point, in some aspects we already have, where the virtual world will provide experiences more vivid than the physical.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Pushing yourself

From time to time seek to push your limits in a controled environment; generally operate at your performance optimum.

The purpose of humanity

Creation: creation of life; creation of ideas; creation of knowledge; creation of culture.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

One guaranteed prediction for the future

The future will be less interesting than I want it to be.

Eventually open source licence

Would it be possible to write a legally valid eventually open source licence? Such a licence would include a commited date at the point of publication of when the code would be released open source. It could potentially require users of the licence to submit source code into escrow to be released at that date.

The licence would balance the commercial needs of making return on investment, whilst making a reputation-maintaining commitment to the community, and also future-proofing such that users software is not locked into unsupported closed-source formats.

Expanding the MMORPG grinding concept to websites

In MMORPGs, players engage in repetitive tasks to advance levels or get money etc (a process called grinding). There is potential to expand this model to websites to drive user engagement:

1. Users earn credits by being active on the site (posting comments, messaging friends, reviewing content, etc).
2. Credits can be used to do certain actions that are not possible without them (functionality that is desirable to users).
3. Credits can be sold to other site users for real money.

Time rich cash poor people can earn money by generating excess credits from their engagement, which can then be sold to time poor cash rich people who want to access the locked features.

The features would not be purchaseable other than via the credits bought from other users. This mechanism would create a supply/demand balance that should drive user engagement with the site.

How does the site make money? Advertising obviously, but also the site takes cut of credit to cash trades.

Some examples of activities on websites that could generate credits:
  • connecting people - put two people together who both subsequently confirm friendship
  • sharing content that friends "like"
  • encouraging their friends to visit the site
  • acting as a moderator or admin
  • making comments that use positive language (might need an irony detection algorithm...)

Judging time

Observation: we think about time differently if we see it on a clock face or presented in digital format.

Experiment: assess how people make time based decisions (e.g. how fast they work to get a task done within 10 minutes) whilst varying the format of time presentation (analogue/digital/etc)

Components of the smart home

Below is the first draft of a table of components of the smart home. The key is that all of these components will be capturing data and/or actuating the environment. That data will be centrally stored within the house computer, and intelligently linked. A good example might be windows opening to generate airflow based on a combination of temperature and wind direction data, combined with the temperature preferences of the various people within the homes and the various rooms they are in.

Category Component Sensors Actuators Data stored / logged Uses
Building integrity sensors Structural sensors

Building integrity sensors Moisture / water sensors

To detect leaks in the roof and plumbing; or rising groundwater/flooding
Communications Phone

Communications Femtocell

Communications Broadband router

Logging Internet use
Energy Solar cells

Energy Wind turbines

Energy Hot tank Level
Level over time
Energy Geothermal

Energy Deep water source cooling system (pond/lake)

Energy Backup generator

Energy Energy store (e.g. battery)

Human sensory input Screens

Human sensory input Speakers

Human sensory input TV

Logging TV user over time per channel; energy use
Human sensory input Radio

Logging radio use
Human sensory input Deodorant / air freshener

Human sensory input Wallpaper (eInk)

Environmental control Windows Open/Closed Open/Close Open/Closed status over time Maintaining air flow and house temperature by opening and closing the right windows based on prevailing wind direction; outside air temperature; inside air temperature; etc
Environmental control Shutters Open/Closed Open/Close Open/Closed status over time
Environmental control Blinds Open/Closed Open/Close Open/Closed status over time
Environmental control Curtains Open/Closed Open/Close Open/Closed status over time
Environmental control Doors Open/Closed Open/Close Open/Closed status over time
Environmental control Fans On/Off; Speed; Angle On/Off; Speed; Angle

Environmental control Air conditioning On/Off/Settings
Usage log; energy use
Environmental control Heaters On/Off/Settings
Usage log; energy use
Environmental control Lights On/Off/Settings
Usage log; energy use
Environmental control Humidifier On/Off/Settings
Usage log; energy use
Environmental control Dehumidifier On/Off/Settings
Usage log; energy use
Environmental sensors Air quality (pollutants, pollen, etc)

Environmental sensors Carbon monoxide detector

Environmental sensors Geiger counter Radiation
Radiation over time
Environmental sensors Thermometer

Environmental sensors Humidity sensor

Environmental sensors Barometer

Environmental sensors Fire alarm

Environmental sensors Air flow sensors

Environmental sensors Infrared sensors

Identify heat loss or gain from outside
Environmental sensors Odor sensor

Hot water and heating Boiler

Hot water and heating Radiators

Hot water and heating Solar water heater

Monitoring 3D image sensor (combined with image/video/object recognition)

Logging 3D image data; logging interpreted data Activity monitoring; Object monitoring (e.g. “Computer; where are my keys?”)
Monitoring CCTV

Records Repair logs

Repair undertaken; Repairman; Company; before images; after images
Records Plans

Records Manuals

Robots Cupboard doors

Open/Closed status over time
Robots Appliances On/Off
Energy use
Robots Elevator Current position; load Move floor Usage log
Robots Ramp

Robots Robot vacuum cleaner

Robots Garage door Open/Closed Open/Close Usage log
Security Burglar alarm

Security Intrusion detection sensors

Sensor log
Security Safe

Access log
Security Panic room

Water Taps Open/Closed/Flow
Usage log Alarm if tap left running
Water Shower

Usage log
Water Bath

Usage log
Water Ultrasonic flow monitor Flow
Water use

And some specific ones for the smart garden (although many of the above environmental sensors would be relevant for the garden):

Category Component Sensors Actuators Data stored / logged Uses

Soil moisture sensor

Sprinkle Usage log

Sunlight sensor

I'll cover that later...

One of the challenges of teaching is to explain a complex set of interrelated topics in a stepwise fashion. Often it is necessary to make reference to a concept that will be covered later, but without fully explaining it. Whilst this shorthand is useful, it is often not fulfilled in a rigorous fashion.

My suggestion is that teachers create list of all the things that they've said they'll cover off later. The list would be published to pupils and ticked off as covered. Each item on the list would be dated, and the context given. This would allow students to move backwards and forwards more easily in the syllabus.

Sleeper cars

I've been thinking about how the impending self-driving car revolution will change the world (and the likelihood is that it will change the world in profound ways). One in particular that occured to me was about how we use our road network: packed to a standstill at times, whilst nigh empty at others.

Self-driving cars provide an opportunity to make better use of roads at night. Already much haulage occurs overnight, but little passenger transport. This could change with sleeper cars - self-driving cars fully fitted with beds. A self-driving sleeper car of a personal rapid transport style fleet would arrive at your home the night before you needed to be somewhere. You'd get in, bed down for the night, and wake up at your destination.

The efficiency is twofold: firstly using roads at their lowest traffic load; and secondly combining travelling with sleep. (Although the latter is less relevant as self-driving cars will in general allow road travel time to be productively employed.)