Category Archives: Technology

Moby Dick Keyboard

May I present your new keyboard layout. It is based on the character counts from Moby Dick.

MobyDickKeyboard

It’s based on the letter frequencies derived from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

What we did was to take the letters, and balance them left to right around frequency and distance to move one’s fingers. This is how the keyboard should have been designed from the beginning. This would have been the most efficient pattern to build a keyboard. (No, Dvorak’s is better than the QWERTY but not as well designed as this specification).

By placing letters clustered by frequency, but on opposite sides of the board, we balance the work done by both hands.

Notice we separate the comma and period, no shift necessary. The slash and backslash are combined, as well as the 1 and pipe. The brackets are placed opposite as well as the question mark and exclamation. All the other keys are essentially left alone. The colon and semi-colon have been moved as those two have no place resting beneath the right hand pinky finger.

No doubt some further optimizations could be applied, two letter combinations that appear more frequently than others, but for the most part, this layout is a far superior model for human hand configuration.

Here are the frequencies as extracted from that historic text:

Left Right
114980 E T 86548
83823 A O 68131
64556 N I 64385
63106 S H 61777
51157 R L 42045
37662 D U 26251
22900 M C 22142
21774 W G 20491
20476 F P 16960
16602 Y B 16601
8418 V K 7937
1544 Q J 1061
1006 X Z 624
18948 , . 7385
1000 ? ! 1740
4139 ; : 196

[Continuing on this whale of a theory, more than just the frequency of key strokes should be considered. By doing a simple random key press test of about 500 keys, reached by their ease of access, I was able to produce a actual touch count which should be used as an overlay to place the letter counts from above.

For instance, the “F” key is indeed the most readily pressed key. The “J” key, the next down. But oddly the “I” key and the “W” keys (on the QWERTY board) come with high counts too. So, more accurately, a random finger press test should be used as the basis to determine finger extent and counts and then the letter counts from Moby Dick applied over top.

If this sounds like rambling, you’re right. Vicodin is a great drug.]

 

 

 

 


Who am I-I am who

I used to bound joyously over the pages of the ancient 1990’s internet, discovering this and that, delighting in what I found, where I meandered.

That ability, that nostalgic stumbling is long gone—swallowed by the ugly corporate-ness that the internet has become. But there are times when serendipity prevails and the blog-o-sphere renders a hitherto unknown flashback to a better, more innocent time.

This is one of those times.

http://www.aiportraits.com is a clever, engaging trip into self-indulgent evocative portraiture. Below you’ll find me, portrayed as only a computer can see me. Can you dwell into my soul? Can you sense my stoic crawling along philosophy’s garden walk?

Give it a try. It’s a fascinating way to re-imagine oneself in another age, another life, pursued by unknown lovers or enemies.


Science writing: To the point

If you’re going to write about science — get to the damn point. All I need is the highlights, the topics, the bullet points. And if there are pertinent details, make them brief and absent of flourish.

So many of the literary news outlets publish narrative science articles that I’m afraid it’s become an art. A pointless and irritating art.

Take this one for instance (don’t go here, don’t give them the courtesy):

7,800 words in that frickin’ thing. I don’t have the time or patience to burn thirty minutes slogging through some “writer’s” portrayal of science dudes’ childhoods: “When he was 11, his mother bought him a subscription to a medical encyclopedia series.” Fuck-me-Alex.

Get to the point and get out. It’s science — just the pertinent facts, ma’am. All the actual data required to deliver the concepts of brain tissue reanimation could have been provided in a tenth the words. But no, the writer had to turn it into a biography.

And this happens time and time again. 10,000 word diatribes about artificial intelligence and machine learning, or meandering missives on Neanderthal DNA in modern Homo Sapiens. It seems that every sexy scientific topic begs a “story.” Sorry, I don’t want window dressing on my low earth orbit launch technologies, or thermal depolymerization of ocean plastic…

I just want the concise, to-the-point facts about the advances or failures of the science and technology. Spare me backstories, please. If you have to, write a sweeping expose’ on some social or historical topic or event — leave the science for the fact writers.

 


It’s – in the Cloud

I’ve had to deal with Microsoft since the early 90’s. Most likely, unless you’re an Apple bigot, you have too. And I hate Microsoft. They’ve done like, three things right in their entire history: Windows NT, Visual Studio and Excel.

When they decided to compete with Amazon in the “Cloud” they tried to be clever and name their Platform as a Service (PaaS) – Azure. Blue. Really? Go look up the word in a dictionary and you’ll get “bright blue in color — like a CLOUDLESS sky.”

Geezus criminy, they can’t even get clouds right.

What they *should* have called this offering is: Olympus.

“Olympus! The fortress in the clouds populated by powerful god-like services.”

And then they’d have had a bevy of gods and their abilities to pick from to name their various offerings up there. Things like virtual machines, data storage, messaging, security, web-app hosting, web services, etc.

Mnemosyne : The goddess of memory

Ceres : The goddess of storage

Soteria : The goddess of security

Hermes : The god of messaging

(Oddly, they’d already adopted the Greek monster of guardians: Kerberos)

I can see a whole slew of great names for the cornucopia of stuff you can find in, ahem, Olympus Cloud Services.

Microsoft, pull your head OUT! Oops, too late. It’s too far crammed up there.

For reference, you can click this link to see a list of services that can be found on OCS (heh,heh): https://www.azure-overview.com/

~~~
Look at this list of Gods they could have leveraged. Opportunity lost.
  • Zeus
  • Hera
  • Poseidon
  • Demeter
  • Ares
  • Athena
  • Apollo
  • Artemis
  • Hephaestus
  • Aphrodite
  • Hermes
  • Dionysus
  • Hades
  • Hypnos
  • Nike
  • Janus
  • Nemesis
  • Iris
  • Hecate
  • Tyche


BodyScale: 0 to 100

Celsius is great for science. 0 freezing, 100 boiling – perfectly logical.

Fahrenheit is just bonkers. Totally screwball with no logic behind it whatsoever.

But the problem with Celsius (we’ll disregard Fahrenheit due to irrelevance) is that Celsius has only one immediately human identifiable anchoring: 0 degrees freezing. At 100°, the boiling point of pure water at sea level—yeah, great. Not exactly relatable (not really). How warm is the human body? 37 degrees. Hmm, 37, not a number that sits well in our minds. Instead…

How about a human relatable scale:

  • 0 = freezing point of water.
  • 100 = human body temperature.

Here’s how such a scale would compare to Celsius…

CelsiusvsBodyScale

0 is 0. That’s easy. We are frozen solid at 0 Centigrade as well as 0 BodyScale.

But at 100° BodyScale, we’re exactly where we need to be (37°C).

Now, based on 0-100° degrees BS we have a natural range we can understand.

At 50° BS, we’re pretty comfortable — half way from body temp to freezing.

At -50° BS, that’s damn cold (-19°C), and that’s about our limit.

At 150° BS, that’s about our top limit, frickin’ hot. Hot to the touch; sauna hot. But still, if you were outside, walkin’ around, drinking lots of fluids, 150° BS is tolerable. See how this is working?

Zero BS to 100° BS is our natural range. It makes sense to us in our ten-fingered numerical system within our human condition. Additionally, -50° BS to 150° BS would be our natural  range extent. Again, logical extensions of our 0-100 range.

Celsius has two numbers which make human sense, 0 & 100. One is relatable, the other is “touch and suffer.”

We humans like relatable numbers. That’s why the metric system is so hard to take. (See: https://anonymole.com/2015/08/18/the-problem-with-the-metric-system/ )

A weatherman, lying about tomorrow’s sunny day, who used BodyScale as their temperature gauge would make perfect sense.

“Tonight’s overnight temperature will be 60° BS and 85° BS by tomorrow afternoon—a nice day, so go have fun!”

And medically, using such a scale would also make sense.

  • 104° BodyScale, a bit of a fever.
  • At 95° BS, you’re suffering from hypothermia!
  • 100° – spot on, mate.

Even that 100° C seems misleading, “100°C? Yeah, OK”.
But at 270° BS. 270°! Shit, that sounds hot! And it is. Hot enough to boil water…

(Oh, and the “BS” initialism is an ironic coincidence…)

Celsius BodyScale
-40 -108
-30 -81
-19 -50
-10 -27
0 0
10 27
20 54
30 81
37 100
40 108
50 135
55 150
70 189
80 216
90 243
100 270
110 297
120 324
130 351
140 378
150 405
160 432
170 459
180 486
190 514
200 541

Uber replaced with blockchain

[This was a naive post. What I envisioned was a location based “payment for service” concept like TaskRabbit but fully genericized. Rather like an all in one Paypal/Venmo + Uber/Lyft + Taskrabbit/Fivvr + Angieslist/Craigslist. An any-location “I need this — will pay $X for it” service that provides the means to connect providers with consumers. • I need a ride to… • I need a dog walker… • I need to move a piano… • I need someone to fix my sink… • I need a cord of firewood delivered. • I need *something* at my location who can help me? Why all these independent silo-services need to exist when a single all-in-one service would do — baffles me.]

Could Uber be replaced with blockchain?

It seems that the only purpose of corporate Uber is to provide global management of Uber drivers and rides, create the server infrastructure to host the data and payment mechanism, and take half to two-thirds of a driver’s earnings.

I wonder if such a service couldn’t be total democratized through blockchain technology?

“BlockRide” would:

  • Be hosted on a gateway only cloud system that provided communication between BlockRide app instances.
  • Be a standalone application which provided both driver and rider connectivity through the cloud gateway. The mobile app would be leased by both drivers and riders at some rate that would go to support the cloud infrastructure. The app would provide peer-to-peer communication for transaction finalization.
  • Be regionally distributed – blockchain databases would be divided by region based on GPS.

Ride requests would be posted into the cloud, for a region, and drivers would bid to win riders. The transaction would be posted-pending at the time of the win and sealed as a blockchain transaction at the time of rider seating. Various payment methods would be built into the app to facilitate funds transfer. Bitcoin is an obvious addition to this process.

Driver reputation and liability would be managed by the drivers themselves. Other services would probably spring up to create “driver guilds” and Yelp style recommendation platforms. BlockRide could facilitate some of this reputation management, rather like Youtube channel likes/dislikes. (Rider reputation could managed too.)

The regional blockchain databases would store the transaction records for an entire region, city or county. Anyone with a registered instance of the application could review transactions for the region in which they are currently operating.

Drivers and riders would communicate their peer-to-peer transaction with at least N other nodes participating in the loop.

I’m not well versed in blockchain technology which means I’m probably making incorrect assumptions about the way such a service would work. Other’s knowledgeable about the concept could correct me.

Ride sharing seems like an appropriate blockchain supported service. Uber may have started out as a egalitarian, distributed system, but it certainly hasn’t stayed that way. Perhaps it’s time for the real Uber to stand up and put the power back into people’s hands.

~~~

Thinking about this, I wonder if TaskRabbit or Fivvr already do this? If not, perhaps this model could be applied to any location based “service for hire.”

 


Emailing the dead

Dear Janice,

Why haven’t you returned my emails? You don’t text me, nor twitter. What’s up?

Hello? Janice?

Google will never delete your account. It will continue to accumulate email long after you die. Consider all the accounts you will leave gathering correspondence years after your fingers have ceased to digitally transmit. The Archive of the Dead. Talk about a Dead Letter Queue.

Think of all the millions of accounts that, right now, continue to collect their penis enlargement, their Nigerian prince, their Russian wife emails. And consider all the languishing friends and ancient lovers seeking to reconnect. The forgotten business associates, the friends of friends who read your book, saw your paintings, wondered about your clever children — their communiques swallowed by the pit of an abandoned account.

Dear Mole,

I’m slumbering here, terra-incognita, considering your inquires as I softly chuckle at the thought of sharing your subterranean abode. Why the urgency? Do you sense the closing of doors? The drawing of curtains? Will our letters find each other in the Ether-space once you surrender your daily toils? Or will the silicon memory that embodies our digital personas petrify, become crystal quartz again as the eons enfold us?