A quick peek at the high-tech that runs the South Sea Republic website.
A photo taken in my basement.
SSR runs on a mini-itx box (about 25 cms high) pumping out a whopping 800 Mhz of central processor unit cycles, with a massive 256 megabytes of random access memory and 20 giga byte hard-drive. Sticking out the back is a 256 megabyte key-drive that operates as our database backup.
The other big black box there is a UPS for backup power. The area I live in is rather notorious for having pretty flaky power. The SSR server connects wirelessly to my wireless router, which connects by cat5 to my wireless broadband antenna. This sits on my roof, and broadcasts into a tower in the local town where the ISP has their antennas.
I think I got the Via motherboard for about $80, the case was about $60. I scavenged the RAM, HDD and wireless card but I think I payed $30 for a PCI elbow card. The OS is Fedora Core. All up it is a pretty cheap solution.
The Wireless Box
Gary Sauer-Thompson and I were discussing what
form future health care
would take. I claimed it would probably be anonymous black boxes in our basements that connect to our local networks wirelessly. These black boxes would be off the shelf solutions built by the likes of GE, Siemens, Netgear etc. They would be as ubiquitous as fuse boxes - every house would have one in their basement.
I was at O'Faillons with a mate of mine the other day, having a drink. He is an Integrator. He programs PLC's in ladder logic to get them to do what he wants. He has written the logic which controls datacenters, water plants, government facilities etc.
He was telling me how he was going to set up a home PLC system that could
control his christmas lights
through the internet. Nothing really new, but an interesting project none the less.
He already has a PC hidden in his entertainment system which publishes his photos to an LCD he scrounged. The box is uni-purpose, doing nothing else, except rotating through stunning image, after stunning image. If you have seen the movie
it is just a smaller version of the changing wall images.
Enthusiasts and technologists are already building mono-purpose systems in their houses and basements. Industry will determine which of these uni-purpose systems are popular and will commoditise them into little grey and black boxes that you can get from Harvey Norman or Best Buy for $30.
Future houses will probably have a server rack for these black boxes, either in a cupboard, or in the basement. I expect they will be so cheap, that when your
cholesterol in the urine detector
box the technician will just swap it out for a new one and throw the old one away.
NSW Premier Morris Iemma backs ID cards, sprouts gibberish
NSW Premier Morris Iemma announced today that he backed the idea of Australian identity papers, an inquiry into which is expected to be announced by Federal Attorney General Phillip Ruddock.
"An ID card can be a valuable weapon in the fight against terrorism, crime and fraud," Mr Iemma told reporters.
Sydney Morning Herald
I disagree, but whatever. Iemma then proceeded to say that,
We also need to ensure that there are proper protections for civil liberties and for privacy.
Civil liberties? I don't even need to start with the slippery slope arguments. I can rubbish the idea of ID cards without even needing to raise the bogeyman of authoritarian intrusion into our lives. I put it to you that the federal government, or anyone else, is stupendously incapable of instituting proper privacy protections on these things.
In this day and age of users needing help from dumb applications to identify phishing attacks, and card readers readily accessible over the counter at Dick Smith Electronics that there is no such thing as proper protections for privacy. Lost your wallet? Well, identity thieves don't even need a federally backed ID card to steal your identity, but it sure will make it easier with one.
In 1963 the Australian Government ordered the F111 at the then astronomical cost of $112 million with the final cost a decade later being 324 million. It has been the best bang for the buck purchase Australian has made in defence. Like all good deterrents it will be retired without being used in anger.
The JSF will replace the F18/F111 in Australia's armoury and is facing potential cost increases from
about $47 million USD per unit to $60 million
. We will face a capability gap with the early retirement of the F111, which has led some to
promote the F22 over the JSF
. We are not the only ones in this position, the
USMC is running up airframe hours on their aircraft in Iraq and have no replacement until the JSF
Then there are those, like the Cato Institute, who
advocate the JSF being the last manned aircraft and instead focusing on cheaper alternatives
like Unmanned Aerial Vehicles [UAVs]. But the American experience with UAVs is that they are more expensive than manned ones to operate. They carry the same infrastructure and maintenance costs - but with added labor costs.
Where a pilot comes back from a mission, rolls the manned-aircraft into a hanger, eats dinner and goes to bed; with a UAV the operators run in three shifts to keep the UAV in the air longer. Labor and maintenance costs make up a large chunk of the defence budget anyway and a UAV adds to that.
Big money, big tech ... it is going to be an expensive exercise no matter what.
And then you see
really cool technology like this
A pretty neat little citizen UAV flying over a local golf course in Canada. We commoditise technology so quickly now it removes the nation-state's traditional advantage of capital intensive technologies - especially in military areas. The 4th Edition of the Fundamentals of Australian Aerospace Power notes;
The potential for non-state actors to utilise aerospace assets in a provocative but effective military manner in the future was demonstrated by two associated events in the past.
The first was the flight of an Australian UAV across the Atlantic in 1998. The UAV ... was launched from a roof rack in Canada, and landed at its programmed site on the Benbecula Range in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. The crossing involved flying a distance of 3270 kilometres in a time of 26 hours and 45 minutes.
Satellite imagery for the period of the flight indicated that [it] was in moderate to heavy rain for 14-18 hours, or well over half the entire flight. In undertaking its mission, [it] used only six litres of fuel.
Some of the significant military factors of this achievement were the austere launch platform, the accuracy achieved in reaching the target landing site, and the fact that the aircraft had a five kilogram payload.
Commercial satellites are coming down in cost too, to the ten million dollars mark - well within the range of wealthy individuals and non-state actors.
x-posted at clubtroppo
According to an op-ed on
Popular Mechanics everyone will have a home server in the future
. I think I will put it in the garage next to my flying car.
From the article:
My point is that as processing power continues to get cheaper and more pervasive, you'll ultimately need a centralized server--that high-powered traffic cop--to coordinate the non-stop exchange of information between your new multitude of devices.
I have SSR and the AFC site (and mail server) running on a little mini-itx server in my basement. It is on my home private network. Couple of issues; one, it is a pain in the arse to administer. Hosting is cheap enough now that it is easier to pay them for it. Dedicated hosts also have better uptimes than residential connections (I have a plan that allows servers on ports such as 80 and 25). However I am in the process of migrating the applications on my home server to a dedicated hosting company so I can decommission the mini-itx box.
I see the point in the article, the main data-sharing issue we have is music. Probably in the future we will have issues with digital movie/tv show sharing. We kind of get around it by using the iPod to transfer data and music between floors, but it would be cool if our music and media was in a central location.
Jared Diamond argues that the Australian continent was incapable of progressing humanity to agrarianism or the iron age because it lacked three things; a domesticatable animal, domesticatable plants; and finally, because of its isolation as a landmass there was little to no osmosis of technology between societies and cultures.
Jared Diamond is the author of Guns, Germs and Steel
, as well as Collapse
. Both of which focus on why societies succeed, and, or fail. There is a transcript of a speech he made in 1997
which discusses the geographical differences in why Eurasia came to dominate the globe, while Africa, the Americas and Australia did not. In particular he describes why the Aboriginal people did not develop agriculture and were unable to advance as a society beyond the stone age.
The most obvious answers are that Australian animals and plants have proved impossible to domesticate. Even with 21stC technology we have not managed to domesticate and farm Kangaroos in the same way we do beef or sheep cattle.
Though there is 'the cull' each year in which a million or so Kangaroos are hunted and sent to local abattoirs. But that method of farming Kangaroos is exactly the same as how the Aboriginal people did it, though with the increased productivity of rifles and spotlights, rather than spears.
Diamond notes that the only Australian plant which has proved suitable for domestication is the macadamia nut. Some of our trees are grown overseas, but to get from stone age to iron age there needs to be a food surplus so labor specialisation can occur in towns and cities. Hunter-gatherer societies just don't have that dynamic.
The Aboriginal people did practice land management, and there were also attempts to modify the environment in order to increase the yield of local food; such as placing logs in creeks and rivers so grubs could be harvested each year - but that wasn't sufficient food density to enable the Eurasian agricultural growth in productivity.
The Aboriginal people also managed to domesticate dingos in certain instances, but the dingo isn't suitable for growing as cattle, and the dingoes were used as aids in hunting.
Diamond also argues that Australia's continental isolation was brutally dominant in ensuring that no cultural and technological osmosis happened between the Aboriginals and other cultures or societies - even amongst each other. He uses the Tasmanian Aboriginals as an example:
Astonishingly, the archaeological record demonstrates something further: Tasmanians actually abandoned some technologies that they brought with them from Australia and that persisted on the Australian mainland.
For example, bone tools and the practice of fishing were both present in Tasmania at the time that the land bridge was severed, and both disappeared from Tasmania by around 1500 B.C.
That represents the loss of valuable technologies: fish could have been smoked to provide a winter food supply, and bone needles could have been used to sew warm clothes.
By comparison, Eurasia was connected by one landmass which shared a similar climate. So when sheep were domesticated in the middle east, they quickly ended up in European and Asian flocks. When horses were domesticated on the Russian steppes they quickly spread to China, and when citrus fruits were domesticated in Asia, these soon ended up in European agriculture.
It is interesting to note that when the English and Eora met at Sydney Cove the stealing that went on between them was usually over a prized technology. For instance the Eora quickly realised the productivity enhancements that iron tools offered, while the English valued the Eoran fizgigs (fishing nets) for the same reasons. So immediately upon contact there was technological osmosis.
All other things being equal, the rate of human invention is faster, and the rate of cultural loss is slower, in areas occupied by many competing societies with many individuals and in contact with societies elsewhere.
If this interpretation is correct, then it's likely to be of much broader significance. It probably provides part of the explanation why native Australians, on the world's smallest and most isolated continent, remained Stone Age hunter/ gatherers, while people of other continents were adopting agriculture and metal.
I think there is value in that interpretation. We see constantly in other areas of technology and endeavour that the edges are the most dynamic part of a system and that monocultures approximate stagnancy.
It is interesting to note that Bill Mollison designed his Permaculture system around maximising edge effects rather than sterile industrial agricultural practices of thousand upon thousands of acres of monoculture.
Peter Turchin's analysis of political empires, or cliodynamics, identifies the edges as the area of the greatest dynamicism and the nucleation points for future empires.
Modern economics argues the same thing. Protectionism or central planning makes a big national economy with minimal edges. It is sterile, inefficient and unable to progress. The edges in such a system where transfer does occur - unfortunately - is usually through the black market. Witness North Korea.
Free trade effectively makes the edge effects occur everywhere and the borders become self-determining through comparative advantage which stops the sterility that occurs in the mono-economic centre of a protected economy.
To summarise; this pattern of edge effects being absolutely important for innovation and progress is not a new one. I think it, along with the restrictions of the animals and plants on the Australian continent, makes a reasonable explanation why the Aboriginal people did not advance to an agrarian or iron age society.
David S. Landes argues that the Medieval era, often seen as a dark period of stagnation between the Roman Empire and the Renaissance, was a period of important technological innovation. It produced advances in the water wheel, spectacles, the mechanical clock, printing and gunpowder. Landes writes that the decentralised nature of European politics meant that there was greater impetus for political and economic advantage through technological innovation.
Prior to 1300 and the invention of what we would call glasses, craftsmen who hit age forty, and the inevitable hardening of the eye's lens, meant that skilled craftsman had a massive drop off in productivity from that age on. In many cases it meant they could no longer work in that industry as their eyesight was no longer good enough to produce finely crafted products.
Glasses - two lenses connected by a bridge across the nose that allows the hands to be free - for far-sightedness were invented in Pisa in the late 1200s. Landes writes:
A seemingly banal affair, the kind of thing that appears so commonplace as to be trivial. And yet the invention of spectacles more than double the working life of skilled craftsmen.
Biological limitations of the eye's decay no longer was an impediment to working. Consequently the skills and knowledge of the skilled craftsman was not lost as their eyes made it more and more difficult to work in specialised industries.
This innovation led to economic benefits beyond productivity improvements; Europe had a trade monopoly on spectacles for several hundred years.
x-posted on eurotrib
Glimpse into how government or power quarantines us from society at large from sketch writer Simon Hoggart
[Alastair Campbell noted] as prime minister, Tony Blair was shielded from the bewildering speed of technological change. Everything was done for him. So in 10 years he never learned how to send a text message. Finally he did. Campbell reported: "I have had two from him. The first was the single word 'are'. The second read: 'this is amazing you can do words and everything'."
Sometimes Tony Blair seems like the oldest boy scout in the world.
Californian companies are starting to do the process of insourcing. This is where a company creates satellite offices in nearby cities, such as Phoenix, Denver, Salt Lake City or Portland to do development. One of the reasons is ease of communication; most of those cities are a day flight away from San Francisco. Another concern with outsourcing overseas is that a vendor is intimate with your business logic.
I thought the lower rent and salaries in these cities was a major consideration but it is not. The Californian labor market is tapped out of quality technology candidates and smaller tech companies are having trouble competing with the 'cool' billion dollar companies like Google* for skilled workers.
Apparently the satellite cities have similar quality candidates in the technology labor market to California but the competition over them is not as intense as in the Bay Area. Google is not immune to this process either and has similar satellite offices.
So the Californian technology economy has exhausted the Californian labor market and is now in the process of stressing the labor markets in neighbouring states such as Arizona, Oregan, Utah and Colorado.
The Californian economy is a wonderful mix of technology, entrepreneurism and adventurous capital markets. It is not only the American technology engine, but the globe's technology engine. If its GDP is split out and compared to other nations it has the eighth largest economy on the planet
So any Australian Diasporans thinking of coming to America to work, you might want to hit California and its labor market first. Your skills will be in demand.
Given the stresses on global labor markets for skilled workers the other thing that needs to be asked is; will a tertiary degree replace the work visa as the document of entry into an overseas economy?
This process is already starting to happen in Australia and Canada.
* Apparently VMWare is currently on a massive employment bent.
Roger Johannson writes on the lamest excuses for not being a web professional
. One of the things that surprised me going from the US East Coast telecommunications world to the US West Coast dot-com world was how much of a rarity front-end developers are. Middleware is a well traveled and understood problem domain. The front-end has several new technologies and has not commoditised as the middleware and back-end has. For instance, front-end MVC frameworks are a rarity; they are as common as dirt in middleware.
CSS developers are the real rarity and in a development process that is driven by the User Experience group they are the most essential. It has been interesting to see what I thought was important get turned on its head by a different industry.
Most Popular on South Sea Republic
The articles that have been viewed the most:
Most Popular Restaurants in Phoenix
Phoenix Eats Out
is the restaurant review site for Phoenix
and Old Town Scottsdale
which lists the modernist and contemporary restaurants, taverns and bars in the greater Phoenix area.
This is the list of the most popular restaurants pages from phoenixeatsout.com that have been viewed the most;
My personal favourite restaurants in Phoenix are AZ88
, Humble Pie
, Orange Table
, The Vig
and others coming close behind. View the complete list with the photo-journalistic style images on phoenixeatsout.com
Most Popular Hikes in Arizona
Arizona is an outdoor state and has lots of hiking in the city and around the state. Phoenix is unusual for most cities in having several large mountains in the center of the city with great hiking. Anyone who comes to Phoenix has to do the Echo Canyon trail on Camelback
and the Summit Hike on Squaw Peak
or Piesta Peak. The views of the city, suburbs and surrounding mountains are wonderful from Camelback and Piesta Peak.
For more experienced hikers there is the McDowell Mountains in North Scottsdale that has several difficult and strenuous hikes in Tom's Thumb
and Bell Pass
. Alternatively, you can hike the highest mountain in Arizona. At 12,600 feet Humphrey's Peak
is a long and difficult hike.
Alternate Australian Constitutions
Between 2004 and 2009 this site, southsearepublic.org
, was a constitutional blog based on scoop which focused on Australian and global constitutional issues.
One of the strongest aspects of it was the development of constitutions by those involved in the blog. These constitutions are the outcome:
The constitutions were built using principles from Montesquieu's separation of powers, the enlightnment's universal political rights and the ancient Athenian technology of sortition and choice by lot.
Archives For South Sea Republic
South Sea Republic started in 2004 as an Australian constitutional blog in 2004 based on scoop software. It was an immigrative outgrowth of Kuro5hin. The archives for each year since then;
The articles are ordered by views.
Who Is Cam Riley
I am an Australian living in the United States as a permanent resident.
I am a software developer by trade and mostly work in Java and jump between middleware and front end.
I originally worked in the New York area of the United States in telecommunications before moving to Washington DC and
working in a mix of telecommunications, energy and ITS. I started my own software company before heading out to
Arizona and working with Shutterfly. Since then I have joined a startup in the Phoenix area and am thoroughly enjoying myself.
I do a lot of photography which I post on this website, but also on flickr. I have a photo-journalistic website which lists
the modernist and contemporary restaurants in phoenix. I have a site on the Australian Flying Corps [AFC]
which has been around since the 1990s and which I unfortunately
lost the .org URL to during a life event; however, it is under the www.australianflyingcorps.com
The AFC website has gone through several iterations since the 90s and the two most recent are Australian Flying Corps Archives(2004-2002)
Australian Flying Corps Archives(2002-1999)
which are good places to start.
Websites Worth Reading
Websites of friends, colleagues and of interest;