Saturday, May 28, 2016

cats will 0wn the Internet of Things just like the rest of the Internet

we have a smart cat flap - from a jolly good company called sureflap. we've had it a few years. Our cat is chipped so if she gets lost she can be returned and so the vet can tell what treatments she's had etc etc - all good...

we live in a crowded cat neighbourhood, so many cats try and come into our house to eat our cats food and generally invade her space etc

so we got this cat flap as it reads pet chips, and can be programmed for a given one (actually, a bit like your WiFi AP, for which see more later, it can store up to 30 cats RF-IDs - jolly good, so far).

So then the cat flap goes wrong (starts running batteries flat every day-  normally they last nearly a we go on the company website, and they have a neat diagnostic tool, and we run through it and they say it needs replacing (the smart flap, not the cat:-), and we enter the serial number (of the flap, not the cat) and they say "yes, that is still under warranty and they are sending us a new replacement (very smooth service indeed- arrives next day!).

so we install replacement asap as I am getting fed up with old one using up so many batteries, but I am in a hurry to get to work, so I put the cat flap in the default learning mode, which is that it flashes its little light once a second until the first cat goes through, at which point it stops learning and only lets that particular cat-id in/out.

so i get to work and there's a frantic phone call, and someone tells me some other cat has come into the house first, and eaten our cat's food, and now, only it can get in & out and our cat is stuck in. oops.

so you have to ask how did the alien cat know to try  just then? I mean we know which cat it is and its lived around here for 5 years and it must know it couldn't get in thruogh the old catflap, so what told it that there was a new one? cunning eh.

two things - 1 there is a different learning mode which only leaves a 10 second window, but you have to have a tractable cat that will oblige and train the flap on demand - hard to do. there isn't a way to "migrate" the old cat learned IDs from an old flap to the new one (the way you migrate your contacts lists from old phones to new ones) which would be neat, especially if you had 30 cats! waiting to train all of them could be like, errrrrr, herding cats :-)

on the other hand, alien cats will have it purrrr0wned in 9 1/2 seconds!

Friday, May 27, 2016

credentials, careers and punctuated equilibrium

life is like a sequence of flights where there's an exciting (and unnerving) takeoff (often preceded by stressful and boring waits) followed by the moment you break through the clouds, and the plane levels off in the light, and coasts. the metaphor seems to fit school, college, job changes, partners, kids, deaths/bereavements in family, etc

so purely from a work perspective, this applies to some research projects i've done.....

most the 1980s, we were building/measuring/optimising the basic internet (both on paper, similation, and real code and networks) - culminated in multicast, tcp congestion control, satellite access (in 1988), which smarter people at the other end of the net wanted to test, so we were happy to be on this end of those tests....

then in the 1990s we were doing multicast - both applications (games, vr, and most interesting, Reuters realtime share trading network), and realtime multimedia (Internet TV - what became the main way AT&T, Telefonica and Virgin/NTL built their TV streaming service; and internet telephony/conferencing-  with video, audio, shared whiteboards - etc - what became skype, webex, etc).

then in the 2000s, we were doing opportunistic networking (community mesh, also) + cloud + social media well does a kickstarter campaign work? how do people find or follow unbiased news on twitter etc.

now what? I guess its either data science (inferencing latent variables and models) or internet of things, or both, or neither....

one underpinning theme is decentralization - the early internet was, and cloud was meant to be - so now we're revisiting both the wireless net and the cloud to see if we can make them work better without centralization and loss of privacy. See this talk for why&how

Oh yes, why "punctuated equilibrium"? because basically that's another metaphor for what happens in evolution, applied to ideas - change of environment, leads to specation. selection/crossover leads to new ideas and refinement. next....

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Every Day Data Science Challenges

1 Guitar Strings

Different strings break at different rates. You can buy them singly or in sets of 6 (occasionally with a spare top E) - really what you want is just in time delivery of a new set wtih a distribution of strings (EBGDAE) that matches the wear/tear rate for you, your guitar (classical, flamenco, acoustic, electric etc) and tone/newnewss you like - this could be crowdsources by instrumenting tuning apps on phones which would notice when you tune from way below (e.g more than a 5th below the right note for that string, probably indicates a new string being put on) -

The statistics could be aggregated, and classes of users found, and then companies (like my fave ) could build orders for you -

2 Bicycle Wheel Spokes

I've lost 4 spokes over the last 5 months cycling in Cambridge - probably, they went on the appalling potholes on station road, or the tree roots across burrel's walk - wouldn't it be nice to know where these occcurred so I could report them to the council (and get money:-)

This could easily be done with accelerometers in smart phones....and GPS - look for rapid up/down movement - then afterwards (when a spoke has gone) you should be able to find the periodic wave of the bike as the wheel is now eliptical....

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misery me, there is a floccipaucinihilipilification (*) of chronsynclastic infundibuli in these parts and I must therefore refer you to frank zappa instead, and go home