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 These days, I mostly post my tech musings on Linkedin.  https://www.linkedin.com/in/seanmcgrath/

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Grand slam!

Victory is ours! http://www.rbs6nations.com What a game. What a team!

Attend XML Prague : right now

Just click here. Excellent.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Numbers on the web and Recombinant Growth

In a comment to my recent blog post on timetric and open scalar data, Sean Park points to hypernumbers:
    Giving numbers URIs is something that Hypernumbers is trying to do. Will be interesting to see if they get traction. They are a bit stealthy so not sure how they are progressing since winning seedcamp in 2007.

I'm hoping that soon now, the number of entities live in the business of giving numbers homes on the Web will reach the recombinant growth threshold number R.

R is a term we use in Timetric-land for to capture the economic/biological concept of "recombinant growth. Thankfully, R is, I think, in the low single digits in this case :-)

It is straightforward to see how entities can independently host numbers that collectively can be mashed-up to create new host numbers. The more the merrier! Less obvious[1] is how the fabric of the Web can be made to support the critical concept of near real-time calculations and update notifications on those numbers so that "calculating" is as easy as "hosting" is today.

Then of course, there is the minor sounding but hugely thorny issues of naming the numbers (the URIs), namespaces, normative copies yada, yada.

Hard and interesting problems one and all. Problems well worth solving for the value they will bring. I would suggest that this emerging space is the future of what today is known as a "spreadsheet". It is not a desktop calculation experience hosted in a web browser. That is not particularly interesting as it just takes a desktop paradigm and puts it on the Web. I'm talking about radically rethinking the whole concept of a spreadsheet. I'm talking about something that is not so much "on the web" as "in the web". Built in. Native. All around you. All the time. A worldwide interlinked network of bazillions of numeric quantities. All updating and being updated in line with their semantic interconnections (known in today's terminology as "spreadsheet formulas"). All ready to be used to create yet more numbers and drive decision making at client and server levels of the ecosystem.

[1] Dare I say "cloud computing"?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Open (scalar) Data

Sean (no relation) over at the always-interesting Park Paradigm is thinking about the relationship between the semantic web and financial (numeric) data : Semantic shemanticrich open data is what we want.

The world is literally awash with very, very useful scalar data types. The big gorilla being integer and fractional[1] quantities that change value over time. I firmly believe that in order to make these things first class members of the Web, they need to live *on* the web.

Simply put, numbers need URIs with RESTian APIs for management. Lets put that layer in place first. Then we can make RDF statements about numbers (and numbers at idempotent points-in-time). We can also provide feeds that describe time series changes using things like XBRL...

That is what the www.timetric.com is all about.

[1] Financial markets love fractions, as do market makers of all forms horses, two-flies-on-a-wall etc.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Carbs - their part in my downfall

Eve has started blogging about the fattening effect of carbs and is pointing out that low-carb regimes like Atkins are not as crazy as some would have us all believe.

I thought I would weigh[1] in with my story. A few years ago I woke up and found myself weighing 18 stone with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a stressful, largely exercise free lifestlye.

I tried the standard approaches, precise calorie counting, fruit for lunch, nothing after 6...all that stuff. No joy. I stumbled upon Atkins and the geek in me was intrigued. I have a soft spot for contrarian conceptual models that put received wisdom through the wood chipper. I decided to give it a go although I was very skeptical. Especially when I read the sentence in the book that says something like "Remember to eat regularly. You may forget to eat.". Yeah, that will happen...

But it did. I found that I had essentially complete control over hunger pangs. With Atkins, if you are hungry you eat. That's it. It is just that you are very careful *what* you eat. Hunger pangs are not part of the recipe. You control them so that they do not control you.

So, the weight started to come off. I joined a gym and the weight started to fall off. I lost 2.5 stone without a single hunger pang. "This is trivial", one part of me said while another part of me was thinking "Perhaps my insides are turning to mush. Perhaps by arteries are disintegrating or getting clogged with lumps of cheesey egg roll wrapped in chicken skin?".

I went to the doctor for a checkup and my blood pressure and cholesterol were both significantly better than they were before. Now as a geek, I'm always wary of conflating correlation with causation. I don't know if was purely the weight loss that dropped the BP and cholesterol. Maybe the diet was not a part of it. Perhaps the diet was the primary driver of the weight loss? I don't know...and neither, it seems does medical science.

I have my weight under control now. Every now and then I fall of the wagon and it starts to climb up again - especially now that I live in the epicenter of the processed carb universe - the USA. Every now and then I drop some more carbs from my intake and the extra weight goes away. No panic. No problem.

Yes, yes I know that I really should get some exercise too but, heck, who's perfect? I'm working on it. Quit nagging! Yes, yes, I know that the scientific/medical community is very much split on this whole low-carb issue and maybe I'm killing myself.

I've seen scientific controversies before and been involved in a few (if you allow "computing" to be classed as a science that is). This one looks very familiar. It smacks of Thomas Kuhn. It also smacks of "Big Carb". Consider me a walking experiment if you like. If the low-carb lifestlye kills me, the lack of activity on my blog will let you know I was wrong and the "fat makes you fat" brigade were right :-)

[1] Ho ho ho