Saturday, September 24, 2005

Ubi bene, ibi patria

I have spent the week in Indiana. Learning from my previous trip, this time, I drove.

I have driven this particular route before, some 25 years ago. (More, perhaps, on why in some future posting...) This time I noted more acutely the fundamental difference in the very lay of the land when crossing to the East side of the Mississippi. Southern Illinois is just different than Missouri. Right up to the river. Now, Missouri North of the river that provided it's name is also somewhat different than the land that stretches South of the big muddy. But both sides of the great river share a common bond in terms of the hills and valleys, the bluffs and flood-plains. Not so of the Mississippi. I am told, and can verify with limited observation, that the Great River is different South of Cairo, where the third great sister, the Ohio joins the flow. Is it perhaps really more South of the great fault lines of the Central US, tagged as the New Madrid fault? (So named because this sleepy Missouri town was nearest the epicenter of the largest quakes in the lower 48. What, you thought California has quakes? Ha! They barely break the top 10 and only appear twice in the top 18.) Whatever the reason, the mighty river changes, as noted by it's poet laureate. So why should I be surprised at the change of the land along it's banks. I have always been fascinated that at least some of the state borders I have encountered that are not natural, but rather surveyor's lines, are not arbitrary, but visible, palpable, observably different places. (A long-ago trip driving South of Memphis comes to mind.)

It never (seemingly;->) fails to fascinate.

I also noticed a marked increase in over-the-road trucks East of the Mississip'', but that only makes sense if you consider the increase in population involved. But the Interstate system is also different when traveling East. East of Indianapolis, my latest destination, large metropolitan areas are often avoided altogether. (Dayton is so many miles that-a-way, informs the signage.) But even beyond the machinations of civil engineers gone-by, the difference in the local ecology come into play. East of the Mississippi, trees are a natural phenomenon. Often, while driving around my frequent Eastern time-zone client locations, my view of anything surrounding the highway is blocked by a natural green wall. Not so out west. If there is a tree that was not placed there by human intent, it is nestled up next to a stream or brook. West of my home-base, water is more and more scarce a resource. So are the natural arboretums.

Driving back I re-crossed the great divider and felt the first sense of home as I came across a ridge-line somewhere east of Kingdom City. I didn't catch the name of this particular tributary to the Mighty Missouri, but appreciated the view across the valley to the bluffs on the other side, with rolling hills beyond. Beautiful, in the afternoon sun.

Then, the true pleasure. Passing Columbia, I come down through the cut at Rocheport, as I have so many time before, to cross the bridge. It is past military twilight, just enough light left to see the fog that envelops the entire flood-plain, from bluff to bluff, a mile distant. Beautiful.

I am home.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The End of Innovation?

Have we reached the end? Is there nothing else? Nothing more?

Consider these facts:

Chip manufacturers have hit widely publicized plateaus, if not
full-fledged ceilings in clock-speeds. And even then, bus speeds are
still bottlenecks in recent models.

The iPod was released nearly four years ago. FOUR YEARS! That is an
eternity in the dog-years we use to measure time in technological
matters. And yet, who is the iPod killer? Who has come up with a
innovative improvement to the portable music market? One time
competitors, already entrenched, pass away with little fan-fare. Of
course, they have no fans...

But, to hear the iPod-heads, their little digital companions are the
be-all and end-all. The only things we can wait for is increased
hard-drive capacity, flash memory increases, video playback,
mobile-phone versions &ct.

God help me, my limited time playing with the little beasties has almost
sucked me into their cult-like life-style.

But do we really have nothing to look forward-to but more of the same?

Will 2025 find us all listening/watching/talking-on our 500TB iPod?

In looking up some info. for work I stumbled across what may be the
cause of this dearth of truly new tech. The very life-blood of
technological progress has been fueled down through the years by an,
allegedly, limited commodity.

And to make matters worse, given the date on this document, we clearly
have to ask ourselves, is it too late? Have we passed the point of no

For we, my friends, have apparently reached:

Acronymic Anemia
Severe Acronym Shortage Cripples Computer Industry
May 8, 2002

SILICON VALLEY, CALIFORNIA (SVC) -- According to a recent
study by the Blartner Group, 99.5% of all possible five
letter combinations have already been appropriated for
computer industry acronyms. The impending shortage of
5LC's is casting a dark shadow over the industry, which
relies heavily on short, easy-to-remember acronyms for
everything from product names to inside jokes.

"Acronym namespace collisions (ANCs) are increasing at a
fantastic rate and threaten the very fabric of the
computing world," explained one ZD pundit. "For example,
when somebody talks about XP, I don't know whether they
mean eXtreme Programming or Microsoft's eXceptionally
Pathetic operating system. We need to find a solution to
this problem fast or chaos could be the result."

Leaders of several SVC companies have floated the idea of
an "industry-wide acronym conservation protocol" (IWACP --
one of the few 5LCs not already appropriated). Explained
Bob Smith, CTO of IBM, "If companies would voluntarily
limit the creation of new acronyms while recycling outdated
names, we could reduce much of the pollution within the
acronym namespace without the use of new government
regulations or programs. The last thing we want is for
Congress to get involved and try to impose a solution for
this SAS (Severe Acronym Shortage -- also a software
program) that would likely only create dozens of new
acronyms in the process."

Several members of the Internet Engineering Task Force want
to place a limit on the number of new acronyms that can be
defined per RFC document. "We all know that a huge
percentage of the industry's acronyms were given birth in
old RFCs," said one IETF participant. "Every Internet
protocol has two or three dozen acronyms attached to it.
If we could get developers to refrain from acronymizing
everything, we could nip the impending 'acronymclysm' in
the bud."

Eric S. Raymond has offered to help by requesting that the
Internet community refer to him simply as Eric S. Raymond
instead of ESR, thus freeing up a coveted 3LC. (RMS, JWZ,
and LBT were unavailable for comment at press time.) Mr.
Raymond also wants open-source software developers to
reconsider using the GPL or BSD licenses instead of
inventing another license and creating yet another acronym
in the process. "Open Source already depends heavily on a
steady supply of acronyms -- 45.7% of projects on Freshmeat
use acronyms for their names," he said. "Don't poison the
water with acronyms for frivolous licenses -- let's use our
precious natural resources wisely."

ICANN Emperor Luart Synn, desperately searching for a
reason for his organization to exist, has offered to open
up a new Top Level Domain exclusively for registering
acronyms. "Within three months, every 5LC from AAAAA
(American Association Against Acronym Abuse) to ZZZZZ (Zoe
Zephyr's Zero Zucchini Zone [a store that sells only meat
products]) will be occupied. What we need is a central
registrar for domain names and a way to resolve disputes
between competing parties that have claims to the same
letter combinations. We can do for acronyms what we did
for domain names."

Mr. Synn's proposal has drawn mostly yawns from the CIAL
(Computer Industry At Large). It seems clear that BECs
(Big Evil Companies) will always win out against SFTDHARPPs
(Small Fish That Don't Have Any Real Political Power) in
any acronym dispute. At any rate, most developers don't
like the idea of submitting an ARR (Acronym Registration
Requests) anytime they string a few capital letters

Indeed, some people believe that the "acronym shortage" is
a myth. "The military and all other government
bureaucracies have depleted the acronymspace for years,"
explained one member of the Humorix Vast Spy Network(tm).
"Virtually every 3, 4, 5, and 6 letter acronym has been
gobbled up by the US Air Force alone since at least the
Reagan administration. Has there been a crisis? Has the
government collapsed because people couldn't tell whether a
PDO was a Paid Day Off or a Portable Distributed Object or
a Pretty Dumb Officer? No! Life will go on no matter how
many acronyms we define."

Humorix: Linux and Open Source(nontm) on a lighter note
Web site:

This e-mail and any attachments are intended only for the individual or
company to which it is addressed and may contain information which is
privileged, confidential and prohibited from disclosure or unauthorized use
under applicable law. If you are not the intended recipient of this
e-mail, you are hereby notified that any use, dissemination, or copying of
this e-mail or the information contained in this e-mail is strictly
prohibited by the sender. If you have received this transmission in error,
please return the material received to the sender and delete all copies
from your system.