Monthly Archives: February 2009

The Rule of 7

Being of a fairly rational turn of mind, I don’t have much truck with Numerology and similar horoscopological mumbo-jumbo, but I have, over the years, observed that product development tends to have difficulties around 7th major version of a piece of software, the antithesis of the “lucky number 7”.  This is not a rigorously tested rule (it could be 5 or 6 or 7 or 8), but something more of an intuition with some empirical basis: rule or not, if it comes to pass for Microsoft, it does not bode well for Windows 7.

…well, not according to the entrails of this goat that I have been using to forecast the future of the global banking system, anyway…

A more robust, analytical explanation is that these difficulties are some manifestation of James Utterback theories about dynamics of innovation; of product and process innovation and dominant designs…


… maybe mixed with a bit of boredom, laziness, hubris, and less rational, human things (lemma  here)

Windows is moving from Vista (6), to version 7, and so maybe it already had its bad moment.  However, it is difficult to see how much more development can go into the product as it is, at 28 years old, quite far down the right hand end of the innovation curve, beyond the flush of youth (worrying about its pension, and oooh, it is so chilly, let’s turn the fire up, and what are we having for lunch, i’ve lost my teeth…)

Exercise for the reader: try plotting where you think Windows 1.0, 3.1, 95, XP and Vista fit on the curve?

Many of the other core information technologies we hold dear today are also really quite ancient: RDBMS, Word Processors, Spreadsheets, all dating from the 1970-80s.  So what’s new in the world, multi-touch, then, the much touted new technology for Win 7, who needs it on a desktop, I ask you?

Don’t get me going about Tom Cruise and Minority Report – although I do still keep half an eye on developments in data gloves…

There is a lot of talk of Cloud Computing and other exciting things, but apart from the fact that it is, in the main, new applications that will drive up usage, not base technologies, there is an interesting trend about where computing stuff actually happens, and more of it is likely to be happening in non-human places, and between consenting machines…
If these population estimates above are any way true, then only about 8% of connected devices are human-type information appliances, the other 92% are machine or devices that do things useful or mysterious – the balance is tilted to the machines by the 50 billion cockroaches in the basement;  analogous to the rat statistic – you are never more than six feet from one, but you may not know it…

If you take this Machine-to-Machine (M2M) intelligent device view of the world and mash it up with the Semantic Web & RDF  – creating machine readable data on the web, and maybe, as a by-product, defining the lingua franca so that machine can talk unto machine.

So, if the washing machine says, “I’ll be back”, get the h*ll out, Judgement Day is coming!


Snow, What Snow?

Confusing as ever, over the last couple of days, the Lincolnshire Wolds handed out another helping of its quixotic and capricious micro-climate.

Whilst the rest of Britain wears a white overcoat, the skies over the Wolds looked like this…
…and the ground looked like this…
…ok, a little bit of snow, and it was slippery down the (unsalted) hill to town. Indeed, the score on the journey out on Monday morning was:


  • An oil lorry stuck in the mud/slush in the grass verge
  • An articulated grain lorry that had slid to a halt up the hill – being rescued by local farmer and tractor
  • one lady who had parked her car up the nice new Miss-Marple style finger posts
  • a couple of dainty wiggles and balletic sideways moves from the 4×4


But we made it past the place where, a couple of weeks ago, I took a 180 degree flip into the mud and bushes (rear wheel drive that time), on the ice-sheet provided kindly by Anglian Water who have never fixed the leak from the hill-top reservoir, and past the useless grit bin at the top of the hill.

Isn’t there some sense of completeness in the Cosmos, in the fact that Wikipedia has an entry on grit bins (with pictures). Although this article and similar might give suggest some organisations have a rather more proprietorial attitude to their bins than Wackipedia might suggest…

The keener-eyed amongst you may be wondering about the pile of junk in the foreground – a legacy of last summer holiday. Unlike the sun-worshippers and other more conventional holidaymakers, I set myself the task of making a Pond Cam, to observe the comings and goings at the pond (and prove that I still “cut it” on a down and dirty bit of systems integration and soldering). And here it is replete with wireless infra-red camera and solar panel…
Well it works (day and night), which was a good result, but not without its challenges, like the relatively short range of the wireless transmitter, so this coming year I might just take a few days off in the summer to IP-enable the pond to close down the distance. Well, it is already mains-powered, so why not a little bit of powerline Ethernet, an IP Web-cam and some video streaming…

A bit of context here: It’s a wildlife pond so is intended to look a bit scruffy, with bits of old rotting tree stumps (no suburban goldfish here), and it does the job very well!

Roll on summer (or the promised, but as yet unseen 15cm of snow).