Tag Archives: News

The Bluetooth Boy is now powered by WordPress!


After some thought and consideration, the Bluetooth Boy and the 6log blog have now moved to a new blogging platform.

6log used to run on the Simple PHP Blog, which was, well, simple, indeed, one of its best points.  But alas, some of the fancier features of the blogging world have passed it by, like mobile access, social network sharing and such sorts of goodies.  And with pressure of life and stuff I have been finding that the hand-cranked way I was loading HTML formatted blog posts, was just too time-consuming, so that my blog-rate had reduced to a crawl.


So, Single Retail Banana, Unhappy Voucher and the Crunchy Octopus have now found a home on an upgraded service based on WordPress 3.5.1.  The migration was aided by various bits that other people have left lying around the Web after their own efforts, mainly a migration script by Miguel Herrero (with significant mods to cope with the new WP term tag/category structure), and an SPHP permalink plug-in from Florian Klien.

So we shall see now, if I can fight my way through the comment spam…

comment spam seems to be endemic to WordPress linked blogs, compared to good old SPHPBlog – the first arrived as I was writing this post!

…and post a bit more frequently


Up like a Rocket, Down Like a Stick

The collapse of 2e2 – a classic case of up like a rocket and done like a stick – was one of those occasional industry news-quakes that will no doubt make an interesting MBA case study, and to be sure, be the subject of a thesis and dissertation or two.

One of the big things that was reported was that 2e2 had “breached its banking covenants”.

Covenant . n. a mutual agreement…an engagement entered between God and a person or people…Chambers 20th Century dictionary

“Breaching convenants” is a phrase that tickles me as a somewhat odd mix of ordinary commerce with a flavour of the biblical,  and a slight smell of pretension. Makes me think of some others …What about:

  • Did you hear Gwynnie’s canticles at the Oscars…
  • You must heed the the Digital Security commandments…
  • I am looking forward to hearing the epistles from Corporate Communications…
  • Health and Safety officials took down witness testaments after the accident…

I think these are probably all examples of  “paradoxical heterologisms”, but don’t quote me on that!

So we shall see if time brings any more useful diagnoses of the underlying issues around the “borrow-to-buy” model.  Difficult enough to do when you make scads of profit, but even harder to execute in the low margin sectors of the IT Services market.

Anyway, having been silent on my blog for quite some months, the event triggered me to dig out a couple of pictures that have been lurking in my capacious back pocket for some time (well since about 2008, in fact).

The diagram below is one of those hardy perennial consulting charts depicting the “Extended Enterprise” network organisation model  which underlies most outsourcing:


There are undoubtedly many good reasons to outsource various activities in a business, and structurally, it creates something looking like this, across a number of clients for an outsourcing company:


The outsourced component for the clients is provided here, I posit, by a chunk of critical infrastructure belonging to the Service Provider.

As in the case of 2e2 with its Patni helpdesk relationship, some service providers deliver chunks of their service offering by outsourced from another.

As also with CSC in times past, where the man that turned up to service your PCs arrived in an SCC van – no, not a spelling mistake, just a supply chain decision, and a bit of margin on margin…

So you end up with a variant thus for a sub-contracted helpdesk, for example:


And of course, it gets much more complicated than that..


So it can create quite some tidal waves when one of the jigsaw parts falls out of bed (or otherwise mixes its metaphors).

Alas poor 2e2, we knew you well !  Gone but not forgotten…

Bedtime? Says Who?

Last week seemed to revolve around cars and driving, starting the week with long distance trips (to Canterbury and Salisbury), then fixing broken cars, a damaged engine undertray and nixed horns from an unwarranted attack by a particularly vicious piece of traffic calming, plus a petrol leak, culminating in thrashing my old M5 around Cadwell Park on a track day on Friday (a good way to end the week!).

Cadwell Park is mostly associated with bikers, but is also quite entertaining in a car, especially a tail-happy BMW – when I first enquired about track day insurance a while ago, the bod on the phone gave me a quote, and then when I said it was Cadwell, they said, ah, and added another 50%!

Here is the old girl in her war paint…


…none the worse for our trip into the bushes in the snow a few weeks ago.

In a mad moment of preparation before one of the long drives, we threw out the rubbish bag from the back of the car.  I later got a text from home saying that we had just managed to recycle 28 empty Red Bull cans: something of a record even for me.

Quite coincidentally, I was idly running my eye over two piles of books on the table in my study, all in the process of being read or passing through to the bookshelves…


On the right is a workaday pile of business books that show some current industry themes (Semantic Web, Information Security, Agile IT Organisations..).  The left-hand pile, however, reveals my recent predeliction for texts de-bunking mumbo-jumbo in all its irrational varieties, and I wonder if, maybe, this signals the start of the slippery slope to becoming Grumpy?

OK, Step forward, one and all, to tell me I’m already there…

Anyway, connecting Red Bull with grumpiness in any form, whether caused by lack of sleep, or too much blood in my caffeine stream, I was particularly exercised last week by an article in the paper – so, much so that I tore it out and carried it in my wallet, waving it at people, and saying “Says Who?”.

I have it here now and I am waving it at the screen in an agitated way.  It is entitled “Night-owl children ruin body clocks” from the Sunday Times, and the first sentence reads “Children who are allowed to stay up past their bedtime watching television or playing on a computer are at risk of late-night sleeplessness for the rest of their lives”.  To me this is grade A bunkum, as despite the strictest bed-times enforced by my parents, a thin gruel of educational TV and definitely no computer games (not invented), today I inhabit a nether-world of late nights, living in a time zone that is somewhere about GMT – 2 (“Mid-Atlantic” according to Windows clock) or GMT – 3  (“Montevideo/Buenos Aires/Georgetown/Greenland”).

I recall a moment during an interview many years ago with PWC Management Consulting, walking around the offices taking in the atmosphere. My escort said “We have hot-desking here, and starting time is 9-30am” (how civilised, I thought), “but if you don’t get in by 7am then you don’t get a desk” (ho ho, st&ff that for a game of soldiers, I thought)

Who are these mysterious people, “they” who dictate when we should sleep and wake? Who says what bedtime is and should be?  In a world of the Internet, Digital TV and 24hour opening at Tesco who needs to have a set bedtime?  Says Who?  Nanny? Granny? the NHS?

Alvin Toffler put his finger on this point in “Future Shock” many years ago, when he commented on the transition from cock-crow, to factory whistle and school bell – training us all to live, work and sleep to a rhythm of coordinated factory production.  Be a good little robot, and Thank Ford for the Brave New World. (OK, mixed literary allusions there, I know)

Well, ranting aside, I was pleased to see later in the week, another article in the same domain, but this one said  Teenagers improve grades with a lie-in…..    Unlike Matter and anti-Matter which annihilate themselves in a E=MC2 sort of way when they get mixed together, News and anti-News stories just sort of disappear with a slight “moo” and a whiff of fish.

And so to bed…
the worrying aspect is that the article quotes the sort of statistics about insomnia, sleep-walking and sleep-related breathing problems that some intellectually challenged politician might seize on to force us all to go to bed at 8pm…for our own good>

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!


The Maths of Pointless Numbers

In an idle moment in a place I cannot recall, but may have been the local takeaway, I read the Daily Express, an unusual event.  And I read an article entitled “CANCER RISK OF JUST TWO GLASSES OF WINE A DAY”  which demonstrated exactly why not the read the Daily Express if you wish to retain your sanity.

This is how the Express sensitively rendered the story…


The particular issue raised by this non-news story has been rolling around the back of my brain for a while, however the creative forces have been battling with perfectionist tendencies, fending off a full research project on the many different life risks, probabilities thereof, and the mechanisms of converting annual probabilities into life-time ones, and all manner of analytical delights.

So to break the log-jam (and get a life in between), I have crayoned  the issue, rather than the full Powerpoint…


You can find all sorts of stats around the web about the probability of different life risks if you look – here and here, for example, and tease out interesting, contrarian nuggets.  Such as,  drowning is much more likely than a fatal dog attack, yet  there are many strait-jacketing laws on dangerous dogs, but no UK inland rescue force to save people who fall in the water, which paradox seems to defy common-sense.

The issue in the case of the Australian report is that the risk that is being increased by 75% is diddly-squat to start with, and (Diddly-Squat * 1.75) = Sweet FA (in the Maths of Pointless Numbers).  It is undoubtedly bad if it actually happens, but the probability is not something you can, or should, let dictate your life.

I suppose headlines like “Medicos issue report about irrelevant statistical findings that don’t matter” don’t sell papers, so  there must be people who enjoy a little frisson of fear, panic and anxiety over their breakfast corn flakes, and prepared to read the Express to get it….

The Smell of Danger: Another study of the Blindlingly Obvious

I had an odd sense of deja vu when reading the headline Human noses 'can detect danger' . Didn't Gospodin Ivan Petrovic Pavlov work all that out all that stuff about conditioned/conditional reflexes back in the 1890/1900's?

So I looked at the abstract on the Science web-site to see if I could learn something new…

Learning to associate sensory cues with threats is critical for minimizing aversive experience.

OK, that makes sense…

The ecological benefit of associative learning relies on accurate perception of predictive cues, but how aversive learning enhances perceptual acuity of sensory signals, particularly in humans, is unclear.

Why is it unclear? Isn't that just the negative part of what Pavlov did – he could have rung his bell (or not, according to your version of history), and taken the dogs dinner away…

We combined multivariate functional magnetic resonance imaging with olfactory psychophysics to show that initially indistinguishable odor enantiomers (mirror-image molecules)

Ah, it's “enantiomers”, is it?

become discriminable after aversive conditioning, paralleling the spatial divergence of ensemble activity patterns in primary olfactory (piriform) cortex.


Our findings indicate that aversive learning induces piriform plasticity with corresponding gains in odor enantiomer discrimination,

Yeah, well, like, totally, dude…

underscoring the capacity of fear conditioning to update perceptual representation of predictive cues, over and above its well-recognized role in the acquisition of conditioned responses.

I hear the sound of hairs being split. Can the neurons tell the difference?

That completely indiscriminable sensations can be transformed into discriminable percepts further accentuates the potency of associative learning to enhance sensory cue perception and support adaptive behavior.

(eerie silence, wind whistles, tumble weed rolls by)

Oh, you've finished, sorry, I was doing something else whilst you were talking.

I just checked the Fog index which says that the abstract is only fit for somebody with an astonishing c.29 years of education. To be fair though, the bowdlerised version for us mere mortals on the Science magazine site is only 17 Fog units…

So what's new? Well nothing much as far as I can tell, maybe they've just painted in a tiny crack in the universe of knowledge – where possibly a simple inductive proof might have been sufficient.

It would have been much more interesting if they had managed to demonstrate that smell is the contrarian sense doesn't work like all the others. Then we can only imagine what the headlines would have been…

Shaken, not Stirred

Well, that was exciting…It is not often that this remote and dusty corner of England shows up on the national news, but the earthquake of last night was certainly an interesting seismological experience.

Lincolnshire is not exactly an active seismic area, as the BGS press release shows
The last event of any note was in 1703 in the Humber Estuary, so it is the first time my house has had a good shake since it was built.

Having been briefly shaken out of bed last night, I have spent the morning working playing with Google Earth to plot the epicentre of the earthquake and see how close it really was. Just 3-4 miles, in fact, although the location moved from east to north of Market Rasen as the BGS updated its reported data in the morning.

Of course, Google Earth is like a chinese meal, you want another hit shortly after, so I also had to look up the official Dullest Place in Britain (Grid square SN8323) as determined by BBC Home Truths listeners who must have quite a bit of time on their hands to have scanned through the full set of OS Landranger maps to find the emptiest square.

This notable location is not so very far away in North Lincolnshire. I should however say that Lincolnshire Wolds are much more interesting than that, we do at least have contour lines, and we now also have our very own seismographs…

The interesting technological feature of the night was that almost as fast as thought itself, my daughter received many texts from friends from the local area, reporting example, that their parents were running around panicking, but that they were chilled (of course).

In the end, my wife summed it up stoically to my daughter:
“It’s just an earthquake, dear, go back to bed”

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On Traffic Lights…

I was disturbed by Martin Cassini's report on Newsnight proposing the abolition of traffic lights, which surely don't deserve such a fate.

Being fascinated by many forms of technology and their place in their world, traffic lights are often one of the first things I have seen when I go on business trips around the world.

Although most other people will not have spotted it I am sure (or be remotely interested), there is actually quite a variation between countries, and the style of lights can maybe even indicate something about the self image of the parent country.

For example, Paris has those pointlessly tall, rather haughty and arrogant faux-gold painted posts (so tall indeed that they need little repeaters at driver level), largely ignored by everybody.

In Dublin, I have seen a huge variety of different types from that looked like they had been bought in job-lots from the US and UK when they had some money to spend – a bit like the apparel of a deranged and eccentric old maiden-aunt.

US lights are for the thrill-seekers amongst us who love that random moment when the red light flicks to green.

In Sweden, lights are very logical and have a green-amber phase instead of a plain amber to bring balance to the coruscating display.

In Switzerland, the lights are totally prescriptive, every red and amber filter light has a simulacram of the green arrow carved on it in black. No confusion there then, unlike the UK, where modern installations leave you wondering just which red light you should be watching (usually the wrong one).

Actually racking my brains, I cannot remember much about the traffic lights I encountered in Australia as I was negotiating the notorious “Melbourne hook turns “.

And to Nigeria, where the only traffic lights I saw there in the glittering capital of Abuja were switched off…