Tuesday, February 25, 2014

App Half-Life

App Half-Life . . .
Ok, “Half-Life" as in:
Half-life (t½) is the amount of time required for a quantity to fall to half its value as measured at the beginning of the time period. While the term "half-life" can be used to describe any quantity which follows an exponential decay, it is most often used within the context of nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry—that is, the time required, probabilistically, for half of the unstable, radioactive atoms in a sample to undergo radioactive decay.

Not “Half-Life” as in the Half-Life App on Android.—although you can get a Half-Life calculator for your Smartphone, should you wish to calculate the half-life of a radioactive isotope.
But I digress. I am wondering about the half-life of computer-Smartphone, or just Internet applications generally.  I have been noting that Facebook has been largely deserted by our grandkids (that is today’s teenagers). Apparently, when the old folks began adopting Facebook as a preferred social media channel, the kids all said, “whoa, I’m out’a here.” It’s now  akin to an old folks home.  And that started me thinking about application half-lives.  I am wondering first, how we might describe the half-life of an app. First, perhaps, why do we have things like free apps, e.g., Facebook.  Well, Mark Zuckerberg allows you to become a member of Facebook without charge, because he then gets to throw advertisements at you and to track your every move –he’s sort of your friendly neighborhood commercial NSA guy. He probably knows more about you than does NSA, and that's worth megabucks.  So, given that he has hundreds of millions of users now being tracked by his Facebook servers, why would Zuckerberg pay $19 billion for What’sApp? In case you have been living in a cave,
WhatsApp Messenger is a proprietary, cross-platform instant messaging subscription service for Smartphone’s. In addition to text messaging, users can send each other images, video, and audio media messages as well as their location using integrated mapping features.”
Well my guess is that Zuckerberg understands that Facebook is already past it’s half-life and is on the way down (not out, but down . . . old apps never actually die, they just languish on old folks’ computers).  So, soon I imagine, today’s teenagers will talk about Facebook as we might about the Commodore.
And then I started paying attention to E-Mail. I receive maybe 60-70 E-Mails a day.  But, of that number, I receive maybe one from a real person, a friend or family member.  The rest are either news, or commercial enterprises trying to sell me something.  I get e-mails from The Emirates, who want me to travel there. I get several a day from V-Tech, Radio Shack, Sears,  BH Photo, LD Products, Group-on. . . but you get the message. I also get newsy stuff several times daily from the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Manchester Guardian, the BBC, the Canadian service (CBC) the Australian service (ABC) and a half dozen other news outlets.  But from people?? Oh my, No.
Now, the other thing I notice is that I get periodic e-mails from the Nigerian scam folks, in its many incarnations, or I get notices from our ISP that they detected and deleted from our inbox a virus-laden e-mail.  So, the risks of being on the Internet are increasing daily. So, that makes me wonder about the half life of E-Mail (at least the open road kind of E-Mail). I know that many businesses and health entities use E-Mail as in-house communications channels and those might be different.
I am wondering when ordinary folks, the ones being targeted by our commercial NSA-like entities, will tire of E-Mail, and then tire of the Internet itself because of the risks and the annoyance factor of commercials.  So, does the “open-Internet” itself have a half life fast closing on itself and degrading as we speak?
What then—go back to writing letters?  I wondered about Smart-Phones, which have replaced conventional desktop computers for our teen friends. They largely don’t use desktop communications, preferring to texting, tweeting, et al, on their Smartphones. But Smartphone’s are just little computers connected to the Internet, so they are as likely as PCs to be overloaded with commerce as the PC applications, and our teen friends may begin moving to other safer high grounds (where old folks fear to tread). Not sure where that might be, but look to your teens for news of the new forms (I understand that teens have discovered that two tin cans, connected by a string performs well as a communications device. Think of that. What will they think of next??
And on another of our exoplanets, it is said that the Mexican police, aided by our American crime fighters, have captured El Chapo, the king of drugs. They plan to incarcerate him, at least until he can buy and renovate their prison system and then move it to the  Cayman Islands. But, with this news, I began to wonder about our global banks, you know, the ones that have been handling his cash transactions and managing his off-shore banks. What ever will they do now that they are losing their biggest customer? Bank bonuses may well be on the way down. Poor babies.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014


In his latest book, The Revenge of Gaia, James Lovelock, a prominent British climate scientist, predicts that by 2020 extreme weather will be the norm, causing global devastation; that by 2040 much of Europe will be Saharan; and parts of London will be underwater.
Worse, he argues that global warming has passed the tipping point, and catastrophe is unstoppable. Relative to many of the proposed approaches, he argues, "It's just too late for it," he says. "Perhaps if we'd gone along routes like that in 1967, it might have helped. But we don't have time. . . . he fears we won't invent the necessary technologies in time, and expects "about 80%" of the world's population to be wiped out by 2100. Prophets have been foretelling Armageddon since time began, he says. "But this is the real thing."

To read the article in The Guardian, see http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2008/mar/01/scienceofclimatechange.climatechange?CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2

It’s fascinating to think ahead to 2100 and begin to grasp what he is saying. Think: by 2100, everyone now alive will, arguably be dead.  But, more to the point, he asserts that only 20% of the people born between now and 2100 will still be alive—the world will lose 80% of its total population.  This, all because the climate deniers (aka the 1% and the large global polluters—see Koch Brothers) have been denying that such a thing as climate change is occurring. And, they have been spending untold millions to sway the world’s decision-makers so as to avoid anything like real action.  Lovelock asserts that, had the world’s global powers begun taking action during the 1960s, when they knew that such effects were occurring, we could have avoided the disaster he now predicts is inevitable. So, thanks to the polluters of the world, and all the 1%ers who have backed them.

Some recent articles have stated that people like the rich republicans who try to block anything and everything that Obama wants to do are striving for a Downton Abbey life, i.e., they are the lords of the manor and everyone else would be servants. But really, in this case, they are much worse than that. Here we are talking about the destruction of most the world’s population, now and into the foreseeable future. Apparently, we will run out of arable land and our food supply will shrink to a point that it will no longer support the population. And he is not even worried about the likelihood of wars.  Remember, that the stupid people of the Earth are mostly heavily armed and willing to destroy neighbors just because they can. So, should food become scarce, guess what will happen?

This argument is so devastating that it seems almost unthinkable. But, we have been procrastinating for so long that I assume his argument has to ring true at some stage. And the republican flat earth society continues to deny that climate change is real.  Maybe when they’re all dead, they will believe.

Ah well, onto other topics.

And speaking of stupid people, it seems on another exoplanet, the nation’s big banks are refusing to do business with the supply side of the legal marijuana business in Colorado and Washington. Mainly, I gather because the Feds still think marijuana sales should not be legal.  But really, banks are afraid of doing business with legal entities carrying on legal business because of the fear of running afoul of the law? Really? Aren’t these the same banks that seem to have no problem laundering drug money for Mexican drug gangs and setting up offshore accounts for them. Or selling fraudulent real estate transactions, or carrying on fraudulent hedge fund operations. These banks??? Well, the mind boggles.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

News of the Middle Ages

Conundrum: a question or problem having only a conjectural answer, as in:
1.      “Why do we continue to invest our Nation’s blood, honor and treasury in a place (Afghanistan) still so firmly rooted in the 12th century?” Or,

2.      “ Why do theoretically modern peoples of the world continue to invest their support for an institution still so firmly rooted in the Middle Ages (Catholic Church)?”
Two reports out today to amuse and enlighten we peoples of the world. 

The first is a report that the Afghan parliament just passed a law that essentially prohibits family members or victims from testifying against the members of their families who have purportedly committed acts of mayhem, and even murder against them or other members of the family. The new Afghan law will allow men to attack their wives, children and sisters without fear of judicial punishment, undoing years of slow progress in tackling violence in a country blighted by so-called "honour" killings, forced marriage and vicious domestic abuse. The small but significant change to Afghanistan's criminal prosecution code bans relatives of an accused person from testifying against them. Most violence against women in Afghanistan is within the family, so the law – passed by parliament but awaiting the signature of the president, Hamid Karzai – will effectively silence victims as well as most potential witnesses to their suffering.
So, there. Now Afghan men can continue to practice their 12th century concepts of morality on the women and children in their care. So says the official government of Afghanistan. And that’s what we are being asked as an American public to support? That’s why we have invested blood, sweat and tears, over the past dozen or so years?  So that Afghanistan can continue to reside firmly in the 12th century? Perhaps we need to bring back Emperor Babur and then return our own troops to their home shores.
And then there is the second report. A special United Nations Human Rights committee  has issued a report that, “The Vatican "systematically" adopted policies that allowed priests to rape and molest tens of thousands of children over decades. The committee urged the Vatican to open its files on pedophiles and bishops who concealed their crimes.
In a devastating report hailed by victims, the U.N. committee severely criticized the Holy See for its attitudes toward homosexuality, contraception and abortion and said it should change its own canon law to ensure children's rights and their access to health care are guaranteed.”
Finally, some authority is calling it like it is. The Holy Roman Catholic Church has been corrupt ( I believe that systematically raping children could be classed as corruption) from top to bottom.  And the good folks of the world over, who have been practicing the teachings of this institution, are being forced to accept that it has been following corruption.  My doesn’t that make the faithful feel good?
And on another exoplanet, Bill Nye, a “science guy” debated Ken Ham, president of the Creation Museum. Ham believes the earth was created 6,000 years ago and fossils were formed in Noah's flood. Yeah, and Punxsutawney Phil  can actually read the weather maps to accurately predict our weather based on whether he sees his shadow on one day in February. Hahahahaha  Oh, by the way, Ken Ham may or may not actually believe the claptrap he preaches. He makes money by conning the folks out there who remain uncertain. We call such people con artists, or sometimes charlatans . . . on the other hand, maybe the Tooth Fairy is real . . . and Santa Claus . . . don't forget Santa Claus . . .
Ta ta folks.