Archive for the ‘ Technology ’ Category

Fear

Americans are afraid – and this is their dominant motivator.

What are they afraid of? Fear itself – that is everywhere and nowhere. They have not analyzed what they are afraid of – they are not capable of that. And their inability to do this – makes their fear even worse.

Huge power structures resulted from Industrialization, in the 19th Century – and have gotten even more powerful in today’s Computer World. People are right to be afraid of this – even if they cannot put their fingers on what it is.

I used to think that Software would save the world – really! That somehow it would enforce our rational nature and overcome our irrational nature. There was even a company called Rational Software that tried to do this – but failed completely, and was bought up by IBM.

IBM’s software enforces conformity completely – anyone different is cast into the outer darkness!

The Extremely Large Scale Society

The size of anything makes a big difference on how well it works. Sometimes increasing the scale (or size) makes it better, and sometimes it makes it worse – most often because internal communication breaks down.

The latest attempts to increase the size of human society have been a disaster. This is widely acknowledged, but something else has made this problem much worse – the speed (and volume) of communication has compressed this huge mass of people into one small population – where everything happens at once, and everywhere. TVs and cellphones are everywhere, and everyone uses them.

And people have gone crazy. The original size of human societies was tribal, consisting of about one hundred people. This size was scaled up dramatically with the advent of Civilization, only a few thousand years ago. The present human population numbers in the billions – but this size is amplified so much by rapid communications, it cannot be evaluated by numbers alone. Whatever it is – it is unstable, and is destroying itself.


It is destroying itself on several levels. Most fundamentally, on the level of being (ontology in Philosophy). People have decided that the world does not exist! And only exists in their minds. And they can do whatever they please (on the level of ethics, or morality).

This is shown politically, in America – by the election of Trump. A man who has no ethics, and is proud of this! He is the New America, and Americans are proud of him – a man who does not exist!


I am tempted to analyze this. But minds far smarter than my own, are saying this cannot be done. All we can do is accept the world – as it is. And do our best to fit into it.

The age of heroic endeavor is over – and a new age is upon us. Where we will have to live in a smaller-scale society – that is being formed now.

Good Software is Good for Users

Software is a new product, one of the many social services we have invented. And it is important to consider it a social service – not just a way of making money.

Companies, who make most of the software – often forget this, and make software that is hard to use – and defective. And show little interest in making it better. Their attitude seems to be “We are important, and the users are not. They will use whatever we give them, whether they like it or not!” They don’t say this, of course – but it doesn’t take a genius to read their minds, and see what is really going on there.

Their primary objective should be to make a product, or service – that is easy to use, and one people want to use. Designing this into software can be easy. Software is always a combination of two things (1) processing going on in the computer (that the user cannot see) – and (2) information that is presented to the user, for his response. Whenever this is done, there must be a location on the screen, asking “Are you having trouble with this?” If the user clicks on this, he is presented with a form he can use to describe his problem.

This user input must be treated with respect – as important information. He should be given an automatic response, giving him an incident number, and the problem sent to two places – one inside the company, and one outside the company – to a government agency – that will track how well the company is doing.

Getting the government involved is important. It is responsible for the overall health of the economy. Individual companies are only concerned with themselves – and sometimes not even that. Companies fail frequently – and the government should be keeping track of this also.

I worked for twenty years in the Computer Industry in California – from 1980 to 2000 – and I never worked on a single successful project – and most of the companies I worked for (and there were a number of them) went out of business – taking their investor’s money with them. A huge amount of money went down a rat-hole, and was never seen again. And no one was upset by this “That’s just the way things are!”

America went from being powerful, to being helpless – the victim of mysterious forces it created itself.

Good software companies test their products thoroughly – and make sure they are easy to use and have no bugs in them. But I never worked for one of this breed, that came along later.

Giving and Getting

It is more blessed to give than to receive.

This is what separates good people from bad people. And I have to say, in today’s world, most people are bad and very much determined to stay that way.

This is built into the way our economy is organized. Everyone grabs as much as they can – and somehow, everything gets better. Only it doesn’t – everything gets worse.

I remember when I lived in a remote Mayan village in Guatemala, in the Seventies. It had a marketplace run by ruthless men, out to make as much money as possible. And a marketplace run by the local women, who were just trading with each other – with no intention of getting rich. The difference in atmosphere was remarkable.

This is also true in Software Development – the activity that has formed the latest economy. There are people (and companies) there – who grab as much as they can, and give nothing in return. And are not very successful. The successful companies contribute a lot, and get a lot.

The Disadvantages of Being Superhuman

The advantages are obvious, and emphasized for us all the time – you will become more valuable for the corporations, or other organizations. You can easily get a job.

This opens up a whole new subject – the advantages and disadvantages of having jobs. But I will not go into that. I will stay with the subject I have chosen – the disadvantages of being superhuman. Which are considerable.

First, what do I mean by being superhuman? A short historical overview is in order. Going back to the 18th Century, the beginning of the Industrial Revolution – and the invention of the mechanical machine.

The machine itself is nothing new – a machine build the pyramids, that we still admire today. But this was a machine made of people – each doing his own part in the process.  Much later, in our time – we still speak of political machines, also composed entirely of people.

But the mechanical machine was something different – it was composed of mechanical parts, made of steel, that all worked together. You can still see one of these in a Steam Museum, just outside London – it has a huge walking beam, a hundred feet long, that once pumped water for the City of London. You can look at this – and feel its power.

People back then were no different – they could feel its power – and easily see how to use this power for themselves. They became superhuman. With unlimited supplies of coal (and then oil) behind them.

This took some time – because Agriculture had been the basis for the economy, and it tried to stay in control. In America, this was exemplified by Thomas Jefferson, and his party – who fought Industrialization with all their strength. Unsuccessfully.

By the middle of the century, a Railroad lawyer, Abraham Lincoln – was president. In the Civil War, when he was President, the Industrial North triumphed over the Agrarian South. The Industrial Machine (imperfect as it was) had more power than thousands of Black slaves.

Industrialists, and the people like them – became superhuman! And triumphed over those who were merely human.


The disadvantages of the arrangement soon became apparent – in WWI, the Depression, WWII, and the Holocaust.

I was born into this, in 1936, and became an Electronic Engineer. And helped usher in a new era with Television and the Computer – and their Networks.

Now I am faced with a problem – do want to become part of this latest machine (and the Computer is a machine) – by becoming involved in Software Development? I worked in this industry from 1980 to 2000 – and for me, it was a horrible experience. Do I want to get in bed with these guys again?

Maybe – but I will be very careful whose bed I get into, and who my bedmates are. This will not be too hard – all I have to do is feel if they are good for me.

This will eliminate most paths through this minefield.

If You can Control the Computer – You can Also Control People

It is beginning to dawn on me – that this strange idea may be occurring in people’s minds. Now that the Computer has taken over the Economy, and, I fear – people’s minds also. To put this another way – people now think of themselves as computers – and assume that whatever controls them controls people also. Not may control them – but something much stronger – will control them. This plays into the hands of the Psychopaths that run much of the economy.

The milder proposition, that the computer (or any technology, for that matter) will affect people’s behavior – is certainly true. And the many inventions in the last couple of hundred years – have stressed people severely – sometimes too severely.

People know practically nothing about computers – and seem to think computer programming is some kind of magic. And indeed, some programmers encourage this misconception. But the slightest exposure to computer programming should make this clear. A program is just a series of instructions – do this, and then do this …

There some high-level programing tools – I must confess, that do seem like magic, because they do so much. You do a little of this, and a little of that – and you have a Web site, or whatever! Social sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, encourage this. You can easily become superhuman – without understanding what you are doing, in the least.

As any expert programmer can tell you – this is foolish, but all too common. Startups hype their product or service to the high skies – and sometimes people cannot tell the difference. And huge amounts of money change hands.

There is a middle way – I am using NetBeans and Java to do some fairly fancy stuff. I can recommend this sensible approach.

Robots sorting system helps Chinese company finish at least 200,000 packages a day

Slashdot, YouTube

These little fellows are amazing. But what is not shown is the computer (and the software) running them.

The human’s main job in the video appears to be picking up packages and placing them label-up on top of the robot. Then off it goes!