The date was March 1998. The Internet was at a critical decision point, as the U.S. government considered what infrastructure should be privatized, how to share or cede responsibility to other nations and how to transition to an e-commerce based future over the following decades.
IANA (the Internet Assigned Names Authority) was a U.S. government run entity at that time. The following are some of the more interesting portions of Robert E. Kahn's testimony to the House Science Subcommittee on Basic Research on the subject of Internet Domain Names, on 28 March 1998.
I felt pride, as a U.S. citizen, yes, call it patriotism (it is NOT a sin, you know!) as I read this:
Apparently, the issue of domain names was quite a pressing concern. There was a Green Paper that proposed a specific approach, but that only provoked more suggestions, none of which could be agreed upon. The situation had become urgent:
Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf were central to the development of the Internet during the 1970's and 1980's.
Overall management of the Internet was handled by DARPA through Kahn and Cerf.
Cerf was with DARPA from 1976 to 1982. Vinton Cerf joined Google some time after 2000. Robert Kahn did not.
IANA handled policy for both domain names and IP addresses. Kahn recommended that domain name management be separated from IP addresses.
The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) had recently been set up. Kahn suggested that separate global registries be formed, and each would have responsibility for IP address reliability. IP addresses are crucial for internet functionality, unlike domain names. Kahn was concerned that measures were taken to ensure that IP addresses were:
When the Domain Name Service (DNS) was first proposed in the 1980's by Paul Mockapetris (also from USC) most sites could be characterized as
Initially, the number of domain names was so small that it was trivial to download the entire database from SRI on a daily basis.
SRI should have been very grateful to Jon Postel. He gave them a wonderful opportunity.
SRI should have done whatever was necessary, spared no expense, nor balked at any requirements, in order to keep that contract! Instead, Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI) won the competition for providing the domain name registration services. There were a few exceptions, most notably, country codes.
I knew that I was going to like Robert Kahn's testimony, after reading this:
Emphasis mine. This was Kahn's modest, but very realistic estimate:
Throughout the 1990's, the National Science Foundation (NSF) had been subsidizing NSI's domain name registration service. At some point, the NSF stopped subsidizing NSI, and put them on pay-as-you-go. The NSF contract with NSI was due to expire later that year, in 1998.
This was the crux of the matter! How to assign responsibility for domain name registration going forward: privatized, with regulatory oversight, or with some amount of government involvement, and if the latter, then which governments? And the future of IANA?
CNRI also provided registry services for an alternative identifier system (known as Digital Object Identifiers or DOIs), with U.S. and European publishers. DOI's were developed with support from DARPA and were used by the Department of Defense, the Library of Congress and digital library research. They are still used today.
DOI.org was run by Esther Dyson. I thought it was her primary contribution to the Internet. I was wrong. DOI's are very useful. As Robert Kahn said, they are a registry that is a single logical entity, distributed in multiple locations, supporting open interfaces. The handle identifiers are part of this system.
One of my most admired librarians, he is more of a superuser, or "meta-librarian", is Micah Altman, PhD of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has led recent work with DOI's, since 2007. He is also a non-resident Brookings Institution Fellow. That does not mean that he spends rough nights sleeping between the stacks at the library, while Brookings tries to find him housing. I asked.
Well-capitalized start-up seeks extremely talented C/C++/Unix developers to help pioneer commerce on the Internet. You must have experience designing and building large and complex (yet maintainable) systems, and you should be able to do so in about one-third the time that most competent people think possible. You should have a BS, MS or PhD in Computer Science or the equivalent. Top-notch communication skills are essential. Familiarity with web servers and HTML would be helpful but is not necessary.
I caught this very amusing programmer contretemps, a Twitter pas de deux, a few days ago (maybe it was a little longer than that... hmmm, scarey, I hope I am not losing track of time). The central players were Zed Shaw and Ted Dzuiba ummm... I forgot how to spell his name. Some poor soul, the @centipedefarmer, got caught up in the middle of it, which is what I have tried to embed below.
I have been wasting way too much time editing Wikipedia. I have listened, been BOLD. Among other things, I started tidying up the Stuxnet Wikipedia article, given that one of its primary means of propagation expired on June 24, 2012 per Mikko H. of F-Secure. I will ALWAYS hold F-Secure in high esteem, by the way. Yet I was pulled, of my own free will and curiosity, into the related Industrial Control Systems (ICS) article, which was quite neglected.
I am actually somewhat qualified to edit an Industrial Control Systems (ICS) article, based on my undergraduate and graduate school education, and my early work experience. No boasting here, just typical female under-confidence and need to justify. Or not "female" per se, just me maybe.
I really wish there was someone with whom I could speak, get some guidance. I don't want to link to, nor quote what I am guessing are documents that don't need to be part of Wikipedia. I mean, I found them, but there were warnings not to download or copy them.
Since Stuxnet first appeared on the (public) scene, or at least publicly accessible infosec community scene, in July 2010, on Brian Krebs' Krebs on Security website (well, he wrote about Belarus security software company Virus Blok Ada's findings of it), there has been progress. Specifically, progress in creating better standards for Industrial Control Systems security practices and protocols.
Contrary to what SO many of the LOUDEST but least informed seem to think, the people who run nuclear power plants, hydro-electric generation facilities a.k.a. dams, like my favorite Hoover Dam, water treatment plants, oil drilling platforms and heavy equipment manufacturing facilities are NOT incompetent idiots. Nor are they fragmented and hostile, even if in different countries! They have been working together, quietly, slowly, but steadily, with productive output since the fall of 2010.
I am hesitant to link to, or even provide details of the trail of breadcrumbs to the carefully drafted documents for more secure ICS in this "post Stuxnet era", and link to it on Wikipedia. Rather, my common sense indicates that, but perhaps it would be just fine, I simply do not know.
I wanted to ask Eugene Spafford, Ph.D. a.k.a. @TheRealSpaf, of Purdue University renown and cyber security pioneer status fame for input. Gene Spafford should be trustworthy and well-informed, probably more so than anyone else I have stumbled over on Twitter. Unfortunately, I am fairly certain that he is quite ill with a serious medical condition, so he is not in the best mood. He definitely doesn't have patience or time for me, and I can't blame him. I tried to signal to him on "open Twitter", that I needed his guidance, but merely succeeded in irritating him, by unintentionally appearing smarmy-obnoxious.
Who else is there to ask? No one is active in such subject matter on Wikipedia anymore e.g. Scadateer hasn't been active in any way since 2010, nor has anyone else. No one seems to be watching the article either. At least with The Periodic Table of the Elements, there are vigilant chemists who watch over the thing night and day. They even told me to go ahead and not be afraid to change anything, as they would quickly clean up after me if I were wrong.
The Industrial Control Systems article is not an isolated case. IBM Sequoia, holder of the June 2012 Top 500 List designation as "The Fastest Supercomputer in the World" is a mess too. I refer to the IBM Sequoia article on Wikipedia (I am rather certain that the physical object is lovingly well-tended). The article sources much of its content from an online article via the BBC. Unfortunately, the BBC article was full of errors. Some were grammatical, which is frightening. Others were content-based, which can happen with supercomputer articles. But that doesn't help me!
First of all, the Wikipedia article is ridiculously brief for an entry of such importance. Why is that? Probably because everyone would rather write about the 9 zillion manifestations of My Little Pony. Or private equity. (There is an obsession with private equity on Wikipedia, and nearly everywhere else that non-finance or C.P.A. or attorney types are found on the internet.) This is partly IBM's fault as well. IBM should spend less time worrying about "social media" and "analysis of BIG unstructured DATA sets" for retail marketing insights. Instead, they need to stop uploading pictures of supercomputers to Flickr and making awful spelling errors that people prior to me have tried to ever-so-politely point out, months earlier, to no avail e.g. "IBM Sequoia Instillation". They should also have someone help me re-write that Wikipedia article!
Does IBM Sequoia require 7.9 MW of power, or 6 MW to operate?
At present, the Wikipedia article has both figures. There are other errors too, of an arithmetic sort e.g. the number of cores, nodes whatever compared to the prior fastest computer in the world, the K Computer. Again, I need someone to ask.
Or: Perhaps there is someone more qualified than me to do this, hein? One would think... but if so, they haven't stepped up yet, and it is now July 21, 2012. The Top 500 results were announced on June 14 or 18, 2012. You'd think one of the teeming hordes of Wikipedia editors would have had a look at this. Instead, Wikimedia seems preoccupied with their ANTI-anti-pornography star chamber meetings.
High performance computing spam
I removed a hilarious bit of spam from the IBM Sequoia article. I can't stop laughing long enough to type this. Under the "Operating System" heading, the spammer said that IBM Blue Gene series supercomputers, which is what Sequoia is, run on Windows XP.
How versatile! Portable! And so very open! Someone please tell Tim O'Reilly!
Yes, that's correct, the Wikimedia Foundation voted to overturn their previous decision to implement pornography controls. Do they have any idea of the kind of pornography that makes its way into Wikipedia? Yes, I realize that their concern is regarding legitimate content, for example, articles about human reproduction, or outre social or cultural practices, and their photographic depiction.
What they don't realize is that spammers and the 4chan folks do TERRIBLE things. I will look for those photos that I found during my first month as a Wikipedia registered user. Huge, as in 5000px by 3000px high resolution png, and even bmp, format photos uploaded by a rogue Wikipedia editor, of himself. And with multiple women, at the same time, including captions for each and every one. I had no idea what to do. They needed to be removed from Wikimedia Commons ASAP before children were exposed to them, and I couldn't find anyone to tell, or anywhere to even report the problem. I still don't know what to do when I find this sort of thing, who to tell. They had been inserted in the article for the ancient and world famous Yu-Yuan Gardens in Shanghai. That was my only first-hand experience of this sort, but there have been others, as apparent from the article Talk page for Facebook. I will provide links. If I remember.
To be continued, and parsed into appropriate prior posts when I have a little more time.
This entry is motivated by my recently revived (but always extant) interest in chemistry, subsequent to editing the Periodic Table of the Elements and biographical article for Dmitri Mendeleev on Wikipedia. I learned of the importance of the IUPAC, The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemists, and followed the IUPAC's International Year of Chemistry web footprint, albeit a year after the fact.
The IYC was IYC 2011, not IYC 2012. Yet there is so much to digest and enjoy, even after the fact! One fine example uses an always fascinating data visualization. In this instance, it is applied to that most important of chemical compounds, H2O otherwise known as water. The Global Experiment of the International Year of Chemistry 2011 culminated in a global water experiment and visualization,reproduced here under CC-license/by-nc-sa/3.0/.
There were several other informative and fun displays, including a geographical mapping visual, although the Google Earth plug-in is required in order to fully appreciate them.
A more complete review of recent developments pertaining to the periodic table is available on my flagship website, of which everyone is no doubt well aware by now. Please see An Exciting Time in Chemistry with Periodic Table Gallery for further details.
I guess it should not have surprised me that chemists are often historians as well as stamp collectors or philatelists. My posts covers all of that, but not much more. Well, a few things: The discovery of two new elements, a chemistry tattoo and a silly cartoon.
I am very fond of Beethoven's Ode to Joy, (from the Ninth Symphony) both instrumental and choral versions. My father played it often on Deutsche Grammaphon Gesellschaft cassette tapes. I played some appalling adaptations that were probably a travesty of the original, arranged for solo beginner flutists (flautists?) too.
I finally read a translation of the German chorus on YouTube a few years ago, and was stunned by the catholic, ecumenical words. (There was no mention of Jesus, which tends to put me off of a lot of traditional religious music. When Jesus is mentioned, it just reminds me how the music isn't intended for me, if you know what I mean). As a result, I have grown even fonder of Ode to Joy, and often sing along. That is probably an even worse travesty...
A few days ago, there was a new question on Musical Practice & Performance StackExchange, about stage position of choral soloists, particularly for Beethoven's Missa Solemnis (a lengthy work written for Roman Catholic Mass) which made me think of Ode to Joy last night. I don't know the answer to the Music StackExchange question. Yet I found a pleasant entry on the subject from National Public Radio online, from nearly six years ago. The following is a summary of the key points, along with my own asides, of course. At the end there is an NPR recording of 50 seconds of Ode to Joy.
* Verbatim excerpts are quoted in green font with grey shaded background, the rest is mine.
Transcript 'Missa Solemnis: A Divine Bit of Beethoven', NPR (12 February 2006)
Beethoven was nominally Catholic but did not attend church regularly.
I was thinking that the first sounded somewhat like something Donald Rumsfield said. These were the sayings:
I can't figure out the meaning of the third. It has lost something in transcription or translation, probably.
The God that Beethoven intimates in the Missa Solemnis is not strictly Roman Catholic nor even Christian. Rather, He is pantheistic and all-encompassing, yet not tangibly present in our physical world.
NPR offers a brief recording from Missa Solemnis, 'Dona Nobis Pacem' from Agnus Dei, which I found rather nerve wracking and over-wrought. But the link is there, for those who may be interested.
Those words and Beethoven's music, call for humankind to bow to the Creator regarding the heavenly, the celestial.
For answers, turn to one another.
That was Beethoven's reply to the unanswered prayer of the Missa Solemnis.
Choral excerpt from 'Ode to Joy', Ninth Symphony
There may be an unavoidable moment of loud advertising preceding each recorded passage. Today it was for a Lexus.
Instrumental passage from 'Ode to Joy', Ninth Symphony.
I recommend the choral passage in this case, even though I'm no fan of opera, in general.
Via phurix labs: What is my IP?, which results in a very surprising visual!
An IP address uniquely identifies a machine on a network. Internet IP addresses are allocated in blocks to ISPs in each country by regional registries. Often, if you are connected to the Internet behind a router, you share an online IP address with everyone else on your local area network (LAN). Sometimes you need to know your external IP address and using ipconfig will only return your LAN IP address e.g. 192.168.0.1.
Content delivery specialists Akamai Technologies have an excellent IP address look up, whatismyip.akamai.com. Phurix did something different. They made a pretty “What is my IP address?” lookup:
It is attractive, and according to phurix, it’s highly parsable.
The clue is in the tags, though quaternions seemed likely: fractals and julia series. Image piXelero of Finland, on Flickr.
z[next] = (z+2.8i)(z-0.24-0.88i)/(z-0.24+4i)/(z+1.04+0.2i) +(0.166-0.4i)
While on the subject of spectacular visuals, here's one that is NOT static. In fact, it could be the very opposite of such. It uses WebGL. Surprise. Modern browsers only, please!
AuthorMapper.com is a search engine for peer-reviewed research publications, with an overlay of geospatial data. Repositories include Springer-Verlag (Springer Science+Business may be the latest official name), PubMed and BioMed Central. Springer is the developer of Author Mapper.
Perhaps the most impressive feature to me was the historical time span covered. For example, I found three of my father's research publications, one of which was written the year of his graduation from medical school, a very long time ago.
The Bulletin of Mathematical Biophysics (1948) 10: 69-83, June 01, 1948
by Kesselman, Russell H.
The Bulletin of Mathematical Biophysics (1949) 11: 115-138, June 01, 1949
by Kesselman, Russell H.
The Bulletin of Mathematical Biophysics (1957) 19: 247-255, December 01, 1957
by Kesselman, Russell H. and Grishman, Arthur.
I wish I could tell him how wonderful and brilliant he was. But he's gone from this world. Why didn't I do these things when he was alive? Don't make the same mistakes I did. Tell your parents how much you love and respect them while you can. Do it now.
I found more of my father's research that I didn't even know about. I gathered up everything I could find. It was so many years back. I searched using Google Scholar, which returned the largest set of results from a single query. Then I made a collection, "Pere" from NCBI on the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine website.
 Abstract: A mathematical expression is described giving the growth rate of a tissue region as a function of the determining biological factors. It is observed that within the limitations of prediction of this expression, a change of growth to the neoplastic type can be expected under certain conditions of the variables. The growth equations used here are different from others usually mentioned in that they attend to both the positive and the negative growth phases occurring in the course of organism development. The expression derived enables the prediction of an increase in incidence of cancer with age, predicts a decrease in the rate of tumor growth with increasing age, and permits an hypothesis to be made as to the nature of the action of carcinogenic agencies.
 Abstract: Food and metabolic waste products, insofar as they act upon the hereditary substrate of cells, are the most important factors governing tissue growth. Equations describing the growth of tissues are derived in consideration of this fact. A quantity is found in these equations which, if slightly changed, results in very great changes in the growth rate of the tissue, where such very great changes are interpretable as neoplastic growth. The relationship between our equations and similar equations which others have proposed is discussed.
It appears that this isn't a new offering from Springer publishing. @SciLab of Canada (Richard Altman, I believe), left a few comments on the original AuthorMapper blog entry, dated January 2009, as well as his own test embed in a similar vintage post on his website. The only notable change in the interim has been the addition of PubMed and BioMed Central as a source from which to pull journals references, as far as I can tell.
I was reading Money StackExchange today, and saw this question, Alpha Indexes and Alpha Index Options.
Alpha index options claim to offer a better way to invest in an asset regardless of market volatility. Each index measures the return of a single stock or ETF relative to the return of the benchmark, in this case, SPY (broad stock index). I'm uncertain how well this would work, though...
Direct link to presentation video (it doesn't work here).
Goose for the sauce: a comedy in three acts, was written by my grandparents in 1937. I was unaware of its existence until recently.
Source: Catalog of Copyright. Entries. Part 1. [C] Group 3. Dramatic Composition ... , By Library of Congress.
Copyright Office, via Google Books: p. 49, p. 84, p. 517