Bruce Schneier discusses Liars and Outliers

Bruce Schneier is discussing his latest book Liars and Outliers on The WELL.

The discussion is still open for the next couple of days but has been very enlightening so far. I particularly like the notion of cooperators and defectors to describe individuals in relation to systems.

Also — and this is the final kicker — not all defectors are bad. If
you think about the notions of cooperating and defecting, they’re
defined in terms of the societal norm. Cooperators are people who
follow the formal or informal rules of society. Defectors are people
who, for whatever reason, break the rules. That definition says nothing
about the absolute morality of the society or its rules. When society
is in the wrong, it’s defectors who are in the vanguard for change. So
it was defectors who helped escaped slaves in the antebellum American
South. It’s defectors who are agitating to overthrow repressive regimes
in the Middle East. And it’s defectors who are fueling the Occupy Wall
Street movement. Without defectors, society stagnates.

I’m a great fan of Schneier’s writing and how his analyses has grown beyond that of computer security to the fundamental notion of what security is and how group within societies embrace or reject aspects of it.

The Burning Wire

The Burning Wire (Lincoln Rhyme, #9)The Burning Wire by Jeffery Deaver

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In this the ninth outing for Lincoln Rhyme he is up against a killer that has turned New York city’s electricity grid on its inhabitants. Not only that The Watchmaker has been spotted arriving in Mexico and Rhyme is offering his assistance in capturing the most dangerous and elusive of his foes.

This is a more personal tale than the last few Lincoln Rhyme novels and he is having thoughts about whether he should remain in his current condition. I enjoyed this book a lot, Jeffrey Deaver rarely disappoints, but it is not one of my favourite Lincoln Rhyme books.



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Warner Brothers acquire the rights to Otherland

The rights to the Otherland tetralogy by Tad Williams have been acquired by Warner Brothers. The fact that they have purchased the rights however doesn’t mean that we will see them actually adapt the books into movies and in any case I think that a television series would be a better format.

It is a science fiction story told on an epic scale as each of the four books is several hundred pages long and they follow on directly from one another. Set towards the end of this century the eponymous Otherland is a virtual world made of many different realms many of which are based upon works such as Through the Looking-Glass, The Odyssey and The Iliad, The War of the Worlds, and The Wizard of Oz.

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Kindle Fire

So in searching for a little more information on the new Kindle that Amazon have launched in the UK I stumbled across the fact that in the US they have launched two new additional model, a touchscreen version and the Kindle Fire. The Kindle Fire is a colour touchscreen dual-core tablet with a 7″ screen and 8GB of storage, all for $199. One of the key features of the Kindle Fire is the Amazon Silk web browser that will dramatically improve the web browsing experience for the user by utilizing the Amazon Web Services cloud to act as a form of proxy server and carry out much of the computational load of displaying a webpage which might contain elements from many different servers thus requiring many requests to many different IPs. In addition through analysis of web requests flowing through the Amazon Web Services cloud they can predict the most likely next page a user might browse to and preload that page in the background as the user views the original page again decreasing the time waiting for a page to load.

Have Amazon created the first viable non-iPad tablet by not copying the iPad?

What most tablet manufacturers have failed to realise is that the iPad is a success not solely because of its form but because of its ecosystem also. Android tablets generally are too variable to be considered a coherent set of hardware sharing the same ecosystem.

But I believe that Amazon will succeed with the Fire because they are not going after the niche currently occupied by Apple instead they have created a device whose purpose is to help sell more products through Amazon. Despite productivity tools such as word processors, spreadsheet apps and photo editing apps being available on iPad tablets are essentially devices for consuming content not they are pretty lousy for producing content. Amazon have realised this and produced the optimal content consumption device and ecosystem.