Monday, October 29, 2007

Trade-off Triangles

It seems there are many places where we can encounter trade-off triangles. This is the simple idea is that somethings are characterized by three desirable attributes. And that you may select for only two of the three.

For instance:

  • Rennovations can be high quality, performed quickly, or inexpensive.
  • Security systems can be high security, convienient, or inexpensive.

I'm sure I've seen other examples of this in the past.

The best inventions are found ...

... where the path of least resistance leads through creativity.

The condition known as "Compound Ignorance"

In which the afflicted doesn't know they don't know.

(An expression used on occasion by my father.)

Monday, May 28, 2007

What is the difference between theory and practice?

In theory, nothing.

(Paraphrased from C.Rous)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

HOV math

A friend of mine who rides a motorcycle complained about the two person limit claiming single occupant motorcycles are high occupancy and should be allowed.

My counter examples:

  • Small cars, like the SMART, are not much longer. Some sports cars like the Morgan and Lotus Super 7 are also not much longer. Should they be allowed with one person?
  • Throughput is probably the real reason. The designers would have figured traffic flow based on the space needed to safely move two people. Since at 100km/h this is around 30m/s then any vehicle is going to use about 60m of roadway. Unless you're driving two bikes side by side, you are a HOV Hog.

HOV Hogs

Ontario recently implemented HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes on its major highways to help increase commuter throughput. These lanes have been widely acclaimed a success. HOVs are essentially a single lane controlled access lane for vehicles with two or more occupants that operates on an honour system. Like all good things, they are abused. There are two or three main types of HOV hogs.

Cheats (Brazen). Single occupant vehicles. These are routinely pulled over by the provincial police when they go through controlled access tunnels. Even with my limited use of them I almost always see a couple of these hogs pulled over inside the tunnel out of sight. Penalties include fines and (I've heard) demerit points on your licenses.

Cheats (Cowardly). People using dummies. Mannequins, baby dolls, blow-up dolls. Similar fate.

Cheats (Feigned Ignorance). People regularly darting across the heavy do-not-cross bars as if they are just using the passing lane. Similar demise, just harder to catch.

Autobahn wannabees. Those who think the HOVs are speed limit free. Waaay over the limit. Frequently a danger because there is no safe place for them to go. Dealt with in the usual way. May require other drivers to be more defensive.

Roadblocks. People within their rights but a danger nonetheless. Like the minivan this morning with four people running at 90km/h! Blissfully unaware of the cars backing up behind them. Many impatient and crowding the people caught behind this tortoise. Worse, the main lanes were running openly and faster. Cars were looking at going around. Thankfully none did.

Please folks, if you don't need to use the lanes, don't use them just because you can. Keep up with traffic, leave space, and allow it to flow. Don't race.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

An Ending ... A friend gone home

This week I learned of a close friend's passing. Natural causes. Too soon. Not unexpected. The causal events being a shock nonetheless. It made me reflect on my life and his, as well as the various intersecting and divergent paths we took.

We met one autumn night in 1981 at a security user group. He was mid career, presenting and championing the underdog solution as an independent. He was quiet, convincing, and sure of his facts. I was at the start of my career, beginning in security and eager to get involved with other like minded people. Afterwards, at the pub, we had the opportunity to speak. We covered important topics like governance, technical vulnerabilities, single malt scotch, and Armagnac.

We must have managed to make an impression on each other for we continued to cross paths over the years. Often at events or in pubs. We watched the '87 crash unfold over a pint. He also introduced me to some of the most interesting people I know. They in turn led me to others.

We found synergies. Eventually we found ourselves working together officially; although, only for a surprisingly short three years. Afterwards, we continued to get together irregularly to stay in touch and discuss our field, lives, foibles, pet peeves, and paths.

The time pressures of family and career limited my opportunities to reconnect. Here is one path where we diverged. Where I chose the path of family. He did not. Recently, he confessed to me that it was a path he regretted not taking.

He was a man of many interests, knowledgeable, humorous, charming, and at times highly distractible. Here's to Colin Rous, a mentor and a friend gone home.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A beginning ....

procedure main(arglist)
write("Hello world! \n... Now what was I doing?")