Wednesday, July 24, 2013

OSCON XV


The Open Source Convention, produced by O'Reilly Media with help from many stalwart sponsors (more every year), is always a blast of streaming data for the napkin-sized (when unfolded) neo-cortex, where, according to Jeff Hawkins, the equivalent of the CLA (Cortical Learning Algorithm) is running in distributed fashion.

Numenta's mechanized version, at the heart of Grok, is maybe the most important breakthrough in AI in a long time, we shall see.

Clojure is making more of a splash with me, and I got it working over a break on my Apple Mac Air running Lion 10.7.5.   I have Clojure and Node.js books open in Safari in tabs, and flip to them when blocking on other tasks (writer's block, web slow... multi-tasking, even if sequential, means not waiting for water to boil -- domestic tasks are oft done in parallel, yet one at a time).

Guido's keynote at Pycon, plus chatting with Yarko, has me realizing that PEP 3156 aka the Tulip repo, is Python's hat in the ring, where asynchronous I/O is concerned.  The flagship there has been Twisted, but now the language itself is building in more awareness -- not the first time Python has baked in some of what might have started 3rd party.

Speaking of concurrency, David DiNucci wandered through.  I saw him listening intently to Tim O'Reilly, of whom I took several photos as he held forth on Open Government (a topic).  Other Wanderers present:  Christine and Patrick.  I saw Mark Allyn from our Meeting.

There's also a bevy from work.  We hung out, at Planet OSCON, at a table, Tara again joining us, along with O'Reilly author Steve Holden of The Open Bastion, the conference organizing company (Apachecon, Djangocon, Apache Cloudstack Collaboration Conference and more).

Clojure is a LISP-like mostly functional language that runs atop the Java JVM (not unlike Jython in that respect).  Clojure also controlled the quadcopter drone, which appeared remarkably stable.  Its programmer:  a whiz woman, Carin Meier, who'd always wanted a robot friend, and with a degree in physics.  Perfect for Tara, sitting next to me through the keynotes.  She'd always wanted an Aibo, downloaded the manuals for one as soon as she could read at that level.

My philosophy of putting speakers to work at OSCON (have them deliver more than one talk if possible) seemed personified by Tim Burgland, both our Git trainer (as in Github) and our Discrete Mathematics teacher, where Clojure was featured.  He walked us through Euclid's Algorithm in its recursive form, and talked about the Euclidean Extended Algorithm for getting an RSA d from an e, given knowledge of phi(N).  I walked up to him after to mention Mathematics for the Digital Age, a high school discrete math text, featuring Python, that shoots for RSA as its grand finale.

The functional languages will likely grow a larger footprint at OSCON, as the incoming chair, Simon St. Laurent, is getting more into 'em.  He promised as much from the stage this morning.

Mark Shuttleworth had no sharp delta to surprise us with, just a continual phasing in of his (Canonical's) flagship products:  Juju, and maybe, if it gets the green light, Ubuntu Edge.

Juju shares a space with OpenStack, Puppet, Chef in that it's about spinning up combinations (bundles) of services.  The glue is in the "charms".  Mark's Foundation flew me to England that time, to discuss curriculum topics for three days (a select group) in East Kensington.

Speaking of Ubuntu, the Chinese government has selected that as its official OS of choice going forward, fairly recent news.  I attended a talk on OSS in East Asia (which doesn't include the Philippines).  Japan and Korea enjoy a freer Internet than mainland Chinese, as the latter are behind a great firewall, protected by Big Nanny.

I met the incoming chair Simon St. Laurent in the Skyview Terrac, a 7000 square foot gathering space at the base of one of the Oregon Convention Center towers.  Numenta was there too.

When it comes to East and West hemispheres growing more of a shared brain, the nexus formed by  computer science, OSS (free / open software), and global English (one might call it an evolving dialect, or family of dialects) is something of a bottleneck.  Piracy is also a problem as stealing what people want to be paid for delays mature development of competing projects.  If all you do is steal Windows, you will never acquire the skill set needed to hack on open source software.

Better translations out of English and into Korean, Japanese, and Chinese are sorely needed.  Even with a core / kernel in this shared code (Anglo derived) the user space (student space) needs better expression in local terms and characters.  Unicode is helping as well.  Japanese folks are proud of Ruby and lots of curriculum is being written for that language in Japanese.

Given the Philippines is already Anglophone in large degree, one might expect more of an explosion there.

Patrick Barton is especially interested in the Numenta stuff because of its focus on energy grids, where Grok is already used to predict the near future demand patterns, based on timeline data constantly streaming in.