The other side of convergence

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The other day while presenting I actually modified one of my favorite lines from the Lord of the Rings. It is a phrase that resonates well with the Syncverse.

“One tool to find them, one tool to sync them, one tool to push them all into the cloud and keep them.”

Yes it’s a significant modification of the phrase written in the tongue of Mordor on the one ring and my apologies to those who love the Trilogy and other books as much as I do.

But you see the point.

Entertainment is not what it used to be. In 1971 we flew from Chicago Illinois to Paris France (with the eventual goal of making it to Bangkok Thailand). There were two movies on the plane and if you didn’t like them oh well.

My parents bought me a short wave radio that year for Christmas. It was my only link to music other than Thai music (which I still love and enjoy listening to) for more than a year. There were no recordings (well you could have LP’s or 8 tracks – the cassette and cd were still dreams in somebodies head). I actually have a short wave radio that has a built in radio recorder so you can catch you favorite music over the air and record it, but then how often do you listen to the radio? I do in the morning because of Bob and Tom but other than that – really don’t listen anymore.

The world is so different now – that I wonder what would happen if we pulled the plug. Better yet – let’s make all these different things work together. Best of all make them not restricted – so that everyone can use them regardless of their geopolitical positioning in the world.

The Syncverse – one tool to find them, sync them and keep them safely available for us to consume.

Syncverse foreword

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Foreword

I first read the communist manifesto when I was 15 years old. It was pre-Reagan cold war times and the world was very red or blue. I grew up in the US which was very blue so the doctrine that everyone should have an equal shot seemed moot to me. Of course everyone had an equal shot that was what our country was founded on, equality and an equal shot.

As a teacher during the late Reagan years I began to realize that in fact that wasn’t true. Everyone doesn’t have an equal shot. In fact many people around the world do not have an equal shot at even getting an equal shot. Figuring that out shook me to the core for many years. I spent a long time denying that there was a problem and a long time denying that it affected the world as much as I came to realize it was and does.

Each time I realized how bad things were, I realized that the worst thing about the problems I was seeing at the time was that in fact, there were solutions. Solutions that could be built with the technologies of today and today’s devices. In fact the internet showed the world that information could be given to anyone, at any time.

Yet the separation still existed. Equality was just a word painted on walls by graffiti artists. For a moment let me paraphrase William Faulkner[1], “Words on walls with no sound but lots of fury, signifying nothing.” Information which freely flows around the world can’t be seen by all the people it is in the same physical space with.

· Problem: equality of information access

· Solution: no restrictions on data

The internet itself was built on the concept of free flowing information and improving the communication for the scientists at the CERN project in Switzerland. Free flowing scientific communication was the dream of J Robert Oppenheimer as he told the world upon the completion of the Manhattan Engineering Department project knows more formally as the atomic bomb.

The Syncverse was born from that. Information freely given and freely used in the end frees all of us from the tyranny of ignorance.


[1] William Faulkner “The Sound and the Fury.”

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Make my sync useful

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Over the next few weeks I am going to represent some reworked sections of the Syncverse concept.

Make my sync useful:

Let’s talk about the “what” of syncing. We know why we need to sync (I want to get at my stuff when I want my stuff) but the “what” is huge. The digital explosion continues to grow larger and larger. My first digital camera (and yes I still have pictures from that device) was an Apple Quicktake 100. I then moved to one of the original Casio digital cameras. The number of pictures adds up quickly. When you add in digitizing old video tapes so that they won’t decay and become useless the numbers are truly staggering.

1. I have 22 hours of video shot of my kids

2. 30 or so movie titles that include the “digital copy options.

3. I have in 18 years of digital photography collected more than 75,000 pictures. This doesn’t count the 2,000 or more 35mm slides I yet need to scan.

4. More than 40 gigs of music collected (Zune Pass and copies of my personal CD’s only allowed).

The “what” here represents a massive opportunity to share. It is to some degree the story of my family. It represents both my children growing up (my step daughter is 24, we have maybe 1000 digital pictures of her and probably 3000 print pictures. My daughter is 17 and we have 10,000 or more digital pictures of her – there is less cost to that than the 3000 prints we have of our oldest).

Cost of Camera

Cost of Film and Developing

Cost of first 100 pictures

Cost of each 100 pictures thereafter

$119 Film Camera (Kodak 110)

$12 – $15 per roll (24 – 36 pictures which is cost of film and development)

$167

$48

$300 35 mm Canon Point and Shoot

$12 to $15 per roll

$348

$48

$600 35mm SLR

$12 to $15 per roll

$68

$48

First Digital Camera

$500

0 unless you print – then roughly 7-12 cents per page

$530

$20

Digital Camera Now $300

0

300

0

Additional costs to consider – larger hard drive for pictures (and rotating copies – I made a dvd backup of all pictures now).

This is simply an amazing change in the world of taking pictures of your kids. This doesn’t take into account the concept of taking more pictures because you don’t actually have to print them. What this means is you get those great pictures (I get roughly 1 good picture out of 30 taken. That was the same ratio I had for film cameras so you can see where that goes). You also have to store the prints of the pictures.

But the goal of taking 20000 pictures is to share them with the people that want to see them. I need an easy system to share the pictures of my family with the rest of my family.

There is no automated way for me to share them. There is no structured way for my mom to request pictures of my grandchildren at the beach or in the park or at the zoo. The first problem is sharing the pictures. Embedded inside this sharing is another problem that will be larger in the long run.

Mom, here are 30,000 pictures of your grandchildren. Please pick the ones you want to have physical copies of…

Windows Home Server is a start, but there are disk space and backups. Not the least of which is disk space and backups. Photobucket and Flickr are two resources I use at times, but like anything else – there are limits and I have to spend time for others to see what I am sharing.

The automation would actually have to go back to the device itself. GPS settings for an automated this is where we were when the pictures were taken. There has to be an effective Time and Data stamps from the GPS so no one has to set them. That way you have time, location set automatically for every picture.

Simple, automated uploads of the pictures in a structured manner so that they are handled by automation no human intervention. That would allow me to place the camera in its charging bay and have it automatically present my photos to the internet and to the home network for backup. Two sources right away rather than one.

All of this, in a camera that costs $199 and takes/uses every type of memory card that is on the market today. Oh yeah and turns itself on and automatically takes the pictures I miss!

Problem: No one, not even a grandmother wants to sift through 30,000 pictures in order to find the one they want to keep. In building out the Syncverse a photographic organizational system needs to be included. Tagging like they use on Facebook a user’s face but in an automated fashion so that you can search for things like “Scott Smiling” or “Boys first birthday” and get valid smaller result sets.

Preamble to the Syncverse

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To Begin

I am not a political activist. I do not now nor have I actively sought the destruction, downfall or removal of any government. I am simply a software architect within the information revolution that is the internet.

With that said, the potential of the internet and the change allowed for the free access of information relative to the “’verse’s” later in the book is massive. The other side of the solution offered in this book is simply the reduction of the complexity created in the last 20 years. With competing standards and so many devices it is harder and harder every day to move forward in any direction effectively. You carry your laptop, perhaps a netbook or an Ipad or some pad type device (there are a number out there and growing). But what you really want is a way to keep everything in “sync.”

Why is it that syncing is a difficult word for governments?

1. Free of information is closer to overall freedom than control of information is. Hence my initial statement in this book. I am not with this idea trying to destroy any government anywhere.

2. Information and education have long been neglected. No offence world, but when a baseball player makes 10 million dollars a year for throwing a baseball and a teacher has to work until they are 70 so that they can afford to retire, there is something horribly wrong. A teacher taught that teacher to become a teacher. A teacher taught that teacher to become a better teacher. But somewhere, a teacher taught that baseball player how to play.

3. Ideas like dreams are free. You cannot control them, you can simply control the flow of ideas (somewhat)

4. Anything synced to a local device cannot be controlled effectively.

It is a conundrum. If we free information and allow it to flow it will improve (more eyes = greater improvement). If we nurture and develop the greatest resources of the world, our children, in effect the world will become a better place. According to Robert Fulghum we all learn to share in Kindergarten[1] but we over time forget that skill.

What if there is a solution in the world that allows us to share ideas, concepts and improve the lot of children throughout the world. Equality comes from children and grows to adults. Why? We have a lot of bad habits that we need to “remove” from our children.

So with this book there is no need to bar the doors and lock away your valuables. The revolution is not a revolution. We are simply looking at the technology capacity we have in the world today, that is ubiquitous. There is no place on the world we cannot reach (and a few places off world like the international space station or ISS). There is no reason why we don’t build a system that allows us to share like we did in Kindergarten.

Let’s honor our humanity by building a brave new world.


[1] “All I really needed to know I learned in Kindergarten” Robert Fulghum.

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What is the Syncverse?

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What is the Syncverse?

Its both a concept and a possibility leveraging existing code and tools. It is the first Transitional Service that I’ve considered. So, what is it? The Syncverse comes out of my past. It comes out of the internet’s past and promise. And I hope it comes out of the future. I’ve been thinking about the Syncverse since I finished my last book “An Architecture Home Companion” and the concept itself is an application of the principles in my first book “Transitional Services.” Actually to be honest I have been thinking about part of the Syncverse (the Eduverse) for more than 30 years. I actually considered the option of the Eduverse as a first year school teacher struggling to put “all the little pieces, into big bags.”

The Syncverse represents an idea. Ideas have been presented many times before about data and making the data easily accessible. Ideas have been presented that have been shot down and over rules.

· We will never reach the moon

· Man will never fly

· Humans can’t travel more than 35 miles an hour

· Radio will never catch on – what would we do with it

· Computers will never do anything of relevance to human kind

So like any idea, take a breath and step away for a moment. The dream behind the Syncverse is ultimately equal access for all. It is a bold dream and yet a small dre3am at the same time. It is something that the world can consume and treasure at the same time. Will it ever happen? I do not know, as the old saying goes “do you know the future?” “Nobody can know the future.” Or even more to the point the old song “Que Sera, Sera” whatever will be, will be. We don’t know but we can cross our fingers and toes, hopefully!

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Syncverse SSE expanded

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Socialist Synchronization Engine or SSE

As I consider my ever expanding quest to synchronize data via the Cloud I have come to realize that i am now seeking the kitchen sink of synchronization.

Perhaps I should call my new quest the Socialist Sync Engine or SSE for short. “From anything to everything depending upon what you need” would be my tagline.

The thing about building a consistent managed sync process is that your process has to have business rules that allow it to pick and choose the source and process to be used in an intelligent manner. This of course involves a lot of change from what we do today (source is selected by the application and the data is provided) but really not as much change as you would think.

Source selection:

  • closest source
  • most recent source (update intelligence)
  • source with the best bandwidth to device

Business rule processing:

  • Data is allowed to have some exposure
  • Data is not allowed to have any exposure
  • Data can be exposed
  • Data is time critical
  • Data is not time critical

Rules also need to be managed in terms of both executions and need. There needs to be a fire and forget as well as a priority of rule execution. So you balance the rules as they are applied in a matrix such as below:

Rules

Data is allowed to have some exposure

Data is not allowed to have any exposure

Data can be exposed

Data is time critical

Data is not time critical

Data is allowed to have some exposure

         

Data is not allowed to have any exposure

         

Data can be exposed

         

Data is time critical

         

Data is not time critical

         

In this grid we can see the various rule intersections and then can consider the response the system needs to produce at that time.

Eduverse Collaboration Design requirements

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Collaboration Design Requirements

· Ad hoc communication must be supported

· IM and VOIP steams must be integrated

· Web meetings and collaboration shares must be supported

· Late homework and assignment improvement tracking system

· Student project center

In the Ad-Hoc communication area of the Eduverse the following support has to be provided out of the box:

· Document sharing

· Workspace sharing

· Critique section

o Editors who are live to chat with students

o Experts with video’s and editing classes

· Youth forums (patrolled)

· Private Forums (patrolled)

· Web Meeting Section

· Chat section

· Student Project center

· Homework Help

The big areas here are to improve student’s collaboration skills, their understanding of editing and the editing process and encouraging the students to submit their materials to others for review. This provides a place for open and constructive communication and helps prepare the leaders of tomorrow with the tools of today.

Next there are the youth and private forums for discussions, these would be managed by topic and conversation (Science, Level 1, Introduction to science) while the Chat section would be completely open for children to converse about any and all topics.

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