That Decisive Qualitative Edge

So I am reading this book called “Israel’s Edge.”


It’s basically about their elite genius program, “Talpiot,” in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).  


Each year the program accepts only the top 50 out of 100,000 graduating high school students for a 9-year commitment. 


There are the mathematicians, physicists, and computer scientists that help give the IDF the cutting edge in military R&D and other innovations. 


These are the brain trust behind Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system and Trophy tank active protection system and many more both military and industrial advances. 


This program was born after the almost disastrous 1973 Yom Kippur War where Israel misjudged the intelligence and the advances in their enemies capability and almost lost the war. 


I like the philosophy of General Yitzhak Ben-Israel who understands the importance of challenging the status quo and looking differently at critical situations and avoiding confirmation bias:

My method is not to look for supporting evidence. I look for refuting evidence…you see one white swan, then a second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. You still can’t conclude that all swans are white…nature builds us to be inductive, to make generalizations from past experience…this standard way of scientific thinking can be limiting and destructive.”

Instead we must be continuously curious, think outside the box, be creative, and innovate. 


Especially, where we don’t have a quantitative advantage like with Israel surrounded by many enemies, then we must rely on a very sharp qualitative edge. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

Retro Cool Digital Watch

Wow, I love this retro digital Computron watch from Bulova. 


I remember when the first digital LED watches with the red numbers like this first came out in the 1970s. 


They were quite expensive then!


Part of the computer revolution. LOL


I remember my uncle had something like this and I thought how cool it was–no moving hands to read.


Also, has a little of that sci-fi Battlestar Galactica red (moving) light effect from the cybernetic enemy, Cylon visors. 


What’s old is what’s new.  😉

The Goal is Automagically

Wow, I couldn’t believe that this is a real word.


Automagically.


I thought my colleague was using it as a gag. 


But when I asked Dr. Google, there it was. 


Automagically – Automatically + Magical


It refers to the use of computer automation and how when well-implemented it seems almost like the process is magical, ingenious, and oh, so easy. 


So this is the goal for us that all our processes and efforts should be poof–automagically done and  there it is! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Computer Sentiment 1984

So I found this book in an IT colleague’s office. 


It’s called: “The Unofficial I Hate Computer Book”.


It was written in 1984, and like the George Orwell’s book by that name, it is a dystopian view of technology. 


The back cover says:

Computer haters of the world unite: It’s time to recognize and avenge the wonderful advances we’ve made thanks to computers–excessive eyestrain and headaches, irritating beeping noises, a one-ton printout where once there was a six-page report, a “simple” programming language you can’t understand without five handbooks, a dictionary, and a math degree.

The book goes on with illustration after illustration of unadulterated computer hate and associated violence. 


– Dogs dumping on it (see cover)

– Contests to smash it with a hammer

– Hara-kiri (suicide with a knife) into it

– Skeet shooting computers that are flung into the air

– Shotput with a computer

– Tanks rolling over them

– Sinking it in water with a heavy anvil

– Boxer practicing his punches on it

– Setting it ablaze with gasoline

– And on and on, page after hate-filled page.


So in the last 34-years, have we solved all the annoyances and complexity with computers and automation?  


Do the benefits of technology outway the costs and risks across-the-board?


How do security and privacy play in the equation? 


I wonder what the authors and readers back then would think of computers, tablets, smartphones and the Internet and apps nowadays–especially where we can’t live without them at all.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Computer Luminaries

computer-luminariescomputer-luminaries-2

I wanted to share these photo that I took at Micro Center, a computer and electronics store, outside Washington DC. 


On the wall are these pretty awesome photos of many of the founders and inventors behind modern-day computing. 


1) Doug Englebart – the GUI and Mouse


2) Dennis Ritchie – C and Unix


3-4) Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston – Visicalc and Spreadsheets


5-6) Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard – HP 


7) Gordon Moore – Intel


8) Grace Hopper – First compiler that led to development of COBOL


9-10) Robert Khan and Vinton Cerf – TCP/IP


11) Steve Wozniak – Apple I and II


Of course, the following deserve a place of the wall of fame as well:


12) Steve Jobs – Apple


13) Bill Gates – Microsoft


14-15) Larry Paige and Sergey Brin – Google


16) Jeff Bezos – Amazon 


17) Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook


On one hand, these are people like you and I, who live, feel joy and pain, and one day die. In the end, we’re all just flesh and blood, plus a soul that is our moral compass. 


But on the other hand, G-d has given some people special gifts to pass to mankind, like a master painter, musician, inventor, or holy person, whose worldly works are as near to G-dly as perhaps we can get outside of Heaven itself.


G-d must have a plan for us as he sends us these people–or more like angels–to guide our development and our destiny. 


Whatever G-d wants from us, we’re definitely on a course to get there and that is comforting and a ray of hope for all of us. 😉


(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

tURNING yOUR dEVICE aGAINST yOU!

Eavesdropping
So interesting article in BBC about the Samsung’s “Listening TV.”



This TV has voice activated controls and they don’t just take commands, but…



“If your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.”



So aside from hackers (and spies) being able to turn your phone and computer mics, cameras, and GPS location data on and off to surveil and eavesdrop on you, now the dumb television set can listen in as well. 



You can be heard, seen, and found…whether you know it or not. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal with eyes and ears from here and here with attribution to Firas and Simon James)