Friday, August 31, 2007

Greater processing power through arrays of closely couple processors

Because of the physical limits involved, the power of a single processor in a computer can only be increased up to those boundaries. Since we need increasingly more power, due to the problems we are tackling, we have to add closely coupled processors. By the early 1980's, really in the bronze age of computing, this had already been recognized. There were some brave efforts in the 1980's to use arrays of processors, such as the "Connection Machine", but they were trying to solve problems that were not that useful. The secret was coarse-grained parallelism. Don't spawn more processes on a single processor. Spawn them on their own, dedicated processor. The "rest is history".

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Countermeasures to the bullet deflector

One obvious countermeasure to the bullet deflector is to fire from inside of ten feet with a gun that fires a high-velocity bullet. If you hit, that can be quite messy! Another countermeasure is to jam the sensor. The primary sensor is a very low power, very short wave radar system. The only thing that makes this feasible is that with large arrays of closely coupled processors, you can just about get around the computation involved. In the mid-21st Century, arrays of closely coupled processors are the general solution to a host of computing problems. They use very large shared memory and a virtual disk (and a realtime OS, of course).

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The bullet deflector

Armoured exoskeletons could be equipped with the bullet deflector. This is an odd device, and dangerous to be around when it is in use. The bullet deflector depends on sensors and speed, under computer control, to "reach out" and deflect bullets in flight. It is amazing to see in action. If a shooter is too close, the bullet deflector is useless, as there is too little time to act. If a shooter is as far as 10 feet (very close), that is enough space for the device to act. It will "tap aside" bullets. There is a real danger that there will be ricochets once the deflected bullet strikes a solid object. The deflector arm moves so fast, that if your arm moved in the way, it would be cut. Deflector cuts are a real and present danger.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The intelligent, powered exo-skeleton

The intelligent, powered exo-skeleton is a great boon to infirm people. My mother has one. Without it, when she stand up to quickly, her blood pressure falls, and she faints. The exo-skeleton is aware if she is conscious or not. When she faints, the exo-skeleton keeps her from falling, preventing injury. The exo-skeleton also provides enough resistance, gauging a person's strength. That way, muscles are not allowed to atrophy the way that they would if the exo-skeleton did all the work.

Monday, August 27, 2007

People building

One of the most positive things I have ever seen are the "people builders". You may have heard of them: "Build people and they will build a business" (I alter the stock phrase in a way that I think is still consistent with the intent, but in such as way that it is more palatable for a more general audience). Most people are surrounded by negative people and events. They can be overwhelming and can destroy your attitude. There is a great deal of wisdom in the idea: "no negative". That can mean not reading the current news or listening to the radio. I turned the radio off when the news started to be very distressing. I think that most people wallow in negative and they are constantly gossiping. Gossip is one of the most negative and destructive activities in which you can indulge. Before I was enlightened, I used to be rumor control and would pass on the latest gossip. Once I learned how destructive that rumor was, to the gossiper and the listener, I stopped the practice.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Powered exoskeletons

Powered exoskeletons were first imagined by science fiction writers and then by cartoonists. Thanks to cartoonists and animators, the idea of out-sized, powered exoskeletons moved to the forefront of people's attention. Once you could hook up the powered exoskeleton with the nervous system, powered chairs and wheelchairs became obsolete. Quadriplegics can now live a more normal life, here in the mid-21st Century.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The "full up" 420 can reach 300 kph

The 420 can reach at least 300 kph. We build roads to allow that. As we like to drive fast, anyway, we have roads that allow for a range of speeds. The highest speeds are reserved for the far left lane. We normally cruise in the city at about 75 kph, and rely upon our computers to keep us out of trouble. We only steer approximately, and the car steers precisely to carry us through turns without mishap. A feature of our cars are that they walk into parking places. We have not had to jocky into parking places in our lifetime, as walking cars were perfected by the 'thirties.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I am looking for a suitable red sporty car photograph

I am looking for a suitable red sporty car that I might use as the basis for the "420" car. The 420 is a mid-21st Century car that is long, low, and wide. The 420 is very smooth and streamlined, with clear covers over the headlights to streamline them. The doors open butterfly style. This is a photograph of an early prototype that eventually evolved into the famous "420" by the mid-21st Century:

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Disk space

At least disk space is plentiful and inexpensive. We will be collection terabytes of data from our remote viewing over space and time. The high-resolution 3D models are particularly expensive. Our data collection system uses extremely high speed, high bandwidth communications. That really is the bottleneck, next to computing power. Can you imagine having the real information about ships and fleets? It seems inconceivable. Given that we will have that available to us, I can imagine that processing what we are able to collect with take YEARS. I have this thirst for knowledge. I want to KNOW. I don't want to wait, either.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Wargamer's fantasy

Once we have 3D models of all the ships in the First Anglo-Dutch War, we could then use them as part of naval wargames. Every wargamer's fantasy is to be able to use accurate models and information to game famous battles, such as the initial fight off Dover on 29 May 1652 that started the First Anglo-Dutch War. Putting together a successful gaming system is not a simple project, but the models are probably the greatest challenge. Even with "state of the art", we still might have to reduce the number of polygons to be feasible for the numbers we want to have. The graphical side keeps getting better. Right now, computing power is the biggest limitation.

Monday, August 20, 2007

We could make the best naval wargame

One incentive for getting the complete information about the ships and battle of the 17th Century, we could make the best naval wargames with what we found. I even had this fantasy, that we had sufficient resources to actually build ships, hire crews and actors, and make movies of the campaigns and battles. We could have extremely accurate depictions. The only caveat being that totally realistic might be so gross and offensive that we might want to settle for something less realistic and more palatable. One aspect that we would be spared is the smell. I expect that generally everyone and everything smelled bad. You would have major BO cases, just as you might find in rural India or Southeast Asia.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Why us?

You might wonder why we were selected to do the research about 17th Century Dutch naval history. I think that the explanation is that we have published enough on the subject that we were noticed. We have done more research in the Nationaal Archief than anyone else. A member of our group has also done more research in the Gemeentearchief Rotterdam (the Municipal Archives for Rotterdam) and other nearby municipal archives than anyone else. We have access to the other nearby good sources of information, such as the Gemeentearchief Amsterdam. The notary archives have proved to be a rich source of information as well, although they are a difficult source to mine and are very time-consuming. Oddly enough, the details of ships, fleets, and naval officers from this period, especially the First Anglo-Dutch War (Eerste Engelse Oorlog) had been little studied. All the historians wanted to write high-level books that left off the details of ships and the fleets. There were also many details about officers' careers that had remained unstudied. The Dutch had largely lost interest in their "Golden Age".

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The whole question of security

One question that we have is whether in fact that there would be a ban on knowledge of the Grid. This is such a major component of the modern system, that we would know and opponents of civilization would know. The very existence of the Grid would make them necessarily employ operational methods that obscure who they are and what they are doing. They would also try not to draw attention to their activities to the point that the Grid would be used to investigate them. After all, the Grid is a scarce and expensive resource, so the Grid can only reasonably employed for the most important investigations.

Friday, August 17, 2007


One thing that has survived to modern time is the car. Having cars powered by burning petroleum products is very wasteful. Since petroleum products are a diminishing resource, we prefer to power our cars another way. Since petroleum is a rich source of complex organic molecules, we keep it for our chemical industry. The car (aka automobile) is such as powerful idea, there was no way that we would lose the benefit of personal transportation vehicles that offer protection from harm and from the weather. They are still a powerful force in our economy. Public transportation, such as subways and trains, make sense for very dense population centers, but since outside of old Europe, there is plenty of land for people, we spread out. That wants some system like "cars". Our cars are now powered by fuel cells. That has been more difficult than our ancestors thought it would be. The original fuel cells were unstable and would result in nasty explosions. The "new age" fuel cells are much tamer and are very stable. Our infrastructure now has converted to provide stations where we buy our fuel. The neat thing is that our cars are very "nice". The "420" is very long, wide, and low, with arching glass and lifting doors. The 420 makes an early 21st Century Corvette look like a clunker, especially when colored bright red.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

What I would like to do, but don't know how to make it work

What I always had wanted to do is to put together "Jane's Fighting Ships, WITH PHOTOGRAPHS(!), for the years 1648 to 1678, especially for the years 1652, 1653, 1654, 1664, 1665, 1666, and 1667. Can you imagine what it would be like to be able to have accurate drawings and real photographs of the ships? We could have that, along with accurate measurements and gun lists. The minor detail is that the security surrounding the Grid would preclude any such thing, given the risks involved. All I can say is, "there has to be a way".

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Research with the Grid is necessarily very computing intensive

All research with the Grid very computing intensive and a great deal of storage is needed, due to the volume of data collected. For our Dutch naval history research, terabytes of data will be collected in just the first data collection run in the sequence of events leading up to and including the opening battle of the First Anglo-Dutch War, fought off Dover on 29 May 1652. There is some illusion of analog processes, when we can seemlessly move in space and time, moving gradually in both sets of dimensions. As I have noted, we can collect imagery, sound, and 3D models. The latter is particularly expensive, due to the high resolution that we collect.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Just because the Grid exists, that does not eliminate crime and terrorism

For a variety of reasons, just because the Grid exists, crime and terrorist and insurgent activity is not automatically precluded. For one thing, the Grid is a scarce enough resource that most ordinary crimes cannot be investigated. Only really horrendous and high-priority crimes can be handled using the Grid. As for terrorists and insurgents, there are operational methods that can be used to obscure what is happening enough to make Grid investigations hard to pursue. The basic technique is to hide yourself among the people around you. You blend in. You plant bombs and other devices inobtrusively, and then operate at a distance. That mode of operation is hard to penetrate.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A feature of modern life, in the Grid world

Much of what life is like in the modern world, where the Grid is used, is influenced by the destruction of Washington D.C. by a nuclear weapon that had been smuggled into the city and detonated. A rump government was established in Philadelphia, where one of the first steps was to require every adult to carry a sidearm. Sadly, there was a pogram that spontaneously happened after the attack, so that many atrocities were committed by Americans running wild and killing and destroying property. Since the attack was made by radical Muslims, Muslims and property were targeted. Close to two years were required to re-establish order and a working government, operating under marshal law. There was a great debate in government circles about the propriety of hitting Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan with nuclear-tipped missiles. Rather than do that, we mobilized a great army and invaded and occupied all three, committing the usual atrocities along the way.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Grid makes life difficult for Islamic radicals and common criminals

Once the Grid appeared, a natural application was to use it for criminal investigation and anti-Islamic radical purposes. Radical environmentalists and so-called animal rights activists also are targets. What all those miscreants hate is that the Grid can be turned to the location and moment when something bad happened and track and the authorities can track forward and backward in time and space and see where the peretrators came from and where they went. Some of the details are so secret that we cannot be sure if they can capture wireless or landline phone conversations or not. Email is simple, because you would be able to watch a message being typed into a computer, PDA, or phone.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Time travel

We suspect that the inventors of "the Grid", with the encouragement of the authorities chose to keep time travel to a "pseudo-presence, back in time. We believe that a physical presence would be too risky and would threaten to disrupt the present ("here and now"). Speculative thinkers, such as H. Beam Piper and L. Sprague DeCamp, had suggested, at least by my interpretation, that there would just be new branches created by attempts to travel back in time. Suppose you could redial the clock back to this morning and have a second chance at the current day. You would be able to experiment with alternative behavior that you would hope would produce better results. Just imagine what chaos could be generated by large numbers of people doing just this sort of thing...every day.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Language changes

We definitely know that the English spoken in 1652 was quite different than English spoken today. There is also the question of accent, as an American visiting England often has a hard time understanding what people are saying, despite the fact that they are nominally speaking the same English language. I have less exposure to English spoken by the English, and what I have heard is understandable. The question is: how much has spoken Dutch changed since 1652 and how easily would a modern Dutch speaker understand what was being said in 1652 and 1653? We are just guessing when we expect that we would not have a problem understanding 1652 Dutch, as we don't exactly have any recordings just lying around (yet).

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Doing our homework

Prior to actually collection data for the initial encounters between the Dutch and English off the Start and off Dover in May 1652, we need to "do our homework". Part of that involves compiling lists of ships and captains, including known dimensions and guns. If any of the ships were drawn by Willem van de Velde the Elder, we need to have copies of the drawings available to consult. We also need as much as is available for the English ships. Many of the ships built as warships appear in Van de Velde drawings, so we need those. There will be many times as much time spent analyzing the data collected as was needed to collect it. We will also be spending a great deal more time than the "wall clock time" of the actual events.

Monday, August 06, 2007

We need to record audio, as well

I don't know why we had not thought of recording audio, as well, but we had not. We also need to have some Dutch speakers who are familiar with the period and naval history, so that we can get a real time assessment of what is being said by the Dutch. We may need to see if we can find historians who are familiar with the 17th Century English, as we may not be able to understand as much as we think. I think that we will be able to make a major contribution to understanding the exact circumstances of what happened at the outbreak of the First Anglo-Dutch War. I would like to hear what Lieutenant-Admiral Tromp heard from Joris van der Zaan that put him in a fighting mood.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Wondering about the opening shots in the war

While thinking more about recording the opening shots of the First Anglo-Dutch War (the Dutch call the war the Eerste Engelse Oorlog), I realized that we should first look at incident off the Start, where Anthony Young's small squadron stopped Jacob Huyrluyt, Joris van der Zaan, and their seven Straatsvaarders that they were convoying. Joris van der Zaan's report to Lieutenant-Admiral Tromp is what so incensed Tromp that he was angry and not ready to take any of what he felt was abuse by the English. Robert Blake, the English admiral, was nominally a friend of Tromp's, but he had some responsibility for this incident, as well. After all, the had what was almost certainly, a 32pdr demi-cannon fired at the Dutch flagship's hull. At close range, this shot was so powerful, that the shot went completely through both sides of the Brederode's hull.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Preparations for a data collection run with the Grid

We decided that we would make our first data collection run on 29 May 1652, off Dover the Downs. We would watch and record the events that lead to the outbreak of the First Anglo-Dutch War. We should be able to confirm that the Dutch flagship Brederode fired a broadside a Robert Blake's flagship James after Blake had fired a round completely through the Brederode, taking the arm off one man in the process. Blake had ostensibly fired a "warning shot" to remind the Dutch that they were supposed to salute by dipping their flags and topsails. For the shot to have gone through the Brederode probably meant that it was from a 32pdr demi-cannon on the lower tier of the James.

We had precalculated the coordinates that should place us over Dover, looking down in early 29 May. We would then adjust to get a better view and position in the temporal axis. We would then capture a quick overall all view and then take 3D models of the ships, Dover castle, and the gun emplacements on the shore. We needed to get the particulars of how each was armed. For the ships, we needed to go into the ship and grab images of papers, including log books, or whatever they had. We needed to find papers that would allow us to confirm the name of each ship and as much as we could find about the crew and provisions.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Grid

The Grid has many useful features. We can scan through space and time with it and get a visual image that we can use to steer the search. We have enough fine control that we can image each page in a stack of papers. On a more macro level, we can grab 3D models of solid objects. We also have the ability to capture video over time, not to just grab snapshots. Snapshots are useful, though, so we have the ability take those as well. On the cosmic scale, there are complex mathematical problems to be solved to locate the exact position and time to focus the grid. The Earth and solar system are moving through the universe, and we must know where to look to see a scene, such as the Dutch fleet off the Shetlands in early August 1652.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

We are researching a "safe topic"

I had wondered why we received permission to use "the Grid". I am guessing that we want to research a "safe topic" that would generate few problems. Topics that would be decidedly "not safe" would be wanting to look at Jesus's crucifixion and the resurrection or Moses parting the Red Sea, during the Exodus from Egypt. There is no way that uncleared persons would be allowed to go that far back in time, simply because they are such potentially explosive topics.

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