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All posts for the month November, 2008

Seems I’m not alone in being annoyed by Limelight Networks LLC. Seems both Akamai and MIT sued them, and so did Level 3, the largest Tier-1 network provider underlying so many major ISP’s. LLNW on the other hand are a big media content service provider with their own dedicated networks, but only a very small 1% or 2% of their delivery involves the any-to-any long tail (a million audiences of one) of the internet cloud.

I have no idea how their business model involves constantly hitting my site, I had guessed (wrongly – post note – correctly in fact) they were some web-crawler gathering links (associated maybe with the Uni of Ariz at Tempe) but I could never see any pattern in their hits or any resulting consequences, beyond the hits themselves. Had a big surge in their hits in the last few days, beyond almost random single post / zero dwell time hits, the hits now involve many multiple post / page hits with total dwell times of many minutes (up to 40mins). I would say for any periods I have monitored, there have been ten times as many LLNW hits as any other (even Google users).

What is going on Limelight ? You are skewing my hit stats beyond anything useful, unless I know how to account for yours. My content is miniscule beer compared to yours.

[Post Note - This has been the subject of much blog correspondence.

 http://aldebaranwebdesign.com/blog/bad-bot-savvis-communications-cary-nc/#comment-2801 and

http://www.google.com/search?hl=no&q=limelight+kavam+savvis+blog+hits 

And here is the explanation http://www.searchme.com/support/pages/spider.php

So it is a crawler (a spider called Charlotte) which uses LLNW in Tempe, AZ, from a Mountain View, CA address of www.SearchMe.com , which explains another rash of hits.]

Mentioned to Island in the comment thread about the Multiverse below, the problem that otherwise credible stories in physics are accompanied by mathematical theory near incomprehensible to laymen such as myself. I had this feeling previously when trying to understand the “Dirac Nilpotent Rewrite” behind the Rowlands and Diaz work in quantum information theory.

Reminded of this, I took a look at the latest BCS Cybernetics Group page and followed the link to Peter Rowlands 2007 book “From Zero to Infinty” and browsed the index, preface and first chapter on “Zero”. I think two facts did strike me in the maths.

Firstly, the “zero sum game” effect of creating something from nothing, where that something is plus & minus, real & anti stuff in physics … those mysterious perturbations in the vacuum. The potency of zero.  Of course potency doesn’t explain how, just the possibility, so that’s a different story.

Secondly, “re-write as algorithm” and the emergence of patterns within patterns not present in the original algorithm, simply by repeated application of the algorithm, to the zero in this case. Not just something from nothing, but something complex and interesting from nothing. Hofstadter (patterns within patterns)  and Dennett (evolution as algorithm) and of course Wolfram (ANKOS) jumped out at me as I read pages 12 to 16 of Chapter 1.

Plenty of promise in the preface too …

Obviously, no one expects to succeed instantly with a theory that will simply explain everything. What we would hope to do is to find a process, a systematic way of proceeding with strong indications that we were on the right track. This is what is being aimed at in this book. Positions that are rejected from the outset in the search include model-dependent theories of any kind; the aim of the work is resolutely abstract.

Again, we must reject the idea that a single cosmic creation event has structured the laws of physics in a particular way, and that they could have been different in different circumstances. The idea could, in principle, be true, but then we would have no abstract subject of physics, no generality, no absolute mathematics, and no meaningful concept of conservation, the process which makes physics universal. The very idea that we could discover a unified theory of physics is impossible in such a context. Physics is fractured in the very act of creation. In addition, such explanations have the habit of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies. We simply refer difficulties to special conditions that occurred in the ‘early universe’, and deprive ourselves of understanding fundamental physical phenomena which ought to be valid at all places in all epochs.

Am I seeing a pattern ?

I intuitively like this sticking to the fundamental nature of physics, rather than allowing variations in different postulated universes, … as if. Didn’t I also recall something in both Chalmers and Deutsch (quite separate work in separate fields) about nothing being possible in a “virtual” world that wasn’t also possible (ie didn’t violate fundamental physics / metaphysics) in the real world ? As if impossible and inconceivable were really the same thing. Am I digressing ?

Thanks to Piers Young at Monkey Magic for the link to this article from Discover.

A good summary of issues based on interviews by Tim Folger with working scientists in the field, many of whom I’ve quoted before on psybertron. Strange how the multiverse idea is still seen as the most convincing solution to the fine tuning problem – it was David Deutsch and quantum information people that first alerted me to that. Like if string theory is no explanation (because it simply supports just about any empirical outcome) multiverses are really just the same solution. An explanation of “anything” is not a theory of everything, it’s a theory of nothing. Infinitely many possible universes to account for the “coincidence” of finding ourselves in this Goldilocks (just-right) universe by chance. No wonder people prefer “god” to the “oops” argument.

Still think the problem is the view of the appearance of coincidence and the scientific knee-jerk to explain that coincidence objectively, whereas there is a subjective, anthropic angle to the perceived improbability in the first place. What we should really be looking for is an existing mistake in explanations of what has already been perceived and “accepted” as proven science … Island, I believe you are onto something. See previous “anthropic” threads.

This is just the usual conspiracy vs cock-up perception. When “low quality” things (bad things with bad explanations) look well organized and “intentional”, there is invariably a cock-up or two behind the scenes, and the embarassment factor in exposing cock-ups invariably leads to actions that “look like” intentional cover-up. A double-whammy for the conspiracy theorists. Pretty basic organizational behaviour theory in my book. Science is made of people, like anything else, and one thing people are very badly programmed to do is learn from mistakes.

So it goes … roll on wisdom.

Had one of those transatlantic (twelve hours of sunset) opportunities to get a bit of reading in last week, a week in Boston. (Incidentally encountered Steven Pinker in the hotel bar, though left him undisturbed deep in conversation with another, having just explained he was my second favourite evolutionary psychology / linguistic philosopher, after Dan Dennett whose Dangerous Idea I had just recently finished re-reading.) Anyway, departing Gardermoen, I picked-up a double anthology of Kurt Vonnegut, his “Welcome to the Monkey House” and “Palm Sunday” collections of short stories, articles, speeches and auto-biographical sketches.

Wonderful stuff, such varied material with such uniform wit. From the Mills-n-Boon-esque piece entitled “Long Walk to Forever” by the women’s magazine that published what turns out to be the true story of how KV met his future wife, to the sci-fi offerings of “The Barnhouse Effect” and “The Euphio Question”. Lots of material drawn from his Cape Cod home experience, the scripted romance of “Who Am I This Time” and the wonderful punchline to “The Hyannis Port Story”

Apart from the intriguing family-life back-story to his own biography, my favourites are the “Nazi Sympathizer Defended At Some Cost” (Celine) and its counterpoint “Nazi City Mourned At Some Profit” (Dresden – the subject of best-selling “Slaughterhouse Five”). Turns out my Vonnegut readings, all since his death last year, Cat’s Cradle and the latter he rates as his 5 out of 5 efforts. Blogged reviews of both. A lasting impression of Slaughterhouse Five is “So it goes …” as individuals die along the way, but I hadn’t noticed the “…” and affectation of my own punctuation I seem to have avoided so far …

Turns out to have been a feature KV had picked-up from Louis Ferdinand Celine … someone new (1894 – 1961) to add to my reading list.