Saturday, September 02, 2017

Data science and dev ops thoughts


A new profession takes a time to truly develop, if it's animal husbandry, barbering, bridge building or what have you. For software development, the journey is just underway.

The software profession took clear steps forward during the 1960s. Programmers had become essential to U.S. military defense, and, led by IBM, it was entrenched in American industry

The imperative to go to the Moon set a lot of money to circulating, and there was interest and enough of it to fund study of how software teams were successfully formed, and how their results could become reliably reproducible.

If you had the right methodology, your process could  be repeatable, said the expert, just before telling you to that you could throw away yours and use his. that his methodology was the best. Predictable.

There was Yourdon and Booch and Rumbaugh and Popkin and so on.

That is overstated for effect, of course. So is the joke:  Q: What is a methodology? A: It’s a method that went to college.

The great clarion of software engineering was sounded by Frederick Brooks, in a paper that was to become The Mythical Man-Month. Working at IBM, Brooks studied and found some surprising truths about complex software and projects, the most telling being that where he proves that projects actually slow down more when leaders begin adding more people to a project as it gets closer to actual completion. Brooks and others gave a philosophical underpinning for structured analysis.

One of the methodologists, Grady Booch, traces advances in software engineering to the SAGE project, the Cold War computer network. SAGE stood for semi-automatic ground environment, and it ran from the late 1950s to the 1980s. Iit presented a unified image garnered from many radar sites, and was inspiration for one of the satirical props of the "war room" in Kubrick's With the purpose to defend the country from nuclear attack, it cost more than the Manhattan project.
In the SAGE era there was a tremendous amount of software written [ 22:38 ]

I am afraid our leader is not
particularly stable. - Capt. Mandrake
"It was from the SAGE experience we learned there was this software crisis going on. That the cost of building software was increasingly a limiting factor in being able to deliver systems of value," he has said.

Out of defense systems' experience arose Structured Analysis, or Structured Methods. And that was where waterfall methods. "You analyze your requirements, you design everything up front, and then you start building things," as Booch puts it. This approach grew a mind of its own, and eventually ran its course. But it served a purpose or two.

The advent of the software engineer meant there was someone you could put in jail, or at least discharge, if their software killed someone. When there was need for new title for raises at the turn of the centrury, arose then did the software architect (Paging Mr. Art Vanderlay!)]

Now, with the data scientist, we take another step on the winding road to professionalism.  Are they really scientists? Of course not. And what do they need more than anything? Good judgement - of the kind that comes from experience, and humanistic understanding of the context of data.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Reckless Heel

He works as a pin ball machine repairman ... at the Dessert Bally Ho. He blesses the union with Frankie, just as he goes tilt. Frankie wins the Las Vegas Speedway 200, neatly evading a flaming conflagration. Well mounted vehicle for coquettish Weld.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Graph me this

IBM Watson is interesting - it coined the term cognitive computing, which set the stage for today's rebirth of interest in AI. Since we have put grand swaths of the world in text on the Web, we have a trove of big data for a rebirth of AI - the technology, not the hype. But I thought it might be interesting to look at a smaller startup trying to do less than Watson, which sometimes seems to absorb everything but the kitchen sink. Here SciBite is looking at rare diseases. It is an example of semantic graph data. Go to the DataDataData blog.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Searching for the Blues?

From the Radio WebLog vault - My Pop, on his birthday

From the Radio WebLog vault - My Pop

On his birthday... the Eulogy from the Funeral at the Church...

John I. Vaughan, a retired businessman, died Feb. 15, 2005 in his Hingham, Mass. home. He was 91.

Mr. Vaughan was born in South Boston, and raised in Dorchester. He graduated from Boston College High School, in 1931, and Boston College in 1935. He served with the U.S. Army Air Corps in Italy during World War II.

He worked for 25 years for S.C. Johnson's of Racine, Wisconsin. He took part in the company's sales efforts in the Pacific in the late 1940s, leading a sales group in Honolulu, Hawaii. Mr. Vaughan served as the S. C Johnson's credit manager in Racine, at the time of his retirement in 1970.

Active in civic affairs, Mr. Vaughan served with the United Way, the Racine chapter of the United Cerebral Palsy campaign, and served as head of the Shamrock Club of Racine Wisconsin. Mr. Vaughan retired to Hingham in 1972. He was an active member of St. Paul's church in Hingham.

He leaves his wife, Mary (Hickey); two sons, Jack and Michael, both of Boston, and one grandchild. A daughter, Kate, died in 1988.

My father took great care of his family, he served his country - at the center of everything was the church.

After moving to Hingham he came here just about every day until just a little while ago, really. Many of you saw him. We were with him, not too long ago, at his childhood church of St. Peters in Dorchester, a tremendous place, and you could see how warm it made him feel. In the class room as a boy he stared at the map of the world, he stared at faraway Argentina, and one day, he went there. Think about it, he graduated from St. Peter's in about 1927!

And he remembered some fun. I'll share a secret. He told us that day when we were back at St Peters how he and the other altar boys would run and race across the tops of the pews after mass. As you know he could be proper, so this was a weird story to hear. .A week later, when the 2nd grade teacher told us our son had been seen running across the top of classroom desktops, I knew where the idea came from, and really couldnt get mad.

Some fifteen or twenty years ago, he was called up here morning. Is there anyone who can act as an altar server? In fact the service called for him to man the incense burning censure. Which he did robustly. The smoke was thick and lofted high .. set of the sensors and the fire department arrived.

He was born on A Street in S.Boston. The long-time family stead was on Claiborne St. in Dorchester. He was totally devoted to his mother. As my cousin Ann can better detail, as the baby of the family he caught a few breaks, got to learn the violin, and go to college. But the depression was not full of breaks, he wanted to go into advertising. But he had to work as a pipefitter's helper at the Charleston Navy Yard. And then as a salesman traveling though Boston, New Hampshire, and Maine. He was among the first to be drafted, and he got out of the army only in time for World War II to start and to go back in again. Not easy. But not really any complaints.

Life has been good to us. My father took care of us. He was totally devoted to my mother, to my sister, to my brother, to my wife and son, to me. He affirmed life. My mother and father took care of my sister completely every day for 33 years. And again, maybe strange to say, I never heard a discouraging word. He was my cowboy dad. My father carried my sister, in his arms when needed, everywhere that was needed. This is something I will always remember: In the 50s, if you were a child and you were disabled, you were told to stay home, and not go to school. I dont remember complaints. I do remember my father and mother and other parents renting an old school house out there past 4-Mile drive in Racine, and hiring teachers, and starting a school. My dad got a an engineer from Johnson's to design a ramp for wheelchairs. They did it all, a long time ago, from first principles. They had troubles..but they were good troubles.

He was active. The house was always alive. And he could throw it into a tizzy. Just one story of that: I remember the Fuel crisis on 1972. Gaslines, inflation. Then the news said a shortage of bread! He flew into action. Made everyone in the house put their money in a hat. I had $11. My brother, way more. He went out and bought a breadmaker, and tons of flour. He was a depression kid from the greatest generation. He was our favorite - our beloved father.

In the last year my mother and father have been watching the mass on TV more. They prayed the rosary before going to bed for all of 56 years and also on ... the night he died. As I said, this is the center for him, and he is glad to be here with you, and to be with God. Go home - to live - with God.

When my sister passed away we stood like we will today by the grave. My dad was almost serene. He had told me before of a time in the war, in Italy, flying in a two-engined B-25 with one engine out. With no side doors.. the plane was open to the air. With no seats, no seatbelts, and the pilot banking the plan to compensate for the lost engine, my father held on desperately to some part of the fuselage structure, and looked straight down into the sea. And he thought if I go now, no one will every find me.

Looking at my sister's grave, with his own name already embossed on it, he said, its nice to know where you are going to end up. We are glad too to feel we know where he is going to end up. Death has no power.  - Jack Vaughan, 2005


Some small poems

Lone bird
It's blues

As summer
Gets hotter - 
The conversation
Is more

And big jets
Of endless commerce
Scarf up what's left
of the sky.


I'm a bygone day
cant go to the hardware
and  keep from crying


skunk in the garden
known for its spray
wakes me at night
and tells me to turn
each fan on exhaust

i saw its other side
skunk rooting
low and prehistoric
tending to the earth
slow moving
like a sloth

i have never
such patience
would like to be so calm and cool

for now i
tend to
the sky.


(After Apollinaire's "Pretty Red Head" )

Pale, fragile
ruddy red haired girl

and dark nomad-eyed
friend girl

in black

they stand close by 
the big box
of silver needs
at the 

held by a magnetism 
i am thinking
mysticism too. 

- Asa Wentoff-Juan Mourning, 2009


Swimming lessons

The farmboys would send
their dogs on me -
as I rode my Schwinn on
the road -
where the cabbage
were humming.
(Pua Sadinia)

I came upon a waterfall
on the beautiful island
Light flowed through the greenery
on a flower like a diamond.

John the Revelator, great advocator
Get's 'em on the battle of Zion
Lord, tellin' the story, risin' in glory
Cried, "Lord, don't you love some I"
Well Moses to Moses, watchin' the flock[13]
Saw the bush where they had to stop[14]
God told Moses, "Pull off your shoes"[15]
Out of the flock, well you I choose[16]


Monday, July 10, 2017

Feedback Days - No. 1


What do you do at work? Young Jack asks Mr Sinclair, across the street neighbor.

Turned out he was an engineer. "I make sure the  stop lights work at the proper intervals."

Dont recall the exact lineage. But I wondered about the pneumatic hose they sometimes ran across the street. Ask Mr Sinclair, dad might have said.

"They count the cars as they pass over."

While playing ball and playing war were probably my greatest joy, I also liked staying in and watching TV in this childhood house (insert 801 Melvin pic). Very vivid recollection of waking up on Saturday morning, before anyone in house, and turning on TV, say, before 7 am, and encountering the Test signal (see above). Waiting for The Big Picture, Eddie Arnold, Gene Autry, and so on.. and instead looking out the window.

While they sorted out their signal - looking out the window at the cars very few going the magic hour, the street lights turning off for day.

I pictured a man in a control center down in the City Hall, pushing the button. Why? It was a wonder. I recall Mr Sinclair, who lived across the street. The first engineer I met.

From wonder then to fascination. A proxy of what I was seeing in the St John Nepomuk's Bohemian Catholic Church. Control of systems on earth as it is in heaven.

These ruminants were brought on as I read last week a story in the Boston Globe about traffic systems, congestion, wave propagation, machine learning. Also read about Bill Gates' firsts company- Traf-o-Data.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Featured Post

Backporch Poesy June 2016

Reading from three favorite poetry anthologies on the back porch on June 17 (anniversary of Watergate breakin!) The three tomes are 1-Th...