About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

07 September 2013

Vinton Cerf and Re-Imagining the Internet in the 21st Century

WITS Vice Chancellor, Prof. Adam  Habib opened the proceedings of the 62nd Bernard Price Memorial Lecture, with reflections on Dr Bernard Price - a notable engineer and scientist who straddled a number of scientific disciplines and also had significant input into the development of South Africa's electrical infrastructure. In that sense, Prof. Habib concluded that, Vinton Cerf was similar; as someone who has straddled the development in science, most notably in the sphere of Internet protocols; but has also had a profound impact on the development of the world through his contributions.

 Vinton Cerf's talk definitely paid homage to that theme; where he charted the development of the Internet, from the initiation of ARPANET itself, all the way to the modern Internet of things, and inter-planetary Internet. His insights into the development of ARPANET itself was interesting - from the considerations that were needed for satellite and radio inter-connectivity, and to more humourous commentary on how the address-space allocation in IP was derived.

He covered some of the coming challenges of the Internet including privacy concerns (something, he believes will only be addressed through trial and error), the promise of Google glass (which will go on sale next year, apparently) and the policy battle for the control of the Internet. 

It is the first time, I have heard a clear and succinct explanation on why ICANN is better than the ITU - ICANN is a multi-stakeholder body that includes corporations, private persons and governments; whereas ITU is purely a government organisation. Thus, ICANN, being more participatory is more likely to uphold the tenets of the Internet, as opposed to ITU which may make it a political football. He did think that ICANN requires more government engagement, especially with regards to cross-border disputes and crimes - but ultimately it should be run without political interference.

He finished with commentary on the challenges of inter-planetary Internet. I had not considered the challenges to be that difficult, beyond the physical constraints - and the actual deployment of relay points via orbiters, probes etc. is something fairly logical IMO. However, when he threw the discussion to inter-stellar Internet, and the challenges posed by the bending of light via gravity, it did make the challenges far more interesting - although the approach was seemingly still similar.

Vint Cerf is an amazing speaker, and it was a great memorial lecture by one of the great scientists of today. You can see the full video on YouTube, though apparently the slides aren't shown.

01 September 2013

Mass Hysteria

At over 3 hours, with 8 stand-up comedians, and ticket prices for only R180, Mass Hysteria was definitely one of the best value-for-money shows I have been to in the recent past. And when you consider the line-up, it was an absolute bargain. Themed around government minister (each comedian was a minster of something), it was a brilliant showcase of South African comedy touching all the usual points - race, sex, money, love, politics and general South African life.

The young, Mpho Pops (Minister of Da Youth), started of proceedings with one of the best routines of the evening - with some of the best jokes centred around the early integration of race in Model C schools, and township life. After Mpho, Joey Rashdien (Minister of Religion) was quite flat; and I think was the weakest set of the evening. Ndumiso Lindi (Roosta in Chief) continued the cultural focus, starting with the requirement of jackets for a traditional Xhosa gathering and ending with the complexities of kids with multi-racial friends. 

The best act of the evening was definitely John Vlismas (Minister of Offence, naturally); who did not care much about the line that can't be crossed in comedy. He announced that he was a vegetarian (and still a leather pants wearing hypocrite), took real exception to Gautengers' opposition to e-tolls after they were built (and not protesting during construction) and ended his set on why most miracles are actually rather mundane and not very fortunate in the first place. 

Despite attending many comedy shows over the past 10 plus years, I had not attended a live show featuring the soft spoken, and colourful Casper de Vries (Minister of Mini-series, Internet and other media). His take on the ANN7 bloopers while comparing it to early years of SABC was impressive, as was his various takes on TV shows. 

I have seen Conrad Koch and Chester Missing a few times in the past few months; and sadly there was no new material. While still a laugh, it just wasn't as impressive the first few times. Nik Rabinowitz, the Xhosa Jew (or is it the other way round?) used his multi-lingual skills to great effect - though for whatever reason, I didn't find his performance very memorable. For the final act, Tumi Morake (Minister of Women, Disabilities, Midgets, Aliens etc) showed Miley Cyrus how to twerk, explained the different interpretations of "getting a Brazilian" and explored the impact of non functioning contraceptives. 

It was a long show, and definitely one of the best comedy shows I have been to. Hoping that there are future iterations - with new content off course!