August 11, 2020

Restoring Medley Interlisp: running well on modern systems


and on GitHub (and see issue list)

It's great to work with old friends, as if 30 years hadn't passed. 

We have a and mailing lists and weekly zoom calls.

Using old code feels like driving a vintage car. The quirks are more noticeable. I'm hoping we can smooth some of the rough edges of using it on different platforms and also bringing up some of the applications built in Interlisp. 

Shown running on a $60 Raspberry Pi (lower left) about 50 times faster than a 1982 Dorado.

July 5, 2020

The Office of the Future: the Officeless Office

The office of future is becoming clear: it's "no office location". The economics of that is clear
(Economist video via YouTube)
Keeping expensive real estate and wasting time commuting to an office in a big building, to do a job on the off chance you might bump into someone is a waste

The Xerox Star system was a cornerstone of the vision of "the office of the future" but the next step after getting rid of paper is getting rid of "the office" completely.

June 12, 2020

The Epidemiology of Bad Ideas

Lately there's been a lot of discussion about Section 230 and the responsibility (if there is) of the distributor of user opinions. But this discussion is misdirected.

The problem the Internet brings is that it allows for unfettered spread of bad ideas and lies (attributable to some combination of stupidity and malice).

Think of a bad idea like a virus, fact checking and filtering like testing and quarantine, and Twitter and Facebook postings like mass spreading events. From that perspective, what we need is the equivalent  of washing hands and social distancing.

 Any site distributing an idea, a post, a share to more than N people should add some social distance -- a time delay (depending on reach), fact checking, annotating the post or adding a click-through.... sufficient filtering/delay to flatten the curve. How much of their business model depends on posts going viral QUICKLY?

Recently, Carol tried to read me an article about the latest outrageous behavior. But I protested: I'd developed antibodies that protect me from the awfulness.  By continued exposure, nothing was that bad anymore, we had all seen more. And there are teams of people all working full time developing new outrageous things.

So bad ideas spread like viruses. Some people are able to develop a defense, through outrage. The epidemic is spread by "news" organizations and social media as contagious in thought as a mass event is for the virus.

Facebook and Twitter and Google and other social media sites need to implement thought-social distancing to reduce R(0) of a bad idea.

Facebook's ads promoting CDC would be OK if it weren't for the corruption of CDC management by the wave of bad ideas, spread by immune-compromised  individuals (don't recognize ideas as bad) and allowed unchecked by those who exhibit no symptoms (outrage).

April 18, 2020

Building Going-Remote.Info

In a sort of frenetic panic, I started  the Covid-19 community group at W3C, with the idea of working together with others to help people "Going Remote". It seemed like an ]area that required people to jump in without a lot of guidance.

But the community group didn't quite jell because we didn't really agree on the scope of work.

So after considering lots of possibilities I decided to put up a stake for as a web site/wiki/discussion forum.  This is old fashioned but I think it will appeal to the  kind of community I think we can build.

Log into and check it out.

March 12, 2020

W3C: CoVid-19 Remote Meet, Work, Class Community Group created

In the face of the covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions, lots of meetings, schools, other kinds of events are trying to "go virtual". To help people understand their choices and other concerns, we started a "community group" at W3C.

Inviting experts in the current state of usable technology for remote meetings, classes, work from home, etc. to help put together best practices documents for the transition.

From the announcement:

The CoVid-19 Remote Meet, Work, Class Community Group has been launched:
A clearinghouse for experience and guidelines for people who are suddenly called to avoid travel or meetings, work-at-home or do classes online. Focus on current capabilities and future needs.
To join:

If you do not have one already, you will need a W3C account to join:

This is a community initiative. W3C's hosting of this group does not imply endorsement of the activities.

The group must now choose a chair:

For more information about getting started in the new group, see:

and good practice for running a group:

We invite you to share news of this new group in social media and other channels.

February 6, 2020

Building AI with computation and data distributed using cpus of autonomous vehicles

I've been trying to calculate how much compute power would be available for machine learning tasks if the entire fleet of ~1M Tesla's were available (at some trickle usage of incremental battery use, or maybe just when driving) and compare that to what Amazon has with Echo's (not anything like as powerful) or just spare load on Amazon/ Apple / Google cloud platforms.

It might be a unique opportunity to develop distributed AI in an interesting computational base.
I'll update as I find out more.

December 8, 2019

I've been Wikipedia'd!

At some point I had the silly idea that I should be listed in Wikipedia. Now like a monkey's claw, like Midas' Touch, I discovered it happened, my wish has turned into a curse. My Wikipedia page is full of nonsense. It is hard to find a sentence that doesn't have an error or two or three. And each error correction requires four things, including cite-able third party proof that the change is justified .

Is this typical? To see so many errors in Wikipedia articles?

  • All of the Interlisp work was at Xerox. Although I was listed as a student at Stanford and didn't get my PhD until 1980, I was working at Xerox full-time after 1976.
  • I had nothing to do with Interlisp-Jericho.
  • There wasn't a port of Interlisp to the vax, there was an effort to build one, and I wrote a document trying to scope out how much work that was to be done. That document wasn't to "document the port".
  • My work at Stanford was on the Dendral project as an employee (my Alternative Service), not as a student. The program was in Lisp.
  • My work on document management was almost all at Xerox, not for Adobe. I didn't do "pioneering work on the PDF format" (for anyone).
  • I remained an employee of Xerox PARC, becoming a "Principal Scientist", but never had the title "Chief Scientist" and never reported to "Xerox AI Systems".
  • I wasn't "instrumental in the development of the PDF MIME type" (I helped publish it at best.)
  • My work on internet standards through IETF and W3C was over many years, between Xerox, AT&T Labs and Adobe. But it was mainly a volunteer effort on my part.
  • Internet standards are not published in "peer reviewed journals"; they are reviewed, but for different reasons than peer-reviewed journals.
  • I never worked on Apache. I never collaborated with Nick Kew or Kim Veltman or anyone else on any book.
  • The footnote references don't correspond very well to the topics discussed.

Restoring Medley Interlisp: running well on modern systems

at and on GitHub (and see issue list ) It's great to work with old friends, as if 30 years hadn't passed.  We have a...