Getting out of my Skinner Box

When I was a kid my teachers told me I was “hyperactive,” and they gave me lots of demerits to emphasize their point. I’m pretty sure, had I been born later, I would have been considered ADHD. I coped reasonably well for most of my life, but the advent of the smart phone was not good. Since then I’ve struggled to stay focused long enough to write and do other things that require stretches of solitude and flow. These days the one two three punch of laptop, smart phone, and Twitter are enough to keep me nearly always distracted.

I have tried all of the things people try. I used RescueTime for a while but I really didn’t like all the tracking. So, I tried Freedom but I tended to just re-boot my computer when I thought to myself “I just need to look up that one reference, I’ll turn Freedom back on as soon as I do.” An hour of surfing later I’d ruefully contemplate the inadequacy of a reboot to inhibit distraction – it simply doesn’t cost enough.

More recently I set up a second computer that doesn’t even have a working web browser on it and started working in an attic room with the wifi turned off downstairs. I figured at least then I’d have to make a trip down and back up the stairs to turn the wifi back on. Sometimes it works. Sometimes I just get more stair climbs on my fitbit. I’ve also used all the minimalist text editors. Whatever. They are nicely distraction free in their design, but they’re just a screen away from the distractions. When the itch starts to build they do nothing to prevent the quick alt-tab into the rabbit hole.

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Public vs. Private Cloud: Price isn’t enough

Last October Simon Wardley and I stood on a rainy sidewalk at 28th St. in NYC arguing politely (he’s British) about the future of cloud adoption. He argued, rightly, that the cost advantages from scale would be overwhelming compared to home-brew private clouds. He went on to argue, less certainly in my view, that this would lead inevitably to their wholesale and deep adoption across the enterprise market. 
 
I think Simon bases his argument on something like the Rational Economic Man theory of the enterprise. Or, more specifically, the Rational Economic CFO. If the costs of a service provider are destined to be lower than the costs of internally-operated alternatives, and your CFO is rational (most tend to be), then the conclusion is foregone.
 
And of course, costs are going down just as they are predicted to. Look at this post by Avi Deitcher, Does Amazon’s Web Services Pricing Follow Moore’s Law? I think the question posed in the title has a fairly obvious answer. No. Services aren’t just silicon, they include all manner of linear terms, like labor, so the price decreases will almost certainly be slower than Moore’s law, but his analysis of the costs of a modestly sized AWS solution and in-house competition is really useful. 
 

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Net Neutrality: They’re too mad, we’re too happy

The Net Neutrality vote is over and to some people the results suggest an end of America as we know it. To the net neutrality haters an un-elected body just voted on an impenetrable secret protocol whose true purpose is to enslave our minds with the Obamanet. Or, according to Mark Cuban, it’s little more than a vendetta against the cable companies because, I don’t know, a Jim Carey movie made us hate them or something.

On the other hand, the regulation = freedom crowd seems to think that this 300 pages of unseen but inspirational prose has finally secured the unicorn future we’re due. We’ll graze on an equal access commons of high-rez candy corn planted by anyone with a network connection, and flitted to us at light speed without regard to its maker’s race, creed, or ability to pay. But to me, it’s mostly disappointment with how policy gets made and some agita about when and how the inevitable unintended consequences will reveal themselves. Even now it’s really hard to know what we’re cheering for, or angry about, and whether the policy we haven’t seen but still manage to love or hate will come even close to achieving its lofty goals.

I count myself as part of the “we’re” on the happy side because I’ve been generally for doing something to improve net neutrality in the face of increasingly obvious monopoly power at the telecom layer of the Internet. Prices are high, speeds are low, and the network innovation the haters are afraid of choking off isn’t happening anyway. Unless you count what Google is doing. But they’re doing it as a defense, and they aren’t doing it in enough places to matter.

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