inside the man

Saturday, January 31, 2004

The game of go

Why is go so good? I am attracted to, or rather obsessed with, the game at a number of levels. One of which is the game's paradoxical combination of simplicity and complexity which, at least for me, confers a numinous quality upon the game.

On one hand, go is an extremely simple game requiring a bowl full of black stones, a bowl full white stones, a 19 by 19 grid - although other grid sizes are sometimes used - and a simple set of rules. Basically, one player plays black and the other white; they take turns placing their stones, one at a time on the intersections of the grid; once placed stones never move, unless they are captured (then they are removed); stones are captured whenever they are not adjacent to at least one unoccupied intersection - a point - or adjacent to a stone of the same color that can trace an unbroken chain of stones the color to at least one unoccupied point. There are a couple of other rules to handle situations where the same sequence of plays could be repeated endlessly - similar to the rule in chess - and other circumstances. The game ends when both players pass. The object of the game is to surround more empty points than your opponent.

On the other hand, this simple game is dumfoundingly difficult to play, or at least to play well. This game has baffled amateurs and professionals alike - yes there are professional go players in Japan, China, Korea and neighboring countries - for hundreds of years. More recently, go has confounded computer scientists who have successfully computerized, notably, checkers and chess in recent years to a professional level of play or better. Go automation is currently surprisingly weak - at a level where even a relatively mediocre amateur can defeat the best software available.

It will come as no surprise that this wonderful, engaging, frustrating, enraging game that will change your life if you let it, has generated a massive body of literature similar to chess. Unfortunately, only a fraction is available in English. Go is a game of paradoxes - it is simple and it is complex, it is supremely logical and deeply intuitive, success depends on close quarters tactics and success depends on full board strategy, you can learn the rules in thirty minutes and will take you a lifetime to master.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Relocation complete
Relocating for work is a new experience for me. It is a rather jarring experience being uprooted in order to fulfill the motives of others. Still, it injects an element of adventure and exploration into my professional life that I find quite welcome and even revitalizing. Here's to a little variety to spice up one's professional situation!

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Drucker's New Pluralism
When I blogged Drucker's article the other day, I had only read the opening paragraph with consideration for his well known opinion on operating private enterprises in a balanced manor that is not exclusively focused on the bottom line. However, now that I have read the article, I find myself dumbfounded. This is not the new pluralism to which I have been referring. Drucker touches only briefly on cultural diversity, or diversity of any kind, but instead trumpets the virtues of the single purpose institution - and many of his arguments are highly questionable. Try to fathom the following statement: "The strength of the modern pluralist organization is that it is a single-purpose institution." So, modern pluralism is singularity of purpose? Bizarre.
Look for more from me on the real new pluralism soon.
H-T Family Album
The Hammond-Thrasher photo album is now online. Even if you are not interested in looking through my family photographs, you may want to look at JAlbum, a nice freeware Java photo album tool.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

The "new pluralism"
I have been pondering this term for some time now. My professional life brings me face to face with cultural diversity in Canada's public sector on a daily basis. When I think back to the research and field work that I carried out years ago as part of my undergraduate studies in comparative religion, I find myself wondering just what is "new"? In any case, understanding the changing faces of our communities remains a primary challenge for public and private sector institutional leadership in Canada and most developed and developing countries in the world. There is a growing body of literature on this topic across all disciplines, some of which I am currently trying to wrap my mind around. One example of a call for recognition of this issue is Peter Drucker's short 1999 paper "The New Pluralism". Drop me an email if you have thoughts on this topic.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Sensei's Library: Go Comic Strips
I should have known when I posted the link to Almost Sente yesterday that Sensei's library would have links to other go related comic strips. Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Logarithmic Maps of the Universe
Until I looked at this map, I was completely disoriented.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Almost Sente
The only comic strip about go available in both English and Polish. Quite clever - humor that only a seasoned go fan could appreciate. Littered with Hikaru no Go, Pi, Beautiful Mind, and historical references.

Friday, January 09, 2004

The seven habits of wildly unsuccessful CIOs
TechRepublic posted this item, which is both humorous and wise, last month. To add to the irony, right above the second habit, "Exhibit a knee-jerk reaction against open source", there appeared a web ad from Microsoft arguing that Linux has an 11% to 22% higher TCO than Windows servers in "4 out of 5 scenarios".

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Wardriving in Calgary
On January 6, 2004, I was driving into Calgary, Alberta from the North and decided to try a little wardriving. I fired up the laptop and turned on Network Stumbler and got my first hit right at the city limits on Deerfoot Trail. By the time I had reached my downtown destination, following one brief detour across the river for coffee, I had 136 hits. Interestingly, about 60 of these did not have WEP enabled, and 11 were peer nodes. I should also mention that there is a high correlation between end points with no encryption (WEP turned off) and end points that are clearly using default SSIDs.
What are people thinking? Adding a wireless endpoint to your home or office and not securing it in some way is the digital equivalent of building a new external doorway into your home of office and not even bothering to install a door!

Monday, January 05, 2004

Burn, Baby, Burn in Norway
Aftenposten reports that Jon Lech Johansen's acquittal has been upheld. Last year, a Norwegian court acquitted Johansen of criminal charges related to his involvement in breaking DVD encryption then publishing the exploit to the world. Johansen, now 20 years old, was a teenager at the time these acts took place. Slashdot reports that the Oekokrim (Norway's white collar crime unit) has decided not take the case to further appeals. A Slashdot editor comments that this means it is legal to burn personal backup of your DVDs in Norway. Doesn't New Zealand's new copyright legislation make this act explicitly legal as well?

Saturday, January 03, 2004

A Couple of Columns on Canadian Copyright
The Globe and Mail Technology section has a thoughtful editorial by Kate Taylor and a year in review piece from the Global folks at

About Me

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Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Returned to working as a Management Consultant, specializing in risk, security, and regulatory compliance, with Fujitsu Canada after running the IT shop in the largest library in the South Pacific.

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