NetKernel News Volume 3 Issue 16

March 9th 2012

What's new this week?

Catch up on last week's news here

Repository Updates

There are no updates this week.

Tom Latest

Here's the latest from Tom - this time he's "borrowing" some stuff he overheard recently ;-) No harm in that - when we re-state concepts we all gain from a different perspective.

Tom's book is now a wrap and has been released to manufacture - which means it can be resolved here and should be reified as a representation soon after. Congratulations Tom Geudens, author.

Today I discuss a rather important question in IT ... "What did you expect ?".

If you missed the entry (or dancing lesson) last week, here it is :

As always your questions, opinions and ideas for future posts are welcomed at practicalnetkernelgmailcom.

Chris Cormack's ARS

Chris has updated his Apposite Repository Server...

Want to run your own apposite repository? Want to be able to put packages on it from your build system? Want to put packages on a test repository and then easily publish them to your production repository? If you answer yes to any of these, then I am pleased to announce the new version of ARS (Apposite-Repository-Server) which does all of these (and more)! Released under the MIT license and available through the NetKernelROC community repository (see

for instructions on how to connect).

For more details, support and feedback please point your browser here.

NKP LoadBalancer

Tony has produced another piece of engineering craftsmanship. A full featured load balancer endpoint for NKP. It features round-robin, session affinity and fail-over balancing algorithms - but is also extensible.

This piece of killer plumbing is explained in-depth by Tony on his blog...

Mankind's Greatest Invention

You've probably heard this question before. What is mankind's greatest invention?

Undoubtedly you will hear jokey replies from those who think that we ought to be called Hommer Sapiens. Things like "beer", "the couch", "TV", "Nuclear Power Plants".

But those that know the ontological argument for the existence of god, will recognise that we can surely conceive of the existence of "the combo of all of the above", the nuclear powered TV beer couch, which must surely be a greater invention and must therefore be the greatest?

Sorry, but just as both Hommer and the Ontological argument do not hold water, neither does a jokey reply. This is a serious question.

You might, more seriously, hear. "Fire". Which is a good candidate and is certainly one of the inventions which we critically rely upon (I know this all too well having spent multiple weeks this year experiencing the Minnesotan winter).

Fire is very important and mastery of fire is something I think you need to teach your kids as soon as possible. Contrary to popular wisdom, playing with matches is essential, its understanding the interplay and balance between fuel, spark and oxygen that separates man from beast and allows us to take our hydro-thermal vent with us wherever we are. (I've found through empirical experimentation that six seems to be a good age - my six year old daughter is regularly given the job of lighting, building and stoking the open fire.)

Another strong candidate and widely quoted is "the wheel" - but important as it is, a close runner-up to fire, it is still not the greatest.

Equally we can quickly dismiss "the computer". Its pretty obvious that, much as we enjoy playing with them, they are hardly mission critical to our success as a species. We did pretty well for several deca-millenia before Babbage "swung the thigh-bone" of automated computation. But undoubtedly computing is a top-ten entry.

So lets procrastinate no further. Mankind's greatest invention is "the bag". Yes, the bag.

Hand bag, carrier bag, shopping bag, basket, pocket, paper bag, sack, box, carton, shipping container (these last are all classifiable as bags as we shall see)... even Tony's "man bag".

The bag is undoubtedly the greatest invention of mankind. How can I assert this? Quite simply. Of all the inventions I've listed or you might think of, the bag is the one that is the most ubiquituous. You can get by for a day without fire and wheels and computers... Try going one day (an hour even) without using a bag? I bet you can't.

Imagine being a hunter gatherer without a bag? Imagine being a farmer without bags (sacks).

So what is a bag? Well very simply it is a physical manifestation of a set. It provides a way for us to conceptualize and manipulate the many in the form of a one. (Plato probably had a large collection of man-bags).

Sets (and so bags) allow us to deal with the complexity of the world and to simplify it. Rather than having to consider and deal with multiple interactions we create one set and deal with it alone. (Not 100 gathered nuts and berries but one bag of nuts and berries).

Now, you know and I know that I write these articles to mess with your mind. I am softening you up to take the mental leap to using ROC.

The trick to jumping S-curves to the ROC domain is to step away from the nuts (and berries) of low-level code and instead to try and look for what you can place in a bag. To identify the sets. Sets will invariably contain sub-sets. So seeking the set is a scale-invariant pursuit.

The reason ROC works so well is the same reason bags are the most important invention. Manipulating many things in one go is a lot easier, leads to a clean conceptual architecture and thermodynamically requires less energy. This is the art of ROC.

To paraphrase my then ten-year old brother's 1980's key ring...

Sets: the breakfast of champions

More Missionary Work

After a brief return to Europe this week, next week I shall be continuing my ongoing mission. To seek out civilisations and share the word of ROC in the USA. Which means there may or may not be time for a newsletter.

Walter Booth RIP. Bloody Marvellous.


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