Elizabethan London

Elizabethan London
Tyburn was an infamous execution spot west of London, used since medieval times. The Tyburn "tree" - a unique, multi-person gallows - erected in 1571 became a popular public spectacle, drawing crowds of thousands.Tyburn Tree blog is less blood-thirsty but hopefully topical, interesting and informative, if slightly bent to my personal topics of interest - books, writing, history, technology, with a smattering of politics and dash of pop culture, science and the downright strange. So "take a ride to Tyburn" and see what happens...

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Vieux Montreal

We were recently in Montreal for a Bantam hockey tournament (before their record dump of snow).

If you have ever had the opportunity to roam Montreal, I highly recommend making sure you tour through the Vieux Montreal area, in particular la Basilique Notre-Dame is well worth a look.

Pics are below, along with a couple shots of the boys hockey action.  Not a great tournament result for the team, but much fun had by all!
Place d' Armes, Vieux Montreal

Basilique Notre-Dame, interior
Rue Saint Sulpice

Basilique Notre-Dame, interior
Rue de la Capitaile
He shoots....and is robbed!

More action at the net

Rue Saint Paul, Vieux Montreal

Rue Saint Paul, Vieux Montreal
Restaurant des Gouverneres

Vieux Montreal

Basilique Notre-Dame at night

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

We are Anonymous

If you want to gain an understanding of Internet and hacker culture, however cursory, the excellent book We Are Anonymous:  Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency  by Parmy Olsen is a good entry point.

The book traces and outlines the evolution and growth of the loose "hive mind/hacker collective" that eventually morphs into the online hacking group Anonymous (typified by the stylized, blank faced Guy Fawkes masks from the film V for Vendetta now commonly seen at protests).

Anonymous is the amphorous, changable and often desultory collection of online hackers, script-kiddies, black-hat virus makers and anarchists that have aggregated into one of the more unique and potentially dangerous expressions of online culture. Olson traces the key elements that drove the development and growth of Anonymous, keying in on its more spectacular denial of service attacks and other hacking activities (including Anonymous's role in the Arab Spring) that have brought down web targets as diverse as CBS and the CIA.  The author takes a detailed look at a core group of hackers, paralleling their lives and the evolution of Anonymous from a loose affiliation of 4Chan message board lurkers and hackers into a more political, radical and anarchic agency.  The movement started from the subversive (and at times vicious) "trolling for the lulz" approach that morphed into Anonymous more by accident then design when it slammed into an online war with Scientology.

We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.

Olsen outlines the rise of Anonymous from minor Internet irritant to the bane of Internet security experts everywhere and how the FBI and the authorities in the US and the UK eventually traced back, turned and broke at least a key part of the most significant organized hacking organization (if you can call it that) in the world.

The book is timely, fascinating, somewhat disturbing look at hacker subculture, the darker corners of the Internet and the rise of a new type of collective activist capability that has the capacity to impact commerce, politics and social networks around the world.

It warrants a careful look.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

In The Plex

"In the Plex" is Steven Levy's a highly engrossing and well-written account of the the rise of Google from a garage start-up to a $30-billion colossus.

The book outlines Google from its initial conceptualization by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, examining the rise of its search capability, the advent of the advertising monster that became AdWords and AdSense (still accounting for the vast majority of Google's revenues), and the sometimes painful growth of the company from nimble start-up to Internet dominatrix.

Of particular interest is the gradual development of Google's market direction and management approaches, specifically in fostering innovation and new business opportunities. The author cites both hits and misses, delving into how Google works, thinks and acts.  Levy examines the many challenges the company has faced with issues such as privacy concerns, copyright issues, the seeesaw efforts in the China market, and the failure to catch the rising tide of the social media market.  The book looks at the evolution of both management and corporate culture including Google's reticence for revealing much information about itself and its the famous 'Don't be evil' mantra.

Google's well-known 20% rule - whereby employees can spend up to 20% of their time working on other projects - is mentioned but is one area of the book that seems sadly under-examined in the book as is very much insight into Google's innovation approaches, beyond the interests of the founders.

Of note to anyone in management is Google's application of OKRs - Objectives and Key Results approach (something devised by Andy Grove from Intel) in planning and setting business objectives and direction across the organization.  The OKR approach provided Google with a fundamental and rigorous objective planning system that was scalable across the rapidly growing organization, helping the new company in ensuring strong objective planning and a cohesive direction.

Well-written and in-depth, In the Plex is well worth your time.

Fenced Decks = Dog Jail