Andre Durand

Discovering life, one mistake at a time.

Archive for the ‘Musings’

Peer-to-Peer: A Worthy Pursuit

November 01, 2001 By: Andre Category: Musings

“P2P”… it’s not just a hip new acronym for the latest new computing model, but the foundation for our ability to communicate freely, without even the possibility of manipulation or central control.

Peer-to-Peer: A Worthy Pursuit

November 01, 2001 By: Andre Category: Musings

By Andre Durand

“P2P”, it’s not just a nifty new acronym for the latest new computing paradigm, but the computing equivalent of an operating system inherently immune to attack, manipulation and control which would in any way limit our restrict or freedom to communicate.

I’ve followed the outskirts of the peer-to-peer computing conversation for the past year, commenting at times for journalists on Jabber’s role in the emerging P2P space, and drawing parallels to the well known oscillation of client/server & terminal/host computing, but never before have I internalized the true importance of this concept as I have this morning.

Thought leaders and visionaries such as Tim O’Reilly amongst others have spoken about the importance of keeping the Internet distributed and free from any one central entity or control that would have a capability of manipulating or otherwise capitalizing it in ways contrary to our collective ability to use it as a medium to freely communicate. Only this morning did I come to fully appreciate the importance of these statements, and the role and importance of peer-to-peer computing in ensuring that we, as individuals, maintain our freedom to communicate across cultural, political, social and religious boundaries.

If you take as a truism the statement, “Any system that can be abused will,” then it follows that where interests are driven by needs or desires which run contrary to a common good (a freedom to communicate), the system will be abused.

As I read the NY Times this morning and translate the governments actions to prevent terrorism into similar computing strategies inherently and architecturally designed to thwart ‘terrorist’ like actions to de-capacitate them, de-centralization and a networks inherent ability to re-route information through any available channel becomes a foregone conclusion, and P2P, in its purest sense, takes on a whole new importance for me personally.

Based upon my conclusions this morning, I plan to spend considerable time in the coming weeks researching the work already done in the P2P space, but my initial sense is that furthering this technology is a very worthy pursuit.

Sunset Waters – Curacao

November 01, 2001 By: Andre Category: Musings

We hauled anchor around 11pm on Wednesday the 24th for the Western edge of Caracao. Kim and I had scoped out a resort along the ocean near an inlet where we thought we could anchor our boat for a night before going offshore for the 40 mile sail to Aruba.

The wind was blowing 20 to 25 knots, and we made good time, averaging 8 knots the entire way along the coastline. We arrived about 2 hours earlier than expected at around 4pm that afternoon.

The inlet is beautiful, and shared only by two other boats, one a good 65 foot Cat with all the toys, easily a $1.5M boat, potentially a charter boat.

While only intending to stay one night, we’ve been here a full week now, deciding to extend our stay as Kim completed here PADI diving instruction.

The diving here is some of the best I’ve seen anywhere in the world. It’s absolutely pristine. We’ve been diving twice now, once at around 10pm at night off the coast of the resort. We caught a 3 pound Lobster for the first time that night, but accidentally killed it on the way back to the boat. Both Craig and I have had an overwhelming sense of guilt about that one, as we ended up not eating it, afraid to ask for a pot big enough to cook it, and afraid about it having sat in warm water all night dead.

Yesterday, Craig and I went snorkeling off the coast about a half mile from the resort. About 30 minutes into our drift, Craig’s dingy was stolen by 2 locals who had the gonzo’s to swim out to our boat, tied to a mooring about 300 yards offshore. Craig started yelling at me from about 300 feet… I heard him underwater. I turned to see the boat at shore, with a guy still in it. Craig and myself both immediately started screaming, and swimming towards shore. They guys were trying to figure out how to get the engine off, but it was cabled to the boat (lucky thing). They’d look up periodically to measure where we were in the water, calculating the time they had left. When we were about 200 meters from shore, they wandered up the path, taking my backpack with them.

Luckily, I didn’t have my camera or phone in the backpack. They got off with my shirt, towel, drivers license, credit card, health card, Gator 40+ sunblock, Gucci sunglasses and OP sun-hat. I had maybe $2 in US currency, and around $15 in Venezuelan currency.

Upon retrieving the boat, we took it back to dock, and got in a car to see if we could catch the guys as they made their way from the beach along about a two mile road. While we never saw them, we did find most of my stuff strewn randomly in the cactus alongside the road. I retrieved my shirt, sunglasses, credit card, health card, towel and eye drops, but could not find the backpack, drivers license or hat.

We’re going to have to be more careful, but who would have thought that someone would swim out to a boat tied to a buoy and steel it right from under our noses, and with us still swimming around?

Next time, I’m locking my sandals, my backpack and my sunglasses to the boat. It’s like anything not locked or tied down will get stolen.

Oh well, a bit of an adventure anyways.

We’ve met these really nice people who work the beach here at the resort, and we’ve taken to playing tennis and volleyball with them every evening. Tomorrow we take off for Aruba, about a week later than we had expected.

We’re thinking that we’ll be home on or around the 10th of November. Not sure yet,  will depend on if we stay on the boat to Columbia and if we go to Costa Rica or not.

Global Consciousness 1.0

October 23, 2001 By: Andre Category: Musings

Global Consciousness 1.0 (GC1)
Concept Paper

By Andre Durand – October 2001

Preface and Acknowledgements
About eighteen months ago, I had a conversation with a very good friend, Bryan Field-Eliot, about ideas he had for a feedback and surveying system. As we all view the future through the goggles of our past, my contribution to the conversation focused on my recent foray into open source and the influence of accessibility in effecting global ubiquity. While reading the only scarcely available US magazines here in the Caribbean covering the war on terrorism, I couldn’t help but revisit the conversation we had many months ago, as it became apparent to me that the future of geo-political decision making process is undergoing radical change, and input across multiple state, political and cultural boundaries is a necessity in a world where every major decision directly impacts a global society. A particularly sleepless night found me at my keyboard, in an attempt to capture as much of those ideas as possible.

We live on the precipice of globalization, where our belief systems along with the fabric of our social, political and economic status are no longer separate and independent, but interconnected and influenced both directly and indirectly by one another. For the first time in the history of mankind, ubiquity of information has given rise to an unparalleled global awareness, where the interconnectedness of today’s global interactive communications infrastructures promises to create a world-stage for opinion and group decision process. The net result is a ‘Global Consciousness’ consisting of thoughts that are nearly instantaneously transmitted, replicated and absorbed into the consciousness and thought processes of others.  The purpose of this essay is to explore the tools, infrastructure and processes required to accelerate this global consciousness, whereby at any moment in time the world’s thoughts, questions, problems and answers are captured and transmitted, discussed and resolved on a global level.

Assumptions and Theories

 Humans strive for equality with the same ferocity that chaos confronts order.
 Life is neither fair nor balance, equality and harmony a law, but where human passion and desire lie, so lies energy and action. 
Information is the tool that exposes inequality and imbalance
Wherever information uncovers imbalance, real or perceived, there is an equal and opposite human desire to balance it.

If two minds are better than one, then two million minds are better than two. Whether making small personal decisions or world changing ones, the more processing power put to the problem the faster and better informed the resolution. In the computer world, parallel processing provides a mechanism of scaling computational power by allowing multiple processors to simultaneously compute different parts of a larger problem. If connected properly, is not each individual mind a ‘processor’ in the world’s first real human super computer? The interstitial superhighway exists, but higher level protocols designed to coordinate and connect individual thoughts at a level contemplated in this essay have yet to emerge.

If what we think influences how we act, and what we think is increasingly influenced by what others think through a rise in the availability of information, then why not build a system designed to coordinates and channel the independent and inefficient redundancies of human thought into a system which can be used to foster better decision making and consensus building. If for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, then the bigger the action, the more carefully we need to contemplate our decisions, and the more useful this system becomes on a global stage.

The concept of GC1 is to build a system or protocol that leverages existing communications networks to facilitate the construct of a Global Consciousness. To build a communications infrastructure that coordinates the world’s collective processing power to resolve the problems that challenge it, where the gravity of any particular issue draws automatically upon an increasingly larger collection of individuals to process and create resolution.

Done correctly, this system would become the backbone of the world’s consciousness, and directly impact every decision of every individual, group and government in the world.

As with any idea constituting far-reaching potential, this concept can be mishandled by those that wish to manipulate the potential power of such a system. Therefore, I believe it is monumentally important that any implementation must be developed in the open, with a conscious and rigorous adherence to some basic principals and understanding of human rights. This system must be architecturally designed to thwart any potential corruption and manipulation, and capable of ensuring at least two unalienable rights:  

1. Everyone has a right to live, free of fear
2. Everyone has a right to think and pronounce their thoughts without consequences, provided they in no way they violate or cause to be violated Human Right #1.
What is a Thought?
For purposes of this paper, a thought is any idea, expression or question that can be communicated in writing in a manner easily understood, distributable, archivable, searchable and or otherwise made available to others via any communications network. A thought may or may not be linked to the demographics of the poster at their choosing.

It is anticipated that this system would automatically determine which thoughts collectively interested the most people and would automatically filter to the top and thereby be made visible to more and more people. 

Thoughts endure, even if they have only limited applicable life

How It Might Work
GC1, in its simplest form, might take the form of a protocol which is optimized to describe a thought, its format, its routing and the mechanisms by which it is aggregated and reported on.

Take for example a recent question such as, “Should the US bomb Afghanistan in retaliation for the terrorist attacks on NY?” This is a question that is being both asked and opinions formed by nearly everyone in the world. While different socio-political groups might answer this question differently, collectively, there is a ‘world-opinion’, and whether this opinion is taken into account or not by the groups or individuals responsible for action, these opinions WILL result in action affecting the final outcome. If GC1 existed today, this question, and the opinion of everyone who cared to process this question, would be collectively surveyed, instantly propagated and universally known by all.

Done right, this system would be self-regulating, distributed and architecturally designed to eliminate even the possibility of manipulation or centralized control. The system would be capable of filtering and routing thoughts only to individuals who cared to see them. The system would be able to do this for millions of thoughts simultaneously, and capable of showing which thoughts were consuming the collective ‘processing power’ of the world (a TOP TEN THOUGHTS worldwide for example). Over time, the system would represent an archive of the collective human consciousness, think of it as the ultimate knowledge base.

It is contemplated that the system would take on an overly simplified initial user interface, one in which the concept would be easily and instantly recognized, but which would grow over time in sophistication, providing increasingly more powerful ways to connect thoughts, survey opinion and provide feedback and actionable recommendations.

One of the major hurdles in constructing such a system is identifying ways in which only the issues, questions, concerns and/or thoughts that are of interest to an individual are ever viewed by that individual, knowing that these will change over time on a case by case basis.

The system must be easily and instantly accessible, while not intrusive so as to diminish its value or cause itself to be removed.

The system would likely collect demographic information over time in an unassuming and subtle manner, whereby this information was used to better route and aggregate thoughts into consensus and reporting.

The implications and potential applications of such a system are staggering. Corporations spend billions annually in collecting information from consumers to track preferences, trends and desires. Even more is lost each year in poorly made decisions related to products and services that ultimately fail as a result of poor intelligence.

What if General Motors, contemplating a particularly ‘radical’ new car design, was able to instantly survey 100,000 would be customers and automobile fanatics?

It’s a well known fact that successful politics require a keen and timely understanding of public opinion. Polling, today accomplished through dispirit means, has no centralized repository and no single method of dissemination. Today’s methodologies rely on “sampling”, which is ‘statistically’ valid, but costly, time consuming and in many respects archaic by today’s Internet standards.

The Connection to Jabber
While ultimately, I believe that this system, or protocol should be transport agnostic, there are some obvious connections to Jabber. I think that XML should be used as the protocol foundation, and I think that routing and ‘push’ to the desktop are also key elements of the a system which Jabber is particularly well suited to facilitate.

While the system and many components of it should be accessible through HTTP, the web’s passive approach to content delivery is insufficiently aggressive to incubate such a system into popular use. I think the Jabber client  approach is much more likely to contain the usability attributes required to introduce this system into societies daily routines.

Well, that about captures the thinking to date… Hopefully now I can get a good nights sleep!


Curacao – Part Deux

October 23, 2001 By: Andre Category: Musings

We seemed to have grown into a routine on the boat lately. I can now do the basics, and am getting to know the various sounds which are so much a part of this life-style… the water-maker, the inverter (for charching things), the fresh water pump etc. etc.

I need to find an activity. I really wish I could surf. Kite boarding looks difficult and its expensive to get into. Craig is quite good.

We rented a car the other day and visited a few of the tourist attractions. Saw some cool stuff, here are the photos…

Came across this building on the way out of town and thought the staircase to nowhere was quite unusual and very cool. Turns out, after I took the photo, the same photo won second place in a local photography contest.

Stopped at the top of a hill on the way to Sunset Waters, a Casino/Resort at the west of the island. We’ll stop at this bay on the way to Aruba in the next day or so. It’s about 10 miles from where we are currently in Spanish Waters.

We visited a local wildlife preserve yesterday. Kim found a new friend!

A quick self-portrait taken at Westpunte, at the end of the island.

Pirates Paradise

October 19, 2001 By: Andre Category: Musings

We left Bonaire at around 9:30am on Wednesday, heading West (downwind) on about 10 knots of wind towards Caracao, 30 miles away. We motored for the first hour and then programmed our heading into the auto-pilot. I gather we had a pretty typical day ‘cruising’. This was our 8th day on the boat, and while I was just starting to unwind, Kim was just entering the ‘I’m over it’ phase. She’s read 4 books in the past week, and I can tell just by looking at her that the girl needs people©¼ I felt the same way she feels after about 3 months in Alaska, so, I recognize the signs.

The Caracao bay, otherwise known as “Spanish Waters” is really beautiful. After passing yet another place called ‘Santa Barbara’ (there was a Santa Barbara on Bonaire also) on the way into the bay, there appeared to be a good number of cruisers anchored in harbor.

Yesterday morning we took our dingy to an abandoned bar and cruiser hang-out called Sarrafundy Bar. Unfortunately, a recent dispute between the owners left the place ‘temporarily’ abandoned. For a fairly good-sized bay with a lot of boats, its amazing that there are absolutely NO cruiser services. If you want ice, supplies, liquor or your laundry done, you need to take a 30 minute bus ride into town. We hitchhiked into town yesterday amidst a rare squalor coming out of the North in an old Suzuki Samari. I put my new travel clothes to the test as I sat in the back seat, drenched by the down pore.

Downtown is beautiful, full of colorful and majestically architected. The place looks like a scene from the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland.

Last night we got invited to ‘happy hour’ on a neighboring boat. Seems pretty much the thing to do. Everyone sits around and talks about boats, politics, terrorism and the difference in local rum’s. We had a good time. Kim especially had a good time. She said that even the word ‘happy hour’ made her happy.

Today we don’t have any plans except for hitchhiking it back into town. I’ll see if I can hit an Internet Caf¨¦, they’re everywhere down here.

On the 30 mile trek to Caracao

Finding immigration was absolutely rediculous…. the place is absolutely hidden, as if they don’t want people to find it. It was under a bridge, around a corner, through a locked gate, behind another building etc. etc. etc.

I finally asked this guy sitting in front of this building where immigration was, he said, through the right door…

Upon coming to the door, I found the following sign… pretty typical.

Boy is it easy to get around down here without being tracked.

While having lunch in front of the Internet cafe, I came across the following tree.

The city is absolutely awesome. This is the view from across the bay.

Another picture of this little pirate city in the south.

Sunsets here are awesome, here is last night.


Cruising Life

October 16, 2001 By: Andre Category: Musings

There is an whole subculture I’ve discovered in the past few days called Cruisers. It basically consists of couples in their late 40’s who have for one reason or another, checked out of life as you and I know it by selling their homes, buying a boat and cruising around the world, their timetables completely set by the timing of hurricane season at this port or that port.

They are an interesting group and have each, in their own way, settled into a life-style and routine shared by all other cruisers. In the past few days, as I reconcile my daily activity which concists of a whole lot of nothing, I thought I’d outline what a typical day consists of:

– you wake up whenever your eyes open up and you decide that you can’t hold out from going to the bathroom any longer, or a dog barking or rooster won’t shut-up.

– you wonder to the kitchen, rubbing your belly, wondering what you should eat for breakfast… eggs? cereal? frech toast? Its a big decision, you find that most of the day revolves around your decisions of what to eat.

– after eating, you wonder top-side and take a sit… your vision meanders around to see if anyone else is up yet… if they are, you wave… its the polite thing to do.

– after a few minutes, you grab a nearby magazine or newspaper, wondering if there’s an article that you’ve not yet read 3 times already.

– around this time, duty calls, and you meander back to the bathroom. There’s this whole routine you need to follow…but be careful not to do the dirty when the engine is running and the boat is making water… could end up making some pretty nasty water! Craig says the exit spout is about 10 inches from the entrance spout… I made that mistake yesterday… and subsequently didn’t drink any water… 🙂

– perhaps you decide to go shore-side and run a few erands. This morning it was, check email, go to the pharmacy, get some ice… etc. etc. nothing ever that important.

– you go back to the boat and sit there, perhaps read a book… in my case, take a picture or too of something not too interesting or get out my laptop and write up some business or Jabber ideas.

– around noon, you make a PBJ sandwich and wash it down with some look warm milk.

– you might take a nap, or actually, just lounge with your eyes closed and your arms over your eyes to protect you from the sun.

– around 2 or 3 you might jump in the water, swim around for 5 minutes, then get out and concentrate on drying off.

– around 4 or 5, you lounge some more, or take a nap, this time, you might actually be tired enough to doze off.

– around 6 or 7, you might take a shower to get the salt and day’s grime off.

– about this time you turn on the stereo, and listen to some album you’ve heard 10,000 times, last night it as AC/DC and then Winger.

– then you talk about dinner, what to do, what to eat, what to drink. They are all major decisions… 

– you eat, you put in a video you’ve seen several times already, noticing things you never quite saw before…

– play some cards, chat a bit and retire around 8:30pm top-side.

THAT’S IT, THAT’S A TYPICAL DAY! Well, here are some photo’s…

The morning view from my bed…

The view of Craig from my bed topside…

More shots of the famous 3 scooters as they toured Bonaire.

More of the same…

Slave huts used for the salt-workers.

More shots of the slave huts for the salt-workers.

You can see how small they actually are…

The whiteslave huts… located about a 1/2 mile from the red slave huts…

Andre, doing what he does best…


A very cool wind-surfers village on the beach near a bay. will

Kim, kicken it on the boat.

The view of our temporary neighbors.

The view at sunset.

More of the same.

More of the same.



Caracas and Bonaire

October 15, 2001 By: Andre Category: Musings

We left NY out of Newark on Monday at around 3pm. It was a weird feeling being in the airport with guards armed everywhere. Kim was on the lookout for terrorists the second we sat down at our terminal, and I formulated 101 ways to retake a hijacked plane… I figured I’d start by throwing my laptop at the guy and then I’d storm-troop behind Kim as she screamed her way to the front…

Caracas was un-eventful. The prices were definitely not cheap, we stayed at a Hilton in town and did a bit of sight-seeing, but nothing too spectacular. Our flight to Bonaire was late (no surprise), we arrived at 11pm Wednesday night (the 10th), we were supposed to get in at 11am. Craig was there waiting for us at the airport and we headed to his boat with 500lbs of luggage! 🙂

Craig’s boat is awesome. Thus far, we’ve spent the past 5 days doing just about nothing. I read my first Newsweek magazine cover to cover. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before… ever. (Kim spent the afternoon drinking with the locals… and then fell off the boat into the drink upon her return…) no surprise there…

Here are some photo’s that we took in the first few days. More to come…

This shot taken from a restaurant in Caracas overlooking the bay.

He likes to be called “Captain Craig” nowadays..

Where we spend most of our time on shore… at the local bar…

We rented scooters and hopped around the island. This was one of the shots from a cave with indian paintings on it. I subsequently bumped my noggen pretty hard on one of those stalagtites.

Another shot of our scooters, in front of a closed tourist trap.

One of the highlights. The only export on the island…. salt.

More photo’s of the salt piles, this time with Kim in the picture.

A shot heading back into town after about 60 miles.

Craig’s new sport. Kite sailing…

Found a place here called “Santa Barbara”, figured, since Craig and I were both from there, we’d take a picture.


Ground Zero, New York City

October 15, 2001 By: Andre Category: Musings

We stopped in NY City for the weekend of October 6th. That Sunday afternoon, Kim and I walked down to ground zero, the pictures speak for themselves, but pictures cannot reproduce the smell of anxiety, fear, sorrow and patriotism, which grew stronger with each approaching block…

On our way to ground zero, we came across an art gallery which was converted to a museum of photo’s documenting contributed photo’s from individuals at the WTC. No one left with dry eyes.

7 Blocks – Subway Closed Sign…

6 Blocks – “Make Peace Not War” written on window

5 Blocks – Window shopping… An empty jewelry store…

5 Blocks – An emtpy office

4 Blocks –

4 Blocks – Windows not yet washed…

Where the towers used to stand…

Ground Zero (3 Blocks)

Ground Zero (3 Blocks)

Software License Strategies

October 04, 2001 By: Andre Category: Musings

Jabber, Inc. has adopted an open-source strategy which entails a parallel develop path, with a timed and un-timed release of commercial code to open source. 

In careful analysis of our options, we’ve developed a strategy that requires multiple software licenses in order to achieve a maximization of our goals and objectives when it comes to balancing our requirements for revenue with our commitment to open source.