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Seeing stars

Seeing stars

On Tender

Just one of the lovely things about my home and its location is that on a clear night I have a very good view of the stars. There is very little light pollution out in the wop wops.

When guests arrived over the holidays, we wheeled out the telescope and found Jupiter in all its glory. It’s like the type of jewellery that hippies with good taste (if there is such a thing) like to wear. It has earthly coloured bands across it and four twinkling moons that shine around its middle. It’s really quite pretty, especially if someone holds your head steady while you’re looking into the telescope because being night time and holidays there was a fair amount of drinking being done.

It’s times like these when we give thought to the year ahead and how things will once again change in the IT world to reform this job that we seem to live through. Tablets are in, PCs are out and your old server is now your 12-year-old’s gaming computer because everything is living in a cloud somewhere.

The DIA is looking for a provider to deliver desktop as a service and yet somehow maintain a traditional desktop environment. This is like looking at Jupiter and trying to grasp that it is a real life planet in our solar system and we are looking at it through some curved glass. Somehow the DIA wants us to deliver cloud computing but to keep it on their desktops. I’m sure someone will have a solution but I’m just as baffled by that as by the beauty of our own universe.

And equally baffled as to how resellers will continue making a living. Maybe Stephen Hawking knows. It’s easy to think of him when you’re sky-watching. Hawking is a bright fellow so he might have a clue.

Arguably the most intelligent man on our planet, he once had a friendly feud with some fellows about the nature of black holes and how they floss at bedtime or something. The colleague and Hawking agreed that whomever won their argument should be allowed to buy the loser the most ridiculous present they could think of. Hawking lost and was presented with a baseball almanac.

A huge book of baseball facts is probably as useless as it weighs, at least to an astrophysicist pondering the nature of space and time. But what a truly civilised way to behave. When someone lost a bet among my old gang, they got biffed in the guts.

A huge book of baseball facts is also about as useful as the DIA’s request to cloudify its desktops, but somehow keep it on the desktop. But like Hawking’s almanac, it’s obviously some kind of solvable conundrum. An almanac contains historical facts -- game attendance, batting averages, innings pitched -- that can help baseball experts predict what might happen in a coming season, at least in theory.

But this is all an insular business, scrutinised only by baseball fanatics, with little relevance to other people’s lives. Hawking may have scoffed at baseball facts, but he does the same thing. He looks at things in the

past all day long, the light or radiation from stars, black holes and planets takes a lot of time to reach his eyes. Everything in the night sky is therefore already in the past tense. He then uses these facts to determine the future or at least our understanding of it. And finally his world of astro physics is insular and bares no relevance to people outside this business.

The DIA will no doubt have to do something similar in its search for a virtual environment that is both here and there. Much like trying to predict our future by looking at our past the DIA must now look at its own past to predict who will supply its future.

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