21. September 2021

Cosmo Code - The Geek Code for Physics and Cosmology

Do you remember the geek code in the 90s? It encoded how geeky you were and your thoughts about geeky topics. 

I am a physicist and I want a Cosmo Code that tells in short what I think about various physics and cosmological theories. 

My Cosmo Code is: 

bb+/un ci0 eu+ dm+/sn de- mv/rp sm+ ss- st- lqg+ gr+ sr++ gut- fp++/gf  sh0

What is your Cosmo Code?


We are starting with a format that is a bit more regular than the original Geek Code. Roughly:

  [ theory rating [ "/" modifier ] ]+


  theory: [a-z0-9]+
  modifier: [a-z0-9]+
  rating: "--" | "-" | "0" | "+" | "++"

Big Bang

bb--: Never Happened. There was nothing resembling a Big Bang like starting point. 

bb-: No Big Bang, maybe close, but no singularity.

bb0: I am not sure if there was a Big Bang. Things could be completely different. Maybe it only appears like there was a start. 

bb+: I think there was one. Maybe more, but our universe began with a singularity. 

bb++: There was a Big Bang almost 14 billion years ago starting with a singularity. After that the laws of nature unfolded. 

bb++/1: There was a Big Bang and only one. No cycles, no big crunch, no bounce, no conformal transformation. 

bb--/ss: No Big Bang, because the universe is in a steady state. 

bb-/cc: Conformal cyclic cosmology has a state that almost looks like a singularity for the new phase. 

bb+/un: Universe from nothing. Happens "all the time" if you wait "long enough" in a non-universe without time. 

Cosmic Inflation 

ci--: There was no initial inflation. Maybe even no Big Bang. All made up. Just one theory constructed after the data to fit the data, without another independent proof. 

ci-: Probably no initial inflation. It is just not necessary in order to generate the measured homogeneity in the microwave background. Also, the large-scale homogeneity of the current structure of the universe is in question. 

ci0: I don't know if there was an initial inflationary phase. There could be other explanations for the structure of the microwave background. I think we're still figuring that out

ci+: There probably was an initial inflationary phase resulting in the homogeneity we see in the microwave background and the current large-scale structure.

ci++: For sure there was inflation after the Big Bang. That's what explains the observational data. 

Expanding Universe

eu--: The universe is not expanding. It is infinite, static. What would it expand into? Also: science does not agree on the expansion rate. 

eu-: The universe is not expanding. May be tired light, may be another effect that only shows on a very large-scale. 

eu0: The jury is still out on continued expansion. It might just look like expansion. Sure, far galaxies are increasingly red. But that's so far away that even a small yet unknown effect might accumulate to let it look like redshift. We don't know enough. 

eu+: Looks like the universe is expanding. Also, the expansion is faster for galaxies farther out. 

eu++: The universe expands at an accelerating rate. That's what the data show. There is a Nobel price for that (a universe can be from nothing but not a Nobel price)

Dark Matter

dm--: Not necessary to explain the observations. Conclusions are misled by observation bias and by the desire to find "classical" answers. Sure, there are measurements, but they will be disproven or explained one at a time without dark matter. 

dm-: Something, just not matter. No particle, no heaps of frozen energy. There is an effect but it does not result from something in our universe, maybe not even from inside our universe. Should not be called dark gravity or not even "dark", just unexplained large-scale gravitic effects. 

dm0: Could be anything: modifications to gravitational theories, yet unmeasurable discrepancies in electromagnetic forces, shadow gravity from other universes. Or it might be a yet undiscovered not event theorized particle. Impossible to tell as long as the standard model is not the last word. 

dm+: Dark matter explains all the data better than any other theory, so I'd say 50:50 that there is stuff in our universe. 

dm++: There is dark matter, because it explains so many different observations. I also have a preferred theory on what it is made of. We just need more time to prove it. 

dm++/ax: with axions 

dm++/w: with WIMPs

dm++/bh: with black holes, tiny ones, and/or primordial or big ones. 

dm++/sn: with sterile neutrinos

Dark Energy

de-: Nope, no dark energy, because there is no explanation required. Even if it were, dark energy is a big gun. Any measurement can be explained with the properties "dominating the universe", "ubiquitous", "unknown". 

de-: Some measurements look like there is a need for a driving force that might even increase. Unfortunately, it has been called dark energy which is an even worse term than dark matter. There are no doubts about the measurements, but about their interpretation and about some assumptions that went into the calculations. 

de0: I am not sure if there is the need for dark matter. That's not even a theory yet. "Fills the universe uniformly" sounds like a modern Aether, the medium where EM-waves used to propagate. It might evaporate like its predecessor. 

de+: Something causes the universe to expand, and it is not the momentum from the Big Bang. 

de++: A field that uniformly fills the universe. Universe grows, so its power grows, hence accelerated expansion. As simple as that. You are the 4%. 

Standard Model of Particle Physics

sm--: The Standard Model is wrong. The interpretation of probability amplitudes is unclear. The theory is too complex, has too many parameters, is not unified with gravity, not even close. Also, there are experiments with statistically significant measurements that clearly show something is missing. It barely covers 4% of the universe. We need a new theory. 

sm-: The Standard Model works for everyday purposes just like Newton without Einstein: usually delivers the right numbers, but that does not make it the truth. The truth is very different and not yet known. May be strings or any supersymmetry, may be a holographic theory or something we do not yet grasp. 

sm0: The current Standard Model is just the current model. It is workable, but there have been many "standard" models. It is a set of equations that mostly return the numbers we find in experiments. The equations may be almost right or totally off. I don't care as long as they work. Future generations may develop totally different models. 

sm+: The Standard Model works very well. There might be small corrections necessary. But for all practical purposes now and in the foreseeable future the Standard Model (and General Relativity) is all we need. Even if there are measurements significantly above reasonable doubt which are not covered by the Standard Model, they will never lead to new physics that changes anything in our lives. 

sm++: Nature is not a collection of formulas. It just is. If we really want to cover nature by mathematics, then the formulas we call Standard Model are the best we can get. We won't come closer to the truth. The symbols in the Standard Model are good models for the particles and forces at play.


ss--: Definitely not Supersymmetry. Too much new stuff for too little gain. None of the extra particles materialized. Complete failure. We need something else. 

ss-: Hardly Supersymmetry. Claiming that 50 % of all required particles have already been found sounds like a win, but it does not solve the problem of the missing supersymmetric partners. Unlikely, but not impossible, though. 

ss0: May be Supersymmetry. Difficult to tell without any experimental confirmation. 

ss+: It's probably Supersymmetry. But it is difficult to choose which one. Looks kind of arbitrary. 

ss++: Supersymmetry it is. The future will tell which version exactly. Everything will fall into place. 

String Theory

st--: Vibrating non-entities is nonsense. You are not even allowed to ask what vibrates. Also, too many extra dimensions necessary. Nice try, but that is not how nature works. 

st-: Probably not. String Theory is not even complete. Too many open questions and some answers are problematic. 

st0: Could be true. Elegant approach, but too incomplete (yet?). Reproducing the observed spectrum of elementary particles needs arbitrary parameters. Unclear if they are emergent or if it is just another theory with a parameter set that is larger than desired. 

st+: String Theory unifies the forces, produces dark matter and even has inflation. Needs more research, but the direction is clear. 

st++: All particles are just oscillation modes of strings. Period. Problem solved.

st++/26: Bosonic string theory, 26-dimensions

st++/10: Superstring theory

st++/m: M-theory

Loop Quantum Gravity

lqg--: Spacetime is continuous on small scales. It is neither quantized, nor foamy.  

lqg-: Kind of pointless. A theory that has no measurable effect is useless. It is not even a scientific theory, because that needs a model and fitting data. 

lqg0: Undecided. Could be true or not. I don't care because it will never affect the real world. 

lqg+: Space is quantized and spacetime fluctuates on the Planck length. There is just no way to prove it or use it. 

lqg++: Loop Quantum Gravity merges quantum mechanics and general relativity. Experimentalists will find ways to show it. 


mv--: There is only one universe: ours. 

mv-: Practically there is no multiverse. Our universe seems to be much larger than our observable universe. We cannot even decide if our universe is infinite or just very large. Anything beyond our light cone should be beyond consideration.

mv0: Impossible to tell. Our universe may be part of a multiverse. But we will never know. 

mv+: There are many universes. Very many, but the number would be countable if anyone could count. They might induce each other. They might follow after each other sequentially. Black holes might spawn new universes. Our universe might be the inside of a black hole. Or maybe universes are branes and a Big Bang happens when 2 universes collide in the higher dimensional multiverse. 

mv++: There is a (practically or literally) infinite number of universes popping in an out of existence in the multiverse. Ours is just one of them that allows for life to emerge.

mv++/rp: Many with any combination of parameters. Some bear life, many do not, but who can tell what "some" and "many" mean with respect to an infinite number. 

General Relativity

gr--: General Relativity only seems to work. It is made to fit the data. Actually, the universe is driven by other forces. Gravity is so weak compared to other forces that even unmeasurable discrepancies or imbalances in the other three would completely dominate the universe. This is much more probable.  

gr-: General Relativity is an approximation. Galileo, Newton, Einstein, we are getting closer to the truth. But it is not the end of the road.

gr0: Just one theory. A good one, but it could be the wrong model. Imagine there are 2 models. Both returning the same numbers in the value ranges we are used to. But their interpretation is completely different. Both cannot be true. Yet we know only one such theory. We cannot compare. And because General Relativity works so well in practice, we are convinced that there is a 4-dimensional spacetime that is warped by matter and in turn creates geodesics for said matter. Even though General Relativity works, this may be the wrong picture. Just saying.

gr+: General Relativity works really well. But it is not compatible with Quantum Mechanics as we know it. There will be a theory that harmonizes probabilities of Quantum Mechanics with determinism of General Relativity. 

gr++: General Relativity is all we need to understand the interaction of matter, energy, and spacetime.

Special Relativity

sr--: FTL is possible. Tachyons are real. Special Relativity is an oppressive pseudo theory.

sr-: Quantum entanglement might be usable for communication in the future. An Alcubierre-like drive might move spacetime with less requirements than currently theorized and without being suppressed (I am talking to you, firewall). 

sr0: There may be more elaborate theories in the future. Maybe a grand unified theory has loopholes for paths beyond Special Relativity. 

sr+: Special Relativity doubtless works. Though we might find limited ways to work around it. Maybe causality is not "that badly violated" for purely inactive observers. 

sr++: The fact is: c is the limit. Not just for speed, but also for effects. No FTL travel, no time machines. Any theoretically possible path that seems to circumvent Special Relativity is practically forbidden by infinitesimal probabilities, by firewalls, by event horizons. No chance. 

Grand Unified Theory, Existence of

gut--: The three fundamental forces of the Standard Model plus General Relativity is all there is. Gravity is an effect of warped spacetime. It is an effective force, but not a fundamental one. There is no such thing as a spin 2 graviton (for that matter :-). No particle mediated force, no gauge theory, nothing to unify. Period. 

gut-: A unified theory does not have to be a gauge theory, not even a field theory. Maybe the field theory thing is wrong. Maybe the standard model is wrong. Maybe String Theory is right. Maybe Richard Feynman made computations easy and erected a smoke screen at the same time. It needs a new way of thinking. For sure there is a theory that harmonizes quantum and relativity, because they do co-exist in this universe. So, there must be a way to unify them. But it is not the GUT you expect.

gut0: Not sure if we will ever get there. The ways of the universe might be above us mere humans, even if we let our best specimen work on it. 

gut+: It takes longer than physicists thought, but sometime in the future the fundamental forces will be unified by a new theory, a new way to see the universe.

gut++: There is a unifying theory, and its name is X. 

Fermi Paradox

fp--: Not a paradox. There are no aliens. 

fp-: Irrelevant until the aliens land 

fp0: Many intelligent people talk about it, so it seems to be a thing. I don't know if we'll ever know and if we should care. Fun exercise, though. 

fp+: Interesting question. I wonder what the solution is. We'll find out.

fp++: It looks like a paradox, but that's only because of our limited knowledge. It has a solution, and the solution has serious implications for humanity.

fp++/gf: The solution to the paradox is great filters in general

fp++/re: No aliens because of rare earth.

fp++/ri: No aliens because of rare intelligence that is detectable.

fp++/zoo: We live in a galactic zoo.

Simulation Hypothesis 

sh--: This is the real world.

sh-: There is no indication. I don't believe that we are living in a simulation. That would be weird. 

sh0: Undecided and not interested. If this is a simulation, then it's a good one. It definitely looks like the real world, so I treat it like that. Knowing this would not change anything. 

sh+: That could well be. The probability argument is very much in favor of this being a simulation. Also, the delayed-choice quantum eraser is a hint that the simulation fixes things after the fact if any simulated consciousness looks at the result. This is - in turn - a hint that consciousness is not emergent, but really special, because it gets extra treatment by the simulator. Which - again in turn - is an argument for a simulation. Furthermore, quantum entanglement works exactly as it would if the entangled particles were not really separated in space because they are all simulated. There is no spatial separation for the simulator, hence it is easy to update both states at once. 

sh++: This is a simulation. 

sh++/n: We are at the n-th level. 


There are more theories out there. Several theories in this list could profit from a more knowlegable explanation. I am sure you also have many ideas about modifiers. Write me if you want to add or change something. 

Until then,

10. April 2021

Converting Markdown to HTML on the fly in Web Pages

The Problem:

A long text on your web site, say, a privacy policy, with lots of headlines, lists and paragraphs. It is a lot of work to convert the text made in MS Word by your lawyer into the HTML that fits your web page design. 

The Solution:

Convert to Markdown, basically the plain text with '#'s and '-'s. Put the markdown into a <pre>, then let JavaScript on the client convert it into HTML replacing the Markdown text.

Like so:

<div id="html">
  <pre id="text">
# General

We take privacy seriously. 

[...long text with markdown...]


<script src="https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/showdown/1.9.1/showdown.min.js"></script>

  $('#html').html(new showdown.Converter().makeHtml($('#text').text()));

Yes, a bit of jquery, which is already there in case of bootstrap.css and you will know how to do without.

If the conversion fails, there is always the markdown plaintext satisfiying the law. 


...just saying.

10. Februar 2020

The Big Bang is still on

To a quantum tunneling lifeform that lives 10^50 years from now, our stars are just like the sparkling after the fireworks of the big bang. From their point of view stars lit up for a instant right after nucleons formed and just to give birth to black holes. These black holes are the "stars" for the future quantum tunneling life, which lives on a single Hawking radiation photon every few billion years.
...because Time plays out on a logarithmic scale.

Let me explain:

The universe is about 14 billion years old. And it will be 10.000 times older when the last stars burn out. The universe may look static and dark to us. But it is still in a violent final phase of the big bang. Compared to what follows, the big bang is still going on.
Before stars even formed the universe went through multiple development stages on vastly different timescales. It all started at the earliest observable time, the Planck time, a ridiculously tiny 10 to the minus 43 seconds. At 10 to the minus 36 seconds a process called inflation began to grow the universe very quickly. When inflation ended, the universe had spent 99.9 % of its age inflating. From this point of view, everything before inflation appeared just as an initial flash.
Then for a long time many things happened while the fundamental forces of nature unfolded and the laws of physics as we know them came into being. If someone had observed inflation come and go, then this next phase would have been unimaginably long. A 1000 billion billion billion times longer than inflation had lasted. But finally, quarks condensed into hadrons. Protons and neutrons formed. When that happened, the universe was just a microsecond old.
The universe continued to expand and cool down until electrons and protons could combine to hydrogen atoms. Imagine, you just observed hadron condensation. Then you had to wait another 10 billion billion times longer until hydrogen atoms formed. That's 400.000 years after the birth of the universe. And it is still 3000 K hot. As hot as on the surface of most stars.
Now things happen in quick succession. Only 1000 times longer than everything before, hydrogen atoms clump together and the first stars light up. Stars form galaxies, life appears and hairless apes gaze to the stars. From our point of view, the first stars appeared after only 1% of the age of the universe. 100 times later, now at 13,8 billion years, mighty galaxy clusters are in full swing. The dark matter halo of galaxies sucks in intergalactic hydrogen, galaxies merge, stars explode, supermassive black holes shoot jets over millions of lightyears stirring up the intergalactic medium like the water tap in a bathtub. A wild time.
The universe started out at ridiculously high temperatures. It cooled down a lot. But it is not yet cold. Stars are hot, flooding the universe with radiation, and even without them the universe has a decent background temperature of several degrees. Cold for us, but a lot more than zero.
Radiation is everywhere. We are living in the afterglow of the big bang. With an emphasis on "glow". The universe is still very bright in the microwave range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Our eyes cannot see microwaves, but they are there. The universe is glowing brightly from every direction and countless stars do their part to keep it up.
New stars will be born and die for a long time to come. The smallest live 1000 times longer than our sun. But eventually, the last stars fade. The universe gets dark. That's when the radiation frenzy of the big bang finally ends. The universe will then be 10.000 times older than now. From that point of view, we had been living in the first percent of a percent of the universe. Quarks had condensed into nucleons. Nucleons combined to atoms. Atoms formed stars. Stars kept radiation going. The violent phase of forming and radiating is over when the last stars fade. This is the end of a universe flooded by radiation. A 100 trillion years from now. The end of the radiation epoch. The real end of the fireworks after the big bang.
Times are starting to drag. Nothing happens quickly anymore. No more stars popping in and out of existence. No more flashlights in the dark. No more radiation sources. Only cold planets orbiting black dwarf stars, iron balls, slowly tumbling neutron stars, and black holes in dark galaxies. It's the quiet grown-up phase of the universe. Except for the occasional collision, which sends a blindingly bright spark into the universe.
What does not collide finally spreads evenly. Planets wander off and dark solar systems dissolve. It took a long time until the last star burnt out. And over 100.000 times that duration, galaxies also dissolve thermodynamically. They lose their stars to the void. Iron balls and black holes are still there. But they are now evenly distributed and rarely meet each other. The radiation that was produced in earlier times is also still there. But it is spread out over a vastly larger universe. Photons are so red shifted to ultra-long wavelengths that they are barely noticeable. For all practical purposes, radiation is gone.
The universe is now so dark, that the faint glow of hawking radiation becomes the new standard. Black holes slowly start to evaporate. Hawking radiation of stellar black holes is so weak, that it is not measurable in our bright universe. On the contrary, our times are still so warm that black holes inhale the cosmic microwave background growing a little bit. But then, at the beginning of the end of times, hawking radiation is the only light source. It is weak. If there is any life, then it lives slowly. It will perceive the entire age of stars, a 100 trillion years, like the blink of an eye. On these timescales, a photon every billion years is considered a bright light source. Again, there are flashlights in the dark. But on a totally different scale than the long-forgotten stars.
Even though the universe is huge, black holes still find each other. But between each collision lies a timespan like an entire radiation epoch. Now that counts as the blink of an eye. A hypothetical life form might then be based on ultra-rare quantum tunneling events and it will be living on Hawking radiation. It might see black holes as we now see stars. 
Around the year 1e90, right in the (logarithmic) middle of the black hole epoch (just like where we are living in the log-middle of the stellar epoch), a stellar black hole will give off a radio photon every billion years or an optical photon every million billion years. Considered the perceived time for quantum tunnelling runs 1e65 times slower, they experience a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion years like we do one second. During this time, a Hawking photon every million billion years amounts to 1e50 photons. For comparison, our sun gives off 1e45 photons per second. That is the same "order" of perceived luminosity, which is just a fancy term for "brightness".
When black holes lose mass this way, they shine even brighter. There will be less luminous large black holes, and smaller ones burning much brighter. For this kind of life form, the universe is filled by shining stellar black holes, glowing supermassive black holes, and brightly burning ageing black holes. Until they explode. These are the supernovae of the future: incredibly bright flashes when black holes explode. They are rare in the neighborhood but they actually happen all the time just like we see supernovae in distant galaxies. Flashes of black hole explosions and collisions will be everywhere, frequent on a timescale where a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion years feels like a second. 
Remember the long time until dark galaxies dissolved. That was long after all stars went the black hole or iron ball path. It takes a trillion trillion trillion trillion times that again until stellar sized black holes evaporate. That's not "just" a trillion trillion trillion trillion years. It's trillion trillion trillion trillion times all that was before, which already was a billion times longer than our current 13.8 billion years universe. It's a long time, even for ultra-slow quantum tunneling life that lives off a photon every billion years.
Then only real behemoths remain. Giant black holes that dwarf our current supermassive black holes. They have the mass of galaxy superclusters. Fun fact: the event horizon of these ultra massive holes is of galactic dimensions: a million light-years across (not "just" a million kilometers). And they also evaporate. But exponentially slower due to their vast size. It takes another trillion trillion trillion times more.
Eventually there are only ridiculously red-shifted photons left in a ridiculously large universe. The hypothetical quantum tunneling life will be long gone. Our biological way of life is 1 billion years old. It might last 10 billion, maybe even 1000 billion years. The quantum tunneling life may last trillion trillion trillion times longer. It will regard our phase as one of the early stages of the universe. As the last part of the big bang, when the universe was still hot. The black hole era is the real "life" of the universe. Everything before that is just the big bang. An unmeasurably short flash bevor black holes emerged and stayed. And went.
On a logarithmic timescale we live much closer to the begin of everything than to the end. We are now in the first third of the logarithmic timescale. We live on starlight. We think that our time is the real time of the universe and that the big bang was a flash 13.8 billion years ago when nucleon and atom synthesis happened.
The second third of the logarithmic timescale belongs to the hypothetical quantum tunneling life. They live on Hawking radiation from black holes for an unimaginable 10 to the 40 times longer than we did. They think that their time is the real time of the universe and the big bang was just a flash a trillion trillion years ago including a super short stellar phase that gave them their black holes. For them, our stars were just a brief intermediate step right after nucleon synthesis, necessary to form black holes, their "stars". For them, our stars were shorter lived than anything before nucleosynthesis for us. 
We don’t know much about the third part of the timescale. Maybe it is just boring for another 10 to the 40 times longer. Maybe there is life so strange and slow, that it regards the earlier – already unimaginable slow – quantum tunneling life as just the blink of an eye. Just a flash before their own real time began. 
Nature finds a way.
And after all that, there are no baryons left and only unimaginably cold photons at wavelengths the size of the universe remain. There are no clocks and nothing that can serve as a measure of time. With time goes distance, both becoming meaningless. So the universe is filled by photons so long, they barely fit into the universe. They may as well be concentrated in a small spot. Who could tell. Basically the size of the universe is just a few wavelengths of the dominating radiation. Maybe then a phase change happens, an implict or explicit rescaling, either just a continuation or a deflation event. Whatever happens then, the result looks very much like all radiation in a small spot by measure of wavelengths. 
The rest is history. Inflation kicks in and the forces of nature unfold creating the laws of physics as we know them - or maybe - different ones this time.

17. Januar 2020

Galactic Developments Messestand

Beim Berlin Sci-Fi Filmfest hatte ich einen schönen Galactic Developments Stand. Das Berlin Sci-Fi Filmfest ist pure SciFi ohne kein Fantasy. Deshalb viele viele SF interessierte und immer was los. 2 Tage je 12 h von 12 h bis 24 h. Ein neues customisables Rollup und 2 schöne Lego-Raumschiffmodell. Das sind echt Publikumsmagneten.


13. März 2019

A Coders Take on BREXIT: The Lupus Solution

Usually I avoid politics and that's what I also do in this post. No opinion, I am actually 50:50 anyway. I am enjoying the show. This is purely technical.

In short: EU article 50 is a timer. It can be cancelled and restarted any time. Just like the programming timers we know. So, the solution is exactly what we do in programming: cancel and restart.

On 4 December 2018, the responsible Advocate General to the ECJ published his preliminary opinion that "a country could unilaterally cancel its withdrawal from the EU should it wish to do so, by simple notice, prior to actual departure".

Meaning, that the UK can cancel Brexit any time. But the UK can also restart Brexit at any time again. There are no time limits, no grace periods, no rate limiting on article 50 cancelling and triggering.

That makes the solution obvious: send two letters to the EU back to back.
  • the first with the cancellation of the article 50 process,
  • the second with a new trigger of article 50. 
(In practice you would play it safe and leave one day between cancel and reset.)

The result would be (almost) the same as the already planned 2 year  transition period. The March 2019 date is only the legal departure date. for all practical purposes, the UK leaves 2 years later after the transition period (December 2020). Let's get rid of the transition period and call it a second article 50 process, another two years. Practical separation would then be March 2021, only 3 months later than already planned.

Just make a law in parliament to cancel article 50 AND trigger it immediately again. 

Gives you time for a referendum or a general election or just a good transition period. Anything you want. Gives you time and changes nothing. The move just gets rid of the threatening no-deal timer.

Bonus: an extension of article 50 requires the agreement of all EU members. But the cancel/restart-move can be done by the UK alone.

Bonus Bonus: 2 years transition is what the Brits wanted, but the EU wanted a clean end of year date. So they settled for 21 months. A simple timer reset makes that 24 months again. Owned!

The ECJ handed this solution to the UK. They know what they do. This was not an accident. They mean it. That's the way out. Just do what every programmer does with timers: reset.


PS: it's clearly an exploit and a bit shady. But it's legal. The contract is not meant to be used this way. But many contracts are "stretched". What happened to "no bailout" in the Euro zone? Giving Greece money to be (maybe) payed back in 50 years, is a stretch. What happened to the "prohibition of monetary financing"? Ah, yes, The ECB buys government bonds not directly from he governments, but from the "secondary markets". The ECB so much that the "intermediate" banks are actually straw men, being paid to circumvent Article 123. Another stretch. So, contracts are stretched, if deemed necessary. All we have, unfortunately, is the written word. The written words allow it AND it's necessary.

PPS: If people ever wanted to make exploit proof contracts and laws, then they could ask the gaming industry for advice. They have thousands of specialists who make a living by preventing the exploitation of coded rules. If computer games as an example are too low for you, then ask IT security experts or turn to academics in the field of game theory, the study of mathematical models of strategic interaction between rational decision-makers.

PPPS: In the long run: if you can do it twice, then think n+1. We can do this every other year. Maybe the UK and EU get used to it. Gives the UK a feeling of independence. And that's what it's all about, anyway. Every two years, UK activates article 50 and cancels it two years later. In practice: every other year, Brussels receives a briefcase with 2 letters from London. Could be a nice tradition in the long run. A typically British exception from EU rules.

28. Februar 2019

Agile mit Super Powers

Superboys: Edict-Abhilekh on Pixabay
tl;dr Scrum Rollen superpowern: Es gibt viel zu tun. Deshalb muss man Fähigkeiten zusammenlegen: Scrum-Master coacht auch agile Technologien, Product Owner macht UX-Design, Visual-Designer kann Frontend-Programmierung, Entwicklungsleiter ist Technik-Coach für Product Owner.

In der realen Welt brauchen wir mehr Rollen, als die bekannten Rollen im Scrum: Scrum Master, Product Owner und Entwicklerin.

Außerdem gibt's da noch:
  • Tester, die Test-Ingenieure sein sollten, nicht Durchklicker, sondern Integration-Test-Entwickler und Test-System Managerinnen,  
  • Admins, früher Operator, jetzt Devops, also Devs mit Leidenschaft für Betrieb, 
  • Systemarchitektinnen, die sich oft aus den Entwicklern rekrutieren und auf jeden Fall aktiv in den Entwicklungsteam sein sollten, vielleicht organisiert in Communities of Practice, aka Chapters, 
  • UX-Designer, ständig ein bisschen gebraucht, denn bei jedem Feature mit Business-Value für Benutzerinnen ist UX wichtig, 
  • Visual-Designer, soll ja auch gut aussehen, oft zwischen mehreren Teams geteilt oder sogar extern bei einer Agentur oder beim Auftraggeber. Burst-artige Arbeitslast und deshalb immer in der Gefahr, die Entwicklung aufzuhalten. 
  • Produkt Managerin, die auch gewillt ist mit dem Agile-Team ins Eingemachte zu gehen und zusammen was umzusetzen. Phantastisch, wenn sie nicht aufhört bei Marktpotential/Marktbeobachtung und Anforderungen, sondern selbst die User Stories scheibt. 
  • Marketing, Vertrieb, Controlling, Management… sind auch nötig, damit was geht, schon klar.
Von den Entwicklerinnen verlangt man heute viele Fähigkeiten:
  • Frontend und Backend, jeweils mit ihren aktuellen (und schnell wechselnden) Frameworks, 
  • Unit Tests ohne Zeit-Overhead während des Codings "einfließen" zu lassen, 
  • Integration-Tests und GUI-Tests aufzusetzen und up-to date zu halten während sich UX Workflows ändern, 
  • Beherrschung von Continuous Integration/Deployment Systemen, 
  • Container und Orchestrierung, 
  • Virtuose Bedienung von Code Repositories für Quellcode, Pakete, Container (Stichworte: GitFlow, nuget/PEAR, Dockerhub). Nicht nur benutzen, sondern auch bereitstellen, intern und extern. 
  • Code Reviews und Refactoring
  • Code-Metriken
  • Kenntnis und Benutzung von Monitoring-Systemen für Alarm, Dashboard und KPIs, 
  • Clean Code, Design Patterns, Entwicklungsumgebungen und deren Extensions, 
  • Security (in Code, Libraries aus Repos?, Operating), 
  • Reliability-Engineering, 
  • Skalierung (Up and Out)
  • Konfiguration der APIs und GUIs diverser Cloud-Anbieter und Meta-Cloud-Services, 

Unter den Entwicklern gibt es Spezialisten für das alles. Aber nehmen wir ein Team von 7, (UX-) Designer, Tester, Admin (ähm, Devops), Frontendler, Backendrin (eigentlich sollen alle alles können, aber nicht jede die Microservices containerisiert ist ein CSS3-Wizard). Dann wird es langsam eng mit den oben genannten Spezialfertigkeiten. Coden sollen sie ja auch noch. 

Warum machen wir das alles?

Damit Features entstehen. Features, die User glücklich machen. Features entstehen durch Coding. Ohne Coding keine Features. Viel Coding - viele Features, wenn sonst alles stimmt.

Fragt man in der Retro "was hat dich in diesem Sprint vom Coden abgehalten?" - typische Antwort: "Meetings", aber auch immer öfter "Infrastruktur" und vor allem: Infrastruktur aneignen, neu lernen und verstehen. 

Ganz viel dieser Infrastruktur macht uns agil bzw. ist nötig für agile Arbeitsweise über Scrum/Kanban hinaus:  Continuous-*, Container, Cloud, Clean Code, Frameworks, Repositories…

Die Infrastruktur hat gemeinsam: Sie ist aufwändig für jede einzeln zu lernen, aber notwendig, und wenn erstmal gelernt, dann völlig OK. Aber bis dahin dauert es.


Superpower #1: Agile-Coach mit agiler Technologie

Es könnte/sollte/müsste die Aufgabe des Scrum-Master sein, agile Technologien in das Team zu tragen, so wie auch agile Arbeitsweisen in das Team getragen werden. Natürlich soll die Scrum-Masterin nicht dauerhaft den Build-Server betreuen (obwohl sie das kann, wenn sie mehrere Hüte aufhaben will/kann/soll). Es geht darum, dass der Agile-Coach das Wissen in das Team trägt, damit nicht immer wieder wertvolle Entwicklerzeit darauf verwendet wird, zu lernen, wie man einen KPI-gesteuerten Continuous Deploment Prozess konfiguriert. Und wenn wir schon dabei sind: Es ist auch die Aufgabe des Agile-Coaches, die Beschäftigung mit Clean-Code und Design-Patterns zu stimulieren, vielleicht sogar selbst zu schulen, zumindest aber die Seniors dazu zu bringen, dass sie ihr Wissen teilen. Aber dazu muss man wissen, was es zu teilen gibt. Sorry, liebe SMs aus dem Persönlichkeitscoaching, eine agil-technische Scrum Masterin macht das Team nicht nur glücklicher, sondern auch schneller, viel schneller. Und mit schnell kommt glücklich: Superpowered Scrum-Master.

Superpower #2: Product Owner mit UX-Design

Bei allen Features mit Business-Value für Endbenutzer ist UX wichtig. Coding ist dafür da, dass die Funktion funktioniert. Aber "glücklich" werden Benutzer durch gutes UX-Design. Ein Product Owner gießt die Kunden-/Benutzer-/Stakeholder-Anforderungen in User Stories. Bei fast jeder Story ist UX-Design nötig, zumindest Grundkenntnisse, besser umfassende. Eine gute UX-Designerin kann lernen, wie man User Stories schreibt und vielleicht sogar wie man mit Stakeholdern redet. Aber ob ein Product Owner UX lernt? UX-Design ist ein Beruf und gottgleiches User-Story Schreiben eine Berufung. Erst die klassische Ausbildung: gute Anwendungen entwerfen, dann die agile Spezialfähigkeit: User Stories und Kommunikation: Superpowered Product Owner.

...und weil wir schon dabei sind. Das wäre auch toll:

Superpower #3: Visual-Designer mit Frontend-Programmierung

Da ist nicht viel zu sagen. Wenn die Visual-Designerin gut ist, wird die Anwendung schön. Wenn sie das, was designed wurde, auch umsetzen kann, ist es toll für alle. Sie muss das Design nicht an den Entwickler übergeben. Es gibt keine Rückfragen, keine Verzögerung, keinen Mind-Bruch. Sie kann beim Design gleich die technischen Randbedingungen berücksichtigen. Keiner muss der CSS-Sklave für die Designerin sein. Die Arbeitslast ist viel ausgeglichener, so dass man kann sich eine ganze Designerin exklusiv pro Team leisten: Superpowered Designer.

Superpower #4: Entwicklungsleiter mit Technik-Coach für Product Owner

Viele Product Owner kommen nicht aus dem technischen Bereich. Das ist gut so, um die Entwicklung mit dem Produktmanagement zu verzahnen. Auf der anderen Seite ist es von Vorteil, wenn die User Stories so geschrieben werden, dass sie 1. In die Gesamtarchitektur passen und 2. die Entwickler verstehen und machen, was gemeint war. Für beide Fälle ist es gut, wenn jemand den Product Owner bei der Formulierung der User Stories berät. Eigentlich sind die Entwicklerinnen die technischen Berater des Product Owners. Aber das kostet Entwicklerzeit, oft von allen. Deshalb bürden wir das lieber der Entwicklungsleiterin auf. Die Entwicklungsleiterin kennt die Gesamtarchitektur, die IT-Strategie und er versteht wie Entwickler denken. Sie schreibt nicht die Stories um. Nur der PO schreibt User Stories. Aber eine Entwicklungsleiterin kann durch Fragen den Product Owner dazu bringen, die Stories so zu schreiben, dass die Entwickler die Stories verstehen und dass sie in das Gesamtkonzept passen. Eine Stunde pro Woche und Team reicht, um die technische Qualität der User Stories deutlich zu verbessern. Wissen was passiert und gleichzetig steuern ohne zu stören. Es ist das beste Steuerungswerkzeug der agilen Entwicklungsleiterin, ohne den agilen Prozess zu verletzen. 

Heute sind viel mehr Fertigkeiten nötig. Man muss Fähigkeiten zusammenlegen. Nicht nur bei den Entwicklern, denn die sollen entwickeln. Alle müssen mehr machen und mehr können als bisher. 

Niemand hat gesagt, dass Superkräfte einfach sind.



16. Dezember 2018

Kennzeichnungspflicht für Social Bots

Breaking News: Die Bundesregierung erwägt Kennzeichnungspflicht für Social Bots

Social Media Bots sollen sich zu erkennen geben und mitteilen, dass sie keine echten Menschen sind, sondern Automaten, die nur Meinungen multiplizieren. Sie sollen gekennzeichnet werden, damit Leser unterscheiden können, ob das eine Diskussion zwischen Menschen ist oder nur - meistens gegen Geld - Meinungen beeinflusst werden sollen. Das kennt man schon von Werbung, die gekennzeichnet werden muss, damit man sie von redaktionellem Inhalt unterscheiden kann.

Das ist sehr sinnvoll und richtig.

Und weil das so sinnvoll und richtig ist, wurde das schon mal vorgeschlagen. Vor ziemlich genau 10 Jahren: Bot Tagging.

Da hat sich schon mal jemand Gedanken darüber gemacht dass man Menschen (Chatter) in Chatsystemen nicht hinters Licht führen sollte indem man Bots programmiert, die sich als Benutzer ausgeben.

Es gibt Bots, die Werbung machen, Bots die unterhalten und heutzutage sogar Bots, die lügen und Fake-News verbreiten. Letztlich ist politische Beeinflussung durch Bots auch nur politische Werbung in einer besonders ansprechenden vertrauenswürdigen und damit hinterhältigen Form.

Da es so viele verschiedene Bot-Arten gibt, sollte es ein Kennzeichnungssystem geben, das mehr aussagt, als Bot JA/NEIN. Man will wissen
- ob der Bot kommerzielle Werbung macht oder politische,
- ob er der Unterhaltung dient oder eine Servicefunktion erfüllt,
- ob er jugendfrei ist oder - allgemeiner ausgedrückt: die Kennzeichnung braucht auch eine Altersfreigabe.

Schön wäre auch die Angabe eines Themas. Dafür bräuchte man eine Ontologie. Die müsste man sich nicht selbst ausdenken. Der Verweis auf ein bestehendes Verzeichnissystem würde reichen, z.B. Wikikedia-Begriffe als Vokabular oder etwas hierarchisches, wie das (leider eingestellte Open Directory Project oder hier).

Das alles steht in der "Virtual Presence Technical Note 5: Bot Tagging", weil wir bei Weblin das schon damals gesehen haben.