Umberto Eco’s Pendulum and Conceptual Software Innovation

I had been trying to find a means to write a new Operating System since 1997 and back then an Mphil/Dphil at the Universities seemed realistic. I had assessed a variety of institutions and made applications were relevant but nothing was doing. It was then that I realised that I had to do it myself so my plan was to quickly develop a standard Kernel to start the business and allow me to focus on innovation.The plan failed miserably, JxOS not only failed to support the business but so too had the idea of a 1 day training course for software developers. About this time, I also discovered that Californian style Venture Capital, one in which the engineers are wealthy enough and need only agree among themselves instead of attempting to convince bankers
or people who thought that they were once involved in technology of how great their idea is, just doesn’t exist in the U.K.

By now after four years of hanging around and late in 2001, like the wearer of Tolkien’s ring the new Operating System idea was becoming burdensome at which point a manifestation occurred and the Palos project including a
proof of concept were created.

Palos is one of those great ideas that surrounds everyone but much like the study of physics in the natural world requires Hawkinian like astuteness to instantiate, and indeed, like all truly great ideas, much in the same
way that everyone today takes Newtonian Gravity for granted, once established it’s eerily unnatural to deny that no-one knew of or had attempted to exploit it.

A lot of investment had been going into mobile phone technology. The big companies like Microsoft and Compaq responded by duplicating and miniaturising a P.C. into a network enabled Palmtop device which would even run Windows and Office, why anyone wants all of Office running in a Palmtop device momentarily eludes me. Conversely the mobile phone manufacturers were designing up the curve making relatively simple mobile phones powerful enough to run Office. During all this time nobody was interested in any new OS innovation.

Poignantly CEOs are frequently reminding us of how many Ph.Ds work for them and how it is their mission to surround themselves with smart people, but I don’t think CEOs read Dibert. If they did they would uncover the
counter-plot being masterminded in their H.R. departments to infiltrate a significant number of dumb people onto their staff. More alarmingly, like some bad Darwinian joke some of these people seem to have all the characteristics of what passes in some circles as good management material.

It was after developing my Palos concept that I started to believe in the Supernatural, a strange kind of telepathy, because my idea had crossed the ether and ended up being talked in the Technology Quarterly of the London Economist, The Financial Times and Fortune Magazine. It all reminded me of Uberto Eco’s book, Focault’s Pendulum, Aglie aka the Comte de St. Germaine, that great observer of historical drama, or indeed progenitor of history had
seduced Belbo’s girlfriend and in revenge Belbo intrigued Aglie with the invention of The Map, a device that Aglie and his group of Diabolicals (whom Garamond Press had to invent a stunning taxonomy of lame-brainadness) whose very business theirs was to discover through inanely repetitive and arcane ritualistic re-enactments just such an incredible invention as Belbo’s.

More importantly these organisations had already committed in their mobile comms technology plan, making dinky little connected P.C. kit and now appeared to be attempting to recant. Anyway for me the Pendulum had swung
full period and I reconsidered continuing the Palos work only this time on the staff of some University. It was then that I made another startling discovery, they too possessed this strange telepathy because they now had
Research Groups dedicated to PC/TV systems and that zut alors! some were even being funded by Microsoft.

At least I have witnessed a complete lack of conceptual innovation in OS Kernel Design at any University in Europe or America in 30 years. This compounded with the spectacle of how an industrial giant spoiled Microsoft
with funding for 30 years permitting 12 attempts in design engineering before Microsoft came up with something that could be called an Operating System, N.T. which although is a great piece of engineering did not substatially break new conceptual ground. (As if anyone needed reminding Microsofts previous attempts were called Dos 1,2,3, Xenix 1, 2, OS2 1,2,3, Win30 and Win31]). As for that neo-archaeological tradition known as Linux,
even our crocodilian friend Microsoft knows that not everything is lunch and similarly also tolerates some avarian annoyance to preening just in order to look good.

In fusing new OS Kernel design with Mobile Telecoms, the Internet, T.V. and Commerce, Palos presents a significant opportunity which will only be realised when the technical ideas collide with a capable technology design organisation.

About the Author:
David Moore graduated in 1991 with a BSc in Computer Science. He has 11 years Corporate level Labs experience in OS Kernel R&D including time with leading North American and European Semiconductor design companies. He has worked on OS Kernels and C Compilers for 32 and 64 bit CISC and RISC Super Minicomputer systems and advanced Microkernel based Operating Systems used by equipment manufacturers in Production Telecoms switching hardware
and high end database servers. The Kernels were all variously designed for uniprocessor, asmp and smp-multiprocesor and mimd multiprocessor systems. He currently works for his own company Incantation Systems.

Copyright 2003, David Moore, Belfast, U.K.


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