Thursday, December 27, 2012

On{X} Recipes - cool event based Android application

Thanks to Guy Sharon I've learned about cool Andorid application developed by Microsoft Israel called On{X}.  It enables to specify and use an event- condition-action recipes (the name sounds tastier than rules).

Ring on the third call from the same person when my phone is silent 
Set mode to silent between 11:00PM and 7:00am after the phone has not been unlocked for 2 hours
Text my wife "my phone is dying" when the battery goes below 15%

All of these look to me as event patterns.  Looking at the On{X} Blog I learned that new features include - dynamic regions, noise detection and more.  There is a collection of recipes and one can program more using JavaScript 

A very interesting event processing application  -- I may buy smartphone one of these days :-) 


Ellie K said...

Good morning Esteemed Opher Etzion, PhD!
I have followed your blog and what little I can understand of your sophisticated work for several years. I found you because your event processing work has semantic similarities with that of Neil Gunther, PhD, according to Google search and NLP. (In other words, it was a coincidence ;o) He calls it "performance dynamics", as I recall. I found him by coincidence, as I am not a computer scientist, but rather, an operations research, probability, statistics and applied math sort. I retain a fondness for queueing theory for modelling storage products and have occasional need for dynamic programming of a different kind. Also, I went to school, first grade, in Afula, near Haifa... and cry with concern for Eretz Yisrael. That is the second reason for my esteem of your website.

It is most gratifying to learn that you don't own a smartphone either! This mobile device obsession seems very foolish to me. No real work, whether programming or writing, or even playing a little game, can be accomplished on such tiny screens and keyboards, regardless of increased processing power. And the security risk! It worries me.

Well, that brings me to my central point. I read about this application, On{X}. What a syntactically AND semantically pleasant name choice! It reminds me of mathematical sets and of functions, as well as being idiomatically meaningful for a location based service, with X = wherever one happens to be. Finally, it has universal (human) language appeal, as it is evocative of a pretty semi-precious gemstone, onyx.

So. This is my concern: After reading your post, I immediately perused the On{X} blog. I thought this, Dynamic Regions, which you alluded to, was especially worrisome. Yes, the functionality may be characterized as having properties of event patterns. It is accurate, to 200 meters. I find such tracking of location to be unsettling. It would be useful for some jobs, where there were extensive field work, or for military purposes, or wildlife science, probably agronomy too. To a 45 year old, childless Jewish widow such as myself, it seems reckless in terms of personal safety; maybe even lacking in discretion as I go about my daily activities. Of course, this feeling may be due to the fact that I know where I want to shop and buy things already. Therefore, the motivation, of being in the vicinity of a used guitar store and not realizing it, is not plausible to me.

I fret because so much work by those young, highly educated and skilled computer scientists and/ or electrical engineers (probably ACM or IEEE members!) who are designing On{X} could be directed more productively, toward, say... what you do! To me, social implies a friendly gathering such as a dance or even a virtual get-together e.g. in Second Life or IRC.

Maybe my critique is due to my own shortcomings, lack of proper perspective. I don't know. I'm not timid. I have lived in big cities, use public transportation (buses, subway), am not afraid to walk by myself in the evening. I am fond of reliability, which is why I prefer my land line at home, and an old, not-smartphone elsewhere!

What do you think about this, the safety and security aspect? Or the social thing, and mobile in general? For frame of reference, I'll mention that I'm not afraid of "big government" etc. I trust, am thankful for police and the public authorities. My concern isn't based on that line of reasoning!

I will leave you with an offering, involving geo-data, so you won't think I am fossilized. I embedded a Google map in my Blogger blog for the first time a few years ago. It maps the results of my queried for the directions, on foot and by water, from Shanghai to Arizona. Then I wrote an accompanying short story Guide Me Home. It is brief, science fiction, with a happy ending.

Opher Etzion said...

Hi Ellie.

Thanks for your comment -- privacy is indeed an issue, but all providers of location based services will tell you that you need to subscribe and agree to get such messages in order to get them, thus if one uses such services one is willingly give up the privacy