Thursday Sep 18, 2008

Easy Peasy, ezweb and ubuntu

I have EZweb, see also ezweb, fast new dynamic mashups, running inside an Ubuntu 8 VM on my windows Laptop.

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The installation instructions were almost perfect, now I need to see how permit the VM to serve external systems. Also I am using Django not Apache, so I need to understand

  • how to invoke a start/stop script for it
  • or how to allow it to run in an apache server
  • or how to permit apache to act as a proxy for Django.

The later will hopefully be very similar to making snipsnap work behind apache, which I have done on the Qube.

Now to build an Application?

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Tuesday Sep 16, 2008

ezweb, fast new dynamic mashups

The real reason for meeting with the Telefonica reresentative was to gain some familairity with the NESSI project they lead, called EZWeb. This is hosted on the Morfeo Project site, and these projects have significant support from the Spanish Government. EZ Web has an english language installation & documentation page and for Ubuntu there is an apt script, documented on the web. I am just booting my Virtual Box Ubuntu VM to see if it works.

It requires Postgres or MySQL, Python and Django, documented on itsother operating systems page, I'll may check this out and see how hard it is to install on my Open Solaris VM, or I may bring up another Nevada VM.

Juan Jose demonstrated the ease of use of the mashup tool, and it'd be cool to have a go. This may even by the tipping point/use case that gets me to move off the Qube onto something better.

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Wednesday Dec 12, 2007

So what is wrong with the Internet?

On Day 2, of the NESSI AGM, we broke into seminar groups. The first session I attended was called the ' Future of the Internet', it was led by Mike Fisher of BT [Google him], who presented about the forces for change on the internet, both historic constraints and changes being brought about by technology innovation, and demand. Again a key view of the future is the the internet evolves from a network of computers, beyond a network of things to a network of services. Since Mike comes from a network company, and a large one at that, and so understands how poorly IT is ready to manage the challenge of scale raised by these factors.

In the afternoon, I attended the 'Service Orientated Infrastructure' session. Some aspects of the problem domain are very broad and interesting, but the discussions seemed focused around today's grid solutions in academia and commerce, although I arrived late. This working group's documents are also available on the NESSI web site SOI work group page, and their own web site. The GRID Strategic Research Agenda is available from the NESSI Site [.pdf].

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Tuesday Dec 11, 2007

NESSI's Research & Projects

There then followed a series of presentations about the current approach to research and most interestingly presentations from the leading strategic projects. These can be found on the NESSI's AGM page on their web site.

This was followed by cocktails. Very nice!

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Spanish Medicine

After the coffee break, Dr Joan Bigora spoke about IT adoption in Barcelona City Hospital.

He is the Managing Director and has an interesting view on what he needs to know about IT as the MD of a hospital. I was speaking the day before to a Sun colleague, about CEO's saying suppliers need to talk their language; they are not interested in IT. It's clear to me that IT is the business of a growing number of CEOs. Unless they understand both the problems it can solve and the capability of the technology, they'll get their key investments wrong. So when I say he had an interesting view, he obviously felt he needs to know this stuff.

Medicine is the obvious ultimate knowledge industry. IT can thus add tremendous value in many areas. This is the third presentation I have had from spanish people about IT in healthcare, specifically examining the success of remote healthcare systems, using new age monitors and video conferencing for case care work and even remote diagnosis. They may have something, and it is remarkable how simple some of these initiatives are. I expect that third wave medical systems will need to deal with massive scale and some very interesting provisioning and change management problems, and even the spanish seem not yet to be at this point yet, which Dr Bigora acknowledged.

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Software, economics and society

We have just heard from Dr. Frans De Bruïne and Ken Ducatel, the former talked about the need for Security, to guard against global warming and the demographic time bomb; Europe is not just interested in health care because of the socialists. The ageing population is a jeopardy to the wealth engine of work and the various governments and commission all have different responses (Oh Boy!).

He stated that for instance in Holland, they're playing with a government 'Facebook' page. Will this lead to you having to document your car insurance, child support liabilities and private pension provision on-line in a government portal. The latter might help keep track of what the insurance companies owe you, but do you really want this hackable, or publishable at the will of politicians and civil servants? Despite these fears it is a possible first step to a real EU Web 2.0 and user created content, I am not sure what value one can create through communities in such a portal. It would also need some serious investment in reaching all the EU's citizens, both in the network and server infrastructure to reach everyone, but also in client access ubiquity. Not everyone has access to a computer, although most have phones and the ipod touch with its wi-fi is an interesting and probably popular innovation of the internet hand held device. Wi-fi is neither as ubiquitous, nor as cheap as in the US yet, and I suspect it varies massively with the EU.

He also spoke about how in Germany, networked medical care systems in the home allowed patients to be discharged earlier, thus saving money. Presumably the IT reduces the number of relapses.

Ducatel argued that the US uses its its (minimal, except for defense) public requirement to seed ICT innovation. I wonder if this is because US business has a greater appetite to build its own code. The flip side of this is that "Europe under uses Software". Its an opportunity for growth, and an opportunity for supply, but commercial stove piping inhibits the growth opportunity.

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Driving change on the internet

The first key note was from Dr. Joao Schwarz Da Silva, a Director from the Commission's ICT. He envisioned a network of services driven by trends easily observable today. These are,

  • Social Networks
  • Digital Production
  • Virtual Worlds
  • Internet of Things

Much of the consideration around social networks seems around how to monetise the size of the network. The value created by cooperation seems always to be under valued. Dr. Da Silva predicted that the growth of social networks and user created content would lead to the growth of what he calls Digital Production. At its most simple, this will be just allowing mashups on a home page, however more complex models such as the tools for machinima or audio manipulation are clearly here today, it'll be interesting to see where this goes.

I am more questioning that virtual worlds will become ubiquitous and powerful problem solving tools. It is clear that World of Warcraft is a hugely popular both social network and digital world, but we have spent 1000's of years devising two dimensional representations of most of the problems we seek to solve. We need new representational metaphors before 3D rendering and virtual worlds become serious problem solving devices. I mentioned this earlier in the year. These criticisms are before considering that a Social Network needs to leverage the wisdom of crowds, or at least the wisdom of huddles. Facebook's visual {book/DVD} shelf works because you can see what both your close friends and strangers say about the books and films you're interested in. You can see what everyone, or at least your friends recommend. An interesting counterpoint though is that if you consider electronic gaming to be a social network, then sharding reduces the wisdom of crowds; you can only learn  from the wisdom of a shard. There's lots of work to do before 3D and/or Virtual Worlds truly take off.

He then looked at how in a network of services, one discovers anything useful. So this is partly how does one discover any content, such as images (tags), houses (attributes) etc., but for services we expect a directory solution. There isn't yet a directory of internet services.

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Monday Dec 10, 2007

Hi Tech in Europe

And back to Brussels for a bit of EU politicking. Last time I traveled through Heathrow and the journey home was terrible. This time I travel through Southampton and the journey out is fine. I get to the Sun Office on the airport estate, do my meeting and have an easy ride into the hotel in the city centre.

I am attending the NESSI AGM. I wrote about it last time I visited Brussels in November, but it is having its AGM over the next two days. I will be commenting on it, but the slides and AV files will appear on its web site.

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Tuesday Nov 20, 2007

We're all in Europe now!

I travelled over to Brussels for a meeting of the NESSI steering comittee, to which I have just been appointet; its one of the EU's NGOs in the IT industry, representing major IT vendors, which advises the commission on its ICT R&D budget.

Its a long time since I have been in Brussels, and with these ninja trips, its hard to get to know the town. I'm a bit fed up my rough guide didn't turn up on time, but it won't be the last time I'm here so I have next time to look forward to.

I visited the Sun offices at Rondpoint Robert Shuman, which is opposite the EU Commission building, but I was too busy to take any photographs with my camera, which I had managed to remember to bring, and the picture I took with the phone was so poor I have deleted it. Its undergoing a re-furb, (the building not my cameras), and is not looking its best at the moment. I had a quick look at flickr to see if anyone had some good (CC) pictures, but flickr's default is all rights reserved and I couldn't find any. (Since I publish under a BY-NC-SA creative commons licence, I suppose this is one of the reasons I am so popular with schmapp. Since most people publish on Flickr with the defaults, I am not competing with a lot of people.) The EC head quarters building's name is the Centre Berlaymont, and if you search flickr with Berlaymont as a tag, you can find some pictures. I'll post mine when I get some worth posting. I expect to be back here soon.

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