Thursday Jun 04, 2009

Network Management Data Reduction and Smoothing -- A MySQL Webinar

ScienceLogic embeds MySQL in its EM7 network management appliances. An installation of EM7 can perform over half a billion database queries daily, storing massive amounts of data for both real-time and trended performance reporting.

Michael McFadden, senior software architect with ScienceLogic, will discuss all this in an upcoming MySQL webinar.

Saturday Feb 28, 2009

Measuring Twitter Mania

The San Francisco Chronicle summarizes the Pew Internet & American Life Project's report on Twitter.  

The Three Forces of the Long Tail and the Classic Market

Chris Anderson's study of The Long Tail identifies three economic forces that the modern computing technologies, the Internet and the Web have helped unleash: (1) Improvements in tools of production of content and goods. (2) Improvements in tools of distribution. (3) Reductions in search costs through improvements in search technologies. (When we speak of "search technologies," we should understand them to mean any method of search, including the physical search, which is the "classic" search technology.)

These three forces join and orchestrate a move, in the consumption curve, from "hits" to "niches".

The argument is that this increases overall economic value. It does, indeed, for some firms and large numbers of consumers that engage in related "modern" search-and-consume activities on the Net. However, the classic market economy does not improve and will suffer, without a fast enough replacement in all niches and certainly in "hits" which provide the batteries for the classic market. Unless we reformulate the classic consumption game in new innovative ways, through innovations in general logistics of moving people and goods, I remain skpetical whether the replacement rate will be sufficient to outpace the overal reduction in consumption due to the diminishing physical search habits.

Thursday Oct 09, 2008

Reminiscing on Micro-Kernels and Group Communications

Yes, I have to admit that, in my opinion, JGroups is probably the best early example of the "micro-kernel" concept in Java, aesthetically speaking.

The Group Communications stack can simply be specified by literally stacking micro-protocols into a group communications stack—each micro-protocol can be considered a micro-kernel with its own "up" and "down" threading system.

Stacking can be specified like this: "A:B:C:D" or "A:C:B:D" or "A:C:D:B" or .....

Not all stacks are semantically valid or useful.

The final, beautiful touch in Bela Ban's design was to provision a fusing concept ("fusing" is my word for it), where all the micro-protocol/micro-kernel pieces can be fused so that they will be one "kernel," using a single thread system for "up" throughout the stack and a single thread system for "down" throughout the stack.

Or course, some of the design elements for all this was probably, mostly, and already present in the Ensemble Communications System, the group with which Bela did his post-doc work, near the turn of the millennium.

Also, see Mark Hayden's PhD dissertation on Ensemble, which was written in the 1990s, and supported by DARPA funds.

And a bit about my own role in all this—

I should mention that we used Ensemble (and its Java binding, whose deficiencies led to reimplementation of the protocol stack concept, in Java by Bela) in the DARPA projects I led before joining Sun.

This is how I got to learn about Mark and Ensemble, and later, about Bela and JGroups. It was an honor to meet both of them in the course of my work with group communications systems. By the way, I wouldn't be surprised if we find out, when historians of software look back at our work some years from now, that Bela has played a role in re-architecting of JBoss's microkernel system. I may be wrong but I believe he decided to join JBoss sometime in 2004, during the same year when I was trying to bring him to Sun. We almost got him to join SunLabs. It wasn't meant to be, like many other things that go awry. Perhaps, with my managerial skills now, I could have made a better difference in that realm. At least, I'm happy to say I was able to convince Bela to change the name from JavaGroups to JGroups, which protected him from some copyright violations.

Thursday Sep 25, 2008

The Echo Chamber

Paul Jay, CEO of The Real News Network, talks to Daljit Dhaliwal about the echo chamber:

Sunday Sep 21, 2008

Social Networks and Security

Social networks pose interesting new problems for security experts. Erica Naone's article ("Turning Social Networks Against Users") explores some of these problems. Naone includes a brief discussion of some research involving a malicious third party application for Facebook.

The problem rests in open access to the computing platform of the social networking web sites. Furthermore, "social factors also play an important role...because social networks foster an atmosphere of trust that is easy to exploit."

Attacks could be more complex than those already used for secruity research focused on social networks. "An attacker could build a legitimate application, wait until a large number of users have installed it, then make the application 'go bad' by updating it with malicious code."

Perhaps, some social networking sites will make it a requirement that all third party applications implemented for their network be made available openly (open, buildable source).

Saturday Sep 20, 2008

Strong Positive Feedback and Tippy Markets

In network economies, the number of compatible users (or network end points) determine the value of the network. In such economies, one may experience strong negative or positive feedback. When the number of compatible users goes down, the network will eventually suffer a "vicious" cycle of collapse. On the other hand, when the number of compatible users goes up, the network will enjoy a "virtuous" growth cycle.

In Web 2.0: A Strategy Guide — Business thinking and strategies behind successful Web 2.0 implementations, Amy Shuen writes:

When two or more companies are in a competitive race for market share where there is strong positive feedback due to network effects, only one company emerges as the winner. (Economists call this market tippy because it can tip in favor of one company or the other.) Strong positive feedback can lead to a winner-take-all market dominated by a single firm or technology.


Thursday Aug 07, 2008

Fast Strategy Introduction

Published by O'Reilly, Amy Shuen's Web 2.0: A Strategy Guide: Business Thinking and Strategics Behind Successful Web 2.0 Implementations gives a fast, well-written introduction to the strategy, economics and business of Web 2.0 companies—all based on cases that should be familiar to the reader. 

Sunday Feb 03, 2008

Rotating Videos in the World of Images


Tonight, I discovered that the m.youtube.com works extremely well with Sony-Ericsson P1i. The quality and rendition far exceeded my expectations.

Some P1i users have complained on the internet that m.youtube.com does not work well with their P1i even when using WiFi but it worked fine for me when the device connected with my WLAN at home, which runs on a 6-year-old NetGear MR314 wireless router.  In fact, I was able to watch the m.youtube.com mobile version of the video to the left, which could not be rotated, at least not trivially, either by youtube, by my camera or by my home iMac. However, it could still be viewed on the P1i in the correct direction—just turn the mobile device 90 degrees!

I should note that it appears m.youtube.com encodes and streams the video using 3gp and  RTSP. Either the P1i does much better at rendering the 3gp format with its Media Viewer or it has a much better RTSP stack than the RealPlayer (on my iMac). The image quality is much sharper and jitter almost non-existent with with Media Viewer on the P1i! In fact, the image quality on the RealPlayer on iMac pales by comparison. Who would have guessed?

Finally, and again as can be seen in the embedded video here, I shot it with a simple mobile camera (DSC W-30), but in the "wrong" direction.

It is so much easier to rotate a mobile device that it is to rotate a desktop screen! 

Friday Aug 17, 2007

Mobile Social Networks

Elsewhere, I point to a report on mobile social networks.

Thursday Dec 14, 2006

Disruptive with TV

Roberto Chinnici puts some probing questions to non-mainstream English language TV channels. His solution to their problems to break into the U.S. market: Use the web to your advantage to be disruptive with conventional TV programming.

To address the complaint regarding economic cost of bandwidth, finding a way to include decent advertising may prove sufficient. Furthermore, there can be a web-based subscription model that collects small subscription fees (or micropayments) for access to programming. This will work because bandwidth will still be able to serve all users particularly if programming does not emphasize real, real-time news and breaks content into pieces available separately.

Wednesday Sep 15, 2004

The Network is the Computer

In my mind, there's no more revolutionary concept in computing, networking and information technology than the motto which Sun coined in many of its corporate PR campaigns: The Network is the Computer. The origin of the motto, within Sun, remains unknown to me, but I would sure like to discover it by some piece of corporate archaeology. (I'm sure we have our un-official, as well as official, archaeologists here who know the answer.)

I can even imagine a new PR campaign based on the motto--a TV advertisement perhaps: A large number of sleepy and tired workers in cubicles are running routine errands of the most stifling kind; the beautiful jumble of the New York skyline can be seen in close view and is visible through the wall-length windows but no one is paying any attention to it; a rumor begins to spread from a remote corner of this vast room; "The Network is the Computer," whispers someone as if awakened with new life; as the "rumor" spreads throughout the room (the building and the town, in the later frames), the mood swings to jubilation and true excitement--the revolution is here. The last frames focus on a person who, the audience can guess, may have something to do with the rumor--a young engineer with a Sun T-shirt on. [That would be a cool ad ! Perhaps, I should receive some sort of compensation for designing it! (Please excuse my indulgence. My only sin is that my father was an advertising executive in Iran in the mid 1970s, and he did take me to work a few times.)]

Many others, including Tim O'Reilly, have opined on the motto.

To me, it has an almost esoteric meaning, and I'm fond of such esoterism:

  • The only computer that matters is the network.
  • The network is equivalent to one giant computer with multiple entry points. Ultimately, it is equivalent to a single Turing machine. (Or is it? What about external, interacting "machines". Surely, their purpose could not be modeled as merely random.)
  • The only computing that matters is the one that make the network more effective and efficient.
  • Those that claim the desktop to be the (or a?) computer have gotten it totally wrong.

To you, I'm sure the motto could mean something quite different, but if it could mean different things to different people within Sun, how could it be a component of its corporate identity or its organizational purpose? The answer is probably that, in fact, there's a great deal of commonality in how people at Sun understand the motto: The Network is the Computer.

 

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