Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dynamic Random Access Memory as a possible replacement for Hard Disks

Dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) stores each bit of data in a separate capacitor within an integrated circuit. It is structurally simple (only one transistor and a capacitor are required per bit) allowing DRAM to reach very high densities. The transistors and capacitors used are extremely small; billions can fit on a single memory chip. However, the memory is volatile and data is lost when power is removed.

There is a a research group at Stanford University who say the goal should be to replace hard disks with DRAM. RAMcloud is a general-purpose storage system where all data lives in DRAM at all times and large-scale systems are created by aggregating the main memories of thousands of commodity servers. RAMCloud provides durable and available DRAM-based storage for the same cost as volatile caches, and it offers performance 10-100x faster than existing storage systems. By combining low latency and large scale, RAMCloud will enable a new class of applications that manipulate large datasets more intensively than has ever been possible.

With increaed throughput (1m ops/sec/server) and low latency access the implication is that we will see a new class of applications that operate large scale using very large datasets. Possible applications are: 
  • crowd level collaboration;
  • large scale graph algorithms;
  • real-time information intensive applications
  • applications using open linked data 
There are a number of issues that are being addressed by the research group including durability and availability, the right data model, concurrency and consistency and keeping up to date on the progress will be extremely prudent.

A useful introductory lecture by John Ousterhout is Professor (Research) of Computer Science at Stanford University can be watched here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

open source cloud and note about company naming

An interesting article by John Greathouse about Marten Mickos, CEO of Eucalyptus Systems discusses the open source approach to cloud computing. Mickos used to be CEO of MySQL and he has a pragmatic approach to open source cloud and being in the business of providing a software platform for private cloud explains how the employment of a hybrid clouds can cater for unpredictable and variable workloads. In the video interview Mickos explains Eucalyptus Systems value proposition. They enable companies to run within their own firewall a cloud that is exactly like the public cloud, so it can be used for 'in-house' and hybrid situations.

The article goes in depth over two pages including a video interview and when I reached the end, I realised that there was some guidance from Mickos about company naming which neatly adds a contemporary twist to my previous blog about product naming. He offers some grounded advice for emerging entrepreneurs interested in starting a venture within the cloud ecosystem. Like most rapidly growing tech sectors, cloud computing has experienced its share of hype and hyperbole. Marten cautions entrepreneurs to avoid being lost in the current cloud mania, “If you are going to build a really successful company in the cloud (space), you should not give it a name with cloud in the name or some Latin name of clouds. Over time…there are too many companies that have similar names and it gets confusing. To name your company after the industry you are in…can turn into a banality and it doesn’t give the right impression. Find some other name than cloud something." The full article can be read on this page.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

revealing truth about testing techniques

Anyone involved in getting projects live whether via Agile or Waterfall will be acutely aware of the importance of the testing phases. Kevin Burke wrote a very interesting article looking at testing techniques called "Why code review beats testing: evidence from decades of programming research" and concludes: If you want to ship high quality code, you should invest in more than one of formal code review, design inspection, testing, and quality assurance. Testing catches fewer bugs per hour than human inspection of code, but it might be catching different types of bugs. You should definitely try to measure where you are finding bugs in your code and the percentage of bugs you are catching before release – 85% is poor, and 99% is exceptional. If you are involved in this type of project work then I recommend it as essential reading. #software #testing #bug #coding

Monday, October 3, 2011

Collective Learning #Change11

The examples of collective learning by Allison Littlejohn from Caledonian Academy in her blog 'collective learning examples' which is week 4 of the Change11 MOOC draw primarily from industry. The first example is that of large companies like Amazon, Boeing, IBM, P&G and Merck which have been crowdsourcing ideas to foster innovation.

Some ideas come through proprietary channels and networks such as licensing, outsourcing, and joint ventures, but a large part come through open and amorphous social networks. The results have been very positive and produced breakthrough innovations for industry, health and the environment.

Having been a participant in a similar information jam (although it had more of a survey feel) I wanted to also express a frustration that can grow as a result of taking part. If ones idea is not one which is replicated by a fair number of other people then it is dismissed or not used. One may express oneself a number of times via an infojam or survey and if the ideas or submissions repeatedly come to nothing then the participant reaches a point where they feel there is no point in contributing. The same opinion I quite often hear about voting: 'there is no point to vote for a minority party because they will never get into power'. It maybe that part of the process involves reassuring those who take part that their contribution has value. This can be seen more clearly in he opening anecdote of The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki which relates Francis Galton's surprise that the crowd at a county fair accurately guessed the weight of an ox when their individual guesses were averaged (the average was closer to the ox's true butchered weight than the estimates of most crowd members, and also closer than any of the separate estimates made by cattle experts). The data was of a numerical value and in this case every guess had a value because it had an influence on the final average. The case is not the same for opinions and ideas.

Friday, September 23, 2011

3D printing for Health Care

I gave the link below about the Click on-line article about the 3D printer which recreated a smaller replica of a human face. There was a development brought to light today that is really comforting in that it actually serves a more practical purpose - creating artificial blood vessels for lab-made organs. A real world application no less.

Materialization Now Available. We Just Need De-materialization

BBC's Click online takes a first look at 3D printers and shows how to reproduce a human head (somewhat smaller).

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Product Naming - Do's and Don'ts

When choosing the name for a product Tom Blackett, Deputy Chairman of the Interbrand Group explains in his article on Brandchannel: "Your first duty is to the customer, because if you look after the customer, as the saying goes, the business will look after itself. This means that you must strike the right balance between explaining what the new product is about, and creating differentiation to secure future purchaser loyalty. It is the role of advertising to explain features and benefits as the first phase in any new product launch; it is the role of the name to capture this information and to provide the platform for developing brand personality. Perhaps,

April Dunford
, on Rocket Watcher, Product marketing for Startups advises that there are largely three types of names:
  1. Descriptive Names – if you have a naming convention in your company this is probably the way they are forcing you to go. The good news is that these names are easily trademarked, Google-able and people will know what your product is all about when they find you. The bad news is that “The Apple Personal Music Player” isn’t nearly as memorable or interesting as “iPod”. They are also stupidly long.
  2. Made-up Word Names – Did I mention that all of the great names are already trademarked? I recently did a brainstorming session where we came up with over 100 names and only a handful were available. This is why you get so many new companies with made up word names like Accenture and Avaya.
  3. Something in the Middle – Personally I like the middle-ground between descriptive and made up. Twitter is a great name. It gives you an idea what it’s all about without calling it ‘Short Message Group Chatting” or something else lame like that. The best names in this category are somewhat descriptive but still memorable and interesting. Therefore, you might be better served by an abstract name?"

So the product name should tell me something about the product but also be different enough so as to stand out from other products. Those who really want to go to town with understanding the steps to create the perfect product name can consult the The Igor Naming Guide which was created in order to demystify the naming process. In it you will learn what makes a product or company name great. The best thinking of Igor's experts is explained in a clear and actionable way. Igor's own naming process is presented in excruciating detail. The guide is available in two different lengths: soul-crushing (122 pages) and moderately-irritating (28 pages).

So the balance has to be maintained between, on the one hand, a made-up nam
e which requires marketing funds to educate the customer about what the product is and does, and on the other, a more descriptive name which may lack possibilities to trade-mark and could run the risk of disappearing under a plethora of look-alikes.

Now the reason I started this quest is due to catching glimpse of an advert on Polish TV for a product to treat infections in the urinary tract. It is produced from cranberries and comes in three variations: Walmark, Intensiv and Hot Drink. The product is aimed at the Eastern European market and is produced by a Czech company. For some reason best known to Walmark (does that sound a bit like Walmart?) they chose the product name of Urinal for the treatment. The product is marketed in a box and the variation 'Hot Drink' needless to say is called "Urinal Hot Drink". I'm wondering if this will sell in a market where English is the mother tongue? The company probably could not believe their luck when they managed also to secure the web-site

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Employee / Revenue comparison

CompanyNumber of EmpoyeesRevenue in $ billions
CA Technologies15,0004

Is there any correlation?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Comparison of Views: Gartner and Wired

On Saturday I watched a very interesting 25 minute talk by Kevin Kelly from Wired which reduces the future of the Internet to six verbs, representing six large-scale Internet trends:
  1. Screening
  2. Interacting
  3. Sharing
  4. Flowing
  5. Accessing
  6. Generating

The Primary Verb = Sharing - Anything that can be shared will be shared.

This morning I came across an article that I had filed back in February in which Gartner highlights five long-term, overarching, and interdependent trends affecting the enterprise software industry:
  • globalization
  • implementation
  • modernization
  • socialization
  • verticalization
It is not possible to compare the articles from the point of view of content as it would not be comparing apples with apples. Both are interesting in the environment to which they apply. However, from a linguistic angle it is interesting that Wired chooses verbs and Gartner prefers a suffix on the verb to give the noun which describes the act.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Vodafone Germany just announced its decision to launch of two devices under its own brand in the tablet market.

The operator said that the two tablets would be available to its German distribution channels in November but it declined to provide details on pricing or which hardware vendor was supplying the two devices.They said that the new Vodafone Smart Tab 7 (with a 7-inch screen) and Tab 10 (with 10-inch screen) will use the Android Version 3.2 Honeycomb operating system with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and memory of 1GB. The tablets will have internal storage of 16GB, which can be expanded via microSD card to 32GB. Full story.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

awesome augmented reality application

Autonomy was founded in 1996 in Cambridge, UK. The company has witnessed meteoric growth and with market cap of $7 billion, is the second largest pure software company in Europe and has offices worldwide. It develops a variety of enterprise search and knowledge management applications using adaptive pattern recognitiontechniques centered on Bayesian inference in conjunction with traditional methods. Most recently the enterprise pattern recognition technology company has been active with an awesome augmented reality application. The New York Times reported Wednesday on a forthcoming iPhone app called Aurasma that has the power to turn ink-and-paper publications into interactive mine fields. I recommend this excellent short program from the BBC series ‘Startup Stories’ about them.