Archive for the 'Computing' Category

Very Good Article About Cloud Computing

This article was written by John M Willis, and has a very different perspective than most of the blinkered, navel-gazing Web 2.0-type blogs.  Willis appears to have been around the block and gives a brief yet extremely informative explanation of the current state of “cloud computing”.

If you’re interested in putting the recent Google announcement into context, read this article.

Google BigTable Orientations

Coming on the heels of Google’s supposed upcoming BigTable announcment, I recommend the following if you want to learn more:

First, a 1-hour video talk given last summer by Jeff Dean about Google’s overall distributed architecture, including Google File System, MapReduce, and BigTable:

Next, a website I found called which talks about a lot of these topics in a blog format. There’s an interesting summary of Google’s architecture with links here. Ironically, this site seems to be down/overloaded a lot.

Next, a whitepaper on BigTable. Lots of details for the inquiring mind, but still approachable for a software person who is not expert in distributed systems, or BigTable in particular. This was linked from the TechCrunch article.

Finally, there’s this separate 1-hour video, also with Jeff Dean, that was given in 2005 at the UW.

I haven’t actually watched this one yet, having opted to watch the 2007 one linked earlier.

Have fun! P.S. I would appreciate notes about other good BigTable orientation information.

BigTable “Execute in the Cloud” Support via Sawzall

I’m going through the BigTable spec/API document and there’s this interesting nugget:

Finally, Bigtable supports the execution of client-supplied scripts in the address spaces of the servers. The scripts are written in a language developed at Google for processing data called Sawzall [28]. At the moment, our Sawzall-based API does not allow client scripts to write back into Bigtable, but it does allow various forms of data transformation, filtering based on arbitrary expressions, and summarization via a variety of operators.

Hmmm….this is interesting. Drop some data in to BigTable, tie it to a Sawzall script you’ve created — how to get the results back, if Sawzall can’t write _into_ BigTable? Have to figure that one out.

For a computationally intensive product like the one I’m developing, this is very attractive. And I don’t have to switch platforms like I would to get cloud processing done in Amazon’s EC2. I want to find out more about Sawzall.

Google Releasing Amazon SimpleDB Killer

I say “killer” only because if Google gets in, it’s going to be good. BigTable, an internal Google database product that they use to support their fast read/writes on petabytes of data (yes, peta-), is going to be released as a consumer offering in the same mode as Amazon’s SimpleDB. See the TechCrunch writeup here.

Good news for web startups? Certainly. Good news for Amazon? Probably, only insofar as a new industry – cloud computing – will support lots of competitors, and Google getting in only further validates the concept (as if it needed validating to begin with).

If Google can make it as easy to use as their other consumer offerings, like Maps, then we’re all in for a treat.

Core Wars: Proxy Wars on a Silicon Battlefield

Neat informative post on Coding Horror about the super-geek pastime of Core Wars, in which you write little autonomous programs in a modified assembly language to go out and kill other competing programs. Like bare-knuckle boxing or “drinking bingo”, last one standing is declared the winner.

The comments section is really great, as the nerds (full disclosure: I am a nerd) add their own recommendations of robotic mano a mano. Among the things I need to check out when I get a free week are:


The home page for DarwinBots starts out by saying: “Darwinbots is an Artificial Life simulator that merges the gameplay of C-Robots type arena combat with adaptive asexual population dynamics.” I’ve been married for eight years, have two kids, and am a computer programmer, so I’m already well-versed in adaptive asexual population dynamics, thankyouverymuch. *zing*

The Internet Will Kill The Pundit Prediction Markets

Why? Because your bad predictions stick around forever in the cloud. From Kevin Kelly, then the executive editor of Wired Magazine, ca. 1996:

Kevin Kelly believes that computers are over. “They’re history,” he says. “All the changes that computation is going to cause in our society have already happened. Computers primarily sped up society by automating a lot of processes, which was a sufficient change, but that is all it was.”

So, Kevin, how’s that prediction working out for you?

Interestingly, Kevin is now a board member of the Long Now Foundation. To quote him:

One of our Long Now projects is Long Bets, a forum for making long-term bets about the future. The intent is to foster accountability in our predictions; when you are wrong it should hurt.

After that 1996 prediction, he managed to get on the board of a foundation, making long-term bets about the future? Ouch!

(h/t Trevor)

NWEN Hacked?

A Russian server is injecting a hidden IFRAME into the NWEN page right now.  I can’t believe that this is legitimate.   I first thought that it was trying to replace the login screen and steal credentials; but upon further inspection, it’s not (apparently) doing that.  I’m no expert, but it looks like it’s….falsely crediting traffic to…  Seems strange.  Perhaps someone else can take a look and figure it out.

NWEN hacked

I’ve notified NWEN via e-mail.

The funny thing is that if not for Google I wouldn’t have known. The main events page at appears normal. But Google directed me to the page shown above when I did a search on “Early Stage Investment Forum”, and I wondered why the date was set to 1969. Something didn’t smell right.

Trusty Firebug showed me the hidden IFRAME  problem in two seconds.

Microsoft Tells Yahoo! “Nyah Nyah”

UPDATE: Microsoft opens its kimono a bit and embraces more of an open-source and interoperable mindset. Yawn. Allen has a nice summary of the conference call here.


Who needs Yahoo! when you have billions sitting around ready to be invested in other companies? Microsoft has never been famous for sitting on their hands.

Allen Stern is reporting on a wire story that Ballmer and team are making a “significant company announcement” this morning at 8:30 AM PDT. And no, it’s NOT about Yahoo. Hmm.

The details and the conference number can be found at Center Networks.

My guess is something related to gaming or home entertainment.

Free Wi-Fi at Starbucks Coming Soon?

UPDATE: Thanks to Damon for providing facts, not rumors. Rollout of the AT&T Wi-Fi services should start happening in the springtime.   Here’s an FAQ from Ben Patterson at Yahoo!

Overheard at Starbucks this morning: one of the partners/associates said that there are plans in the works to drop the paid T-Mobile Wi-Fi service in favor of free Wi-Fi. Good news, and a bit overdue. Almost anywhere you go in Seattle right now you can find a cup of coffee and free Wi-Fi.

Startup Weekend Portland Announced

May 23-25, 2008.  I’m leaning heavily toward attending.

Blogged with Flock

Tags: ,


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.