Friday, May 29, 2009
The battle for search eyeballs is heating up again. The model has been shown to work and Google is now Ad Mogul extraordinaire. Microsoft in classic fashion has tried, learned and is trying again. Yahoo has had much publicized struggles. Even new players are coming into the space. The buzz about Wolfram Alpha is everywhere.
What this next level of competition is about is relevance of information. The reason Google initially made inroads with search was their optimization routines and ability to give people search results that were relevant to what they wanted. Recent additions such as the ability to promote and bury links based on your own preference are continued iterations of this optimization. Similarly iGoogle and personalized history of search with functions like returning the link you clicked on last time you searched for something are again continued iterations.
The next generation of search is taking more of that sea of information that is out there and turning it into something useful. This is both good and bad. It's good/great in terms of making things digestible and understandable, especially when you are researching a particular topic. But it is less so when what is important is being determined for you and you loose some of the outliers. Outliers are where innovation happens. This is not to say that results don't get buried with a raw information return because they certainly do but just as with code and layers of abstraction, with great power comes great responsibility and the need to know what is going on behind the scenes. In many cases this behind the scenes is proprietary information and algorithms that companies (rightly) don't want to share as their secret sauce. What a dilemma.
Wolfram Alpha is the new kid on the block and have gotten a lot of Internet love with an effective launch that you could watch in video live. It's cool for checking out what happened on the day you were born, doing research on specific items and generally getting a quick easy view of relevant data to concrete topics.
Microsoft Live didn't really live up to what was desired by Microsoft but they are back and ready for round two with their new search engine Bing. (I thought that was the sound the Southwest ads used for new deals?) Bing is in pre-launch and is supposed to do a lot of what Wolfram does and use other proprietary correlation tools to give better and deeper results. ComputerWorld has a nice Visual Tour of the functionality to give a good idea of what is coming.
That leaves Google. Google's new exciting new news is the pre-pumping of Google Wave. If buzz on the Internet is any indicator there is a lot of excitement and potential here as well. If it wasn't clear why there was rumored interest in Twitter from Google it is now. Wave is intended to be a merge of... well... everything Just In Time.
So, it looks like the observation that the next generation of systems are about visualization and the presentation of information, not just finding it. Boy won't this be fun to watch.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
- Euclidean Space (discovered by Euclid (go figure)) is essentially planar space. There is a whole lot of math involved in a full explanation but essentially it is the rule that given a strait line and a point the only line that can be drawn through the point and not go through the line is parallel to the original line and there is only ONE of those.
- Spherical Space is a similar math run but can be simplified to say that when you have a line drawn in spherical space and you have a point there are ZERO ways to draw a line that doesn't intersect from that point and the line.
- Hyperbolic space has even more math and if you go back just a little bit in time much of that math is proving that it is impossible. However, nobody ever told choral that so it uses it all the time. Following the line and point theory again this basically is the statement that given a line and a point there is an infinite number of lines that can cross the point without crossing the original. Margaret does a great tactile example of this with a demonstration of a simple crochet piece.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Well not two days after I say how their cloud innovations may be too late in coming for SUN... now IBM is in talks to purchase them. How very interesting.
This potential deal is interesting on multiple fronts.
- RISC (Not Risk as in risky but RISC as in Reduced Instruction Set Computer) This potential merger creates a big home for the remaining non-Intel chip guys. While HP does have their own this combination of fanatical Sun worshipers and the IBM "tried and true"ers is a potentially strong combo. Very different audiences and users though with one driven by tech innovation in Sun users and the other in the "never been fired for picking IBM" mentality.
- Java - Not a lot of the press on the topic brought this up. I guess because it is a shared standard and all that rigmarole. The reality though is that Sun still drives Java in a lot of ways. IBM on the other hand has been a big Java pusher on multiple fronts for development tools, open source etc. This could be a big deal. Of course there is always the gotcha side of the new languages such as SCALA coming up in popularity for the many-core problem.
- Open Source - Sun was big big in the .com era and went down when the .com boom went up. Since then they pushed into Open Source fairly successfully and actually have several software products that they are responsible for that have decent success. Grid, MySQL, even Solaris (a religion among some by itself) are big software assets. Of course the hard part is that IBM has their own efforts in these areas.
- People Logistics - If Sun has an office somewhere, so does IBM. The overhead portion of this could be a big savings opportunity. Not geeky though so I will stop there.
- Competition - Some of the press has stated this is a response to Cisco's entry into the data center space for servers. I doubt that but it does narrow down the big data center players. HP, IBM... ... well...
All told I think this could be good for Sun and IBM. If done right. (isn't that always the trick though... if it works everyone is a genius if it doesn't they were doomed from the get-go.) It gives me some hope for these products and companies for the future and in any case it will be fun to watch.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Since my last post I have been sent a few and read a few other articles that I thought might be worthy of note related to what clouds are and why it is important.
Sun's CTO Greg Papadopoulos did an interview with Informationweek and discussed some of the efforts that SUN has going on. One of the biggest items of note in that article is the new Drizzle product coming out of the MySQL work. There are many articles and blog posts on the topic as well but the gist is that it is an effort to Cloud-smarten MySQL. Seeing how "MySQL gets used, people only use a subset of the relational capabilities because it has a horizontal scale and there are all these concerns that go into large-scale deployments. So Drizzle sort of strips back down to a small core and then builds up the distributed capabilities." I have made no secret of my feeling that Data is no longer relational. So I think this is encouraging news though as seems to be the case lately with SUN it may be too late for MySQL.
(Aside... Greg Papadopoulos and David Douglas recently co-authored Citizen Engineer: A handbook for socially responsible engineering. Though it is not yet available you can check out an interview with David Douglas on the book and engineering at the Mercury News. Personally I find this to be a refreshing take on the responsibility of Engineering as a profession and all of the personal and corporate responsibility that should go along with it.)
As if they noticed Microsoft pushing cloud tech Amazon announced a few new items in their own cloud initiatives. The ability to reserve capacity for known needs. They also expanded the ability of Windows based services in another Amazon zone. All of this from a company that sells stuff, proof that necessity is the mother of invention.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Wired did an interview with Ray Ozzie - Long article but worth reading even if you are an ABM coalition member. (I have always thought highly of Ray Ozzie, even if I did hate Notes itself as an administrator and user, it was visionary in its setup and ahead of its time. Heck… Ray even saw P2P coming before the rest of the industry started to catch up.)
Further proof of the gap between the over-served and the under-served. The question is if Microsoft is late enough to the cloud innovation game that their delay will actually cause them harm in market share. They have rallied before and come in with overwhelming response. (e.g. I.E.) The truth is the services such as PPT, DOC etc is so ubiquitous in the work environment it will be difficult to displace them with anything else. The question though becomes more of what will happen to those types of documents and will they be service disassembled themselves enabling other innovation plugs to go in. Also, who knows maybe Microsoft will have the bones to push further change into media distribution and synch. Though Apple has a pretty strong hold and the media providers can’t seem to understand that technology can help versus hurt their business (self destroying DVRs anyone? Eventually a multi-billion dollar DVD business… sigh)
What a great time to be a technologist.