Monday, February 28, 2005

Behind the scenes at Google

I've just discovered that the University of Washington have webcasts of all their Computer Science & Engineering colloquia online. Wouldn't it be good if all Universities did this sort of thing? After all, the technology to do it really isn't that expensive anymore...

There looks to be some interesting talks, but the one that immediately stood out from the 2005 programme was Jeff Dean taking a look behind the scenes look at Google.

Jeff Dean talking about Google

Coincidentally I also discovered a good paper on the Google File System written up for the 19th ACM Symposium on Operating Systems Principles by Google themselves, along with video of the talk they gave at the symposium.

All in all, it adds up to a rare look inside the Google black box...

Sunday, February 27, 2005

RSS is evil?

I've only recently become a converted to using a aggregator to help me keep track of news. I guess I'm getting old and staying with the bleeding edge is geting harder. For instance, I still haven't figured what the fuss about instant messaging is all about and that's been around for years. I mean, what's wrong with email that some decent spam blocking software can't fix?

Anyway, I'm getting off the point. I recently got to the stage of information overload and decided I pretty much had to move to using some sort of aggregator. In the end I settled on NetNewsWire Lite, one of the more popular aggregators for Mac OS X, and I'm currently using the 2.0 beta which amongst other improvements now supports Atom as well as RSS.

To begin with it was actually saving me time, I think I actually managed to free up an hour a day, which is a considerable saving. I was pretty happy about this, as not only did I save time but the way I was working started to change. Instead of wading through my email to check on things like nightly builds they were being served directly to my desktop, pre-bundled for easy consumption.

But I'll admit it, I've turned into an feed junkie, and the number of sites I'm reading regularly has grown. Those RSS feed buttons are just too tempting. It took effort before to keep track of all those sites, now it's easy. I'm currently tracking over 90 feeds and I doubt this is going to go down. I haven't started wasting my saved hour quite yet, but it could get to that stage.

While I'm probably better informed that before, and I'm keeping up with the water cooler gossip of the tech world much more readily, I miss the variety. A lot of the sites I keep track of syndicate their entire content to their feed, so I rarely click through to the actual site anymore. The very reason the information is easier to manage is that the aggregator strips it of all but the most basic formatting and presents it in a consistent manner, so I've returned to the days when I viewed the world through a single interface.

In some ways it's almost, but not quite, like having Usenet back again healthy and unbroken, but having been reduced to a passive observer rather than an active participant. With the start of September that never ended we broke the last vestages of the "real" Internet, the Internet that existed before the Web. These days most people look at the Internet as a download medium, and we've turned into consumers. That's not a happy thought...

You would think that the rise of the blogosphere would act as counterweight? I think that's one of the reasons why I started blogging, after all as a Usenet regular I was used to throwing in my two cents on topics that mattered to me, but not everyone blogs. I'm a classic early adopter, and so are most of the people I know, and yet of them only a handful have blogs.

Things sure aren't how they used to be, and I sort of faintly regret it. Maybe I am getting old...

One man, one plane, one world...

It looks like the predicted conditions are good enough that the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer has a green for take off tomorrow. Take off is currently scheduled between 2 and 6pm local time (8pm and midnight UTC) tomorrow from Salina Municipal Airport in Kansas.

CREDIT: Virgin Atlantic
The Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer

The Global Flyer is yet another innovative Burt Rutan and Scaled Composites project, designed to make an attempt at the first solo non-stop flight around the world, which has been pretty much overshadowed by the successful X-Prize flights [1, 2] of SpaceShipOne late last year...

Update: The Global Flyer took off at 00:47UTC on Tuesday, about an hour later than initially scheduled. The BBC has more information...

Update: A successful touch down at Salina for Steve Fossett and the Global Flyer at 13:50 local time (19:50UTC) on Thursday the 3rd of March, some 67 hours after they took from there on the round the world trip.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

More Google Maps

After releasing their new Google Maps service earlier this month without any support for Safari, the Google Blog is reporting that the service should now support Apple's default browser. Shame it's still US only really...

Text message from Skype? is reporting that from last Thursday it was possible to send as well as recieve free text messages via Skype. However it doesn't look like the functionality has made it as far as the OS X client yet, according to the ChangeLog the latest version was released on Wednesday...

Update: There is now more information available about the Skype to SMS beta test. It looks like the service is being offered by Connectotel, who are now providing some answers to frequently asked questions about the beta.

The delayed Treo 650

When I finally gave in and upgraded my mobile phone in November last year it was after holding off for a several months waiting for the Treo 650, which rumours were hinting would be released on Orange in early October.

Well engadget is reporting that the 650 will finally arrive here in the UK sometime next month, probably...

Last October the Treo 650 would have been a bleeding edge piece of kit, but with the release of combined 3G GSM, Bluetooth and WiFi devices such as the HTC Universal it's beginning to look dated even before its release.

Or course the ironic thing is that Palm's flag ship smartphone is manufactured by HTC, probably in the same plant as the Universal.

Back home...

Spent the afternoon in the clutches of the remnants of British Rail making my way home from the VOTech planning meeting in Leicester.

In transit through Exeter, on my way home...

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The red pill or the blue one?

Those busy people at Google have rolled out yet another new feature. Just in time for the Oscars they've gone an added a movie: operator to their seach box. For those of you in the U.S. its also been handily integrated into both the Google Local and Google SMS services.

Data Exploration

Today we're talking about data exploration and data mining (DS6). Although the first thing we had to discuss is what exactly we meant by the phrase data mining...

I gave a short talk about agent architectures and how they could be applied to data mining. Although if you haven't seen it already, and are interested in what I was talking about, you should probably have a look at the talk I gave at the VOTech Kickoff meeting as it's pretty relevant as well.

Both the talks I found most interesting today came out of Italy, Giuseppe Longo talked about AstroNeural and Ugo Becciani talked about VisIVO.

Apple to buy TiVo?

I'm obviously not paying attention if I hadn't heard about this before, but the BBC is reporting rumours that Apple may be thinking about buying out TiVo. This isn't, perhaps, as off the wall as you might think as with the release of the Mac mini Apple has positioned themselves in the home entertainment marketplace whether they know it or not...

Update: The general opinion now seems to be that Apple won't buy TiVo. Although with Apple, notorious for playing things close to the chest, it's always hard to tell...

No encryption for RFID passports

Not content with tagging foreign visitors, Wired is reporting that the US government has decided to tag their own citizens so they can be easily identified. At least they're being fair about things...

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


I stumbled across an interesting service today called BlogMap, run by Chandu Thota. Chandu works for Microsoft, but I guess we probably shouldn't hold that against him...

I've been talking about ubiquity and location dependant searching a lot recently and this is the sort of raw data you want available to feed into those sorts of services.


Today we're talking about infrastructure (DS3), which is the bit of the meeting in which I'm probably most interested...

Why does it always snow at VOTech meetings?

DS3 is about enabling science rather than actually doing science, so the vital issues are service availablity, reliability and scalability along with usability, support and interoperability.

The first presentation of the meeting was from Guy Rixon who talked about security for the VO. The services we run should not compromise the host, the services we install should run with minimal privileges and with minimal third party software needs. Additionally any security we impose must be easy to use and relatively transparent to the user. In effect this means we need single sign on, and this has far reaching implications.

Noel Winstanley then talked about enabling users to actually do science.

Noel talking about interoperability

He talked about how the VO should be language neutral, and accessible from the existing tools the users are currently using. Amongst various ideas to achieve this his suggested solution is a proxy application running on the user's desktop, which he is calling Dashboard, which uses HTTP and XML-RPC to expose various services to the user in a consistent way. This actually looks like a good solution to the various interoperability problems, and means that you can access quite a lot of the VO, that isn't currently accessible, programmatically from your favourite language.

Then just before lunch Thomas Boch talked about the proposals from CDS about what DS3 should be doing with its time. Amongst other things, but crucially from the eSTAR perspecitive, they are anticipating offering proper SOAP access into VizieR in the near future. Interestingly, they're also proposing a graphical workflow creation tool, this was talked about during the AstroGrid rollout back in December as an alternative to the current portal.

Discussions after lunch started with Paul Harrison talking about CEA, what it is and why it's useful. It was suggested that CEA was refactored in terms of WS-RF which would make it more accessible and language neutral, since there is a decent WS-RF implementation for Perl, this would suit me just fine.

Finally we talked about what should be the priorites for DS3, where we are now and what we should be doing next...

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

User Tools

Today we're talking about user tools (DS4).

In the basement, where the WiFi doesn't go...

Of the working groups I think user tools is the one where I have the least input, despite the fact that I personally see agent technologies as something that can be used extensively at the user level to provide an intelligent access layer into the VO, inside VOTech they are seen far more as infrastructure. There was however a fair bit of discussion about tools that fit inside workflows, and metadata visualisation, both of which were fairly interesting.

Just before lunch we also talked about the forthcoming EuroVO Workshop and the things that needed to be done by VOTech during phase 1 before then, although this moved into a rather long and detailed discussion about what exactly the workshop was going to be about in the first place.

On returning from lunch we started talking about "Tools vs. Scenarios", and robotic telescope interfaces did get a mention, but didn't seem to make it into the schedule of work over the next three years.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Intelligent Resource Discovery

Today we talked about intelligent resource discovery (DS5). Perhaps predictably there was a lot of discussion about ontologies, which isn't really my thing at all, however I end up getting volunteered to write up a report to specify requirements to come out of both DS3 and DS5 which will be needed for the agent broker layer we talked about at the Kickoff Meeting. I was also delegated to keep tabs on the IVOA VOEvent group for the DS5 working group.

I also need to get that introduction to agents material that I promised onto the VOTech wiki...

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Python Traffic Cameras

Last week, Justin Everett-Church won the Macromedia's Flash Lite contest with his Manhattan Traffic Camera Monitoring application. Russell Beattie wrote about it when he talked about Nokia licensing Flash Lite 1.1, and caused rumblings amongst the great and the good. In response Christopher Schmidt sat down and wrote a proof of concept traffic cam monitoring application in Python in 45 minutes.

Along with a few others I took Christopher's application and modified it for local use and amongst other things, changed the GUI to be a bit more user proof. Talk about rapid development in action...

Those of you in London might want to have a look at Jim Hughes' version of the application as he modified it to look at the BBC's list of London jam cams.

Traffic camera monitoring around Exeter, U.K.

As Christopher says it looks like Justin has opened a whole can of worms, and there are now lots of people vigorously scratching their various itches. Amongst them Christopher himself has released a version 3 of his own application.

It looks like he's done exactly what I was going to do next, and fixed things so that it fetches the list of URLs from a remote site in some sort of standard format. I guess I'll grab his latest version and work from there...

In Transit

I'm currently in transit to the VOTech Stage One Planning Meeting which is being held at the University of Leicester next week. I'm going up to Leicester a day earlier than I actually need to because it seems to be physically impossible for me to get there on Sunday unless I drive. Network Rail appears to have shut down most of the rail network tomorrow due to engineering works, or at least the bits I want to travel on...

Friday, February 18, 2005

Goodbye to Rendezvous...

...and hello to "Bonjour", at least according to AppleInsider. Personally I don't think they could have come up with a worse name for the technology. Couldn't they have just paid Tibco a bit more money so they could keep the Rendezvous name? Or at the very least just given up and started calling it Zeroconf networking.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Feedburner issues

Christopher Schmidt has just pointed out that Feedburner is having some technical issues with their Last-Modified headers.

Although my Atom feed is generated natively by Blogger, I use Feedburner to provide an RSS feed for those people who prefer to take the feed that way. I was thinking about shuting down the Blogger generated Atom feed and using Feedburner's SmartFeed to provide both dynamically, however I might hold off for a bit now.

Amongst other things, reducing the number of feeds would have let me get a better handle on how many people are actually reading my rambings. The RSS feed has a circulation of 25 or 30 people, but I have much less idea about who is reading the Atom feed. Although, if the hits to circulation ratio of the RSS holds steady, then there are probably another 10 to 15 people reading via the Atom feed. I'd hate to cut them off cold turkey. For comparison Statcounter is telling me that I've got about 100 people regularly reading the front page using a normal browser, I never knew I was that interesting...

SHA-1 hashing algorithim broken

The Register is reporting that a successful attack against SHA-1 has been found by cryptography researchers in the U.S. and in China, which makes it possible to mount a successful brute-force attack against the algorithim.

However things aren't as bad as they seem, as it's only just about possible to mount the attack with the most powerful machines available today. Although it does mean that the algorithim is no longer beyond the reach of current supercomputers, so if you want your digital signature to be secure against a major government, or an academic with too much time on their hands, then it's time to look elsewhere.

Update: There is a Slashdot story on this one which has some more links and predictably quite a lot of discussion, some of it even makes sense.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Another Hitchhiker's Trailer

Remember the teaser trailer released back in December for the forthcoming Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie? Well the first real trailer, which is being hosted by Amazon, has just been released...

Copyright © 2004 - 2005 Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

While it does look like they're going with a whole different slant on things, maybe I'm not so worried about the Hollywood interpretation not measuring up to the orignal BBC radio or television series of the book anymore. The trailer was pretty good, so it's got to be a good movie, right?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Orange to offer 3G palmtop

The Register is reporting that Orange is following T-Mobile's lead and will probably be offering the new 3G Universal from HTC sometime later this year.

CREDIT: The Register
The HTC "Universal", or MDA IV depending on branding

The 3G Universal handset is apparently PDA sized, with a proper 640 × 480 VGA display and QWERTY keyboard, stereo speakers and two cameras, one for photograhy and one for video calls. However, the killer feature of this handset is that in addition regular triband operation it also supports both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth networking, which pretty much makes it the perfect mobile data platform.

I've been waiting for something like this for a long time, of course I'll probably be waiting for a while yet, as the ship date is simply "later this year" which with Orange could mean anything...

Update: I knew it was going to run Windows Mobile. However, I sort of saw that as a downside until I found out that it's supposed to have a VGA display out. Which means that you can easily do PowerPoint presentations directly from the palmtop. The pictures coming out of 3GSM World also seem to show it with a mini-USB connector, which is more than nice.

So, it's got a "proper" VGA screen, VGA out, a decent keyboard, 3G, triband, WiFi, Bluetooth and USB and it's about the size of a PDA? Got to get one...

Update: More details about the release of this palmtop onto both Orange and Vodaphone have been confirmed by the networks.

Update: I've just bought one...

Update: My first impressions...

3rd party Google Maps

A lot sooner than I thought it'd happen, we have the first 3rd part application which integrates the new Google Maps service. Glen Murphy has written Movin Gmap, which is a GPS driver for the service. The driver continually updates your position from a connected GPS reciever and recenters your map, presumably using straight REST calls to the service. Pretty simple proof of concept, and Windows only, but you have to give the guy credit for getting there first.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Two-finger scroll on older Macs

One of the features offered by the new Powerbooks is a scrolling trackpad. However there has been some speculation about whether this was a hardware or a software upgrade. If the new functionality was only a software tweak, it would mean that those of us with older Powerbooks might stand a chance of acquiring scrolling trackpads of our very own.

Well it looks like it's mostly a software upgrade, and Daniel Becker has come up with a hack to activate two-finger scrolling on supported pre-2005 PowerBooks and iBooks, which are those with "W-Enhanced" trackpads. Don't know whether your trackpad is W-Enhanced? Don't worry, he's also provided a script to allow you to figure this out.

Update: I've now installed the driver and it works without a hitch, I especially like the fact that it can turn left clicks into right clicks whenever two fingers are on the trackpad.

Entertaining water?

The entire bottled water thing has never made much sense to me, but now it makes even less sense. People are apparently "...searching for entertaining water", takes all kinds I suppose...

Search as Artificial Intelligence

Russell Beattie has just posted to his blog talking about search as practical artificial intelligence. I think he's following a parallel line of arguement to my recent posts on ubiquitous computing, interesting, must be a meme thing...

Ubiquitous computing and agents

Near Near Future has an interesting post about thinking carpets. A self-organising network integrated into the floor registers and deals with a variety of sensory input. Different distributed sensors could do things as diverse as coordinate climate control, spot fires, direct people to emergency exits and the emergency services to disabled casualties.

However, what the post doesn't talk about is what would happen if these sensors weren't just passive, but interactive. If you embed a Bluetooth chipset into them then you immediately get into the realms of ubiquitous computing and augmented reality.

Combine the data from a ubiquitous sensor network with your own GPS fix, access to interesting location dependant and environmental data, and you have a powerful tool. Integrate this into a collaborative agent architecture linked together via Bluetooth, where the agent running on your mobile phone or wearable computer can talk to other nearby agents which could belong to passers by and you have more than a powerful tool, you have a paradigm shift in the way we look at the world.

We move through a sea of data, but until recently most of it was opaque, stuck in proprietary formats, hidden, or simply unavilable to the user. However with the arrival of peer-to-peer systems, and short range wireless networks, we are moving rapidly towards ubiquitous computing whether you like the idea or not. Personally, despite the possible privacy concerns, I think it's a good thing. Perhaps if everyone has ubiquitous access to all the data then the question of "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" becomes irrelevant. Of course the trick is to try and ensure that you have access to all the data...

Sunday, February 13, 2005

GPS on a small scale

QinetiQ has just announced smallest GPS unit ever produced, and they really do mean small. For those not aware of it's history Qinetiq used to be part of the UK government's Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) but was spun off around the middle of 2001 into a civilian company which incorporated bulk of the MoD's non-nuclear research.

Since it's produced by QinetiQ everyone immediately thinks about it's military applications, although their own press release tries to emphasize its use in freight tracking. But I immediately thought about mobile phones, a reciever this small could be fairly easily incorporated into a phone and it'd let us do lots of things like position based searching that are much harder to do today.

Slicing the Apple

The BBC is reporting that Apple has announced a stock split after its stock almost quadrupled in value last year, going from $23 to around $82.

A stock split is a sign that the management, presumably in this case Steve Jobs, has high expectations for the company's future earnings prospects. But after such a run of good fortune, and the the run away success of the the iPod, lets hope that Apple management isn't suffering from hubris...

I noticed in a post on Bjørn Hansen's blog that the server has been relocated from Webster to a new box in the rack. Anything that makes the service run a bit faster is good news in my book...

Autonomous Trains?

The BBC is reporting that the rail industry is investigating the use of satellite navigation to provide dynamic traffic management. While proponents of this technology are pushing the efficiency and safety aspects, I'm interested in the increased autonomy and intelligence this gives to the trains themselves.

Could a decentralised control system be more efficent than the current top down model? An agent architecture, where individual trains negotiated their way across the network in a collaborative agent model would be "interesting" to say the least, and perhaps not that far fetched. Similar architectures have been used to move packets of data across fairly complex network topolgies, and after all, conceptually there isn't that much difference between moving a few hundred tons of train and a few hundred bytes of data...

Of course, what a person travelling on the railways is interested in is a single train, we don't usually care about the network as a whole. Perhaps our selfish nature could work in our favour for once as your personal agent, running on your 3G mobile phone or PDA, could add it's vote to the agent on the train and make your train more important, improving its journey across the network. In the peer-to-peer negotiations for priority, a train with many people waiting for it would get right of way.

More prosaically, the exact location of the train you're waiting for would be known to your agent and would be part of your augmented reality.

Liftoff for Ariane 5ECA

Back in December I posted about the launch, scheduled for this month, of the new heavy lift Ariane 5ECA varient, the first after its disasterous maiden flight in December 2002. The new Ariane was successfully launched from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana at 2103 GMT yesterday...

Liftoff for Ariane 5 ECA Flight 164 on 12 Feb. 2005

Update: For those interested New Scientist has more information about the launch.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Dissecting Google Maps

Joel Webber has done a good job of taking apart the new Google Maps service. Like Joel I was impressed with the elegance of the DTML and Javascript of Google's new web app, despite the fact it doesn't work in Safari.

Of course their acquisition of Keyhole last year might have something to do with things? If so, it'll be interesting to see where they're going. I recently came across photo maps, these are aerial photographs of the UK overlaid with Ordnance Survey street level maps. All the goodness of actual topology, with the clarity of street maps for the actual navigation bit. On the fly generation of this sort of material with the added goodness of Google Local? Magic...

Update: Joel has had another look at the Google Map implementation. He makes some good points, especially about how Google have managed to make the back button dance to their tune...

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Google Maps

Today Google announced yet another new service, Google Maps. So, another innovative product from Google Labs? Hard to tell,

The new Google Maps service failing to even start up in Safari, and yes I did check. If you ignore the warning and click through, it really doesn't work, they aren't kidding.

I was half tempted to give up. When Google decides to be incompatible, they're usually very incompatible indeed. After all what can be interesting about a map service? They've been beaten to death. What could be so special about this new one from Google to make it worth firing up a different browser?

None the less I went ahead and fired up Camino to have a look anyway. My immediate impression was that that they were missing a few continents, my second impression was that it was fast, my third impression was that it was really fast.

Most map services usually have dreadful interfaces. They're also slow, really slow. The "best" interface I've come across is probably Map 24 which uses a Java applet to present it's maps. Unfortunately, for me at least, it runs so slowly as to make it almost totally unusable, and the maps it produces are also pretty hard to read. The best UK maps, again only my opinon, are probably produced by the Streetmap service. But while the maps themselves are exellent, and the service relatively quick, the interface is so unusable it's hard to get at the results. For instance, in browsers other than Internet Explorer, the zoom functions are pretty much broken...

However Google has obviously leveraged the work it did on Google Suggest and XMLHttpRequest to produce a fighteningly quick draggable map interface. Unlike the more traditional services, where maps are served statically as images, the vectorized maps are easily dragged around the screen, and at a much faster speed than the only other service I know of to offer this sort of interface.

The new Google Maps service, looking for pizza placces in Hilo, Hawaii, running in the "unsupported" Camino browser. Camino embeds the Mozilla layout engine Gecko beneath a Mac OS X native Cocoa user interface, so perhaps it's unsurprising that it works out of the box where Safari fails.

The really interesting thing about the service is integration however, the new map service is just another interface into the massive backend Google database and Google Local. So to find a pizza place in Hilo simply type in "Pizza in Hilo Hawaii", and you'll map gets annotated with the locations of nearby pizza places.

The direction service is similar enhanced, I especially like the popup windows which give you help on "difficult" junctions...

Of course it's all rather frustrating, because while I travel there a lot, I don't live in the States. So I'm stuck with poorer implementations, and less integration. So maybe I shouldn't have bothered after all. Anyway, take the tour and decide for yourself, it'll even work in Safari so you can find out what you're missing...

Update: Matt Croydon made a good point about directions. If the directions don't print well, they aren't much use. The best, and I really do mean best, driving directions in the UK used to come from the AA, but they've "updated" their service and they now don't offer printable directions. So I no longer use their route planner...

Update: They have just updated the service to work with Safari...

Update: Google have just integrated satellite imagery into their Google Maps service.

Update: Living in the UK I don't get much chance to use Google Maps, but every so often the service is useful...

Sunday, February 06, 2005

What You'll Wish You'd Known

As I've mentioned several times before, after hearing his keynote speech at OSCON last year, Paul Graham has become one of my favourite dispensers of wisdom. So I'd just like to point everyone towards his latest essay, "What You'll Wish You'd Known" which has just appeared on his website. As usual he has interesting things to say, but depressingly I'm now much too old to be his target audience this time around.

Oddly enough Joel Spolsky, one of my other favourite dispensors of wisdom, has also recently been offering some advise to college students. Guess it's a meme thing, or possibly just college recruitment time in the States?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The sound of dying disks...

I've pretty much decided I should have stayed in bed this week...

At the start of the week I discovered that after the bad disk in our main server got replaced around the middle of last month, the backup of our CVS archive got restored into two different places due to a absence of a symbolic link. For historical reasons, different eSTAR team members have been using different CVSROOT paths, and with this symbolic link present everything was pushed to the real CVS archive without people noticing. However, with two "real" copies of the archive rather than one copy and a symbolic link pointing to it, half the team started writing to one version of the archive, while the other half wrote to an entirely different version of the archive. The result was two "master" CVS archives. This was not a good situation, although fortunately the resulting merge conflicts when we synchronised the two archives turned out to be fairly minimal.

Today, the primary disk on our development server died. I've spent most of the day, along with our system administrator, putting the server back together again from backups. It's not been a good day, or even a good week. At least we had good backups, that's something to be thankful for, it could have been a lot worse.

Of course, now I'm waiting for the third shoe to drop...

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Grid computing by the hour

The BBC is reporting that Sun are going to offer grid computing for $1 an hour. The CPU hour that is, so despite inital appearances, a calculation taking just a few actual seconds could run up several hundred bucks of charges before it's done.

Sun has always pushed thin client architectures, such as their Sun Ray range, but it's interesting to see them extend this into the world of grid computing.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Skype 1.0 for Mac OS X

Skype have just released v1.0 of their VoIP software for Mac OS X. This is the first full-featured release on OS X, although looking at the Change Log there hasn't been that much done since the Beta. However, this does mean that we're feature complete with the Linux and Pocket PC clients. Predictably the Windows client is at v1.1, although I'm not sure what extra features this gets you.

Skype is pretty much the best VoIP software I've found to date, especially since it's so platform angnostic. However, despite their "it just works" claims, I've had trouble pushing a Skype connections through firewalls. So, as always, your mileage may vary...