Cloud Computing

September 24, 2010

I read the term "cloudwashing" today for the first time. Apparently the term refers to the latest trend to slap the word "cloud" in front of everything.

It’s true though, for the most part people do not understand what cloud computing means and sales and marketing folks are doing what they do and filling the understanding void with a bunch of doublespeak. 

Risk and Insurance magazine does a spotty job discussing technology. Their stab at cloud computing is here and is full of inaccuracies. But this is fundamentally an insurance magazine so I would cut them some slack.

Oracle, however, is a technology company. So when they totally misuse the term, they get no slack.

The ZDNet article  about Oracle has a link to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s definition of cloud computing. They have it right. They list five essential characteristics of cloud computing. If your "private cloud" doesn’t do these five things, your "private cloud" is a regular data center. Note the "rapid elasticity" point. That to me is the most important point.

On-demand self-service. A consumer can unilaterally provision computing capabilities, such as server time and network storage, as needed automatically without requiring human interaction with each service’s provider.

Broad network access. Capabilities are available over the network and accessed through standard mechanisms that promote use by heterogeneous thin or thick client platforms (e.g., mobile phones, laptops, and PDAs).

Resource pooling. The provider’s computing resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to consumer demand. There is a sense of location independence in that the customer generally has no control or knowledge over the exact location of the provided resources but may be able to specify location at a higher level of abstraction (e.g., country, state, or datacenter). Examples of resources include storage, processing, memory, network bandwidth, and virtual machines.

Rapid elasticity. Capabilities can be rapidly and elastically provisioned, in some cases automatically, to quickly scale out and rapidly released to quickly scale in. To the consumer, the capabilities available for provisioning often appear to be unlimited and can be purchased in any quantity at any time.

Measured Service. Cloud systems automatically control and optimize resource use by leveraging a metering capability at some level of abstraction appropriate to the type of service (e.g., storage, processing, bandwidth, and active user accounts). Resource usage can be monitored, controlled, and reported providing transparency for both the provider and consumer of the utilized service.


Events for Adopting Families

September 22, 2010

We adopted Victoria with the help of the Gladney Center for Adoption. We were quite happy with Gladney and we are obviously very happy with Victoria.

Gladney has all these post adoption events. We get emails from them every month. So families can get together and discuss issues with adoption, meet other families, random parties, etc.

Is it odd that we have no interest in any of these?

First of all, we’re not that social. But mainly I think it’s because adopting Victoria was so easy. Well, not the adoption process itself, that was a pain. But once we got Tori, it’s been totally smooth. No issues, no unusual adjustments, we’re just a family.

Perhaps it’s easier because Victoria looks close enough to Danielle and no one thinks she’s adopted. We don’t hide the fact that she’s adopted, but it’s not like you meet someone and say, "This is Danielle and this is Victoria – she’s adopted". It usually doesn’t come up. We aren’t likely to get the "what’s adopted mean?" question any time soon, since she never hears the word.

I suppose we are going to have to work on our explanation of the whole adoption thing. But we aren’t going to any adopting parents event for advice on that front. We’ll figure it out…


Double Dutch

September 21, 2010

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Danielle’s school has an after school double dutch class. Here’s Danielle on the roof of her school doing double dutch for the first time.


Droid Apps

September 16, 2010

I haven’t blogged about my phone recently. I’m still in love with my Incredible. Yes, that is partly because it’s on Verizon (it’s amazing how you get to know which of your friends have iPhones because their calls just drop periodically). But it’s still a great phone.

It’s interesting to see my daughters asking for both of our phones. It generally comes down to which game they want to play. So here’s a quick rundown of apps I like. One interesting point. iPhone users are so conditioned to pay 99 cents for an app. It seems like nothing, but 50 apps later it’s not nothing (brilliant marketing on Apple’s part). I have paid for exactly one app on my phone.

Essential:

Handcent SMS: A mild improvement on the default Android SMS client.

SportsTap: I love this one. You pick your favorite teams and get notifications on scores. Any change in the score of a Yankee or Packers game, I get a notification on my phone. Perfect.

Kindle: Not clear why I would buy a Kindle when I have the app on my phone for free.

Google Voice: I only use it for voicemail, not the phone number consolidation. Why would anyone ever access voicemail the old fashioned way? Treats voicemail like an inbox and even transcribes (with decent but not great accuracy) the voicemails.

NewsRob: RSS reader that uses Google Reader’s subscription list. I’m a big RSS guy.

Google Navigation: This comes out of the box, but it’s still the killer Droid app. Free turn by turn GPS navigation. For a ZipCar user, this is golden.

PdaNet: This was available before FroYo. It provides tethering for your laptop. I’d love to use the new mobile hotspot feature in FroYo but on Verizon that is $30/month. PdaNet is free.

Nice:

Gesture Search: A nice Google app that lets you swipe letters on the screen to search your contacts. The fastest way to get to a contact that I’ve seen.

Twitter/AIM/Facebook: All good standard apps.

FlickrFree: A nice Flickr interface. The Incredible comes with the ability to share photos on Flickr out of the box, but this is a bit nicer.

Skype Mobile: I’m not a huge Skype user, but it’s nice.

Pandora and Shazam: duh

Color Note: A nice note taking app. Very useful to do a quick grocery list.

Mint: Nice interface to your Mint.com account. There’s a nice widget (do iPhones have widgets? I’ve never seen one) that just shows your cash and credit debt and refreshes automatically. And the full app is great.

Games:

Most of these are for my girls. I don’t play games that much on my phone. I have a ton of them, but these are the best.

Shoot U: This is the only app I’ve paid for. We tried the free version, loved it and paid to get more levels. This is Android’s cool game like Angry Birds. I like it a little better than Angry Birds because it has more physics, but that’s probably just me. But my daughters love it too.

Fruit Pirate: If you’ve done sword fighting on the Wii in Sports Resort this is quite similar. Fruit fly up and you have to cut them in half.

Traffic Jam: A logic rearranging game. You have to move cars around to let your taxi get out. There’s a similar iPhone game, but my daughter likes this better.

You Tube: This isn’t a game, but it’s amazing how my three year old likes it. She asks me for Alvin and the Chipmunks, it’s a previous search so I quickly get the list of videos and she’s entertained for a half hour.

Talking TomCat: There’s a funny iPhone app called Talking Carl. This is pretty much the same thing with a cat.


Alarming rise in nose picking!

September 15, 2010

I think I’ve pointed out in the past the media’s relative inability to report accurately on scientific studies. I’ve seen sensational headlines about some recent study where if you actually read the study, the conclusion is the exact opposite of the headline. I think the general understanding of scientific method is fairly pathetic these days overall, but the media makes it obvious.

The political news web site Slate actually has a series called Bogus Trend Stories where they point out the media tendency to take a few alarming anecdotal stories ("kids picking noses with both fingers"), cite an expert with no actual data ("children from broken families are more likely to be ambidextrous nose pickers"), and declare a trend where no actual evidence exists ("nose picking out of control!").

So today I saw a story with the headline, "Illegal drug use higher than in nearly a decade". Now given that Baby Boomers have a more tolerant view of drug use than their parents and their parents are slowly dying off and teenagers are teenagers, this seemed like a statistically likely statement.

The article pointed out a "sharp increase in marijuana use". The study was a self-reported one, meaning that people were voluntarily reporting their drug use (immediate red flag). And the study pointed out that medical marijuana sales in the 14 states that allow medical marijuana had taken off. Well duh.

And then, at the very end of the article, the second to last sentence:

The survey does not distinguish between medicinal and non-medicinal marijuana use.

Given the alarming headline, this is kind of a key point. After this long article about this terrible rise in illegal drug use, at the very end, comes the realization that the entire rise could be attributed to (legal) medical marijuana. Of course the article doesn’t actually examine this, so an unobservant reader would just be terrified about the frightening rise in nose picking (sorry, illegal drug use).

And an observant reader would be frustrated by the lack of data to make any real conclusion.

So anytime you read about a scientific study, do two things:

  1. Question what the data actually proves
  2. Looks for links to the actual study, so you can figure out what it really said.

Because the media (and unfortunately too many regular people) simply do not understand the scientific method.


FIBA World Championships

September 13, 2010

You’d think after not winning this for 16 years, the fact that the USA Basketball team rolled to the gold medal (as we should) would be a bigger deal.

Kevin Durant stat of the tournament (courtesy of Bill Simmons)

Kevin Durant, last three USA games: 100 points, 35-for-59 shooting (59 percent), 15 3-pointers.

Everyone else on Team USA, last three games: 159 points, 57-for-146 shooting (39 percent), 14 3-pointers.

I can only say wow…


Time Marches On

September 10, 2010

Hard to believe 9 years have passed since 9/11. But to some extent it does seem like a very long time ago. So many things have changed.

Here’s the link to my old post remember the folks we lost.

This is the web site that shows the progress being made building the new World Trade Center. In all the recent debates, no one seems to mention that it is up to 36 floors. And this construction web cam clearly shows where the reflecting pools are being built.

We move forward, but always remember the friends we lost.