Overheard: Word of the Day


September 11, 2009  3:20 PM

Overheard – IT chargeback

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
“Provisioning a virtual machine (VM) takes considerably less time than provisioning a physical server, for instance, but it can also throw a monkey wrench into how companies are used to charging business departments for services rendered.”

Christina Torode, Virtual server management vs. physical servers: What’s the difference?

Today’s WhatIs.com Word of the Day is IT chargeback.

September 10, 2009  1:00 PM

Overheard – Web self-service

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
“More and more organizations are finding that, while a dedicated customer service staff is still an integral part of any company, customers can do a fine job answering questions and service issues for themselves and for one another.”

Barney Beal, SaaS CRM vendors get serious about Web self-service features

Today’s WhatIs.com Word of the Day is Web self-service.


September 9, 2009  6:15 PM

Overheard – virtual switch

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
“If vMotion moves a workload from one machine to another to balance out load or to recover from failure, that’s great.  But if you have to manually go back and reconfigure the switches, that’s not so good.”

Joe Skorupa, as quoted in Virtual network switches add scalability to server virtualization

Today’s WhatIs.com Word of the Day is virtual switch.


September 8, 2009  5:01 PM

Theory of Obliquity – why there’s more than one way to skin the cat

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
A lot of business executives get confused on what the goal is. They think shareholder value is the goal. Shareholder value is a consequence of the goal.

Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt as quoted in What Is Your Management Model?

Today’s WhatIs.com Word of the Day is the Theory of Obliquity.  synonym for “indirect.”  Basically, this theory, which was first articulated by British economist John Kay, proposes that if you are working with a complex system and are trying to achieve an end goal, you need to focus on the most important contributing factors.  It’s like the old saying “Count your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.”

Here’s how Eric Schmidt describes it:

When we were trying to prioritize projects, I thought, how would I articulate the four or five goals of the company?  What’s the No. 1 one goal of the company?  It’s end-user happiness with search.  No. 2: End-user happiness with advertising.  Three: The construction of the Google network of partners to effectuate the first two.  And four: to scale the business.  Then I realized that none of the things that I’m supposed to be doing as CEO — maximizing revenue and shareholder value — are the goals of the company.  So I now explain myself by saying that you will eventually get extraordinary returns for your shareholders and maximize advertiser happiness if all those goals happen.  A lot of business executives get confused on what the goal is. They think shareholder value is the goal. Shareholder value is a consequence of the goal.


August 27, 2009  2:30 PM

Ray tracing – Is Lara Croft tomorrow’s version of Pong?

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
The steps that computer gaming has taken visually in only 10 short years are nothing short of amazing, and in the next 10 years we will see games which make today’s high-resolution titles look like the original “Super Mario Bros.,” or perhaps even “Pong.”

Chris Buecheler, Character: The Next Great Gaming Frontier?

Not content with burned-in lighting, developers have moved to ray-tracing technology, coupled with advanced texturing techniques like bump and normal mapping in order to simulate depth. Not satisfied with simple animation, complex shader code has been written to simulate the movement, reflection and refraction of light on various materials.

I think Chris’ article is right on the money. Literally.  When it comes to virtual worlds, especially B2B virtual trade shows (VTS), we are really just at the Pong stage.


August 26, 2009  7:27 PM

Negotiation Ninjas – Don’t like to haggle? Use a computer agent

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
“Heuristics are commonly used in computer science to find an optimal solution to a problem when there is not a single ‘right answer’.  If you can’t analyze mathematically exactly what you should do…then you end up with heuristics.”

Professor Nick Jennings as quoted in Computer ‘agents’ take to the Web

The BBC reports that “Negotiation Ninjas” will be tested on a shopping website called Aroxo. The agents will use heuristics ( a simple set of rules) based on information provided by the seller and the buyer.


August 25, 2009  12:40 PM

Bokode – replacing barcode and RFID?

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
MIT scientists have devised a new coding standard that can be read from digital cameras, and will be used in everything from augmented reality to motion capture.

Rather than being a simple flat image, like a barcode or a QR code, Bokode uses a light beam, whose brightness and angle are encoded with information. The tag itself is tiny–about the size of the @ symbol in a keyboard. But it contains thousands of bits of data.

Cliff Kuang, MIT’s Bokode: A Tiny Barcode Replacement That’s Chockablock With Data

Guess we need to add definitions for Bokode and QR code.

A QR code (quick response code) is a two-dimensional bar code. In Japan, QR codes have become more popular than barcodes. A typical barcode can hold a maximum of 20 digits.  A QR code can hold up to 7,089 characters. How? Well,  barcodes can only span horizontally.  QR codes can span horizontally and vertically.

Bokodes take the concept a step further.

According to Quinn Smithwick at MIT, the current version of bokode tech uses a 2D data matrix with Reed Solomon error correction and can hold megabits of information.  Bokodes are going to be perfect for augmented reality.

Imagine going to the opera and looking through your cell phone’s camera at a specific character on stage. Now imagine that character has a bokode beauty mark on her face and when you aim your camera at her face, you can not only find out who that character is, but you can read an entire snyopsis that tells you all about the character and how she fits into the plot. You can even get a bio of the person playing her.

Now imagine doing the same thing when you’re shopping. There might be a bokode on the store’s welcome sign, telling you what’s on sale.  There might be a bokode on the sales tag for the jacket you’re looking at, telling you through your camera’s viewfinder what the jacket is made of, where it was made, how much it costs and how to clean it.  In the shoe department, that bokode on the bottom of the shoe you want to try on will tell you if the store has it available in your size.

Will all that hoo-ha about RFID tags on consumer goods being too intrusive will fade away? From what I’m learning about bokodes, the answer just might be “yes.”

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/wG7vXI1I1wg" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]


August 24, 2009  6:35 PM

Overheard – The history of preamble

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
Telegraph companies quickly learned that it was important to be able to track messages and minimize relaying errors. They developed the idea of a preamble that contained the information describing the message and providing the means to trace it back to its origins. The preamble concept proved so useful that it has been carried forward into the terminology of the Internet and computer networks.

The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual

Preamble is still used in the very same way – the information at the head of a transmission contains information about the message that follows. If you examine a transmission of data on a garden-variety Ethernet network, you will find that each packet of data has a preamble with a unique number and address, among other things.


August 21, 2009  5:56 PM

Overheard – DNA origami

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
“At IBM, scientists are investigating the possibility of using structures made of DNA strings as buildings blocks for future microchip designs. The structures, dubbed ‘DNA origami,’ self assemble onto lithographic templates which can lead to manufacturing of circuit features down to 22 nanometers.”

MedGadget, IBM’s DNA Origami May Lead to New Computer Chip Design


August 20, 2009  7:10 PM

Overheard – MapReduce is a screwdriver

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
mark-chucarroll “Just because you’ve got the best hammer in the entire world doesn’t make everything a nail. If you’ve got a screw, even a cheap, old, rusty screwdriver is going to do a better job. And MapReduce is a lot better than a cheap, old, rusty screwdriver.”

Mark C. Chu-Carroll, Databases are hammers; MapReduce is a screwdriver

RDBs are absolutely brilliant things. They’re amazing tools, which can be used to build amazing software. I’ve done a lot of work using RDBs, and without them, I wouldn’t have been able to do some of the work that I’m proudest of. I don’t want to cut down RDBs at all: they’re truly great. But not everything is a relational database, and not everything is naturally suited towards being treated as if it were relational. The criticisms of MapReduce all come down to: “But it’s not the way relational databases would do it!” – without every realizing that that’s the point. RDBs don’t parallelize very well: how many RDBs do you know that can efficiently split a task among 1,000 cheap computers? RDBs don’t handle non-tabular data well: RDBs are notorious for doing a poor job on recursive data structures. MapReduce isn’t intended to replace relational databases: it’s intended to provide a lightweight way of programming things so that they can run fast by running in parallel on a lot of machines. That’s all it was intended to do.


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