Word of the Day: Tech Definitions from WhatIs.com

March 26, 2009  9:19 PM

Overheard – The future of Xen

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
kutz The marketplace has not been especially kind to Xen for two reasons: it was not first to market, which is an important factor for any industry, and Xen resellers do not have the power of the VMware PR machine.

Schley Andrew Kutz, Xen: An endangered species in the virtualization ecosystem?

March 26, 2009  4:28 PM

Overheard – Ad hoc is the same as Independent Basic Service Set

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
phifer The IEEE 802.11 standard defines two modes of operation. Ad Hoc Mode refers to a peer-to-peer association established directly between two wireless stations. Infrastructure Mode refers to associations between a group of wireless stations and an access point (AP). Ad Hoc Mode is also referred to as an Independent Basic Service Set (IBSS) because there is no access point involved.

Lisa Phifer, What are the pros and cons of ad hoc connections versus access points?

March 25, 2009  12:52 PM

Overheard – Why Cisco bought Flip

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
warrior One of the things we see happening is combining video communications with social networking–what we call “visual networking,” which will change the way we do business and how we communicate with our families.

Padmasree Warrior,  as quoted in America’s First CTO?

I guess we’ll have to define ‘visual networking.’

David Talbot at MIT Technology Review has an entertaining nterview with Padmasree Warrior, Cisco’s CTO. Rumor has it that she’ll be President Obama’s pick for America’s CTO.

As you probably know by now, Cisco has acquired Pure Digital (makers of the popular Flip video camera) for $159 million.

I’m not surprised by the acquisition, but I am confused that Cisco said they were adding Flip to the ‘Cisco Consumer Business Group.’  What’s up with that name? If your group is named Consumer Business Group, doesn’t that account for ummmm….everyone?

According to Cisco:

Upon the close of the acquisition, the Pure Digital team will become part of Cisco’s Consumer Business Group, which includes Linksys® by Cisco® home networking, audio and media-storage products. Jonathan Kaplan, chairman and CEO of Pure Digital, will become general manager of the combined organization, reporting to Ned Hooper, Senior Vice President of Cisco’s Corporate Development and Consumer Groups.

March 24, 2009  1:31 PM

Overheard – The role of ActiveX in browser exploits

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
Because so many ActiveX controls turn out to be malicious, Microsoft designed Internet Explorer 7 so that it displays a warning every time a site attempts to use an ActiveX control. The problem is that the casual user does not typically understand what an ActiveX control is, or what the consequences of allowing an ActiveX control to run might be.

Brian Posey, ActiveX security improves with Internet Explorer 8’s security features

Experts are predicting that there’s no end in sight for ActiveX exploits.  It makes sense — because even criminals want to be cost-efficient.  If you’re trying to find vulnerabilities to exploit, you to make sure you can affect the highest number of people — and IE is still #1.

March 23, 2009  3:04 PM

Overheard – Military COTS are not for sleeping

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
David Braue Military training rooms that once would have housed purpose-built, machine-based systems now resemble internet cafes, with up to 100 standard desktop PCs in a line networked together to let trainees explore the boundaries of collaborative training scenarios.

David Braue, Behind Pretend Enemy Lines

Every once in awhile I come across some marketing term that pushes some button and I feel compelled to talk to a vendor and ask “What were you thinking?”  Case in point: Microsoft’s Hailstorm.  (Ironically, Hailstorm was probably Microsoft’s first venture into what we now refer to as cloud computing.  I have to say, they did a much better job picking their new name, Azure.  I’d rather have blue skies than hail stones ruining my garden and denting the hood of my car any day.)

But I digress.

Last week when I was posting a new BigDog video from Boston Dynamics,  I went to their corporate website and saw a large graphic image for their military simulation COTS.  (COTS is just an industry term for custom commercial-off-the-shelf software.)

Now, my son just entered the military and one of the things I’m interested in learning more about is how the military is using virtual worlds and simulation games for training.

I’ve seen some video clips of how the military has been using video games and 3-D simulation in centers called The Army Experience, so when I saw that Boston Dynamics had developed a COTS for training, my first thought was to read more. I was actually kind of excited.

That is, until I saw that their product is called DI-Guy.

What an unfortunate name. It pushed some button deep inside me that I didn’t even know I had.

I wrote to the company, asking why they would name their military simulation COTS DI-Guy (DIE GUY???) and a very nice man named Marc Raibert wrote back — almost immediately — to inform me that the product’s name is pronounced D. I. Guy and that D-I is a military acronym for dismounted Infantry.

I understand the name better now — but I still don’t like it.

The military is notorious for its use of acronyms.  I find it hard to believe that the only good fit was DI. But what do I know? I’m just a mother.

March 20, 2009  3:36 PM

Overheard – New BigDog video

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse

Boston Dynamics has released a new video of BigDog, their military transport quadruped.  This is one robot you want to keep an eye on — very cool.  According to Boston Dynamics PR:

BigDog is a quadruped robot that walks, runs, and climbs on rough terrain and carries heavy loads. BigDog is powered by a gasoline engine that drives a hydraulic actuation system. BigDog’s legs are articulated like an animal’s, and have compliant elements that absorb shock and recycle energy from one step to the next.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/W1czBcnX1Ww" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Here’s LittleDog -- I think it looks like a bat. [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/JYptK21vAgQ" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

March 19, 2009  9:03 PM

Overheard – Roadable aircraft, meet George Jetson!

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse

Glenn Pew has posted an interesting video on the first test flight for the Transition, the “flying car” that’s currently causing a blogswarm.   As a kid, I spent my summers at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Fly-In out in Rockford, Illinois.  My dad was a pilot and he loved home-builts, restorations and prototypes.  He would have flipped for the Transition!

My favorite quote about the Transition? “They spent months proving that it could drive. Earlier this month, with little fanfare, they proved it could fly.”

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

If you’re interested in  learning more about the prototype, here’s a peek inside the cockpit from AVWeb.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/VyR2E1QGTCk" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

March 19, 2009  3:02 PM

Overheard – IBM and Sun, a marriage in the cloud

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
cloud Earlier this week, Sun made its entrance into cloud computing with plans to offer compute and storage services built on Sun technologies, including OpenSolaris and MySQL. IBM has been pursuing a different strategy, building the infrastructure for cloud computing, but not yet offering to host a cloud.

Bill Snyder, Why we should all hope IBM buys Sun

Rumors abound that IBM is in negotiations to acquire Sun Microsystems. Dana Gardner says “Sun wanted this out to prop up its stock or is in talks with another party and is using this to drive up its price,” but I’m going to agree with Bill Snyder and say that it’s the real deal.

IBM and Sun together make a lot of sense. They both spend tons of dollars on R&D and their approaches to cloud computing are complimentary.

As the consolidation wheel keeps on turning, the interesting question is “If IBM provides the infrastructure and Sun provides the compute and storage services, who will provide the software”?

March 17, 2009  1:34 PM

Overheard – The IT department decides what data you get to see?

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
“We had the data, but we did not have the information.”

Forrester analyst Boris Evelson, quoting a bank CIO

Today’s WhatIs.com Word of the Day is predictive analytics. It’s the crystal ball part of business intelligence.

Pam Baker has a two-part overview on the issues facing Business Intelligence. Now that we’re in this economic mess, everyone is looking around saying “With all this data we’re collecting, why didn’t we see this coming?”

Ummm…maybe it’s because 20% of the CIOs and IT managers that Forrester polled last August said they are running six or more BI tools running on disparate systems?  Yikes!

And even worse — 75% of them said most of their reports and dashboards are created by their IT departments?  DOUBLE and TRIPLE yikes!  (See one of my favorite Paul Graham quotes.)

I’m thinking this economic downturn might be a good time to be a startup BI company — a vendor who can help business analysts connect the dots, see relationships more clearly and identify areas for growth. Definitely a vendor who makes the application simple enough that the end user can create his own reports or dashboards.  One who can bring the mythical self-service BI to life.

Maybe even a vendor who offers services on-demand, like Birst or Cloud9 Analytics. If I were a VC, it’d be something I’d be watching.

March 16, 2009  3:19 PM

Overheard – “Just in Time” everything

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
“The Depression is good for the country. The only problem is that it might not last long enough in which case people might not learn enough from it.”

Henry Ford

Today’s Word of the Day is just-in-time manufacturing.  The goal of JIT is to produce and deliver product at the required time in the required quantity to fill specific orders.  (The opposite is tying production to a theoretical forecast or schedule.  It’s called just-in-case manufacturing or buffer manufacturing.)

So I’m reading about Henry Ford and thinking about his quote — and wondering how JIT correlates with cloud computing. The goals of cloud computing are pretty much the same as those for JIT.   Be efficient.

It seems to me that cloud computing is very much just-in-time computing.  Rumor has it that the original name for Amazon’s EC3 (Elastic Compute Cloud) was originally  “elastic computing capacity.”   (The cloud came in when they were marketing the idea and used the cloud symbol on flow charts to represent the Internet.)

Would we be embracing the concept of cloud computing quite as willingly for anything more than testing if the economy was healthy?  I’m not sure sure adoption would be as swift.  It would take more time to convince IT administrators to give up control if we weren’t in dire straights.

So back to Henry Ford and his quote — what lessons will we learn as we plow our way through today’s depression?  As IT departments look for ways to streamline their architectures, they’re going to be creative.

So next time you turn on the news and hear how the sky is falling, look up.  It’s just new ideas filtering down from the cloud.

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