Saturday, December 22, 2007

Earthmine is Indexing Reality into 3D Maps

Earthmine is a street-level, 3D mapping company that is focused on indexing reality. Their geospatial data mine of urban environments is an order of magnitude more detailed and accurate than anything before. Earthmine's new kind of map is a geospatially accurate model of the world that is accessed through an intuitive panoramic interface.

Google Maps Street View and Everyscape offers similar immersive visual experience. However every pixel in each high quality Earthmine image has highly accurate latitude, longitude and elevation data. This provides a unique three-dimensional context to existing spatial data not offered by others.

Check out this amazing Earthmine demo video:

Earthmine has vehicles with a calibrated camera array, collecting highly accurate and detailed data at the street level using technology licensed from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This data is processed into a form that is deliverable over the internet as a subscription service to their customer base. Their highly scalable data collection and processing technology is highly scalable allows entire municipalities to be captured in weeks.

Earthmine will offer the first street-level geospatial platform for urban environments in early 2008. Their framework includes
  • a pre-collected base data layer of 3D panoramic images tagged with 3D location data
  • a set of web-based professional tools to gather, analyze and visualize street-level location-based information
This geo-spatial framework will integrate into any web application, act as the foundation for layers of geo-tagged meta-data, and connect with existing systems and applications.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

AIR iPhone on your Desktop Powered by Ribbit

Get a fully-functional iPhone on your desktop that enables users to make and take calls on your computer. The innovative AIR iPhone developed on the Ribbit API using Adobe AIR technology makes this a reality. Users can make outbound calls to any type of phone; landline, mobile or online phone. They can also receive incoming calls and voice messages from any phone networks.

The AIR iPhone was developed by Joe Johnston of Knoware. Check it out here.

My earlier post describes the Ribbit API which enables VoIP phone calls directly from the browser. The Ribbit Developer Platform has just been released so developers can access it by signing up for an account.

Ribbit's open API enables developers to integrate voice 2.0 communications into web sites, communities and applications. A great example is Ribbit for Salesforce which links mobile voice communication to Mobile calls, voice messages and text transcriptions automatically flow into Salesforce, so users can play, read, store, search, and act on voice communications right inside their customer relationship management (CRM) web environment.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Amazon SimpleDB - Scalable Cloud Database

Amazon has announced the limited beta of Amazon SimpleDB - a simple web services interface to create and store multiple data sets, query your data easily, and return the results. Together with the Simple Storage Service (S3), Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and other web services Amazon offers a complete utility computing platform. SimpleDB was the missing piece of AWS - the scalable structured database.

Amazon SimpleDB is easy to use and provides the core functionality of a database - real-time lookup and simple querying of structured data like:
  • CREATE a new domain to house your unique set of structured data.
  • GET, PUT or DELETE items with attribute-value pairs
  • QUERY your data set using this simple set of operators
Users pay only for the resources that they consume. Pricing is based on
  • Machine Utilization
    $0.14 per Amazon SimpleDB Machine Hour consumed
    (normalized to the hourly capacity of a circa 2007 1.7 GHz Xeon processor)
  • Data Transfer
    $0.10 per GB - all data transfer in
    $0.13-$0.18 per GB - data transfer out
  • Structured Data Storage
    $1.50 per GB-month
Get started today with the Amazon SimpleDB Guide.

Many companies already use Amazon Web Services as their utility computing infrastructure like finalists of the Amazon Web Services Start-Up Challenge:
  • Ooyala - a platform to deliver video content for publishers
  • Brainscape - an engine for measuring the networks in the brain
  • Commerce360 - optimize paid search campaigns to deliver improved campaign efficiency
  • - a massively scalable live video platform
  • MileMeter - “auto insurance buy the mile”
  • - quick and cheap website usability testing
  • WeoGeo - a one-stop marketplace for mapping
With the introduction of Amazon SimpleDB utility computing just got even better!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Here Comes Another Bubble Video

Are we riding the Web 2.0 bubble? For some fun (or reality check) enjoy this video by The Richter Scales:

Got me a CS degree
Honor roll, MIT
Moved to Palo Alto
Opportunity knocked

Thought I have the perfect plan
Took a job at webvan
Traded in my twenties
For a worthless pile of tech stocks

Suffered through the market crash
Lost a giant wad of cash
Pink slips, burger flips
Would you like some fries?

Happy days are here again
Larry Page, Sergey Brin
Time to write a business plan
So I can be like those guys!

Here comes another bubble
It's a monster rally
All around the valley

First you need a buzzword
Then a second and a third
Pick at least two industries
You'll revolutionize

Find yourself and engineer
Feed him pizza, buy him beer
Give him just a fraction
Of a fraction of the pie

Need a good domain name
Must be cheap, can't be lame
Something cool like
Flickr, meebo, wikiyou, mahalo, bebo

"telephone" without the "t"
"digg" but with a triple "g"
Make your elevator pitch
Code it up and flip the switch

Here comes another bubble
The VCs are backing
Baby let's get cracking

and so on ...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

IMINDI Thought Engine for Collective Intelligence

IMINDI is a Web 2.0 application to collect and expand your thoughts by exploring and connecting with the thoughts of other Like Minds. It is a "Thought Engine" that can augment the way we think of new ideas, concepts and questions based on the idea of mind maps.

Mind mapping is taken to a new level by allowing everyone’s thoughts to be collected together. The interface is an interactive visual map of your mind called a "Journey". Each Journey has its own theme, and once you have chosen a starting thought you can travel to wherever your mind takes you. People can share their thoughts or make them public. Journeys can be connected to expand your thoughts and take them in new directions.

On top of the IMINDI Thought Engine new and useful applications are built that enable you to attach the information to your thoughts such as:
  • IMINDI Write - an online word processor where you can produce "Essay" documents with keywords marked up with links back to your Journeys
  • IMINDI Search - A meta search engine that enables you to use the thoughts in your Journeys as queries to all the major search engines
  • IMINDI Thought Agent - A recommendation engine where IMINDI looks at the thoughts in your Journeys and suggests related thoughts and Like Minds
  • IMINDI This! - A book mark that enables you to link websites of interest directly to your thoughts in a Journey as a resource
Check out the Journey on the Thought Engine to experience this unique online collective intelligence tool. Collaborative mind mapping is a nice way to collect and harness Collective Intelligence.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Shoogle - Shaking cellphones reveal what's inside

Thanks to a new innovative idea we can shake our devices to feel and hear how full their battery or message inbox is - as if it were a liquid fuel tank. Shoogle is a novel, intuitive interface for sensing data within a mobile device, such as presence and properties of text messages or remaining resources.

It is based around active exploration: devices are shaken, revealing the contents rattling around "inside". Accelerometers built into advanced devices like the iPhone or some Nokia phones makes this possible. What can I say? This is cool!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Amazon Kindle Bundles Broadband Wireless

Amazon wants to change how you shop for and read books with its new device, the Amazon Kindle. Its bundled hidden wireless connectivity marks a new wave of internet innovations. No monthly wireless bills, service plans, or commitments—they take care of the wireless delivery so you can simply click, buy, and read.

Bundling broadband internet connectivity with devices such as the Amazon Kindle or the Apple iPhone is a new way for companies to create compelling gadgets and services. Kindle connects to Whispernet which is based on Sprint's national high-speed (EVDO) data network to enable you to wirelessly search, discover, download, and read content on the go. Unlike WiFi, there is no need to find a hotspot.

Arc Technica posted a detailed review on Amazon's eBook reader.

Friday, November 23, 2007

True Knowledge Gives Direct Answers to Questions

True Knowledge addresses one of the fundamental problems in internet search: namely that computers (unlike humans) cannot understand the content of web pages. As a result, simply asking a search engine for the desired information in the most natural way possible doesn't produce a direct response. We have to rely on keywords.

Their technology can represent the world's knowledge in a form that is clear and accessible to humans, as well as being comprehensible to computers.

Wikipedia is a repository for the collegtive knowledge of humankind. But it does not provide semantic search. True Knowledge aims to change this.

Check out the promising demo video:

There are several ways of looking at True Knowledge. These include:
  • Question-Answering Site
  • Enhanced Search Engine
  • "Wikipedia for Facts"
  • Universal Database
  • Platform for Building Knowledge Services
True Knowledge is a semantic search engine using Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology. They are not alone in this space. Check out my earlier post on PowerSet. Both are in beta test phase. True Knowledge and PowerSet could possibly create another wave in the ocean of innovations!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Open Internet Video: Miro Challenges Joost

Turn your computer into an internet TV with Miro - the free open-source video platform with the recently released version 1.0!

There are many ways to explain Miro:
  • "A TiVo for the internet."
  • "Turn your computer into a TV."
  • "Simple, elegant internet video."
  • "HD TV on your computer."
Miro is open-source, DRM-free, friendly to all content creators, connected to all the popular video sharing sites like YouTube and, high definition, full of content, and BitTorrent-enabled. Miro challenges Joost which, on the other hand, is proprietary, DRM-protected, closed to video sharing sites and entirely streaming video.

Miro functions more like iTunes: download interesting videos from the internet or subscribe to 2500+ video RSS channels. Miro has build in BitTorrent support. Since videos must be downloaded, playback is not instant for now; but the videos load pretty quickly. Miro can play MPEG, Quicktime, AVI, H.264, Divx, Windows Media, Flash Video, and almost every other major video format.

Joost is like a better TV with instant play and interaction. It has 250+ commercial broadcast channels to choose from.

Miro and Joost have different strengths and focus. Users enjoy the competition of the maturing online video services.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The War for the Next Generation of Mobile Consumers

Mobile broadband services will revolutionize our life and create opportunities for companies like Apple and Nokia. Who will win the mobile consumers?

The landscape is changing quickly as companies prepare for this war. The moves so far:
  • Apple launched the iPhone in collaboration with AT&T
    • change the business model for operators and handset vendors
    • revenue share agreement with an operators
    • European operators O2 and others follows
  • Nokia made strategic acquisitions
    • buying companies such as Intellisync, Sega, Gate 5, Navteq, Enpocket and Loudeye
    • introduced Ovi - its music and web services platform
    • Vodafone and Telefonica have both plan to offer Ovi services
  • SonyEricsson
    • introduced its own Internet music portal: PlayNow
    • Ericsson acquired Tandberg TV, Redback, Marconi and LHS (billing) to build the next generation services network
    • Sony builds on its Walkman, Cybershot and Playstation brands to leverage with consumers
  • Google phone turns out to be an open software initiative
    • Android is Google’s open mobile operating system initiative. Check out the demo here and the architecture overview here.
    • acquisitions for location based services, mobile advertising, chat, search, and others set Google up on a collision with the others. But it is a collision with partnerships.
    • the Open Handset Alliance is betting on the revolution of the mobile phone industry. The alliance includes handset manufacturers such as Motorola, HTC, Samsung and LG, mobile operators such as Sprint, T-Mobile, KDDI, NTT DoCoMo, Telecom Italia and Telefonica, other companies such as Broadcom, Intel, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, eBay, and PacketVideo
    • but Android will not appear in phones for about a year
  • Microsoft is going Live
    • betting its mobile future on Windows Live Hotmail, Messenger, Live Contacts and Live Spaces and bringing together a total end-user experience
    • acquired companies to extend its offerings and plans to acquire about 20 companies—from $50 million to $1 billion—every year for the next five years
Stay-tuned for the coming battle of the internet and mobile giants. On the other hand media and entertainment companies will create new services and experiences on these platforms and devices. Consumers will have many choices as this brand new mobile broadband world unfolds.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

It is Time to Learn Amazon EC2 and S3

Utility computing is here to conquer the IT world! Amazon Vice President Adam Selipsky has recently unveiled the newest statistics on usage of Amazon S3. Their 265,000+ developer community has now stored over 10 billion (10,000,000,000) objects in S3 at a rate of 27,601 transactions per second. That's huge progress compared to the 5 billion objects just a few months ago!

Programmers and web developers should really look forward to books such as Programming Web Services - S3, EC2, SQS, and FPS by James Murty. The book will cover the most disruptive and useful web services available today:
  • Amazon Simple Storage Service (just launched in Europe!)
  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (now in beta with new instances)
  • Amazon Simple Queue Service (offers reliable and scalable hosted queue)
  • Amazon Flexible Payments Service (still in limited beta)
To illustrate the power of the Amazon Web Services check out this blog entry by Derek Gottfrid: Self-service, Prorated Super Computing Fun!

The New York Times has decided to make all the public domain articles from 1851-1922 available free of charge. These articles are all in the form of images scanned from the original paper. In fact from 1851-1980, all 11 million articles are available as images in PDF format. To generate a PDF version of the article takes quite a bit of work!

Derek has achieved this with the help of Amazon S3/EC2 and Hadoop!

I quickly got to work copying 4TB of data to S3. Next I started writing code to pull all the parts that make up an article out of S3, generate a PDF from them and store the PDF back in S3. This was easy enough using the JetS3t — Open Source Java toolkit for S3, iText PDF Library and installing the Java Advanced Image Extension.

For deployment, I created a custom AMI (Amazon Machine Image) for EC2 that was based on a Xen image from my desktop machine. I logged in, started Hadoop and submitted a test job to generate a couple thousands articles — and to my surprise it just worked. It churned through all 11 million articles in just under 24 hours using 100 EC2 instances, and generated another 1.5TB of data to store in S3.

Now that this adventure can be called a success, I can’t imagine how we might have done it without Amazon S3 / EC2 . The one caveat I will offer to people who are interested in doing something like this is that it is highly addictive.

Indeed an interesting utility computing success story!

Monday, October 29, 2007

EveryScape Takes the Real World Online in 3D

Another stunning 3D mapping service goes live: EveryScape isn't an online world, it's the world online.

takes you from the streets to the sidewalks and through the doors of the world's cities and tours. Unlike Microsoft Virtual Earth and Google Maps, EveryScape will let users explore both the outside and inside of major cities.

EveryScape has launched beta with 4 destinations: Boston, New York City, Miami and Aspen. They plan to quickly expand this list to 10 cities in 2007. Users are not only encouraged to tour various cities and towns, but also to collaborate and share in the very creation of them. Everyscape's technology transforms digital still photos from inexpensive cameras into 3D models. The company hopes to recruit users to become "scape artists" and upload these photos.

Check out the experience in this launch video:

The 3D virtual reality experience is based on scapes. A Scape is a three-dimensional, photo-realistic experience of a city, street or business. In a scape, anyone with a Flash capable web browser can move seamlessly and look around via a 360-degree panoramic photograph.

The company aims to get real world businesses to establish their own scapes so that potential customers can experiance their business online. A scaped business can be engaging, immersive and realistic.
Standard pricing for the service is $180 a year to get a business listing displayed along with a photo of the outside. For $250 a year, a business can get one inside photo. Two or three inside photos cost $400 and $500 respectively.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

3D Birds Eye Views in Virtual Earth

Another milestone in virtual reality has been reached by Microsoft today. Live Search Map v2 (Gemini) is out with amazing new features! The coolest of them is 3D birds eye views based on aerial photos taken from different angles stitched together just like in Photosynth.

This feature is described in the Virtual Earth blog as:

"Basically, as you navigate the virtual world the camera is snapped to the same parameters the real-world camera had at the time the scene was captured. As you rotate, you will first see virtual 3D buildings and terrain just as the corresponding scene is loaded and overlaid. if you are zoomed out past a single image, a series of white outlines hint at where to click to bring in a new image, very much like the Photosynth UI. smooth camera tweening links the scenes creating an amazing tapestry of the highest resolution aerial image online."

Check out their full to get the details on birds eye view and many other new features such as:
  • 1-Click Directions - Also known as “party maps”, this is a single permalink that you can send out, and each person can get directions to it from their house with a single click.
  • Route Around Traffic - It’s a check box option to have it automatically route around traffic jams, based on the live traffic data.
  • Data Import - Import GeoRSS, GPX and even some KML.
  • Birds Eye View in 3D - A way to view Birds Eye imagery while in 3D mode. It’s kinda weird, but very cool.
  • 3D Tours and Videos of Collections - You can build a “tour” (fly around, look at stuff, etc), then share it with others by sending them a simple URL. They can control the tour using DVD-style controls.
  • 3D Modelling - Using Dassault, you can create 3D buildings in VE.
  • Collection Search and Explore - A search engine for more content.
  • Enhanced Detail Pages - More info about each business listed in VE

Monday, October 15, 2007

IT Futurology : What Could Happen to the Web by 2012?

What will happen when the MySpace generation grows-up? When employees want Facebook rather than a phonebook? When your monthly report is on your iPhone, your spreadsheet's on your Wiki, your e-mail's moved to Google, you haven't got a home directory (or a PC) any more, and blogging's no longer a buzzword - it's just what everybody does to stay employed? Tune in to Alec Muffett's entertaining presentation on to find out!

Alec projects current trends and discusses the possibility of a terabyte iPod by 2012. In comparison a recent Hitachi announcement expects the 4TB desktop and 1TB notebook hard disk drives by 2011. Until then we can buy the industry's first cost effective desktop terabyte drive, the Hitachi 0A34915 1TB 7200Rpm 32MB Cache SATA II Hard Drive.

Check out Alec Muffett's blog for more on IT futurology and security.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Natural Language Search - Mining the Web for Meaning

Do you have a question? Chances are that you can find the answer online in Wikipedia's 2+ million articles or somewhere on the web. How?

The Present: Keyword based search

How do we search today? Search engines use bots to crawl the web to find documents, process them, and then build an index. Google has indexed more than 25 billion web pages in 2006. Search engines consult this huge index in response to a user's query to find a set of matching documents. So far so good. Then they try to rank the potential matches to present the most relevant results. The ranking of the matches, and possibly the short presentation of each result, are tailored to the query and potentially any other information available to the search engine.

It is challenging to rank potentially thousands or millions of matches to get relevant results. However relevance is critical especially for mobile users. Keyword-based search engines such as Google rank pages using a number of criteria and features: PageRank [link graph analysis], keyword frequency, and keyword proximity, and many others. Many of these smart algorithms are discussed in my earlier post on Building Smart Web 2.0 Applications. Google was clearly the innovator in that area that made them he undisputed leader in the search space. What is the next step to improve relevance?

The Promise of the Semantic Web

The natural language of web pages is difficult to understand and process for computers. The vision of the Semantic Web promises information that is understandable by computers, so that they can perform more of the tedious work involved in finding, sharing and combining information on the web. The idea of the Semantic Web would require authors and publishers to make the information easier to process by computers using special markup languages.

There are many projects who aims to capture the knowledge of the world in a structured manner that software can process. Most interesting of them are Freebase and Google Base. However most of the web remains unstructured text therefore the idea of the Semantic Web remains largely unrealized. How is it possible to mine the meaning of those billions of web pages?

The Future: Natural Language Search

Imagine if you could ask a search engine the following question and get relevant results: "what did steve jobs say about the iPod?"

True natural language queries have linguistic structure which keyword-oriented search engines ignore. This includes queries where the function words matter, where word order means something, and where relationships that should be explicitly stated easily are stated. Instead of ignoring the function words, a natural language search engine respects their meaning and uses it to give better results.

In fact one of the most buzzed startup companies on the TechCrunch 40 Conference aims to implement such a natural language search engine. It is a big challenge.

Powerset has licensed key Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology from Xerox PARC. Their search engine examines the actual meaning and relationships of words in each sentence for the web pages as well as the queries.

The NLP technology they’re using has been under development for 30+ years now. Their unfair advantage is the fact that Powerset has reduced the processing time for indexing one sentence down from two minutes to one second. Currently they’re limited to a select few sites to crawl: Wikipedia, New York Times and ontological resources like Freebase and WordNet. They plan to use Amazon’s EC2 and build out their data centers to scale. Indexing billions of web pages will take time but natural language search is certainly an interesting wave in the ocean of web innovations.

Check out Powerset's blog or sign up for Powerset Labs to experience their latest technology.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Metaplace: Virtual Worlds Meet the Web

Innovation happens when ideas are combined. What do we get when Virtual Worlds meet the Web? Second Life on the Web? Areae has unveiled Metaplace on the Techcrunch conference. It has the potential to change the way how virtual worlds are made.

Metaplace is a next-generation virtual worlds platform designed to work the way the Web does. Using a suite of tools anyone can make worlds and put them on their web pages.

The differences: Metaplace vs. Second Life

Second Life is a rich client based immersive 3D metaverse. It is a walled garden although Linden Lab plans to open it up to some extent. Metaplace on the other hand is a web-based network of online worlds right from the start. It is an open metaverse that looks more like the web.

Metaplace: the web-based metaverse

The open web like nature of Metaplace is present on the technical level as well. It is not a walled garden. Every world is a web server, and every object has a URL. An object can be scripted in MetaScript so that it feeds RSS, XML, or HTML to a browser (imagine a newspaper with real headlines can sitting on your virtual desk). MetaScript is based on the Lua programming language that is also used by other MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft.

There is a huge interest for the alpha application for Metaplace which will close today. The open beta is planned for spring 2008.

Open source metaverse projects

Immerse 3D environments are getting more and more popular. There are two major open source projects in this space:

Croquet is a software development environment for the creation and large-scale distributed deployment of multi-user virtual 3D applications and metaverses. The Croquet architecture supports synchronous communication, collaboration, resource sharing and computation among large numbers of users on multiple platforms and multiple devices.

The OpenSource Metaverse Project was created to support virtual worlds that allow customization by the player and creation of custom worlds. It aims to provide an open source metaverse engine and a client that is flexible, scalable.

The OpenSource Metaverse Project is analogous to the web. You can create hyperlinks to any other metaworld running on any metaverse server worldwide. In this aspect it is similar to Metaplace.

Let there be new virtual worlds!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Internet Platforms Defined

Platforms on the Internet are one of the hottest topics these days. Marc Andreessen helps to overcome the current confusion of the platform concept in his incredibly insightful blog post. Marc has tackled the concept of internet platforms and defined the three levels of them. Here is a short summary but I recommend you to check out the full article for details.

A "platform" is a system that can be programmed and therefore customized by outside developers -- users -- and in that way, adapted to countless needs and niches that the platform's original developers could not have possibly contemplated, much less had time to accommodate.
  • A Level 1 platform's apps run elsewhere, and call into the platform via a web services API to draw on data and services -- this is how Flickr does it.
  • A Level 2 platform's apps run elsewhere, but inject functionality into the platform via a plug-in API -- this is how Facebook does it. Most likely, a Level 2 platform's apps also call into the platform via a web services API to draw on data and services.
  • A Level 3 platform's apps run inside the platform itself -- the platform provides the "runtime environment" within which the app's code runs.
The most interesting of these internet platforms are those that are level 3. Some examples of these are:
  • Akamai's EdgeComputing
  • Amazon S3, EC2 and FPS
  • Ning (Marc's own company)
  • Google Apps could became a level 3 platform
  • Second Life
The platforms of the future will be in the cloud as online services that you will tap into over the Internet. This is a fundamental change that will drive a lot of innovations. We are living in very exciting times!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Secret of Hottest Startups

Forty of the hottest startups have announced and demonstrated their new products at the TechCrunch40 conference. That is plenty of innovative and disruptive ideas in action!

Each startup company had 8 minutes to present their business plans in one of these sessions:
  • Search and Discovery
  • Mobile and Communications
  • Community and Collaboration
  • Crowd Sourcing
  • Productivity and Web Applications
  • Revenue Models and Analytics
  • Rich Media and Mash Ups
  • Entertainment for All Ages
What is the secret sauce of technology startups? How did they present their unfair advantage in 8 minutes? John L. Nesheim provide step by step guide for entrepreneurs to create and execute a strong business plan. His book The Power of Unfair Advantage: How to Create It, Build it, and Use It to Maximum Effect offers essential tips, tools, and techniques for startups.

It is not only techniques that are important though. Real-life, down-to-earth stories told by founders of famous companies shows another perspective about the early days of startups. The book Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days is awfully inspiring. It is like reading a pile of books written by founders of Apple, Yahoo, PayPal and others, each with their own insights and useful advice.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Innowave - Internet Innovations Search Engine

I have created a new Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) which aims to help you search sites related to internet innovations. Feel free to contribute to this search engine!

Check it out here or at the right tab of my blog!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

How To Deliver High Definition Video on the Internet

Today more and more households have HDTV sets and broadband internet connections with 6-8+ MBit/sec bandwidth. However the scalable delivery of HD video content is still a big challenge.

The capacity to deliver high definition video already exists at the edge of the network – leveraging the massive build-outs of individual networks. The challenge comes from how you tap into that capacity. The best way to solve this problem is to deliver from the edge using distributed architectures.

The potential benefits are huge and the demand for high definition video is growing. How to deliver HD content to the internet? Let's examine the possibilities.

1. Use Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)

Content Delivery Networks such as Akamai have tons of servers distributed across hundreds of cities. These servers can deliver high bandwidth content such as HD video from the Edge to the users. Even YouTube moves most popular content to a CDN. Akamai has recently announced their plans to bring High Definition to the internet. Their platform is architected to meet the following technical requirements:
  • Technology and an operational model to operate serving devices in the largest high-throughput networks around the world
  • Established relationships with the largest high throughput networks
  • Support for delivery, storage, and management of files greater than 2 Gigabytes
  • Support of VC-1 and MPEG-4 video standards
  • Support for files with resolutions of 720p, 1080i and 1080p
2. Use Utility Computing services such as the Amazon S3 and EC2

Utility computing and storage services are another way to host scalable video content and applications. The Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) provides such an on demand distributed service. However these services are not yet proven for hosting High Definition content. Check out my previous post on Amazon S3 for Video Hosting.

3. Use Peer-to-Peer (P2P) protocols such as BitTorrent

P2P file sharing applications have been popular in the last couple of years. P2P could be used for TV and movies as well:
  • Joost offers a new way of watching TV using P2P as the underlying architecture
  • Vuze offers Hi-def Theater using their BitTorrent based client software
Although P2P could be an efficient way to distribute content it can have significant bandwidth overhead for the users.

Which way to go?

The optimal choice depends on the requirements. CDNs are proven technologies but P2P could be cheaper as it matures. Utility storage services are similar to CDNs and the two could became competitors. What is your choice?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Displays with Embedded Touch Screen and Scanner Functions

Sharp has announced a new display with touch screen and scanner functions using an optical sensor built into each pixel of the LCD.
The LCD is targeted to be used on displays for mobile devices such as the Apple iPhone, PDAs, and UMPCs. Conventional methods to provide touch screen functions are based on bonding a film on top of the LCD panel, leading to problems with reduced display image quality and increased thickness for the display section.

Sharp's System LCD technology eliminates the need for films. In addition, multi-touch tactile recognition is now possible, a feature previously difficult to implement. For example, users can easily tap the screen with two fingers to enlarge or reduce a displayed map. The scanner function can be used to scan in a business card placed on top of the screen.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Amazon S3 for Video Hosting

In an earlier post I have written that the next YouTube could be built on Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) by two guys in a dorm for roughly $0. It is indeed very easy to host videos on Amazon S3.

All you need to do is to sign up for an Amazon S3 account and upload your videos with the Amazon S3 Firefox Organizer (available here: S3Fox). To see this in action check out this interesting Amazon S3 video hosting tutorial by Perry Lawrence on YouTube.

You can simply include the hosted files in your web pages. However it is also possible to create nice web applications or mashups using the video content on S3. The book Mashups by Francis Shanahan will help developers to get familiar with Amazon Web Services. The examples in this book demonstrates how to integrate AWS with APIs from Yahoo!, eBay, Google and YouTube. Check out this sample chapter on the Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) available at Wrox.

It has never been easier to create your own YouTube!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Building Smart Web 2.0 Applications

Successful internet companies have learned the hard way how to use the collective intelligence of users:
  • Amazon, Netflix and others have built recommendation engines
  • Goole has invented a unique page ranking system based on links
In his new book, Programming Collective Intelligence: Building Smart Web 2.0 Applications, Toby Segaran teaches the secrets of harnessing the power of user generated content. This practical book takes you into the world of machine learning and statistics, and explains how to draw conclusions about user experience, marketing, personal tastes, and human behavior in general. Each algorithm is described clearly and concisely with code that can immediately be used on your web site, blog, Wiki, or specialized application. The book explains:
  • Collaborative filtering techniques that enable online retailers to recommend products or media
  • Methods of clustering to detect groups of similar items in a large dataset
  • Search engine features -- crawlers, indexers, query engines, and the PageRank algorithm
  • Optimization algorithms that search millions of possible solutions to a problem and choose the best one
  • Bayesian filtering, used in spam filters for classifying documents based on word types and other features
  • Using decision trees not only to make predictions, but to model the way decisions are made
  • Predicting numerical values rather than classifications to build price models
  • Support vector machines to match people in online dating sites
  • Non-negative matrix factorization to find the independent features in a dataset
  • Evolving intelligence for problem solving -- how a computer develops its skill by improving its own code the more it plays a game

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Web 2.0 meets Telco 2.0

The closed telecommunications business model is in trouble. Large operators find it difficult to introduce new profitable services using their expensive infrastructure. Some of them have realized this and are rushing to enable 3rd parties to implement new services by publishing interfaces to their networks. The prime example is British Telecom who has made major investments implementing their open 21st Century Network. Several APIs are now available for messaging, call control and mobile applications to create interesting mashups.

The Web21C SDK is a set of libraries that makes it simple for developers to consume Web Services exposed by BT. Many services can be accessed easily:
  • Messaging - send SMS messages
  • Voice call - place phone calls from applications
  • Conference call - place and control conference calls
  • Location - determine the geographic location (latitude,longitude, altitude) of a mobile device
  • Authentication - create and control authentication realms for applications, including management and authentication of users
  • Inbound SMS - receive and process SMS text messages from any mobile network
  • Contacts - give users the ability to build and maintain a list of buddies and set their availability
  • Information about me (IAM) - store and retrieve data about an individual in key value pairs
The Web21C SDK allows product and service developers, from major enterprises to one-man programmer start-ups, to integrate their new applications with BT services in a single line of code.

Competitive pricing model: Web21C SDK services are charged through a credit system with each service having an associated credit cost per invocation.

"No other telco in the world is doing this," says Dirk Wood of the Web21C team. "BT is ahead of the game. This product shows that BT is in the business of becoming a fundamental part of the new world where innovation is agile and can originate from anywhere. This is central to what web 2.0 really means, it's where all services are going and we're right at the leading edge of this movement."

ProgrammableWeb has a great how-to article on the big picture of telephony APIs and mashups.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Disruption in Telecom: Voice & Messaging

The proliferation of the internet and wireless broadband connectivity is disrupting the telecom industry status quo. Innovative IP based voice and messaging services challenge traditional phone services.

The Telco 2.0 blog (STL) has teamed with Telecom TV to cover this topic in a very interesting panel discussion. Their Chief Analyst Martin Geddes explains how the value proposition of telephony is likely to invert over the next 10-15 years:
  • access was in short supply (traditional telco)
  • user's time and attention is in short supply (next wave)
  • value is shifting from providing access to serve real needs of the users
    (usability, relevance, transactions, trust)
Keith Wallington represents a disruptor on the panel: Truephone. They offer free software that brings Internet/Wi-Fi based VoIP to mobile phones. That means free or very cheap mobile calls and messaging. He explains:
"the ability to charge a human being ... for a minute or a second of air time will tend to zero"

So the future is in rich services that create real value for the users. The user is the king!

Check out the full video here:
Telco 2.0 on TV: Disruption & Innovation in Voice & Messaging.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Top 10 APIs for Web Mashups

Mashups are web applications that combine data from two or more external sources into an integrated experience. Content used in mashups is sourced from a third party via a public interface or API. Many people are experimenting with mashups using Microsoft, Google, eBay, Amazon, Flickr, and Yahoo APIs, which has led to the creation of Mashup Editors.

ProgrammableWeb is a great resource on mashups. Based on their latest stats the top 10 APIs for web 2.0 mashups of all time are:

However recently popular mashups also use these APIs:
  • Twitter - What are you doing?
  • Skype - create applications that work together with Skype
  • GeoNames - eight million geographical names available under free creative commons licence
Check out the full list with ~500 APIs on ProgrammableWeb and their tutorial on how to make your own web mashup!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Erlang: The Programming Language for Multicore CPUs

The future of computing is going to be concurrent. Sun has just announced the UltraSPARC T2 CPU which they call the World's fastest microprocessor. With 8 cores and 64 threads it makes a true system on a chip. Even desktop systems have multi-core processors nowadays. However traditional software is not well prepared to effectively utilize large number of cores.

Concurrent programming is hard. Most programming languages do not make it easier either. On the other hand Erlang is ideally positioned for this new world. It was designed from the ground up to take advantage of parallel and multi-core architectures.

Erlang is a concurrent functional programming language and runtime system. It was designed to support distributed, fault-tolerant, soft-real-time, non-stop applications. Erlang was originally a proprietary language within Ericsson, but was released as open source in 1998.

Erlang programs usually scale very well on multi-core systems. Joe Armstrong explains why:

"Back in the old days (20 odd years ago) there were two models of concurrency:
  • Shared state concurrency
  • Message passing concurrency
Now the whole world went one way (towards shared state), and we went the other"

The Erlang concurrency model differs from other languages by not having any shared state. If a process wants to communicate with another, it does so by sending messages. This method scales better than methods that uses shared memory for communication.

You can learn much more about Erlang in Joe Armstrong's new book:
Programming Erlang: Software for a Concurrent World

It's very readable and does not require prior experience with functional languages. The book is packed with examples and encourages experimenting; in fact the first chapter explains the installation of Erlang. A reviewer calls it "the most important programming language book this decade".

To have some fun check out this article and video from 1990: Erlang Now!

More resources:

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Open Source Realtime 3D Engine for Flash

Papervision3D is a high performance 3D engine for Flash. It features linear texture mapping, optimized for rendering speed and quality. It has been designed to be simple and easy to use.

Papervision3D is in public beta and available on Google Code under the open source MIT License. The project has a Wiki and a Blog as well.

Check out these stunning demos to get a glimpse of the possibilities:

Papervision3D based rich internet applications would look amazing on these real 3D displays!

Make Voice Calls from the Browser

Skype made phone calls over the internet easy. Ribbit plans to take it one step further by enabling VoIP phone calls directly from the browser. The Flex based RibbitPhone Component runs solely on the Flash Player so no additional downloads are necessary. It will give Rich Internet Applications the ability to make and receive calls, record/send and receive voicemail, as well as add and manage contacts, the ability to make true ‘one-click-calling’.

The RibbitPhone pre-release is expected on 3rd September and the public beta release is planned for 3rd October. Can Flash based VoIP finally appear in Rich Internet Applications?

Beginning at 9AM (PST) today (August 13th, 2007) in Seattle, Washington, the first unveiling of Ribbit's services and product road map will be shown in front of the audience during the keynote at 360 Flex.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Google Offers up to 250GB Storage for GMail and Picasa!

With the Google shared storage plan, you can purchase additional storage for your files, pictures, or emails. Google services (e.g. email and photos) will share your single new storage space. The initial price offering:
  • 6 GB ($20.00 per year)
  • 25 GB ($75.00 per year)
  • 100 GB ($250.00 per year)
  • 250 GB ($500.00 per year)
This extra storage acts as overflow when you run out of free storage space in either service. More details here: Google Paid Storage

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Web 3.0 Defined by Google CEO

Google CEO Eric Schmidt was recently asked to define Web 3.0. He made a great definition:

"My predicion would be that Web 3.0 will be ultimately seen as applications that are pieced together" - with the characteristics that the applications are:
  • relatively small
  • the data is in the cloud (or network)
  • can run on any device (PC or mobile phone)
  • very fast and very customizable
  • distributed virally (by social networks or e-mail)
That's a very different application model that we have ever seen in computing.
There is low barriers to entry - applications are easy to develop and works everywhere.

Here is Schmidt's full Web 3.0 definition on YouTube.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Amazon EC2, S3 + Hadoop = Open Source Utility Computing on Google Scale

Google is the undisputed King of Scalability. The High Scalability blog collected the open secrets of the Google Architecture. Two important components are:
These distributed technologies are the foundations of their scalable and reliable storage and processing clusters.

The open source Hadoop project implements these functions so you can build a Google like cluster in your data center. In case you do not have 100s of servers at your disposal ask Amazon for help. The Amazon EC2 and S3 utility computing services can host your cluster at a reasonable price. Check out this tutorial by Tom White who illustrates how to use Hadoop and Amazon Web Services together using a large collection of web access logs:
Yahoo has recently announced their support for Hadoop.

"Looking ahead and thinking about how the economics of large scale computing continue to improve, it's not hard to imagine a time when Hadoop and Hadoop-powered infrastructure is as common as the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP/Python) stack that helped to powered the previous growth of the Web."

Thursday, August 2, 2007

YouTube Architecture Unveiled

YouTube has grown rapidly to serve 100+ million videos per day. How could they manage this incredible growth? What is the architecture behind YouTube that supports this extreme scalability?

In this Google Tech Talk Cuong Do discusses the scalability challenges that have arisen during YouTube's short but extraordinary history. Cuong is currently an engineering manager at YouTube/Google. He was part of the engineering team that scaled the YouTube software and hardware infrastructure from its infancy to its current scale.

Interesting bits:
  • Initial team consisted of 2 sysadmins, 2 architechts, 2 developers, 2 network engineers and a DBA
  • Based on Apache, Python and MySQL
  • Most popular content is moved to a CDN (content delivery network)
  • Much more details in the video and notes...
The notes of the Tech Talk are also available on the High Scalability Blog.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Internet Map Shows Connection Density and City-to-City Links

What does the Internet look like? How does it evolve? The DIMES project aims to collect data to answer these questions by mapping the structure and topology of the internet. It is a distributed scientific project with thousands of participating volunteers. You can also join by downloading the DIMES gent here.

Chris Harrison has spectacular maps based on the data collected by the DIMES project. The Internet Map shows connection density and city-to-city connections. It is also available in high resolution PNG.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Web-Based BitTorrent Downloads via BitLet

Web-based video players revolutionized online multimedia and made YouTube a huge success. It made video streaming easily and universally available for users with a simple web browser.

BitLet allows users to download .torrent files on a computer that doesn’t have a BitTorrent client installed. It makes P2P downloads simple to use. Will it revolutionize file sharing?

BitLet also offers a code generator for publishers who can offer direct BitTorrent downloads on their websites without the need to have a BitTorrent client installed.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Low Cost Online Backup with Amazon S3

How do you backup your critical data? Traditional backup procedures use regular copy sessions to tape, disk or CD-R/DVD-R media. The broadband internet allows companies to provide online backup services. Such online systems can easily scale and provide cost effective remote backup for a wide range of customers. However they are definitely not one-size-fits-all.

Consumer oriented online backup offering such as Carbonite, Mozy or XDrive has a typical price of ~$1/GB/month although limited free services are available. Check out this review on ars technica for details.

Another solution is to use the Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) with the s3sync tool or the Amazon S3 Firefox Orgainzer plug-in (S3Fox). Pricing ($0.15/month for a GB of stored data) is really attractive compared to the above services.

Find out more in these practical how to guides:

Friday, July 27, 2007

Low Cost Virtual Reality in Second Life

Building interactive VR simulators for training could be an expensive project. Second Life could lower the costs since it's relatively easy to build interactive objects and buildings for avatars in this 3D virtual world. Add a motion-sensitive controller like the Nintendo Wiimote and the simulator is ready for training!

Wired has a nice article discussing the possibilities: Wii + Second Life = New Training Simulator. Imagine the setup with a nice 3D display and you have a full low cost VR simulator environment!

Image Copyright 2007, Linden Research, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Web Trend Map 2007

Welcome back to Innowave - the next wave of internet innovations.

Have a look at this awesome Subway Map of the Internet by Information Architects Japan. It shows the most successful websites on the web, ordered by category, proximity, success, popularity and perspective mapped just like a subway map.

The map includes the following "subway lines":
  • Sharing
  • Tools
  • Technology
  • Knowhow
  • Moneymaker
  • News
  • Social News
  • Community
  • Design
  • Movies
  • Music
The sites are mapped as subway stations including Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, YouTube, Ebay, Digg, SecondLife, LinkedIn and many others. Congratulations!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Tonight is the Premiere of the iPhone

Friday, June 29 6pm - the ultimate gadget goes on sale - the Apple iPhone.

The iPhone is the most hyped device of 2007. Announced by Steve Jobs on 9 January it already has a detailed iPhone Wikipedia entry. Contrary to its name the iPhone is not a phone. It is rather a personal companion or a mobile communications and entertainment device. E-mail, instant messaging, full web browsing, iPod, YouTube, camera, google maps and more - one device to rule them all.

The expectations are high but the reviews and the scorecard shows that the iPhone "Matches Most of its Hype". The Apple brand has an iconic status. Can it take over Nokia, SonyEricsson, LG and Samsung? The iPhone is not really about a phone. iPhone is a lifestyle which will not go head-to-head with other handsets.

Apple has made smart decisions based on user requirements. The battery life is more important than broadband everywhere. Therefore the iPhone does not support 3G which would quickly drain its batteries.

It is extremely simple and intuitive to use unlike most cellphones. iPhone is what smart-phones could have been were they designed with the user in mind!

This is my last Innowave blog post before my summer holiday in a far away country where wireless broadband internet is still decades away. See you later!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Do-It-Yourself Home Security with a Wireless Network Camera

For $300 you can build a remote controlled surveillance system to monitor your home via the internet.

Cell phones and PDAs are also supported by the new plug-and-play Panasonic BL-C131A pan/tilt wireless network camera. With the built-in motion detector and microphone, the camera can be set to notify you by email when someone enters your home. The 1 Lux CMOS sensor enables good image quality and 30 frames per sec MPEG-4 video even in low light conditions. Although D-Link, Linksys and others also offer similar devices the features of the Panasonic Network Camera Wireless 802.11 justifies its positive reviews on

Remote home surveillance is yet another useful home automation application that is possible thanks to the wireless broadband internet!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Can GPS enabled phones deliver?

Google Maps looks stunning in this Apple iPhone Guided Tour Video. However there is no built-in GPS in iPhone. Why?

The Nokia N95 and the Blackberry 8800 Series have embedded GPS support but reviews are saying that they cannot deliver reliable positioning just yet.

Is seems that GPS enabled phones are not up to the challenge of replacing standalone GPS navigation devices. There’s no need to throw away your Garmin or Magellan just yet. If you are looking for a phone with built-in GPS that delivers reliable positioning you might need to wait a bit longer.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

iPhone shipping with YouTube

Users will soon enjoy YouTube on their iPhones when they begin shipping on June 29. The Apple-designed YouTube application will wirelessly stream content in the advanced H.264 format to iPhone over Wi-Fi or EDGE networks and play it on its stunning 3.5 inch display.

Apple excels in mobility with long battery life of the iPhone: it will feature up to 8 hours of talk time, 6 hours of Internet use, 7 hours of video playback or 24 hours of audio playback and up to 250 hours of standby time. Great news for heavy mobile internet and multimedia consumers!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Web Traffic Overtakes P2P

Peer-to-peer traffic dominated the Internet in the last 4 years. But web traffic has overtaken P2P for a while thanks to YouTube which represents nearly 10% of all traffic on the Net (that is ~1% attention of online users). Ellacoya estimates that presently, as a result of streaming audio and video in Web downloads, HTTP is 46% of all traffic on the network. P2P has a strong second place at 37% of total traffic. The rest:
  • Newsgroups (9%)
  • Non-HTTP video streaming (3%)
  • Gaming (2%)
  • VoIP (1%)
P2P could soon get a boost by Joost which can easily represent 2 GB of traffic per user per day.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Top 5 Stunning 3D Displays

3D displays will soon revolutionize how we experience multimedia. These displays are very effective attention grabbers but also have scientific applications. They are becoming more and more affordable each day.

Here is the list of the Top 5 Stunning 3D displays without the need for 3D glasses.

Philips 42" 3D WOWvx Displays

  • 42" Autostereoscopic LCD display
  • Lenticular lens technology - 9 views
  • HD Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080
  • Price: ~ $15.000
  • 2 available display types:
    • 42-3D6C01 - Comfort type for applications that require maximum comfort
    • 42-3D6W01 - WOW for enhanced depth performance with exciting out-of-screen effects.

Holografika Holovision 128WD

  • Real 3D display - as show on this google video: Holovizio 3D-Display
  • Viewers can walk around the screen in a wide field of view seeing the objects and shadows moving continuously as in the normal perspective. It is even possible to look behind the objects, hidden details appear, while others disappear (motion parallax)
  • Unlimited number of viewers can see simultaneously the same 3D scene on the screen, with the possibility of seeing different detail
  • Objects appear behind or even in front of the screen like on holograms

Dimension Technologies Virtual Window 19

  • 19" Autostereoscopic LCD display
  • dual view
  • SXGA Resolution: 1280 x 1024
  • Price: ~ $4.000

NewSight 3D MultiView Displays
  • 23" Autostereoscopic LCD (available in 19" to 57")
  • Multiview
  • HD Resolution: 1920 x 1200
  • Price: ~ $6.000

Sharp LL151-3D LCD (discontinued)
  • 15" Autostereoscopic LCD
  • filter array (‘Parralax Barrier’) - dual view
  • Sharp was first to market an affordable consumer 3D display

Friday, June 8, 2007

Wireless Power via Magnetic Resonances

How often do you need to recharge your mobile phone, iPod, GPS and other gadgets? Science has published a research article about WiTricity - an experimental system to deliver power without the need for wires.

The demo made a 60W light bulb glow over distances in excess of 2 meters. The power is transmitted between two copper coils using the resonance of low frequency electromagnetic waves. Check out the article on BBC News.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Google Developer Day Videos on YouTube

The Google Developer Day Videos are available on YouTube. Google is leading the internet innovation with the new announcements:
  • Google Gears: open source browser extension that enables web applications to run offline
  • Google Mapplets: mini-applications embeddable within Google Maps
  • Google Mashup Editor: AJAX development framework to easily create web applications and mashups with Google services

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Next Generation Personal Displays

The user interface revolution is not limited to surface computing. The emergence of portable video players and video-enabled mobile phones generates demand for a new generation of personal displays.

The challenge is to make it compact and provide high quality image. The Lumus series of eyeglass displays offer this with a nice natural look.

With the Lumus Binocular displays you can use virtual reality applications or play a 3D game anywhere on a large virtual screen in true color and VGA (640x480) resolution.

iPod users might consider the award winning myvu personal video player for $300.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Surface Computing comes alive

The keyboard and mouse ruled the user-interface in the last couple of years.

The launch of Microsoft Surface marks the beginning of a user-interface revolution. Surface provides effortless interaction with digital content through natural hand gestures, touch and physical objects. Nice!

Imagine the possibilities to combine surface computing with broadband streaming, immerse reality or 3D!

Considering the gaming applications you should check out the Philips Entertaible concept. It is a tabletop gaming platform that marries traditional multi-player board and computer games!

Street View in Google Maps

Google Maps introduced Street View using Immersive Media. This amazing feature lets you have a look around and even move along the streets. Check it out here.

How cool this could be in Google Earth in 3D? O'Reilly Radar has a nice overview.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Social Search to Save Us from World Wide Irrelevance

How do we navigate in the Virtual World to find and discover relevant content and sites? Google is your friend. Despite the billions of pages indexed many search results are irrelevant.

Social search addresses relevance by using implicit and explicit user behaviors such as attention, social networks, presence and communities to rank results. Social search is using the wisdom of crowds to help people to find stuff.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The First Terabyte Hard Drive

Commercial history of hard disk drives began with the IBM Model 350 disk storage with fifty 24" disks and a capacity of 5MBs in 1956. Their capacity has grown exponentially over time - that means 10 times capacity increase in each 5 years.

Today 1,000,000,000,000 bytes of capacity is provided by the world's first Terabyte Hard Drive: The Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 with five 3.5" platters. At the suggested retail price of $399 it offers an impressive $0.39/gig ratio!

It is finally possible to store all of our favorite images, music and movies on one hard drive.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Peer-to-Peer Banking

Are you a better lender than a bank is? Do you need money to buy a new MacBook Pro?

Prosper and Zopa offers Internet Based Social Lending. They are an Ebay like online marketplace where people meet to lend and borrow money so that both parties can get a great deal. Social Lending is not new. It has been happening on a small-scale in families and social groups for hundreds of years – and the Network has opened it up to everybody.

The Social Futures Observatory has an interesting paper on the subject:
Internet Based Social Lending.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Roots of the Matrix

This video explains all the beliefs structures, religions beliefs, philosophies, etc. that are woven into the Matrix Trilogy. It uses the writers' and directors' own movie to show their alternate agenda. This is the Science Behind the Fiction.

"Right now, we're inside a computer program?
Is that really so hard to believe?"

What is the difference between reality and virtual reality?
"We think where we are where we have control over our sensory systems"

Some appearances:

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Law of Accelerating Returns

Our world is accelerating. Most of us do not realize just how much so. The law of accelerating returns by Ray Kurzweil argues that technological change is exponential. In fact exponential growth is a feature of any evolutionary process, of which technology is a primary example. Besides the evolutionary process networking also drives this change.

The first technological steps - sharp edges, fire, the wheel - took tens of thousands of years. For people living in this era, there was little noticeable technological change in even a thousand years. By 1000 A.D., progress was much faster and a paradigm shift required only a century or two. In the 19th century, we saw more technological change than in the nine centuries preceding it. Then in the first twenty years of the twentieth century, we saw more advancement than in all of the nineteenth century. Today, paradigm shift occur in only a few years time.

What does this all mean? Many believes that this will lead to the Singularity.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A New Way to look at Networking

The Internet is based on the TCP/IP network with the assumption that its role is to provide conversation between two applications.

Security, mobility, ubiquitous computing, wireless, autonomous sensors, content distribution are all poorly served by what's available from either the research community or the marketplace. Van Jacobson argues in this Google Tech Talk that these problems go unsolved due to our tunnel vision and not because of their intrinsic difficulty. Simply changing our point of view may make many hard things easy.

Jacobson tells us a Brief History of Networking:
  • Generation 1: the phone system (focus on the wires)
  • Generation 2: the Internet (focus on the endpoints)
  • Generation 3? dissemination (focus on the data)
He summarizes the problems of TCP/IP as:
  • "Connected" is a binary attribute: you are either part of the internet and can talk to everythig or you are isolated.
  • Connecting requires a globally known, unique IP address that's topologically stable on routing time scales (minutes to hours).
  • Connecting is a heavy weight operation.
  • The net doesn't like things that move.
  • The transport protocols hate broadcast.
Jacobson envisions the third generation dissemination networking like this:
  • Data is requested, by name, using any and all means available (IP, VPN tunnels, zeroconf addresses, multicast, proxies, etc.).
  • Anything that hears the request and has a valid copy of the data can respond.
  • The returned data is signed, and optionally secured, so its integrity and association with the name can be validated.