Friday, March 30, 2012

Design in Nature: Constructal law of physics

Interesting idea, theory, "law of physics", and a book.

In short: same principle of "flow" applies to evolution of both natural and human made systems... called Constructal theory/law
Darwin's theory of evolution is "incomplete". Constructal theory makes it more complete.

A podcast interview with the author @ TechNation

Book @ Amazon


Design in Nature by Adrian Bejan and J. Peder Zane - Book - eBook - Random House
"In this groundbreaking book, Adrian Bejan takes the recurring patterns in nature—trees, tributaries, air passages, neural networks, and lightning bolts—and reveals how a single principle of physics, the Constructal Law, accounts for the evolution of these and all other designs in our world.


Everything—from biological life to inanimate systems—generates shape and structure and evolves in a sequence of ever-improving designs in order to facilitate flow. River basins, cardiovascular systems, and bolts of lightning are very efficient flow systems to move a current—of water, blood, or electricity. Likewise, the more complex architecture of animals evolve to cover greater distance per unit of useful energy, or increase their flow across the land. Such designs also appear in human organizations, like the hierarchical "flowcharts" or reporting structures in corporations and political bodies.

All are governed by the same principle, known as the Constructal Law, and configure and reconfigure themselves over time to flow more efficiently. Written in an easy style that achieves clarity without sacrificing complexity, Design in Nature is a paradigm-shifting book that will fundamentally transform our understanding of the world around us."

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cloud Foundry, by vmware

Cloud Foundry


Amazon, Google, Microsoft Azure: they all offer proprietary "cloud" hosting service.
There are also Rackspace, even Dell, offering "cloud services".

On the other side, vmware has created a cloud platform, and made it Open Source.
They would like this to be a "Linux for the Cloud".

vmware cloud, story @ Wired

HP using Cloud Foundry for its Cloud offering, story @ Wired

Microsoft Open Source: ASP.NET MVC, Web API, Razor

ASP.NET MVC, Web API, Razor and Open Source - ScottGu's Blog
Microsoft is serious about open source.

In addition to ASP.NET MVC that was already open source,
they have now added ASP.NET Web API and ASP.NET Web Pages (aka Razor)
under an open source license (Apache 2.0).

More from Scott Hanselman

http://aspnetwebstack.codeplex.com
http://asp.net/open-source

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Online Education Resources @ github

amberj.github.com/online-edu-resources

Online Education Resources: Home
Course Providers:

  • Coursera
  • MIT RELATE
  • MITx
  • Udacity
  • Miscellaneous

    Udacity mirror (content) site @ google
  • Blind Man: Google's Self-Driving Car User #0000000001

    Watch This Blind Man Take A Trip In One Of Google's Self-Driving Cars (GOOG)



    Google blog announcing 200 000 miles driven by "Google self-driving-car"

    Google blog announcing 140 000 miles by Google Car

    Police: Blind Driver's Trip in Google's Self-Driving Car Was Legal @ PCmag

    Learn how to program self driving car, from Stanford prof. Sebastian Thrun, lead of Google Car project, for free CS373 @ udacity.com

    "The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs"

    The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs - Harvard Business Review

    by Walter Isaacson, author of book "Steve Jobs"


    A nice business oriented summary of the book.
    The book itself, besides being very well written, is educational...
    Here are the titles of the lessons:
    • Focus
    • Simplify
    • Take Responsibility End to End
    • When Behind, Leapfrog
    • Put Products Before Profits
    • Don’t Be a Slave To Focus Groups
    • Bend Reality
    • Impute ("people do judge a book by its cover")
    • Push for Perfection
    • Tolerate Only “A” Players
    • Engage Face-to-Face
    • Know Both the Big Picture and the Details
    • Combine the Humanities with the Sciences
    • Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

    Monday, March 26, 2012

    HP TouchPad += Android 4.0

    TouchPad is a nice device, even with WebOS.
    The screen is the same as on iPad (1, 2), and performance is comparable.
    The browser is WebKit based, support Flash... Very good for web browsing...
    But there is a very small number of apps.

    A solution: add Android OS, as dual-boot.
    Since TouchPad is also based on Linux, it is possible to do it.
    There are Alpha versions of Android 2.3, and 4.0.
    Now, even HP is helping to make this work...


    How to upgrade an HP TouchPad to Android Ice Cream Sandwich

    by Scott Hanselman

    TouchPad Android Kernel Source Code Released By HP » Geeky Gadgets


    HP has... decided to release the (WebOS Linux) kernel,
    together with other software they developed back in 2011.


    7 miles (11 km) underwater

    Cameron's Historic Dive Cut Short by Leak; Few Signs of Life Seen - National Geographic


    "James Cameron... filmmaker and National Geographic explorer's solo sub
    dive—the deepest ever—had taken him nearly 7 miles (11 kilometers)
    underwater to the Mariana Trench's Challenger Deep, southwest of Guam."

    "It was bleak," he said. "It looked like the moon."


    Learn Windows Azure, Help Scientific Research (Stanford)

    @home with Windows Azure: Home Page


    There is an interesting (free) option available from Microsoft
    for learning Windows Azure and helping science find cures for diseases.

    "You will deploy an application to Windows Azure that directly contributes to Stanford University’s Folding@home effort, a distributed computing project that carries out simulations of protein folding. By simply running a piece of software, you can help scientists learn more about diseases like Alzheimer’s, ALS, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s disease and many cancers through banding together to make one of the largest supercomputers in the world.

    In addition to contributing directly to this project, Microsoft is donating $10 per participant to Stanford University to help the cause (up to $5,000 maximum)."

    Sunday, March 25, 2012

    anode = Windows Azure + node.js (PaaS)

    anode@microsoft

    anode is an experimental platform for rapidly prototyping web apps on Windows Azure.
    anode is built by Microsoft entirely with node.js
    ...
    Currently there are no plans to release anode as a service,
    but we are pleased to share the modules we have created as part of the project.


    Microsoft has recently announced option to host node.js projects on Azure.
    My understanding is that this does not require a web role, just a worker role,
    since node.js runs as a windows service.
    Deploying a role on Azure is creating a VM. It takes some time.

    Alternative for hosted applications is to just upload and run program.
    Similar to shared hosting, more or less.
    "anode" is an experiment to host node.js apps on Azure.

    It is an open source project (MIT license),
    and apparently using GitHub for deployment of projects.
    github.com/anodejs

    anode: An Experimental node.js Platform for Windows Azure
    Video @ Microsoft Channel 9

    Windows Azure + Node.js => anode : An Experiment
    blog post by Peter Laudati (Microsoft NJ)

    Codiqa - the jQuery Mobile Prototype Builder

    Codiqa - the jQuery Mobile Prototype Builder


    An very nice online interactive tool for creating jQuery Mobile pages.
    Subscription $10-30 / month.

    Can be tested at jquerymobile.com

    HTML5 + jQueryMobile + PhoneGap is a "disruptive innovation" technology for mobile development.
    It is "good enough" for basic cases, and that could be most of mobile apps anyway.
    And it is being improved rapidly, most likely faster than "native" iOS, Android, even Microsoft tools.

    Microsoft has an interesting dilemma
    • embrace: provide a PhoneGap-like tool in Visual Studio (there is beta PhoneGap for WP7)
    • or keep pushing proprietary Windows 8 WinRT APIs that can be programmed by JavaScript/HTML5.
    In typical recent Microsoft way, it does not have to be a choice, both could be used... "there's no need for the tyranny of OR"—Windows 8 can serve both tablet AND desktop users without compromises"

    Saturday, March 24, 2012

    Amazon Cloud Servers: 1/2 Million (estimated)

    Amazon data center size « Huan Liu's Blog

    growth of number of racks in largest of Amazon data centers

    Windows Server 8: Core++

    Streamlined Windows Server 8 Offers Key Benefits | PCWorld Business Center:
    "Windows Server 8, now available in beta, will enable a core that can selectively add and remove components, much like Linux, so businesses can only run what they need."

    Rising Tides: Sea Level += 4 Feet

    "(in US)...nearly 5 million people live in 2.6 million homes at less than 4 feet above high tide — a level lower than the century flood line for most locations analyzed. And compounding this risk, scientists expect roughly 2 to 7 more feet of sea level rise this century...

    interactive map tool to see maps of areas below different amounts of sea level rise and flooding, down to neighborhood scale, matched with area timelines of risk

    sealevel.climatecentral.org


    Rising Tides | On Point with Tom Ashbrook

    "This study makes mid-range projections of 1 to 8 inches by 2030, and 4 to 19 inches by 2050, depending upon location across the contiguous 48 states.”

    New York Times “About 3.7 million Americans live within a few feet of high tide and risk being hit by more frequent coastal flooding in coming decades because of the sea level rise caused by global warming, according to new research. ”

    CBS News “Lower Manhattan is one of the most vulnerable locations when it comes to sea level rise from global warming, according to new research.”"

    1953: Total RAM in the world: 53 KB

    "In March of 1953 there were 53 kilobytes of high-speed random-access memory on planet Earth."

    1953: The Year That Revolutionized Life, Death, and the Digital Bit - George Dyson - Technology - The Atlantic


    Podcast interview "Science historian George Dyson on the birth of the digital age" @ OnPoint Radio

    Apparently computers are born out of war necessity.

    Beyond interesting historical points, the interview has observations about
    digital vs. analog computing, and role of humans in global computer network.
    Essentially, tanks to web links and "social networks",
    those links serve as real time analog computing,
    complementing ever increasing computing power of digital computers.

    There is also a point about computers producing another computers on ever increasing rate.
    That was one of goals for Turing, who sparked this revolution, to make self-improving machines,
    to be able to faster crack Nazi submarines code before they sunk British ships...

    video @ wired.co.uk

    Friday, March 23, 2012

    GLIIMPSE, edit / preview tool / idea


    What You Can't See You Can't Get @ Codding Horror


    GLIIMPSE, a smooth transition between markup code and rendered documents - YouTube


    Gliimpse is an interesting idea, to edit in text markup, and have 'one click' preview in place... Almost WYSWYG, but with full control...
    An article, presentation, video and java/latex demo are available on the project's page.

    Thursday, March 22, 2012

    New iPad: Post PC Era

    Today I briefly tried "new iPad"... It is "classy", "perfect" and a bit heavy ("solid feel").
    If you can't buy a Mercedes yet, with iPad you can get feel of what a good product feels like.

    Here is what Jeff Atwood, (co)creator of Stack Overflow, writes about "new iPad"
    Coding Horror: Welcome to the Post PC Era

    ...That's why I didn't just buy the iPad 3 (sorry, The New iPad).
    I bought two of them. And I reserve the right to buy more!
    ...
    Don't take my word for it. Consider what screen reading pioneer, and inventor of ClearType, Bill Hills has to say about it:

    "The 3rd Generation iPad has a display resolution of 264ppi. And still retains a ten-hour battery life (9 hours with wireless on). Make no mistake. That much resolution is stunning. To see it on a mainstream device like the iPad - rather than a $13,000 exotic monitor - is truly amazing, and something I've been waiting more than a decade to see."

    Data Visualization - Fortune Magazine

    A very nice visualization of data, from Graphics Director of Fortune Magazine
    World’s most admired companies | nicolasrapp.com


    His blog has plenty of inspiring data visualization designs for Fortune Magazine...
    There are also links to many related "INFORMATION DESIGN BOOKS"...

    It is interesting, and correct, that Amazon is categorized and a technology company, not as a store...

    Wednesday, March 21, 2012

    Google's Secret Servers

    Super-Secret Google Builds Servers in the Dark | Wired Enterprise | Wired.com


    "About two years ago, Chris Sharp says, Google unscrewed all the light bulbs inside the hardware cages it occupied at that Equinix data center. “They had us turn off all overhead lights too, and their guys put on those helmets with lights you see miners wear,” he tells Wired. “Presumably, they were bringing up custom-built gear they didn’t want anyone else to see.”
    ...
    Google designs its own servers and its own networking gear, and though it still leases space in third-party data centers such as the Equinix facility, it’s now designing and building its own data centers as well. These designs are meant to improve the performance of the company’s web services but also save power and money. More so than any other outfit, Google views its data-center work as an important advantage over competitors."

    HP Computers += Printers

    The Associated Press: HP combines printer, PC units in turnaround effort


    "The change comes as sales of printers and ink, once HP's lifeblood,
    are falling because people are sharing more documents and photos online instead of printing them."

    So now when buying HP computer customers will get a printer too :)
    Or, if you buy a printer, you will get a computer, too. That would make more sense :)

    HP is considered a technology company,
    and Apple has defined what market expects from a technology company now...
    It is unlikely that minuscule savings will impress investors...
    On the other side, if HP has presented an "Enterprise Cloud" solution that "just works",
    I bet stock price would reflect that...

    Tuesday, March 20, 2012

    The Stanford Education Experiment... Wired.com

    The Stanford Education Experiment Could Change Higher Learning Forever | Wired Science | Wired.com



    P (A|B) =
    P (B|A) P(A)
    P (B)


    Amazon buys "army of robots"

    Amazon buys robot maker Kiva Systems for $775 million - Mar. 20, 2012


    "NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Amazon is buying Kiva Systems, a manufacturer of bright orange robots that scuttle around warehouses filling orders, for $775 million."

    Linus Torvalds: The King of Geeks (And Dad of 3) | Wired Enterprise | Wired.com

    Linus Torvalds: The King of Geeks (And Dad of 3) | Wired Enterprise | Wired.com

    Linux += Android

    Linux 3.3 Kernel Released With Merged Android Support


    Google didn't just changed Java for Android, the Linux Kernel was modified also.
    And those changes, while available as open source, didn't make their way back to Linux.
    Now, mainstream Linux kernel did include Android changes...

    Google has done similar with web browser, too,
    where open source project WebKit is used as platform for open source project Chromium,
    that is base for Google's web browser Chrome,
    as well as a few other browsers...

    Saturday, March 17, 2012

    1st Windows 8 - Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga - The Best of CES 2012

    The Best of CES 2012: Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga

    A slick convertible tablet/laptop Ultrabook, 13.3", 0.67" thick, 3.1 pounds,
    with the ability to contain 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD storage, Inter Core CPU.
    Expected price $1199, release in October 2012.
    Lenovo wants to be the first to ship Windows 8 tablet...

    Try F# in a Web Browser

    Try F#

    A nice resource for learning F# language,
    a tutorial with copy & run code directly in the web browser...
    It does require Silverlight, so it will not work from iPad or Windows 8 Metro :)

    F# language has full support from Microsoft,
    and it is Open Source with Apache 2.0 license. Already forked in Mono.

    F#, as a hybrid functional-object oriented language is very good for work with data,
    and is popular in financial and scientific institutions...
    F# 3.0 is being released with upcoming Visual Studio 11.

    Official Microsoft F# site: http://fsharp.net (redirect to MSDN)

    Presentation @InfoQ (recorded at Strange Loop 2011) The Future of F#: Type Providers
    by the Lead Developer for the F# team at Microsoft

    Friday, March 16, 2012

    Steve Jobs vs Innovator's Dilemma

    Steve Jobs Solved the Innovator's Dilemma - James Allworth - Harvard Business Review

    "Microsoft tries to find pockets of unrealized revenue and then figures out what to make.
    Apple is just the opposite: It thinks of great products, then sells them.
    Prototypes and demos always come before spreadsheets."


    iPad (3rd gen) is finally released, just to confirm Steve Job / Apple
    "solution" for "Innovator's Dilemma"

    In short, the "dilemma" of market leaders is that since the product is "good enough" and profitable, there is no need to innovate fast. When they ask current customers, feedback is to gradually improve products. That works, until it suddenly breaks.

    In the meantime, cheaper competition that is "not good enough" for "top market" but it is "good enough" for "mass-market" innovates faster, and eventually overtakes market leaders. That theory works in many cases. So it is not just a theory. Android vs. iOS?

    Steve Jobs, busy as it was, "didn't get that memo". But apparently he did get the book.
    And his solution is as obvious as it is simple: don't ask the customers
    "People do not know what they want if you ask them.
    But if they see what they like, then they want it now."


    If Apple was following common logic, the price of iPad would gradually fall, since features are more than good enough. That is until there is a better product (iPad 3rd), for the same money!
    The trick is: it does need to be genuinely better.

    "Moore's Law" of increasing capability if computer hardware is the real enabler of this "solution". With continuously increasing capability of computer hardware (for same or similar price), there are two options:

  • common logic: reduce price of final products (and profit), or

  • alternative: create demand for increased capability and keep the price (and profit)

    The second can only be achieved by those who "think outside of the box"
    and are "passionate about products". No "micromanagement".
    Apple's solution: disrupt its own products, ignore common logic.
    As anything profound, it looks obvious when finally discovered!

    So in fact Steve Jobs solution is an ultimate proof of Innovator's dilemma theory,
    and an example how to solve it "the right (and hard) way":
    Passionate product Leaders : Professional Managers = 10 : 1

    PS: So far, Moore's Low does not appear to work with computer software.
    That is why Microsoft could not use same trick directly.
  • Thursday, March 15, 2012

    Pushback against Windows 8 Metro tiles

    Famous and opinionated John C. Dvorak from PC Magazine
    have a good point that Windows 8 (and Windows Phone 7)
    Metro style interface is not as intuitive and easy to use as plain icons.
    Another concern is that in Desktop mode lack of traditional "Start menu"
    is a serious step back in usability...

    The Serious Flaw with Win 8 and Metro | John C. Dvorak | PCMag.com

    When you look at your desktop screen, how do you find the program you are looking for? You look for distinctive icons using your human ability to recognize patterns. It’s what we do best. You ignore the words beneath the icon.

    Can an Ex-Microsoftie Fix Windows 8?


    A deep dive into Windows 8 Consumer Preview @ PC World

    Taking away the Start button makes the Desktop less useful than it was in Windows Vista and Windows 7.

    From my limited experience in testing Windows 8,
    the OS is slick and fast, and lack of Start menu is a real issue.
    Metro style is not quite easy to use with keyboard and mouse.

    I think the idea behind Metro style is to make tiles "live" with content,
    so instead of searching for an app, it is looking for content.
    Like personalized "Google News" page. A "Dashboard".
    Trouble is that it is too "busy", like life of most people today.
    Making people even more nervous about trivial things...

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    Microsoft Open Source, weird Wired stories

    WiX Toolset

    The most powerful set of tools available to create your Windows installation experience.
    Free and Open Source from Microsoft since 2004!"


    After listening .NET Rock podcast about WiX,
    and just wanted to check the show links...
    And then found many unexpected stories!

    Turn out that the next show is with Phil Hack
    a lead of Microsoft ASP.NET MVC, that has just joined GitHub.
    By the way, ASP.NET MVC is an open source project.

    And then, there is a link to Wired story about GitHub,
    and about Linus Torvals, creator of Linux and Git.

    Next in line, Wired story about Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer trowing chair
    after hearing that one of lead Windows NT engineers left to work for Google...
    Then, the same person helped created VMware Cloud system for 21. century.

    And finally, story about Bill Gates as a proponent of Open Source!

    No shortage of good weird stories from Wired Magazine :)

    By the way, Microsoft is using WiX for making its own installers,
    such as for Office, Visual Studio, etc...

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    Passive Houses in Philadelphia (Energy Zero)

    Grid Magazine April 2012 [#36]

    "The Passive House standard specifies very high insulation values and aggressive air sealing techniques, which, compared with a typically constructed building, will reduce the heating and cooling loads on the building by 90 percent. The remaining 10 percent can then be provided by on-site renewable energy sources. In the case of Ridge Flats, that will be a 300-kilowatt solar array."




    Passive House @ Wikipedia

    Monday, March 12, 2012

    "Programming Style and Your Brain" - Douglas Crockford

    JavaScript guru scientific presentation :)
    Douglas Crockford - Google+ - Section 8: Programming Style and Your Brain:


    More videos by Douglas Crockford:

    The JavaScript Programming Language (1/4)

    DevOps

    DevOps - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    "DevOps" is an emerging set of principles, methods and practices for communication, collaboration and integration between software development (application/software engineering) and IT operations (systems administration/infrastructure) professionals."

    Sunday, March 11, 2012

    App stores stats: Android vs iOS

    Android Platform manager steps down after failing to fix app sales


    So, there are 3x more downloads on iOS, and 15x more sales:
    iOS apps are 5x more profitable than android apps.

    Most likely many of android apps would never be accepted on iOS anyway.
    Some developers claim similar profit from Android as from iOS.
    It is just that Android users have harder time finding useful apps... .

    Friday, March 09, 2012

    SproutCore - a JavaScript framework

    SproutCore - About

    "A JavaScript framework for writing powerful web applications with less code."

    presentation about SproutCore @infoq by Yehuda Katz,
    core contributor to jQuery, Ruby on Rails, and SproutCore.



    For more complex web apps, "procedural" programming with using libraries
    like jQuery results in complex solutions.
    Alternative is more declarative, "MVC" based framework...

    There is another similar framework, claiming to be "SproutCore 2"
    http://emberjs.com/


    The pace of changes in this area is clearly very fast...
    webOS is using similar techniques,
    so it is not surprising that despite an interesting idea
    it could not compete from a slow corporate environment...

    iPad cost and profit margin

    Apple’s profit margin down on new iPad - SlashGear:



    The article does not mention the total number of sales that keeps increasing...
    With accelerated sales of iPads, Apple will still make more money in total.

    Thursday, March 08, 2012

    Google Flu Trends

    Google Flu Trends | How does this work?

    Google Flu Trends uses aggregated Google search data
    to estimate current flu activity
    around the world in near real-time.



     Google Flu Trends estimate  United States data

    US-NJ

    Since there are historical "reference data" available,
    this can help Google engineers to select best keywords for tracking,
    and effectively train the algorithm to be optimal based on historical data.
    Yes, this could be computationally demanding, but Google has computing resources :)

    Similar technique could be used for any other data,
    for example stock market prices... Now, most of stock traders
    do use historical data of stock prices, but they don't have global context,
    including all public news and search info. With that Google (or Bing :)
    could create almost perfect stock day-trading tools...

    Wednesday, March 07, 2012

    Post PC revolution: Apple's New iPad (3rd Gen)

    Apple's New iPad: Exceeding Expectations @ PCMag

  • Retina Display of 2048-by-1536
  • a new quad-code graphics processor A5X
  • 5 Mpx camera, HD 1080p recording
  • support for 4G LTE networks.
  • same price as previous ($499 for 16GB model)
  • same name as before (no version)

    iPad Retina Display


    video @Apple.com
  • Visual Studio 11 Beta

    Downloads | Microsoft Visual Studio 11 Beta


    What is new blog post,
    Welcome to the Beta of Visual Studio 11 and .NET Framework 4.5
    by Jason Zander, Microsoft VP in charge of Visual Studio tools


    VS 11 can be installed in parallel with VS 2010, and it can also share project files!

    Tuesday, March 06, 2012

    HTML5 performance: iOS = Android x 3

    Apple iOS HTML5 performance far exceeds Android | The Digital Home - CNET News

    (Credit: Spaceport)

    This may be relevant for writing visually intense apps, such as games.
    In those cases "native" is better choice anyway.

    Google engineers are working on Chrome web browser for Android,
    but it is only available for latest version of Android (4.x).

    The spaceport.io did the testing,
    and the product they are making is API to utilize WebGL,
    that is to skip standard HTML DOM and access graphical hardware directly...

    Fiat 500L from Serbia

    Trivia: Will The Fiat 500L Be First Serbian-Built Car Sold In The U.S.?


    FIAT 500L @ Geneva autoshow

    It looks quite similar to 2011 Mini Cooper Countryman Priced at $21,650, up to 35 MPG

    Getting Started with the Internet of Things

    Book: Getting Started with the Internet of Things


    The Internet of Things is a global network of computers, sensors and actuators connected through Internet protocols.

    The Web of Things consists of RESTful Web services that measure or manipulate physical properties.

    More on this in the following excerpt of the book

    The Internet of Things is what you get when you connect zillions of embedded computers to the Internet, along with all kinds of sensors and actuators. It has become possible thanks to several recent technical advances:
    • Low-cost microcontrollers that are powerful enough to support Internet and Web protocols
    • Software platforms and tools that can be used for programming everything from embedded devices to servers in the cloud
    • Cloud computing services that make it easy to store, process and present huge amounts of sensor data
    • The REST architecture for systems consisting of many networked computers
    Netduino Plus board @Amazon ($60)

    http://netduino.com/

    Monday, March 05, 2012

    Udacity @ New York Times

    MOOCs, Large Courses Open to All, Topple Campus Walls - NYTimes.com


    Welcome to the brave new world of Massive Open Online Courses — known as MOOCs — a tool for democratizing higher education. While the vast potential of free online courses has excited theoretical interest for decades, in the past few months hundreds of thousands of motivated students around the world who lack access to elite universities have been embracing them as a path toward sophisticated skills and high-paying jobs, without paying tuition or collecting a college degree.

    Mercedes invisible car

    Mercedes unveils invisible car -- literally - WTOP.com

    "The German automaker is marketing their new F-Cell vehicle as so environmentally-friendly, it's invisible to the environment. To drive the point home, they covered the hydrogen-powered minivan with LED panels and then attached a DSLR to shoot video from the other side. The effect creates the illusion that the zero-emissions car is invisible."

    Sunday, March 04, 2012

    C++ Driving Google Car

    After winning $2M DARPA self-driving vehicle challenge for Stanford team,
    prog Sebastian Thurn is now making self-driving cars in Google
    (and teaching excellent AI and robotics online classes)

    Most popular programming language in Google are:
  • Python
  • Java, and
  • C++

    Can you guess what is the programming language mostly used for Google car?

    cs373_oo2_00_l_Office-Hours-Week-2 - YouTube


    The keyword is "efficiency".
    When it comes down to computers, the performance is "king".

    Similar considerations influenced Microsoft recent focus on "Native".
    On "Build" developers conference, there was more talk about C++ than about .NET.

    iPhone battery can last longer
    because its software is (mostly) based on (objective-)C.
    Most of Android phones, using less efficient Java,
    have a simple solution: a replaceable battery :)

    Windows Vista was originally attempted in .NET, with many features.
    The project was late, and code slow, so it was re-written in "native" C++
    (and many features canceled)... Lesson learned,
    Windows 8 is taking 1/2 of .NET (XAML) and moving it in WinRT core,
    this time completely "native" (C++).
    C++ (version 11) language is also greatly improved...

    Amazon is also running on C++ for the most part...

    Facebook has an interesting twist: software is written in PHP (easy to write)
    and then it is converted to C++ to run fast...

    There are places (Enterprise, maybe Cloud) where
    performance compromise of Java and .NET is acceptable.
    Everywhere else... "the good, the bad, and the ugly" C/C++
  • Microsoft SQL Server StreamInsight

    Microsoft StreamInsight, part of the recent SQL Server 2008 R2 release,
    is a new platform for building rich applications
    that can process high volumes of event stream data with near-zero latency


    Databases are expanding way beyond traditional relational and transnational processing.
    Microsoft SQL Server is in each version getting more capability,
    that could sometimes be confusing. In fact, it is relatively easy:
    SQL Server is a trusted name in IT, so anything data-related
    Microsoft bundles with SQL server... Instead of NoSQL they call it "Big Data".

    One of such "new features" is processing of "stream data".
    For example, monitoring continuously changing stock prices for trading,
    or monitoring status of large number of device, such as power meter readers, etc.
    In such cases there is a HUGE amount of data, and key is to detect events in them.

    A new "keyword" is "Complex Event Processing", (CEP)
    part of broader "Business Intelligence" (BI) tools.

    StreamInsight is a .NET tool, programmed from VisualStudio.
    It is part of SQL Server since version 2008 R2 (except Express edition).

    Here a brief video introduction: Microsoft Showcase: Stream Insight

    Here are slides/presentation @ SlideShare

    An article @ MSDN Magazine

    Official Microsoft introduction: Microsoft StreamInsight

    Effectively analyze large amounts of event data streaming in from multiple sources. Derive insights from critical information in near real time by using Microsoft StreamInsight. Monitor, analyze, and act on data in motion and make informed decisions almost instantaneously.




    An article in March 2012 MSDN Magazine (not on web yet),
    appropriately written by Microsoft Research people,
    mentions that is expected 50 Billion (!) network connected devices by 2020.
    That is 7 networked devices for every human on the planet, all sharing data!
    That is a lot of data! StreamInsight is a tool that could help.
    They also mentioned using using Netduino hardware platform
    and .NET micro edition for programming such "sensor" devices...

    Related story... Trading on Stock Exchange (New York) is moving HUGE amounts of money
    and it is highly time-sensitive. Being able to buy or sell a few milliseconds faster
    makes millions of dollars difference. So, to get "closer to action" companies are installing
    private optical cables for example between Boston and New York...

    Microsoft StreamInsight is a tool for applications like that :)