28 January 2010

Does the iPad Have Wings??

Ok, I'll answer the question. The iPad is the next Newton, with all that implies. I was going to let it slide, since I don't really see any direct impact on the point of this endeavor, but then I read a message on Cringely's site which quoted (I haven't taken the time to confirm, since the quip is funny even if invented) an article in the Washington Post:

Article in today’s Washington Post about the iPad … The biggest question asked, “Does it come with wings?” And, no, Bob X, we’re not talking about the aviation kind …
-- Njia

I used to read the Post every day when I lived there, so it seems farfetched for such a conservative (both politically, it was only briefly otherwise during Watergate, and culturally) organization, but still on pointe. The larger issue relates to openness. We've gotten used to a sort of open system with regard to the Web. Apple has never been open, which is occasionally mentioned when discussing MicroSoft versus the World, and the iPad, based on what's been reported, will be a closed environment. It's been mentioned that Apple has patent, not yet challenged, on multi-touch, so Apple could monopolize that sector of "computing appliances". The i* stuff uses CPUs (and other sorts of xPUs), but more in the way your car does.

To the extent that computation moves from "computers" to "appliances" such as i* widgets, Balkanization will ensue. Linux, and the open non-mono culture it supports, will disappear. Any number of recent events, not all computer industry based, make my lower brain stem tickle with images of a "Robo Cop" society. eeeeeeew!!!

26 January 2010

May The Force be with You

Here's the latest review from AnandTech. It looks like Intel has some competition in the retail space. And the rabbit popping out of the hat is from SandForce; a name I have mentioned before. Yummy. Unfortunately, SandForce is private, so no stock tip. Not yummy.

25 January 2010

Parts is Parts

There is an olde Wendy's commercial with the tag line, "Parts is Parts". I don't even remember the commercial, just the tag. I had to Google to find that it came from Wendy's. Which brings us to today's NY Times, with a Bits article in the Business section of the Dead Tree version. The kernel of the article is that large companies are now buying direct from parts makers, Seagate notably in the article.

This trend, toward in-sourcing of computer functions, bodes well for the ideas behind this endeavor. As companies begin to understand that self-sufficiency in computer technology is not only cheaper, no middleman, but also encourages directed thinking on the problems unique to the business. If it's feasible to construct servers to XYZ Corp's specification by XYZ staff, then why not the software that runs on said servers? Back to the future; of course, this is how the world worked until the mid 1980's (or thereabouts). SAP, Oracle Forms, JD Edwards, et al, were able to convince even large companies (Fortune X00) that the companies were wasting money by building their own business running software.

The so-called Vertical Market software development houses had been around for sometime, catering to small to medium businesses, and were the drivers of the acceptance of Unix (as well as proprietary work alikes, thence Linux) as a viable platform. SAP is just the most effective marketer to the Fortune 500 crowd.

But, if these companies can once again realize that betting one's core business on off-the-shelf is not wise, then they are also capable of understanding that there are also better ways to do this software. Enter, stage right, the SSD based multi-machine running a smart database. I have a dream.

18 January 2010

The China Syndrome

I have never been a fan of China. When history is written over the next fifty years, assuming that there is a literate civilization left to record history, Nixon's opening of China will be understood as the greatest blunder in the history of mankind. But China has done the good thing, from the parochial perspective of this endeavor. China has killed the Cloud. And I couldn't be happier.

There have been rumblings in the trade press and wider media about the China Problem (as well as the Russian and Bulgarian, etc.). Most recently, Google's threat to pull out of China over censorship and hacking is the cause celebre. That these events, or somethings quite like them, would play out were obvious years ago. China has simply renamed communism as state assisted capitalism, which itself is just fascism renamed to suit American corporations.

Could there be any reason to believe that the Chinese oligarches would embrace democracy? No, and American corporations would never have gone there if it had. Corporations cleave to fascism, not democracy. Corporations crave protection by the state from the populous. It is not a coincidence that corporations always outsource to autocratic countries, or simply create such a government where they wish to do business. United Fruit comes to mind.

The problem with doing deals with devils is that devils don't often keep the deal, when the deal even appears to threaten their positions of largess. And so China has put Google in a spot. If Google does what corporations always do, care only about this quarter's profits, they must acquiesce. If Google attempts to do what their propaganda proclaims, Don't Be Evil, they lose some or all of this market.

But the implication is far wider. The Internet is inherently insecure. The fact that Internet Explorer continually vomits up some hair ball is only a minor symptom. The Internet is capable only of serving of public documents to the public. There is nothing secure, and was never designed or intended to be, in this process. The bandaid of SSL is just that, a bandaid. Here is the one sentence description in Wikipedia (couldn't have said it better meself): "Early research efforts toward transport layer security included the Secure Network Programming (SNP) application programming interface (API), which in 1993 explored the approach of having a secure transport layer API closely resembling Berkeley sockets, to facilitate retrofitting preexisting network applications with security measures."

So now, there are stories about companies keeping real data not just off the net, but in Faraday cages. For those not familiar, "Enemy of the State" shows one. Gene Hackman's character's lair is a Faraday cage. I don't recall off hand whether he uses the term. In any case, the purpose of a Faraday cage is to keep signals that are inside, inside; and signals that are outside, outside. No cloud here.

As the shenanigans of China, Russia (and all those other autocracies that Corporate America just can't help nuzzling up to) get increasingly aggressive, and they will you betcha, cloud may still be around; but it won't be supporting anything much more important than Aunt Sally's birthday party videos. Real data will stay, or move back to, corporate control. It will have to. Corporate titans may not care about your compromised credit card. They care very much about keeping their own shenanigans very secure. Can't do that with Cloud Data. And that will be a good thing for smart databases, and SSDs, and all of the forward thinking notions to which this endeavor is dedicated.