Archive for the ‘windows’ category

The future of IT is Big

October 13, 2009

The New York Times is running an interesting piece about the ever growing glut of data. The article details IBM and Google’s concern over the data glut and if new and upcoming students trained to handle the explosion of data. It is quite a fascinating piece.

At the heart of this criticism is data. Researchers and workers in fields as diverse as bio-technology, astronomy and computer science will soon find themselves overwhelmed with information. Better telescopes and genome sequencers are as much to blame for this data glut as are faster computers and bigger hard drives.

Please click through and read the whole article. It is very good and very true. This topic should be at the forefront of any person who works in the Computer/Technology field. First there is the problem of how to store this much data. Currently I work for a small publisher (O’Reilly media). It is easy to think that a small publisher probably doesn’t have huge storage needs. But so far since I’ve started working here (1 full year going on my second) we just ordered our second storage shelf, this time for almost 14TB. The new shelf has yet to be installed, but the other day my IT coworker was talking to management in a meeting. Our last shelf was around 1TB, but lasted less than a year. He said at almost 14TB this should last us a long time, but then added, “But we say this every time.” It is so true, especially with storage so cheap and drives so big. It reminds me of my first computer in the mid 90’s with 10GB of storage. I told my parents I’d never needed a bigger hard drive. Then I went away for my freshmen year of college and filled it right up with stupid pictures and movie files.

When I worked for the University of Illinois Engineering department the problems were worse. One research group that I worked for had 1 professor and maybe 5 students (including undergrad). They were relatively new so there was no infrastructure or file server and there really wasn’t much money for it anyway. One day I went to the Professor’s office. He must have had at least 30 hard drives each at least 500GB if not 1TB. Those were just the hard drives he had his students carried around a handful themselves. Another research group, with decades of history, started a scanning project. They would scan hundreds of slides at once each producing around 1MB of data. We installed a file array starting off at 4TB, but was expandable to 14. Unfortunately I left and am not sure what they have or need now. My point is that data storage is a huge problem. And is growing extremely fast. The article mentioned facebook’s 1Petabyte of photos, I’m guilty of quite a few of those, but that is just mentioning one company, many more could have been mentioned. Finally there is even personal space. Since I got my new camera I myself am looking at more storage for home. I am looking for personal NAS boxes. So I see the basic point. The future of IT is data and what to do with it.

Computer scientists and, for that matter, any scientists need to pay special attention. Not only do we need a way to store a lot of this data, but probably more importantly we need to do something with it. A lot of this will rest on programmers, but it isn’t limited to them. When I worked at the U of I the students worked on a cluster I built for them. They would code in C tweaking their algorithm to save every last processor cycle. These students weren’t in Computer Science. This summer I took a course at Boston University. One of my classmates was clearly not a computer person. I asked her why she took the course. She was a statistician and was heading to Grad School for statistics. The school asked her to take programming courses so she could analyze data sets. And of course then there are the Computer Scientists, and our future depends upon analyzing such data.

The future is big data; lots of it. And it is no longer just Google and IBM analyzing and storing it. Now even the smallest of research groups or a little publisher can generating mounds of information. Time to start paying very close attention.

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My change of heart

September 30, 2009

Ten Reasons Why Windows XP Will Be Around For A While.  I saw it this morning.  http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/10things/?p=1045

It’s a good list, and a point of view I would have religiously followed until very recently.  So I’m coming out – I’m not so sure about keeping XP anymore.

There, I said it. =) My reasoning before was something like this: “It works fine, and the replacement is junk, so why upgrade?”  But I think that with W7, there will not be the same reasons to keep XP around.  Here’s a few factors that contribute to my thesis.

1) Hardware standards have come a long way since 2002.  A small example?  DX10.  Yes, I know if you’re not a gamer, you might not care, but it’s just an example.  I personally think it’s time to up the ante on the OS and make fuller use of the newer hardware available.

2) That new hardware?  It’s getting cheaper.  One of the big complaints about Vista was that people had to spend a lot on new hardware to run it.  But in the end, this might have been good for the computing world, because it pushed people to get rid of the dinosaur in their basement.  But now, you can get an amazing desktop system for $500, or a notebook for $650.  The hardware isn’t that expensive at this point.

3) Windows 7.  It looks like it’s going to be to Vista what 2K/XP was to ME .  On top of that, one of the very points in today’s TR article was that XP will stay around because W7 includes a virtual version of it.  Huh?  I can see where he’s pointing (that companies will stick with XP software because of the virtual option) but I think it will go the other direction.  I think yes, we’ll keep some (not all) of our XP software, but I think companies will eventually ditch XP in favor of W7’s virtual option.  And from an IT standpoint, the end is obviously near, and MS will either have to revamp their entire compatibility strategy (way outside the box) or we’ll have to figure out how to make newer software.  But for now, I think the virtual XP will facilitate a move to 7, rather than hinder one.

I will say this.  Microsoft hit a gold mine with XP.  They should take it as a compliment that they themselves haven’t been able to top it yet.  But they will need to eventually if they want to keep market share.

Considerations before upgrading to Win7

August 14, 2009

Bill Detweiler discusses things to think about before deploying.  http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=903&tag=nl.e103

If you’re involved in Win7 deployment planning, what are some things you’re concerned about?

Windows 7 tentative release date

June 2, 2009

Just in from the Guardian’s Twitter feed: Microsoft will launch Windows 7 on Thurs Oct 22, says Techflash. To be confirmed; story to follow.

Vista SP2 is available

May 26, 2009

Vista Service Pack 2 is now available for download for those who want it.  It will later be pushed through Automatic Updates.

There is a Service Pack blocker tool in case you want to have greater control over which updates you receive.

Windows 7 will allow downgrades to XP

April 7, 2009

Looks like Microsoft has learned from their mistake.  Win7 will allow users to downgrade to XP!  Honestly, though, it may be too little too late.  Most of us at some point have wanted to give Vista the boot, but if 7 is as improved as some seem to think, we might not actually want to downgrade.  But it’s still a nice thought that it’s there.  See the full post here:

http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=2456&tag=nl.e019

World of Application Launchers

March 16, 2009

I am all about key strokes and not using the mouse. For me I spend a lot of time typing, and stopping to mouse breaks the flow too much. When I first switched to Apple OSX I was at a lose for how to launch applications quickly (like Window+r). What I didn’t realize was the world of application launchers. These are key stroke based applications that allow you to launch programs with a few clicks of the keys (as apposed to the mouse). I call them application launchers, but that is their most basic function and primary I guess.

The leader of this group is Quicksilver. The application at the time was not open source, but it was free. I don’t know if it came first to the bunch, but it certainly was the most mature and created the standard for all other application launchers. My key binding is ctrl+space which opens a box where I type a particular program or command. Mostly I use it to launch programs (it annoys my wife that the doc is virtually empty, why do I need any programs on the doc?). You can also control itunes or send IM’s along with many other features. If you are a Mac user and aren’t using this you need to install it now.

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For Linux there is a nice product called GNOME-do. It is for use in the GNOME desktop which is what is installed by default with Ubuntu. Until recently GNOME-do was pretty weak on features. But recent releases made GNOME-do the quicksilver of the Linux world. It is open source and can do a few tricks outside of launching applications.

For Windows there are a few competitors, but I find Launchy good enough for my needs. Again same concept only for windows. It has been a while since I used Windows so I can’t really speak for what it can or can’t do. It scans your program files to make its list and does a pretty good job. If any of you have experience with the product I would love to hear that in the comments.

So this is the world of application launchers. There is one for each OS. Give it a try and let me know what you think.