Think Locally, Act Globally
From the New York Times:
The local food movement has been all about buying seasonal food from nearby farmers. Now, thanks to the Web, it is expanding to include far-away farmers too.
A new start-up, Foodzie, is an online farmers market where small, artisan food producers and growers can sell their products. Foodies in Florida, say, can order raw, handcrafted pepperjack cheese from Traver, Calif., or organic, fair-trade coffee truffles from Boulder, Colo.
What a great idea! And why not take it one step further? Farmers could band together and form large organizations–call them “corporations”–to grow and distribute mass quantities of food. Retail operations could be set up in every town; they would be sort of super farmers markets, or “supermarkets” for short. Soon everyone everywhere would be able to buy local food from all over the world!
Being one, I’m always willing to cut entrepreneurs – particularly the the ones who charge ahead and then look around to see who came with them – just a little bit more slack … still, this does border on the silly.
Of course silly can be great, especially if you remember to laugh.
… or a small adventure with the laws of physics and the vagaries of press releases.
I have been paying a lot more attention to the world of things that fly around the Earth since we have been working with the great team of folks over at GeoEye these past few years.
Before I go any further, I want to throw out my high-fives and share in the elation over the successful launch of GeoEye-1 this past Saturday.
This is a great event for all around, and I think is a harbinger of a whole new class of imagery-enabled, imagery-consuming services.
I’m working on a couple of posts that will explore the confluence of these sort of uber-pipes of fresh, interesting data with our sort of arbitrarily scalable, reliable cloud-based apps. So many possibilities … but, as happens so often in my life I first went off on a slight detour …
While thinking about these posts this little item caught my eye:
Ok, this all looks pretty cool – a new crack at using satellites to make it easier to get the ‘net out to remote parts of the world.
Their distribution model even looks pretty smart (wholesaling to ISPs), and their bandwidth admirable (claimed 10Gbs – cool!).
But then I got down to this statement:
O3b Networks uses parabolic antennas, which reduce latency.
There’s nothin’ the antenna shape can do to change the fact that at the speed of light it still takes about 246 msec (about 1/4 of a second) to traverse the 23,000 miles UP and then the 23,000 miles DOWN to / from the satellite.
But It Goes to 11?
So I thought maybe this was just something lost in the translation to press release. So I went to their site, and found this statement:
O3b Networks’ system virtually eliminates the delay of standard GEO satellites by reducing the round-trip transmission time from over ½ second to just 1/10 of a second. The reduced round-trip delay creates a web experience closer to terrestrial systems such as DSL or Optical Fiber.
Ok, I had to admire their persistence. So, either they had actually figured out how to jump past the speed of light, or maybe the satellites were a lot closer to the ground.
From a story in NetworkWorld today
… O3b will be able to offer the same capacity for $500 or less by using different, cheaper medium-earth orbit (MEO) satellites.
Geosatellites orbit the earth at an altitude of 22,500 miles, while MEO satellites are around 5,000 miles. The latency, or the time it takes for a signal to make a loop between earth and the satellite, can be upwards of 600 milliseconds for a geosatellite because it is further out. For a MEO, latency is around 120 milliseconds, close to that of a fiber network
Darn, that actually makes sense … well, back to work on figuring out how to go faster than the speed of light …
Actually, I meant to say back to work on uber-scalable, cloud-based apps that deliver on the promise of cool new stuff like GeoEye-1!
Just wanted to let folks know that we’re still working out some weirdness with comments in our drupal implementation. In particular, some comments are not showing up for a week or more.
(in case you’re wondering, it’s not a moderation problem – we have it turned off!)
Anyone who’s had experience with sorting out those sorts of problems on drupal blogs …. well, help is always welcome.
In the meantime, please keep posting those comments and we’ll get it sorted out as soon as possible.
Having a bit of “down time” with fam and friends has been great … hope yours has been at least as good.
Seems like about a zillion years since I was buying student tickets for games at Mizzou (the University of Missouri), but like many folks I’ve continued to follow their teams over the years. Really only problem in that … for most of the past 30 years they’ve been pretty bad, well actually that would be understating things … a lot!
But all that’s changing now, and for the first time in my lifetime I got to see Mizzou play a football game in January. With polite apologies to any of you Arkansas fans out there, today’s 35-7 win over Arkansas was awesome.
I mention all of this to give you a bit of background on the rest of this post.
In a recent post I introduced the “mad kitty”, which I will use on any post discussing reliability problems, failures, over-promised and under-delivered features and services, and any other part of our industry that should be done better.
I will continue to use the kitty as events warrant. If everyone was doing the best possible then I’d back off … would it really make sense to get mad at a cow for not being a very good conversationalist?
But the simple reality is the day in which it was ok for a SaaS offering to go down for “system maintenance”, or for a suddenly hot web2 site to crash under load are way, way behind us. Besides, it’s simply not necessary anymore … not with the availability of intrinsically scalable and reliable technologies like our app fabric, at least.
So I will continue to comment on outages, particularly when the organization in question really should know better. And the kitty will mark those posts.
Turns out that kitty has a bit of a heritage.
As much as I like Mizzou, I have a couple of brothers who almost make me feel completely indifferent. Both of them have always been part of communities like tigerboard.
In any case, as long as I can remember Mizzou had a “paw” logo. Simple, looked great, easily recognizable. There was only one problem, it looked a little too much like Clemson’s. Never mind that their’s was orange, turned sideways, and generally looked pretty different – Clemson’s attorneys complained and Mizzou blinked.
So time for a new logo.
Having nothing better to do (or at least deciding to do nothing better), speculation about the logo was pretty intense. Lots of arguing, opinions, people getting mad, blah blah blah.
Then one of my brothers decided to tell people that he’d gotten an advance copy of the new logo. When people challenged him to produce it, he took about five minutes in a drawing program and came up with the mad kitty.
People went nuts. I mean, there were a bunch of people who were really mad.
All sorts of words went flying – “this is stupid”, “my kid could’ve done better”, – and far, far worse. It’s almost like these guys didn’t have proper upbringings or something.
After awhile my brother let on that he might have been speculating just a wee bit. In fact, it may be that the university had gotten a bona-fide designer to come up with a real logo (which they did, of course).
When you think about it, there are some times when the fact that these communities of interest are fairly virtual can be pretty handy.
This was one of those times for my brother.
Turns out that kitty has had a bit of a life since then. Mad Kitty logo gear has sold a bit on cafepress, and he continues to show up in all sorts of places in and around mizzou-land.
Kitty even ended up doing a bit of traveling. When my other brother was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq post-9/11, he took a series of photos entitled “Kitty goes to war”. I’ll probably post some of those every once in awhile.
This all turned into a bit of fun for our family, and eventually for a bunch of other Mizzou fans as well. I hope that you’ve also had plenty of things that you could laugh about over this holiday season.
Here’s to a great 2008!
I saw a little note yesterday and found it rather curious – despite having some nearly infitisimal percentage of mobile devices, 0.09% of all web pages viewed in November were viewed on iPhones.
By way of contrast, all Windows Mobile devices added together account for only 0.06% of web page views in November. Palm OS accounts for about 0.02%. In fact, the iPhone passes those two combined.
* Viewing the Web on most mobile devices stinks.
* Viewing the Web on the iPhone doesn’t stink.
* Most people still use computers to view the web.
My Own Experience
On a personal note, after 8 years of using various palm os devices, including Treos since the 180, irretrievably misplacing my latest gave me a chance to rethink things with somewhat less guilt. After a couple of days with an iphone side-by-side with a treo 755p, I returned said treo and haven’t looked back.
The use case that convinced me? Reading blogs and keeping up with rss feeds.
Stuff like not-crashing-while-I’m-on-the-phone (an unfortunate little palm os habit these days) was also helpful, and the gratuitous eye-candy was, well, gratuitously enjoyable, but in the end blogs and other feeds made the best case. Even made up for the well-know warts, helped by wifi taking the sting out of the soviet-era at&t data network.
Mobile Innovation … Finally
I remember just about a year or two ago bemoaning with friends how the mobile device market seemed to have reached some sort of impasse, or maybe just all of the current players had gotten tired of trying.
Things could hardly be more different today. Microsoft released WM6, handset makers (notably HTC, Samsung, and others) are innovating like crazy, Apple brought out the first part of the iphone (I think the SDK and 3G will complete V1 of the product), and now Google’s Android is floating around like a big, fat thought bubble without anyone to speak it … in the proverbial fortnight there are lots of crazy things happening, with much more on the way.
This is why I LOVE competition!
About a year ago my personal workflow was based upon a desktop at the office, another (more or less identical) desktop at home, and a laptop for all other cases. While that worked pretty good, I just wondered if maybe I could make my world a bit simpler. My road schedule has picked up quite a bit as Appistry has gained customers and overall market traction (a very good thing!), but that was turning the process of keeping three separate machines current more trouble than it was worth.
So I chucked all three (with various flavors of xp), and picked up a single macbook pro (15″, merom generation). So how do things look a year later?
Simple, yet very capable. Not much more to lug around than before, and I have all of my essential non-cloud context with me at all times.
I’ve upgrade to a 7200 rpm drive (160 gb) and 3 gb, leopard and the newest parallels build. Office 2007 on XP for that sort of stuff. I kept a second display and a wireless keyboard / mouse set for use when docked at the office and home, and an esata card with a few commodity drives and enclosures at home for my serious-amateur photography etc.
About the only thing that was bugging me was the need for a clean backup mechanism. Yes we have all sorts of enterprise backups which work well, yes I can use cloud storage (with it’s own set of security / reliability concerns etc.), but there’s nothing like having a complete backup of my most most crucial stuff exactly where I can see it.
Did a few experiments with deleting files, picking them up from old time machine snapshots, etc., & it was all very obvious. Evening ignoring the thick dose of canonical eye-candy (which I do like, btw), the time machine interface is just so clean. And obvious.
Being especially allergic to losing stuff, and aware that there are folks complaining about some TM flakiness, I have yet another backup as well.
SuperDuper is the Perfect Complement
I’m also a big fan of SuperDuper , and I agree with the developer (Dave Nanian) that they really solve two different problems. So I partitioned the drive with a small partition that will be a bootable clone of the laptop’s drive (manual for now, will be created and maintained by superduper once the leopard-compatible update arrives!), and the rest (about 750 gb) is a pool for time machine.
We’ll see how long this setup lasts, but I’m guessing it may have some durability.