Bookmarks for June 3rd through June 4th

These are my links for June 3rd through June 4th:

Bookmarks for May 24th through May 27th

These are my links for May 24th through May 27th:

  • Formulas and game mechanics – WoWWiki – Your guide to the World of Warcraft – Formulas and game mechanics rules and guidelines for developing role playing games
  • Manchester United’s Park Has the Endurance to Persevere – NYTimes.com – Korean soccer player Park Ji-Sung – On Wednesday night in Rome, Park is expected to become the first Asian player to participate in the European Champions League final when Manchester United faces Barcelona.
  • mloss.org – Machine Learning Open Source Software – Big collection of open source packages for machine learning, data mining, statistical analysis
  • The Datacenter as Computer – Luiz André Barroso and Urs Hölzle 2009 (PDF) – 120 pages on large scale computing lessons from Google. "These new large datacenters are quite different from traditional hosting facilities of earlier times and cannot be viewed simply as a collection of co-located servers. Large portions of the hardware and software resources in these facilities must work in concert to efficiently deliver good levels of Internet service performance, something that can only be achieved by a holistic approach to their design and deployment. In other words, we must treat the datacenter itself as one massive warehouse-scale computer (WSC). We describe the architecture of WSCs, the main factors influencing their design, operation, and cost structure, and the characteristics of their software base."
  • Geeking with Greg: The datacenter is the new mainframe – Pointer to a paper by Googlers Luiz Andre Barroso and Urs Holzle on the evolution of warehouse scale computing and the management and use of computing resources in a contemporary datacenter.

Bookmarks for May 21st from 06:07 to 22:34

These are my links for May 21st from 06:07 to 22:34:

Bookmarks for May 13th from 06:26 to 22:36

These are my links for May 13th from 06:26 to 22:36:

Bookmarks for April 3rd through April 7th

These are my links for April 3rd through April 7th:

  • Agile Testing: Experiences deploying a large-scale infrastructure in Amazon EC2 – Practical guidance on using cloud computing at EC2. Expect failures, automate deployment, more.
  • joshua’s blog: on url shorteners – Joshua Schachter (founder of del.icio.us) summary on the state of URL shorteners (tinyurl, bit.ly, etc), and issues with 3rd party redirects, link sharing through twitter, etc.
  • Control Yourself » status.net coming soon – On status.net, plans for hosting laconi.ca sites, and federating microblogging status networks
  • There must be some way out of here (Scripting News) – Comments on the rise of celebrity accounts on Twitter, increasing spam/noise, and alternative models for laconi.ca and status.net
  • Stochastic Models of User-Contributory Web Sites – Tad Hogg, Kristina Lerman 31 Mar 2009 Abstract: We describe a general stochastic processes-based approach to modeling user-contributory web sites, where users create, rate and share content. These models describe aggregate measures of activity and how they arise from simple models of individual users. This approach provides a tractable method to understand user activity on the web site and how this activity depends on web site design choices, especially the choice of what information about other users' behaviors is shown to each user. We illustrate this modeling approach in the context of user-created content on the news rating site Digg.

Bookmarks for March 16th through April 2nd

These are my links for March 16th through April 2nd:

Bookmarks for March 9th through March 12th

These are my links for March 9th through March 12th:

Bookmarks for March 6th through March 8th

These are my links for March 6th through March 8th:

Bookmarks for February 28th through March 1st

These are my links for February 28th through March 1st:

  • Community Data – Swivel – User contributed datasets, for visualization and graphs with Swivel
  • Obamameter – Map visualization of economic stimulus outlays. "Keep tabs on the the US economy, the global economy and the stimulus through our dashboard for the economy."
  • recovery.gov.pdf – Slide presentation on data sources and construction of initial Recover.gov site in Jan 2009, from talk at Transparency Camp.
  • Virtual Hoff : DoxPara Research – Slides from Dan Kaminsky's talk at CloudCamp Seattle on network and application security issues in cloud and virtualized computing environments.
  • Can You Buy a Silicon Valley? Maybe. – from Paul Graham – "If you could get startups to stick to your town for a million apiece, then for a billion dollars you could bring in a thousand startups. That probably wouldn't push you past Silicon Valley itself, but it might get you second place. For the price of a football stadium, any town that was decent to live in could make itself one of the biggest startup hubs in the world."
  • Berkshire Hathaway 2008 shareholders letter (PDF) – Warren Buffet reviews the state of the financial markets, his worst year ever, and the outlook for 2009.
  • White House 2: Where YOU set the nation’s priorities – Not the actual White House, but an interesting experiment in collaborative input for setting government agenda.
  • Python for Lisp Programmers – Peter Norvig examines Python. "(Although it wasn't my intent, Python programers have told me this page has helped them learn Lisp.) Basically, Python can be seen as a dialect of Lisp with "traditional" syntax (what Lisp people call "infix" or "m-lisp" syntax). One message on comp.lang.python said "I never understood why LISP was a good idea until I started playing with python." Python supports all of Lisp's essential features except macros, and you don't miss macros all that much because it does have eval, and operator overloading, and regular expression parsing, so you can create custom languages that way. "

Bookmarks for February 27th through February 28th

These are my links for February 27th through February 28th:

Bookmarks for February 26th from 10:39 to 20:05

These are my links for February 26th from 10:39 to 20:05:

Bookmarks for February 23rd through February 24th

These are my links for February 23rd through February 24th:

Bookmarks for February 21st from 13:59 to 21:55

These are my links for February 21st from 13:59 to 21:55:

Bookmarks for February 18th through February 19th

These are my links for February 18th through February 19th:

Bookmarks for February 15th through February 16th

These are my links for February 15th through February 16th:

Cloud computing, infrastructure change, and Iron Man


Spent some time at CloudConnect last week. “Cloud computing” has an increasing amount of buzz lately. I notice that India is the top region and Korean is the top language for searches on the topic. The top 3 cities are Bangalore, San Jose, and Seoul. That sounds consistent with my impression of levels of interest and activity. Infoworld says “Cloud Computing shapes up as big trend for 2009″. It’s certainly turning into a hot label, although the underlying internet service infrastructure ideas have been around for a long time.

The current business environment is characterized by high uncertainty. However, assuming the global economy doesn’t totally collapse, companies that successfully migrate IT activities to the cloud can achieve lower costs and flexible scale, at the potential cost of vendor lock-in, regulatory uncertainty, and the operational risk of the transition itself.

Some of this reminds me of the dynamics around corporate ERP projects a decade ago. If you were the incumbent leader in your market, you’ve already invested in your line-of-business IT infrastructure, and it’s working. You may have even been an early adopter of ERP technologies, gaining time and experience in pilot projects to develop a competitive advantage in your in-house IT. At some point the other competitors in a given market end up in a difficult position – either continue as they are with a strategic disadvantage (no ERP), or take on a risky overhaul of their core IT systems and business processes to become more competitive (if the project succeeds). Kind of like Iron Man rebuilding the power supply for his heart and super-suit. It’s great, as long as it actually works. But it might kill you.

So who went down this path? The leaders tend to, because part of how they became the leaders in their markets is by looking for the next competitive edge, whether it is a technology, business process, or other. The interesting part is that in many ways it is more attractive for an *uncompetitive* company to attempt a radical technology and process overhaul, simply because what they’re doing is already *not* working. So it’s literally adapt or die. The implementation risks were substantial, sometimes companies suffered major setbacks through failed ERP adoption, Hershey’s being a the poster child for a disastrous SAP project, although it didn’t *quite* kill them.

Now let’s look at cloud computing. It is clearly a win for startups and insurgents in a given market. They gain IT capabilities and scale on par with all but the very largest organizations, and don’t have a sunk cost of equipment, staff, and existing business process. They can’t differentiate themselves on better IT per se, but they can develop their processes around the flexbility and scalability of the cloud, and design for competitive advantage within its constraints. They also have nothing to lose, so why not take the risk?

The more typical case is much more difficult. An existing enterprise already has substantial IT infrastracture assets, staff, and business processes. They will be severely criticized and probably sued if someone doesn’t like what they’re doing, which is problematic because they have an actual working business and assets. Nonetheless, in the current business environment, many existing organizations will be approaching that “adapt or die” point, in which the choices are to try something risky and maybe have it fail (in this case, moving IT services and processes to the cloud), or die (weighed down by higher costs and lower flexibility). One implementation risk is that the regulatory issues around privacy, security, accountability etc haven’t been worked out yet, and what major financial institution, bank, insurer, or health care provider would want to be the guinea pig in court? Not their first choice, but the prospect of lower incremental costs and the operating flexibility grow more and more appealing every day. Someone is going to be first, probably get sued, and then everyone will know what the rules are and jump in. Either that, or startups and insurgents in their markets are going to take over first.