Discussion: Amazon’s cloud services recently suffered a massive crash that left many of its East Coast customers without access to their data, including dozens of websites. The company cited a mistake made by engineers that triggered a cascade of other bugs and glitches, overwhelming the master system and causing a “brown out.” Amazon spun the mistake as an “opportunity to protect the service against any similar event reoccurring” and gave a credit for 10 days of free service to affected customers. But Amazon’s cloud customers weren’t too thrilled to be guinea pigs in this cloud-crash learning experience.
Amazon's cloud service, EC2, suffered a technical perfect storm.
The company's new data center in North Carolina, scheduled to open this spring, will triple its annual consumption of electricity
Discussion: Greenpeace recently issued its report, “How Dirty Is Your Data? A Look at the Energy Choices That Power Cloud Computing” (PDF). Relying on public information, the report ranks Apple as the least ethical among several tech giants for transparency, mitigation strategy, and infrastructure siting. Apple’s low rating is mostly due to investing in a North Carolina facility that will triple its annual electricity consumption, 61 percent of which is powered by coal. But probably the most compelling numbers in this report cite overall electricity demands of the world wide web: if the Internet alone was a country, it would rank 5th overall in energy consumption. That’s a lot of dirty data.
Discussion: A team of researchers at iPhone Tracker recently discovered that iPhones and 3G-enabled iPads appear to be tracking and storing data about their users’ whereabouts without their knowledge. Although most cell phone providers collect similar data as part of their operations, it is kept behind a firewall and normally requires a court order to gain access to it. But this information is now available to anyone that can get their hands on the phone. Apple has yet to respond to the allegations and researchers can only speculate about Apple’s motive. “One guess might be that they have new features in mind that require a history of your location,” they said. As for iPhone users, some describe it as “cool” while others are outraged.
Healthcare Heartbeat uses smartphones instead of beepers to help doctors keep track of their patients
Discussion: In an ideal world, all hospitals would integrate their medical files via single online platforms and share patient information efficiently and accurately. But as different hospitals adopt different IT products ad hoc, integrating these systems is very complicated. So tech companies are focusing less on concentration of existing patient records and more on communication between health professionals in any location – an approach they view as much more realistic and secure for healthcare IT.
Discussion:On January 27, 2006, Google.cn went live in China, and within a few months, Google China’s headquarters was outfitted with the usual frills: foosball tables, a fully equipped gym, massage room, a huge cafeteria with free meals. But signs of a distressed relationship soon followed: unexplained outages, Google’s operating license was suddenly no longer valid, and in 2008, Chinese authorities demanded censorship of objectionable links from the Chinese-language version of Google.com. As the demands for censorship mounted and Google stalled, a sophisticated hack into Google’s system dug into the Gmail accounts of Chinese dissidents and human rights activists. This was too much for Google execs in Mountain View, CA, and on January 10, 2010, Google pulled the plug in China.
Discussion: TechStarsNY, one of the most successful tech incubators in the country, recently hosted Demo Day, a ritual that allows young startups to strut their stuff in front of venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and the media. Illuminated through a series of slides or videos, the startup founder begins with a problem – i.e. digital billboards aren’t nearly good enough at adjusting their ads – then a solution, a demo, how they plan to make money, and finally, the pitch for funding. At the end of the day some learn that their startup is funded, and others regroup for a longer season of pitching. But they all soon have to find their own office space to make room for a new crop of tech heads to “incubate.”
A digital photo is like an onion, and software scanning can help peel back layers to extract information from images.
Discussion: Digital photos on the Web may contain information revealing where and when the shot was taken and might even lead to the identification of the faces in the photo. Coye Cheshire, A UC Berkeley professor, is researching people’s perceptions of the pictures they post online and he’s learning that people tend to perceive a loss in their ability to control or contain this kind of information, yet they aren’t necessarily more cautious about their online behaviors. While some companies focus their capabilities on keeping the layers of information in a photo private, others are working to make the information public and instant.
The global app industry will be worth more than $30 billion by 2015
Discussion: ABI Research, a marketing intelligence company, says that almost 8 billion apps were downloaded in 2010. Ebay claims 15 million people worldwide have downloaded its iPhone app in 190 countries and in eight different languages. Clearly apps are popular but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are right for every business. Apps are expensive and take months to create, and competition is fierce. But as the popularity of mobiles and tablets outpace desktops, it’s not a matter of if a businesses should engage customers through mobile devices, it’s a question of how.