Monday, May 2, 2011

Cisco's Portable Data Centers

Recently, Cisco released its new Cisco Containerized Data Center which targets "network customers who need a fast and flexible way to expand, complement, or replace traditional brick and mortar data centers." The idea of these data centers is pretty interesting. They're twenty to forty foot containers that are packed with networking equipment that is easily transported and changed to fit the needs of their customers. They are really innovative pieces of technology, which are each filled with 16 data center racks that can each support 25 KWh of power. In order to keep from overheating, each is equipped with a chilled water cooling system at the bottom of each container. The target customer groups for these new portable data centers are the "government and commercial organizations for rapid deployment of mobile computing, disaster recovery, war zones, and support in remote areas, but they can also be used as a complimentary data center for any organization."
This data center is meant to provide a cheaper, more convenient data storage solution because traditional brick and mortar data centers are expensive to build and take a long time to plan.
I think this is a great idea, and shows the increasing mobility of our world. The data centers are also cheaper and more energy efficient that typical brick and mortar data centers, which is always a plus.

PlayStation Network Hacking

Last week, Sony announced that there had been a massive hacking of a video game network that led to the theft of 77 million user accounts which included credit card information, direct debit records, and other sensitive personal information. The hacking affected people all over the world - 10,7000 direct debit records were stolen from customers in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain. In addition, 12,700 non-U.S. credit or debit card numbers were stolen. Just recently, Sony revealed that the hackers had the account information of another 25 million users of its PC games system in a second wave of hacking. In total, this amounts to over 100 million accounts being stolen. 
This breach of security really shows the fragility of the entire internet network. The PlayStation network utilizes the internet in letting its video game console owners download games and play against other people over the internet for a fee. The information stored about these people include their names, addresses, emails, birth dates, phone numbers, and credit card information. 
And the vastness of this breach - over 100 million users - shows how other security systems might be hacked and cause chaos. For example, if sites like Google or Amazon were hacked, or worse, online banks, the effects would be unimaginable. We'll wait to see how this one plays out...

Osama bin Laden's Death and the Internet Reaction

I came across this article and thought it was pretty funny. First, as an avid internet user, I've already seen the Facebook statuses - sometimes comical, sometimes solemn. I've seen the funny images showing Obama saying things like "Sorry it took so long to get you a copy of my birth certificate - I was too busy killing Osama bin Laden." Though I don't use Twitter, I can imagine the things being posted there.
In today's day and age, it has become normal for breaking news to not break in news articles or press conferences, but rather on sites like Twitter and Facebook. It's interesting to contemplate if the government could even beat the internet in releasing news...I don't think so.
The article discusses the "internet town square" that was united in the United States around Osama bin Laden's death. From Twitter and Facebook to thousands of personal blogs and even Miley Cyris' music video for "Party in the USA," people all over discussed the death of bin Laden, often joking about it and linking it to other pressing issues of today. The sheer speed at which news spreads online is truly mind-boggling. I don't believe that there was ever a time when information moved as fast as it does today. Pictures are posted and reblogged or tweeted repeatedly exponentially in manner of milliseconds. The fact that the Internet has taken on a role as a sort of "town square" gathering place for all kinds of people is also really intriguing. Sure, it's not really a surprise that it has become that, but with statistics like the 4.1 million page views to news sites around 11:30pm, it's still puts things in perspective - awe-inspiring perspective, that is.

So Much New "Smart" Technology

Are you ready for a smart fridge?

This news article discusses a new 'smart' refrigerator that is Wi-Fi enabled and has an 8-inch touchscreen that provides access to various apps on the front. As the writer notes, it is a huge step up from the magnets, paper, and sticky notes that we're used to adorning the fronts of our refrigerators. The apps that come with the refrigerator include a recipe finder, a weather reporting service, news application, Pandora for music, Picasa for photos, and Google calendar that can keep in sync with smartphones, computers, or other devices that are compatible with Google Calendar. As innovative as it sounds, it's actually not that innovative in reality. There have been "smart" refrigerators that have been conceptualized and created in the past, but have never really caught on in popularity. However, in today's high-tech wireless world that is already used to dozens of apps on all our devices - from phones to televisions to cars - it would not be surprising if this refrigerator also caught on.
It seems like every device that is close to us or central (at all) to our living has been recently outfitted with Wi-Fi and plethoras of applications. It's an interesting trend that I don't see ending anytime soon. Smart phones have become a norm rather than a luxury. Has "smart" technology gone too far in its application to refrigerators? I don't think so. Refrigerators are central to many homes, being an integral part of any modern kitchen. I think that it's a good idea actually - it could shift greater focus to the kitchen as the center of a home. However, at this time, the "smart" refrigerator will probably not catch on because of its steep price tag - at $3,499, the price of the refrigerator will definitely keep the refrigerator out of many homes. In any case, it's a great idea in my opinion and something that I hope will be part of my future kitchen :)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Amazon's Cloud Computing Troubles

Just this past Thursday, Amazon's cloud computing service experienced technical difficulties which resulted in many companies that depended on the service to experience outages in their own systems. However, there was a great disparity between what larger firms experienced and what smaller start-up firms experienced in response to the technical difficulties at Amazon. While larger, more able, firms were able to invest larger sums of money on backup and recovery services provided by Amazon, smaller firms who did not have as extensive backup plans were left feeling the full-blown effects of the outage. For example, firms like Netflix, who have invested a lot in Amazon's "insurance" systems to backup crucial data like "customer movie queues, search tools and the like," smaller companies who were unable or unwilling to fork out the larger investment in increased security faced effects like downed websites and inaccessible data.
The whole experience really exemplifies and calls into the question the speed at which current companies are rushing to back cloud computing. It is certainly a new field, but at the same time, is also growing at an enormous rate, with many big name firms (and huge numbers of small start-ups) utilizing cloud computing services like those offered by Amazon. Is cloud computing safe? Should we trust it? One data center specialist claimed that technical difficulties like the one experienced by Amazon are analogous to airplane crashes - while they are certainly catastrophic, the chances of them happening are rare, and air travel is still statistically much safer than automobile travel. Thus, though crashes like this may happen with big cloud computing firms like Amazon, the chances of significant damage are less than the chances of firms keeping track of their own individual data centers.

Monday, April 18, 2011 and the Sex Offender Registry;_ylt=AlrkTQ1ojsjWdZKVXHvRkn.s0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTFoNTBlaWExBHBvcwMxMzAEc2VjA2FjY29yZGlvbl90ZWNobm9sb2d5BHNsawNtYXRjaGNvbXRvY2g-

A woman (who remains anonymous) is filing a lawsuit against dating website,, for not protecting her against a sexual predator who assaulted her after meeting her through the site. As a result, is combining with the sex offender registry system to restrict registered sex offenders from joining the dating site. I thought this was a very interesting way of combining different technologies and utilizing information that is available. and dating sites like it have revolutionized dating and how people meet. I'm not sure of the actual percentage, but I do know that a formidable percentage of couples nowadays meet online. In the same way that dating moved online, so did the method in which the public was notified of dangerous sex offenders in their communities. Through Megan's Law, the Wetterling Act, and the PROTECT amendment to the Wetterling Act, sex offenders were required to register in state registries that eventually went online. It seems strange that these two new innovations - online dating and online sex offender registries - are collaborating together to provide a safer dating service, but I think that it's a positive step to take that is innovative and certainly keeping up with the way our world is changing more and more into an online one.
In any case, I thought it was interesting and a good idea that other dating websites i'm sure will also pick up on.

Monday, April 11, 2011

iPads For Kindergarteners

One school district in Auburn, Maine has recently decided to provide all its kindergarteners with a brand new iPad 2 starting next year. The school district is a rather small one - with only six elementary schools to cater to. However, the decision will still cost the school system about $200,000 each year.
Now those are the technicalities of it, but what is the true practicality of giving 5-year olds $500 high-tech tablets? Perhaps its a bit of jealousy that 5-year olds will receive for free such a highly coveted piece of machinery, but I have some serious doubts about how useful the tablets will be for the kids and how long they would even last in the hands of a 5-year old. Also, after doing some more reading about the school district, I found that the school system is having some budgetary restraints. In that case, is $200,000 really best spent on iPads for kindergarteners? I agree that the technology could prove to be useful to the education of these kids, but I also see no problem with the current system of using note cards, colorful signs, black boards, and books to teach young kids, so to me, it seems like an unjustified investment. Sure a shiny new iPad for every 5-year old sounds great, but is it really necessary? I don't think so.