Predicting Earthquakes … becoming a reality!
I used to go to SVRA (State Vehicular Recreational Area) in California – near the town of Hollister – to ride my dirt bike. Once while were down there there was a good sized earthquake, and we were less than a mile from the epicenter. It was an amazing experience. I remember that I had walked over to a spigot on the campground to wash some breakfast dishes, and all of the sudden I lost my balance and fell over. And looking up, I saw campers swaying and watched my bike fall off it’s stand. As soon as I stood up, the shaking stopped … and the ground that had felt like standing on a water bed became solid again.

The thought of the ability to predict these quakes will be extremely valuable to communities around the world. And knowing people these days, it might prove to be a whole new “real world” experience! I can just imagine the news: “Scientists predict large quake … thrill seekers flock to location.

Predicting the Next Big One. Scientists at UCLA have successfully predicted the magnitude of recent earthquakes around the world within a time frame of mere months. What’s next? A quake in the Mojave Desert, and it looks like it’ll be a big one. By Amit Asaravala. [Wired News]

Earth Browser …
Again I have to thank Adam for pointing out this great application … it is a great example of the aggregation of, and presentation of, a wide range of planetary sensors.

earth browser. Last week on my way to florida I met a 747 captain who was very enthousiastic about showing me all the cool stuff he had on his Mac. With ease he showed me qucktime DV movies of him flying a gypsy moth (with wooden airframe) only feet above the surface of the English Channel and other neat multimedia stuff. I noticed an icon titled ‘Earth Browser‘ on his desktop, he couldn’t show me the whole application since it rerally needs a net connection to function properly, but I downloaded it this morning and was amazed at botht he program and the business model.

Earth Browser is a graphic rich application that aggregates all kinds of freely available weather related data and presents it as an interactive world map that can be customized to who weather, webcams, forecasts and almost anything a pilot wants for a general weather briefing. $29.95 removes some limitations and let’s you zoom into 2 kilometers depth.

Sure I can get the same information free from online sources, but I’m happy to pay for the packaging the developers of the software did. Great job guys! [Adam Curry: Adam Curry’s Weblog]

Another amazing Internet icon … and what the Internet future holds
I had the opportunity to hear Vint Cerf speak at a Java conference almost a decade ago. He was an awesome person to listen too. He has an incredible perspective of the ‘Net. It was really impressive to hear him talk about the early days of the Internet and what they were thinking. He also talked about taking the Internet into the solar system, and defining the IPv6 addressing. He talked about inter-planet routing … how Internet traffic will be routed off the planet to Mars, for example.

I came across the article below and want to thank Adam for pointing it out. The quote below is an example of the depth of thought that occurs within Vint, and I can truly identify with his thoughts. I am not sure that I agree that society requires “fixing”, however I do believe that people could choose a different way to be.

Along with the things that Vint talks about, I have to admit that I never believed I would be so close to one of the largest acts of cyber-terrorism that we might witness so far in Internet history. The MyDoom virus is looking like one of the largest attacks of this type ever seen. Working at SCO provides an interesting viewpoint on how people are treated when they follow the defined judicial process, within a democratic society, in pursuing their rights and asking for their day in court. Hopefully the writers of this virus are caught and prosecuted. It would be great to see someone from the “Open Source Community” turn them in …

I hope that as world governments and global businesses evaluate their options in choosing who will control their destiny, they fully understand that they are dealing with a very amorphous entity that is able to strike outside the boundaries defined by laws, and that can choose to defy the structures that we have put in place for “modern” society to exist. No matter what people think about other peoples actions or behaviors … there is no excuse for terroristic attacks, of any kind, towards anyone. Period.

I believe that we are witnessing an aspect of one segment of society. If they are choosing to attack like this now … over this issue … then who is next on the list? First Microsoft, then SCO, then who? What will they do to a government that might find in favor of SCO? Or a company that does business with SCO? And what will be the collateral damage?

Vint Cerf: “The internet is a reflection of our society and that mirror is going to be reflecting what we see,” he said. “If we do not like what we see in that mirror the problem is not to fix the mirror, we have to fix society.” [Adam Curry: Adam Curry’s Weblog]

SVG continues to make progress
Working with the WebFace team has taught me a lot about Web Browser technologies. One that we have been tracking for a while is Scalable Vector Graphics – or SVG. This is now beginning to gain momentum, and I am impressed at this article that shows what is possible using this solution. In addition, it references information at the end about using SVG with mobile devices, and even how voice interfaces might emerge.

I agree with Rachel Reese that Adnan Masood’s Interactive Mapping Using SVG & ASP.NET is among the coolest articles I’ve seen done about ASP.NET.

[Robert Scoble: Scobleizer Weblog]

Is there another valid perspective?
It’s interesting to see all of the press and comments about the SCO lawsuit. This was a posting to Slashdot that was in interesting contrast.

The writer of this post actually asked the question .. or opened an exploration into a broader question: “Is there maybe something that SCO is doing, that although we are completely against it, might have some level of validity?”

I have to say that there is considerable outrage and upset in the Open Source community. The last time that I checked, SCO was pursuing the legal steps that are defined within our society to resolve these types of issues. It appears to me that there are now two issues to be resolved:

  • a) What exactly *did* Novell sell to SCO for 6.1 million shares of SCO stock?

  • b) Is the UNIX license between IBM and SCO a valid license, and is IBM in full compliance with the terms?

Outside of all of the “religious” wars … these are the two real issues. If SCO does own the license agreements, and IBM is in violation … then it seems that everyone else missed something *very* big.

SCO – What have WE Forgotten? [Slashdot]

The return of WebPhone
When I first started to really use the Internet, I was involved with a group of friends in lookin at what was possible. We played with a lot of software – including WebPhone and CUSeeMe.

WebPhone was an application that looked like a little phone on your desktop, and it allowed you to use Voice over IP (VoIP) to talk with other WebPhone users over the Internet. The other day I found a list, that I was keeping, of all of the places around the world that I spoke to using WebPhone. I remember one day when we talked to a professor and his class at Kent University. They joked about us having Internet in Utah, and we joked back that we just heard they had a shooting on the campus.

CUSeeMe was a Video Conferencing package that we used at the same time. It was really impressive to set-up a “reflector” on one of our servers, and then to connect to the server using the CUSeeMe client. You were able to see who was connected in a list, open a video display of one or more of the participants, and then type back and forth. Audio was possible, however not well implemented.

What was interesting is that we were doing this with 14.4kbps modems, and then 56kbps modems. It seemed that as the bandwidth increased, the use of these applications dropped off. I just spent some time to go and find some of the “remains” of CUSeeMe … I’m going to see if I can get a reflector going again.

In the mean time … it was interesting to read about this new application catching attention … a decade later! Skype is almost exactly what WebPhone was …

OK, Skype has 240,000 downloads in just half a month. It took ICQ 60 days to get that many back in 1996. What’s different? Well, for one it was an established company that released Skype. ICQ was released to 40 users and no one knew anything about ICQ. But, remember, back in 1996 no one had weblogs. In fact, I had one of the first five public pages up about ICQ, while Skype has been talked about everywhere.

Anyway, Skype is now my new bar of release excellence for a small-company software product.

Hey, during that Sun keynote this morning the IP telephone from Vodaphone failed on stage. They shoulda used Skype. Hasn’t failed for me yet and the audio quality is unbelieveable.

People are asking me “you were the NetMeeting bigot, why you so excited about software that just does audio?” (NetMeeting was Microsoft’s audio/video/collaboration product that was released in 1995). For one, it works. For two, its user interface is clean and uncluttered. Don Norman would love it. For three, it makes you feel good using it, and makes you want to use it with your friends and family. (Translation: the audio quality rocks and is better than NetMeeting, or even MSN Messenger 6.0).

[Robert Scoble: Scobleizer Weblog]

Grid grows … because it is becoming possible!
Grid Computing, Utility Computing, Distributed Computing … they are all buzz words evolving through the last decade or more. Why is everyone talking about them so much?

One of the core reasons is because it is becoming possible to build and manage in a simple way. At SCO we have been looking at Grid and Utility computing, and have some ideas on how this will evolve and emerge. Some of the foundation technologies have been coming together, and I believe we are going to see this accelerate.

First is the computing power and bandwidth. Computers and the Internet have evolved to the point where the overhead of distributed computing is something that is completely manageable and acceptable.

Second is the networking protocols and standards – like SOAP – that have emerged as the standard way to have application components communicate across the network. These standards provide the “least common denominator” langauge for interoperability between components written in different langauges on different operating system platforms. Software can call functions in other software … even if it exists on an entirely different machine.

Third is the virtualization that I talked about in my last post. As more software components are written in languages that can be executed on a diverse set of hardware/software platforms, it provides more places for these components to “live” … hence distributed computing.

I agree completely with these forecasts, and believe that we are going to watch the continuing acceleration of distributed applications … and I’m going to continue to work in this area.

Survey: Interest in grid computing grows. Corporate IT decision-makers are showing more interest in grid computing at their companies, with 20% saying they could adopt it within two years. [Computerworld News]

Virtualization … above the OS
For over six months now, I have been looking into the evolution of software technologies, and where we are heading beyond the Operating System. For a proper abstraction of an operating system to be created, there are two core solutions required. The first of these is what I call “encapsulators”. An encapsultor is a software component that wraps some sort of logic or programming and exposes it through a standard interface. At SCO we are developing a series of encapsulators that wrap up OS functionality, terminal sessions, and SQL databases and expose them as SOAP web services.

The second, almost more important solution, is what I call “virtualizers” … Virtual Machines … or “dynamic language” support. The article below touches on this subject, as it explains how much of the development of new software has moved from being written in C or C++ – and tightly coupled to the OS platform it was written for – to newer languages that have greater portibility.

As more people move to developing in languages like Java, C#, PHP, Perl, Python, etc. their resulting applications can migrate between operating systems much easier. There is a flip-side of this flexibility however, and that is the commoditization and marginalization of operating systems themselves. We are moving into a new phase of computing … where the hardware computing platforms that we are using are able to execute so quickly, that software layers of virtualization produce completely acceptable performance levels. This means that more development will occur in these languages, and more applications – and application components – will be developed in a form that is cross-operating system ready.

The value of the operating system of the future, in my opinion, is going to be judged by the encapsulations of its functionality, and its support for virtualized execution environments.

App dev rides the virtual machine. Today’s enterprise developers have many choices when it comes to virtual machines that handle the plumbing and let them focus on user features. [Computerworld News]

Access Points with intelligence!
I am very impressed with this project, and like to see technology like this hitting the commodity mainstream. Linksys has implemented an Access Point with a mini-Linux running inside. These guys have now started to create distributions of additional tools, etc. that can run inside the AP.

What I really like about this is the possiblity of putting additional authentication code inside of the AP for controlling access through it. I am currently involved in a project where we require a PC dedicated to provide this type of functionality. The PC siots between the Internet and the Access Point and provides the authentication and access control. If we could embed our code inside of this AP, we could eliminate the cost of the Access Point.

I might have to go buy one of these and take a look at what’s possible!

Linux on the Linksys wrt54g 0.2. A Linux distribution for the Linksys wrt54g wireless access point. []

Mesh Networking continues to emerge
As I have been watching the wireless world explode over the last 8+ years, I have begun to realize that “mesh networking” is where it’s at. Mesh networking is the peer-to-peer solution in the wireless world. It begins to leverage the power contained in each radio to provide “relaying” capabilities for other nodes. Mesh will break the trend of “client-server” designs of traditional multi-point radio networks, and allow for self-configuration and distributed designs.

Mesh networking is going to change the entire way that wireless networks are designed, and also enhance the overall usability and capabilities of these networks. These guys are working in the right area!

Firetide Intros Mesh Routers. You can sign up to be an early adopter: Firetide is introducing a cool new product that it calls a wireless mesh router. It aims to eliminate the wired backhaul from traditional APs. So a company could distribute a slew of Firetide routers which self-configure to pass data from one to the next, back to an AP that is connected. Firetide is also opening the door to companies that want to be part of its early adopters program. HP Labs is already using Firetide gear. In a briefing Firetide gave to Glenn a few weeks ago, the company discussed some specific scenarios, such as unwiring hotels, in which so many of the costs were in the wireline side that their products could drop a project’s cost by more than half…. [Wi-Fi Networking News]