October 22, 2014

8 cutting-edge technologies aimed at eliminating passwords
In the beginning was the password, and we lived with it as best we could. Now, the rise of cyber crime and the proliferation of systems and services requiring authentication have us coming up with yet another not-so-easy-to-remember phrase on a near daily basis. Is any of it making those systems and services truly secure? One day, passwords will be a thing of the past, and a slew of technologies are being posited as possibilities for a post-password world. Some are upon us, some are on the threshold of usefulness, and some are likely little more than a wild idea.

The Software-Defined Data Center: Translating Hype into Reality
Software-defined technologies are driven by virtualization, an abstraction layer which uses hypervisors and virtual machines to organize and manage workloads in new ways. Provisioning virtual resources with software makes it easier to scale applications and use hardware efficiently. Software-defined networking holds the promise of reducing costs by shifting network management task to commodity servers rather than expensive switches. It’s a new world, with major implications for infrastructure. Virtual machines make it easier to move workloads from one location to another, a capability that unlocks a world of possibilities.

'Internet of things' data should be 'treated as personal data', say privacy watchdogs
"When purchasing an internet of things device or application, proper, sufficient and understandable information should be provided," the declaration said. "Current privacy policies do not always provide information in a clear, understandable manner. Consent on the basis of such policies can hardly be considered to be informed consent. Companies need a mind shift to ensure privacy policies are no longer primarily about protecting them from litigation." The declaration outlined the DPA's backing for new technology that accounts for privacy by the way it has been designed. The concepts of 'privacy by design' and 'privacy by default' "should become a key selling point of innovative technologies", it said.

Why You Should Kill Your Employee of the Month Program
While rewards and recognition programs are designed with the good of employees, teams, and the company in mind, they tend to backfire for a simple reason. When you raise one person up on a pedestal, it leaves others below on the ground. And some of those left behind may feel resentful. Perhaps they contributed to the effort that's being recognized, or even came up with the original idea. Maybe they were part of a team that facilitated a key component to the successful outcome, but it happened behind the scenes where you couldn't see it. The point is, when you single someone out as the hero, it can make others who are just as worthy feel like goats.

Addressing 5 Objections to Big Data
Big data is all the rage these days. It has transitioned from just a hype word that people liked to throw around to sound smart to a technology that’s completely changing the world. Still, people try to minimize the importance of big data. Whenever something good comes around, there are people that will try and fight it. That can surely be said about big data. There are numerous objections to big data and what it can do, but most of these objections are unfounded and can easily be refuted by those who understand the big data industry. Let’s take a look at five common objections to big data and the responses for each one.

Back to the Future was right: a working hoverboard will be available in 2015
The big catch is that the Hendo can only hover over some types of metal. At the Arx Pax office, we hovered over a floor and half pipe covered in copper. That’s because the board generates a magnetic field. When there is a sheet of metal underneath, it is powerful enough to push the board upward (it’s the same technology as a Maglev train). The developer kit can support up to 40 pounds. The Hendo board can support up to 300 pounds, with support for 500 pounds planned for the future. It only dipped for a fraction of a second when I hopped on.

Keep calm and plug the holes
With network monitoring and analysis in place, you need to think about how best to make use of the data. Don’t be too quick to throw it out. Network analysis tools have gotten a lot better than what was out there in the ’90s and early 2000s. It’s easier now to sift through huge amounts of data in a relatively short amount of time. When a zero day is published, that data can be useful for taking a look back at what had been happening prior to the zero day being published. You also need to have workarounds in place so that you’re not entirely dependent on outright fixes when zero days pop up.

The Untapped Potential Inside Social Media, Analytics (Part 2 of 2)
Grady, the social media analytics and enterprise search sales manager at Information Builders, has worked on social media analytics, search-based business intelligence, mobile applications, predictive analytics, and dashboard design in his 15 years at the company. He blogs about social media, business intelligence and more. Grady recently spoke, along with Fern Halper, TDWI's research director of advanced analytics, at a TDWI Webinar on "Social Media Analytics – Getting Beyond Tracking the Buzz."

Will Your Next Best Friend Be A Robot?
The glum robot is named Takeo, and by the end of the play, it’s clear he is not the only one with problems. The man of the house is unemployed and pads around barefoot, a portrait of lethargy. At one point, his wife, Ikue, begins to weep. Takeo communicates this development to his fellow robot Momoko, and the two discuss what to do about it. “You should never tell a human to buck up when they are depressed,” says Takeo, who himself failed to buck up when the man attempted to cheer him with the RoboCop theme song earlier. Momoko agrees: “Humans are difficult.”

Java Sleight of Hand
Every now and then we all come across some code whose behaviour is unexpected. The Java language contains plenty of peculiarities, and even experienced developers can be caught by surprise. Let’s be honest, we’ve all had a junior colleague come to us and ask “what is the result of executing this code?”, catching us unprepared. Now, instead of using the usual “I could tell you but I think it will be far more educational if you find it by yourself”, we can distract his attention for a moment (hmmm.... I think I just saw Angelina Jolie hiding behind our build server. Can you quickly go and check?) while we rapidly browse through this article.

Quote for the day:

"In a number of ways Open Data improves society - for one it can grow GDP" Chris Harding, The Open Group

October 21, 2014

Good Strategy/ Bad Strategy (Richard Rumelt, 2011)
It is because crafting a good strategy takes a lot of discipline. Most managers mistakenly take strategy work as an exercise in goal setting rather than problem solving. A bad strategy is often characterized by being full of fluff, as it fails to face the challenge, mistakes goals for strategy, and comprises of bad strategic objectives (mostly misguided or impractical). Talking about the prevalence of bad strategies, the author quips that- "if you fail to identify and analyze the obstacles, you don't have a strategy. Instead, you have either a stretch goal, or budget, or a list of things you wish would happen"

Technology and Inequality
Brynjolfsson lists several ways that technological changes can contribute to inequality: robots and automation, for example, are eliminating some routine jobs while requiring new skills in others (see “How Technology is Destroying Jobs”). But the biggest factor, he says, is that the technology-driven economy greatly favors a small group of successful individuals by amplifying their talent and luck, and dramatically increasing their rewards. Brynjolfsson argues that these people are benefiting from a winner-take-all effect originally described by Sherwin Rosen in a 1981 paper called “The Economics of Superstars.”

Building Culture Is Always Better Than Trying to Transform It
A strengths-based approach to organizational culture is, in part, a matter of perspective. Instead of seeing the cultural glass as half empty, we see it as half full. Instead of carping on about everything that’s wrong with the organizational culture, we focus on everything that’s right. We should work with culture, instead of against it. ... But where traditional culture change often focuses on stopping old practices and starting new ones, a strengths-based approach to managing culture would instead concentrate its efforts on figuring out how to better use — amplify, optimize, intensify — the culture’s most helpful existing attributes

Doctor Who and the Dalek: 10-year-old tests BBC programming game
He’s a VB programmer (be gentle, he’s only 10), which is part of the problem schools face in teaching coding; they are supposed to teaching coding before the idea of a variable has appeared in maths. To get past this, the Doctor Who creative team have used a similar look and feel to Scratch, already in widespread use in schools to introduce coding. Although as an IT pro you take pride in mastering cryptic error messages, like “NULL pointer is not NULL at line -1” (yes, I’ve had that one), it can put off the average eight-year-old. The “Make it Digital” agenda is that every child should code, not just the smart ones, so as in Scratch, it is actually impossible to have a syntax error.

Devops has moved out of the cloud
Continuous everything is a part of the devops process, where devops is the fusing of software development (dev) with IT operations (ops). The core notion is to release high-quality code and binaries that perform well and are of good quality, and to do so much more rapidly than traditional approaches to development, testing, and deployment would allow. Many people attribute the rise of devops directly to the growth of cloud computing. The connection: It’s easy to continuously update cloud applications and infrastructure.

Health IT Interoperability Up To Market, Say Feds
One of their biggest recommendations is the immediate need within the health industry for standard, public application programming interfaces that allow disparate health systems to speak with one another. Such APIs are critical to enabling the interoperability required for electronic health information exchanges. "We believe that a standards-based API, combined with appropriate incentives to encourage vendors to implement the API and providers to enable access to their data via the API has potential to move interoperability forward dramatically," McCallie said in emailed comments.

The Benefits of an Application Policy Language in Cisco ACI: Part 4
Though the DevOps approach of today—with its notable improvements to culture, process, and tools—certainly delivers many efficiencies, automation and orchestration of hardware infrastructure has still been limited by traditional data center devices, such as servers, network switches and storage devices. Adding a virtualization layer to server, network, and storage, IT was able to divide some of these infrastructure devices, and enable a bit more fluidity in compute resourcing, but this still comes with manual steps or custom scripting to prepare the end-to-end application infrastructure and its networking needs used in a DevOps approach.

Why Apple Pay Is the Perfect Example of the Hummingbird Effect
Apple Pay will work at retail stores but it could also become the defacto standard for online purchases that add an extra security step--namely, proving your identity using the Touch ID fingerprint reader. I'm impressed with how fluid it works even at launch. There's a good lesson here for small businesses, beyond the fact that it's important to follow these tech trends and start preparing for the inevitable. In his book How We Got To Now, author Steven Johnson explains how breakthroughs in science and technology often lead to what he calls the "hummingbird effect"--essentially, a way to "piggyback" ideas on top of one another that helps catapult them into mainstream consciousness.

Best Practices for Moving Workloads to the Cloud
The adoption of cloud architecture is a process that requires strong effort for the entire enterprise. Every function, application and data have to be moved to the cloud; for this reason, it is necessary to have a strong commitment from the management. Top management is responsible for the harmonious growth of the company, and technology represents a key factor for business development today. Managers have to establish reasonable goals for adopting the cloud computing paradigm. A migration to the cloud requires a team effort to plan, design, and execute all the activities to move the workloads to the new IT infrastructure.

Crafting a secure data backup strategy on a private cloud
Backing up data is not something to be taken lightly, and a repercussion of data loss could be significant financial loss. Frequently, companies are unaware that they don't have a backup strategy in place, or that their backup product is not working properly. More often than not, this is because companies aren't devoting the necessary resources to create a proper backup strategy. Even if they do, they expect the backup product to work indefinitely. Unfortunately most things have an expiration date; the backup strategy is not any different.

Quote for the day:

"Leadership, on the other hand, is about creating change you believe in." -- Seth Godin

October 20, 2014

Is your Ethernet fast enough? Four new speeds are in the works
Work is also beginning on a 50Gbps specification, which could be the next speed offered for linking servers in data centers. Both servers and high-performance flash storage systems will drive a need for something more than 25Gbps in the biggest data centers in a few years, Weckel of Dell’Oro said. At Thursday’s event, attendees debated whether to seek a 50Gbps standard or go all the way to a single-lane system for 100Gbps. A 50Gbps specification is more within reach, said Chris Cole, director of transceiver engineering at Finisar.

How Microsoft's expected fitness band fits into its new wearables game plan
It's the Microsoft side of the wearables equation that interests me the most, however. I'm expecting the coming fitness band to have a Windows core inside the device, given Microsoft execs' insistence that Windows 10 will run "everywhere," meaning from the smallest Internet of Things devices, to datacenter servers. The Operating Systems Group team at Microsoft is building a common set of graphics, gaming and media consumption/creation services that will work on PCs, tablets, phones, Xbox consoles and wearables. .

Q&A with Futurist Martine Rothblatt
The data for evolution is so compelling that to deny it seems to me to be denying reality. Evolution is either a consequence of a material world or it’s the result of some kind of supernatural act. To me, it’s the same thing with consciousness. Either you think that consciousness is something metaphysical, or else it’s the result of physical interactions of matter. It’s because people’s brains have a series of connections, of atomic interactions, and computers could have that. To me, to deny cyber-consciousness is to deny we live in a physical universe.

Internet Of Things Will Turn Networks Inside-Out
The point where these two networks connect -- the "come hither" enablers of IoT and our current, manicured data center plumbing -- is going to be a bit like that creepy scene in Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intelligence, where Gigolo Joe is explaining to a wide-eyed 10-year-old David what he does for a living. Neither had a clue what the other's world was really like, and fortunately neither David nor data center admins really need Joe's icky details. However, the firewalls between these networks will need something entirely new, something that Software-Defined Networking only begins to offer: intelligence.

Sacrificial Architecture
Knowing your architecture is sacrificial doesn't mean abandoning the internal quality of the software. Usually sacrificing internal quality will bite you more rapidly than the replacement time, unless you're already working on retiring the code base. Good modularity is a vital part of a healthy code base, and modularity is usually a big help when replacing a system. Indeed one of the best things to do with an early version of a system is to explore what the best modular structure should be so that you can build on that knowledge for the replacement. While it can be reasonable to sacrifice an entire system in its early days, as a system grows it's more effective to sacrifice individual modules - which you can only do if you have good module boundaries.

Big Data for Finance – Security and Regulatory Compliance Considerations
Many of the traditional point security solutions that are deployed add complexity and management costs, and leave gaps between systems and applications that are highly vulnerable to attack. The increasingly global nature of the financial services industry makes it necessary to comprehensively address international data security and privacy regulations. Financial institutions are top targets of cybercrime. While all types of businesses are vulnerable to attacks by criminals, it’s the security breaches at financial firms that elicit the most media attention, public scrutiny and legislator consternation. When threats occur, it’s more than financial loss at stake.

Oracle v. Google at the Supreme Court: Industry Watchers Weigh In
"If Google wins, the status quo prevails; if Oracle wins, then Google will either have to strip out Oracle-patented IP or pay Oracle for the right to use its IP," he said. "In the latter case, Google will 'own a piece of Android,' a nice position given that Java ME is a nonstarter among smartphone and tablet OSs." Martijn Verburg, CEO of jClarity, a startup focused on automating optimization for Java and JVM-related technologies, and co-leader of the London Java Users' Group, is also sanguine about the effect of the rulings on the Java community so far.

How Microsoft is taking on the cross-platform challenge with Office
With a common C++ core, a thin native UX layer and evolving PALs, Microsoft is building its Office apps so they work on different OSes with fairly little tweaking required. Zaika cited PowerPoint as an example, noting that only four percent of its tens of millions of lines are unique to the WinRT/Universal version of Office (the touch-first Office release some of us have been calling "Gemini"). If the XAML code is excluded, the amount of shared code is 98.6 percent he said. The PowerPoint for Android code base includes 95 percent shared code, Zaika said.

Jonas Bonér on Reactive Systems Anti-Patterns
A Reactive approach is able to first isolate and contain the error to avoid it from spreading out of control—which can lead to cascading failures, taking down the whole application—and instead capture it at its root allowing fine-grained failure management and self-healing. Second, it allows you to reify the error as a message and send it to the best suitable receiver—the component best suitable for managing the failure (usually called the component’s Supervisor)—not just right back to the user of the service. Now, if the error is just an ordinary message then it can be managed just like any other message; sent asynchronously, to one or many listeners, even across the network for full resilience.

James Comey, F.B.I. Director, Hints at Action as Cellphone Data Is Locked
But F.B.I. agents see the encryption as a beachhead they cannot afford to lose. With the latest software, the new phones will be the first widely used consumer products to encrypt data by default. If that is allowed to stand, investigators fear other technology companies will follow suit. If all desktop computers and laptops were encrypted, it would stymie all kinds of criminal investigations, they say. Mr. Comey’s position has set up a potentially difficult struggle between law enforcement agencies and the nation’s high-technology manufacturers, who have rebuffed the government’s demands for a way to decode data.

Quote for the day:

“The right thing to do and the hard thing to do are usually the same.” -- Steve Maraboli