May 31, 2016

Will blockchain make the leap from cryptocurrency to smart machines?

This is despite something of a crisis of confidence in Bitcoin’s own cryptocurrency heartland, where some insiders are arguing that the model and the specific software architecture have been tested and found wanting. Some of the issues they raise inevitably apply to the extension of the Blockchain to IoT; if, as they allege, the Blockchain is itself failing to scale to support its core business, then it’s not going to be much good for IoT either. There are also concerns about the processing power and the associated electrical energy that would be needed to perform the encryption needed for all those objects. The underlying data for a blockchain-based IoT application doesn’t have to be stored on a centralized server architecture paid for by the enterprise, but it still has to be stored — and the need to maintain multiple copies surely increases rather than obviates the storage requirement.

Death or rebirth: What does the future of the PC really look like?

Microsoft's vision was to put a (Windows) computer on every desk and in every home. It pretty much managed it, at least in the richer parts of the world. But many of those PCs - especially the ones at home - are now forgotten and covered with dust. That's because smartphones and tablets are easier and quicker to use, and can do the vast majority of things you can do with a PC. Indeed there are plenty of things that a standard PC or laptop cannot do that a smartphone can. To put it another way: PC makers have struggled - and most failed to answer the question posed by Apple CEO Tim Cook last year: "Why would you buy a PC anymore? No really, why would you buy one?" Now this doesn't mean the PC is dead: selling 232 million this year shows that. But it does mean that the PC is going to change, and so will PC makers.

Gartner's Litan Analyzes SWIFT-Related Bank Heists

Litan, who recently blogged about the lessons the SWIFT-related heists should teach U.S. banks about authentication weaknesses and lacking security controls, says banks need to implement the same controls for interbank transactions that they have in place for customer-to-bank payments. Fraud detection and risk mitigation is a shared responsibility, she adds. "We read a lot in the media about finger pointing, where SWIFT was saying it was the banks' responsibility and the banks were saying it was SWIFT's responsibility," Litan says. "Everyone needs to wake up and realize this is a shared responsibility."

What did one car say to the other car? If you make that turn I'll hit you!

It works because your car and that pickup are exchanging their location, speed, acceleration, direction and steering faster than we can blink. Many consider this conversation -- called vehicle-to-vehicle, or V2V -- the most important lifesaving technology to hit the auto industry in the past 10 years. If V2V did nothing more than warn you not to turn left or enter an intersection, it could prevent about half a million crashes and save around 1,100 lives a year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But automakers, universities and government organizations are exploring V2V for more than just intersection safety. ... "Whoa, don't pass that horse trailer, because there's oncoming traffic you can't see." Because of benefits like these, the US Department of Transportation is pushing automakers to adopt V2V within the next few years.

EMC and smaller players planning open-source storage middleware

The company has been quietly updating its community website,, with a roadmap via the GitHub code repository. That's a long way from when the old hardware-centric EMC began its storage diversification push more than a decade ago, at the time being ribbed as "Expensive, Monolithic, Closed" by then-new storage networking competitor Sun Microsystems. Bernstein said EMC's early successes in open-source storage include Rex-Ray, which links containers to storage, and Polly, which provides storage resource management to virtual machines. His team will keep churning out open-source storage container projects, including some contributed by customers, as long as the container market keeps developing. "The biggest challenge right now is there's a lot of fragmentation in the market. There's no clear winner," he observed.

Raspberry Pi: The smart person's guide

Windows was another recent addition to the board. The Pi runs Windows 10 IoT Core, a cut-down version of Windows 10, not designed to run a desktop PC but instead to help hardware hackers prototype Internet of Things (IoT) appliances using the Pi. Not only are there three different generations of Pi but there are two primary models, the Model B and the lesser specced Model A. The Model A lacks Ethernet, has less memory than the B and only has one USB port. However, it sells for the lower price of $25 and draws less power. Generally the Pi 3 is the better choice than the Pi 2, as it's more powerful and is the same price. However, the Pi 1, while a good deal less powerful, is cheaper than the Pi 3, and also available in the more compact, less power hungry Model A configuration. That said, a Pi 3 Model A is due to be released this year.

Back-end integration a struggle for IoT companies

Augury is exploring several different possibilities including reducing the cost of diagnostics for commercial repair firms, improving customer outreach for appliance vendors and enabling new insurance models. The company has already lined up contracts with some of the largest HVAC repair companies in the U.S. for the on-demand diagnostic service. Yoskovitz expects appliance makers to eventually embed low cost sensors into their washing machines and refrigerators. This would make it easier to proactively send out repair technicians or recommend upgrades when machines have reached the end of their life. "After the one-year warranty, most manufacturers lose contact with the customer," he said. "If anything goes wrong, a customer will call someone on Craigslist, and the spare parts will be Chinese knockoffs.

Parallel Processing and Unstructured Data Transforms Storage

New approaches to application virtualization are also having a revolutionizing effect on the use of data storage. Operational requirements for big data analytics on unstructured data is driving the adoption of "application specific storage architectures" and real-time storage configurability. Tiering is also an enabler for the adoption and efficient operational deployment of container and microservice technologies. This reality presents a compelling case for rapid enterprise adoption of advanced tiered storage architectures. When selecting storage technologies, the smart money goes to those solutions that support the industry’s need for high performance and economical high density online storage. In order to enable the highest degree of storage automation, the solution should be able to manage the various storage technologies through a consistent interface or API.

Devops: A Culture or Concrete Activity?

The DevOps philosophy cannot be entirely divorced from processes, much like the branches of a tree cannot be disassociated with the trunk. This is where development models come into play. Schmidt supplies the example of continuous delivery, which entails building a solution in such a way that it can be released at any point in production. This doesn't necessarily mean that it has to be released in its crudest form, only that it hypothetically could, and that any potential loose ends would be tied up. Achieving this model requires extremely well-choreographed collaboration among developers, QA management, designers and other departments – so basically, an unremitting adherence to the DevOps philosophy.  Continuous delivery is essentially agile software development testing on steroids. The objective of agile is still to make defined builds for delivery.

Exercises for Building Better Teams

The concept of work organization has been evolving for years. Not only agile practitioners have discovered that self-organized teams are highly effective. A strong manager is not a requirement for a well-performing team, but that does not mean that self-organized teams lack leadership. ... To ensure that such a balance exists, Alexis Phillips and Phillip Sandahl proposed a Team Diagnostic model based on Blake’s leadership grid. They translated “concern for people” at the management side to a measurement of team positivity that reflects team spirit and joy of work. They transformed “concern for result” into team productivity, which means effectiveness in delivering results. They identified critical competencies for each of those areas and it is amazing how well this list aligns with the agile mindset.

Quote for the day:

"Don't expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong." -- Calvin Coolidge