Ken Novak's Weblog
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Ken Novak's Weblog


daily link  Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Xen developers working on secure virtual desktop: Xen developers are preparing a package like VMware ACE, aimed at banking and homeland security.  To be released with version 4.0, no date yet set.  9:37:44 AM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, June 27, 2005


USAPhotoMaps : "USAPhotoMaps downloads USGS aerial photo and topo map data from Microsoft's free TerraServer Web site, saves it on your hard drive, and creates (GPS accurate) maps from it. "  Has scroll, zoom, shows landmarks, routes, etc.  (Thanks, Scott.)  9:18:04 AM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, June 24, 2005


Meiosys:  Interview about an application virtualization technology.  The company was recently purchased by IBM.   "From our perspective, virtual machine technology is really about resource isolation. It's about creating OS containers that are isolated from other containers on a physical machine. You can run multiple virtualized machines in parallel on a physical machine and have complete isolation. Technology like VMware gives you the capability to run multiple OSs in parallel on the same machine, so you can run Windows and Linux in parallel. You get some utilization benefits out of that on a machine-specific basis, but the real value of that technology is resource isolation.

We're application virtualization so we're above that infrastructure and resource level, and our technology is much more fine-grained. We build a container dynamically around a specific application that runs either on a physical or virtual machine, and we allow the application to be moved from physical machine to physical machine, or virtual machine to virtual machine. We are more granular because we can wrap and move specific applications and application processes, and of course multiple applications can be running within a particular virtual machine.

We also have developed a patented TCP/IP socket migration technology that allows us to preserve state and connection during the relocation of an application from one machine to another. .. Because we provide a fine-grained virtualization at the application layer, our overhead is under 1%, compared to 15% to 40% overhead for some other technologies which enable mobility. .. We abstract the application from the OS. We run for the most part in user space, not kernel space. "

Also has interesting comments about selling data center software into enterprises through channels.

  9:23:21 AM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Green Tinge Is Attracting Seed Money to Ventures: NYT update on venture capital investments in alternative energy.  "Clean tech represented a 1.2 percent share of the total dollar amount of venture capital invested in 2000. In 2004, the $520 million that venture capitalists invested accounted for a 2.6 percent share of the overall venture pie. ..

This month two of the area's top firms, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers and Mohr Davidow Ventures, made large investments in solar energy companies. One, Miasolé, based in San Jose, raised $16 million in a fund-raising round led by Kleiner Perkins. The other, Nanosolar of Palo Alto, raised $20 million from investors led by Mohr Davidow. On Tuesday, Energy Innovations, a company building advanced solar panels that use mirrors to track the sun and capture energy on storage cells, announced that it raised $16.5 million in venture capital in a round also led by Mohr Davidow. .."

  9:16:24 PM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, June 20, 2005


How To Change Ugly Regimes: The case for 'conditional engagement':  The US "tried regime change with Iran and conditional engagement with Libya. ..  For the average person in Libya or Vietnam, American policy has improved his or her life and life chances. For the average person in Iran or Cuba, U.S. policy has produced decades of isolation and economic hardship.  Don't get me wrong. I think the regimes in Tehran and Havana are ugly and deserve to pass into the night. But do our policies actually make that more likely? ..

Who would have predicted that Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan would see so much change in the past year and a half? But these examples only prove my point. The United States had no "regime change" policy toward any of these countries, and it had relations with all of them. In fact, these relationships helped push the regimes to change and emboldened civil-society groups. ..

Nixon and Kissinger opened relations with what was arguably the most brutal regime in the world at the time. And as a consequence of that opening, China today is far more free—economically and socially—than it has ever been. If we were trying to help the Chinese people, would isolation have been a better policy? ,,

it feels morally righteous and satisfying to "do something" about cruel regimes. But in doing what we so often do, we cut these countries off from the most powerful agents of change in the modern world—commerce, contact, information. To change a regime, short of waging war, you have to shift the balance of power between the state and society. Society needs to be empowered. .. [By] piling on sanctions and ensuring that a country is isolated, Washington only ensures that the state becomes ever more powerful and society remains weak and dysfunctional. In addition, the government benefits from nationalist sentiment as it stands up to the global superpower. Think of Iraq before the war, which is a rare case where multilateral sanctions were enforced. As we are discovering now, the sanctions destroyed Iraq's middle class, its private sector and its independent institutions, but they allowed Saddam to keep control. When the regime was changed by war, it turned out that nation-building was vastly more difficult because the underpinnings of civil society had been devastated. ..

In a careful study, the Institute for International Economics has estimated that U.S. sanctions on 26 countries, accounting for more than half the world's population, cost America between $15 billion and $19 billion in lost exports annually and have worked less than 13 percent of the time ..

regime change has become a substitute for an actual policy toward countries like North Korea and Iran, with which we have serious security problems. Rather than tackling the issue of North Korean nukes, we're waiting for the country to collapse. We might be waiting awhile."  Notable that the only 'condition' in conditional engagement is a non-confrontational security posture.  Economic and political liberalization are the result, not the precondition, for engagement.

  8:38:15 PM  permalink  


daily link  Saturday, June 18, 2005


EFF: Legal Guide for Bloggers: Could come in handy someday.  Covers liability, defamation, copyright, elections and workplace issues.  10:11:43 PM  permalink  

Red Hat virtually supports Xen: Fedora Core 4 released with Xen.  Future versions of Fedora will probably be driven by a new Fedora Foundation rather than Red Hat corporate.  Plus, here's a tutorial about Xen on SuSe.  9:22:53 AM  permalink  

VMware Technology Network (VMTN) for Developers:  VMware aims to be a platform for software distribution and development.  As John Sequeira recognized years ago, software can be delivered better in vm's (especially open source software).  "Pre-built application environments in VMware virtual machines.. [are now] available for download to any software developer. Industry-leading software vendors BEA Systems, MySQL AB, Novell, Oracle and Red Hat are among the first to distribute their software in virtual machines.  Entire application environments can be pre-installed, pre-configured and "saved" within a best-practice virtual machine. Developers can eliminate many of the traditional stumbling blocks associated with testing, evaluating and deploying new software by using these pre-built applications within virtual machines."

Also announced: VMTN Subscription for a suite of most VMware products with support and upgrades priced at $299 per developer per year.

 

 

 

  8:40:08 AM  permalink  

FreeNX and NoMachine:  Fast and secure remote desktop system, like VNC or LTSP but faster and with many features:

  • Runs single applications remotely
  • Carries sound as well as screen and keyboard
  • Has many clients - Linux, Solaris, Windows, Mac OS/X, PXE, Mozilla
  • Can servers for several OS and can proxy to extend VNC and Windows Terminal Server
  • Tight compression for fast service over dialup
  • Uses SSL for end-to-end encryption
  • Easy to install and demo in Knoppix

(As always, John's got the scoop...)

  8:32:47 AM  permalink  


daily link  Thursday, June 16, 2005


Speed Up Firefox with Pipelining. Sounds worth trying on broadband.  11:54:47 PM  permalink  


daily link  Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Distributed Internet Backup System: I've been waiting for this for years.  From Scott Lemon and Phil Windley.  "Since disk drives are cheap, backup should be cheap too. [You] should give your files to peers (and in return store their files) so that if a catastrophe strikes your area, you can recover data from surviving peers. The Distributed Internet Backup System (DIBS) is designed to implement this vision. ..  DIBS encrypts all data transmissions so that the peers you trade files with can not access your data." Python source code available.  11:44:47 PM  permalink  

BlogMatrix:  Tools and online services for creating and sharing videos and podcasts.  Sparks
is a "solution for recording, sharing, finding and listening to podcasts [with]

  • a multi-track recorder and mixer designed especially for the needs of podcasters
  • automatic uploading of your podcasts to the BlogMatrix server
  • a full featured podder and weblog reader for listening to other’s podcasts"
  11:41:51 PM  permalink  

Korby Parnell's WebLog : A Brief [and Subjective] History of Corporate Blogging at Microsoft:  How blogging began and eventually got institutionalized at MS.  Includes a nice short list of corporate blogging guidelines.  Related:  the EFF Legal Guide for Bloggers.  10:54:30 PM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, June 10, 2005


Wireless reef monitoring: Five senior engineering students at UC Santa Cruz are trying to push the limits of low-power wireless transmission to facilitate the monitoring of remote natural environments.  The apparatus they are building will track conditions on coral reefs in distant locations and beam information back in real time to a land-based station.  The students named their creation SEA-LABS, short for "Sensor Exploration Apparatus utilizing Low-power Aquatic Broadcasting System."  SEA-LABS was originally designed to help UCSC biologist Donald Potts track environmental changes that affect the reefs of Midway, a remote atoll of the Hawaiian archipelago. But SEA-LABS also has the potential to become a low-cost tsunami-warning device, said Matt Bromage, a computer engineering student who acts as SEA-LABS team manager. ..

Now entering its final testing stages, the project should culminate this summer with a trip to the Midway atoll, 1,200 miles northwest of Honolulu, where the students will install and test their waterproof and salt-resistant prototype.  ..  The core of SEA-LABS is a Programmable Ocean Device (POD), which consists of a processor, a memory storage component, and a battery that can last up to two years, all housed in a waterproof casing about the size of a small wastebasket. The POD can be bolted to the seafloor near a reef. .. The POD has cable connections to sensors that independently record pressure, light, salinity, and temperature. The sensors are small enough to fit in any desired location on or within a reef and can be placed right next to plants, corals, and other reef inhabitants. .. The POD connects to a receiver/transmitter attached to a surface buoy. The transmitter broadcasts the data recorded by the sensors from the POD to a base station on land via a radio antenna. ..

The students use off-the-shelf components and develop nonproprietary open-access software. Depending on the number of sensors attached to each POD, SEA-LABS should cost between $500 and $1,000 per POD."

  11:43:37 PM  permalink  

DaVite: "DaVite is a Web invitation system, much like evite! or Yahoo! invites. You can use it to create a Web invitation that is mailed to all of your guests, who can then read the details, and respond online. Invitations are themeable, and can include user images, so they are completely customizable. "  Open source.  Changed little since 2002.  3:22:16 PM  permalink  


daily link  Thursday, June 09, 2005


GroupServer: "GroupServer is a GPL open source collaboration server. It supports many-to-many interaction in groups and communities via email and an integrated web forum interface. Websites supported by GroupServer provide secure a personalised content structure with member directories, postings by topic, RSS and e-mail digest modes, document sharing, and web-based forum management. GroupServer renders XML content dynamically using XSLTs and is built on Zope and written in Python."  12:32:06 PM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, June 03, 2005


Schwarzenegger unveiling global warming plan at U.N. conference:  A clear break from national Republicans.  ""Today, California will be a leader in the fight against global warming," Schwarzenegger told a United Nations conference on the environment Wednesday.  "I say the debate is over. We know the science, we see the threat and we know the time for action is now."  ..  Schwarzenegger's plan, released at the opening of the U.N. World Environmental Day Conference, calls for reducing the state's emissions of greenhouse gases to 2000 levels by 2010, 1990 levels by 2020, and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050."  Key passage: " “I challenge everyone to match our commitment,” he said. In the past, he added, the harmful impacts on the atmosphere of burning of fossil fuels were unknown. But now there’s no excuse not to take action. "That was our mistake," he said. "But now we do know better. And if we don't do better, that will be our injustice."" 

  12:21:06 PM  permalink  


daily link  Thursday, June 02, 2005


Podtech.net: the vMatrix:  John Furrier's PodTech.net interviews Amr Awadallah about vMatrix, which moves virtual machines around the net to balance game response times, among other things.  (This is the first of John's podcasts I've checked out -- excellent interview style, solid tech background.)

  9:21:56 AM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Microbes produce hydrogen from waste:  Researchers: Hong Liu, postdoctoral researcher in environmental engineering; Stephen Grot, president and founder of Ion Power, Inc.; and Bruce Logan, Penn State professor of environmental engineering.  "Using a new electrically-assisted microbial fuel cell (MFC) that does not require oxygen, .. bacteria [produce] four times as much hydrogen directly out of biomass than can be generated typically by fermentation alone. ..

Bruce Logan says, "This MFC process is not limited to using only carbohydrate-based biomass for hydrogen production like conventional fermentation processes. We can theoretically use our MFC to obtain high yields of hydrogen from any biodegradable, dissolved, organic matter -- human, agricultural or industrial wastewater, for example -- and simultaneously clean the wastewater.  While there is likely insufficient waste biomass to sustain a global hydrogen economy, this form of renewable energy production may help offset the substantial costs of wastewater treatment as well as provide a contribution to nations able to harness hydrogen as an energy source." ..

hydrogen production by bacterial fermentation is currently limited by the "fermentation barrier" -- the fact that bacteria, without a power boost, can only convert carbohydrates to a limited amount of hydrogen and a mixture of "dead end" fermentation end products such as acetic and butyric acids.  However, giving the bacteria a small assist with a tiny amount of electricity -- about 0.25 volts or a small fraction of the voltage needed to run a typical 6 volt cell phone -- they can leap over the fermentation barrier and convert a "dead end" fermentation product, acetic acid, into carbon dioxide and hydrogen.  Logan notes, "Basically, we use the same microbial fuel cell we developed to clean wastewater and produce electricity. However, to produce hydrogen, we keep oxygen out of the MFC and add a small amount of power into the system." .. 

The researchers call their hydrogen-producing MFC a BioElectrochemically-Assisted Microbial Reactor or BEAMR. The BEAMR not only produces hydrogen but simultaneously cleans the wastewater used as its feedstock. It uses about one-tenth of the voltage needed for electrolysis, the process that uses electricity to break water down into hydrogen and oxygen. "  If this would work at a scale suitable for rural power cooperatives, it might prove useful to allow rural communities to become self-sufficient in fuel.  They have agricultural waste; their equipment and vehicles are relatively easy to convert even today to burn hydrogen; and the rural power systems often have small amounts of excess but hard to market electric power (eg, from wind or small hydro).

  11:59:07 PM  permalink  

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