The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Displaying articles for: August 2010

Does your mobile device use match the “norm”?

cell.pngAccording to a recent communications market report by Ofcom out of the UK, multitasking now accounts for one-fifth of media and communications usage. The rise is attributed to an increase in smartphone ownership, up 81 percent in May 2010 compared to the same time in 2009 (12.8 million users versus 7.2 million users).


“On average, nearly half of people’s waking hours are spent using media content and communications services – on average, 45% of the total. People spend on average seven hours a day consuming different media, but they squeeze in 8 hours and 40 minutes’ worth using more than one medium at a time”


The average person today consumes almost three times as much information as what the typical person consumed in 1960, according to research at the University of California, San Diego.


The New York Times reports that the average computer user checks 40 Web sites a day and can switch programs 36 times an hour.


And the constant stream of information we get through mobile and hand-held devices is changing the way we think altering our brains (Digital overload: your brain on gadgets). I wonder if it is changing some of the foundational aspects like Hrair. This is likely an area that businesses need to be aware.


There is an interesting (but a little long) YouTube video by John Cleese about creativity in this interupted world.


Hopefully when HP has its slate device it will change how we use information.

What is this thing called converged infrastructure? What do people need to know??

457i84FB0A1C6388C842Being from the services side of HP, I don’t always know some of the other areas of HP as much as I should so I had a discussion with Doug Oathout about Converged Infrastructure (CI) and what it may mean to organizations. 


The rest of the post are my notes from the discussion.

Brainstorming catalyst

Over the weekend, I downloaded a tool called Effective Mind that I thought had some interesting possibilities, enabling you to look at a problem in a new way.


It does this by presenting various words, images… as an “impulse” to force you to look at the problem differently.


It might be worth giving it a try (especially when you get stuck).

Reach out and touch, well nothing…

One of the problems with virtual reality is that it is so, well, virtual...but maybe not for long.  Researchers at the Computer Vision Lab at ETH Zurich have developed a method to produce virtual copies of real objects that can be touched and sent via the Internet. This article talks about the efforts to create virtual reality you can touch.


In order to accomplish this, they’ve used a 3D scanner to record the image and dimensions of the object. Next a probe with a force, acceleration, and slip sensor collects information about the object’s shape and solidity, and a model is created on the computer. It can then be displayed remotely allow a user to sense the object using a haptic (touch) device and while viewing it with 3D glasses.


Not sure what the business implications will be but it does make for some interesting remote collaboration possibilities. Taking these approaches from a haptic pen to gloves or other more intuitive approaches would definitely make the experience more user friendly.


Here is also an article from the BBC on using virtual reality to tackle tough questions.

Inaugural IEEE day

424i1F4B099B7559ADACThe first IEEE Day will be held 7-8 October 2010. It is a global event to celebrate the achievements of IEEE members. IEEE Day recognizes IEEE members - past, present, and future - on the anniversary of the first time IEEE members gathered to share their technical ideas back in 1884.


And in the spirit of social media....follow IEEE day on Facebook.

Tags: IEEE
Labels: IEEE

HP cloud activities at VMworld next week

cloud.pngHP today unveiled a Private Cloud Readiness Program consisting of self-assessment tools and a Cloud Boot Camp to be held during the VMworld conference (Aug. 30th – Sept 2nd) at San Francisco’s Moscone Center.

There should be lots of opportunity to interact with technical leaders from HP about down to earth issues moving deeper than marketecture.


I’ve been working with some of folks across HP on creating workshops to look at cloud issue from a number of perspectives (enterprise architecture, governance, security, development, management…), so I am sure they’ll be people there who can help those interested in cloud.

Can Cloud-based Services be used to transform healthcare data into actionable information?

I was reading an article this morning on Healthcare 2.0 and it brought to mind the concept of using the Cloud Services to transform healthcare data into actionable information. 


Shane Robison wrote:   “making a real difference in health care is not about expensive new technologies like robots performing surgery or treatments and unnecessary tests. It’s about getting the right information to the right place at the right time.”  


In the era of paper records, which persists today, conversion of healthcare data typically involves time-consuming human review of records and recording data into a usable format (previously other paper formats, now electronic spreadsheets). Collection usually involves reading handwritten notes, interpreting the notes and converting them into usable data, and entering data into appropriate tools. Each of these steps contributes an element of error and adds to personnel time and costs.


Transforming “Healthcare Data” into “Healthcare Information” could be a problem solved by a cloud computing service. What is needed is a way to automatically extract Electronic Health Record (EHR) consumable information from free text. The capabilities needed:


  • String matching - also called key word searching, is a simple, often effective approach to detect various medical terms
  • Natural language processing (NLP)  - capable of scanning text documents and applying syntactic and semantic rules to extract information
  • Concept-based indexing utilizes large-scale, organized collections of health concepts known as ontologies to identify and cluster similar findings within free text

Information is the greatest resource available to us in the 21st century. With the right technology, we can transform data from the past into meaningful information to improve patient health and safety in the future.

Let’s hear your thoughts.

More HP ES blogs...

I just found out some other folks within HP Enterprise Services are starting to blog. The first blog addresses the range of activities that take place in HP Enterprise services. When HP purchased EDS a few years back, the combined strength is still poorly understood in the marketplace. This site will discuss some of the activities underway. Most people don’t realize that HP now has:


  • Over 150,000 employees located throughout the world focused on infrastructure management, applications development & management and business process outsourcing;
  • More TOGAF and ITAC level 3 architects than any other company in the world;
  • Management of millions of desktops at thousands of clients across the world.

And that is just the beginning.


HP supports more than 1,700 business and government clients in 90 countries. As one of the largest segments of HP, HP ES leverages the breadth of HP's extended portfolio to offer the most comprehensive end-to-end IT services of any company in the world.


The second blog addresses activities in the business process outsourcing space. BPO to me has always been the top layer of the cloud where people and process are leveraged in a multi-tenant, pay as you go fashion. This is an area that HP/EDS has been in for decades and this blog should bring some of the stories and perspectives of this information to light.

Probability processors in your future?

Lyric Semiconductor has unveiled its first "probability processor", a chip that computes with electrical signals representing probabilities, not digital 1s and 0s, making it possible to implement statistical calculations in simpler and more efficient.


Transistors of conventional chips are arranged into components called NAND gates, which can be used to implement digital logic functions. In a probability processor, the building blocks are known as Bayesian NAND gates. Bayesian probability is a field of mathematics named after the eighteenth century English statistician Thomas Bayes.


Whereas a conventional NAND gate outputs a logical "1" if neither of its inputs match, the output of a Bayesian NAND gate represents the odds that the two input probabilities match. This different approach makes it possible to perform calculations that use probabilities as their input and output.


Flash memory chips are an example of where probability techniques could be used. Flash memory stores data using areas of electric charge trapped on their surface. But those charged areas are unstable and even small changes in charge can affect the integrity of the stored data. "The difference between a 0 and a 1 is just 100 electrons," says Ben Vigoda CEO and founder of the Boston-based startup. "Today, one in every 1,000 bits is wrong when it is read out, and in the next generation, the number of errors will approach one bit in every hundred." Memory wear is a known problem for today’s dynamic flash applications.


There are numerous business instances where probabilities are used to generate value so it will be interesting to see how this technology developers and is used. There is a Technology Review article on the Lyric processor, if you’d like to learn more.

The Technical Side of Cooking

Even though the summer reading season has wound down, an interesting book came my way (this seems to be the summer of people sending me books). Cooking for Geeks is a technical look at cooking. If you’re a fan of the NPR science Friday podcast you may have already heard about it from the New Frontier for Geeks: The Kitchen post.


 This book goes into the technical reasons for why it is better to whip egg whites in a copper bowl rather than stainless steel. It talks about the different temperatures various proteins breakdown and how you can take advantage of the difference.


 Although the book is not really something you are likely to sit down and read, it does have some interesting stories and interviews in it and is definitely funny and informative. It’s the science behind how the kitchen works.


 Like many products today Cooking for Geeks even has a facebook page. I've noticed a number of seminars this summer for CEOs on the use of social media to impact their business. Maybe Dallas is just a bit behind other regions, since I'd have thought that message would have gone out years ago.

Managing change

396iA916A8D2A9A37555I worked with Will Ruiz a few years back for a solid 8 months and always found his insight into the retail space beneficial. He recently published an HP viewpoint paper titled Managing change in the consumer good industry.


The paper looks at the trends that are driving organizations to change –  those trends are not limited to the consumer products space. It then talks through how to demystify the “art of managing change” with topics like:


  • Beware of proposed technology-enabled business transformation efforts that do not have clear goals
  • Don’t assume that you are naturally good at managing change
  • Sponsors must put corporate-wide interests ahead of local or function-based interests

Just to name of few.


One point he drives home:

“To survive and thrive in the current business environment companies need to understand that a change-management process must become one of the enterprise’s core competencies…”

Green Laser Innovation Enables Mobile Capabilities

One feature many people would like mobile device users to have is the ability to project their relatively tiny displays for a larger audience. ATT released a projector phone with an embedded pico projector late last year, various device manufacturers have also created standalone hand held devices.


One of the issues for brighter, more powerful devices has been the lack of a good green laser technology. It appears that there are a variety of technologies that are overcoming the green laser issue.


For businesses this means a further expansion of mobile device capabilities and possibilities to incorporate more gesture based interfaces as the computational capabilities of mobile devices increase. Since the mobile devices is the computer people have with them all the time, expanded capabilities need to be taken seriously.

Why does it seem I post an entry about dropping my kids off at college every two years???

I just noticed the pattern!


It was time for my annual pilgrimage to a college campus to provide tech support to one of my kids, in their effort to attain a higher education. This year was fairly simple, since my daughter lived off campus. I installed a wireless router. It came preconfigured with WPA2 for encryption… so even that was fairly straightforward. Glad to see the router manufacturers are taking security more seriously. I did end up giving it a SID and password that she would be likely to remember, but yet complex enough that it would be unlikely to crack. I also had to configure her roommates, computers, printers and Wii game console.  Thought about turning off their router’s broadcast capabilities, but since I was not planning to hang around and do tech support all year (who knows what they might buy) I didn’t do it. 


I’d not configured a Wii for the Internet and was impressed with its ability to play youTube. Unfortunately it was unable to play Hulu content. The console did a good job on rendering the content of this blog though. It’s not something like want to browse the web on a daily basis with, but for the occasional “have you seen this” moment it seemed to work fine. I’ll have to investigate what other options for content display this little console device has. I know the netflixs for Wii option is popular.


I was pleased to see that her roommate had the same HP printer that I have at home, so I could show its  additional capabilities -- since they don’t get phone lines any longer though, they can’t fax though!

Other than having a power outage right in the middle of setting up the equipment it was uneventful, unlike some moves in the past...


Since it was the move in weekend it rained, naturally.

August 12th 50th Anniversary of the first telecommunications satellite

The balloon satellite, which was nicknamed a 'satelloon' by those involved in the project, functioned as a big RF mirror, not a transmitter. To use it communications were relayed to a transmitter and bounced off the satellite to another point on earth. so that after it was placed in a low Earth orbit (LEO). It was the first of a series of Project Echo satellites.


“Following the failure of the Delta rocket carrying Echo 1 on May 13, 1960, Echo 1A (commonly referred to as just Echo 1) was successfully put into a 944 to 1,048 mi orbit on August 12, 1960.”

Echo 1 was visible to the eye because of its shiny surface, size, and low orbit.


The idea of a communications satellite was created by Arthur C. Clark back in 1945. Although his idea was to have a geosyncronous satellite, that wouldn’t happen until 1965 April 6th with Intelsat I Early Bird, the first commercial geostationary communication satellite.


We’ve now come to count on satellite communications as one of the arrows in our telecommunications quiver and rarely thing about them other than when we experience that short delay in voice communications.

3D in the Home Nears a Tipping Point

337i2AA44EDA8B5E9CAFThis month’s IEEE Spectrum had a very informative article on 3D In The Home. It discusses the various options and implementations of 3D displays and the market penetration. It also provides a breakdown of what’s needed and the cost weighs in at about $3700 for a 3D installation in the home. That’s quite a bit less than the $10K (in today's $$) that color TVs costs in their first year of commercial production.


One of the interesting areas that leads the way is 3D Gaming. This makes sense since all the work for the game producer to support 3D has already been done. The same is true for many 3D business applications. We just need the hardware to enable us to access it. For a desktop PC that hardware is actually quite low in cost (<$300). For the game console producers they are awaiting market penetration.

Edge Differentiation with Underwater Robotic Vehicle

358i82165233EF7C225FMy daughter is just finishing up her internship at Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas. She’s studying marine biology at the University of South Carolina. When she took us on a tour of where she worked one of the elements of the Moody Gardens’ aquarium that surprised me was a robotic camera system in the South Pacific exhibit that the patrons could control (for a small fee). As my daughter was feeding the fish, this foot long robot was swimming around in there right with the fish, so the child who was running it could get the best view.


Moody gardens does quite a bit with live webcams (in the Penguin exhibit for example).


This is an example of an organization that is “rethinking the edge”, allowing the patrons to have an on-going relationships (with the webcams) or a very interactive fish-like interaction via the camera. Like many other facilities of this type they also have IMAX, virtual rides and other interaction techniques.


The use of a robot that kids could control was taking interaction a step further than I’ve seen elsewhere. Organizational Edge activities will be a differentiator in the future.

With the use of underwater UAVs being in the news so much lately, this experience may come in handy.

Do computers address business productivity? How about heroics??

No HeroesOn Irving Wladawsky-Berger’s blog there was a piece about IT, Productivity and Organizational Capital that I found interesting - it also paralleled some of the information I’ve been reading in IT Savvy (a short book by Peter Weill and Jeanne Ross). They both focus on the fact that strategic value of technology to a business doesn’t happen by accident and it is something where a business can create an environment that makes it happen. So yes, the effective use of information technology can be strategic and can improve productivity.


I sat in on a presentation by Jeanne Ross a few weeks ago at the Open Group meeting in Boston. She made a presentation on the value of enterprise architecture that included some excerpts from the IT Savvy book as well as others she has written on Enterprise Architecture. She recently wrote an article in the MIT Sloan Management Review Supplement to the June 15th CIO magazine. This article was called Why Heros are Bad.


In the article, she claims that it is the focus on technology instead of the business that is causing IT organizations to loose are way.  CIOs need to become “business engineers”, engineering the support environment for the business.  A behavior change is needed across IT. Information Technology organizations need a repeatable, designed approach rather than a heroic one. Our past behavior created a culture where IT people would perform heroic feats to get things done. That will not work anymore “Because we need things that work across the enterprise, and heroism is too unpredictable”.


It’s a team approach between the business and IT that will deliver strategic value in the end.


Just as I was about to close this post up, I had second thoughts. It is great to have heros. We just can't count on them to do the day to day tasks that need to be done. As Will Rogers said:  "We can't all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by."


State of the Internet Report out

304i44BBD8221153C851Each quarter, Akamai publishes a quarterly "State of the Internet report. This report includes data gathered across Akamai's global server network about attack traffic, average & maximum connection speeds, Internet penetration and broadband adoption, and mobile usage, as well as trends seen in this data over time. You can download the July 2010 version of the State of the Internet here.


This document includes profiles of Internet attacks, with analysis like “Port 445 continued to be

the most highly targeted port for observed attacks, again both overall and for attack traffic originating in known mobile networks.


It also looks at the change in the number of IP addressed actually passing through Akamai’s network as well the network bandwidth by country and in some locations by city and access type.


There are some interesting graphics and perspectives on the use of the Internet and how it is being used to generate value.

I don't recall it mentioning the concerns about the Internet running out of IP addresses by the end of next year, again. Once again the push for IPv6 is raising its head.

HP in the Motor City

HP will provide technology services to General Motors to meet the business challenges of the future automotive environment.
Tags: Automotive
Labels: Automotive

The Risk of a Bridge Too Far in Architecture

256i58600C83F0337639A couple of times over the past week I’ve been in discussions with people about the limitations of enterprise architecture tools and their inability to support the kind of referential integrity between models that everyone would like to have. I wonder if it is really a tool issue or more of an organizational change management issue.


One fault that many engineers and architects fall into is that if I can document an organization and its IT interrelationships at a level of N, N+1 must be even better. Unfortunately, every new level of depth of understanding comes at an order of magnitude increase in cost, not only of creation but of on-going maintenance as well.


No tool that I know of can handle this order of magnitude increase in complexity.  Unfortunately, you don’t know that you’ve tried to tackle that next unrealistic level until you have invested quite a significant amount of effort. By this time, your original sponsors are frustrated and abandon support. I can think of numerous teams that have used various tools for 1, 2 or maybe 3 years, but at the end of that time have abandoned the entire effort and moved back to something much more comprehensible and maintainable. This may be one of the reasons that Visio, Word, Excel and PowerPoint remain the foundational tools for much architecture work. Unfortunately, that leaves the integration of models in the mind of the architect. This is also an unrealistic solution.


As we move to a more complicated relationship and service based approach, cloud may shift the enterprise architecture requirements significantly. Although some components of architecture will have been outsourced, a whole other set will need to be developed in another area. This may make some of our current models simpler, a whole new crop of architectural issues will need to be modeled.

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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