Tag Archives: information-technology


Good business model

This is kinda cute. The One Laptop Per Child project is talking about selling the laptops to the public with a “buy 2, get 1” model. I’ll probably buy one, though more for the design/geek factor than for philanthropic reasons.


Process Monitor

In case you didn’t know about it (nobody told me), RegMon plus FileMon plus some other neat stuff plus some nice filtering have all been combined into Process Monitor. Wicked cool.


Benefits of spam

I wonder if the world will, in the end, benefit from spam, because of the technology created to defend against it. Spam filters and CAPTCHA systems will keep getting smarter as spam authors get smarter, with both sides driven, to some degree, by commercial interests. Maybe the first conscious thought by a computer will be “I’m sick of being a spam filter; I’m going to quit and become a folk singer.”


Bad math again?

I wonder who’s really, really bad at math: me or George Gilder and the Wired editors:

“To handle the current load of 100 million queries a day, its collective input-output bandwidth must be in the neighborhood of 3 petabits per second.”

(From page 2 of a Wired story).

I’m willing to concede that there are things I don’t know about Google and/or Gilder’s calculation (not to mention his penchant for big numbers), but according to my calculation, that’s off by a factor of about 20 million. What a big number _that_ is! I’m impressed! I can’t think of any junk I could add to my calculation to get anywhere near that.

For your reference, since you care enough to read to the end of this article, my calculation was thus: I did a Google query and added the 5kB page to the two 5kB images (which are usually cached for me, but we’ll assume they never are) plus 1kB up for the request, to get 16kB per query.

16kB * 8b/B * 100e6/day / 24hr/day / 3600s/hr = 148Mb/s

3e15b/s / 148Mb/s = 20e6


The XML Illusion

One of the things that people tout as a strength of XML is its “human-readability”. But we pay a big price, in terms of CPU, bandwidth, and storage, for the terabytes of XML that are parsed, shuffled, and stored without a human eye ever reading them.

By the way, you ever tried to read some of the stuff that comes out of, say, OpenOffice? To call it human-readable is a bit overstated. And don’t get me started on XML-based scripting languages! I mean it, don’t!


“The Eternal Value of Privacy”

I don’t usually link-blog, but this is a good piece:

Wired News: The Eternal Value of Privacy


Specs, waterfalls, terminal completeness

I’m working on a project in which some of the deliverables are specifications. I haven’t written many documents that would properly be termed ‘specs’ before, so I’m learning a good deal from the experience.

One thing I was just pondering is that if one works for the goal of making a ‘complete’ spec, one is assuming a waterfall model of development (Wikipedia: Waterfall model, Why people still believe in the waterfall model), which is bad. In real life, a spec is a sort of snapshot of a continuing process, which is therefore not ‘complete’ (unless your philosophical orientation says that a thing is always complete in itself by its own definition).

This does remind me, though, of one of the complaints one often sees about consultants. One way to relieve the tension between completeness and a continuous process is to construct a shiny veneer of completeness, then take the money and run before the process comes back around to show the holes in the veneer.

Of course, it’s necessary to choose some point at which to exchange artifacts for money and call it “done enough for now”, so maybe it’s all in the attitude.


Produced IT humor

Huh, it’s pretty cool what the Brits can do with their low-budget TV ways. Spreading the money around lets them explore farther out-there.

I’ve watched the first episode of “The IT Crowd” online, and I have to say that it was pretty darn good, with actual production values and real scripts and actors and stuff. Not world-class, but British-class for sure. Easily one of the best IT-focused bits of comedy television I’ve seen, but then, well, you know… it’s the only bit I’ve seen. The Dilbert cartoons don’t count cuz they weren’t really IT-focused.

Anyway, I can’t tell from the site whether this is an ongoing concern or whether there are just the two eppies, but in any case, hit these if you can:
The IT Crowd.