Aprils Fools 2008 (and a little late at that)

I think its becoming a tradition here to list some of the funnier April Fools Day pranks:

  • Read – Space bot demands to be called “Dextre the Magnificent”
  • Read – Google’s gDay with MATE searches the future
  • Read – Think Geek’s Betamax to HD-DVD Converter
  • Read – Qualcomm’s HandSolo
  • Read – Virgin and Google form Virgil for Mars expedition
  • Read – Xbox 360 Wireless Helmet, Board Game

More Google pranks here.

TUAW has a round up of the Apple Pranks.

Three from Sun Microsystems:

Windows Media Home Server

Now that I have the time, I’d like to respond extend Terry Walsh’s article reporting on rumors of WHS v2.

The potential of a Windows Media Server (possibly a WHS v2 box?) is an exciting proposition for many people – my concern would be a [boosting] of WHS’ minimum hardware requirements. One of the main reasons Windows Media Center was such a problem to self build was TV tuner drivers – I’m no longer a big Media Center user (I’m a big fan of the UI and TV Guide, but it’s a cumbersome solution compared to Sky HD), and I’m sure tuner drivers and the built in MPEG decoder in Vista Media Center are helping drive a better experience, but I love WHS’ simplicity – both hardware and software – and I’d hate to see it be compromised in the future through more complex hardware.

The fact is that Home Server and Media Center are separate entities. The WHS team was right to do it this way since they both perform entirely different function. WHS is a backup and file server while MCE is a  TV and recorded media server.  I can see the sense of having both  and syncing files back and forth at 4am or something.

Terry makes a valid point about hardware. Could this server backup and stream media at the same time? It’ll probably be HD stuff by the time it comes out so we’re talking some pretty large data files here. Sure, the network will probably sweat a little, but that’s not the problem. 

If you’re going to actually write this thing, its going to have to be a pretty large undertaking.  Its going have to be able run on two or more cores efficiently. So in the four core environment that’s going to be pretty common two years or so  from now ( given Redmond’s release cycle) , its going to have to distribute the load across all four cores. Different hard disks will have to be used by each core ( i.e one for backups and one for media to avoid I/O conflicts and such). That’s one hell of a lot of programming logic right there,and that’s before we get to using network bandwidth efficiently.

It’ll be using the Vista networking stack, so we can expect a modest improvement (bearing in mind that I actually haven’t seen this with Vista yet). One possible answer to this is Sun’s Project Neptune:

That’s why we just introduced Project Neptune – a silicon project that marries the parallelism of the microprocessor (for Intel, AMD and SPARC systems), with the parallelism of the underlying operating system (Solaris, Linux or Windows), with parallelism in the network itself. Which in  concert with some software magic (which goes by the name of the Crossbow project) allows enterprises to collapse cabling, ports, cards and spending – by bringing parallelism to basic network infrastructure (for geeks, you can take multiple TCP streams and allocate them to different processor threads, spreading out load and freeing up CPU’s/ports). Ports become a physical convenience, just like a server – what’s happening inside depends upon rules or policies set by the user/administrator to automate such decisions. Like I said, the network is the computer, and the computer’s virtualized, so why not the network?

Jonathan Schwartz

Now I’m assuming that we’ll see a less-than-enterprise offering of that could be part of the hardware.

Then there’s the  task of combining two codebases, the logic of how we combine WHS’s interface and WMS’s, how WHS’ duplication is going to work with WMS, how back-ups are gong to work and so on for a thousand and more items.

For now, SageTV or  the WebGuide WHS Add-in do the job quite well.

Datacentre v. Earthquake

(via Johnathan Schwartz’s Blog)

Sun Engineers decided to put Project Blackbox on a shaketable ( that’s shaketable as in “simulate an earthquake”).

See for yourself what happened (notice how Greg P’s laptop is running Windows???):


According to Schwartz, there’s another project in the works.

Sneak peek here. Select Chapter 3. According to Schwartz, its behind the big, black drape. I’m still waiting for the video to load – WiFi problems.

After this test I can see geologists the world over adding this to their wishlists.

"Patents Pending"

I really should be craming for an exam, but this is more fun.

Over the past few days there has been a huge amount of hoohah over Microsofts Claim that thereare 235 patents that have been violated in OpenSource products.

Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz posted a lenghly reply that attack the root of Microsofts way of doing business:

With business down and customers leaving, we had more than a few choices at our disposal. We were invited by one company to sue the beneficiaries of open source. We declined. We could join another and sue our customers. That seemed suicidal. We were offered the choice to scuttle Solaris, and resell someone else’s operating system. We declined. And we were encouraged to innovate by developers and customers who wanted Sun around, who saw the value we delivered through true systems engineering.

So we took that advice. We started by securing the software assets we were building – so that we could convey them under trusted open source licenses to a community we’d just started nurturing. We redoubled our focus on innovation, in hardware and software, that would differentiate our offerings. Not just as good as the competition, but vastly better. We supported Linux on our SPARC systems, and forced ourselves to open up every business we operate – Solaris wasn’t the hammer for all nails. Nor was SPARC. Nor Java.

In essence, we decided to innovate, not litigate.

If that didn’t sting enough, Tim O’Reilly compared Microsofts claim to the one McCarthy made about here being 206 commmunists in the state department:

Does Microsoft’s claim that Free and Open Source Software infringes on 235 Microsoft patents remind anyone of Joseph McCarthy’s famous claim about communists at the State Department? Whether or not it’s true, citing such a number without providing any detail is such a classic FUD move that, to me at least, it just makes Microsoft look ridiculous. More recently, it’s reminiscent of the bluster of the SCO case against IBM.

The question I keep asking myself is: If it comes to it, who is Microsoft going to sue? Open Source Software by its very nature involves a cast of thousands.  The second issue involves the way that Microsoft is going to prove it. The only way it can do that is to show that its own propiotory code is exactly the same as the code in said Open Source Software. Which negates the whole idea of keeping your code under wraps.

Perhaps, and this is a long shot, Microsoft should follow Sun and reap the benifits:

In essence, we decided to innovate, not litigate.

Net result? Our contributions, from Java to OpenOffice to Gnome and Mozilla, now account for in excess of 25% of all lines of code within your average Linux distribution (yup, read that sentence again – or see the report, here, page 51). We joined forces with the likes of Google and IBM and Red Hat to drive the Open Document Format, accelerating document interchange. ODF is now accelerating globally, as the standard trusted by governments and academic institutions for multi-generational document interchange. It is an unstoppable force, no threat can kill a country’s drive for independence or self-sufficiency (remember, the network’s a social utility, too).