Tuesday, November 28, 2006

IBM Bitten By the Thin Client Bug

IBM is particularly fond of services that can be standardized and replicated

By: Java News Desk

Nov. 6, 2006 03:00 AM

IBM talking about swapping out desktops for thin clients. There are already 4,000 of them deployed internally and Patricia Bolton, CTO of IBM's End User Services Business Unit, part of IBM Global Services, knows where there's another 50,000 desktops ripe to be moved next year.

Seems IBM sat up and took notice when Gartner said a few months ago that thin clients had grown 38% in 2005, a gravy train it didn't want to miss. So IBM is turning a "new" architecture that enables centralized computing at the server level into a standardized service.

IBM is particularly fond of services that can be standardized and replicated - that's sprinkled with the bewitching pixie dust of virtualization and selling it. It promises secure access to applications and data anytime anywhere with a potential 40%-50% cut in TCO because of the reduction in labor-intensive administration.

A centrally managed environment obviously simplifies technical support and can reduce downtime and cost by placing the processing requirements on a server.

IBM will come and either stick a thin client on your desks or jimmy your existing PC into a thin client that works off a BladeCenter.

Bolton estimates the cost - without the thin client - at $500 a desktop. All the thin client basically needs is a browser and a Java runtime.

IBM is also proposing to use Microsoft Terminal Server or Citrix and/or WebSphere and VMware.

Published Nov. 6, 2006 — Reads 2,091
Copyright © 2006 SYS-CON Media. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Living Picture's Momento WiFi photo frames with SideShow


It is happening… another experience engine with app and data in the cloud

- Jobi

Man these digital picture frames are coming fast and furious. After making its debut at WinHec back in May, the Vista certified, SideShow-capable Momento photo frame from the awkwardly named A Living Picture, is now up for pre-order on Amazon and others. So whatcha get? Starting with a choice of either a 7-inch (model 70) or 10.2-inch (model 100) TFT display throwing a 800x480 resolution, each frame delivers built-in 802.11b/g WiFi, a multi-format memory card reader, USB jack, RF remote control, an audio output with support for WMA and MP3 (and presumably video) formats, and appears to be Windows Media Connect / UPnP capable to stream content off your PC or other compatible device. You can even pickup a frame for befuddled relatives and update it with your snaps over the 'net via a subscription to Momento Live. What's more, and perhaps the most interesting feature is support for Windows SideShow allowing the frame to run all kinds of XML-driven "gadgets" making the frame capable of displaying your auto-refreshed stock portfolio, current weather, TV schedule, event calendar, etc. That makes for an interesting choice between the $300 Momento model 100 or the $380 RSS-enabled DigitalSpectrum MF8104Premium with similar specs but 0.2-inches more screen and 96,000 more pixels.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Symbian forecasts the death of the PC

By David Meyer

Story last modified Tue Oct 17 11:27:55 PD
The PC will be on its last legs within five years, if executives from the mobile platform company Symbian are to be believed.

In his keynote speech at the Symbian Smartphone Show in London, the company's chief executive, Nigel Clifford, told delegates that the dawning era of the smart phone represents a shift "as profound as the Internet and PC were in the 1990s."

"Desktops PCs are effectively a flatlining commodity," Clifford said on Tuesday, while conceding that laptops were eliciting "perhaps a bit more" excitement.

Clifford suggested that the popularity of smart phones in the developed world and the "leapfrog economies" phenomenon in developing countries--in which expensive wired infrastructures are bypassed in favor of wireless--would create a situation where there was a "smart phone in every pocket."

Clifford cited the rates of technology adoption in India to back up his point. In India, the PC market is growing at 5 million units a year, while mobile phones were enjoying the same growth per month.

Symbian's head of propositions, John Forsyth, later argued that "in five years' time you'll wonder why you need a PC at all."

Speaking to ZDNet UK at the show, Forsyth said that "phones are beginning to eat into the space" that laptops were designed for.

"It will be a great relief to be liberated from the laptop," he added, citing poor laptop battery performance as a key reason.

Forsyth claimed the PC had stagnated and denied recent suggestions that phones would run out of new features over the next few years.

While conceding that there would be something of a shift from new hardware technology to new services, he pointed to "increased richness of both input and display technology" as an indicator of mobile technology's evolution.

"We see loads of keypad experimentation across vendors. That's a trend of innovation that will increase until people find solutions. It's clear that the numeric keypad has started to creak with the introduction of mobile e-mail," Forsyth said, describing the competition between various new input technologies--such as handwriting recognition and foldable keyboards--as "Darwinian."

In terms of screen capabilities, Forsyth noted that mobile phone screens were "going beyond just being personal" and were now considered by users to be suitable for sharing photos and content.

"The idea of sitting at a desk to view a Web page is inherently annoying. (Phone screens) are small but the size of the display relative to the phone size is growing and the resolution of screens is growing very rapidly," he added.

Another speaker at the event, Sony Ericsson's chief technology officer, Mats Lindoff, also predicted exciting advances in screen technology, and suggested that foldable or bendable displays would be available by 2012.

Lindoff pointed out that emerging devices contained memory equivalent to that of laptops seven years ago, and suggested that phones would in the future contain as much as 64GB of memory.

However, he acknowledged that, while Moore's Law would bring greater processing power for handheld devices, battery power would struggle to keep up. The solution, said Lindoff, would be to develop applications that are less power-hungry.

David Meyer of ZDNet UK reported from London.

Copyright ©1995-2006 CNET Networks, Inc. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Google, BEA in enterprise portal mashup talks

By Andy McCue

Story last modified Thu Oct 12 11:55:33 PDT 2006

Google and BEA Systems are in talks about partnering on a new initiative that will let organizations create mashups between enterprise portals and applications such as Google Maps.

As part of the partnership, BEA will get access to some of Google's hidden application programming interfaces (APIs), which will allow developers to create mashups using a new technology feature in BEA's WebLogic Portal, called Adrenaline.

The Adrenaline technology enables portal applications to run on other Web sites outside the portal framework, using AJAX and iFrames Web development techniques, while still managing it as part of the portal.

Skip Sauls, senior product manager for WebLogic Portal at BEA, told Silicon.com: "It allows you to take those applications and expose them to a Web 2.0 front end but still manage them within the portal environment. It runs on the WebLogic Portal server, so you still have access to all the freedoms, personalization and security, but you can render in a different fashion."

BEA has been in talks with Google for "two to three weeks" and has been given access to hidden APIs, Sauls said. It is also looking at Yahoo for a similar initiative, but Sauls said no talks have yet started on that front.

Future WebLogic Portal releases will include additional tools around this as well as other Web 2.0 capabilities such as RSS, according to Sauls.

Meanwhile, BEA's founder, chairman and CEO, Alfred Chuang, told delegates at the company's European conference in Prague that MySpace-style virtual communities are coming to the enterprise.

He said: "There is no doubt that culturally there is a new generation of communications going on. If you grow up with the virtual space you won't think of it any other way. I think the same thing is going to happen on the enterprise side."

But Chuang said service-oriented architecture (SOA) will be key to businesses being able to embrace these new technologies and ways of working.

He said: "I think there is some critical crossover point that has to happen for the enterprise to experience the same thing. With such tight integration between process and function it is impossible. You are coding to the specs of the business."

James Governor, an analyst at RedMonk, told Silicon.com that enterprise software vendors can't afford not to respond to the threat posed by the likes of Google.

Governor said: "We expect the same kind of experience from enterprise technology as consumer Web sites. Given (that)expectations are changing, that is something enterprise software is going to have to meet. BEA and others need to respond to the richness of organizations like Google. If you want to create mashups between enterprise and outside data we are going to need technology like this."

Andy McCue of Silicon.com reported from London.

Rev2.0 of web 2, is not Zero footprint


Posted by David Berlind @ 2:44 pm

Online word processors aren't as "handy" as one installed on your computer because if your internet goes away, so do your documents so I will start with the most interesting piece of code I found. Google is working on a solution that will allow you to install [it's Writely Web-based word processing solution] on your local machine.

So, what Garrett is getting at is that a lot of people have poo-pooed the idea of Web-based productivity applications because of the so-called "offline problem." When your connectivity disappears for whatever reasons, you have no access to the code that drives the user interface of a Web-based word processor, nor do you have access to the storage where documents can be save to or retreived from. So, from Garrett's post, it appears as though Google's code for Writely has some built-in contingency plans for loss of connectivity that rely on the local host (eg: your desktop or notebook computer) to take over when Google's servers can't be accessed (again, for whatever reasons).

This is nothing new. Perhaps the best solution I've seen that does roughly the same thing and that makes synchronization between the local and network-based storage (and just requires a low-overhead local HTTP server) is Userland's Radio blogging solution (credit to Dave Winer). More and more, solution providers will recognize the genius in that design as they look to deal with the offline problem as elegantly as possible given today's constraints. Radio even works across platforms (Mac and Windows).

Short-term, relying on the thickness of a desktop or notebook to solve the offline problem make sense since we all seem to be happy to keep mainframe-like compute power nearby. Longer term, I expect lighter-weight solutions to emerge; ones where the persistence mechanism for both code and data is a USB key (or something like it) and, instead of taking a notebook computer with you everywhere, you just carry your USB key and plug it in to whatever "kiosk" is nearby (note, a kiosk could be mounted into the seatbacks on aircraft and the tray in front of you could easily have two sides: one is flat and the other is a keyboard).

A world like that implies the ubiquity of certain technologies in certain contexts (most of which doesn't exist yet). In terms of interfacing public compute facilities with portable memory, is USB the transport? For the code in that memory to work everywhere, what's the ubiquitious execution environment that would accompany every browser? The three leading choices are Java, .Net, and Flash. Francois Orsini has already demonstrated, using a Web-based tax application, how Java could enable something of this nature. But we're a long ways off from seeing that sort of infrastructure turn up everywhere it's needed. In the meantime, harnessing the power of Windows, Mac OS, or desktop Linux to solve the off-line problem makes perfect sense.

If Google takes it a step further with auto-synchronization between offline and online documents and enables it wiki-style for network-based collaboration, Microsoft Office will have a new set of challenges on its hands given that it's closest competing solution currently requires very thick solutions like Microsoft Office and Sharepoint (note: in addition to installing it locally on a Windows Server, Sharepoint server functionality is also available as a service from Microsoft and other parties).

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Sun Hosts News Conference in Second Life

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Sun Microsystems Inc. spared the stodgy PowerPoint slides when it announced its new gaming strategy. Instead, 60 journalists, analysts and product developers from around the world sent their virtual proxies -- known as avatars -- to a simulated world on the Internet.

The event, hosted by the avatar of Sun Chief Researcher John Gage and held on an island in the online game "Second Life," was billed as the first news conference by a Fortune 500 company in the game.

"Second Life" is a subscription-based 3-D fantasy world devoted to capitalism -- a 21st century version of Monopoly that generates real money for successful players. More than 885,000 people have avatars who interact with one another in the virtual world.

"We've been trapped inside the text world for so long," Gage said. "It's time for us all to get more Second Lifey."

Santa Clara-based Sun, which develops hardware and software for corporate networks and for gaming servers, hopes its "Second Life" outpost will become a destination for 4 million people worldwide who help write Sun's open-source code. No more than 22,000 can make it to Sun's annual physical gathering in San Francisco.

"We'll have bean bag chairs, and it will be a great place for people to try out code," Gage's avatar said on an outdoor stage flanked by billowing trees and ocean. "We want it to be just like your local neighborhood."

Brands such as Toyota Motor Corp.'s Scion, Intel Corp., CNet Networks Inc., Advance Publications Inc.'s Wired magazine, Adidas AG and American Apparel Inc. have already been building "Second Life" outposts. In August, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner became the first real-world politician to host a "Second Life" town hall meeting.

"What corporate presence within `Second Life' allows for is a different type of immersion in the product," said Donald Jones, Georgetown University graduate student writing his thesis on "Second Life." "It provides the corporation with an opportunity to seem like they're cutting edge. It helps them sell their image and their lifestyle within cyberspace."

Sun's virtual news conference Tuesday wasn't entirely glitch-free. The avatar of Philip Rosedale, Linden Lab's founder and CEO, briefly appeared on stage naked because of a software bug.