Last month, Bob Zurek asked me to give a talk on “Big Data”, where “big” is anything from a few terabytes on up, then moderate a panel on cloud computing. We agreed that I could talk just from notes, without slides. So, since I have them typed up, I’m posting them below.
Developing a good software product is often a process of incremental improvement. Obviously, that can happen in the case of feature addition or bug-fixing. Less obviously, there’s also great scope for incremental improvement in how the product works at its core.
And it goes even further. For example, I was told by a guy who is now a senior researcher at Attivio: “How do you make a good speech recognition product? You start with a bad one and keep incrementally improving it.”
In particular, I’ve taken to calling the process of enhancing a product’s performance across multiple releases “Bottleneck Whack-A-Mole” (rhymes with guacamole)*. This is a reference to the Whack-A-Mole arcade game, the core idea of which is:
- An annoying mole pops its head up
- You whack it with a mallet
- Another pops its head up
- You whack that one
- Repeat, as mole_count increments to a fairly large integer.
|Categories: Data warehousing, Exadata, Fun stuff, Netezza, Oracle, Theory and architecture||19 Comments|
A Microsoft Answers message board got the question:
I’ve noticed that as I copy data/install programs on my Laptop, the weight of the Laptop increases. I have a bad back and am medically limited on the amount of weight I can carry so I need to be very carefull not to inflict injury upon myself.
I have also noticed my XBox feels heavier as well (the more games I save or purchase from arcade). I generally don’t travel with my XBox so that is not an issue for me, but note the I am having the same results.
My ask, what is the weight/file ratio? So for example, how many GB’s = 6oz? I dread the day I need a dolly to commute to work with my Laptop.
Expressor Software is putting out a ton of press releases to the effect that it has signed up another reseller/systems integration partner or, in some cases, sponsored a webinar. Less clear is whether Expressor is selling much of anything, delivering product people care about, and so on. The one time I visited, Expressor told me that user interface was its strength, then showed me something very primitive and explained — as the famed joke* would have it — how good it was going to be.
*That would be the Thrice-Married Virgin, although I’ve recently seen versions in which the poor unfortunate was married 12 times. The last husband on the list is always a computer or software salesman, who keeps telling her how good it is going to be. I first heard the joke from Flip Filipowski. I decided it must not be too terribly sexist after hearing Sandy Kurtzig tell it to a group stock analysts.
Am I missing anything major?
Edit: I emailed the company on May 8, asking what Expressor had in the way of customers. There has been no response.
Two years ago I wrote about the database technology of Guild Wars. Not coincidentally, Guild Wars was the MMO RPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) I then played. I had the chance to interview Guild Wars’ lead developers. While much else they had to say was impressive, Guild Wars’ database architecture was — er, it was rather mind-boggling.
Since then, Linda and I have taken to playing Lord of the Rings Online, commonly known as LOTRO, developed by Turbine, Inc.. I haven’t had the chance to interview any Turbine folks, despite repeated requests. But from afar, it would seem that Turbine’s technology choices leave quite a bit to be desired, in enterprise-like IT areas such as authentication, database management, and storage.
LOTRO and other Turbine games commonly are down, for scheduled maintenance or in some cases otherwise. There is scheduled multi-hour downtime to start many weeks. There are fairly frequent server restarts in addition to that. Lag and congestion are frequent. And so on and so forth. By way of contrast, Guild Wars very rarely goes down, and other technical difficulties are less common as well. Reliability is a key design goal for Guild Wars’ developers, and in my opinion they’ve achieved it.
Some of the reasons for Turbine’s difficulties seem related to the stresses of MMOs — e.g., they’re probably due to the problems caused by having many fictional characters moving through the same fictional space at once, with graphical detail much richer than Guild Wars’. But a couple of head-scratchers make me really wonder about how Turbine manages data. Read more
I heard a different version of the same idea at Boskone once, but here is a pretty good send-up of what might occur at a customer review session. (Warning, however: Low production values.) Also, in case you missed them, considerably funnier are a couple of classic Star Trek filksongs, especially the first.
While I’m on the subject, a couple of more serious filksongs I really like are:
Other great serious filksongs are “Queen of Air and Darkness” (Poul Anderson lyrics) and Jordin Kare’s “When the Ship Lifts, All Debts Are Paid”, but I can’t find recordings of those now.
There’s a long list of Chuck Norris Java jokes. Most are pretty lame, but I liked a few, including:
- Code runs faster when Chuck Norris watches it.
- Garbage collector only runs on Chuck Norris code to collect the bodies.
Donald Farmer has an excellently-crafted April Fool post about a revolution in business intelligence. Look at the character names, for example.
I wonder whether Donald learned operations research from that textbook where two main decision-making characters were Mark Off and his father Pop, an example company was Edifice Wrecks, and an example CEO was Dawn Shirley Light …
Amazon says it’s taking “cloud” computing to new heights, as it were.
Derivative funds and large government-subsidized entities will be especially interested in FACE’s transmodal operation. They can allocate a dedicated FACE, load it up with data, and then send it out to sea to perform advanced processing in safety. The government will have absolutely no chance of acting against them, because they will be too busy trying to decide which Federal Air Regulation (FAR) was violated, not to mention scheduling news conferences.
First excellent April Fool’s joke I saw this year was from The Guardian. The best so far is from Expedia. Others are linked in my Twitter feed. And personally, I’m encouraging the concept of April No-Fooling Day.