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Cloud Roundup and Links of Interest – May 14

The cloud helps during natural disastersHow Cloud Computing Helps Weather Dangerous Events

For emergency management, the biggest advantages of cloud computing come down to three words: virtual mission continuity. Cloud computing reduces concerns about whether the data center will survive a disaster, according to an article in the publication Emergency Management.

Businesses and agencies regularlycopy and back up data, but the real challenge is restoring the applications to keep essential services and critical functions online after a disaster. Entire servers, including systems, applications and data can be copied, backed up and be ready to activate in another data center in a matter of minutes.

“The cloud is going to change the whole mentality of emergency management,” said Pascal Shuback, a program coordinator for the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.

“Responders can be anyone with connectivity, the public included. We can regionalize our capabilities and create virtual operation support teams composed of the people able to support an event, and it doesn’t matter where they are.”

Robot Cars Pass Driving Test

Autonomous cars have been granted permission to use public roads in Nevada.

After officials from the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles rode in the vehicles, dubbed “Google cars,” along freeways, state highways and neighborhoods, as well as the busy Las Vegas Strip, they were given the state’s stamp of approval.

The cars are controlled by computers processing a combination of mapping data, radar, laser sensors and video feeds.

Google is one off several firms racing to develop cars able to drive themselves. It is competing with car manufacturers as well as military firms to develop the technology.

It’s an interesting concept, but let’s hope these Google cars won’t exhibit signs of Droid rage while stuck in heavy traffic.

Apple Looks to Claim iPhone 5 Domain

Apple has filed a claim with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for the domain name iphone5.com.

So far, Apple’s smartphone line has counted up only to the iPhone 4S, but the company is widely believed to be getting ready to bring an iPhone 5 into the world.

While there are no device specifications to be gleaned here, the WIPO filing does at least suggest that Apple is considering the iPhone 5 name for the next iteration of its immensely successful product. Or perhaps it just wishes to take that domain out of play, regardless of what it calls the device.

 

 

Travel Apps and Sites Worth Writing Home About

Travel Apps and Sites Worth Writing Home AboutWe’ve all been there. After several connecting flights, a bus ride on a road seemingly unfit for a vehicle wider than a scooter, and a hotel check-in experience conducted with the charm and warmth rivaling that of an episode of ‘Locked Up Abroad.’

But your relief is short-lived when you soon realize that “suite” may be a stretch. And “ocean view” apparently is a subjective term.

There’s nothing worse than being disappointed in the first few moments of what you had hoped would be a stellar trip. As Oyster.com, a website geared to savvy travelers, says on its homepage, “you can’t return a bad vacation.”

“Our special investigators visit, photograph, review and rate each hotel. We uncover the truth, before it’s ‘uh-oh’ time,” Oyster promises on its site.

In order to avoid that “uh-oh” moment, it’s important to do your research before embarking on a trip into the unknown. There are hundreds of sites and apps for the traveler that shed light on the far reaches of the globe. Here are just a few sites and tips that are sure to help you avoid some common traveling mistakes.

Pearl of a Site

Oyster.com provides actual photographs from thousands of hotels around the world. It allows you to sidestep the hotel’s carefully crafted marketing photos and see how things really are, good, bad or otherwise.

“Oyster strives to be as transparent as possible. When you’re looking at a hotel on our site, we clearly differentiate each room type so that you know whether an upgrade is really worth it,” Oyster says.

The site also includes a section called “photo fakeouts,” which compares the hotel’s own photographs to a more realistic view of the grounds and your fellow vacationers.

Warning: Some of the actual photos show some not-so-limber folks doing yoga on a Caribbean beach, and European dudes wearing what are apparently little European bathing suits.

That’s Trippy

Another cool site to check out before planning a trip is Trippy.com.

“Trippy is the place for you to collect and share travel ideas, and collaborate on your travel plans with the people in your life who know you best – your friends! It’s a full-circle travel experience that takes you from Dreaming to Doing,” Trippy promises on its site and app.

You have to sign up for Trippy and connect through Facebook in order to share photos of where you’ve been and peruse quality traveler photos of where you’d like to go.

Trippy definitely creates some wanderlust, and it was described as “travel candy for the eyes,” according to a quote in The New York Times Travel section.

Ex Marks the Spot

A great resource for travelers can be found on forums where expatriates discuss their new homelands. You never know what type of vital information you may uncover, and visiting these forums is a good way to get a sense of how things really are in paradise.

I once found driving directions from the mountainous center of the Dominican Republic to the country’s north coast. Since there are very few (if any) street signs in the DR, one courteous expat posted a photo of a particular road that was lined with bright flowers, and wrote, “if you’re on this road, you’re going the right way.” Sure enough, we found the road, and eventually, the coast.

Happy trails.

 

 

Cloud Roundup and Links of Interest – April 30

Cloud Computing a Lifesaver?

Cloud Computing - a life saverIn spite of its current popularity, many people don’t realize the cloud’s potential extends far beyond trimming budgets and bolstering the next social networking start-up.

Cloud computing is proving it can be an important tool for extending or even saving human life, according to an article from Silicon Angle.

Case in point: Cycle Computing created 51,132-core supercomputer on the cloud to test 21 million synthetic compounds that could be useful in treating cancer. The cluster ran for 3 hours on March 30 and cost $4,828.85. A comparable build out using a traditional infrastructure approach would have cost over $20 million and taken months to deploy. The same research could have taken a year to complete if the simulation was run on the 1,500-core cluster Cycle Computing’s client, Schrödinger, typically used for biotechnology and pharmaceutical research.

Researchers no longer have to endure the longs waits to rent time from supercomputing centers or obtain billions in funding, which is substantially speeding innovation in the industry, according to Silicon Angle.

Snapguide Becomes First to Have Seamless Pinterest Integration

Snapguide, a newcomer in the Apple App Store looking to make its mark in the social media world, wants to increase Pinterest’s presence on third-party mobile apps.

The app lets users create how-to guides, allowing them to easily incorporate pictures and videos. The idea is to post the guides online and share knowledge with others in a social and viral way. It has had integration with other networks such as Facebook and Twitter from the outset, some three weeks ago. But now, recognizing the extreme growth and increasing importance of Pinterest, it has added that to the list.

Because Pinterest doesn’t have its own application programming interface (API), Snapguide had to work directly with the Pinterest team. The result is a product that works seamlessly for end users. As for whether there will be a Pinterest API any time soon, Snapguide founder Daniel Raffel told paidContent, “I am confident they are doing everything they can to give developers high-quality APIs to interact with. I’m sure some great news will be coming soon and that when they launch developers will be very happy.”

When Calls Truly Get Under Your Skin

Nokia recently filed a patent for a communication system consisting of a magnetic tattoo that would receive signals from a smartphone and vibrate to alert users of incoming calls, according to Smarter Technology.

The new system could enable you to be in constant contact with family and friends. The Finnish phone company is working to develop a tattoo that would vibrate to alert you of a call.

Nokia recently filed a patent for a haptic communication system that would be “capable of detecting a magnetic field and transferring a perceivable stimulus to the skin, wherein the perceivable stimulus relates to the magnetic field.” In such a notification system, a small iron tattoo would be painted on a user’s skin. The tattoo would then be able to receive a magnetic signal and vibrate when the phone is ringing.

 

 

Other Habits You Can Break With the Help of Mobile Tech

Breaking Habits with TechnologyA recent study revealed how mobile technology can help smokers break the habit. As a reformed smoker (butt-free for more than three years now), I can empathize with a smoker’s struggle, and as a techie, I can appreciate how technology continuously looks to improve our lives.

With that said, I got to wondering what other bad habits could be curbed with the help of mobile technology. Do I have a study, similar to the one conducted by researchers at Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh, to back up these claims? No way. Are these dangerous habits on the same level as smoking? Not a chance. The following is just a light look at how mobile technology can help cure us of questionable social graces and minor shortcomings.

Missing Anniversaries

Sometimes it takes more than a Zales commercial to jog the memory and recall that today is your five-year wedding anniversary. Unless you enjoy your posture-wrecking sleeper sofa, it’s probably a good idea to add important, recurring dates into your smartphone’s calendar.

As an aside, even though a traditional wedding gift for your fifth anniversary calls for something made of wood, resist the urge to get your wife a set of really cool nunchucks. Stick to something that comes in a little box, not something that comes with a big warning.

Partying Like It’s 1999 at a Work Function in 2012

Two words (OK, actually one word): YouTube. It’s fine to have one or two Malibu Bay Breezes (if that’s your tipple) at a work-sanctioned get-together. It’s not, however, the smartest of career moves to call for yet another round of Tequila Slammers before hitting the dance floor (which isn’t really a dance floor — just a spot on the floor where no one is standing) at your boss’ retirement party.

It seems technology has advanced much quicker than our common sense, and before you can say “Macarena,” your dance moves (and your career’s demise) are sure to be captured on video by four out of five co-workers’ smartphones.

Forgetting How to Have Fun

Your smartphone or tablet is much more than a device used for work-critical communications and support. It’s an arcade, a closet’s worth of board games and a blank canvas resting quietly among your car keys, Mentos and money clip (because you’re classy).

For all the seriousness surrounding technology and the business-critical capabilities of mobile tech, it also has the ability to keep us entertained and gives us permission to have fun. Need proof? One word: Frogger.

 

 

Cloud Roundup and Links of Interest – April 23

How Small Businesses and Local Authorities Benefit from Cloud Computing

A bright idea has emerged from a small Italian local public authority, the Asolo Ulss, near Venice. This public health company produced a charter, the Castelfranco, which provides a set of recommendations to help public authorities adopt cloud computing. The idea, launched in an international conference tour, is simple yet useful to promote cloud computing adoption, and could also apply to private companies willing to take up the technology.

The most relevant economic benefit of cloud computing is associated with a reduction of the fixed costs of entry and production by shifting fixed capital expenditure from IT into operational costs depending on the size of demand and production. This contributes to reducing the barriers to entry, especially for small businesses.

Some of the charter’s recommendations include:

• Operate on a redundant broadband network, for the connection between the company, the customers and the service providers.

• Ensure “private cloud” usability as a preliminary step before agreeing to switch to a “public cloud.”

• Establish a road map to move systems into cloud computing under sustainable economic, management and security conditions.

The iPad vs. Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime

Apple’s new iPad may be the top attention-getter since its arrival last month, but the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is earning a respectable amount of tablet buzz. As the tablet wars continue, Apple hopes to stay ahead of the competition while Android-based rivals such as the Transformer Prime are doing their best to grab techies’ hearts and minds. Many are eagerly debating which reigns supreme.Computerworld recently put the latest iPad up against the Transformer Prime, and the results may surprise you. Computerworld commenter John Faur noted: “I have the Prime and I love it, aside from the random reboots which they are working on. I waited till the release of the iPad 3 and decided to go with the Asus. I too am a Mac guy and love my 27″ iMac but i think the Android devices are more versatile.”

Mobile Technology May Help Stub Out Nicotine Addiction

Smoking is a tough addiction to conquer, but mobile technology may help, according to researchers at Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh, who recently published a nicotine-addiction study.

Their findings, which used mobile technology and software to track smokers as they tried to quit, offered insights into why some tobacco smokers quit the habit on the first try while others have to quit repeatedly, or never succeed. The study, published this month in Prevention Science, “demonstrates the potential for technology to help us figure out the processes involved in withdrawal,” said Stephanie Lanza, scientific director of The Methodology Center at Penn State and a lead author on the study.

 

 

Cloud Roundup and Links – April 16

Is Cloud Computing a Green Giant?

Many companies have already found that cloud computing can cut their IT costs. A new report found that cloud computing has another benefit to bottom lines: reducing energy costs.

As reported on Greenbiz.com, CDW’s fourth annual Energy Efficient IT Report calls cloud computing a possible “game changer” that’s playing a growing role in energy efficiency.

For the report, CDW surveyed 760 people working in private businesses, nonprofits, schools and governments. Of these respondents, 62 percent agreed that cloud computing is an energy-efficient way to consolidate data centers.

Workers’ Tunes Sucking Up Bandwidth at Work

When Procter & Gamble shut down some access to the Internet, it wasn’t to keep employees from playing around on Facebook or crafting personal emails on company time.

Instead, it was to get them to quit sucking up the company’s Web bandwidth by listening to music and watching movies.

The company told its 129,000 employees they can no longer use music-streaming site Pandora or movie site Netflix at work.

“We are one of the more lenient companies in terms of providing access to the Internet, but there are some sites which don’t serve a specific business purpose — in this case, Netflix and Pandora,” spokesman Paul Fox said in an email, according to CNN.com. “They are both great sites, but if you want to download movies or music, do it on your own time.”

There’s a Tax for That

Responding to Vermont’s business sector uproar against a tax on cloud computing, the state legislature’s Ways and Means Committee approved a bill that would take the extraordinary step of refunding $1.9 million in sales tax revenue.

According to the bill, cloud computing is defined as the use of “pre-written software run in underlying infrastructure that is not managed or controlled by the consumer or a related company.”

Vermont already taxes the sale of pre-written software when its purchased at a store or downloaded from the Internet. And the tax department contends that cloud computing is also taxable.

 

 

Why the Cloud Resonates With Consumers

Cloud ComputingMany services and technologies have come and gone over the last few decades. Some stick. Others have to pack it in for numerous reasons. Right now, it seems cloud computing is on an upward trajectory and shows no evidence of letting up. While the technology enabling the cloud is what drives its success, many factors have to go just right for a service to experience this type of buzz.So far, cloud computing has hit the right notes and is enjoying its moment in the spotlight. Here are just a few reasons why the cloud has consumer appeal.

The Name

What sounds more appealing? Software as a service (Saas), utility computing, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or the cloud? Referring to this technology simply as “the cloud” took it from the depths of some server rack in the back of an IT department and placed it front-and-center for both consumers and IT staff. “The cloud” is more accessible and more colorful than “utility computing.” Without the moniker, who knows if cloud computing would have been given the chance to reach its potential.

And who, you ask, coined the phrase “cloud computing?” That depends on where you direct the question. There are references to the cloud going back to 1997 when a trademark application for the term cropped up (the trademark attempt was later abandoned). It was a term mentioned in The New York Times in 2001, described as a “cloud of computers.”

In August 2006, Google’s Eric Schmidt described its approach to SaaS as cloud computing. It seems this was the first mainstream use of the term as its currently understood.

According to author John M. Willis, “I think this was the first high profile usage of the term, where not just ‘cloud’ but ‘cloud computing’ was used to refer to SaaS, and since it was in the context of Google, the term picked up the PaaS/IaaS connotations associated with the Google way of managing data centers and infrastructure.

“Much like ‘Web 2.0,’ cloud computing was a collection of related concepts that people recognized, but didn’t really have a good descriptor for, a definition in search of a term, you could say. When Schmidt used it in 2006 to describe their own stuff and then Amazon included the word ‘cloud’ in EC2 when it was launched a few weeks later, the term became mainstream.”

The Freedom

A big key to cloud computing adoption is that it has achieved an ease of use that anyone with an email address and credit card can start to see what the fuss is about. Free, limited accounts with simple sign-ups have gotten many people comfortable enough that they’re willing to try out paid, full-service accounts.

And there is a sense of freedom at being able to get stuff done without having to physically be at a work station or in the home office. This ability can be very liberating, especially when you’re on the road and need to access something important. The cloud allows you to go about your life and work in a streamlined manner, and if an emergency arises where you need specific information immediately, the cloud has you covered.

The References

The cloud already has worked its way into pop culture. On FX, a comedy called “The League” features a group of friends who participate in an NFL fantasy football league. “The League” is probably not a show that you’d want to watch with children or grandma because a.) it’s on FX, b.) double entendres galore and c.) common decency. But it’s well-written, topical and, in my opinion, super funny.

One of the characters named Taco, a slacker who’s not quite with it, waxes philosophic on the cloud during a conversation with characters Ruxin and Kevin.

Ruxin: “Are you baked all the time?”

Taco: “Oh, not this baked! I just wish I could walk around in a cloud of it all day long. ‘To the cloud!”

Kevin: “All right… you realize that that’s just a cloud of data pushing itself wirelessly through different devices?”

Taco: [snorts] “Now who sounds baked?”

 

 

Cloud Link Roundup – April 9

Google’s Online Art Project Now Includes the White House

Google announced a significant expansion of its Google Art Project, adding artwork from the White House and museums around the globe. Powering the Google Art project are Google’s Web services and cloud computing infrastructure.

Google’s Art Project now includes the White House galleries and notable international museums such as the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi, India and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

“Since we introduced the Art Project last year, curators, artists and viewers from all over the globe have offered exciting ideas about how to enhance the experience of collecting, sharing and discovering art. Institutions worldwide asked to join the project, urging us to increase the diversity of artworks displayed,” Google said in a blog post. “We listened.”

What Cloud Computing Really Means

Cloud computing is all the rage.

“It’s become the phrase du jour,” said Gartner senior analyst Ben Pring. The problem, according to InfoWorld, is that everyone seems to have a different definition of cloud computing.

Some analysts and vendors define cloud computing as an updated version of utility computing: virtual servers available over the Internet. Others go broad, arguing anything you consume outside the firewall is “in the cloud,” including conventional outsourcing, according to InfoWorld.

InfoWorld talked to dozens of vendors, analysts and IT customers on various components of cloud computing. Here is InfoWorld’s rough breakdown of what cloud computing is all about.

Can the Cloud Revive Manufacturing?

Cloud computing could help usher in the next wave of technological innovation and, with it, provide a new engine for economic growth, according to the authors of a study on the emerging cloud computing ecosystem.

“Cloud-enhanced services” promise to take up much of the economic slack caused by the steady shift over the last several decades from manufacturing to services. Despite the loss of those U.S. manufacturing jobs, “direct linkages” persist between high value-added services and manufacturing, said John Zysman, coauthor of the cloud study and co-director of the Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy.

“We contend that cloud computing is historically unique by simultaneously being an innovation ecosystem, production platform and global marketplace,” the study said.

 

 

Why Storage Isn’t Just For Doomsday Preppers

Disaster Preparedness With MozyOK, so maybe they’re a little bit…off. Like your cousin who presented you with a crossbow as a wedding gift.

But there’s little doubt the good folks featured on National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Preppers are firm believers in being prepared for the worst. Here is Nat Geo’s description of the program:

“Doomsday Preppers explores the lives of otherwise ordinary Americans who are preparing for the end of the world as we know it. Unique in their beliefs, motivations, and strategies, preppers will go to whatever lengths they can to make sure they are prepared for any of life’s uncertainties. And with our expert’s assessment, they will find out their chances of survival if their worst fears become a reality.”

Here’s my take: Thank goodness they don’t live next door.

They may be extreme, and heavily armed and possess an exorbitant amount of canned peaches, but this doesn’t mean we can’t learn a few things from these folks ready to go all Mad Max if necessary. These preppers undoubtedly touch on some important survival strategies that certainly apply to the cyber-worlds where many of us live.

Here are some tips, inspired by those inspired to fill fruit cellars with ammunition and 40-pound bags of cous cous, which might keep your digital life intact in the event of a natural, manmade or otherworldly disaster. You might want to mark this down on your Maya calendar.

The Upside of Backup and Virtualization

There really is no downside to backing up your data using cloud-based backup tools for your desktop and mobile devices. The same goes for virtualizing, say, your small business. Once society begins to re-establish itself after the asteroid hits, it will obviously be a big reassurance knowing that all of your Microsoft programs will be there waiting for you, courtesy of virtualization via Vmware .

The cloud has huge potential to make an impact on disaster recovery and the amount of time it takes to get back up and running.

Bug Out Bag: Don’t Leave Home Without It

Doomsday Preppers often features the Bug Out Bag, basically a bag of gear that’s ready-to-go and filled with essentials, such as food, water, first aid kit, flashlight and 12,000 rounds of armor-piercing incendiary shells.  Because you never know when those Canadian revolutionaries will want what’s yours.

But it really is a smart idea to have a disaster bag packed (say a few days before an expected weather event), and even take it one step further: Prepare a backpack with cellphone and laptop chargers and a flash drive filled with important documents, contact numbers and emergency information. Throw in some spare batteries and that old laptop collecting dust, and at least you’ve given yourself the chance to alert North Dakotans that the Canadians are coming.

News Flash: Invest in a Flash Drive

Light, secure, easy to disguise and having the potential to hold tons of information, flash drives are an easy way to ensure you have vital information at your fingertips, even as those Arctic aliens try to pry it from your cold hands.

Security!

It all comes down to security and providing you and your family with a sense of comfort and preparedness in an uncertain world.  Security from a cyber-attack or well-disguised phishing campaign. Security from those afflicted with the zombie sickness. In both cases, vigilance is key. Pay attention to where a Google search takes you before clicking on a suspect link. Pay attention to where you choose to store your photos and documents  – sometimes free storage comes with a big cost.

And, most importantly – and this cannot be overstated enough – pay attention as your neighbor’s daughter walks aimlessly, slowly and stiffly toward your compound. She is likely one of the undead.

 

 

3 Reasons the Cloud is a Killer Job Creator

Cloud Creates JobsCloud computing may be the next big job generator, according to several new studies and an analysis of job postings.

“Job creator” is a tag fitting for the technology. As more functions and processes move offsite, and more businesses look to tap into the savings brought on by cloud computing, there is a clear need to have qualified workers ushering along the process.

So here are three indicators on why the cloud, among other benefits, means jobs.

Greater Job Potential Than the Early Internet 

A new study titled “Job Growth in the Forecast: How Cloud Computing is Generating New Business Opportunities and Fueling Job Growth in the United States” showed several ways cloud computing can create new jobs. The study was sponsored by SAP and revealed cloud computing has the potential to create big business opportunities and hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S.
Additionally, venture capital investments in cloud opportunities are projected to be $30 billion in the next five years, which has the potential to add another 213,000 new jobs in the U.S.

“The study confirms that cloud computing can have a significant impact at every key growth stage of the business lifecycle – from launching a startup to expanding a business to managing a multi-national enterprise,” said Jacqueline Vanacek, vice president and cloud computing evangelist at SAP. “Business growth leads to jobs, and cloud computing will accelerate this in certain industries.”

The study goes on to say cloud computing has greater potential for employment growth than the Internet did in its early years.

More Work Than Qualified Workers

The number of job postings in the cloud computing has grown so rapidly that there aren’t enough qualified workers available to fill the posts, according to an analysis of hiring trends by Wanted Analytics.

There were about 5,000 jobs posted online related to cloud technology, a 92% increase from the same month last year and a more than four times increase compared to 2010,according to Wanted Analytics.

“With the demand for cloud skills growing so quickly, the gap between hiring demand and talent supply across the United States is getting larger and causing more difficulties in sourcing candidates,” the report said.

Most of the cloud jobs are generated from service providers, with VMware posting the most cloud jobs last month with 360, according to Wanted Analytics. Microsoft came in second, with 230, and Amazon.com, URS Corp. and Google rounded out the top five.

San Jose, Calif., is the top metropolitan market for cloud employment. More than 900 cloud postings last month were in San Jose, up 144% compared to the same month last year. Seattle, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and New York City are other booming job markets for cloud computing.

Worldwide Cloud Jobs Predicted to Hit 14 Million by 2015

IDC predicts cloud computing jobs will reach 14 million by 2015, according to a study sponsored by Microsoft.

“The cloud is going to have a huge impact on job creation,” said Susan Hauser, Microsoft corporate vice president of the Worldwide Enterprise and Partner Group. “It’s a transformative technology that will drive down costs, spur innovation and open up new jobs and skillsets across the globe.”

The cloud helps companies to be more innovative by freeing up IT managers to work on more mission-critical projects, the study shows.

More than one-third of cloud jobs will be in the communications and media, banking and discrete manufacturing industries.

China and India will account for half of new cloud-related jobs, according to the study.