I wanted to write a piece about the wisdom of crowds for a long time, but I needed a clip from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" to make it work. After a lot of procrastinating, I went to YouTube, did the hard work of reviewing all of the Python clips and found the right one. There is no limit to the effort I will make to write a piece -- this research was physically demanding and my sides still ache. If you are a Python fan, you might want to review the clip for sheer fun, and even if wacky British humor is not your cup of tea, watching the clip will enhance your understanding of what I am going to say. So, go ahead, take a look. I will wait. Really, it's OK -- there's a recession on and I have the time. It's a little over four minutes. OK, welcome back. If you cheated and just forged ahead without the benefit of Michael Palin and the gang, the clip is a medieval mob scene in which the mob, convinced that a woman is a witch, asks permission from the local knight to burn the witch at … [Read more...] about Crowd Wisdom
CAST Software is a software analysis and measurement firm that uses an automated approach to capture and quantify the reliability, security, complexity and size of business applications. A main company objective is increasing software assurance around reliability and security of applications delivered to the U.S. government. Part of its drive for better software assurance utilizes fact-based transparency into application development, sustainment and sourcing. This enables program management and acquisition leaders to drive down its sustainment cost and risk. Among its client base is Army PEO-EIS, Air Force, SPAWAR, Military Health, and the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Health and Human Services, along with other defense, intelligence and civilian organizations. As governments and businesses adopt open source software with increasing regularity, CAST applies the same analysis and measurement standards for assessing open source and proprietary software … [Read more...] about CAST’s Marc Jones: For Fed’s Open Source, It’s Trust and Verify
Online travel site Travelocity.com (Nasdaq: TVLY) announced Monday that it has entered into agreements with Lufthansa and British Airways (NYSE: BAB) to become the first global online travel partner for both airlines. Given that both British Airways and Lufthansa are backers of the European airline-owned travel site Opodo.com, these deals with Travelocity are especially significant. Forrester Research senior analyst Henry Harteveldt told the E-Commerce Times that the deals do not show a lack of faith in Opodo, jointly owned by nine major European airlines, but rather that leading airlines like British Airways and Lufthansa realize that there is no single solution to online ticket sales. "Leveraging Travelocity's strong brand in the U.S. and superior customer service, these airlines will be able to reach a whole new populace of customers," said Harteveldt. "Airline companies are realizing that they cannot be isolationists and must put their product on numerous Internet shelves." … [Read more...] about Travelocity Brings Home Marketing Deals With British Airways, Lufthansa
There are some basic rules that both humans and robots should be aware of when it comes to not being seen, and Monty Python only scratched blew up the surface. Lockheed Martin's Advanced Technology Laboratory has been developing a robot designed to operate around humans without being detected, and not just by being small and quiet: it listens for humans, guesses where they might be looking, and then finds itself a nice dark hiding place when it needs to. Lockheed's robot is equipped with a 3D laser scanner that allows it to build detailed maps of its surroundings. It also has an array of acoustic sensors, which allow it to localize footsteps and voices. It can then combine the locations of humans with its 3D map to guess what areas the humans might be able to see, and then does its best to stay hidden. Keeping to the shadows, the robot always maintains an escape route, and if it senses a human approaching, it will look for the deepest darkest corner it can find and then hold its … [Read more...] about Lockheed Martins Spybot Knows How Not to Be Seen
Steven Cherry: Hi, this is Steven Cherry for IEEE Spectrum's "Techwise Conversations." Earlier this month, The New York Times published a charming profile of an idiosyncratic Australia book publisher, James Morrison. The article, by Times blogger David Streitfeld, contained two irresistible quotes, one by the writer, the other from his subject. Streitfeld wrote: "Now books can be efficiently printed in small quantities, like one copy. Amazon, meanwhile, is happy to do the job of fulfilling orders. The stage is set to allow everyone to become his own Alfred Knopf." Knopf was a prominent publisher in the '20s and '30s. The quote by Morrison was about a particularly idiosyncratic book he had published. It went like this: "The audience for an 1850 book-length Monty Python-style doggerel poem about a socially aspirant sea serpent is probably just me." When I say I found these quotes irresistible, I mean I started down a rabbit hole of wondering two things. First, how exactly do you go … [Read more...] about Is Micropublishing the Death of Publishing-or Its Salvation?
Weather forecasts calling for bright sun today across Europe drove up tensions in advance of the partial solar eclipse that blocked the sun's rays and plunged much of the continent into a brief period of darkness this morning. Grid operators were bracing for record swings in solar power generation because of the celestial phenomenon. Some power distributors in Germany had warned of fluctuations in frequency, notifying customers and suggesting that they shut down sensitive equipment. In the end, while clear weather made for some excellent eclipse viewing, the electrical story ultimately felt more like Monty Python's radio coverage of the 1972 eclipse. As if audio coverage of a quintessentially visual event isn't absurd enough, the Pythons closed their fictitious report in the ultimate anticlimax, as a sudden rainstorm swept in to spoil the solar spectacle. Europe's interconnected power grid brought about an equally anticlimactic ending today by delivering rock-solid stability throughout … [Read more...] about European Grid Operators 1, Solar Eclipse 0
The title of this week's column is stolen from an item I've just posted to my Weblog, with apologies to Monty Python. It's been an interesting week. On Tuesday of last week, I began an experiment to coordinate two sets of Web services: online bookstores, such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and online libraries, in particular my own local libraries. The LibraryLookup project, as I'm now calling it, took on a life of its own. On Wednesday I discovered that a simple bookmarklet would do the job. It can parse the ISBN number from the URL of an Amazon, or B&N, or isbn.nu, or other book-related site; issue a query to your local library; and open a new browser window onto the result of that query. I found a list of the addresses of almost 900 libraries that use the same Web-based system that my libraries do, and blogged the corresponding bookmarklets. At a single stroke, one-click lookup from a central book site to the local library was made available to potentially … [Read more...] about Nobody expects the spontaneous integration
It's that time again: Time for a new storage format war. Did I hear a collective groan? I bet you can't wait to put all your eggs in one technological basket only to have the format you've chosen fall by the wayside, screaming like the armless, legless knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail for the Round Table knights to come back and fight. I remember that movie well because I had it on Betamax, then on VHS tape, then laser disc and now DVD. Speaking of DVDs, front and center on stage this week at the Consumer Electronics Show will be the next generation of DVD systems and the contenders are Blu-ray and the High Definition DVD or HD-DVD. As with previous format wars, each side has its supporters. Blue-ray is supported by Philips Electronics, Sony, Hewlett-Packard and Dell. According to Philips, Blu-ray can burn and play CDs and DVDs in three formats and store up to 50 GB of data on a single disk. The opposing group is led by Toshiba and Sanyo. The HD-DVD standard has slightly … [Read more...] about Blu-ray, DVD and the Holy Grail
A new musical opened on Broadway recently: Spamalot. No, it's not the story of the e-mail plague that continues to bedevil IT managers; it's a musical version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a film about the search for the holy artifact, knights, maidens, shrubbery, and a vicious rabbit with a mean streak a "mile wide." Between this musical and spam's association with e-mail, I wondered if today's theater patron realizes Spam is the name of a spiced meat product developed in Austin, Minn., in 1937 and apparently popular during World War II. [ Roger Grimes' free and almost foolproof way to check for malware. | Discover how to secure your systems with InfoWorld's Security Report newsletter. ]Either way, a year ago Congress passed the CAN-SPAM Act. Not bad for a name as far as government humor goes, but it's not Monty Python funny. The act can hardly be said to have been a rousing success. According to some recent data collected by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, e-mail … [Read more...] about E-mail on Broadway? InfoWorld
The other day, my friend Ned's cousin asked Ned what he thought was the best first language for new programmers. The cousin didn't have much computing experience, but at 15 years old the future was looming fast, and he thought programming seemed interesting and that it might be something he could get into. "So naturally," Ned explained, "I told him to learn Scheme." [ What's your take on the best first programming language? Join our discussion. | Also on InfoWorld: "My kid could code that." | Cut straight to the key news for technology development and IT management with our once-a-day summary of the top tech news. Subscribe to the InfoWorld Daily newsletter. ] [ Here are 6 skills a solid IT generalist should master, no matter where your life in IT leads. ]Huh?! Scheme? When Ned first opened up the can o' worms of "which programming language is the best," it seemed like a fine opportunity for an argument, Monty Python style. He'd say Perl, someone else would say C++, a third would … [Read more...] about What’s the best first language for a programmer?
A hacker who claims he was behind a fast-spreading email worm that crippled corporate networks last week said that the worm was designed, in part, as a propaganda tool. The hacker, known as Iraq Resistance, responded to inquiries sent to an email address associated with the "Here you have" worm, which during a brief period early Thursday accounted for about 10 percent of the spam on the Internet. He (or she) revealed no details about his identity, but said, "The creation of this is just a tool to reach my voice to people maybe... or maybe other things." [ Learn how to secure your systems with InfoWorld's Malware Deep Dive PDF special report and Security Central newsletter, both from InfoWorld. ] [ Roger Grimes' free and almost foolproof way to check for malware. | Discover how to secure your systems with InfoWorld's Security Report newsletter. ]He said he had not expected the worm to spread as broadly as it had, and noted that he could have done much more damage to victims. "I could … [Read more...] about Anti-US hacker takes credit for ‘Here you have’ email worm
While the world waits for that puff of white smoke and the announcement of a new Defender of the Windows faith, I wanted to take a few minutes of your time and explain how things really look from the trenches. No, I'm not going to tell you how to run a bazillion-dollar company with 130,000 employees and a bewildering array of products. You have enough folks with green eyeshades running around already -- no doubt with a nasty propensity to tell you, "Yes, sir!" [ Windows 8 left you blue? Then check out Windows Red, InfoWorld's plan to fix Microsoft's contested OS. | Microsoft's new direction, the touch interface for tablet and desktop apps, the transition from Windows 7 -- InfoWorld covers all this and more in the Windows 8 Deep Dive PDF special report. | Stay atop key Microsoft technologies in our Technology: Microsoft newsletter. ] [ The InfoWorld review: Microsoft's Nano Server offers mega advantages. | The best new features in Windows Server 2016. | Stay up on key Microsoft … [Read more...] about An open letter to Microsoft’s next CEO: 12 wishes from the Windows faithful
by Erin Monaghan Originating with a small Monty Python sketch, the term Spam is no longer synonymous with an undesirable mystery meat in a blue tin can; it s become undesirable junk mail that clutters your email inbox, cellular phones and other electronic devices. If you don't construct your campaigns properly with your choice email marketing services, the newsletters you worked so hard on are going to end up in the junk mail folder. The CAN-SPAM Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003) is a law passed by Congress and signed by President Bush in 2003, requiring national standards for sending commercial emails. The CAN-SPAM Act was prompted by the overwhelming flood of Spam infiltrating people s email. During the 90 s inboxes were inundated with sexually explicit, misleading and deceptive email marketing campaigns selling everything from pornography to lawn furniture. All legitimate email marketing services require their clients to abide by … [Read more...] about What is the CAN-SPAM Act?
Back in my days as a magazine editor, I published a story about the supposed death of mainframes, wonderfully titled in a steal from Monty Python, “I’m Not Dead Yet.” And whadya know, mainframes still aren’t dead. I was reminded of the whole idea of “not being dead yet” as I started looking at how carriers were making the move to SDN and NFV. I would have thought that the carriers would be wholeheartedly into the prospect of network virtualization. But while there’s a lot of announced commitment, there’s also some hesitation. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Carriers have invested a lot into creating highly reliable telecom networks, and no one would blame them if they didn’t want to declare those components dead yet. Let’s start with the optimism, brought to us as always by the research firms. As Sean Michael Kerner reported in Enterprise Networking Planet earlier this month, network-focused Infonetics Research is … [Read more...] about Are Carriers Really Leading the Charge to SDN?
Trouble is brewing in cloud land. Maybe AWS chief Andy Jassy started it all, deriding the private cloud as “archaic” and not really cloud at all. Then Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst told me that public clouds like AWS become “obscenely expensive at scale” -- which, of course, sent public cloud advocates into a frothing rage. [ Cloud computing shares resources never shared before, creating new risks and demanding new security practices. Learn those new security measures from Cloud Security Digital Spotlight PDF special report. | Also on InfoWorld: Mobile app development in the cloud | Stay up on the cloud with InfoWorld's Cloud Computing newsletter. ]But not an unstudied rage: As CSC’s Simon Wardley, Google’s Miles Ward, and others argued in response, public clouds like AWS are not, nor need not be, more expensive than private clouds. The opposite is true, they maintain. Expensive mistakes Embedded in Whitehurst’s argument is that while public cloud … [Read more...] about Red Hat’s CEO is dead wrong about the cloud
Zappa, a framework for running "server-less" Python Web applications, will deploy scalable applications to the cloud with one command. Detailed by Rich Jones of freelance developer service gun.io, Zappa, named for the late musician, uses the AWS Lambda compute service and Amazon's API gateway service. Applications can be deployed for a fraction of the expense that comes with using a traditional Web server, Jones said in a blog post announcing the service this week. The first major client library for the framework is django-zappa, for deploying Django applications on AWS Lambda with the gateway. [ See what hardware, software, development tools, and cloud services came out on top in the InfoWorld 2016 Technology of the Year Awards. | Cut to the key news in tech with the InfoWorld Daily newsletter, our summary of the top tech happenings. ] The GitHub repo for Zappa boasts that the technology eliminates tedious Web server configuration and paying for 24-by-7 server uptime as well as … [Read more...] about Zappa serves Python Web apps, minus the servers
At its re:Invent conference this year, Amazon made a pair of announcements that should alarm cloud APM (application performance management) providers. Two of Amazon's new AWS offerings, AWS X-Ray and Amazon Pinpoint, provide insights into distributed and mobile applications running on Amazon. With them, Amazon may not have put a stake through the heart of third-party APM offerings, but it might well mean limbs lopped off a la Monty Python's Black Knight. [ Download the public cloud megaguide PDF: Amazon, Microsoft, Google, IBM, and Joyent compared. | Stay up on the cloud with InfoWorld's Cloud Computing Report newsletter. ]Lifting the lid X-Ray is arguably the bigger of the two, since it allows requests to be traced for applications as they run across various parts of AWS's infrastructure, such as Elastic Beanstalk or Amazon API Gateway. Developers insert into the app a snippet of code that provides the needed request-tracing functionality. Data collected from the request tracer is … [Read more...] about Now AWS wants to be your cloud APM provider, too
In a region where trust is parcelled out with exquisite care, usually only among family and friends, I’m getting used to ‘jokes’ that I’m a British spy. To establish some trust quickly with only limited French and barely any Arabic, I’m deploying an unusual weapon: Monty Python clips on my iPhone. There are enough clips from The Life of Brian sub-titled in French on YouTube to connect these 1960s British cultural revolutionaries to the 21st century ones in North Africa. In a world where there are suddenly dozens of post-revolutionary parties in the mix, the People’s Front of Judea splitters is popular with all, while activists relish this example of revolutionary planning. Graffiti artists - and victims of religious rote learning - also relate to this lesson. Meanwhile hardcore anonymous hacktivists understood how not to be seen; while Egyptian bloggers facing disproportionate responses - including military trials and jailing - from the Supreme … [Read more...] about Play it Again, King Mohammed
The ever-increasing density of computer chips has opened up the possibility of countless technological breakthroughs – from an online catalogue of all the world’s great art to monitoring global weather patterns. Oh, and why not also create a PC-like device that will record everything on TV automatically? At least that’s the idea behind a challenge issued in the research and development labs at the BBC, which has led to the unveiling of a prototype personal video recorder (PVR), called Promise TV, that successfully recorded and stored all the shows running for a week on all 12 channels in the UK. With each new development in digital video recording (DVR) – DirecTV, TiVo, and the like – more intelligence has been built into software and guides, allowing for easier navigation and better software-based estimates of what a user might want to watch. But the Promise TV device removes even that modest level of work, since it records every single program on every … [Read more...] about What’s (not) on the Telly?
The hazy images of Kyle Cassidys Toy Soldiers (1996) evoke faint childhood memories. This short film expresses the hopes and anxieties of a small boy as he awaits the next news from his father who is serving in Vietnam. Adult concerns shape his everyday rituals as he plays in the backyard with his green plastic army guys and reflects on the fate of those who have been run over by the lawnmower, as he watches the flickering television newscast with his mother, and as he awaits the next letter. Toy Soldiers has the intimacy of a home movie, even though it is re-created decades later from the directors own memories. Cassidy made the critically acclaimed film with his Pixelvision 2000 camera, which has a plastic case and plastic lens, runs on six AA batteries, and records its images on a regular audiocassette tape. The Pixelvision camera was marketed from 1987 to 1989 by the toy company Fisher-Price. At $100, it was the cheapest self-contained camcorder ever made. The Pixelvision camera … [Read more...] about Taking Media in Our Own Hands