January, 2010

  • Steve Clayton

    Charting The Beatles

    • 3 Comments

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    Regular readers will know I am a fan of infographics and also hail from Liverpool hence a fan of The Beatles (who isn’t?).

    Well a new site titled chartingthebeatles.com from Michael Deal brings these two worlds together with stunning results. An example below

    Lots of beautiful graphics and genuinely pretty interesting Smile




  • Steve Clayton

    Silverlight client for Facebook available

    • 0 Comments
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    At the PDC, Brian Goldfarb did a great demo of a Silverlight 4 application for Facebook and it’s just been released for anyone to have a play with. You’ll need to install Silverlight 4 and note that this is a developer build so far from a polished, finished product but hey, when did that ever stop us playing with new toys
    Wink

    Go grab it from the Silverlight samples website.

    Hat tip to Sarah




  • Steve Clayton

    Microsoft Pictionaire – bringing the digital and physical worlds together

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    Pictionaire is a collaboration between Andy Wilson and others at Microsoft Research with Björn Hartmann at the University of California, Berkeley. It’s a touchscreen table (4ft x 6ft) which is positioned beneath a ceiling-mounted camera and projector which can “see” and respond to objects placed on the table.

    In the example above you can see a user with a sketchpad who can transfer information off the paper on to the table as a digital object. You can also do the opposite to allow “tracing” of content from the digital space to the analog space. It also supports wireless keyboard.

    As with lots of these things, the video is way better than my explanation so click play. I think you may like it.

    [update] I just showed this to an architect I know and they were blown away saying that could revolutionise their industry. They then asked me “who makes it”. When I said “Microsoft” I got a pleasantly surprised look. “nice” was the answer :)

     

    via New Scientistthough I can’t help thinking it should also be via Wired, BBC, Fast Company etc etc. Gizmodo have it too though



  • Steve Clayton

    HP Slate born in Bristol UK

    • 1 Comments

    Bristol is home to Banksy and other creative types like Massive Attack. Turns out that the HP Slate started out there too. This video with HP’s CTO, Phil McKinney, gives us a better look at the device that was first shown at CES.

    It looks like a very nice device but I can’t help thinking again this is a missed opportunity to deliver something much more punchy – less talking, show the device, shows some killer apps, some usage scenarios, some hip young folks using it. Phil does a fine job of explaining the history on his blog. How about getting it in the hands of Banksy or Massive or some others (me??) who can help this thing go viral. Send one to Scoble and at least give him something else to talk about other than the impending Apple thingy. They seem to have a hit on their hands but are almost playing it down. I’m sure there is good reason but c’mon guys, now is the time to do more than tease. It looks



  • Steve Clayton

    The cloud in Europe – challenges and opportunities

    • 0 Comments

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    In the last hour, Brad Smith, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Microsoft gave a speech titled “Technology leadership in the 21st century: How cloud computing will change our world”. It follows a similar speech he gave last week in the US about building confidence in the cloud. In that speech, he made some direct requests of US Congress and US industry to act together. He called for both bodies to act to provide a “safe and open cloud” and for the US Congress to deliver a Cloud Computing Advancement Act. Big, bold words and frankly it’s what customers should be demanding of all cloud vendors, not just Microsoft. There is gold silver in the cloud for sure, but wherever there are riches, there are inevitably those looking to profit illegally. While many consumers put blind faith in the cloud, Government and industry can’t afford to do so. There are other challenges regarding policy that I’ll touch on below.

     

    In today’s speech in Brussels, Brad focused on a number of areas – some very similar, but some new themes too. He talked about the huge potential the cloud holds for small and medium businesses in terms of economic growth and job creation. Put simply, the cloud enables small guys to have IT operations just like big guys and pay only for what they use.

    The Etro Study, “The Economic Impact of Cloud Computing on Business Creation, Employment and Output in Europe” concluded that the adoption of cloud computing solutions could create a few hundred thousand new small-and medium-sized businesses in Europe, which in turn could have a substantial impact on unemployment rates (reduced by 0.3/0.6 %) and GDP growth (increased by 0.1/0.3%). The study also concluded that these positive benefits will be “positively related to the speed of adoption” of cloud computing.

    Alongside those small and medium businesses, the opportunity that the cloud presents for the start-up community in Europe is huge. Sites like TechCrunch would say we’re preaching to the choir here as there is a vibrant start-up community here in Europe with high profile companies like Spotify and Huddle and Lokad – the latter two both being members of our BizSpark programme that has over 8,000 SMEs in Europe, many of them offering cloud-based services. Whether we like it or not, Silicon Valley is still the nexus of start-ups though so anything that further promotes Europe is a good thing.

    In healthcare, education, green initiatives and government there are obvious gains to be had from cloud computing. The cloud can enable health services in remote areas, or with few resources, access to cutting-edge IT. They can share data without having to purchase new equipment or recruit new IT staff. In education, libraries and community centres in underserved communities will be able to access computer power that today is financially or geographically out of reach. The cloud also brings consolidation of data centres that will increasingly use renewable and other environmentally friendly energy sources, thus helping to reduce total energy consumption. Finally, the cloud can also aid the business of government. Deploying eGovernment services has been a strong focus of the EU and the Member States and the cloud can aid this deployment while at the same time reducing costs for eGovernment providers.

    You could be forgiven for thinking that the cloud is less about a silver lining and more a silver bullet – it really does present massive opportunity. However, it’s not without it’s challenges.

    1. Broadband: the adoption of the cloud is pretty dependent on broadband. Government has a big part to play here in areas such as provision of further wireless spectrum.

    2. Interoperability: For cloud computing to deliver on its promises we must address concerns about losing control over data in the cloud.  Users, be they business or consumers should be able to transfer their data easily from on-site to cloud servers and back,. Perhaps more importantly, they should be able to do so between cloud computing providers. That’s going to take strong industry commitment to interoperability and data portability. As a side note, Microsoft supports the standards necessary for data portability. it may surprise you to know that we are working with open source developers, IBM and others on projects such as Simple Cloud, to facilitate OSS developers working on multiple cloud platforms. Azure, our own cloud computing platform was designed with openness in mind.;  Wan to use Java, Ruby, Apache? Knock yourself out, they’re all supported.

    3. Security: recent events mean this topic probably needs no further explanation. We have work to do here, but once again it’s an industry thing to keep the hackers and phishers at bay. Brad also talked about privacy and the recent view from the west coast of the US (aka Facebook) that privacy is passé.

    4. Regulations: As Brad said during his speech in the US, we need policy, law and regulations to catch up with the advances in technology. I don’t profess to be an expert on any of this but it’s clear we need to find ways to bring together sometimes confusing and contradictory laws that govern cloud computing. Jurisdiction over the storage of cloud data is a great example that Brad talked about in detail. How do current laws apply to the consumer who uses a web mail service from Italy where the data is stored in Ireland and run by a company headquartered in the US.

    If you have time, I’d recommend listening to Brad’s speech – he’s a good speaker (as you would expect from fine lawyer) and talks pretty eloquently about the opportunities and challenges of the cloud. He talks about the role of Microsoft of course it was really a rallying call for government and industry to come together to remove barriers and speed the adoption and benefits of the cloud. The Q&A is also pretty interesting with questions on IBM’s “Open Cloud Manifesto”. 

    If you’re a cloud aficionado, then much of it will be obvious for you but despite that, I think it’s a good thing for someone to be driving the discussion on the tough topics in Europe to move the cloud forward. I’m glad it’s Brad. Now lets see where this goes.



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