Still Falling Down

Still Falling Down

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New Hardware Requirements For the Next Version of Windows?

Microsoft and Cray have announced a new supercomputer that runs Windows.

I think this is a pretty good indicator of the minimum hardware requirements for the next version</> of Windows.

Put your PC to work for something besides games and porn

No other technological breakthrough has demonstrated the power of individuals more than grid computing. By donating your unused computer time, you can begin to change the world for the better.

That’s what is says on the World Community Grid website. And they’re right!

Your PC at home or at work is in use MAYBE 5% of the time. So, assuming you have an ancient Pentium III processor runnning at over 1 BILLION Theoretical Operations per Second, each day that goes by sees 82,080,000,000,000 potential calculations NOT being performed.

Now, suppose that you could install a piece of software that knew when you weren’t using your computer. It would communicate with a central source, download some work to do, use a few trillion of those available calculations, and report the computed results back to home base.

Now suppose that this is done every day by hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide, and that the work being done allows scientists and other researchers to avoid hundreds of thousands of hours of trial and error research. IMAGINE the things that might be achieved!

The World Community Grid offers a screensaver which will use the available, otherwise unneeded computing power of the machines that sit idle almost all day long while you sleep or are at work or anywhere to develop new anti-AIDS treatment, to analyze the human genome for potential disease prevention, or for any of the other projects that will utilize this platform.

Get this screensaver now. Think of the lives that are lost because of every second you delay!

Seriously. This is a GOOD thing. It’s not a security risk, it’s not spyware. It doesn’t impact you when you’re using your PC. Do it. You have no idea what you might be accomplishing.

If the projects at World Community Grid aren’t to your liking, break out your favorite search engine and look for “screensaver distributed grid computing”.

PHP Conference in New York

The New York PHP Users Group has announced that it will hold a PHP Conference in New York City in June. NYPHP is not the typical techie user group where a bunch of spotty geeks sit around telling war stories. NYPHP has monthly presentations with substantial content on a variety of topics, offers classes, not only in PHP syntax, but in practical implementations as well, including security issues.

To find out what PHP represents as an full-strength solution to enterprise-class problems and as an alternative to that bloated, (see also) marketing hype whose name we won’t mention, attend this conference.

Sign-Up Now To Lock in Your Early Bird Discount
http://www.nyphpcon.com/attendee_registration.php

The Call For Papers is Now Open
http://www.nyphpcon.com/call_for_papers.php

Official Press Release is Available
http://www.nyphpcon.com/NYPHPCon06PR.pdf

Don’t Destroy the Past

Brian Coyner has an entry on the O’Reilly weblogs about bad database design leading to even worse code.

First, let me say: Here, Here! and Huzzah!

When you design an application, you must spend time over-designing your database before you write any code. Assume that every requirement that you have been given will change before the bits are dry in your inbox. Assume that every time your business analyst or user liason or boss said “That’s as far as we will ever go with this product”, they’re wrong (or lying, your choice). Modifying code is a thousand times faster, easier, more reliable, and cheaper than a database modification and conversion. Studies have indicated that maintenance consumes up to 85% of the software budget. My experience has been closer to 98%. If you can move effort from maintenance to development, you move expenses from the cost center to the profit center.

Brian has a little example in this article, though, which I just have to jump on. He promotes the use of non-mutable key values for tables. That is, the key should not contain any business information which could change. I agree 100%. The example shows that by moving an account number from a key column to a non-key column, only an update of the non-key column is required.

What is a column update? It is the destruction and loss of data by replacing it with new data. What happens when someone (auditing, marketing, business intelligence applications) go looking at this customer or vendor? They see a history of events (payments, orders, disciplinary actions) against the current account number. It may be that none of those events pertain to that account. They occured when the value in that column was something different.

So when you sit down to overdesign the database for your next application, think about how you will preserve and track all the daily little changes to your application’s datastore. That store is not simply a snapshot of the current state. It must represent the changes that have occured and the timeframes in which they occurred.

FEMA shows what causes disasters

A graphic (see below) on the FEMA website seems to show that the next step after Preparedness is Disaster.

Jeremy Zawodny has an entry that talks about this, but I think Jeremy is slightly off when he describes disaster leading to response, which leads to recovery, etc.

If you look carefully at this image, you will see that, except for Preparedness, in each of the phases of this diagram the arrows miss the next phase. Preparedness is the only phase which leads directly to the next one, which is Disaster.

Maybe the artist knew exactly what they were doing.

Update:

Garr Reynolds
takes all the fun out of this by actually doing a professional analysis of the image and it’s failure as a graphical presentation of FEMA’s mission.

Great quote, though: “Powerpoint should do no harm” (Edward Tufte)

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