Saturday, February 28, 2009

10 Interesting Articles for the Weekend Read

I found the following articles pretty interesting, check them out:

Startups in 13 Sentences - by Paul Graham

How FriendFeed uses MySQL to store schema-less data

Giz Explains: Why Lenses Are the Real Key to Stunning Photos

Cellular providers want Nokia to drop Skype from cell phones - Two cell service providers in the UK are supposedly up in arms over Nokia's inclusion of Skype software on its N97 handset, and are threatening not to carry the device unless the software is ditched. This stance is not only annoying to consumers who are beginning to like VoIP, but it could also even hurt the carriers' business in the long run.

The Big List Of Search Engines & Their Employees On Twitters

How to Buy Domain Names Like a Pro: 10 Tips from the Founder of

10 Free CAPTCHA scripts and services for websites

OCRTerminal - free online Optical Character Recognition service that allows you to convert scanned images and PDF's into editable and text searchable documents.

10 Papers Every Programmer Should Read (At Least Twice)

15 online photo editors compared - compares Flauntr, Fotoflexer, Lunapic, Phixr, Phoenix,, Picnik free, Picnik premium,
Picture2Life, Pixenate,, Pixlr, Snipshot, Snipshot Pro and Splashup.

Y Combinator’s FathomDB looks pretty neat

FathomDB provides relational databases under the utility/service model. They say that they automate the low-level DBA tasks (backup/monitoring); and also provide performance analysis tools that facilitate the high level DBA tasks.

Final pricing for the service is still being determined, but the company plans to charge a small (~10-20%) markup over standard EC2 prices.

I think this is pretty neat. It's a great trend. I hope they don't have any 'center point of failure', I hope their monitoring resources and backup locations are widely distributed. I think DB backup brings in a lot of value.

This screenshot at Techcrunch looks pretty interesting:

Friday, February 27, 2009

Carol Bartz on 'getting the house in order'

Carol Bartz, CEO Yahoo! writes on her blog:
Today I’m rolling out a new management structure that I believe will make Yahoo! a lot faster on its feet. For us working at Yahoo!, it means everything gets simpler. We’ll be able to make speedier decisions, the notorious silos are gone, and we have a renewed focus on the customer. For you using Yahoo! every day, it will better enable us to deliver products that make you say, “Wow.”


The reorg at Yahoo! has been discussed in the following articles:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Microsoft to use Machine Learning software to put servers to sleep when not in use

SAI reports:

Microsoft is working on new tech codenamed "Marlowe" to build data centers using low-power servers that can intelligently "sleep" and "wake up" -- just like a portable computer.

NY Times: The company has applied sophisticated machine learning software to the Atom-based servers and tracked how they handle search requests on Microsoft Live over the course of a day.

When the software senses a lull in action, it can place large numbers of servers into sleep or hibernate modes so that they consume just 2 to 4 watts instead of the usual 28 to 37 watts. Then, in an ideal set-up, the software can anticipate when more active periods will resume and begin waking up the servers ahead of the incoming search requests. It usually takes the servers about 5 to 45 seconds to jump back into action.

I think this is a great idea, if you can predict the load on the servers, and if you datacenter is already not optimized. With hundreds of cron-jobs running at asynchronous intervals, DB and file systems deciding on their own schedule of page-flushes, and with server load coming from around the globe - it might be a challenge to accurately predict the load. But, that's what software is for.

Watch this space.

'AWS Public Data sets' has full Wikipedia available in TSV format

'Amazon Web Services Blog' reports that the AWS public data sets has the Wikipedia Extraction (WEX), which is a processed, machine-readable dump of the English-language section of the Wikipedia. At nearly 67 GB, this is a handly and formidable data set. The data is provided is the TSV format as exported by PostgreSQL.

There are a number of other data sets also available, read more here.

They also describe how easily you an use these data sets:
Instantiating these data sets is basically trivial. You create a new EBS volume of the appropriate size, basing it on the snapshot id of the data. Next, you attach the volume to a running EC2 instance in the same availability zone. Finally, you create a mount point and mount the EBS volume on the instance.


Google Apps Status Dashboard looks pretty good

Google has finally come up with a status dashboard. I had previously reported on other Web Services that do similar status reporting, such as , and

Looks great - as long as all the check boxes stay ticked.

Nokia to enter laptop market?

jkOnTheRun reports this story -
Reuters is reporting that Finnish handset giant Nokia has admitted they are considering entering the laptop market.  In an interview in Finland CEO Pekka Kallasvuo was asked if Nokia plans to make laptops and had this response:

“We are looking very actively also at this opportunity…  We don’t have to look even for five years from now to see that what we know as a mobile phone and what we know as a PC are in many ways converging.”

Nokia also reported earlier that they would shrink production and R&D as sales tank, and rapidly shrinking market-share in the smartphone market. Netbook is a growing market, no wonder Nokia wants to get a portion of the pie.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

CDNetworks Acquires Panther Express To Speed Expansion In The U.S.

Dan Rayburn does a detailed writeup on this story here:
This morning, CDNetworks announced that it has acquired Panther Express. Headquartered in NYC, privately held Panther Express has been in the content delivery business since 2005 offering HTTP based delivery services in the U.S and Europe.

Panther's footprint gives CDNetworks quicker access into North America and Europe and allows them to ramp sales much faster. What Panther Express lacks is the reach into Asia, the ability to support streaming media services, including live delivery and access to a large sales and marketing force. CDNetworks has the footprint in Asia, supports streaming of Flash, Silverlight and Windows Media live or on-demand and is an organization of over 400 employees after the inclusion of Panther's team.

PubMatic Launches Open, Real-time Monetization API for Ad Networks and Publishers

PubMatic's API Allows Ad Networks to Instantly Access Premium Publisher Inventory Resulting in Increased Revenue for Participating Publishers

PubMatic (, an ad revenue optimization company that works with over 5,500 online publishers, announced today the official launch of it's highly anticipated Application Programming Interface (API). The API will increase revenue for both ad networks and PubMatic's publisher clients by allowing an instant and transparent connection between them for single or multiple ad campaigns on demand. The official API launch comes after a successful closed beta period with multiple ad network partners.

Benefits for Ad Networks:
  • Increased Reach: Access to over 125 million unique users and thousands of websites.
  • Improved Targeting: Ad networks can leverage expanded targeting options including geography, frequency, user re-targeting, ad tag type, and much more.
  • Campaign Control: Ad networks have total control over pricing and timing for campaigns
Benefits for Publishers:
  • Increased Monetization: Allowing more ad networks to instantly access publisher inventory increases publisher ad rates and sell through rates.
  • Increased Visibility: Dozens of new ad networks can get instant and transparent access to publisher inventory.
  • Better User Experience: More premium campaigns and better targeting result in users seeing higher quality and more relevant advertising.
  • Zero Integration: PubMatic publishers have instant access to premium campaigns and ad networks via the API, with zero integration effort.
"Efficiency is absolutely key to improving monetization in the online advertising ecosystem," said PubMatic CEO, Rajeev Goel. "Our API was designed to seamlessly connect publishers and ad networks so they can have total control of their campaigns, which results in an easy, streamlined process that is financially beneficial to both parties. This is the future of online advertising."

Google Announces Pricing for App Engine

RWW reports:

Here is the new pricing scheme according to Google's blog post:
  • $0.10 per CPU core hour. This covers the actual CPU time an application uses to process a given request, as well as that for any Datastore usage.
  • $0.10 per GB bandwidth incoming, $0.12 per GB bandwidth outgoing.  This covers traffic directly to/from users, traffic between the app and any external servers accessed using the URLFetch API, and data sent via the Email API.
  • $0.15 per GB of data stored by the application per month.
  • $0.0001 per email recipient for emails sent by the application
In general, Google's prices seem to be slightly cheaper and less complicated than Amazon's pricing schemes for using its EC2 and S3 service. It should be noted, however, that Amazon offers a far larger feature set than App Engine. App Engine only supports the Python programming language, while EC2 gives you access to a complete, remotely hosted, on-demand operating system.

Also see previous post on Comparing Clouds: Amazon EC2, Google, AppNexus, and GoGrid.

Safari 4 benchmarked: 42x faster than IE 7, 3.5x faster than Firefox 3

Holy Jesus!

CNET UK reports ...

Proving itself a staggering 42 times faster at rendering JavaScript than IE 7, our benchmarks confirm Apple's Safari 4 browser, released in beta today, is the fastest browser on the planet. In fact, it beat Google's Chrome, Firefox 3, Opera 9.6 and even Mozilla's developmental Minefield browser.

20 million Chinese sites are served by QZHTTP not Apache

The following report talks about 20 million Chinese sites are served by QZHTTP not Apache.

Also, Qzone blogging service makes the company (QQ) the largest blog site provider in the survey, surpassing the likes of Windows Live Spaces, Blogger and MySpace.

Following is a report on number of web sites found for each server product found on this web page.

Netcraft Web Server Survey -

Just Start Pitching: The infallible Sales Pitch

I recently made a trip to two electronics stores that also sold Laptops. The first is called X-cite the second ‘House of Laptops’. I was looking for a ThinkPad, but both these places did not have the Lenovo ThinkPad with them. X-cite and ‘House of Laptops’ have very marked difference in which they approach customers.

At X-cite, when I didn’t find the ThinkPad the sales guy approached me with the question – “maybe I can help you find some other laptop; if you can only tell me your specifications, features and cost preferences”. I thought about it for a few seconds, and then I left the store.

At ‘House of Laptops’, when I didn’t find the ThinkPad the sales guy immediately started pitching me a new model from Toshiba. I have never bought a Toshiba laptop and there was very little likelihood that I would buy a Toshiba. However, the sales guy totally overwhelmed me with the features of the slick Toshiba model. It had the latest Core 2 Duo, and all the gizmos that you can ask for. It was 1.8kg and priced at Rs. 49,000, with some freebies. And it had spill proof keyboard.

The first guy’s approach was probably more scientific, in terms of collecting customer requirements and then providing the customer with a solution. However, the customer walked off. The second guy just started pitching, without understanding the customer's requirements. Obviously the second approach is much better, there are much more chances of selling a laptop with the second approach. I think there is learning in this.

What do you think?