Posts tagged Mixed
Apache has dished out another serving of Cassandra, the open source NoSQL database popular for handling big data. The improvements speak to a maturing NoSQL database that’s well-suited for big data deployments. This time around, Cassandra has improvements to its query language, and tuning improvements that will help companies trying to boost performance with a mixture of magnetic media and solid state drives (SSD). Its continued development helps maintain open-source dominance in the big data/NoSQL market.
Cassandra 1.1 hits just a bit more than six months after Apache released Cassandra 1.0, in October 2011. The major features in 1.1 point to Cassandra’s focus on very large data sets.
Jonathan Ellis, vice president of the project and CTO of DataStax, pointed to several features that make 1.1 more than just a minor update. One of the most interesting is Cassandra’s support for intelligently mixing magnetic and SSD media.
Ellis says that a Cassandra deployment may have some tables that are updated more frequently than others, so it makes sense to put some tables on magnetic media (which is much slower) and other tables on SSD. Prior to the 1.1 release, Cassandra had no way of distinguishing between the two. This meant that if you mixed media, you could have very uneven results. The alternative, going all SSD or all spinning disks, was either very expensive (SSD) or much slower (magnetic media).
Cassandra deployments can hit hundreds of terabytes of data. The largest (known) production cluster, according to Apache, exceeds 300TB of data spread out across 400 machines. Investing in 300TB of SSD can be very pricey and doesn’t make much sense if only some of the data needs to be on SSD.
Another biggie in this release, says Ellis, is support for better self-tuning for performance. With this release, Cassandra self-tuning support has been extended to its caching layer.
Speak My Language
The Cassandra Query Language (CQL) has also been updated. Ellis says that one of the major improvements to CQL is the addition of composite primary keys, a feature that lets developers define more than one primary key per table. Ellis says that this helps to create better views of data and appeals mostly to organizations that are already using Cassandra.
As CQL matures, it has adopted quite a bit from SQL. However, Ellis says that CQL won’t be a clone of SQL in the long run, as some features in SQL simply don’t make sense for a distributed database like Cassandra. The most obvious feature, says Ellis, is joins. “We don’t do joins. It’s a bad idea across multiple machines in a cluster. Some people think that the takeaway is that you do joins in the application instead of the database, which is the wrong idea. Whether you do it in the app or the database, it’s not a good idea in a distributed world.”
“In other words,” says Ellis, “we’re not looking to make Cassandra an OLTP [online transaction processing] hybrid. We’re keeping focused on parts that support a real-time workload. For analytics, we point to Hadoop and Hive support.”
I’ll Take the High Road, MongoDB Can Take the Low Road
How’s Cassandra doing in the bid for mindshare versus MongoDB? If you check out GitHub or Stack Exchange, which often provide an indication of which technologies are the most popular, you’ll see that MongoDB seems to have more developer interest. For example, if you look for repositories that turn up when searching for “Cassandra” on GitHub, you’ll find 535. Searching for MongoDB shows nearly 2,500. Not the most scientific survey, but there’s very little data so far on NoSQL deployments – and being open source, it’s impossible to gauge accurately.
Ellis says that this makes sense, as Cassandra is geared much more toward the high end, while MongoDB is well-suited for “grassroots developers.”
“They’re [MongoDB] going after millions of deployments; Cassandra is going after thousands of deployments. We’re going after a market where your data doesn’t fit on one machine… our users are Adobe, Netflix, HBO and Twitter. Companies with lots of data.”
What’s really interesting about Cassandra, MongoDB and other so-called NoSQL databases is how open source projects have effectively sewn up the space. All of the relevant projects are open source, though they may have proprietary variants shipped by vendors that support them.
For many years, open source was seen as a trailing effort to proprietary projects. In the big data/NoSQL space, this has been turned on its head. Cassandra is a really good example of how openness is leading the development of next-generation infrastructure technology.
View full post on ReadWriteWeb
As part of the Mountain Lion preview last week, Apple put out a beta of its revamped chat application, Messages. If you spend a lot of time connecting with other folks on iOS devices, Messages is a must-have. If not, it doesn’t really add much to the mix.
Installing Messages is simple enough, though it does require a system reboot. If you’ve been using iChat, Messages will automatically import your accounts and you’re good to go. If not, it’s simple enough to set up your accounts. Like iChat, Messages supports AIM, Yahoo, Google Talk and Jabber accounts. To get the most out of Messages, though, you’ll need an Apple ID and Messages on the desktop and/or an iOS device.
Also like iChat, Messages doesn’t support IRC, Windows Live, or a host of other less-popular protocols. If you still need one of those, you’ll want to turn to Adium or another chat client.
For the most part, Messages is a pretty standard instant messaging application. If you’re talking to other users on Jabber, Google Chat, AIM, or whatever then you’ll see very little difference. Like iChat, Messages supports screen sharing, sending files, video chat, text chat and integrates with the Mac address book.
Messages’ real bonus kicks in if you’re chatting with users who use Messages, and/or you’re also using an iOS device.
Messages basically unifies texting and instant messaging for users who are on Mac OS X and iOS. For instance, I have Messages installed on my iMac, and have an iPhone and iPad with iOS 5.0.1. If I’m chatting with my brother, who has an iPod touch with iOS 5.0, he can send me a text message from his touch or computer and I’ll get it on my phone and desktop. The conversation is synced between my computer and my iOS devices almost immediately. If someone tries to start a FaceTime call, I’ll get the request on any device that I’m logged in on.
FaceTime is also integrated with Messages, so you can initiate a video call from your desktop to a friend or colleague on an iOS device (or vice-versa). If you’ve been wanting FaceTime on the desktop, but didn’t want to pay the $0.99 for the standalone App, grab the Messages beta.
Quality-wise, I’ve been pleased with FaceTime messaging. I tested it out with a couple of calls to users on iOS devices, and I didn’t really notice any problems with the quality of video or audio. When full-screening the session, the video was a bit fuzzy – but given that my display is 2560×1440 and the iPod touch doesn’t send HD video, that’s not surprising.
The only bug I did run into with the beta was Messages mixing up the display of transcripts. It’d show one user, but the transcript for a chat would belong to a different user. This was easily corrected, though.
It would be nice if Apple offered the option of initiating a voice-only chat over FaceTime, but that might annoy its carrier partners a bit much. Group video chat would also be a boon, since there are times that it’d be nice to chat with two or more colleagues, friends or family members. (If Google can do it with Hangouts, surely Apple could figure it out with FaceTime as well?)
Messages is a modest improvement over iChat and brings Mac OS and iOS a bit closer together. Unfortunately, the benefits that Messages brings to the table really only apply if you happen to have a lot of friends using iOS and/or Macs. If most of your contacts have iPhones, iPads and/or a Mac on the desktop, it’s pretty useful. If most of your contacts have Android phones and/or use Linux or Windows, you’re pretty much just as well off with Adium or sticking with iChat.
View full post on ReadWriteWeb
If you run multiple cloud providers in your shop and are looking at ways to connect them with virtual networks, then vCider with its Virtual Private Cloud v2 release has something you should take a closer look at. The service can help you create private links between the different providers, just like you can use ordinary VPNs to connect external networks to be virtually inside your data center.
For example, let’s say you want to use Rackspace’s Mongo DB service but want to use Amazon for storage. vCider will put encrypted tunnels between the two IaaS providers and give you private IP addresses for your traffic to traverse. One customer, a biochemical library, is running a Cassandra database in Holland and using AWS in the US for storage and has connected the two locations. They claim the latencies are small and network performance isn’t an issue. Using vCider means you don’t have to deploy OpenVPN or other equivalent solutions too, which in some cases provides a big boost in performance. The customer cited above saw a six percent improvement by forgoing OpenVPN.
New to the v2 version is a virtual network switch that can cloak your network access, so only traffic from the encrypted tunnel is allowed into your servers.
vCider is available now for any cloud-based instance of modern Linux kernels v2.6 and above. It is not yet available for any Windows instances. You can deploy up to eight systems free of charge, and prices start at $100 per month for up to 16 systems in a virtual private cloud. You can get more information on vCider here.
View full post on ReadWriteWeb
I’m thousands of feet in the air, speeding across the United States, flying from Portland, Oregon to Austin, Texas. When I land, I’m going to send a picture of myself to my nieces back home – but it won’t just be a picture of one of their favorite uncles in a place they’ve never been. There will be a familiar avatar in the picture with me – a Flat Stanley.
That’s an experience that children all over the world have had. Flat Stanley calls itself the longest-running literacy and community building program on the web. The program encourages participants to carry, mail or otherwise send a cardboard cut-out figure called Flat Stanley to faraway places and interesting circumstances. When the same Flat Stanley that was in a classroom in South Africa shows up in a photo perched on a snow bank in the United States – something magical happens in the minds of the children who sent it across the world. It’s as if those faraway places become more real, now the child has a connection with the place and the prospect of making that trip themselves feels more possible. Anything that expands a person’s understanding of what’s possible is a good thing. Now the Flat Stanley experience is available in a new mobile app, making it easier than ever to use.
Cool Stories About Flat Stanleys
Kathy Perret writes about taking a Flat Stanley on a winter hike around the Great Lakes.
New York Teacher “Mrs. M” takes a Flat Stanley to Syria!
The new Flat Stanley app lets users take a photo of themselves and insert a Flat Stanley into the picture. They can send that photo by email to a family member or friend or they can upload it to the Flat Stanley website, with their location obscured just a little bit on the map. Every photo uploaded is approved by an adult before it appears on the site. Flat Stanley has thousands of teachers participating in its cardboard in the mail program and believes it can enlist many of those people to help moderate mobile photos.
Flat Stanley is a little bit like a chain letter, a little bit like having a pen pal and a little bit like putting a folded paper boat in the river. It’s simple, but it seems to touch some deep human themes.
Photos from the Road
I wrote this blog post while flying through LA. As chance would have it, I was sitting next to Jody Foss, author of the book In the Company of Mules. Foss has spent her adult life traveling around the world, including six thousand miles by mule, criss-crossing through the rural Western United States. She grew up in the suburbs of LA and sent photos back home from her travels as well, often of her trusty (and stubborn) mules.
It takes an unusual woman to make a life out of seeing the West from atop a mule walking 3.5 miles per hour and meeting strangers in the middle of nowhere.
There’s something about Flat Stanley that feels related to that. It won’t take you or your kids on the kinds of journeys Foss has chronicled, but it will offer a taste of travel and faraway places to the children who receive the photos. Presumably some of the children inspired by those photos will grow up and visit the places their Stanley has been; perhaps some will keep tradition alive and get there by mule.
The team behind Flat Stanley says they’ve tried their best to recreate the original Flat Stanley experience in the app – but that it’s more like an extension of a nascent Flat Stanley brand franchise than it is a replacement for cardboard Stanleys and Stellas (the female version) sent in the mail or snapped posing with a celebrity.
There’s something about mom or dad taking a Flat Stanley photo while away on a trip that says to a child, “I am here and I am thinking of you.” Whether that same feeling gets communicated and whether a virtual Flat Stanley caries that same psychological payload as a cardboard one remains to be seen.
To send a Flat Stanley, I think, is to use a virtual object (either very thin or entirely digital) to write something on the real world. The Flat Stanley phenomenon makes that writing more accessible and appealing to children than anything else I’ve heard of before. The interaction between self, avatar, place, distance and other is a fascinating opportunity for young people to become more global in their understanding of the world. I think it’s beautiful, and I hope the iPhone app helps many more children around the world connect with each other and enjoy the Flat Stanley experience.
View full post on ReadWriteWeb
Google sent out invites to Music Beta – their new cloud-based music service they announced during Google I/O last month – and whilst the number of tweets covering the announcement reached into the thousands, the reviews are mixed.
One has to won…
View full post on Search Engine Watch – Latest
Yahoo reported Q1 revenues of $1,064 million, which represented a 6 percent decline vs. a year ago. The company essentially blamed the search deal with Microsoft for the decline: [The decline was] primarily due to the required change in revenue presentation related to the Search Agreement and the…
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
The first reviews are coming in for the long-awaited Blackberry PlayBook, RIM’s new tablet. Now granted, the iPad is a tough act to follow (unless perhaps you’re the iPad 2), and most of the recent tablet entries have failed to win over fans, critics, or customers. Based on some of the early reviews, the PlayBook faces a similar uphill battle.
Many of the reviews published over the last few days have focused on the same issues: solid hardware, but not enough apps. Of particular concern – or bafflement, even – is the fact that the PlayBook lacks some of the most basic apps, including email, contact, a calendar, a notepad, or even RIM’s famously popular BlackBerry Messager system.
Some Sample Reviews
BGR’s Jonathan Geller: “Those used to Research In Motion’s old ways will be pretty shocked with the BlackBerry PlayBook’s hardware specifications. This is a whole new chapter in RIM’s history, and the company is coming out swinging. The PlayBook features a screaming 1GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, a 5-megapixel rear camera, a 3-megapixel front-facing camera, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 1080p HD video playback with an HDMI-out port, a 3.5mm headset jack and a microphone, all wrapped up in a super sleek 10mm-thin package. The PlayBook’s 7-inch display is beautiful, and the 1024 x 600 resolution packs a lot of pixels into a tight space. Colors are rich and vibrant, and black levels seem quite good, as do with viewing angles.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg: “This odd system, aimed at pleasing security-concerned corporate customers, doesn’t work with other smartphones. So, in my view, even though Bridge is a neat technical feat, it makes the PlayBook a companion to a BlackBerry phone rather than a fully independent device. That may be fine for dedicated BlackBerry owners, but it isn’t so great for people with other phones.
RIM says it is planning to add built-in cellular data, email, contacts, calendar and the other missing core features to the PlayBook this summer, via software updates. But until then, I can’t recommend the PlayBook over a fully standalone tablet, except possibly for folks whose BlackBerrys never leave their sides.”
Engadget’s Tim Stevens: “Writing this review has been a lot like trying to hit a moving target thanks to a series of software updates that have been dropping every few days. The PlayBook of today is considerably better than the PlayBook of yesterday, which also was a big step forward from the one we were reviewing two days before that. This is both encouraging and worrying — encouraging that RIM is actively working to improve things, but worrying that things as critical as memory management are still being tweaked at the eleventh hour.
This means we’re not entirely sure what the PlayBook that goes on sale next week will look like.”
The New York Times’ David Pogue: “For now, the PlayBook’s motto might be, “There’s no app for that.”
No existing apps run on this all-new operating system, not even BlackBerry phone apps. (R.I.M. says an emulator that will run BlackBerry apps will come later this year.)
So the company has decided to start from scratch with an all-new app store for the PlayBook. The company says that it has 3,000 submissions already, in part because it offered a free PlayBook to anyone who’d write an app. But they won’t be revealed until next week. (Reviewers were shown only a skeletal store with a few dozen lame apps in it.)”
Wired’s Mike Isaac: “The bottom line: It’s a well-constructed device with great media-viewing capabilities, solid hardware specs and a price on par with the current tablet market. But with serious gaps in key areas like app selection and Flash stability, you may want to think twice before picking one up.”
That’s What Critics Say. What About Enterprise Customers?
In addition to the repeated complaints about the lack of apps, another strand repeats in many of these reviews: this may well be a solid tablet for the enterprise. Indeed, BlackBerry still retains its cachet among enterprise users, and as the tablet seems to only obtain full functionality when used alongside the BlackBerry phone (for now, at least), then it may face less of a difficult sell there.
While many of these early reviews frown on the tablet and its possible many consumers will as well, RIM’s new tablet may meet the needs of the enterprise. And if 2011 is the year of the tablet, then enterprise users may well find this tablet suits their needs.
View full post on ReadWriteWeb
There is a lot of money being spent by European governments investigating Google right now. Italy has just closed their investigation but the European Union is doing a wide spread inquiry with a 120 question survey out to various industries and companies.
Italy closed their 16 month investigation into complaints from newspaper publishers with a more transparent agreement, Network World reported. “Under the new agreement content producers will be allowed to monitor the number of clicks on links to their websites, so as to keep track of Google’s earnings and their own entitlement.”
View full post on Search Engine Watch Blog