Posts tagged Next
The word is official: Microsoft will host an event in San Francisco on September 30 with news on “what’s next for Windows”—a presentation all but certain to involve a good look at the long-awaited replacement for Windows 8, currently codenamed “Threshold.”
Microsoft likewise appears likely to release a beta version of the operating system either at the event or shortly thereafter. That “technical preview” of Threshold will let developers and big organizations start planning for the major changes in the operating system. It’s not yet clear whether the technical preview will be available to the general public or only to registered developers.
The event appears to be aimed primarily at large “enterprise” organizations; Microsoft’s invitation card reads, “Join us to hear about what’s next for Windows and the enterprise.” That focus, however, may have more to do with the fact that the Windows PC is, once again, primarily a business tool now that tablets and phones have largely obviated the need to boot up a PC to play games or keep up with email and social networks at home.
Desktop, Desktop, Desktop
What that means is that Microsoft will most likely focus on changes to the traditional Windows “desktop” mode in Threshold. Windows 8, for instance, relegated the desktop to an afterthought in favor of the touch-enabled “Metro” mode, characterized by tiles in bright primary colors. The move alienated many Windows users, who have only been somewhat mollified by Microsoft’s incremental efforts to restore features to the Windows 8 desktop.
The Threshold desktop will likely return in a front-and-center role for PC users. Like the latest version of Windows 8, Threshold will default to different modes depending on the device—for instance, booting to Metro mode on a tablet and to the desktop on a laptop or desktop.
Leaked screenshots and videos suggest that the Threshold desktop will revive the Start menu, which Windows 8 dispensed with entirely, albeit in a colorful design that incorporates Metro-like tiles. The new Windows will also apparently let users create multiple desktops—say, to group programs and files needed for specific tasks—and will feature a notification center similar to those in smartphones, tablets and Mac OS X.
It’ll also apparently be possible to run tablet-style Metro apps in windows on the desktop; in Windows 8, those apps insist on taking over the entire screen. There’s also a possibility that Microsoft’s personal assistant Cortana will make an appearance.
We’ll have full coverage on September 30; join us then to see which features make the cut in Threshold and how soon you’ll be able to get your hands on it.
Lead photo by Joe deSousa
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The future of enterprise computing looks a lot like a cloud, and that cloud will increasingly run datacenter-level operating systems. Apache Mesos, born at UC Berkeley and embraced by Twitter, eBay and Airbnb, is coming soon to an enterprise near you.
Christos Kozyrakis, an associate professor at Stanford, is a rock star in academia research around datacenter scaling, security and quality of service. We’re talking Google scale. His research drew a lot of attention earlier this year, including a feature in the New York Times. So a lot of heads turned on Wednesday when he jumped from the Farm to the San Francisco-based startup Mesosphere.
I wrote about Mesosphere earlier this summer after it closed a $10 million Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz. Mesosphere is a major contributor to Apache Mesos. The conceit is that Mesos is like the open source kernel of an enterprise-class scaleout platform that Mesosphere is building; one that functions much like an operating system for the modern datacenter.
I caught up with Christos to ask about his plans at Mesosphere.
ReadWrite: You’ve worked closely with a number of cool cloud startups as well as giants like Google. Surely you’ve been wooed by some of them. Why did you finally go to Mesosphere?
Christos Kozyrakis: Large-scale datacenters running private or public cloud services are the future of enterprise computing. This creates the need for an operating system that operates at the level of the datacenter, so that developers and operations teams can largely forget about individual servers.
Mesosphere is building this datacenter operating system. It’s a great opportunity for any systems researcher..
RW: How does your research fit into the Apache Mesos project and where Mesosphere is going?
CK: My research over the past seven years has focused more and more on management and scheduling algorithms that make datacenters faster, greener, and cheaper. Integrating these algorithms in Mesos is a great way to get them widely deployed and find the next set of opportunities for further advances.
RW: Your Quasar scheduling algorithm seems to have many parallels to what Mesosphere is doing with Mesos and what Google does with Borg/Omega/Kubernetes.
CK: There is great synergy. Mesos and Omega are datacenter operating systems that can benefit from a scheduler like Quasar that brings a big data approach to large-scale resource management. Kubernetes defines APIs that makes it easy to write service-based applications. I am excited to see the benefits from coupling these technologies.
RW: It’s the hot topic on cloud panels now, containers vs VMs. Some argue that VMs solved a problem a decade ago in datacenters, especially around server consolidation, but containers can do even more for modern datacenters being built today.
CK: Containers and VMs each have advantages for application deployment mechanisms, and one of the great things about Mesos is that it supports both. The issues I am most excited about – scaling applications to thousands of servers, raising utilization in datacenters, security and reliability at scale – can be brought to container- and VM-based environments using Mesos. Customers can make choices based on their specific use cases.
Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock
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Some people watch TV in their spare time. Others play basketball. Mitchell Hashimoto, overachiever that he is, started an open-source project.
And not just any project. In 2010, Hashimoto used his spare time to turn his college dorm room into Vagrant, a popular developer tool that makes it easy to build complete development environments. With a marketing plan straight out of Open Source 101 (“open source the code, blog and tweet about it and wait for word of mouth to take over”), Vagrant now generates millions of downloads, inspires a small army of contributors and boasts a bevy of big-name users, including the BBC, Nokia, Expedia and ngmoco.
See also: DevOps—The Future Of DIY IT?
Hashimoto, however, isn’t done.
Two years ago he formed a company, HashiCorp, to give him the funding and freedom to build a suite of services to manage the full lifecycle of application development, delivery and management. Not content to be popular with the developer crowd, in other words, Hashimoto is also currying favor with operations engineers.
This places Hashicorp right at the nexus of so-called DevOps, in which developers take on more responsibility for managing the infrastructure that hosts their applications and puts them in the hands of users. Some people view DevOps as heralding the eventual extinction of IT operations as a specialized function; Hashimoto isn’t one of them, although he does think IT suffers from a fatal lack of automation. And that’s a problem he’s trying to fix.
I sat down with Hashimoto to discuss DevOps, IT automation and how producing new tools for both developers and operations has turned into an open-source success story.
Special Delivery (For Applications)
ReadWrite: Hashicorp offers a number of different applications, from Vagrant to Consul. What’s the common thread between these seemingly disparate applications?
Mitchell Hashimoto: The common thread is application delivery in a modern datacenter.
Taking an application (or service—whichever vocabulary you choose is equivalent in this case) from development into production and iterating it is a overly complicated task right now. There are a lot of moving pieces and a lack of clarity of the capabilities of each piece.
With our tools, we’re trying to solve the common datacenter problems: development environments, service discovery, resource provisioning, etc. These are problems that anyone with a datacenter—cloud or physical—has, and it’s silly that there isn’t a common solution to these problems.
Well, that isn’t entirely true. There are technology-specific solutions in some cases. For example, VMware claims to solve all these problems, but with a VMware-heavy skew.
We want to build tools that are agnostic to these sorts of decisions: whether you’re using OpenStack or AWS, physical or virtual, we want our tools to apply to you to solve the common problems stated earlier.
We Serve Both Kinds—Dev And Ops
RW: Tell me a bit about the tools you provide. Who uses them and why? What do they replace, if anything?
Vagrant manages work environments; Packer builds machine images and/or containers; Serf does cluster membership; Consul is a solution for service discovery and configuration; and Terraform builds infrastructure. That is the elevator pitch for all of them. Of course, none of these “elevator pitches” really does them justice, but they’re a start.
Our primary users are developers and operations engineers. The percentage of each group varies from tool to tool (i.e. Vagrant is developer-heavy, but Consul is operations-heavy), but as a company we build solutions to problems in the DevOps space, which by its very name affects developers and operations! Our tools primarily replace non-automation-friendly predecessors, or less flexible predecessors.
Since we’re coming at this problem space from the point of view of DevOps, our tools work well with others in that space and our tools focus on automation.
Compared to predecessors in some categories, we focus on having a better user and operator experience, as well as bringing more flexibility where possible. For example, with Terraform, it can be compared to something like AWS CloudFormation, but Terraform supports any cloud, not just AWS. But Vagrant, for example, doesn’t replace any specific existing tool, it just makes it easier to do what was a primarily manual task before.
RW: What are the biggest inhibitors to developer productivity today?
MH: A lack of agility brought about by a lack of automation.
There are a number of aspects of a developer’s workflow that can be improved: we can make building developer resources faster, we can improve the delivery pipeline and we can increase the mean-time-to-feedback for deploys. But I posit that each of these improvements requires better automation and tooling to safely manage this automation.
The Relevance Of IT Operations
RW: In the DevOps debate, where do you fall? Are IT operations increasingly irrelevant?
MH: I believe IT operations will always have a place, but some job functions are shifting. Developers are increasingly taking control of their pieces of infrastructure, a realm where IT previously ruled supreme. In the future, I believe we’ll see IT teams shrunk down—but still extremely important—and we’ll see developers—or call them “operations engineers”, meaning less IT, more dev-like—having a lot of control over the datacenter.
Our technology is built for this future. We have some pieces that are more relevant to developers (Vagrant, Packer), and we have some pieces that are more relevant to IT or more sysadmin folks (Terraform, Consul). There is overlap in there, but in a traditional IT world, we see a scenario where our tools are really bridging a gap to allow them to work together more effectively.
RW: Who is your target user/customer? Do “Microsoft developers” want these tools, too, or is it the AWS crowd that primarily finds your stuff interesting?
MH: Our target user/customer is anyone deploying applications.
I’m glad you brought up Microsoft developers. I actually switched to using Windows full time earlier this year so I can better understand a certain problem space for Windows developers, and to make sure our tools worked well for them.
There is a huge interest in our tools from the Microsoft community, and we treat them as first-class citizens in our target user base. All our tools from Vagrant to Terraform are built to support the Microsoft ecosystem, and we think its going to be a big market for us as our business grows.
I think its fair to say the “AWS crowd” found our stuff first, but as time has gone on (remember: we’ve been building these tools for five years now!), we’re relevant in the Microsoft world now, too.
Lead image by Stefan Goethals; other images courtesy of Hashicorp
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Looks like Moto 360 won’t be the only round smartwatch in Android Wear’s inner circle. LG just pushed out a YouTube video that basically leaks its own plans to introduce a circular model at the IFA 2014 show in Berlin next week.
LG’s decision to blast the corners off its smartwatch line should come as no surprise. Much of the anticipation surrounding the Moto 360, the third device to support Google’s smartwatch software, stems from its classic and stylish round hardware design. It’s a look that sets it apart from the other Android Wear devices, the rectangular LG G and Samsung Gear Live, neither of which excited critics or consumers following their introduction at the Google I/O developer conference last June.
A few screenshots we managed to glean from the video:
The timing appears strategic. LG likely plans to steal the Moto 360’s thunder with its new watch, possibly to be called the LG G Watch R, as it will debut right after the 360 launch. It will also potentially slide in right head of Apple’s reported press event on September 9, where it might—depending on which rumors you believe—introduce its own smartwatch alongside the new iPhone 6.
Even if LG manages to grab attention, it could have trouble keeping it unless it addresses some major issues with its previous watch. Chief among them are comfort—the LG G feels like a board if your wrist is on the smaller side, thanks to its size and strap placement—and battery life. The current model offers a day to a day and a half of wear before the power cell requires a recharge, which is a pretty miserable scenario for active users on the go.
The changes that do appear to be on board include a side button and several new watchfaces, some of which feature step and distance tracking, a compass and a few analog-style designs.
To check out the LG’s YouTube video for yourself, see below.
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Three months after Facebook product head Mike Hudack’s infamous rage against the media landscape his company helped create, the world’s largest social network is taking a stand against “clickbait”—stories with misleading, incomplete or sensational headlines that don’t stand up to the actual content.
“It’s hard to It’s hard to tell who’s to blame,” Hudack wrote on Facebook, the media portal from which one in three Americans get the news (according to the Pew Research Center). “But someone should fix this sh-t.”
Facebook to the rescue!
On Monday, the company announced on its newsroom page that it would now
help people find the posts and links from publishers that are most interesting and relevant, and to continue to weed out stories that people frequently tell us are spammy and they don’t want to see.
Facebook vs. Clickbait
Will this cure the ills diagnosed by Hudack and suffered by CNN, the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed and Vice, all of which Hudack called out by name? What of Ezra Klein and his new website, Vox, for which the Facebook employee reserved his most toxic vitriol?
“Personally I hoped that we would find a new home for serious journalism,” Hudack wrote of Vox. “And instead they write stupid stories about how you should wash your jeans instead of freezing them.”
One wonders how Facebook might actually cure the clickbait plague., Consider this response to Hudack’s post by The Atlantic‘s Alexis Madrigal, which cites Hudack’s boss, Mark Zuckerberg:
My perception is that Facebook is the major factor in almost every trend you identified. I’m not saying this as a hater, but if you asked most people in media why we do these stories, they’d say, “They work on Facebook.” And your own CEO has even provided an explanation for the phenomenon with his famed quote, “A squirrel dying in front of your house may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa.” This is not to say we (the (digital) media) don’t have our own pathologies, but Google and Facebook’s social and algorithmic influence dominate the ecology of our world.
If anything, the clickbait nature of the news Hudack raged against three months ago is rapidly heading toward peak clickbaititude. You don’t need to look any further than the Saved You A Click account on Twitter or the Onion’s recently-launched BuzzFeed satire, Click Hole.
“Saving you from clickbait and adding context since 2014,” according to its Twitter bio, Saved You A Click queers the pitch on countless spammy headlines via cut-to-the-chase retweets that put the answer before the headline. The account’s 148-thousand followers testify that the service is much appreciated.
Click Hole, meanwhile, features content so ridiculous, it’s occasionally indistinguishable from its for-realsies analogue. Some examples:
Facebook, it its anti-clickbait post, says its users don’t care for high-calorie, low-nutrition content:
Posts like these tend to get a lot of clicks, which means that these posts get shown to more people, and get shown higher up in News Feed. However, when we asked people in an initial survey what type of content they preferred to see in their News Feeds, 80% of the time people preferred headlines that helped them decide if they wanted to read the full article before they had to click through
Clickbait Is The Disease; Data Is The Cure
Facebook will attempt to protect users from such stories Mark Zuckerberg with … analytics! Specifically, the social network won’t specifically punish Upworthy-style headlines in which “you won’t believe what happened next,” or other open questions. Instead, it’ll check how much time users spend on a link they’ve click and/or spent discussing it.
Facebook explains it this way:
If a lot of people click on the link, but relatively few people click Like, or comment on the story when they return to Facebook, this also suggests that people didn’t click through to something that was valuable to them.
No doubt this will come as a shock to the media outlets Facebook has so aggressively pursued in the last few years to make the social network its portal to more traffic.
Of course, if it doesn’t work, then Zuckerberg and Hudack will know who to blame. That’d be us, the clickbait loving users.
Lead image by Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing – Northern VA
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In its continued drive to build a search platform based on entity and conversational understanding, Bing has launched a new feature that enables the site to keep the context of a search from one query to the next. Using presidential searches as an example, Bing explains how a user could search…
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After a successful test, Microsoft says it will expand its Catapult server project to all Bing datacenters in 2015. When Microsoft first detailed the project two months ago, the company said it would use the new technology in one datacenter starting early next year. But according to PC World,…
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Best of both worlds: How to create a long-tail SEO strategy for social media …
The Next Web
Ever find it difficult to rank for relevant keywords in search or gain traction on social? Most marketers have faced the challenge of getting their business to stand out amongst the chatter. It's a marketer's job to really understand how each …
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Google wants to make it harder for malicious attackers—and that includes the National Security Agency—to exploit software bugs that infect your computer or steal personal data.
On Tuesday, the company revealed Project Zero, a team within Google that will work to reduce the number of people harmed in targeted attacks stemming from “zero-day” vulnerabilities, security holes that aren’t previously known and for which there are no readily available fixes.
Why is Google announcing this effort? Because Project Zero is hiring.
Google is looking for security researchers to work on discovering flaws in software, as well as researching and understanding the motivations of malicious attackers. Google didn’t say how many researchers the company is adding, but the company already has many people working on security issues.
Those interested in a job as a resident hacker will be working alongside folks like self-proclaimed “Security Princess” Parisa Tabriz, who leads the team of security engineers on Google’s Chrome browser, and Neel Mehta, who helped discover the Heartbleed bug.
Heartbleed was one of the most damaging vulnerabilities in open-source software discovered to date. It left two-thirds of the Web at risk of eavesdropping for two years thanks to a flaw in OpenSSL, a widely used piece of security software.
Project Zero will work to improve the security of software used by large numbers of people, as well as research the techniques hackers are using to target these vulnerabilities. Google says it will report bugs to the software’s vendor, and once it’s made public—meaning there’s a patch available—people will be able to learn more about the particular vulnerability, including how long it took the software vendor to fix it.
And though Google didn’t dwell on this point in its announcement, it did mention “state-sponsored actors” as a threat. Google has previously said that its systems were targeted by Chinese hackers who may be sponsored by elements of that country’s military, and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the US intelligence agency has targeted Gmail and other Google services. Project Zero aims to protect against those threats as well as criminal hackers.
Photo by Alexandre Dulaunoy
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