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Category Archives: Computing

Microsoft Funded Study Determines Cloud Computing Is fueling Global Economic Growth.

The LSE study selected two industries, aerospace and smartphone services, and examined the impact of cloud computing on these  industries across the UK, USA, Germany and Italy between the years 2010 and 2014. The LSE study was underwritten by Microsoft.

Investing in cloud computing is contributing to growth and job creation in both the fast-growing, high-tech smartphone services industry as well as the longstanding and slow-growth aerospace sector, the study claims. In addition, cloud is directly creating employment through the construction, staffing and supply of data centers, which will host the cloud. Using cloud computing enables businesses of all sizes to be more productive by freeing managerial staff and skilled employees to concentrate on more profitable areas of work.

There will be a new range of employment opportunities opening up as a result of the shift to cloud as well. As the study points out, “as firms shift from proprietary application servers towards virtualization and cloud computing, related skills will be in demand among employers. New direct hires and upskilling for public cloud enablement result in higher-than-average salaries.”

Of the countries analyzed in the study, the US is leading the way in terms of cloud job creation. US cloud-related jobs in the smartphone sector are set to grow to 54,500 in 2014. This is compared to a projected 4,040 equivalent jobs in the UK. The authors of the study say that this can be attributed, in part, to lower electricity costs and less restrictive labor regulation compared to Europe.

Small to medium-size businesses will benefit as well. In the smartphone sector alone, “cloud computing will form the basis for a rapid expansion and high-start-up rate among SMEs 2010-2014 in all four markets in services,” the study says.

The study also shows that there is in fact little risk of unemployment from investing in the cloud, as companies are more likely to move and re-train current staff. This would be alongside the hiring of new staff, likely to be in a higher salary bracket, who have the necessary skills for using virtual data-handling systems.

But researchers found that the level of impact the cloud has on a business or department’s growth and productivity depends on a number of factors, primarily the type of sector in which the business is involved and the regulatory environment in which it operates.

Unsurprisingly, the cloud has a much greater effect on the web-centred smartphone services industry than traditional high tech manufacturing, with expansion and a high-start-up rate among small and medium size businesses in 2010-2014 forecast.  For example, in the UK from 2010 through 2014, the rate of growth in cloud-related jobs in the smartphone services sector is set to be 349%, compared to 52% growth in aerospace. German, Italian and US equivalent growth rates will be 280% vs 33%, 268% vs 36% and 168% vs 57% respectively.

The study’s authors, Jonathan Liebenau, Patrik Karrberg, Alexander Grous and Daniel Castro, also talk about the direct and indirect employment and business opportunities that will stem from cloud, which may not be apparent at first. “Our analysis shows jobs shifting from distributed data processing facilities to consolidated data centers, resulting in a drop in data processing jobs overall as efficiency gains occur especially through public cloud services,” they write. “We see a reduction in IT administrators within large firms in smartphone businesses (and most likely in many other similar sectors) compared to their level of employment otherwise expected by taking into account overall IT spending.”

They add that direct and indirect employment gains will be seen in the construction of new data centers needed to accommodate the public cloud businesses, and an “unanticipated effect is in job creation of site maintenance, janitorial staff and security guards in newly built data centers. Overall, more than 30% of short-term new employment in cloud services originates from the construction of data centers and outfitting them accounts for around another third.” Almost 25% of new jobs accrue from direct employment in public cloud services firms, they add.

Then there’s the “cloud dividend” that enterprises will see as the cloud infrastructure develops. These gains will be “in the form of…continue reading at source.

The history of cloud computing in an infographic.

I’m not sure where I found this image or if someone else sent it to me.  If you are the owner of this image please send me a link so I can link back to you.

Cloud Computing: Who said the phrase first?

Cloud computing is one of the hottest buzzwords in technology. It appears 48 million times on the Internet. But amidst all the chatter, there is one question about cloud computing that has never been answered: Who said it first?

Some accounts trace the birth of the term to 2006, when large companies such as Google and Amazon began using “cloud computing” to describe the new paradigm in which people are increasingly accessing software, computer power, and files over the Web instead of on their desktops.

But Technology Review tracked the coinage of the term back a decade earlier, to late 1996, and to an office park outside Houston. At the time, Netscape’s Web browser was the technology to be excited about, the Yankees were playing Atlanta in the World Series, and the Taliban was celebrating the sacking of Kabul. Inside the offices of Compaq Computer, a small group of technology executives was plotting the future of the Internet business and calling it “cloud computing.”

Their vision was detailed and prescient. Not only would all business software move to the Web, but what they termed “cloud computing-enabled applications” like consumer file storage would become common. For two men in the room, a Compaq marketing executive named George Favaloro and a young technologist named Sean O’Sullivan, cloud computing would have dramatically different outcomes. For Compaq, it was the start of a $2-billion-a-year business selling servers to Internet providers. For O’Sullivan’s startup venture, it was a step toward disenchantment and insolvency.

Cloud computing still doesn’t appear in the Oxford English Dictionary. But its use is spreading rapidlybecause it captures a historic shift in the IT industry as more computer memory, processing power, and apps are hosted in remote data centers, or the “cloud.” With billions of dollars of IT spending in play, the term itself has become a disputed prize. In 2008, Dell drew outrage from programmers after attempting to win a trademark on “cloud computing.” Other technology vendors, such as IBM and Oracle, have been accused of “cloud washing,” or misusing the phrase to describe older product lines.Like “Web 2.0,” cloud computing has become a ubiquitous piece of jargon that many tech executives find annoying, but also hard to avoid. “I hated it, but I finally gave in,” says Carl Bass, president and CEO of Autodesk, whose company unveiled a cloud-computing marketing campaign in September. “I didn’t think the term helped explain anything to people who didn’t already know what it is.”

The U.S. government has also had trouble with the term. After the country’s former IT czar, Vivek Kundra, pushed agencies to move to cheaper cloud services, procurement officials faced the question of what, exactly, counted as cloud computing. The government asked the National Institutes of Standards and Technology to come up with a definition. Its final draft, released this month, begins by cautioning that “cloud computing can and does mean different things to different people.”

“The cloud is a metaphor for the Internet. It’s a rebranding of the Internet,” says Reuven Cohen, cofounder of Cloud Camp, a course for programmers. “That is why there is a raging debate. By virtue of being a metaphor, it’s open to different interpretations.” And, he adds, “it’s worth money.”

Part of the debate is who should get credit for inventing the idea. The notion of network-based computing dates to the 1960s, but many believe the first use of “cloud computing” in its modern context occurred on August 9, 2006, when then Google CEO Eric Schmidt introduced the term to an industry conference. “What’s interesting [now] is that there is an emergent new model,” Schmidt said, “I don’t think people have really understood how big this opportunity really is. It starts with the premise that the data services and architecture should be on servers. We call it cloud computing—they should be in a “cloud” somewhere.”

The term began to see wider use the following year, after companies including Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM started to tout cloud-computing efforts as well. That was also when it first appeared in newspaper articles, such as a New York Times report from November 15, 2007, that carried the headline “I.B.M. to Push ‘Cloud Computing,’ Using Data From Afar.” It described vague plans for “Internet-based supercomputing.”

Sam Johnston, director of cloud and IT services at Equinix, says cloud computing took hold among techies because it described something important. “We now had a common handle for a number of trends that we had been observing, such as the consumerization and commoditization of IT,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Johnston says it’s never been clear who coined the term. As an editor of the Wikipedia entry for cloud computing, Johnston keeps a close eye on any attempts at misappropriation. He was first to raise alarms about Dell’s trademark application and this summer he removed a citation from Wikipedia saying a professor at Emory had coined the phrase in the late 1990s. There have been “many attempts to coopt the term, as well as various claims of invention,” says Johnston.

That may explain why cloud watchers have generally disregarded or never learned of one unusually early usage—a May 1997 trademark application for “cloud computing” from a now-defunct company called NetCentric. The trademark application was for “educational services” such as “classes and seminars” and was never approved. But the use of the phrase was not coincidental. When Technology Review tracked down NetCentric’s founder, O’Sullivan, he agreed to help dig up paper copies of 15-year-old business plans from NetCentric and Compaq. The documents, written in late 1996, not only extensively use the phrase “cloud computing,” but also describe in accurate terms many of the ideas sweeping the Internet today…continue to source.

 

Mind-reading car. Nissan & EPFL collaborate on interface between man and machine.

car-reads-driver-mind-nissan

Article by: Sam Jones Wednesday 28 September 2011
One of the world’s largest motor manufacturers is working with scientists based in Switzerland to design a car that can read its driver’s mind and predict his or her next move.

The collaboration, between Nissan and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), is intended to balance the necessities of road safety with demands for personal transport.

Scientists at the EPFL have already developed brain-machine interface (BMI) systems that allow wheelchair users to manoeuvre their chairs by thought transference. Their next step will be finding a way to incorporate that technology into the way motorists interact with their cars.

If the endeavour proves successful, the vehicles of the future may be able to prepare themselves for a left or right turn – choosing the correct speed and positioning – by gauging that their drivers are thinking about making such a turn.

However, although BMI technology is well established, the levels of human concentration needed to make it work are extremely high, so the research team is working on systems that will use statistical analysis to predict a driver’s next move and to “evaluate a driver’s cognitive state relevant to the driving environment”.

By measuring brain activity, monitoring patterns of eye movement and scanning the environment around the car, the team thinks the car will be able to predict what a driver is planning to do and help him or her complete the manoeuvre safely.

Lucian Gheorghe, who joined Nissan‘s mobility research centre after graduating in computer science and artificial intelligence from Kobe University, Japan, said he believed the joint project could benefit both scientists and motorists.

“Brain wave analysis has helped me understand driver burden in order to reduce driver stress,” he said. “During our collaboration with EPFL, I believe we will not only be able to contribute to the scientific community but we will also find engineering solutions that will bring us close to providing easy access to personal mobility for everyone.”

Professor José del R Millán, who is leading the project, said the idea behind the research was a simple one: “to blend driver and vehicle intelligence together in such a way that eliminates conflicts between them, leading to a safer motoring environment”…continue to source

Astronomy’s 3D Revolution

I ran across this article at technologyreview.com

Simple 3D tools could bring astronomy alive for scientists and the public alike. But the techniques are woefully underused, argue two astronomers.

When it comes to scientific visualisations, biochemists are the undisputed champions. These guys embraced 3D techniques to represent complex molecules at the dawn of the computer age. That’s made a huge difference to the way researchers understand and appreciate each other’s work. In fact, it’s fair to say that biochemistry would not be a poorer science without efficient 3D visualisation tools.
Now, Frederic Vogt and Alexander Wagner at the Australian National University argue that astronomy could benefit in a similar way from simple 3D tools.
“Stereo pairs are not merely an ostentatious way to present data, but an enhancement in the communication of scientifific results in publications because they provide the reader with a realistic view of multi-dimensional data, be it of observational or theoretical nature,” they say….continue reading.

Commercializing Stretchable Silicon Electronics

A Stretchy Sensing Tool for Surgery

Monday, March 7, 2011
By Katherine Bourzac

A new surgical tool covered in stretchable sensors could reduce the time required to map electrical problems in the heart from over an hour to just a few minutes. The tool could be one of the first commercial applications for an innovative method for making dense arrays of stretchable, biocompatible electronics using high-performance materials including silicon. The tool, which senses temperature and electrical activity, could also lead to better monitoring during other types of surgery, potentially reducing the rate of complications.

Putting such devices on a stretchy surface is not possible using conventional electronics manufacturing. The stretchable silicon electronics used were developed by John Rogers, professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne and a cofounder of MC10, a startup that is commercializing the technology. Researchers at MC10 are leading the development of the catheters and are also developing the electronics for other applications.

The surgical tool has performed well in animal tests designed to mimic a disorder called atrial fibrillation. This results from electrical problems in the heart tissue around the pulmonary vein, which carries blood back to the heart from the lungs. The condition, in which the upper chambers of the heart quiver instead of beating, is seen in over 2 million Americans, and in 15 percent of all people who have strokes. Atrial fibrillation is difficult to control with drugs, and the drugs that are used, including blood thinners, can have serious side effects. But the problem can be corrected with surgery. First, surgeons map the source of the electrical problem with a probe, and then they knock out the electrical trouble spots by heating and damaging those tissues.

The new multifunctional surgical tools could help speed this surgery, lowering the risk that something will go wrong.

Mapping electrical activity in heart tissue is conventionally done using a tool called a balloon catheter—a soft, inflatable probe fitted with one or two electrodes. The catheter is moved back and forth over the damaged tissue, taking thousands of electrical readings one at a time, and these become the basis for a map of electrical activity. But the process is time-consuming—in the case of some fibrillations it takes over an hour.

continue reading…

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