FryUp: the belated bag review edition

Microsoft's TechEd bag goes under Juha's microscope. Plus Google is all at sea with its datacentre plans

— Deathwish — She’s Palin comparison — Belated TechEd 08 bag review — Hello, Data Sailor!

Deathwish Apologies for co-opting Trevor Childs like this, but in many ways, his song embodies what real journalism is about. Not rewriting press releases, or reporting quotes from media trained monkeys; nor staring at Excel spreadsheets or working out column-centimetres per journo productivity quotas. No no no. Deathwish

She’s Palin comparison McCain’s made a mistake, again. A Saraouhs one, by picking the wrong running mate. Needs to be sorted fast. YouTube Michael Palin for President

Belated TechEd 08 bag review Appoloogies! Especially to FryUp reader John T, whose expectations of a TechEd08 bag review were cruelly thwarted by… there not being one in the last issue. So, here it is then. I give you the bag (right):

As you can see, this year’s TechEd bag is roughly the size of a very fat black cat. The bag is black too, like the cat; I screwed up the picture a little by pointing my flash straight at the bag. Microsoft kept the outside branding to a minimum, only festooning lower right-hand corner of the bag flap with a small and tasteful TechEd 08 badge. Perhaps as an indication of the tightening economy and a desire by Microsoft to return to basics, the bag is a black-strapped, floppy, shoulder-slung number, constructed entirely from unsustainably man-made materials. There’s not much padding and support: the TechEd 08 bag wouldn’t be my choice for carting around laptops. It feels too insubstantial for that. Inside, we find branded lining and plenty of pockets, including one with a nylon zip. This makes the TechEd 08 bag fully functional for its intended purpose, but again, its insubstantial construction has been extended to the innards, and you’re left wondering how long the lot will last. Put it simply: this year’s model isn’t quite the quality bag we’ve seen Microsoft provide at past TechEds. Speaking of the innards, the contents of the bag were rather basic as well. Microsoft supplied a nicely-made bottle-top opener and a pen with a good, solid feel to it; there were also some vendor flyers, a programme and of course, a notepad. Oh, and a DVD that someone in the media room nicked. But… no memory sticks. How can you have a goodie bag without memory sticks? An Xbox would’ve been nice too. The most remarkable item in the bag came from HP. I will say no more about it, but point you to Br3nda’s blog: Like every year, the Silica Gel Throw Away Desiccant candy tasted horrible. No wonder they put “DO NOT EAT” on it.

Hello, Data Sailor! Data centres are actually fascinating things. They’ve sort of crept up on us, courtesy of a discreet computing revolution that is networked but relies on vast amounts of cheap x86 boxes humming away somewhere else than your place. Actually, they’re not humming… we’re talking about thin, nasty blade servers with high-pitched and loud 15,000 rpm miniature fans spinning away, drowning out the din of the massive airconditioning required to move away the heat of all the electrical gear. Mmmmrreeeeeeeerrrreeerree!!! Like that. That is the dirty secret of cloud computing: huge, windowless buildings that take up precious land, and suck up vast amounts of energy. If I remember right, each kilowatt of computing requires 600 Watts of cooling, without which the data centre gear will do the China Syndrome thing. It’s not surprising then that GOOG, dependent as it is on massive data centres, is all at sea over the issue. “Ocean platforms” with “crane removable modules” hooking into perhaps wave, tidal and wind generators for the juice, plus cooling the computers with sea water; that is Google’s vision of the floating data centre of the future. Thinking about it, the concept does seem logical. Instead of shipping computing devices via container ships, you use the latter to freight computing power closer to users. Plus, it’ll give us IT hacks a ready supply of tired nautical puns to draw upon. Gurgle? Google floats data centre on ‘ocean platform’ concept

XKCD

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Cartoon: www.xkcd.com

Robert X Cringely

Google is 10 – but far from a perfect 10

It was 10 years ago today, Serge and Larry taught the band to play — and the world to search the Net. Has Google truly changed the way we live on the Net? And is the search giant on the decline? It hardly seems possible that Google is now a tween. But it's true: ten years ago, on September 7, 1998, Google was born. Back then there were a dozen ways to search the Web — Excite, Lycos, Alta Vista, Hotwire, Yahoo, etc. — none of them particularly good. I would go from one to another, trying and usually failing to find the information I needed. Google changed all of that. It won the search wars the way you're supposed to win things — by being simpler, faster, and better than everyone else. It quickly became my home page and that's where it remains. As Google has rolled out more and more free services, I've given each of them a spin. After a week of using Google Maps I booted MapQuest out of my bookmarks folder. I ditched my PIM after Google introduced Google Calendar. Google News has replaced my morning newspaper. But everything Google touches does not turn to gold. Gmail's offer of a free gig of storage revolutionised the notion of web mail and obliterated the economic model Yahoo Mail and Hotmail were struggling to develop. But though I use Gmail, it won't replace my desktop software. I love the idea of having all my mail in the cloud, but Gmail's interface blows. I can't believe they've never overhauled it. So far I've been totally unimpressed by Google Docs — it won't replace Open Office for me. Froogle, Google's shopping search engine, has a cute name but that's about it. I looked at Orkut for about five minutes; that was enough. And where are the off-line solutions for Gmail and Google Calendar? They should have been ready a year ago. (Google Gears, anyone? Hello?) Now we have Chrome and the Android phone. Together these are the most significant Google releases since the original search engine. Chrome could enable a Windows-free thin-client future; an Android phone could be that thin client. But these apps — and everything else the company does — come back to the single most troubling thing about Google: its insatiable appetite for data. Though the company's privacy record is better than many, it's not great. And everything it does, from introducing new services to swallowing up ad delivery companies, adds to that treasure trove of data. Here's the product I'd like to see the Sergey-Larry-Eric troika introduce before another ten years elapse: Google Privacy. Give me something that ensures I have total control over my information; that nobody — marketers, service providers, lawsuit-happy media companies, Uncle Sam or Google itself — can snoop around my digital domain. Do that, and I'll stop complaining about the company that I rely on so heavily to feed my Net addiction. I might even buy them a cake or something. And oh, by the way, Happy Birthday.

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