Friday, February 29, 2008

A Common Power Struggle

We know the machines have to get smarter, the goal is to be always moving forward, adding more value, cutting costs, getting more and getting it faster. Just to discuss briefly, the first school of thought represented is that of Cisco, related by John Chambers (CEO). A person can look at things from a network hardware point of view, watching the development of network hardware and observe that as time goes on, applications move into switches and network hardware. They become network services and are then expected on the hardware, such as a firewall. This assimilation brings with it many benefits which are blood on the lips of a thirsty greenback seekers who seek to find a model and ride it until the money stops flowing. You need only see the toilet paper roll/iPod dock to know what I am talking about. From this perspective, if some applications moving to network hardware is good, more would be even better, right? Cisco's latest marketing materials and corporate direction is towards very 'smart' hardware that can do amazing things for an industry seeking virtualization. I have mentioned Cisco, but make no mistake, this is not a one horse show. Many other companies are readying for the same vision.

The idea, non-technically, is to make all of the resources in a data center flexible, so that where you need the power is where it goes. Machines that have special abilities being used for what they are most effective at performing. A most exciting concept is utilizing processor power or memory from other servers that are not running that specific application. The systems for this are often proprietary, expensive, and a massive undertaking. In addition to the high starting cost, the distinct possibility of high ongoing costs as a result of proprietary hardware/software looms over this concept to the point that I wouldn't expect the market to take to it quickly, if at all.

The other side of the house would comment that they've observed increased processing power in even the smallest 'end' devices. This exponential growth in power and subsequently power/cost leads to the conclusion that the network should remain as it is, the link between devices as opposed to replacements for them.

Where the line will be drawn is uncertain, although my wager would not be with the smart network crowd, it seems more likely we'll see a compromise than either vision capturing the majority.

The Letter J

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Punch Brothers - Punch

Released Tuesday February 26th, 2008.

Finally the next thing has arrived to dominate my obsession. Such as it is at my level of affective domain for music, it can and by definition must consume me.

The CD contains 8 tracks of original material, half written as a group, half by Chris Thile alone. What you should expect is that it is the most amazing thing I've heard to date, what you won't expect is how exactly it is that good. A 3:34 opener that was used as an early single. The next 42 minutes were composed by Chris Thile in a 4 Movement dream called The Blind Leaving The Blind. They wrap the modest length (56 minutes) 8 track album up with 3 more outstanding band compositions.

With my mind fresh with ideas from Oliver Sacks, I wonder about what it is that makes something sound good to someone and the amount of power it is subsequently given over the mind and body. It seems that at a rudimentary level that a synthetic series of tones in intervals could be played that would please a human, but we all know that is not entirely the case. I believe that the complexity and variability is due to the close relationship of music to our language processors, not of spoken word but of music language built from experience and environment much like the dialect of spoken language is built.

Back to the topic at hand, it was not immediately clear to me what I liked about Punch. It feels like it accesses so many of my interests in music all at once. It is brimming with technical excellence, compositional complexity and honest beauty that satisfies in a way that I will spend months adjusting to.

The Letter J

Dear Punch Brothers,
Go Punch Brothers!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Music Statistics with QlikView

QlikView is a product/suite that is used for clever presentation of data in clickable formats for people who like pictures to explain their data as opposed to actual data. For those who absolutely love seeing their metrics and KPI's as inappropriate "speed gauge" style indicators, this product has it down. The data is loaded from your desired datasource into a local file which greatly reduces the rendering time while making the solution a lot less "on-demand" than I prefer. Alas, it is in use and the people have embraced it.

In addition to the business application, there is a much more interesting section of data loaded on their website connected to MediaGuide to provide music information. Slightly limited, but all things considered, pretty cool.

The Letter J