Catching The Next Wave

April 8, 2008

Note: The Pages o’ Peat have moved to http://peat.org/ — please update your bookmarks and references accordingly. Thank you!

Every now and then a set of technologies gets twisted together by a small group of dedicated people, and a new industry is born — a watershed event that demonstrates a new way of thinking about things, and throws out a lot of old rules.

There are a three that are coming together to trigger another watershed.

The first is open, popular, mobile Internet devices.  Think Blackberry, iPhone, or the slew of new MIDs that Intel showed off a few days ago in Shanghai.   These are built around the assumption of ubiquitous access to the Internet, high resolution displays, multimedia capabilities, and a bit of horsepower under the hood.  Any college student can get their hands on the Android or iPhone or Windows Mobile SDKs and build a hot little application in their spare time.

The second is web services.  It doesn’t matter if it’s WS* or REST or XML or JSON — the point is being able to query and manipulate data at a distance, with open protocols across public and private networks.  Pick your web framework of choice … building a web service is almost a drag and drop process today.

The third and final piece is cheap and scalable cloud computing.  The physical infrastructure capable of serving billions of transactions is available to anyone with a credit card and a little spare time on the weekend.  Amazon’s Web Services, Google’s App Engine, and a slew of smaller providers sell scalable computing and bandwidth by the hour and gigabyte.

These three fit together to form a fundamentally different picture of mobile computing:  light weight applications that fit in your pocket that take advantage of the local hardware, but seamlessly tap into “Internet scale” computing power and storage.

I’ve talked with a dozen entrepreneurs in as many months who are exploring these waters.  Streaming media (push and pull), information discovery and analysis, mobile social interactions, and location aware applications all depend on this trinity of capabilities.  I’m just one guy in a groundswell of people who are looking at the landscape and thinking “hot damn!”

What makes this so exciting is how easy it is to do today.  You don’t need a dozen engineers and a multi-million dollar budget.  You don’t need to negotiate with a corporate gatekeeper.  You don’t need to pitch to VCs.  You don’t need to wait.

2009 is going to bring a wave of media rich, location aware, always connected mobile applications to hundreds of millions of people.  I’m confident we’ll see a real forehead slapper by the end of 2008 — a tool or service that is painfully obvious, but fundamentally changes how we think about a day to day task.  It’ll make a millionaire or two, at the very least.

This will be fun.  🙂

More Screen Space

April 7, 2007

I’m a huge fan of my little white MacBook.  I think it’s just about the best deal on the planet for a personal computer, laptop or otherwise.  The only thing that isn’t so hot is the screen size.  Great for use as a laptop, not so great for sitting at a desk all day.

So I went out looking for a cheap monitor that wasn’t totally hideous and rendered text nicely, and I found this:  a Hanns G 19″ widescreen.  No, I’ve never heard of them before … but it gets the job done nicely.  I bought it at a local shop, but Amazon has it for $180.  We now have a couple of ’em, one at home on the Mac Mini, and one at work.  No troubles what so ever.

If you need a little extra screen space, and you’re not a stickler for color accuracy or incredibly high resolution, it’s a pretty sweet deal.

Geek Golf Announcement

April 4, 2007

Well, it looks like enough people were interested in a Geek Golf event, so it’s on!  If you’re in or near Portland, and you like swinging sticks and drinking beer, this is a pretty good opportunity to get together and have some fun with like-minded geeks.

Head on over to http://geekgolf.pbwiki.com/ and RSVP, so that we can make the proper arrangements.

Of course, if you’re not anywhere near Portland, you’re more than welcome to start your own Geek Golf event!

Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions.  My address is in the sidebar.

Got API?

April 2, 2007

Handy link of the day:  http://gotapi.com/

All your favorite APIs in one place, with very friendly searching.

Geek Golf

April 2, 2007

It’s golf, the other four letter word!

Golf is an awkward subject for a lot of us. It seems we’ve developed a reflexive distrust for anyone who thinks it’s fun to stand around and wear pressed khakis and bright Polo shirts. I don’t know what it is — maybe it’s the trite motivational golf posters adorning the office of that slick sales guy down the hall, or the excruciatingly slow pace of those televised tournaments on ESPN, or the massive kitsch and gimmick industry that just rubs everyone the wrong way.

Or, maybe the idea of swinging a very expensive stick at a very expensive ball on a very expensive lawn just isn’t appealing.

Anyhow, I that’s pretty much what I thought about golf until last year, when my brother in law took a job at GolfNow.com. When he started taking golf lessons I thought it was a little strange. When he started disappearing every weekend, I grew concerned.

One day, he invited me out for some “pitch and putt” golf, and I figured I’d see what was really going on.

That was about a year ago, and now I’m pretty well hooked on it.

Here’s the secret: golf isn’t about spending a heap of money to impress your well heeled friends, and it isn’t some sort of hot and heavy alpha male competition. It’s not expensive. It’s not selling your soul. It’s not a stuffy, upper crusty, snobby pursuit. Heck, it’s not even about the equipment.

Golf is about your friends. It’s an opportunity to get out of your day-to-day routine and do something different, with people you’d like to hang out with anyway. It’s about turning it into your own thing, with your own crowd (and having a good laugh about pressed khakis and bright Polo shirts).

So, a big part of that is getting your crowd interested — how many people here in Portland would be interested in a monthly Geek Golf event? Get together on a weekend, play a round, followed by beer?

Capazon

March 27, 2007

Jesse Newland took Amazon EC2 and Capistrano out for a hot date, and ended up with Capazon — a brilliant set of tasks for managing EC2 instances.

Go forth and play with it, ye adventurous developers.

Concentro

March 27, 2007

Rackable Systems Concentro data centerLooks like Sun’s Project Blackbox project has a little competition — Rackable Systems has introduced (and is shipping) the Concentro. It’s a data center in a 40 foot shipping container. It’s tailored to Rackable’s server products, with half depth racks and a custom DC power system, but it’s intriguing none the less. With all the hype around “containerized” data centers, I’m pretty sure we’ll see a few others join the fray.

Whatever happened to Google’s rumored container project? Was that the genesis of Project Blackbox, or were all of these companies secretly building these things at the same time?