Processing power commoditized

(Awesome image courtesy Cliff Dwelling’s flickr stream)

I just read about the new microsoft data center paradigm and was appropriately blown away. Read this exerpt and you will see for yourself:

The trucks back ’em in, rack ’em, and stack ’em,” Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie told CNET News. And the containers remain sealed, Ozzie said. Once a certain number of servers in the container have failed, it will be pulled out and sent back to the manufacturer and a new container loaded in. 

Read the full article in CNET here.

Dear Iraqi Friends – NYTimes Op Ed.

A beautiful piece of writing by Thomas Friedman (of World is Flat fame). The piece is modelled as a letter from George Dubya to the Iraqi government. It starts off very provocatively –

Dear Sirs, I am writing you on a matter of grave importance. It’s hard for me to express to you how deep the economic crisis in America is today. We are discussing a $1 trillion bailout for our troubled banking system. This is a financial 9/11. As Americans lose their homes and sink into debt, they no longer understand why we are spending $1 billion a day to make Iraqis feel more secure in their homes.

In the wake of current economic downturns in the American economy, the US government really needs to introspect on its World Policing policies. The op ed becomes even more detailed and scathing as it proceeds criticizing the Bush govt. The beauty of this piece is in the writing (note that I am not endorsing nor opposing the views of the author). It is as though, Bush is introspecting and writing the letter. Check the following paragraphs out –

Don’t misunderstand me. Many Americans and me are relieved by the way you, the Iraqi people and Army have pulled back from your own brink of self-destruction. I originally launched this war in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. I was wrong. But it quickly became apparent that Al Qaeda and its allies in Iraq were determined to make America fail in any attempt to build a decent Iraq …..

Al Qaeda understood that if it could defeat America in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world, that it would resonate throughout the region and put Al Qaeda and its allies in the ascendant. Conversely, we understood that if we could defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq, in collaboration with other Arabs and Muslims, that it would resonate throughout the region and pay dividends ….

And in one paragraph, Friedman summarizes the policitcal situation in Iraq.

You Shiites have got to bring the Sunni tribes and Awakening groups, who fought the war against Al Qaeda of Iraq, into the government and Army. You Kurds have got to find a solution for Kirkuk and accept greater integration into the Iraqi state system, while maintaining your autonomy. You Sunnis in government have got to agree to elections so the newly emergent Sunni tribal and Awakening groups are able to run for office and become “institutionalized” into the Iraqi system. ….

Our ambassador, Ryan Crocker, has told me your problem: Iraqi Shiites are still afraid of the past, Iraqi Sunnis are still afraid of the future and Iraqi Kurds are still afraid of both.

And the piece concludes with a very sombre note by summarizing the current American sentiment.

Well, you want to see fear. Look in the eyes of Americans who are seeing their savings wiped out, their companies disappear, their homes foreclosed. We are a different country today. After a decade of the world being afraid of too much American power, it is now going to be treated to a world of too little American power, as we turn inward to get our house back in order.

Beautiful written. Kudos to you, Mr Friedman. I read your book (World is Flat), but I was only partially satisfied/impressed. This article proved your mettle (for me).

Read the full article here.

[NYtimes might require you to register free – do it, I think it is worth it!].

I hate SMS language – S Sir !

I have had a good relationship with hdfc for the past few years. I have a veritable committment with them – it is because of them I own my home. And it is because of this home, I have a relatively long term commitment with them (for a few more than 10 years). They have a pretty impressive and transparent online system, where you can check your PDC (post-dated cheques), your payment schedule – you can even print your yearly schedule for tax declaration purposes yourself. In all, I like them.

Until last week — when I used their online customer service query form to ask a question regarding tenure reduction etc. I got back a pretty cryptic reply by gmail. I  understand how these things work — call centers do not have the ultimate experts — so I did not get perturbed. I collated that information, and reformated it, and mailed back, stating my understanding, and asking them to confirm if my understanding was correct.

Now, hold your breath. I got back a reply with 4 characters.

S Sir.

This was all was there in the email. It took me a bit to realize that it meant “yes sir” in the first place. Wow, that blew the high reputation that the bank had in my books.

Companies like HDFC – please note — it takes only one person like this, to ruin your reputation that you have built so hard, and try so hard to keep up. Choose your call centers and your call-center employees carefully. Or atleast, train them properly.

Shuttle family photo

An apparently rare occasion caught on film.

Shown in the foreground is Space Shuttle Atlantis on Launch Pad A. The shuttle in the background is Endeavour, on Launch Pad B. Currently, both shuttles are locked and loaded for launch, should something go wrong up in space with the October 11 Atlantis mission. As Tom explains over at his Astronomy Blog, having two shuttles on the pad at the same time is rare, but it is not a cause for concern. When the ISS is not available for rescue purposes, as it might not be for this mission, a second shuttle is made ready for a quick launch. What is sobering, however, is this image is potentially the last of its kind. The space shuttle program is scheduled for retirement in 2010, leaving little chance for similar shuttle family photos in the future.


The ‘Made in India’ in the chip

This is a follow-up post to the previous Intel Xeon post. I just wanted to mention that, for the graphic below, I took a regular Intel chip picture from Google Images, and added the Made in India myself. And ohh, yes!, my chest swelled up with pride when I did that. It was a peculiar feeling, and just cannot be described.

I recalled a joke, that I had heard, in younger days about an American, a Russian, and an Indian designing an airplane. The American constructs the plane structure. The Russian puts in the engines and other machinary. The Indian paints “Made in India” on the plane and grins.

Well, I now proclaim that the above joke is no longer funny !!

We did it ! We designed it ourself and we have every right to paint ‘Made in India’ on it.

Intel Xeon 7400 – Made in India !

The song by Alisha Chinai – Made in India – has been my cell phone ringtone for quite some time now. And now, this tune resounds even better – when I read the EE times article, proclaiming the Intel Xeon 7400 processor to have been completely designed in India. For those not in the know, this is a BIG deal. Processor design is not trivial. Find quotes from the article below:

Intel’s India design team handled all design activities, including front-end design, pre-silicon logic validation and back-end design for the Intel Xeon 7400 series processor aimed at high-end servers and code-named Dunnington.

Along with being Intel India’s first complete microprocessor design, Praveen Vishakantaiah, president of Intel Technology India Pvt. Ltd., said the design ramp-up took just six years. “This is also the first complete 45-nanometer design outside the U.S,” Vishakantaiah added.

Boy, am I feeling proud or what !

[link to the original EETimes article]

Thirukkural in this age …

Kishore Kumar has a great set of pages which revalidate the Thirukkural in this age. Very reflective and thought provoking. He has quoted several kurals, and their relevance (or possible lack of ?) in the current day age of software and technology.

Go right ahead and enjoy! reading this set of pages. [link]

Disclaimer — I have read only 2 or 3 pages, but there seems to be many more, and I have bookmarked them for future reading.