A Blog Worth Reading

From @sharads tweet, I discovered JP’s blog. I would like to share a couple of snippets from his About This Blog page.

I believe that Moore’s Law and Metcalfe’s Law and Gilder’s Law have created an environment where it is finally possible to demonstrate the value of information technology in simple terms rather than by complex inferences and abstract arguments.

I believe that simplicity and convenience are important, and that we have to learn to respect human time.

I believe we need to discuss these things and find ways of getting them right. And I have a fervent hope that through this blog, I can keep the conversations going and learn from them.

I agree  – we do need to discuss these things and find ways of getting them right.

LinkLog: Intel Parallel Tools

Just found out about Intel Parallel Studio. Signed up. Looks cool. Hopefully kickstart innovation in multi-core apps. They just need to add a couple of multi-core challenges.

Kind of disappointed that the language support is only for C/C++ but hopefully other languages will catch up soon.

You may also want to check out Go Parallel.

Inventing the Future

Alan Kay once said that “The best way to predict the future is to invent it”. It is always nice to see efforts to invent the future. Some are small with near term potential and some are large ambitious once. Here are just a couple, I came across today in a mail I received from ACM TechNews.

Intel’s Challenge

“We Challenge You: A Call to Action on Global Issues

Intel’s INSPIRE•EMPOWER Challenge is calling for the best technology solutions to address four areas of global need – education, healthcare, economic development, and the environment. The contest will award seed funding of $100,000 USD to one winner in each category. The Challenge is designed to inspire developers, individuals, and organizations to innovate and empower them to deliver new ways to apply technology to these issues. The INSPIRE•EMPOWER Challenge advances the commitment of the Intel World Ahead Program – to connect people to a world of opportunity.”

You can find out more about Intel’s challenge here.

Expeditions in Computing

This initiative from NSF is a more ambitious one.

The Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) at the National Science Foundation (NSF) has established four new Expeditions in Computing. Each of these $10 million grants will allow teams of researchers and educators to pursue far-reaching research agendas that promise significant advances in the computing frontier and great benefit to society.

“We created the Expeditions program to encourage the research community to send us their brightest and boldest ideas,” said Jeannette Wing, NSF’s assistant director for CISE. “We received an overwhelming response, and I’m delighted with the results of our first annual competition. The four Expeditions together push both the depth and breadth of our field: pursuing longstanding scientific questions of computing, creating a new field of computational sustainability, experimenting with novel technologies for secure, ubiquitous computing and communications of the future, and exploring what we even think of as computing.”

It covers four broad areas.

  1. Understand, Cope with, and Benefit From Intractability
  2. Computational Sustainability: Computational Methods for a Sustainable Environment, Economy, and Society
  3. Open Programmable Mobile Internet 2020 project
  4. Molecular Programming Project

CISE anticipates hosting an Expeditions competition annually, with three new awards anticipated each year. The deadline for preproposal submission to the second annual Expeditions competition is September 10, 2008.

Do you know of any other initiatives of similar nature around the world. Please add a comment with a link.

Internet that is proactive, predictive and context-aware

Not a bad thing to dream about. Looks as if Intel is trying to make that happen with more powerful and less power-hungry processors. Here is Intel CEO at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES):

“It’s an internet that is proactive, predictive and context-aware.”

Explaining that devices would be location-aware, and would access the internet over Wimax wireless connections, he said: “Instead of going to the internet, the internet comes to us.

“We need a ubiquitous, wireless broadband infrastructure. Eventually we will blanket the globe in wireless broadband connectivity.”

Mr Otellini said for this vision of the future to be fulfilled it would “require exponentially more powerful processors, using less and less power”.

This is great. It may happen in a few years. But as software professionals, how can we leverage these new developments?  Here are some things to think about:

  • Does size (of applications) matter?
  • Will we have hundreds of small, loosely connected, context-aware applications, instead of just a few?
  • Do we need new frameworks to build these apps?
  • What will be the evolution of mobile operating systems? Which one is ready for the challenge?
  • How will the IDEs and development tools evolve?
  • What new languages or new language features emerge?
  • What are the user interaction design challenges? (the current mobile apps suck big time)

There seems to be many opportunities in this space.