Gary Allison's Leadership Blog

April 2009

Tech News12 Apr 2009 09:09 pm

Were you worried about the April 1 Conficker worm a few weeks ago? While this virus got plenty of media attention, an attack by cyber terrorists might be much more effective on phone, internet, banking, and maybe even our electric grid with the cut of a few fiber optic cables. The prototype of such an attack may have taken place last Thursday in the SF Bay Area as ten fiber optic cables were cut in 4 places around 4:00 AM.

This could have been a probe of our defenses (non-existent) or perhaps a labor protest by CWA union members who have voted to strike (which they deny).  Either way, Dvorak has it right when he calls into question Obama’s proposal of a “Smart Grid” controlling the nation’s electric distribution.  Terriorist, disgruntled union workers, or otherwise, one thing is certian: these criminals knew exactly what they were doing, exactly what manholes to climb down, and exactly what cables to cut.

Cloud Computing and Tech News02 Apr 2009 10:19 pm

Today, Amazon announced their Amazon Elastic MapReduce cloud web service.  A natural extension to their EC2 cloud services on one hand, and a somewhat startling event on the other.  In a recent post, I spoke of the global implications of the readily available low cost cloud computing infrastructure.  Now, it seems this service has entered the realms of massively parallel computing.

Not clear at this point what the limits of this service are, but the possibilities are staggering.  Not enough computing power in Pyongyang?  No problem, run your nuke simulations right here Mr Kim Jong-il. An extreme case, and perhaps too complex / compute intensive for this offering, but the point is never have resources of this scale been so readily available.  Amazing.

A better fit for tasks like SETI@Home, these distributed networks are useful in solving very large data intensive types of problems like web indexing.  Google even provides a nice tutorial on mapreduce.  This is also a nice class lecture on mapreduce from Cal Berkeley.  Enjoy.