Thin Clients

InfoWorld has a report on thin clients:

Since they first began to replace dumb terminals in the late 90s, thin clients have always been niche machines in industries like healthcare, banking, education, and city government. Some are ultrathin with no OS at all, which exchange data with servers via an ICA or RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) client. Others are merely thin, sporting a firmware-based embedded OS like Windows CE or XP and a browser. A few are even ordinary desktops, stripped of local storage that use custom boot software or a terminal emulator. Although thin clients account for less than 1 percent of todays desktop machines, theyre growing twice as fast as PCs and may account for 10 percent of all enterprise systems by 2008, according to IDC.

The reason? Like Neumaier, IT managers have discovered that thin clients give them greater security with far less hassle.

Tags – Good and Bad

Don Turnbull offers the pros and cons:

Tags are good because:

* They show a user’s view of the data
* When in a hypertext system, they provide easy ways to sort and browse data
* They help with search because they may offer additional keywords for a resource that aren’t in the original resource
* Experts are not good at describing every possible keyword or concept that may apply
* Tags are additional (meta)data that can be analyzed by information retrieval systems

Tags are bad because:

* Experts may be a little better at describing resources (assuming that experts are the one posting and creating the resources in question)
* Tags may be too focused on one community of users for wide utility
* Once tagged, a dynamic resource may change, but the tags may not necessarily be updated to reflect this change
* Tags are just another system of resource identification to spam, spoof and game (especially tags as links to Web pages)

Digital Media in the US

Technology Review has a good graphical summary: “Three digital-media technologies crossed a threshold last year; more than half of U.S. households now have a DVD player, a wireless phone, and Internet access. Still, only about one-quarter of homes have broadband; this limitation is impeding the proliferation of digital media. One technology that has been a pariah for music-industry types may soon be a darling: digital audio, long blamed for eroded revenues, is expected to substantially contribute to music labels’ top lines this year in the form of paid downloads. This could help create the first growth in revenue for the sector in five years. One business sees nothing but blue skies: video-game revenue is expected to continue its outrageous climb, bolstered over the next few years by the release of next-generation consoles that will likely have enhanced online capabilities. But what will make the biggest mark on the industry in the coming years? Digital video recorders, predict media executives.”

Audience Participation in Newspapers

The New York Times writes:

“Get me rewrite!”

For years those words evoked the romanticism of the newspaper business, back when swashbuckling reporters landed scoops with derring-do. Today they mean something else entirely, at least here where the people at The News & Record, the local daily, are toiling to reinvent their newspaper.

In this world, “Get me rewrite” will in effect be a menu option, a way for unhappy readers to go online and offer their own versions of articles they do not like. Their hope is to convert the paper, through its Web site,, into a virtual town square, where citizens have a say in the news and where every reader is a reporter.

This feature, part of a planned overhaul of The News & Record’s Web site that is to begin next week, is a potent symbol of a transformation taking place across the country, where top-down, voice-of-God journalism is being challenged by what is called participatory journalism, or civic or citizen journalism.

Under this model, readers contribute to the newspaper. And they are doing so in many forms, including blogs, photos, audio, video and podcasts.

Whether such efforts can revive revenue for newspaper publishers is an open question. But with gloomy financial forecasts and declines in circulation, some papers are starting to see participatory journalism as their hope for reconnecting with their audiences.

Web 2.0 Push

Bon Cringely writes:

Web 2.0 — the next version of the World Wide Web — is getting a lot of press lately in nerdish circles, but the terms in which it is being described often don’t make sense to me. There is a lot of data stored today on the web that isn’t accessible using traditional search engines, leading to what Bob Wyman calls the visible, invisible, and gray webs. Visible is web data we use today, mainly with the help of Google. Invisible is data that is ignored by Google and the other search engines. And the gray web is filled with data that we can search, perhaps, but can’t understand. Imagine using an English-language search engine to search a Persian-language web site. The way out of this, to a new dawn where visible, invisible, and gray data alike are available to us, is through Web 2.0 (sometimes called or confused with the so-called “semantic web”), where we will use metadata (primarily XML) to advertise our needs and disposals to the world.

Here is what Web 2.0 WILL be, in my view: a new way of structuring Internet businesses around published APIs, Application Programming Interfaces. New companies will spring up that simply glue web-based APIs together. For example, Google Maps plus accident reports for insurance companies, or Amazon plus eBay plus Froogle for purchasing departments.

Forty percent of eBay’s business comes through APIs today. Think about it.

Web 2.0 will be staffed by two different kinds of entrepreneurs — those who provide staunch web services exposed through APIs (Amazon, eBay, Google, and a bunch more), and those who glue those services together and make some sort of useful abstraction service.

TECH TALK: Next-Generation Networks: The Rationale

Let us start by looking at what the definition and motivations behind the next-generation networks. Dr. Peter Tomsu of Cisco Systems writes:

The phrase Next Generation Network (NGN) describes an integrated, open network architecture that provides voice, data and multimedia services over the same network. Integrated networking itself is not something specifically new: looking back over more than 20 years weve seen Broadband ISDN, then ATM, and Multi Service Networks. These all tried to deliver integrated service offerings. So what is the new and appealing in NGN? What makes NGN a popular buzzword seen all over the networking industry today?

NGN uses a packet-based network and multiple broadband, quality of service (QoS)-enabled transport technologies to provide services including telecommunication and data services. One special area addressed by NGN is the concept of nomadicity, a feature which gives fixed line and mobile users completely seamless communication. Simply put, this means the underlying technology will be invisible to the user regardless of where in a multi-service, multi-protocol, multi-vendor environment the user resides. This is a big advance, since it allows us to decouple service-related functions from underlying transport-related technologies. NGN offers unrestricted access to different service providers and supports generalized mobility, affording users consistent and ubiquitous provisioning of services.

The most important ingredient of NGN is a converged, QoS-aware packet infrastructure. This infrastructure must satisfy QOS criteria while also ensuring transparent service availability in any part of the network. This is achieved in an NGN by providing seamless access to critical information and by virtualizing applications and services. NGN satisfies the ubiquitous access requirement by providing transport independent services, in a converged wireless and wireline network model.

BCR writes (in an introduction for its NGN 2005 conference coming up in September):

Many enterprises, service providers and equipment makers arent satisfied with todays networks. They want moremore security, more real-time QOS for voice and video, more features and functions, and of course, if they are in the business of selling products or services, more revenue. And they arent sure theyll get it from todays Net.

Thats why there are multiple visions of Next Generation Networks, and well be talking about all of them at the NGN 2005 conference. First, there is the vision of the international standards bodies that are working to standardize network services rather than components, interfaces and basic technologies. If successful, these efforts will not only impose new rules on what network users can do, they will also force new directions on the evolution of network technologies.

Second, there are the many visions of wireless, which are rapidly unfolding as customersenterprises and consumersshift away from the wireline world and take their voice, data and even video capabilities with them. Wireless technologies have often outrun the standards organizations and service providers, and the latest versions of WiFi, WiMAX, UWB and SDR are no exception. We are in the early stages of the wireless everything revolution, and its far from clear which technologies and services will survive the coming shakeout.

Tomorrow: IMS

Continue reading