Cringely on Sun’s Project Blackbox

Cringely writeshad originally advocated the idea Google shipping data centres in a container. Sun’s Project Blackbox makes the idea a reality.

The beauty of a shipping container data center isn’t just that it operates stand-alone and can be plunked down in the parking lot of your existing data center or dropped by helicopter on the roof of your headquarters building. A great proportion of its beauty lies in the shipping container’s efficiency not as a server but as a network. It’s the largest sneakernet ever built. Moving a petabyte of data across the country using even the biggest optical fiber connection could take weeks, but the Blackbox can be installed in at most a few days.

Companies with huge data centers will use Blackboxes like school districts these days use portable classrooms, distributing them as the computing load requires with installations that will be called temporary but may well end up being permanent, at least in terms of computer-years. And the part Sun really hopes for, of course, is that big customers will keep a Blackbox or two around just in case of emergencies. At $2 million per container, a couple hundred standby units mean real money to Sun, which could use it.

Math of Web 2.0

Ajit Jaokar writes: “Participation leads to exponential growth. More the users, the more pictures to share, videos to upload and comments to add. Thus, the growth rate of a Web 2.0 site is proportional to the number of members in the site at a point in time (the classic definition of exponential growth la bacteria in a culture).”

Critical Thinking

WSJ writes:

Critical thinking means being able to evaluate evidence, to tell fact from opinion, to see holes in an argument, to tell whether cause and effect has been established and to spot illogic. “Most research shows you can teach these skills,” notes cognitive psychologist D. Alan Bensley of Frostburg State University, Maryland. “But critical-thinking skills are different from critical-thinking dispositions, or a willingness to deploy those skills.”

A tendency to employ critical thinking, according to studies going back a decade, goes along with certain personality traits, not necessarily with intelligence. Being curious, open-minded, open to new experiences and conscientious indicates a disposition to employ critical thinking, says Prof. Bensley. So does being less dogmatic and less authoritarian, and having a preference for empirical and rational data over intuition and emotion when weighing information and reaching conclusions.