Monthly Archives: August 2006

Very Interesting: Amazon EC2 / Amazon Web Services

Computing on demand. You can rent one or more virtual machines, each equivalent to a 1.7GHz Xenon with 1.7GB of memory, by the hour for $0.10/hour. That’s about $70/month (plus $0.15/month per GB of storage), which isn’t bad on its own. It’s even better because you can ramp capacity up and down by bringing additional instances on line.

If it works as promised, I think lots and lots of smart, hungry, low capital-outlay startups are going to build using Amazon’s infrastructure. It looks like a no brainer. If you architect your application intelligently, the cost of scaling is going to be rougly linear with load and the lock-in is minimal. From what I understand, the computational environment looks like a linux box, complete with root level access, so the cost of moving to dedicated hardware at some point is very doable. Of course, if Amazon does things right, people won’t ever want to leave, but as a potential customer, it’s nice to know that there is an obvious route to independence if things don’t work out.

Would be interesting to experiment with this for scientific computing. Ideally you’d want an instance manager that could be tuned to the fact that instances are billed on an hourly basis. Amazon Web Services Store: Amazon EC2 / Amazon Web Services
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.

Iraq is in a Civil War? What Next for the US?

John P. Abizaid, commander of the US Central Command, and the top US commander in the Middle East recently told a Senate palel that “Iraq is on a trajectory for Civil War”:–+National+News.  Recently, the British ambassador to Iraq voiced a similar opinion.

Assuming this is true, what is the US going to do about it, or, more to the point, who will the US back?  The Kurds?

Wow, Google Reader Kinda Sucks, and here’s why…

I just tried out “Google Reader”: (Google’s RSS Aggregator) for the first time. It sucks. Sure, it’s got lots of slick AJAXY UI wizzardry, but it isn’t very efficient. You get a list of the titles of all the items in your feeds and then have to select each one to actually see the content. Even with the keyboard shortcuts and whatnot, you can only view one item at a time.

I don’t know that I’m totally sold on the whole “River of News”: concept, where all the items for all your feeds are shown on one page in reverse chronological order. But I do like seeing all the entries for a given feed, or group of feeds, displayed that way so I can quickly whip through them with the scrollbar, stopping on the items that catch my eye.

It feels like it takes me about the same amount of time and effort to eyeball an entire blog entry and decide if I want to read it in depth as it does to make the decision based on reading a headline. More importantly, my error rate is lower from eyeballing the whole story, because I base my decision on more information (and blog entry titles often suck) and I don’t have to do anything more to read the entry, because it’s right there in front of me. When forced to go by the title, I have to select the title and wait for the rest of the item to load (thankfully this happens quite quickly with Google Reader), and then I often decide to pass on the item after all because the full-text shows me that the entry wasn’t very interesting (for example, a recap of a news story I read somewhere else already).