Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Gartner's Top 10 Tech Trends for 2012

These predictions are always fun and interesting.

From IT World Canada.

1. Media tablets and beyond: Bring-your-own-technology at work has become the norm, not the exception. With that come security and management challenges that IT needs to address. By 2015 media tablet shipments will reach around 50% of laptop shipments and Windows 8 will likely be in third place behind Android and Apple. The net result is that Microsoft's share of the client platform, be it PC, tablet or smartphone, will likely be reduced to 60% and it could fall below 50%, Cearley says. The implication for IT is that the era of PC dominance with Windows as the single platform will be replaced with a post-PC era where Windows is one of a variety of environments IT will need to support. In the smartphone arena, prices will fall to $75 for entry-level devices in 2012 with faster two- and four-core processors, and with bigger, brighter, higher-resolution screens, plus 3D, HD video and more sensors such as gyros, compasses and barometers driving greater features into high-end devices. While iOS dominates the tablet market today, Gartner says it expects iOS/Android will dominate the market with 80% of tablets shipped by 2015.

2. Mobile-centric applications and interfaces: Here touch, gesture and voice search is going to change the way mobile apps work in the future, Cearley says. By 2014, there will be more than 70 billion mobile application downloads from app stores every year. By 2014, at least half of the tools optimized for app store application development in 2010 will have been acquired or will have ceased to exist.

3. Social and contextual user experience: According to Gartner, context-aware computing uses information about an end user's or object's environment, activities connections and preferences to improve the quality of interaction with that end user or object. A contextually aware system anticipates the user's needs and proactively serves up the most appropriate and customized content, product or service. The tipping point here could be technology such as near-field communications getting into more and more devices. Some interesting facts here: By 2015, 40% of the world's smartphone users will opt in to context service providers that track their activities with Google, Microsoft, Nokia and Apple continuously tracking daily journeys and digital habits for 10% of the world population by 2015, Cearley says.

4. Application stores and marketplace: The key here is the rise of enterprise application stores that can develop specific apps for users. This will let IT manage and control certain apps. But embracing the idea of user choice might be a difficult concept for enterprise IT to embrace, Cearley says. Enterprises should use a managed diversity approach to focus app store efforts and segment apps by risk and value. Where the business value of an app is low and the potential risk, such as the loss of sensitive data, is high, apps might be blocked entirely.

5. The Internet of everything: The idea here is that we are building on pervasive computing where cameras, sensors, microphones, image recognition -- everything -- is now part of the environment. Remote sensing of everything from electricity to air conditioning use is now part of the network. In addition, increasingly intelligent devices create issues such as privacy concerns. Eventually IT will need some central unified management of all these devices, Cearley says.

6. Next-generation analytics: Most enterprises have reached the point in the improvement of performance and costs where Cearley says they can afford to perform analytics and simulation for every action taken in the business. Not only will data center systems be able to do this, but mobile devices will have access to data and enough capability to perform analytics themselves, potentially enabling use of optimization and simulation everywhere. Going forward, IT can focus on developing analytics that enable and track collaborative decision making.

7. Big data: Big data has quickly emerged as a significant challenge for IT leaders. The term only became popular in 2009. By February 2011, a Google search on "big data" yielded 2.9 million hits, and vendors now advertise their products as solutions to the big data challenge. The key thing enterprises have to realize is that they just can't store it all. There are new techniques to handle extreme data, such as Apache Hadoop, but companies will have to develop new skills to effectively use these technologies, Cearley says.

8. In-memory computing: We will see huge use of flash memory in consumer devices, entertainment devices, equipment and other embedded IT systems. In addition, flash offers a new layer of the memory hierarchy in servers and client computers that has key advantages -- space, heat, performance and ruggedness among them. Unlike RAM, the main memory in servers and PCs, flash memory is persistent even when power is removed. In that way, it looks more like disk drives where we place information that must survive power-downs and reboots, yet it has much of the speed of memory, far faster than a disk drive. As lower-cost -- and lower-quality -- flash is used in the data center, software that can optimize the use of flash and minimize the endurance cycles becomes critical. Users and IT providers should look at in-memory computing as a long-term technology trend that could have a disruptive impact comparable to that of cloud computing, Cearley says.

9. Extreme low-energy servers: What if you could turn 10 virtual machines in one box into 40 slow physical servers that are tiny and use very low amounts of energy? There is a call for this type of computing to handle big data. For example, thousands of these little processors could work on a Hadoop process, Cearley says. Gartner says that 10%-15% of enterprise workloads are good for this. Moving the application from 10 images to 40 slower, less capable machines will only deliver on that promise if the software will perform the same. Server technologies are going to change to handle big data.

10. Cloud computing: This topic went from No. 1 last year to No. 10 this year, but it's still an important trend. It will become the next-generation battleground for the likes of Google and Amazon. Going forward, enterprise IT will be concerned with developing hybrid private/publiccloud apps, improving security and governance, Cearley says.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Pink Floyd's The Discovery Studio Album Box Set

Pink Floyd's The Discovery Studio Album Box Set. About $180.00.

From the Winnipeg Free Press:

What you get: Remastered versions of all 14 Pink Floyd studio albums in gatefold CD cases and a 60-page book of alternative and rare artwork.

What it needs: People who purchase the box set are probably going to be hardcore fans who know all about the band, but some notes on the history of the group would have been a nice touch. A disc featuring non-album singles like Arnold Layne and See Emily Play would have made this totally complete.

Here's an album by album breakdown:

  • The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

Year released: 1967

Notes: The first and only album with drug casualty/pop genius Syd Barrett. A psychedelic/space rock masterpiece.

Highlights: Astronomy Domine, Intersteller Overdrive, Bike.

5 out of 5

  • A Saucerful of Secrets

Year released: 1968

Notes: Barrett was out and guitar god David Gilmour was in, joining bassist-vocalist Roger Waters, keyboardist-vocalist Richard Wright and percussionist Nick Mason on a set of material that balances the band's prog tendencies with flights into folky fantasy.

Highlights: Remember a Day, Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun, Jugband Blues.

4 out of 5

  • More

Year released: 1969

Notes: The soundtrack to the French film More was released as a proper Floyd album in England.

Highlights: The Nile Song, Green is the Colour, Ibiza Bar.

3 out of 5

  • Ummagumma

Year released: 1969

Notes: A double disc set featuring an album of live material recorded in 1969 and a studio album with every member getting the chance to show off a solo piece. The four live songs all surpass the studio versions.

Highlights: Careful with That Axe, Eugene, A Saucerful of Secrets, Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict.

4 out of 5

  • Atom Heart Mother

Year released: 1970

Notes: The album is bookended by two meandering instrumental suites that clock in at 23 and 13 minutes respectively, but also contains one of Waters' most touching ballads, If.

Highlights: If, Summer of '68, Fat Old Sun.

3 out of 5

  • Meddle

Year released: 1971

Notes: The band delves into some lounge, blues and pastoral folk, but offer up one of its early career highlights: the 23-minute epic Echoes, which took up an entire side upon its original release.

Highlights: One of These Days, A Pillow of Winds, Echoes.

4 out of 5

  • Obscured by Clouds

Year released: 1972

Notes: The soundtrack to a French film called La Vallée. Mostly mellow and folk-oriented, it reached No. 1 on the charts in France.

Highlights: The Gold It's in the..., Wot's...Uh the Deal, Free Four.

2 1/2 out of 5

Dark Side of the Moon

Enlarge Image

Dark Side of the Moon

  • The Dark Side of the Moon

Year released: 1973

Notes: The band's commercial breakthrough that stayed on the charts from the time of its release until 1988. If music fans only have one Pink Floyd album, it's either this one or The Wall.

Highlights: Breathe, Time, Brain Damage.

5 out of 5

  • Wish You Were Here

Year released: 1975

Notes: A tribute to Barrett, the album is bookended by the sprawling nine-part Shine on You Crazy Diamond. The title track can be still heard around campfires across the globe.

Highlights: Shine on You Crazy Diamond, Have a Cigar, Wish You Were Here.

5 out of 5

  • Animals

Year released: 1977

Notes: A series of lengthy progressive pieces of social commentary comparing different classes of people to Dogs, Sheep and Pigs

Highlights: Dogs, Pigs (Three Different Ones), Sheep.

4 1/2 out of 5

  • The Wall

Year released: 1979

Notes: Double album rock opera about the life of an alienated rock star that was made into a movie starring Bob Geldof. Earlier this week on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Waters said he would be bringing The Wall tour back to North America next year. Consider this a request to come to Winnipeg.

Highlights: Goodbye Blue Sky, Comfortably Numb, Run Like Hell.

5 out of 5

  • The Final Cut

Year released: 1983

Notes: A divisive album amongst Pink Floyd fans since Wright was kicked out of the band and Waters assumed total songwriting control on another concept album, this time about war based on his father's death in WWII. Consider it The Wall Part Two.

Highlights: The Post War Dream, The Gunner's Dream, The Final Cut.

3 1/2 out of 5

  • A Momentary Lapse of Reason

Year released: 1987

Notes: If The Final Cut was Waters solo album, then A Momentary Lapse of Reason is Gilmour's, but not as strong. Waters was out and Wright was back in on this album which mostly seemed like an excuse to mount a tour (resulting in an unnecessary live album).

Highlights: Learning to Fly, Dogs of War, On the Turning Away.

2 out of 5

  • The Division Bell

Year released: 1994

Notes: Another excuse to tour without Waters, but at least this time they came to Winnipeg for one of the greatest stadium shows this city has ever seen. There are some good moments to be had and if anything, it's worth listening to at least once for Gilmour's great guitar work.

Highlights: Poles Apart, A Great Day For Freedom, High Hopes.

2 out of 5

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