Sunday, May 31, 2009

Top 10 Killer Apps of All Time (so far)

Here, "killer" doesn't necessarily mean just first or just best implementation, but rather it was also considered meritorious if it made a truck-load of money.
  1. Oracle database
  2. PGP (why didn't this catch on more; especially for email?)
  3. Apache
  4. Microsoft Office
  5. Antivirus Toolkit
  6. Adobe Photoshop
  7. SNDMSG (? Me neither)
  8. Lotus 1-2-3
  9. Quark Xpress
  10. Mosaic
Judges' reasoning is presented in iTnews.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Gunther Interview - Part II

As a consequence of winning the A.A. Michelson Award at CMG'08, I was interviewed for CMG MeasureIT e-zine. The second installment appears in this month's issue. Free access, but requires sign-up if you're not already registered.

As you can see, I still have my Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments, although it's showing signs of wear by now. It's open at the one experiment I could never get to work; making rayon. I'm now inclined to think there might be a bug in the recipe, but that never occurred to me back then. I just wanted to make it in the worst way.

Friday, May 15, 2009

WolframAlpha Performance Degradation

Surprise, surprise! After the big wind-up, it turned out that WolframAlpha wasn't really ready for prime time. In an LA Times interview today, Stephen Wolfram, the creator of the site -- five years in the making -- sheepishly explained that a large-scale traffic simulation test had failed. Oops!

Cloudy Web 2.0: So Much for the 5th Utility

A real utility, like water, gas and POTS, implies that it's always there, with only very rare and explainable exceptions. Which reminds me, did they ever figure out who hacked (as in "chopped") the major phone cables in Santa Clara County, last month?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Negative Scalability Coefficients in Excel

Recently, several performance engineers, who have been applying my universal scalability law (USL) to their throughput measurements, reported a problem whereby their Excel spreadsheet calculations produced a negative value for the coherency parameter (β < 0) on what otherwise appears to be an application that scales extremely well. You can download the Excel spreadsheet sscalc.xls from the Guerrilla class materials. Negative USL parameters are verboten.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Swine Flu and Conficker: Parallel Worlds Collide

Sick of hearing about "swine flu"? Good, then read this blog instead. It strikes me that there are more than the usual uncanny parallels between these tiny molecular machines, aka viruses, and the tiny digital machines, aka viruses or worms; not the least of which is people's reaction to them, viz., out of sight, out of mind.

Queues, Schedulers and the Multicore Wall

The other day, I came across a blog post entitled "Server utilization: Joel on queuing", so naturally I had to stop and take a squiz. The blogger, John D. Cook, is an applied mathematician by training and a cancer researcher by trade, so he's quite capable of understanding a little queueing theory. What he had not heard of before was a rule-of-thumb (ROT) that was quoted in a podcast (skip to 00:26:35) by NYC software developer and raconteur, Joel Spolsky. Although rather garbled, as I think any Guerrilla graduate would agree, what Spolsky says is this:
If you have a line of people (e.g., in a bank or a coffee shop) and the utilization of the people serving them gets above 80% , things start to go wrong because the lines get very long and the average amount of time people spend waiting tends to get really, really bad.

No news to us performance weenies, and the way I've sometimes heard it expressed at CMG is:
No resource should be more than 75% busy.
Personally, I don't like this kind of statement because it is very misleading. Let me explain why.