Archive for September, 2006
IBM have released this browser toolbar to help IBM product users access knowledge base and support articles quicker and easier.
Excerpt from IBM:-
Add an IBM Software Support tool bar for your web browser with links to all of the main pages of product documentation and self-help resources. This is a great time-saver for anyone administrating IBM software products. The browser toolbar is available for free and works with Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. It is provided as “non-warranted code”, meaning it is not supported by our Technical Support team. Feedback and Questions can be handled via the Feedback section on the download page.
IBM Software Support Toolbar: http://www.ibm.com/software/support/toolbar/
This toolbar lets you customize what brands are displayed to suit your needs. You can access search functions for our technotes, our downloads, or all of our Support content by brand from this toolbar. It also provides access to key tools like ESR to open Electronic Service Requests, AOS (Assist On Site), EcuRep for uploading attachments, and the IBM Support Assistant. Finally, it provides links to “must know” information like the Software Support Lifecycle description and the Software Support Handbook.
Two interesting articles caught my eye in the recent edition of Computing.
The use of WiFi enabled voice communication at Belfast Health Trust – the article:- WiFi in Belfast Royal Hospitals
While both in their separate ways enabled the end-user to have enhanced communication, access, and interactive experience. The thing that interested me was that once these devices entered the radius of communication, not only did the devices enable users to interact with services – as we would expect ; the communication environment also had pin-point accuracy on the location, movement and knowledge of entry and exit time of the device holder!
I think in the future IM will be seen as a grandfather technology, to the persistent pervasive connectivity of tomorrow. Presence awareness in the simplest IM infrastructure relies on constant server – client connections, and with the client having to be actively engaged (log-in authentication) with the IM infrastructure. Whilst connectivity will always be essential to enable user to user or system to user communication, these articles demonstrate that end-user activity of logging-on will not necessarily be a factor and the devices themselves will provision the engagement with the infrastructure. Of course for telephony communication such an infrastructure exists!
However, that is still a fair way off, for true device-neutrality with universal standard protocols for communication. Also there is a challenge to individual to whether they would like to participate in such universally connected society. If a person always has to carry a device to enable the pervasive environment to render services, and provide location specific information, not carrying a device will always by-pass such an interaction – and as such is an important freedom of will. The Doctor Who Epispodes – “Rise of the Cybermen” depicting a society with implanted blue tooth devices was enough to scare me of such a mechanism of interaction. To quote a letter to Computing “Whatever man can do today, another man can pervert tomorrow.” Still the choice and type of device is and important and interesting question and certainly the WiFi tag/badge and the mobile show the scope of the possible choices.
Going off on one and using my crystal ball, I can see the following becoming a possibility:
Domestically – imagine the washing machine or cooker communicating with the domestic network to inform you that the load is done or the joint is cooked; the notification appearing only the in the room with the relevant person – on the TV, computer VDU, mobile sms, DAB radio annoucement, shower radio, read-out on the hoover, lawn mower or dressing mirror?
In the IT community – when will autonomic computing use presence awareness for server tasks, activities and routines? If the router tasks had a presence, a sametime bot (sametime sentinel perhaps) could be monitor the task – looking for dead mail, hangs, etc. – and send alerts, issue quit and restart commands etc. Monitoring by itself for itself! Sounds like Terminator!
Having seen Graham’s note on Green computing…Green IT. He makes some interesting points on the issue of power rating and equipment location. I noticed the campaign in Computing which had this Green computing article.
“But the real impact is financial. According to the Carbon Trust, the cost of running a PC left on all day will be about £37 a year. But if switched off at night and at weekends, this drops to nearer £10 a year and saves enough energy to make the equivalent of 34,900 cups of coffee. That is just one PC.”
“Office equipment is the fastest-growing area of energy use, accounting for up to 20 per cent of total output. And that does not even take into account the increasing cost of air conditioning, as more and more powerful processors are squeezed into ever-smaller spaces.”
“The cost of powering and cooling a server over four years will soon exceed the price of purchasing the hardware, according to Luiz Andre Barroso, Google platforms engineering group leader.”
“The average corporate data centre burns 80 barrels of oil per day, based on a 2 MW data that burns an equivalent of 3.3 barrels of oil per hour, according to Sun Microsystems.”
“Some 125,000 tonnes of IT equipment, including two million PCs, are decommissioned in the UK each year, says PC recycling charity Computer Aid International.” Catherine Doran, director of information management at Network Rail, says that when the organisation started monitoring usage, it quickly began to save energy and money. “We now continually monitor the environmental impact of all our activities and this year we have replaced 8,500 PC monitors with TFT screens, reducing energy consumption by two-thirds”, she said.
As Graham mentioned, I wonder when a power cost will be a cost factor in the implementation of a IT driven project. Certainly this should be applied to desktop roll-outs, and printer provisions. However, I think it will become a factor of servers implementations as well; especially when sizing up an infrastructure, beside traditional metrics like:
- # of CPUs
- Rack Space
I think the following should also become a standard metric
It is a standard metric in purchasing any domestic electrical device, we are all familiar with the Energy Rating Standard “A-G”, and most good specifications will also list the average annual consumption – why doesn’t this come on computing hardware? I think many people are beginining to imagine the impact of an eco-friendly strategy within the IT community such as:-
- Making Power rating a part of IT project from the outset, will help set the context for the lifecycle of the hardware and may be bring a more rigourous kit decomission and re-cycling policy; as the business case for a lower energy footprint becomes more compelling.
- More emphasis should be placed on power down cycles for unused devices, or need based power supplies – Mobile solution devices especially – powered on mobile chargers with no connected mobile is a real bug bear of mine! Having printing devices use double sided printing as default, and consumer awareness raised on the requirement for printing at all. A method of intelligently powering down devices and subsequent power enablement in and out of office hours would be useful.
- Hardware manufacturers should begin to advertise on business case for their kit because of lower power consumption; and perhaps we will asking whether kit enhancement or new kit will deliver the lower energy footprint.
- Hardware and software integration to reduce power consumption in response to reduced load or during non-critical hours would be a real step in the right direction!