Monday, October 26, 2015

The IBM Article That Sparked Larry Ellison's Career

Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle got his start from a small company he and friend Bruce Scott founded in 1977.  He got the idea for the company's flagship product from an article (A Co-Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks) written by an IBM engineer about relational databases that, apparently, IBM didn't care about.  Ellison then went on to use this idea to create the company's first product for their first customer - the United States Central Intelligence Agency.  And with the CIA's need for vast amounts of data storage, relational databases were just the thing they needed.

A relational database is a way of storing data in ways that allows you to create relationships between pieces of data in order to organize and access them more easily while using minimal storage space.  For example a library's card catalog is like the old way of accessing data, each piece of data is on a card and each card is placed in line in it's drawer.  You can go right to the call number of the book you want to find based on the dewy decimal system by going to the right drawer and pulling it out.  But each book needs its own card and it isn't very practical to search through each one to find the data you need.  There is also the problem of redundant data, but this is where the relational database model shines.  Instead of having the author's data on every card, as well as the book data, in a relational database there would be two sets of data, called tables, one for the books and another for the authors.  The table with the books information contains a relationship to the authors table so that each book has a link to the corresponding data in the authors table.  In a huge library there is a good possibility that some author's have written many books. With an old card catalog system the author's data would be repeated on every single book that she has written.  With a RDB the author's data doesn't have to be repeated on each record for each book.  This saves much space as the same data doesn't have to be stored over and over again when it is the same exact information.  But this is also very powerful because if the information changes, say the author changes her name because she got married and wants to append her new name to each book's record.  With a RDB model this change only has to be made once, instead of finding and changing every single instance of that author's name

The library example is a simple one but think of how much easier and simpler this would make complex data sets, such as the CIA's foreign intelligence information.  And this is where the idea came into play for Ellison, inspiring him to start SPL in order to create the first Oracle database software version - interestingly named 'Oracle Database Version 2' although there was no version 1, because "Nobody buys version 1 of anything", Ellison stated.  Although rather primitive compared to today's standards, the first version of Oracle's database system was leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.  While IBM was content to keep the same old card catalog way of doing things, Oracle came in and changed the data storage and retrieval industry almost overnight.  Instead of investigating the intriguing concept of the relational database, IBM did what they always did and thought it was worthless because their products were already good enough.  Just like with the idea of the personal computer before that, they let someone else run with it and take the lead while they are still trying to play catch up to Oracle to this day.  It's actually pretty funny that now IBM's major competitor is Oracle when Oracle wouldn't exist if Ellison hadn't read that paper written by an IBM employee.  How different would the data storage landscape be if he never came accross it?  We would probably still be storing data on reel to reel tapes because IBM would never have innovated anything lol.

If you are interested in reading the original article that sparked Ellison's career, it is still available in its original format by following this link:  A Co-Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks.  If you are a nerd like you might enjoy perusing through it, if only for nostalgia reasons. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Microsoft Embracing Bitcoin?

It seems like almost daily bitcoin is being mentioned in traditional media and other news outlets. Either a new company announces they will begin accepting bitcoins or some new bitcoin related product or servic is released. It seems like there is no stopping the crypto currency's momentum as more and more people become aware of what bitcoin is and start buying or mining bitcoins themselves. Some of the companies may be unknown start-ups but there are also many large, highly reputable corporations. Well now you can include Microsoft to that list. While you cannot buy a new surface tablet with bitcoins, they are promoting another bitcoin related item on the Bing search engine. Now you can actually get bitcoins from Bing, via their Bing Rewards program which awards points for doing searches or other easy tasks that can be traded in for all kinds of items. All you need to do is use the Bing search engine and you accumulate points each day. Once you save up enough points you can use them to get different rewards such as gift cards from many different retailers and access to services such as hulu plus or Xbox Live. There are also different sweepstakes and giveaways that you can enter to win various items. And now with the newest giveaway you can win $500 worth of bitcoins! Although you can't use your bitcoins to buy anything from Microsoft, I think this is a step in the right direction for the Redmond, Washington based company. Who knows, maybe in the future you will be able to shop from the Microsoft store and use bitcoins to pay. Even if this never happens maybe it will introduce bitcoin to people who have never heard of it before and make others more intrigued so they want to find out more about crypto coins, especially bitcoin. The more people who know about it and tell others about it, the more the currency will be worth because more and more people will be wanting to join in on the crypto coin revolution.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Apple Watch In-Store Preview

Apple has announced an in store preview for its upcoming new gadget, the Apple watch, to let proespective buyers get a better look at the device in person and try it on their own wrists to get a feel for it as well as to help decide what version of the watch to get and what band to get it with. Although you cannot buy the watch and take it home with you just yet, they are letting people preorder them for delivery later this month. If you are an Apple fanboy like me then you are salivating at the thought of getting another Apple branded gadget, and the Apple Watch is like no other Apple product before! You can go to most Apple stores and other stores around the world to see the Apple Watch in real life and to try it on for yourself. Get more information about the Apple Watch in-store preview here.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Yahoo and Bing Announce New Ammended Search Partnership

As the number two and three players of the top three search engines on the internet, Bing and Yahoo have announced a recent ammendment to their search relationship, to "improve the search experience, create value for advertisers and establish ongoing stability for partners." The two companies have had an agreement in place since 2009 and this is just an evolution of that partnership. Yahoo will continue to serve Bing Ads and will now be able to give consumers the same experience on both mobile and desktop platforms. Microsoft will be in charge of all ads through the Bing Ads services while Yahoo will be the sole salesforce for the Yahoo Gemini platform, allowing the sales and engineering teams for each product to operate closely together in order to serve advertisers best. Microsoft gives Yahoo a portion of the revenue obtained through Yahoo's search user, a fact that remains unchanged with this update to their agreement. For more information, the full press release is available here.

How Sirius XM Blew Their Chance To Conquer The Market

If you are like most people you like to listen to music, and if you are like most people you have certain types of music and favorite bands you like to listen to. And, most of us like to listen to music while in the car, and doing things like working out, etc. But even though everybody hates commercial interruptions, most of us do not use Sirius XM radio to listen to music.

While there are tons of free services that allow you to listen to music, they all have commercials. So to get the music you want without the annoying commercials every few songs and annoying DJs telling you to be caller 10 to win tickets to some band you've never heard of, you have to shell out some money. You can either buy your music on CD or downloadable version for about a dollar a song, or you can pay for a service that charges monthly fees to listen as much as you like. That is where services like Pandora, Spotify, and Sirius XM come in to play. For the price of about a dozen of songs per month you can subscribe to these services and listen to all the music your can handle. And with a service like Sirius XM you can listen in your car with a satellite radio tuner right over your cars stereo, or even stream music over the internet to your cell phone to listen to your tunes anywhere you want. And Sirius XM also has tons of other features in addition to just playing music. There are tons of talk radio, news radio, sports talk and live game coverage to listen to, as well as live traffic and weather updates that you can get right on your cars GPS. All that for about 50 cents a day! Seems like a great deal right?

Well apparently it isn't such a great deal, as it isn't really the top competitor that it really should be. Sure there are millions of subscribers, but they could have way more. And yes there are some cool features, but they could have a lot more services to offer. I believe the problems started after the two companies merged. The merger was pending for a long time but was finally approved and the sole two satellite radio companies merged into one. When this happened they were finally able to merge many of their operations to save costs, and they could now offer content that was once limited to one service to all their subscribers. But they still have a lot of redundancy that should be done away with,


One of the biggest things that I believe they should've done, and it is hard and would cost a lot of money, but they should've make all the old radios obsolete but they need to merge both services into one. See, since they started off as two separate competitors they both had to have their own chunks of bandwidth to use. See, each company that can broadcast over the airwaves must be registered with the FCC, which allows them to use only a small portion of bandwidth in the overall spectrum. Everything from broadcast TV, radio, and even things like cell phones and WiFi all use certain parts of the spectrum, designated by the FCC. Things like WiFi are set to use a certain portion of the spectrum in the 2.4 ghz range, while an FM radio station may use the spectrum in the range of 103.1 MHz. Similarly Sirius XM has their own portion of the spectrum allotted to them. When they first started out, both Sirius and XM both had an equal portion of the spectrum. But since they merged, they effectively had double the amount of spectrum to broadcast on. So that means they should've added a whole bunch of stations, effectively doubling the amount of channels to listen to, right? Well actually no. While maybe a few stations may have been added here and there but these are usually at the cost of removing a current station. That is because both the original Sirius and XM radios are still supported and they can't reorganize their part of the spectrum and still have those old radios still work. However I believe that they should have put a plan into place regarding this in the event that the deal went through that could allow radios to be reprogrammed on the fly. And if the merged was denied, there would have been no harm done. But since the merger did in fact happen they should merge both the services into one and allow their services to take over the full amount of spectrum they are allotted.

Another thing that Sirius dropped the ball on is limiting their service to only those in the United States. The satellites that revolve around the earth are mainly focused at North America, the united states to be exact, so most parts of the world do not get good, if at all, coverage. But many parts of Canada, Mexico, Central America and other areas do get pretty good coverage, and even for those that don't, Sirius could allow their international customers to use the internet to stream their content when they cannot get a signal. I believe they are leaving a lot of money on the table by not allowing international customers to subscribe. Many people living around the world, such as ex-patriots or those living in other countries who wish to stay connected by listening to the news, talk and sports from the US, along with the music the love.

While there are some neat extra services that Sirius XM offers, I believe they could have many more cool features to offer. Currently they offer live traffic and weather data that can be displayed on a car's GPS display. They also have special services available just for pilots in their planes. But there is so much more that they could be doing. A few years ago they offered a service which allowed select vehicles with a preinstalled system to be able to view a few channels of select video content. The channels were pretty much all kid and family related and there weren't that many but the service was killed off long before it was given the chance to take off. With the advent of in vehicle video screens I believe this could have been a huge market for Sirius XM that they dipped their toe in but pulled out before they ever even got their figurative foot in the pool. Only one company released vehicles with Sirius TV service compatible receivers, and only on 2 or 3 of their vehicles! How can you give a service a fair shot when only two minivans and one SUV model has the $1,500 option for the needed equipment? Nowadays most parents have tablet, DVD player, portable game console, or something else to keep their kids occupied watching movies and shows while driving, but this service started years ago - before the iPad was even invented. If multiple manufacturers had this available on many different vehicles as well as aftermarket add on receivers and Sirius subsidized the purchase of the equipment there could have been exponentially more customers for the service. Then, if they would have focused on creating more high quality content and allow a few more diverse channels and programming options, this service could have been a home-run. Instead of all the channels being kids shows, they could have had a little more diversity as well. I think there should have been a few more channels. I think there was about 3 channels that were all kids shows. In my opinion I think they should've had a few more, although I know it is limited to the amount of bandwidth available and video channels take much more space than audio only channels. To start, they could've had a channel aimed at younger kids, a channel for the older kids, a channel for kids and family members of all ages, a channel for news and weather, a business news channel, a sports channel, and a general entertainment channel. That way not only parents would want to subscribe, and parents would be given more reasons to subscribe other than just for their kids to watch. I believe that the sports, news, and business channels would be great for businessmen who commute. Many businessmen have drivers, take taxis, or even take limos - all of which would be a prime candidate for a live TV service in the car. Imagine if a private chauffeur service outfitted all their vehicles with Sirius backseat TV, who wouldn't want to hire them over their competitors? And if they have a driver for their limo or town car, they probably wouldn't mind paying the small subscription fee to have this service. And even regular people would want the service for their other programming options like sports, news, general entertainment, and whatever else Sirius XM might want to squeeze in. I don't have kids and I can't afford a driver but I would love live satellite based TV service in my car. I know you can get live DirecTV in your car or truck but the satellite receiver is huge and the cost is outrageous. In fact, I used to have a terrestrial based over the air TV antenna and receiver in my car years ago, but the reception was horrible in my car, especially while driving at speed because it is hard to receive a TV signal that is not designed for moving antennas.

There are many other services that I think Sirius XM could offer as well, but this article is plenty long enough so I won't go into depth on those. The ability to receive one way data at pretty fast speeds could be used in a myriad different ways. Data streams could deliver live traffic and weather info on your car's GPS navigation system. And when new streets and other updates are added to the GPS, it could even be downloaded into your car automatically while your car is parked at night. Imagine if you locked your keys in your car and you could unlock it simply by calling up Sirius XM and having them send a signal to your Sirius XM receiver connected to your car's internal electronic components and voila - your door unlocks almost magically. Emergency alerts like weather warnings and amber alerts could be broadcast to your vehicle via satellite as well. As mentioned above, there are services that aren't aimed at the average consumer as well and Sirius XM should have tried to conquer this market even more. One of the biggest markets for satellite radio is for truck drivers, I'm not sure what but I would bet there could be some great service they could offer truckers for a nominal fee. Something like traffic and route news and info that is geared specifically towards truck drivers and other professional drivers. This would increase their revenue stream monthly as well as entice more truckers to make the jump and sign up. I think Sirius XM missed the boat on this, as now more and more vehicles are coming with internet connectivity abilities, either alone or with the use of your cell phone's data connection. If they would have cornered the market on this they could have had a great market built up already and had 100% of the market share when other companies started to try and offer services like this via internet as opposed to satellite.

It is because of these and other missteps that Sirius XM has taken that they are not nearly as big as they should be. The technology is great and it fills a huge need for in car entertainment.

Monday, February 23, 2015

How To Make Money Online - Easy Method That Anybody Can Do To Earn Money Online In Minutes

Everybody has heard of the success stories about making money online. But how do you actually do it? Do you need tons of money to get started? Do you need to send illegal spam messages about viagra and African princes? Do you need to know how to program websites or have a million twitter followers? The answer to all these questions is a resounding NO! You DON'T need to do anything illegal and you DON'T have to have any special knowledge. You don't even need to have a dime to get started. All you need is your computer or tablet or phone, whatever you currently use to access the internet, and access to the internet. And obviously you have that since you are reading this, so how do you get started?

All you have to do is go to the site Keep Rewarding and sign up. That's it! After that you are ready to start earning money. You can earn as little or as much as you want, it's all up to you! Simply go on the site once you register and complete the tasks you want to do and your account will instantly be credited the amount of points. Once you earn enough points you can cash them in for whatever you want, whether it be gift cards for places like starbucks or amazon, or you can get cold hard cash by sending the money straight to your paypal account! Once you have money in your paypal account you can have them send you a check for the money, load it onto a prepaid debit card, or you can use it online anywhere paypal is accepted.

So what do you have to do on Keep Rewarding to earn money? Well that depends entirely on you. There are tons of different tasks, ranging from watching videos to playing games to taking surveys. Everything you do adds up to earning you big bucks! So why not watch some online videos while you eat lunch, take a survey when you have a few minutes before work, play a few games when you need to relax. It all earns you points which means it makes you money! So what are you waiting for? Try it today! Go to Keep Rewarding and sign up ASAP to start making money right now!

For the skeptics out there, check this out. Above is proof of the fact that Keep Rewarding does in fact pay their users exactly what they deserve and on time. This is a screenshot of the email that I received for a gift card to amazon that I earned after doing some tasks on Keep Rewarding after only a few easy tasks!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Butts Of Robert Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe is an artist, who apparently according to The Simpsons, has a particular interest in human derrieres as well as flowers.  There was a "game" made for the failed CD-i video game and multimedia format of a collection of pictures from the artist aptly titled "The Flowers of Robert Mapplethorpe" that some may have heard about.  The popular internet show The Angry Video Game Nerd has done a show that features the famous art based game, while a very small sight gag in The Simpsons has also poked fun at the works of Mr. Mapplethorpe.  In the 10th episode of the 6th season, named Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy, the Simpson family is at the book store.  While parents Marge and Homer are looking for books to help them spice up their marriage, the kids suddenly come up and in order to hide the content of the books they are looking at they quickly pick up whatever they can find, and wouldn't you know it, Homer grabs a book with the name Mapplethorpe written across the cover with a black and white image of a human posterior.  As soon as he sees what he's grabbed Homer gasps and drops it suddenly.  If you are a casual watcher you probably never even noticed this scene but here is an image captured from that scene for your enjoyment, along with the video from James 'The Angry Video Game Nerd' Rolfe of the game. 

James Rolfe, also known as the Angry Video Game Nerd, released on his Cinemassacre Youtube channel the video: James and Mike Play The Flowers of Robert Mapplethorpe, which features the CD-i game that showcases select works of Mapplethorpe.