About Craig Gamache

Registered Investment Advisor

Rockbox’s Developers Weigh In On Open Source Digital Music Innovation

The world of digital music is now dominated by lots of useful  proprietary  tools–with Apple’s ruling the roost–but there are also many free open  source tools and applications worth looking into. Of these, Rockbox, an  open source firmware replacement for MP3 players from manufacturers  ranging from Archos to iRiver to Apple, is easily one of the most  popular. Lisa originally covered Rockbox in this post, and we covered it again here. Now, in an interview, several of Rockbox’s developers are weighing in on its benefits, its user base and its future.

Rockbox has been around for over a decade, and especially if you have an older MP3 player that you would like to add functionality to, it can greatly improve your digital music experience. It’s essentially like having a more robust operating system on your digital player, and you can even play Doom and other games on it.

Rockbox’s creator, Björn Stenberg, told TechWorld:

“I and a few Haxx  friends bought ourselves Archos Jukebox 6000 MP3 players in 2000. Since  it used a non-standard USB protocol, it required a custom Windows  driver to transfer files. Since I prefer using Linux, I started working  on a Linux driver for it which was eventually included in mainline Linux 2.4.8….While  we enjoyed our newfound ability to bring our record collection in our  pockets (a radical notion back then), soon we started getting frustrated  by the limitations and slowness of the Archos jukebox firmware.”

Stenberg also reported that version 3.9.1 of Rockbox, released last year, was downloaded 110,000 times. You can find out much more about the specific developers behind Rockbox here. It’s very clear that they have brought the features to Rockbox that they themselves want to have on their digital music devices.

If you’re interested in trying Rockbox, I recommend starting with an older MP3 player, and there are a lot of tutorial videos online showing how to do the firmware installation.  Especially if you love flexibility in managing your digital music, you may quickly become enamored of Rockbox.

Data Shows That Amazon Remains the 800-Pound Gorilla in the Cloud

With the announcement  of its CloudStack 3 platform this week, Citrix Systems took a bold step  forward in competing with Amazon in the cloud computing space, and open  source cloud computing platforms are proliferating  more rapidly than ever.  However, there is no question that Amazon Web  Services (AWS) remains a dominant force in the cloud space, and newly  released data only corroborates that fact. In fact, Amazon’s dominance  is making it tough for open source-focused cloud players to compete.  Here are the details.

According to the Amazon Web Services blog, individuals, businesses and organizations are putting data in Amazon’s EC2 S3 storage service at an incredible rate. The blog reports:

“As of the end of 2011, there are 762 billion (762,000,000,000) objects in Amazon S3. We process over 500,000 requests per second for these objects at peak times.”

Amazon is also reporting that year-over-year growth in objects stored is a whopping 192 percent.  That rate of growth is faster than it has been for any year since the service launched in 2006, and it is clear that cloud computing will remain a major business focus for Amazon for as far as the eye can see.
Amazon’s report even ends with a list of open positions on its S3 team, reflecting the strong growth the division is seeing. And, Amazon has recently been cutting entry-level prices for cloud storage.

As open source competitors to Amazon seek to differentiate themselves, they need to offer flexible, well supported platforms that businesses can take seriously. Citrix’s CloudStack platform does promise to compete that way, and OpenStack has momentum and backers.

Still, it’s clear from Amazon’s summary of its cloud efforts in 2011 that it is the 800-pound gorilla in the cloud, still growing the number of objects stored on S3 at nearly 200 percent per year.

For much more on open source competitors to Amazon in the cloud, including a series of interviews with leaders of open source cloud platforms, see our post here.

Front Ends and Connectors for Working with Hadoop are Arriving

At one point, the Big Data trend–sorting     and sifting large data sets with new tools in pursuit of surfacing    meaningful angles on stored information–was an enterprise-only story,  but now businesses of all sizes are looking into tools that can help  them glean meaningful insights from the data they store. As we’ve noted,    the open source Hadoop projecthas been one of the big drivers of  this   trend, and has given rise to commercial companies that offer  custom   Hadoop distributions, support, training and more. Cloudera and  Hortonworks are leading the pack among these Hadoop-focused companies.

Front  ends for working with Hadoop, which make it easier to sift large data  sets, are also appearing. Talend, which offers a number of open source  middleware solutions, is out with a new one, and Microsoft is making it  easier to work with Hadoop from the Excel spreadsheet.

Talend Open Studio for Big Data, which provides a front end for easily working with Hadoop to mine large data sets, has just been announced and is released under an Apache license. According to a post on Virtual Strategy:

“Talend Open Studio for Big Data is a powerful and versatile open source        solution for data integration that dramatically improves the efficiency        of integration job design through an easy-to-use graphical development        environment. Talend Open Studio for Big Data provides native support for        Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS), Pig, HBase, Sqoop and Hive. By        leveraging Hadoop’s MapReduce architecture for highly-distributed data        processing, Talend generates native Hadoop code and runs data        transformations directly inside Hadoop for maximum scalability. This        feature enables organizations to easily combine Hadoop-based processing,        with traditional data integration processes, either ETL or ELT-based,        for superior overall performance.”

Meanwhile, a blog post from Talend confirms that Hortonworks, which offers its own supported Hadoop distribution, has selected Open Studio for Big Data to be bundled with Hortonworks Data Platform:

“Thanks to Talend Open Studio for Big Data, users of Hortonworks Data  Platform will be able to greatly simplify the deployment of Hadoop.   Talend Open Studio for Big Data abstracts the complexity of Hadoop and  its ‘interfaces’ (specifically Pig, HBase, Sqoop and Hive) by allowing  graphical design of the big data integration jobs, and generating native  MapReduce code. It alleviates the need for a deep, technical  understanding of MapReduce and the different components of Hadoop. And,  equally important, it brings to the table over 450 connectors to ‘the  rest’ of the information system – integrating enterprise data into  Hadoop.”

Meanwhile, as noted in a GigaOM post, Rob Bearden, CEO of Hortonworks and former COO of JBoss and SpringSource, says that Hadoop “has an opportunity to be bigger than those two companies, as well as open source database MySQL, combined.” Hadoop has become an open source phenomenon.

Hortonworks is also working with Microsoft to link the Excel spreadsheet to Hadoop, according to Computerworld:

“Microsoft is developing a connector that will  allow Excel users to download and analyze output from Hadoop,  potentially opening the open-source data processing platform to a much  wider audience. Microsoft is working on the connector with Hortonworks, a Yahoo spinoff that offers a Hadoop distribution and commercial support services.”

“The connector will be an ODBC (Online Database Connector) that interacts with Hadoop through the Hive data warehouse system,” Computerworld reports.

If you or your organization have been interested in working with Hadoop, the tools for doing so are becoming more varied and more approachable. As we noted here, Hadoop skills are very highly valued in the tech job market at this point, and we have also written about Hortonworks University, which focuses on teaching Hadoop skills. You can find a class near you and register here.

A couple days ago a friend asked me what i thought about him buying Lehman Brothers at 2 cents. Fortunately for him, the shares were delisted just a day before. he was lucky to avoid a certain 100% loss. I think because I have seen it happen so many times, I assume everybody knows that when a company that is trading under a bankrupt symbol (LEHMQ) and eventually sees the light of day again to trade at lofty levels, all those old shareholders are simply wiped off the books before new shares are issued. K-Mart was trading somewhere over $100 after it’s went bankrupt. Back then i was on a trade desk somewhere and helped a guy buy a few thousand dollars worth of the stock when it was trading at a nickel or so. The next day it was worthless. Sorry sir, you lost everything. Oh and that new shiny K-mart stock trading at $100 – you gets none of these. I think the lesson to be learned is ask somebody. If you think you figured something out, verify it with someone before learning the hard way.

Kickstarter comes of age as a big-time funding platform

Gigaom

Kickstarter’s exploits as a fundraising platform have been well documented but the company is now entering some uncharted territory. For the first time, not one but two Kickstarter projects eclipsed the $1 million pledge mark, within hours of each other yesterday. All told on Thursday, Kickstarter received $1,605,981 in pledges, blowing past the previous one-day record of $736,730, set the day before.

The Elevation Dock, an elegant iPhone dock passed the $1 million mark Thursday a little after 2 p.m. with a couple days to go before its deadline. It now sits at $1,163,192 with more than 10,000 backers. A little less than five hours later, Double Fine Adventure, an adventure video game proposed by game veteran Tim Schafer, shot past the $1 million mark in less than a day and now has a total of $1,345,382 with about 37,000 backers. It originally launched Wednesday night with the goal of raising $400,000, which it…

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