Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Day 3 at ETech 2007

Another good day at ETech. I've found a nearby Starbucks that is in a lovely courtyard and isn't very busy. This is where I start my day with a Grande Latte and a little peace before the mind-storm.

The keynotes were all good, but I really enjoyed Danah Boyd's presentation. It's hard not to appreciate someone who is so obviously passionate about their work. I also get a kick out of geeks who are brave enough to dress idiosyncratically. Personally, I can't imagine intentionally doing something to make myself stand out more! Except in my work, of course :-)

Lunch was outside in the Seaport Courtyard again. The weather was wonderfully sunny and warm (especially compared to yesterdays horrendous winds). After lunch I sat by the pond in Seaport Village for a quiet coffee before heading back for afternoon sessions. The sun was shining on the water and the ducks were entertaining. Mama duck brought her three ducklings within inches of my feet. I wished I had my camera.

The presentation on SmugMug's use of S3 was good. This year a number of the sessions have been thinly disguised marketing pitches, but this was a good, seemingly honest, first hand experience report.

Next was a combined presentation on Google's MapReduce and Hadoop - an open source implementation of MapReduce that is part of the Apache Lucene search engine project. Although map and reduce are familiar from functional programming, their application to processing large data sets with clusters of computers is pretty neat. In the past, this would have been out of reach of most of us who don't have access to clusters, but now you can "rent" as big a cluster as you want from Amazon EC2 (or you will be able to once EC2 is publicly available).

The last two sessions of the day that I attended were from Microsoft and IBM on various research projects. One of the Microsoft projects was Baku a "visual" programming environment for kids. I wonder if some of the ideas could be applied to allow end-users to do more complex "programming" in applications. One of the IBM projects was Koala - basically a macro recorder for the web with a unique slant towards sharing the resulting scripts on a wiki. Unfortuately, neither of these projects is publicly available yet.

I had supper at the Edgewater Grill in Seaport Village. The food and service were nothing great, but I enjoyed watching the sunset over the bay.

After supper I stopped in at the MAKE Fest but they only had a handful of exhibits so I didn't stay long.

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