Trying To Get My Head In The Clouds ...

by Jon Davis 29. April 2008 05:59

Just when I was about to get super excited about the next New ThingTM from Microsoft, which is the big new Mesh initiative ..

http://www.mesh.com/

.. suddenly the Aptana team (creator of the Aptana Studio IDE, the best open source IDE for Javascript development, and creator of Jaxer, the first AJAX server) pulls another magic trick out of its hat and blows me away again!!

http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Application-Development/Aptana-to-Launch-Cloud-Platform/

What's intriguing is that about a year or so ago I was blogging about some distributed-database-over-the-web mesh ideas that I had, that no one except a couple people talked to me about to comment on my ideas. I set up a wiki at http://www.distributeddb.net/ (down) (.. it's back up). Frankly, it fulfilled at a technical level exactly what Microsoft is trying to achieve. But while I knew I was on the right track as to where things could go and will inevitably be going, I pulled the plug on the initiative and retracted my blog posts and wiki (but it's back up now) because, frankly, I was ashamed of my lack of qualifications. I open up distributed database theory books and cannot get past the first sentence or two, they are beyond my comprehension skills.

With regard to this mesh / cloud stuff, though, I'm just really glad that I was on the right track, even if I couldn't lay claim to fame on the ideas, try as I might have considered.

UPDATE: No.. no, no, no ..... I misunderstood what Microsoft's mesh was all about. I picked up from the MIX stuff, from articles such as I think one was in SD Times, and from blog posts, that Microsoft's mesh was about web developers. But now that they've given me an "invite", I only see the ability to connect devices, such as a PC and, later, a Mac or a mobile phone to the mesh, so that you can put files out on your own personal mesh. And I can't even use the "device" installer on my PC because it doesn't allow itself to be run in a Windows Vista environment where UAC is turned off.

I don't get it. Not what I had in mind after all. Besides, if I wanted Internet-accessible file storage, I have my choice of Groove or Subversion (the latter of which, by the way, is more handy and usable for synchronizing my files between home and than FTP or anything else I've used).

So, um, nevermind what I said about distributed databases ( ?? ) .. garbage analogy, nothing to do with this.

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Computers and Internet | Distributed Database | Web Development

Map My Mind

by Jon Davis 17. July 2007 02:25

At my last job, a business partner was taking notes using some mind mapping software. I had never seen such software before; it got my attention. She managed to capture an outline bullet on every little facet of information that was divulged in a day-long meeting consisting of some thirty or so sales staff all of whom had an opinion about the requirements about the product we were about to implement. I was spellbound. 

The software she was using was MindJet MindManager Pro (http://www.mindjet.com/us/).

Eventually I got PDFs and Word docs of her output, and I had to help compile a legible 200-or-so-page design document (one among a zillion other reasons why I quit that job), I quickly realized that as handy as the tool seemed to be, it didn't seem to be very useful from where I sat after receiving its output. This is NOT a documentation tool!! It is a brainstorming tool, and realistically it can only be fully comprehended by the person who prepared it.

Nonetheless, there have been a few times in the last year or so that I really wanted such a tool. Actually, it was just for pet projects, not so much for work. But I cannot afford MindJet's offering at $350. So I quickly found FreeMind (http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page). It's Java-based, but I forgive. Some parts of it feel a bit obsolete, the diagramming feels a little unpolished, and the icons it seems to demand that you place are rather cheesy. But at the basic level, it does the job.

I came across MindApp (http://www.mindapp.com/) which costs $29 after a free trial, which is far more affordable than the $350 offering from MindJet. After completing my brain dump with it I felt like it's perhaps worth the $29 because of some extra polish and formatting features, but it has quirks, such as messed up font size in the HTML output. However, I didn't find myself compelled; the gap between it and FreeMind is tiny compared to the gap between it and MindJet's MindManager. I want more.

On a side topic, wanna know what I was brain-dumping? Well, a couple months or so ago I heard about another public database going down (this time a free TV listings service). Wouldn't it be nice, I thought, if public access databases were maintained by the Internet community rather than just one company that could shrug its shoulders one day and walk away? This had me thinking about my old Peer-to-Peer file sharing idea...

For many years, before Azureus, before Morpheus, before Kazaa, even before Napster (but somewhere close to the days of Metallica's relevance), I had an idea about peer-to-peer technology. Specifically, seeding a distributed database, by injecting metadata (i.e. XML attachments) to NNTP posts into an alt.* Usenet newsgroup that would contain IP addresses, DNS hostnames, and/or URIs, along with function metadata, describing the whereabouts of a peer service seed. This, in my mind, took hosted distributed peer-to-peer network seed hosts out of the equation; Usenet already propagates the metadata that would be needed to seed something like that.

But acknowledging that some level of organized seeding is necessary, I registered these domain names:

  • DistributedDB.org
  • DistributedDB.net
  • DistributedDB.info

The objective for a site that would use these domain names is NOT just for P2P networks--that backstory was just an example of a trigger that led me down this path. Rather, the objective is to give people a place to either dump tiny data records, or else to proxy or alias their own network services. The service would be free but with some maximum records or limitations.

Here's what my rather small brain dump looks like.. (oh, and yeah, it's alright, I know you can't read it...)

image

I'll divulge more later. Need sleep.

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About the author

Jon Davis (aka "stimpy77") has been a programmer, developer, and consultant for web and Windows software solutions professionally since 1997, with experience ranging from OS and hardware support to DHTML programming to IIS/ASP web apps to Java network programming to Visual Basic applications to C# desktop apps.
 
Software in all forms is also his sole hobby, whether playing PC games or tinkering with programming them. "I was playing Defender on the Commodore 64," he reminisces, "when I decided at the age of 12 or so that I want to be a computer programmer when I grow up."

Jon was previously employed as a senior .NET developer at a very well-known Internet services company whom you're more likely than not to have directly done business with. However, this blog and all of jondavis.net have no affiliation with, and are not representative of, his former employer in any way.

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