Digerati Watch the Guy with the Glasses, Women Entrepreneurs Listen to the Voice of Experience

Well, last Friday was the “invite-only” conversation with Bill Gates of Microsoft and John Hennessy, President of Stanford University, at the Computer History Museum. I must admit, even if it was invitation-only it sure seemed everyone was invited – even me!

Matt Marshall in the San Jose Mercury News notes today that even Frank Quattrone joined the crowd to hear Gates speak. I didn’t notice him myself – there were just too many people with multiply colored labels and press tags everywhere. But since I got the invite to that event myself, does that mean I’m a “friend of Frank” too?

I’m sure many others will cover the discussion, so I’ll mention the other stuff. Did anyone there notice how “non-networking” the crowd was? I spoke briefly to a few people, but really – no one was talking to anyone else. Instead of a “happening” event, it was more like going to a funeral. Not really fun or upbeat. And I had my cool purple jacket on and everything.

Second, we weren’t allowed to wander about the museum before the talk. Now, wandering about among the old computers is actually my favorite part of visiting the Computer History Museum, especially when people are not very sociable, because the computers give everyone something to talk about. But alas, no wandering. Guess I’ll have to wait until the Vintage Computer Faire.

On the other hand, I had a lot more fun hearing Margaret Heffernan talk up her new book The Naked Truth last Weds night at Golden Gate University’s San Jose campus. Margaret is a very enjoyable many-time CEO and Fast Company columnist who has a lot of very interesting things to say about the experiences of women in business. But don’t just take my word for it – watch her for yourself as she discusses women, networking, and business.

I know everyone will be talking around the water cooler today about the guy with the glasses, and that’s OK. But it’s just too bad only the guys get the mainstream press coverage, while an experienced businesswoman and columnist gets all but ignored – but I guess that’s what Margaret’s talking about.

Video on Demand over TCP and Jitter

A recent question to me from a “born back bencher” eavesdropping on the end-to-end groups musings asked “…how they can even believe they can accomplish a good result with TCP for VOD [Video On Demand]? Yeah they gave me good on SACK and NACK and no matter how many RFCs and drafts they quote, which I have never read, the logic still seems obtuse if the window is end to end”. Actually, this isn’t a silly question – it’s a good one in that we need to examine our environment and definitions carefully and has a lot of richness. Just what a physicist loves!

VOD isn’t just TCP, although end-to-end quality is very much based on how the customer perceives the stream (if you’re truly streaming). If you’re transiting through wireless, all bets are off – no one does good work in this area (yet) as I discuss in Buffer, Buffer, Where is the Buffer? on Byte.

But to get to the gestalt, in a video quality study I conducted several years ago we found you had to deal with VOD at several levels, from production of video for the Internet to TCP streaming optimization – in this case we used SiliconTCP here at the datacenter as well as client end (see SiliconTCP, EtherSAN, and Scalability). It’s really the big pipe / little pipe problem at the customer end that’s the bigger issue here – but we’re now in Internet infrastructure land, and that’s a hard-fought area. But in all cases, jitter is the key!

If You Can’t Beat Them, Go Lower

I remember when Linux was just gearing up, and many of the Sun people (who started with BSD, remember SunOS?) mocked them. I heard about what a lousy architecture it was (yes, that’s true, but what did it matter to someone who got something working for nothing?), that it wasn’t good enough for enterprise (well I’ve seen a lot of enterprise crap over the years, so that doesn’t wash), and that you’d never get it working or supported (seems that isn’t true either from the look of things).

The problem with smart people is that they can easily come up with a lot of good-sounding excuses when they don’t want to see it like it is, and what it is right now is that people don’t want to pay for free software – and I suppose that’s why it’s called “free”. This hits Sun pretty hard, since they built a pretty nice OS and want to get people to show their appreciation by actually paying for it. So it looks like Sun is taking a page from the Microsoft playbook (you know, “open source is evil, expensive, evil, and did we mention evil”) with today’s announcement.