Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook: Could These 5 Gadgets Lead to a Mini Cooking Revolution?

OK, so I have to start this off with something of a confession; as much as it pains me to admit, I am a terrible cook. Despite the fact that I have lived in England for most of my life, I am still incredibly proud of the fact that I am French born, and obviously not being able to cook causes me a great deal of embarrassment. This is especially the case when I enthusiastically inform strangers where I was born and they then jokingly invite themselves round for dinner as only the British are able to do.

Luckily for those who are as gastronomically-challenged as myself, there has been an array of gadgets that have entered the market recently. These have taken my fancy so much recently that they have galvanised my intention of finally being able to cook something other than the English speciality of ‘beans on toast’. While being able to master Coq au Vin or embark on creating my own brand of luxury biscuits may still be several years in the future, there are certainly enough items out of there to assist me in my foray into the world of culinary delights.

It’s Getting Hot in Here

If you are like me and struggle to even cook a bacon sandwich, I am sure that you will agree that cooking meat is one of the most challenging things that you can do. Luckily for us, there is a man who has the intention of helping us woo anyone with our cooking skills, while at the same time helping keep off those troublesome calories from finding a new home around our waists.

Yes that’s right, I’m talking about George Foreman’s revolutionary range of electric grill plates.

Slice It Up

While I can just about cut up a carrot adequately enough into circles of varying thicknesses, which is literally about it, I struggle to do much else. That is until I found this handy little slicer that even features a julienne blade, which enables me to fool even the most expert of cooks that I actually have a degree of French flair when it comes to cooking. Not only will you ensure that you don’t end up cutting off half of your finger, you will impress everyone who gets the privilege of sampling your cooking. One word of advice though, you will need to think about buying something to carry this nifty little friend around in just in case you end up being asked to chop vegetables by others!

Can’t Cook? Now You Can!

This is exactly what you have been waiting for! I guarantee that this will change your life in more ways than you can imagine. This really is a piece of beauty and is perfect if you struggle to keep tabs on more than one pot when cooking. Basically the Stone Microwave cooker prepares all of your main courses and side dishes all together under one lid in a microwave. What’s more, there is also a handy recipe blog if you need inspiration!

Now You Can Rest Easy

If you are like me and have spent several hours in A & E after burning your hand badly, then you will appreciate just how valuable the Snug is. In my defence, I didn’t quite realise just how hot a wooden spoon could get, and that is where the Snug becomes invaluable. This nifty gadget holds your spoon in place on the side of the pan while you are cooking and is worth every penny.

It Must Be Love, Love, Love

To conclude I am delighted to be able to bring your attention to a gadget which combines both my English and French tastes in food. Not only that, it also enables me to impress a lucky lady, whether I am cooking a fried-egg sandwich or a croque madame. Please do not think of me as something of a lothario, I actually consider myself to be quite the opposite. As you can see, these heart-shaped-eggs will help get you in your belle’s good books, while at the same time making her believe that it doesn’t take you 6 attempt to crack an egg!

Render Craft 3D to Launch Virtual Reality 3D

So what are Virtual reality 3D services? They are the art of creating two dimensional images or animations showcasing the attributes of a proposed architectural design. It is the software that aids the real estate agents, developers and builders to showcase their architectural project to the clients in such a manner that the client gets connected to it and gets the exact replica of the project that they are interested to invest in.

Render craft 3D offers world class 3D architectural renderings based on the latest techniques. The Company has redefined the architectural arena by giving it the flavors of its virtual reality 3D services.

Virtual reality is the latest buzz word in the town and has carved a new interface between a computer and the person. In technical manner the term relates to experiencing a place or feeling without actually being there.

Computer generated 3D imagery is a technique that creates virtual reality scenes from nothing. As there is nothing existing in reality the artists create virtual model on the basis of information that exists in computer.

Render Craft 3D is about to launch virtual reality 3D services that will change the very concept of architectural visualizations. Software is developed to create a realistically rendered 3D world in such a manner that the viewer connects to it in true sense.

The designers and programmers of the Company creatively utilize virtual software platforms; that are traditionally used to develop video games to create interactive environments for architecture, engineering and construction industries.

With the help of virtual reality engine one can incorporate 3D world in the same manner as found in video game setting in other words one can chalk out visual comprehension that is easy to understand and sure to impress every onlooker even by the lay man.

With assiduous engineering experts and professionals in its team, the Company is gearing up to table Virtual reality 3D services in affordable rates and timely manner thus breaking the traditional belief that virtual reality is an expensive and time consuming affair.

So, get ready to feel the new experience of 3D virtual reality services that transforms the architectural project to give realistic look.

U.S. Community Solar Market to Grow Fivefold in 2015, Top 500 MW in 2020

The United States community solar market is approaching a tipping point. In its latest report, U.S. Community Solar Outlook 2015-2020, GTM Research forecasts the market to grow fivefold this year with 115 megawatts installed. By 2020, community solar in the United States will be an annual half-gigawatt opportunity.

With 66 cumulative megawatts installed through the end of 2014, the U.S. community solar market is just getting off of the ground. However, GTM Research has pegged it as the most significant solar growth market for the United States. Between 2014 and 2020, GTM Research expects U.S. community solar to have a compound annual growth rate of 59 percent.

According to the report, there are 24 states with at least one community solar project on-line, and 20 states have or are in the process of enacting community solar legislation.  However, only four states will install the majority of community solar over the next two years: California, Colorado, Massachusetts and Minnesota.

In the near term, these state markets with community solar legislation will serve as the core drivers of demand, fueling just over 80 percent of installations over the next two years.

“Looking ahead to 2020,” said Senior Solar Analyst Cory Honeyman, “the community solar opportunity is poised to become more geographically diversified, as developers ramp up service offerings to utilities in states without community solar legislation in place and national rooftop solar companies enter the community solar scene.”

The report identifies 29 developers that are actively working on community solar projects. Today two companies, Clean Energy Collective and SunShare, together account for 32 percent of operating community solar capacity.

However, GTM Research expects a wave of market entry and expansion over the next five years, as rooftop solar companies including NRG, SunEdison, and SolarCity build out their community solar efforts.

The next five years will see the U.S. community solar market add an impressive 1.8 gigawatts, compared to just 66 megawatts through the end of 2014

The Next Gen App for Curbing Your Transportation Emissions

Save time, travel costs and carbon? Yup, there’s an app for that: TripGo. It’s already being used in over 50 major metropolitan cities around the globe to streamline commuting times, travel itineraries and intelligently lower travel emissions.

Created by the Australian-based company SkedGo, the underlying sustainability focus of the TripGo app is designed to reinforce the need for smarter, cleaner and resource friendly transportation methods, i.e., smart cars, electric vehicles, improved mass transit infrastructure, bicycle commuting, ride shares, etc.

Because according to the latest findings in, A Global High Shift Scenario, the report released last month by the Institute for Transportation and the University of California, “Transportation, driven by rapid-growth in car use, has been the fastest growing source of CO2 in the world.”

So whether you’re trying to shave minutes off of your daily commute, or taking a vacation in an unfamiliar city, TripGo automatically plans trips to, from and between events in your calendar, and smartly proposes the least carbon-intensive connections using your personal transport preferences.

TripGo supports the following modes of transportation:

  • Public transport: buses, ferries, subways, trains, trams
  • Taxi
  • Shuttle services
  • Car
  • Motorbike
  • Bicycle
  • Walking

Additional TripGo features include:

  • Real-time public transport information.
  • Door-to-door options for easy comparison on price, time and environmental impact – including public transport, taxi and bike share.
  • Trip planners according to your transport preferences.
  • Get reminders for your upcoming planned trips
  • Public transport pricing.
  • Tolls and car park information.
  • Taxi fares.
  • Search for points of interest and businesses.
  • Save trips to calendar.
  • Open from Apple Maps.
  • Launch turn by turn navigation.
  • Universal for iPhone and iPad.

To date, over 500k have downloaded TripGo. To learn more, download the app, or see if TripGo is available in your city: http://skedgo.com/tripgo

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This article is brought to you by our sponsor – TripGo

Is OpenStack Ready for Enterprises?

Currently there is a lot of talk justifiably about OpenStack because Enterprises, Telco Providers and SaaS vendors are all looking for an open source based Cloud OS stack alternative for their clouds. The early adopters in the hype cycle have already started deploying it, but the real question is whether OpenStack is ready for Enterprises to run their business critical applications on it. Before I answer this question, I will briefly describe what OpenStack is and will then give my opinion about OpenStack readiness.

OpenStack is a conglomeration of a number of distributed services like Compute (Nova), Network (Neutron), Storage (Cinder, Manila, Swift), GUI (Horizon), Monitoring (Ceilometer), Database (Trove) etc that together represent a Cloud OS. Companies such as HP, RedHat, Cisco, EMC, Mirantis are packaging these various services into distributions (similar to what RedHat does for Linux) and are providing support services.  In some cases these companies are also providing their own public clouds that are based on OpenStack.  For many of the current OpenStack services, the publically available code is not enterprise ready, and in these cases, vendors are augmenting the open source code with their own proprietary plugins. In essence, these companies are trying to become the private data center infra-structure provider of choice and are projecting themselves as the single neck to choke.

OpenStack definitely has momentum because of the amount of money big companies like Cisco, HP, EMC, Huawei and the Telco providers are ploughing into it. The attendance at the OpenStack conferences is steadily increasing every 6 months and a lot of new functionality is being delivered in each new OpenStack release (every 6 months).  It is safe to say that currently OpenStack seems to be having more momentum than other open source based cloud stacks like CloudStack.

However, here are my thoughts on what needs to be done in order for OpenStack to really become main-stream:

  • Too many Networking Initiatives: Currently, there are way too many networking initiatives like Neutron, OpenDaylight, ETSI-NFV, OP-NFV, ONF, and ONOS that at the end of the day are trying to provide a framework for SDN, NFV and Cloud OS networking. Some of these initiatives are being driven by networking vendors and others are being driven by Telco providers. Dust still has to settle with respect to which ones will gain traction. OpenStack networking community cannot do everything on its own, and they need to strategically adopt code bases/designs from these other standards groups.
  • Too many disparate services: Linux was successful because Linus Torvalds ensured that there was a single cohesive vision for the Linux Kernel. Currently, in OpenStack, there are many developer cliques that are driving the different OpenStack components. Hence, currently there is a lack of a cohesive vision with respect to the development of the features for these various OpenStack services. At Google, Microsoft and Amazon, there is a single individual whose neck is on the line for providing a set of cohesive cloud services. Thus, there is a need for a benevolent dictator in the OpenStack community.
  • AWS APIs Rule:  Many graduating students are getting their training in building applications using the Amazon AWS APIs because many universities have started letting their undergraduate students do their projects on AWS due to agility and cost reasons. Since OpenStack is playing catchup with AWS, it is critical for OpenStack to mimic AWS APIs in order to make it easier for new graduating students to code to OpenStack APIs.  So far Amazon has not started any litigation against OpenStack, and thus, copying AWS APIs is a positive strategy to pursue.
  • Difficult to Deploy and maintain:  Most of the enterprises that have successfully deployed OpenStack have either employed an army of consultants or are large government agencies with an army of internal hackers/developers. Furthermore, since the APIs/content is changing with every release of OpenStack, it requires expensive full-time technically savvy people to constantly maintain OpenStack deployments.

In conclusion, I want people to have an open source alternative in the Cloud OS space in order for people to have choice and also a vehicle to innovate. I want to see the OpenStack initiative succeed, and that is why I am highlighting the issues that I want to see get addressed.

Equinix Programmable Network (EPN): A Dynamic Foundation for Multi-cloud

Cloud computing is here to stay. Most enterprise CIOs I speak with are turning to the cloud to increase business agility and enable elasticity for both their application portfolios and business processes. And, in almost all cases, they are adopting more than one cloud platform to support their business applications – applications that require multiple services that run on multiple clouds. This practice of multi-cloud, multi-platform deployments addresses the unique requirements of these business applications, while also providing better value via higher availability and scale than single cloud deployments.

Yet, the move to this multi-cloud architecture can be hindered by the time and effort it takes to provision individual ports and connections to each cloud platform – often measured in weeks, not the seconds that are required to be truly agile. We designed the Equinix Cloud Exchange specifically to meet these provisioning needs and enable customers to connect to multiple cloud service providers (CSPs) either via colocating in an Equinix data center, or through their choice of network services providers (NSPs) through a single port connection.

At the heart of Equinix Cloud Exchange is the Equinix Programmable Network (EPN), the foundational layer that enables this.  EPN takes a software-defined networking (SDN) approach and allows customers to self-provision these connections instantaneously. It’s highly scalable, provides ease of management via automation and ensures customers can maintain a vendor-neutral strategy.

As we continue to develop the EPN platform, we are ensuring that the core of the EPN software adheres to the following principles:

  • Agility and Management at Scale: Manually provisioning, monitoring and trouble-shooting network connections isn’t practical in an agile, multi-cloud era, in which CSPs, NSPs and cloud integrators deal with thousands of enterprises. EPN allows users to control network service management via a proven set of APIs that allow customers to self-provision multiple new connections instantaneously. Equinix Cloud Exchange is able to manage at scale because EPN has been architected to leverage an SDN-based approach, where users specify their requirements in high-level service-based terms and EPN automates the underlying low-level network management operations.
  • Modular Architecture: EPN employs a modular, service-based architecture through which new services are described via high-level YANG language models. Today, EPN provides Layer 2 connection management, virtual local area network (VLAN) management and link aggregation services. However, its modular architecture makes it easy for EPN to roll out new services in future releases at higher Open System Interconnection (OSI) networking layers and also to orchestrate third-party network management services.
  • Multi-Cloud Awareness: From the very beginning, EPN has been designed to operate in a multi-cloud environment. Thus, it uses the notion of “transactions” to configure distributed resources (e.g. switches) across multiple clouds as a single atomic operation.
  • Vendor Neutrality: EPN is a logically centralized SDN subsystem that is hardware vendor-agnostic. The SDN subsystem abstracts the underlying network topology. This allows both cloud providers and enterprises using EPN to seamlessly deploy switches from multiple vendors and maintain a vendor-neutral strategy.

In sum, just as Equinix has grown to become a leader in providing interconnectivity solutions to Enterprises and NSPs, we are also leading the cloud interconnectivity industry through the capabilities of Equinix Cloud Exchange.  Equinix Cloud Exchange is a multi-cloud interconnectivity solution that satisfies the high performance, availability and security requirements of today’s CIOs.  With Equinix Programmable Network (EPN) at its core, it provides us with a software-defined, next-generation network management platform. EPN and Cloud Exchange put Equinix, its customers and its partners squarely at the forefront of the cloud industry.

Everyone is Talking about Docker Containers

Recently at the Google Cloud Platform Live, Amazon re:Invent, VMWare VWorld and at the OpenStack conference, everyone was talking about Docker containers. Even Microsoft has recently announced that it will provide support in the Windows operating system for Docker containers.  In this blog I will briefly talk about what is Docker, why is there so much excitement about it, and my take on how this development offers more choices to the end customers.

Simply put, Docker is an application level container mechanism. The main difference between a Docker container and a Virtual Machine container is that a Docker container is a lighter weight container that does not package the guest OS inside it, whereas, a Virtual Machine container is a heavier container that packages a guest OS. Thus, multiple Docker containers share the same underlying OS, whereas, each VM container has its own guest OS.  The Docker container paradigm allows one to have stateless application level compute containers, and it also allows for the storing of the persistent state of an application in a separate Docker storage container that can be shared across multiple Docker application containers.

In addition to a Docker container, one also needs a container orchestrator to move a Docker container between the nodes in a cluster, and eventually, across clouds. Google and Amazon are both supporting competing Docker container orchestrator initiatives. Google is putting its weight behind the Kubernetes open source initiative, and Amazon has recently announced the EC2 Container Service.  Cisco and VMWare are also planning to provide support for Docker containers in their multi-cloud initiatives such as InterCloud and vCloud Air.

The reason why there is so much excitement about Docker containers is because of the light-weight nature of these containers one can pack more Docker containers on to a physical server than VM containers.  Thus, this leads to higher resource utilization. Docker containers also allow for the seamless movement of applications across physical machines regardless of the hypervisors running on those physical machines. Eventually, the goal of the Docker paradigm is to allow developers to specify the infra-structure level policies with respect to performance, disaster recovery, security etc. at the Docker container level, and for the orchestrator to interpret these policies and take the necessary actions. This key development gives more control to the application developer with respect to the underlying infra-structure.

In addition to the above mentioned benefits, I am particularly excited about the following additional benefit which I think has not been talked about much in the community. Currently, it is not easy for a customer to easily move the entire state of their application across the different IaaS vendors because each of the IaaS vendors uses a different hypervisor or container mechanism. Thus, in future, if applications are architected into a combination of stateless application compute Docker containers, and stateful Docker storage containers, then this gives an application the freedom to move the stateless compute containers across the different IaaS providers, while keeping the stateful storage containers in a common location such as an Equinix datacenter that can be efficiently accessed from all of the IaaS vendors’ infra-structure.

Furthermore, this also allows various storage and database vendors (both SQL and NoSQL) to host their storage/database as a service in the Equinix datacenter. The net winner out of this entire paradigm shift will be the customers because they will be able to build their distributed multi-cloud applications by leveraging the services across multiple IaaS vendors while maintaining the stateful components of their applications in a common location like the Equinix datacenter. I am a strong believer in giving more choices to the customers, and whenever, there is a paradigm like the Docker containers, that allows customers to separately shop for compute and storage services, I am all in favor of it.

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