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27 July 2010: FPV Flying Video

I've posted a video of my FPV flying project on my project page. The flight was from back in April 2010 and was my first flight with full "First Person Video" with a camera mounted on pan/tilt servos controlled by a gryo that tracked my head movements while mounted on wearable video goggles. The video is best viewed in 480p, thought the original video feed was even higher quality. YouTube just doesn't have the quality to show how great the live video really was.

04 Dec 2009: Project Page Updated

After far too long, I've finally updated my project page. Since my last updates, I've become an amateur R/C pilot, moved to Colorado, given a new talk at the 2009 Usenix LISA conference, and began building an FPV (first person view) R/C plane. Lots of fun stuff.

12 May 2009: What is the 'cloud', and what are the benefits?

Google Blogpost on the topic of the Cloud as it relates to hardware, software and applications. Appririo article that presents an opinion on cost savings from Cloud computing at differing levels of capabilities.

19 March 2009:  Cloud Computing and Security

The "cloud" is perceived by many as a new concept, however, the core idea has been around for a long time in areas that have little to do with computing. For several centuries, people have trusted banks with their money. Storing money at home had inherent risks and difficulties. It was recognized that keeping everyones money in a central location made it easier to provide security, since all the money could be protected in a single, well protected and secure vault with armed guards and sophisticated alarm systems. Individual home safes were smaller and much less secure, and installing bank quality vaults and alarm systems at home would have been prohibitively expensive. Likewise, carrying around large sums of money for significant purchases also posed issues with security and convenience. Banks solved this issue through the use of checks, and later credit cards. Without realizing it, many people adopted the basic concepts behind "the cloud." Almost everyone trusts the banking "cloud" with their most sensitive of personal data, their finances. They do not feel the need to hold their money in their hand, or protect it with their own resources, they simply trust the banking infrastructure to provide the security and easy access to their financial resources - whenever they need it, wherever they are. People also have a strong expectation of privacy for the financial records in the "banking cloud", but everyone accepts that Governments can, and should, be able to issue warrants and subpoenas for financial transaction data.

As the Internet came into the consciousness of most individuals, one of the first steps people took when getting online was to obtain an email address from places such as Hotmail, Yahoo!, or Gmail. They did not think of themselves as pioneers in "cloud computing", yet the act of having a business provide the email exchange servers, data storage, and access via the web from anywhere in the world made them pioneers nonetheless. Prior to "web mail", most people used programs on their personal computer to retrieve and send email with programs that stored the email data locally. This worked well in most cases, but made access to their email very difficult for people when they were away from the home. Laptops improved this somewhat by providing more portability, but carrying a laptop everywhere has its own set of difficulties.

Today, many businesses and individuals are recognizing the similar benefits of cloud computing. Cloud computing is rapidly expanding from simply providing global access to email from any computer, to other services such as documents, spreadsheets, calenders, media, presentations, and even complex software applications. Many businesses are recognizing the benefits that come from not having to maintain a large staff of employees to maintain their own private data centers and the associated support infrastructure and security. Even expensive in-house telephone and voice-mail systems are being transitioned into internet based cloud offerings through services such as Skype and GrandCentral from Google. For companies that require customized applications, services such as AppEngine from Google and EC2 from Amazon provide the ability to develop software that is globally accessible, but without the need for expensive in-house hardware and support. Additionally, when a company needs to expand their data processing capabilities it will be immediately available, without the need to order new equipment, wait for shipment, and the time needed to install and configure the equipment locally. If time is money, the cloud will be windfall profit for businesses.

Security has always been a critical need for data security. Cloud computing will be able to recognize many of the benefits that the development of banks did. By having critical data stored in a single location, the cost for providing very high quality security can be reduced through economies of scale. Rather than millions of companies each spending large sums of money to protect data locally, the "cloud based" respositories will be able to provide significantly better security at a dramatically reduced cost. Security bugs and vulnerabilities will continue to exist, but cloud based computing provides significant advantages here as well. Today, when a security vulnerability is identified in a piece of software, it can be months or years before every company becomes aware of the issue and finally patches their software. These delays can leave critical data at risk for long periods of time. In the cloud, however, an identified security vulnerability can be patched promptly, in one location, without the need for coordinating with millions of companies and individuals around the globe. This will significantly reduce the potential exposure time of sensitive data to any security vulnerabilities.

The adoption of Cloud computing is already well underway. Most large Universities now utilize cloud based offerings for all their staff and students. Businesses are in the transitional stage and several Fortune 500 companies have already made the transition. However, by far the highest adoption rate of cloud computing is coming from small and mid-sized business that recognize significant and immediate ROI gains from adoption of cloud based services.

There will continue to be skepticism, worries and doubts, but the cloud is already here, and its here to stay.

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