Google's Data Loss: The Corrolary

Ok - the news that has been making the rounds everywhich way since last night is Gmail's loss of data for 150,000 users.  At a glance, 150,000 seems like a large number, maybe it is.  But lets take a look at the bigger reality and more importantly - the ratios, and the null hypothesis.

Gmail has over 100 *MILLION* users.  Lets round it to an even 100 to keep the math round.  So what percentage of 100 million is 150,000?  Answer:  0.15% - or Fifteen HUNDREDTHS of a percent if you prefer..

Or said another way (again keeping it 100 million to keep the math easy)...  that means everyone is chewing Google's ass for *NOT* losing the data of 99,850,000 people!!!

# of people who did NOT lose data:      99,850,000
# of people who did lose data:                  150.000

Get the picture?

They're acting like Cloud computing has completely failed - when in truth, if there was 0.15% loss of data, then conversely...  there was a 99.85% RETENTION of data.  If we wanted to round it up we'd call that 99.9%. Can we REALLY expect perfection when Google when our own personal hard drives fail and we lose data at home?

And since there are MORE than 100 million users, the percentage lost is actually lower than I'm calculating here.

Now consider the amount of stink being generated by 150,000 people.  *IMAGINE* if Google had had a 100% data failure?  Over 100 million people world wide pissed off.... *NOW* that would have been something and it may have really sounded the death knell for cloud computing, and probably the end of Google.

But that isn't what happened - they retained 99.9+% of their data.  And the likelihood that you would have been effected by the data loss is (get your conspiracy theories ready): 1 in 666.

Am I put off cloud computing by the 1 in 666 chance I'll lose my cloud data?  Let's again compare to our desktop computers.  Depending on the brand of hard drive you have, there is a 2 - 14% (statistic comes from PCWorld) that it will fail.  Get this...  even if I use the lowest figure, 2% chance of failure (1 in 50), far more risky than 0.15% (1 in 666).  If you don't get the numbers - try it this way.  Out of every 50 computer users, there is 1 hard drive failure (loss of everything stored locally).  Out of 666 Gmail users there was 1 loss of e-mails (loss of only your e-mails).

Using that statisic - it is technically SAFER to have your data in the cloud!!!

And thus we have the current news spirals that creating negative press, when what Google has accomplished is a 99.9% success rate!  Mind boggling!  Consider 99.9% of over 100 million people served successfully.  That is nothing short of miraculous.

But there is a moral to the story - there is NO SUCH THING as a perfect data storage medium (they all fail -- even paper decays and burns!) - ergo, conventional wisdom still applies...  back up your data!  Gmail supports POP, install Thunderbird (free e-mail client), configure it download but not delete.  Then you run it periodically and you mail gets backed up to your local drive.  Ta da.  Free Gmail backup, provided by Gmail, with a free e-mail client to take advantage of it.  What more could you ask for?  It's all free!  Like Gmail itself.  Sheesh!

I'll finish with a joke I heard today.  Google is offering everyone who lost data a 100% refund on what they paid to store their e-mails.

Update:  1/3rd of affected people have had their e-mails restored. 50,000 people back in action.  And clearly my guesstimate of 100 million users was WAY low.

"No fix yet, but Google's revised its estimate as to how many users might have been affected by the issue -- 'less than 0.08%' -- which means we're probably looking at closer to 150,000 individuals, rather than 500,000. We're assuming that the revised estimate means that the initial count wasn't precise, and not that customers are ditching Gmail in droves."


Discussing the future and blogging.

Intro ramble...

First off, PearlTrees (aren't you sick of this topic?):  After trying to plug it into my blog via an IFRAME tag to integrate my mind/sitemap into the blog, I discovered that it was really lacking in scalability or flexibility.  The flash based client (that based on the the ability to download your tree is clearly based on RC3) has made me decide to investigate other solutions.  While I appreciate the PearlTrees community - I went there because ultimately I wanted a mind/sitemap for my blog.  I genuinely think that this convergent visual/semantic web organization is the correct path for knowledge management applications.  It's clear, it's concise and it can be constructed to expose something of an inner dialogue.

Speaking of, that is exactly what The Cogworkz (this blog) is.  My collected thought about the topics I'm exploring with comments (these entries).

As I keep pruning it and reorganizing my PearlTree like a bonsai, the tree comes to include blog entries as "thoughts on subjects" and other pearls with support materials and tools.  If you browse my PerlTree ("PearlTree sitemap on the right), not only will you get a feel for my take on blogging and things you can do with it...  but since I'm cloud focused, the Pearls will also contain the necessary tools to create, host, and share; all from within a browser.

The reason that I single out HTML5 and Javascript as the main players in the future of the web is simple, they are integrated into the browser.  These features are part of the browser "out of the box."  No plugins, addons, or extensions required.  "It just works."

Down this path 2 things happen.  1) Web becomes application becomes storage.  It is the great convergence. Web storage becomes user storage, API and application.  Web cache replaces disk cache.  Speaking of, want to speed up your browser?  I mean REALLY speed it?  Put your web cache on a SEPARATE dedicated drive (like a flash drive).  Break it off and keep it separate from the OS drive on a little dedicated drive.  It's basically doing the ReadyBoost trick but applying it ONLY to the browser (and give yourself a nice fat cache, 16 - 32gb means everything cached loads like lightening.  Well traveled pages will load nigh instantly.  It really revs up cloud applications as well - fast loading and responsive (important if you try any cloud based gaming).  Imagine that, there is someone in the world trying to tweak browser performance to enhance web based applications while trying to forego the desktop environment completely.

Hmm, it seems I've just described what Google's ChromeOS is trying to accomplish...  Operating system as browser.  There's a thought for another day, and another experiment.

So, why is it important to feed your browser its own resources?  Because the web is replacing the functionality of an operating system/applications.  When the applications can be delivered via browser, then every page is a potential Turing Machine.

If a page can be an application that can communicate, then the web becomes the next order, a Universal Machine.  And what follows is cloud as super computer.  Collective resource pools...  in a browser tab.

I'm calling you out Beowulf! Implement your client as a browser tab in HTML5 with WebSockets so that people can share resources to construct their own cloud.  Imagine CloudSeti@Home.  No software to install, just open the tab and leave it open.  Even in the background it could be sharing resources.  Want to quit sharing?  Close the tab.  Every online computer and network device in your house could all be sharing resources to create your own intranet supercomputer with only a web browser as the linking element.  How much easier could super computing be?

With social sites, any group could constitute an ad hoc super computer.

And how about using BitTorrent technology as a way to amplify a site.  So in the reverse of the current model in which a lot of web traffic means slow website...  with a torrent amplification model (users share browser cache as torrent) the more popular the site, the FASTER it loads!  Now consider working datasets as torrent resource for this ad hoc super computer?  The nodes would populate fast.

A killer application for a maligned technology.  Yet another topic, for yet another day!

With regards to blogging...

As someone who is growing older, I'm experiencing the shift between what psychology calls fluid and crystallized intelligence.  As you go along, it gets harder and harder to have an "ah ha" moment.  I find that being able to externally and visually see and manipulate the structure of subject matter I've recovered some of my old insight.  Exploring, writing and constructing the tree really helps me assemble concepts and put together (cloud based) function with knowledge.  And as a biproduct, I have this blog...

In a way, I feel like I'm waking up again after a very long slumber.  For me, being able to organize and "see" my thoughts is really helping me get back in the game, so to speak.

So how long have I been out?

Update 24-FEB-2011:

Funny...  so I write this blog entry yesterday and mention the elements of the future web to which I added WebGL to make use of local hardware acceleration.  And low and behold, today I read this.  That Google is on top of everything people don't realize they should be on top of...  and they're on with both feet.

And the sneaky part that's not sinking in at the right levels...  everything the Chrome browser gets becomes part of the ChromeOS.  So when ChromeOS hits, it will have a suped up Java VM, HTML5, integrated flash, integrated WebGL (brings 3D graphics to HTML5), integrated hardware acceleration.  This is precisely why I'm feeding this browser a flash drive for its web cache (rather than supplying the OS additional swap space).


Things so far...

Thus far the Blogger + Pearltrees combo is doing what I want.  While I've gone through a few different blogs and cloud based services, I unwittingly seem to be converging on an almost single login Google realm.  I don't know if this good or bad, but it certainly has advantages.

But the question in my mind today is - what competes with the Google umbrella for services with a single login?

What does OpenID have for example?  Are there other competitors?  Only Google and OpenID come to mind?

Someone chime in here and give me some direction.  Where do you blog?  Does your blog service share a login with any other service?


A test...

After thinking about the IFRAME tag for a while.  A clever use dawned on me!  Maybe I can embed the pearltree that goes with a page in the page!  Let's try it.

Well I see 2 improvements PearlTrees needs: 1) Scalable interface. 2) Scalable profile pop-up to fit window size or the ability to start a tree with the profile minimized. Or maybe the profile (and page previews) appear on mouseover?

Note: It is the show detail button/code that is causing the scaling to blow.

Hmm, a consideration and work around. I will look into adjusting my layout.

Final note: No obvious way to integrate PearlTrees tactfully into my interface. To be functional, it's just too big and doesn't play well with with the page formatting. :(

What I would like: To be able to use it as a header at the top of my blog. One that can be navigated in place. That would be the sweetness.

Update 23-FEB-2011:

What I was trying to say in better language.  The PearlTrees client needs to be more flexible in layout so that it can be easily adapted into a page or blog.  A mindmap *IS* a sitemap.  The site of you.  If it weren't for the the visual structure and manipulability of this PearlTree "The Cogworkz" (this blog) wouldn't exist.


Interesting developments in the Cloud

In this following PearlTree I will provide you with the most interest Cloud based applications I've encountered in my search for the lightest most nimble way I could maintain some kind of new fangled website:

The Standouts
I promise you will love these!

My curiosity and fear of IFRAMES (and PearlTrees again. LOL)

I almost feel like someone at PearlTrees is following my blog.  I mentioned the Flash in Flash inheritance problem as a bad thing, and 2 days later...  when you click on a Pearl containing Flash content, it loads a thumbnail image with an overlay stating, "Page not available in Pearltrees, click to open in a new tab."

And when it opens in a new tab, any addons, blockers, malware/spyware detection, etc. works as YOU would have it work.

A bit about myself.  I'm very serious about being in control of what comes into my browser.  As someone who narrowly evaded identity theft; I religiously use browser add-ons for: antivirus, malware/spyware, along with ad and flash blockers.  And currently I'm investigating the importance of having the ability to load or not an IFRAME tag.  Since an IFRAME can contain any damned thing, it's pure code injection - could be HTML5, could be javascript, could be Flash; and IFRAME is a dirty hole in a web page that oozes infections.  Seriously the concepts of page "poisoning" and code injection apply here.  Muy mal.  There are browser add-ons/extensions that block scripts that can be set to block IFRAMES and provide a white list so that you can enable the content if you trust the site.

At the same time, an IFRAME can be used for good.  But the USER must decide on what represents a trusted source (the reason I mentioned script blockers and whitlisting).  So it's another dual edged sword like Flash.  Used for good, it would be a great way to embed HTML5 of javascript content into a page to provide functionality.  With the SAAS cloud model (service as appliacation - like Google docs), it would be plausible to add mini-applications in HTML5 or flash embedded in a page.  (In HTML5 or Flash if you build your app to be scalar a user can use pinch to zoom to bring it to a functional size with no change in appearance at all (pixelation or grain from scaling doesn't apply to scalar design).

If I could move HTML5 development and delivery to the cloud, then it could be delivered in a blog page via an IFRAME - so applications and functionality could be embedded.  But there's the dual edged sword - the IFRAME tag is dangerous.  There's no way around it.

I promise to do no harm. Makes me want to put up a caduceus symbol on my blog somewhere.


HTML5, CSS3, and other components of the future web...

I now introduce HTML5/CSS3 into the Cogworkz future web model.  This is important for a multitude of reasons, but two that haven't really sunk in yet.

1)  The next evolutionary step is web as an application.  The omni platform answer to this is HTML5. 

2) If the web page is an application, then web server space becomes app storage space.

I really wish I could include HTML5 in my blogger blog, but it simply doesn't support the functionality.  The closest I can come is punching through it with an iFrame.

And while I was able to find a Cloud based HTML5 editor called CloudCanvas, and while it does save to svg format in your Google docs, there is no way to deliver the content.  I either need a blog in which I can inject code (and haven't found anything that fits with the Cogworkz principles yet).

So if anyone knows of a blog that permits HTML5 let me know.  (I'm still trying to avoid the classic website model because I think it can be done.)

Update 20-FEB-2011:

Other components I included in this category are Java, Javascript and Silverlight. However since one of my principles is to "keep it in the cloud" this means avoiding plug-ins and locally stored content - I, agree with (and I can't believe the words coming out of my mouth) Steve Jobs on the no Flash stance. And considering its "weight" and slow loading time, I'll lump Java right in there with it. Nothing says large memory footprint and slow operation like a virtual machine.

So Java no (virtual machine, downloaded local content), javascript yes (integrated into the browser).

After all - the scripting languages turn a web page into an application. Flash and Java on the other hand embed non-HTML components that have to be sideloaded before the page is functional. ANd of course have requirements (Must have java installed for java to run in place, while javascript is built into the browser). Likewise with Flash (must have flash installed for embedded flash to run in place, and there is no script equivalent with HTML5 being the direct contender).

But the one element that are useful to a blogger - they can be delivered via IFRAME into a blog.  Speaking of, Silverlight could also be delivered via IFRAME so it bears mention.  However, like Java, it has client side installs.  So, for me at least, gets chucked along with Java.  If it's not native to the browser your page isn't going to work "out of the box."  And that's no position to be in.

This line of thought leads to another blog post:  My curiosity and fear of iframes.


Blog, it'll web like website

A funny phrase that came out of a word cloud generator when turned loose on my blog that is so close to what I'm trying to say!

PearlTrees: The good and the bad...

This blog seems to be gushing about PearlTrees, but that's just because it's become central to what I'm doing.  So I thought it was time to write a review.

So first, the good.  With the PearlTrees plugin, gathering information into a meaningful structure becomes a breeze.  Due to the visualization, it's an easy replacement for traditional bookmarks that many other offhand possibilities.  Like my usage here, using it to gather resources for review and rolling out another blog that actually applies my principles but is more about a topic other than the nuts and bolts of my idealized future web.

It is serving as the sitemap cum website for this blog.  This goes back to not having a traditional website, but using pearltrees to structure a blog so that the pages become non-linear.  So the individual entries (at least some of them) become like webpages since the PearlTree structure utilizes them this way.

So that's a whole lot of good for minimalistic a web presence in a single interface.  At the same time, it sets  the stage for touch computing.  After all, the web is something people touch now...  to have a modern site, you must be able to navigate by touch.

Now the bad.  PearlTrees utilizes Flash for its presentation.  Right off the bat that throws out iPhones and iPads, and Android devices earlier than 2.2.  But as far as a browser experience on a desktop, it's great.  Likewise this Flash problem will be going away in 1 of 2 directions.  1)  The Google Chrome browser integrates flash into the browser, so if it's ported to iOS for example...  it brings Flash with it as part of the web experience.  2)  PearlTrees is working on rewriting their interface in HTML5.  This nips the problem in the bud and closes the Android./iOS divide.

Another good/bad - when you place a URL into a "pearl," PearlTrees serves as a proxy between you and that site.  This offers a level of anonymity and protection.  At the same time, all of pages that load as a "pearl" inherit whatever privaledges PearlTree has.  So if you allow flash to SEE PearlTrees then all of the content opened as a pearl runs its flash content (if it has it).  This could clearly be exploited in a not good fashion.  (This btw, is why you need some kind of malware protection integrated into your browser and an antivirus.  These things are essential to modern browsing.)  But the good news, most people live this vulnerability every day in complete ignorance. So using PearlTrees is no more harmful than the other Flash laden sites you visit...  I notice personally because I browse with a flash blocker.  It doesn't load unless I say load.

On the whole though, the good far outweighs the bad.  And if they develop an HTML5 client for their service - it solves the inherited permission problem mentioned before.  Lord help me, HTML5 is the place to be.  Which is precisely why I added it to my statement of principles.

Anyway - that's my take on PearlTrees.  And a word on browsers...  Google Chrome could run my website "out of the box" without requiring a single extension or plug-in.  All of the other Browsers, you will need to have Flash installed to access PearlTrees.  Also, since I'm still riding the fence on the Firefox/Chrome divide, this is another mark in Chrome's favor.  In fact, since I've used PearlTrees on both browsers, I can say - Chrome runs PearlTrees better than Firefox.  Period.  It's smoother, more responsive,and its faster both in load time and performance.

And that's wrap!

UPDATE 19-FEB-2011: PearlTrees has corrected the Flash in Flash problem. The code injection threat is gone.


A test before bed time...

Since I've included Google Docs among my tools, one of these things I can do in theory is create and host online surveys from the cloud.  So below is my attempt to create and embed a survey:

It doesn't quite work does it? Too big for the frame.

Correction - it can be fixed in the iframe code. So ta da. :)

Fast and Dirty Review from My World View

Ok - in line with what I'm attempting to do, I have run through quite an array of cloud based applications and thought long and hard about what I want my new online presence to be like.

To that end I took a look a few online web services.  First an foremost, I understand that the web is about to undergo a pretty massive reinvention.  In particular, it'll have to reimagined for touch computing (both in the form of phones and tablets).  So I let the question, "how does it work with a touch interface" by my guide and went looking for components with which to build this new online presence.

Since I was uncertain what that would look like initially - I started with a webservice that was free, promised an intuitive interface(that looked touch promising).  The only thing that jumped to the forefront was Webnode.  And while it did as promised - I thought back to my experience with maintain websites and thought - no, I want my new presence to be more nimble than this.  From somewhere around 1997 I've had some kind of blog, and the thing that is pleasant about using them is how easy it is to post.  On top of this the written interface has grown.  And depending on which service you use, the blog page itself serves as a basic HTML page.  So really the notion of a traditional website is redundant when you think about it.  More on that later.

Next I looked researched cloud applications that could provide some form of static means to update or post something I wanted to share.  Again I looked towards touch computing and considered what was available.  The most promising solution seemed to be SpringPad.  After setting up an account and trying it on, I came to the same conclusion - it was cumbersome to use and again replicated (in a broken, slow page loading way) the functionality of a blog.  So again...  even though it worked as promised and would get along fine touch computing, it just wasn't what I was looking for.

So I found myself asking, what *AM* I looking for?  What SHOULD the web be in a touch computing world?  And, what is it that stops blogs from being a more useful web presence (as far as organization and the ability to find specific information).

The answer to both questions was the same.  The web is what it claims to be...  a web.  So in terms as representation, it should BE a web.  This is how I arrived at PearlTrees.  It was a way to organize the web in a way that resembled a web, AND would be touch friendly.  In terms of navigation and organization it was excellent.

It also served to answer the other question.  The reason blogs aren't useful is, rather than being organized categorically, they're linear.  So the more you write, the more you leave in your wake.  At some point it becomes difficult to find a specific entry - or to locate the resources.  If a blog is coupled with a pearl tree - the pages can be picked as "pearls" and then put together in a meaningful way.

So then the question became - which blog has the best browser/android interoperability?  Can I update on my phone nearly as easily as I could at a computer?

And the solution there, is the Blogger, the very resource I'm using to produce this blog.  Upon its completion I'll add it as a pearl to my pearltree and link all of the mentioned (hyperlinked) items mentioned this article.

So there you have it - the answer to the modern mobile touch enabled web presence.  You can find all of the items I'm using by clicking navigate to the right and clicking on the pearltree sitemap.  Just navigate to Web Presence Tool Chain. As my toolset evolves to cover my needs, I'll maintain a link to whatever I'm using there.  Likewise, whenever I discuss the tool chain - I'll add the blog entry as another pearl so that they're archived with the tools.

[I failed to mention e-mail since you will need an e-mail address to sign up for accounts with these services.  However you can use any one you like and it'll work fine.  My personal preference Gmail because it provides a flexible e-mail interface with ample storage.  Access to Google Docs (and a myriad of other cloud resources) comes with a gmail account.  Since the documents editor can craft web pages, I also thought it may be handy if I ever need to produce a more sophisticated blog entry.  Likewise google reader is a good way to organize your feeds.  Gmail integrates right into Android and most of the other features have some freely available app to provide access.  But you get the point - I can take it all with me and access it anywhere.]


Observations on a modern online presence

Observation 1)  Must be easily maintained.

Observation 2) Must allow HTML5 content.

Observation 3) Must be social.

Observation 4) Must be visually organized in a meaningful way.

Observation 5) Must be maintainable on the go.

Observation 6) Must lend itself to "touch" browsing.

Observation 7) Must exist "in the cloud" to be platform independent both in viewing and editing.

Creating a new online presence....

Through the years I've gone through many different services and explored many different application in the quest of having some type of online persona.  This went through a series of phases, starting with the old tried and true web page.

So let's do the run through of what I've tried and why I quit.

Personal website - while this provided the most flexibility and liberty of design, it was also the most time consuming to develop.  Also the toolset nececessary to develop, manage and update your website were numerous and complicated.  Throw in the static nature of the content and the necessity of manually update - and creating and maintaining a website was an odious chore.

The first rumblings of the oncoming cloud world came in the form of free websites that provided templates and web forms to add, update and manage content.  Though it still required active development, there was no mechanism to easily make content production part of your life.

Oberservation 1) A modern online presence must be tidy, lightweight, provide many templates, and provide easy web based tools to add, update and manage content.

Online Diary -> Blog - I tried many services when the blog revolution was just beginning.  Opendiary, perhaps one of the largest blog sites in the early 90s was where I developed a taste for having a readership.  People who came back for repeat visits and left comments.

It was truly revolutionary.  It removed the time involved in creating your own website and provided an easy method to update and manage.  This was one of the first steps in socializing the web - the appearance of the methods that eventually be common to all blogging tools..

Since then, everything from Blogger, to Facebook, to MySpace, to just about any social networking site and you find the basics of blogging.  They vary in the amount of freedom you have in designing the page and sharing various media types, but the basic ability to post some form of blog or note is there.

Increasing, the ability to clip and share any type of content is of increasing importance.  To that end, blogging and shared media is converging, which is why Facebook has been such a success.  It provides a social outlet for both your thoughts and shared media.  Blogging methods applied to what is effectively a raw HTML page.

Obervation 2) A modern online presence must provide a media stream.  A blog is nice, but the ability to blog, embed, link and generally share anything you may come upon is better.  It allows you, rather than some specific website, to manage the appearance of the site and the quality of the hypertext that goes into it.

Social - And a modern website, no matter what else, must provide a means for you interact with your readership.  To receive feedback, comments, and interact with your readership.  The real question here, is how far to take it.  With modern mobile computing it may be possible to provide an almost continuous real time presence.

Observation 3) A modern online presence must be interactive.  The site visitors should feel "plugged in" to the living heart of the content.

There other aspects to be considered - but these 3 things will be the core of my new online presence.  An overarching theme of the backend toolchain is that it should make this not only easy, but mobile.  One should be able to create content with nothing more than a modern smartphone or tablet.  However, that's a topic all to itself - and as I explore the available tools out there, converging management into an easy to use interface will be central.

I will collect the observations from my blog posts somewhere, and these will be used to craft my concept and statement of intent.

The Cloud

I'm beginning an exploration of cloud resources in an attempt to create an online presence utilizing freely available tools. I don't know what I hope to accomplish from this other than having a work environment I can take with me.

As a starting point to structure my thoughts, I'm using Pearltrees.