Friday, May 15, 2009

Google Flies In A Very CLOUDy Sky

Google has offered an explanation about it's service disruption yesterday that made many people wonder about the cloud computing. It all boils down to a routing issue.
Official Google Blog: This is your pilot speaking. Now, about that holding pattern...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Intel Fined $1.45 Billion By European Commission In Antitrust Case

Intel was fined a staggering 1.06 billion euros ($1.45 Billion) fine on Wednesday by The European Commission for abusing its dominance in the computer chip market to exclude its only serious rival, Advanced Micro Devices.
Following is the Introductory remarks at press conference given by Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Competition Policy

Brussels, 13th May 2009

Ladies and gentlemen,

I want to talk to you today about an antitrust decision that is focussed on consumer choice and innovation.

The Commission's decision finds that Intel abused its dominant position on the market for computer chips known as "x86 central processing units" in violation of Article 82 of the EC Treaty. This violation lasted for more than five years – from late 2002 to the end of 2007.

These x86 chips are the key hardware component of a computer – in other words, your computer won't work without these chips.

Throughout the period covered by the decision, Intel held at least 70% of the worldwide market in these chips.

The fact that Intel had such a large market share is not a problem in itself. What is a problem is that Intel abused its dominant position. Specifically, Intel used illegal anti-competitive practices to exclude essentially its only competitor, and thus reduce consumer choice, in the worldwide market for x86 chips.

The Commission has ordered Intel to cease the illegal practices immediately, to the extent that they are still ongoing, and to refrain from these and any equivalent practices in the future. The Commission will be monitoring Intel’s compliance closely.

For this abusive behaviour, the Commission has fined Intel 1.06 billion euros.

Frustrating innovation

The Commission finds that Intel did not compete fairly, frustrating innovation and reducing consumer welfare in the process.

Whenever dominant companies use their market position to exclude competitors, innovation suffers – and consumers are harmed because they are denied choice.-.

The Commission has found that Intel excluded its competitor in two ways:

  1. through illegal loyalty rebates
  2. by paying manufacturers and retailers to restrict the commercialisation of competitors' products.

These illegal actions were designed to preserve Intel's market share at a time when their only significant rival - AMD - was a growing threat to Intel's position. This threat was widely recognised by both computer manufacturers and in Intel's own internal documents seen by the Commission.

The computer manufacturers involved are Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo and NEC. The retailer involved is Media Saturn Holdings, the parent company of Media Markt.


Naturally, the Commission favours strong, vigorous price competition, including by dominant firms. However, Intel went beyond normal price competition by giving rebates to computer manufacturers on the condition that they bought all, or almost all, of their CPUs from Intel.

Intel also made direct payments to a major retailer – Media Markt - on the condition that it stocked only computers with Intel CPUs.

Not all rebates are a competition problem – often they will lead to lower prices for consumers in the long term as well as the short. But the Intel rebates in this case were a problem because of the conditions that Intel attached to its rebates. Moreover, the Commission has examined closely whether an efficient competitor could have matched these rebates. These conditions, to buy less of AMD's products or to not buy them at all, prevented AMD from competing with Intel on the merits of its products. This removed the possibility of genuine choice for consumers and undermined innovation.

Just to give you one example: in one case, a computer manufacturer took up only a small part of an offer by AMD of free CPUs because acceptance of all the free CPUs offered would have led that computer manufacturer to breach the conditions of its agreement with Intel and to lose rebates on all its much more numerous Intel purchases.

Everyone but Intel was worse off in this anti-competitive scenario.

But rebates are only part of the story.


Intel made direct payments to computer manufacturers to halt or delay the launch of products using their rival's chips, and to limit their distribution once available.

The Commission has specific, documented examples, of Intel paying other manufacturers to, for example, delay the launch of an AMD-based PC by six months, and to restrict the sales of AMD-based products to certain customers.

Why is pay-for-delay wrong?

Because it was aimed at preventing a competitor from selling its products on their merits, again restricting genuine choice for consumers and undermining innovation.


The Commission Decision contains evidence that Intel went to great lengths to cover-up many of its anti-competitive actions. Many of the conditions mentioned above were not to be found in Intel’s official contracts.

However, the Commission was able to gather a broad range of evidence demonstrating Intel's illegal conduct through statements from companies, on-site inspections, and formal requests for information.

Concluding remarks

The Commission's investigation has uncovered serious wrongdoing in the x86 computer chip market.

Given that Intel has harmed millions of European consumers by deliberately acting to keep competitors out of the market for over five years, the size of the fine should come as no surprise.

I am very grateful for the interest and support that both BEUC (the European Consumers' Association) and UFC Que Choisir (French consumers' association) have shown in intervening on the side of the Commission in this case. This goes to show the widespread discontent at Intel's behaviour and the priority the Commission places on consumers and their welfare.

Finally, I would like to draw your attention to Intel's latest global advertising campaign which proposes Intel as the "Sponsors of Tomorrow."

Their website invites visitors to add their 'vision of tomorrow'. Well, I can give my vision of tomorrow for Intel here and now: "obey the law".

Friday, May 08, 2009

Naked Astronomy

M42, This cosmic nursery measures 30 light-years from side to side, and contains dozens of newborn baby suns.

According to this press release, you will be able to roam the milkyway and other far away galaxies in your bathing suite (summer is coming) or naked!

“Astronomers and enthusiasts have used our technology for years, but thanks to Otto and our new design, anyone can have a powerful telescope and an expert astronomer available at home whenever they want,” says Michael Paolucci, founder of Slooh. “Otto unveils the space stories and science behind the views that our technology feeds to the world.”

New York, March 30, 2009Slooh is well known among astronomy enthusiasts for providing a space camera that offers unprecedented access to real-time views of the ever-changing night sky. Now, the company is unlocking space for those who never dared explore beyond our terrestrial world by introducing Otto, the Night Watchdog for the Milky Way Galaxy as their guide.

“Astronomers and enthusiasts have used our technology for years, but thanks to Otto and our new design, anyone can have a powerful telescope and an expert astronomer available at home whenever they want,” says Michael Paolucci, founder of Slooh. “Otto unveils the space stories and science behind the views that our technology feeds to the world.”

This comes just in time for the 100 Hours of Astronomy, a worldwide event aimed at bringing everyone the same sense of wonderment felt by Galileo when he first looked through a telescope 400 years ago.

Slooh also added two new telescopes to its worldwide network. The new sites in Chile and Australia complement the telescopes that have operated in Europe continuously since 2003. The complete network now offers space enthusiasts 24 hour views of the night sky from their computer screens.

Available online at and retail channels across the country, including, in nearly every Toys“R”Us store, Slooh fulfills the common yearning to see and capture images from space. A true space camera, Slooh and Otto guide users on quests to see and record the best current views of the night sky with tailored missions happening every few hours.

Otto’s night missions such as "Lunar Risings: The Phases of the Moon,” and "Starburst: The Birth, Life & Death of a Star" guide and shape exploration and discovery for kids and parents through telescopes situated at some of the world’s finest observatories. These missions use the same high-caliber images and patented technologies that have made Slooh critical to astronomical discovery.

Pricing and Availability

Slooh adventures are available for as little as $14.99 for 150 minutes of missions with each mission lasting about five minutes. Mission books can be found at Toys“R”Us stores or online at

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Wolfram|Alpha, A Computational Engine For Your Web Searches.

I have been a fan of Mathematica ever since high school and used it throughout my university years and even to date, I continue to use it. Mathematica is a well received application or a computational platform as many refer to it as.
There is some thing new from the Wolfram Research, the company that gave us the Mamthematica, a Web-based "computation engine"--Wolfram Alpha-- Alpha accesses databases that are maintained by Wolfram Research, or licensed from others, and deploys formulas and algorithms to compute answers for searchers.
When I read the test done by Technology Review, I had to smile, typical mathematica, to the point.
I know O will have a permanent bookmark to Wolfram Alpha.
You can read Technology Review article to get detailed information on Google and WolframAlpha comparison.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Cloud Computing The Google Way!

When We speak or think of enterprise computing we always think of enterprise hardware. multi core processors, terabytes of high end storage and globs of memory.
Then we get our software on these heavy handed structures and run happily for about a year and in most cases six months as new better hardware comes around and our software begin to lag. So we rinse and repeat.
It seems Google is doing this in a bit of different way. The difference is that Google build its system from ground up, on low cost hardware. It is their software infrastructure that scales and manage to run on every possible hardware solution thrown at them.
Google work with the premise that even the best and most expensive hardware have a limit of not being 100% reliable. So they make their software the resilient one.
There is one good story that I read at Google Enterprise blog which explains very well the Google Enterprise architecture. I learned about it of course at Google official blog. You will find the links to both below.
Official Google Enterprise Blog: What we talk about when we talk about cloud computing
Business in the cloud