Monthly Archives: April 2006

RFID Chips Record Recycling

Big Brother Knows How Much You Recycle

Just read an interesting article in the Great Lakes IT Report ( detailing an interesting use of RFID chips, for determining how much trash/recycling individual households put at the curb. The full article is available at and I won’t repeat it all here, but the basic idea is that a trash company is embedding RFID chips in trash bins and rewarding customers for recycling. Ultimately the “stick” approach may be used to charge people for how much waste they produce. Cool idea.

Live isn’t always best

Getting Spoiled by Podcasts?

Did I mention that I REALLY liked the talk that I went to on Tuesday night, by Owen Taylor from Gigaspaces, for the Ann Arbor Java User Group? Yeah, I guess I did. Anyhow, as I was sitting there, in the talk, I was thinking what a GREAT podcast it would have made, and how I wished that the talk had been recorded so that I could listen to selected parts again but mainly so that I could share it with a few other people who I knew would be interested (but weren’t in attendance). Sheesh, who would have thought that I would PREFER a podcast to a live meeting? OK, I can’t go that far. It was definitely better, in person, where I could see what was going on and eat pizza and have a chance to win an IPod (still bummed about not winning that). But it definitely occurred to me that it would have been great to have had a recording in addition to the live presentation. And, with 2 small children at home, I can listen to WAY more podcasts than attend live meetings. Funny how technology sometimes changes our perspective a bit …

Distributed Computing

Ann Arbor Java User Group: Meeting on Distributed Computing

I snuck out of the house last night to attend the Ann Arbor Java Users Group meeting. Topic was Space Based Computing. It far exceeded my expectations.

OK, I’ll confess. I’m a distributed computing geek. I spent a great deal of time (from like 1988 until well into 2001) working on distributed computing applications and research, using rudimentary tools. First applications were on a Motorola “grid” of several 68000 boards. I no longer remember how the thing parallelized. I was just an application programmer. Went back to grad school in 1990 and loved playing around with hypercubes and other parallel processing machines. Did my masters thesis on parallel programming, with an object oriented bent.

My first job out of grad school was at Computational Biosciences, in Ann Arbor where initially we were working on a massively parallel array (human genome applications) but later transitioned to a processor farm, using PVM. Yes, PVM … out Oakridge National Labs. Did anyone else REALLY use this? It was GREAT, but the configuration was pretty rough.

Then, I did some consulting and ultimately started working on a Decision Support System, using a distributed processor farm as well (using CORBA). I left that company in the early 2000’s, but they’re still doing a great job of distributing the workload, as far as I know. I’m not sure if they’re still using CORBA, but they deal with huge datasets … and quickly.

Ah, anyhow, back to the meeting. Owen Taylor did a GREAT job of describing how Gigaspaces has built a foundation on top of JINI for space based computing. He even mentioned Linda (ah, my heart beat faster thinking of way back when)! Furthermore, Gigaspaces provides a community edition of their software, free (even for production use).

Oh, and Gigaspaces even raffled off an IPod. There were only 10 eligible attendees at the meeting, so I figured I had GREAT odds of winning one. Sigh, wasn’t my night. Guess I’ll have to continue to listen to IT Conversations on my laptop for a while longer.

I’m anxious to dig down and play with Gigaspaces a bit, but alas … I have paying clients right now who are totally NOT interested in distributed computing. I’ll have to save it for a rainy day (soon, I hope).

Notes on Linda


Ann Arbor Java User Group