Mobile Computing

Vol. 3 No. 4 – May 2005

Mobile Computing

Interviews

A Conversation with Tim Marsland

Delivering software to customers, especially in increments to existing systems, has been a difficult challenge since the days of floppies and shrink-wrap. But with guys like Tim Marsland working on the problem, the process could be improving.

A Conversation with Tim Marsland

Delivering software to customers, especially in increments to existing systems, has been a difficult challenge since the days of floppies and shrink-wrap. But with guys like Tim Marsland working on the problem, the process could be improving.

Marsland is a distinguished engineer and CTO for the Operating Platforms Organization in Sun Microsystems. After an academic career at Cambridge University, he joined Sun 14 years ago. There he has been involved in many different aspects of every Solaris release, from getting it out the door to contributing functionality. He developed the Solaris Express release model, as well as contributing new functionality to the operating system. He has also been involved with various architecture efforts at Sun, particularly the architectural review process. Most recently, he has been leading the x64 port of Solaris.

Articles

Enterprise-Grade Wireless

We have been working in the wireless space in one form or another in excess of 10 years and have participated in every phase of its maturation process. We saw wireless progress from a toy technology before the dot-com boom, to something truly promising during the boom, only to be left wanting after the bubble when the technology was found to be not ready for prime time. Fortunately, it appears that we have finally reached the point where the technology and the enterprise's expectations have finally converged.

Enterprise-Grade Wireless

Wireless technology has come a long way, but is it robust enough for today’s enterprise?

BRUCE ZENEL AND ANDREW TOY, MORGAN STANLEY

We have been working in the wireless space in one form or another in excess of 10 years and have participated in every phase of its maturation process. We saw wireless progress from a toy technology before the dot-com boom, to something truly promising during the boom, only to be left wanting after the bubble when the technology was found to be not ready for prime time. Fortunately, it appears that we have finally reached the point where the technology and the enterprise’s expectations have finally converged. Even with the current level of maturity in this space, creating and managing a cohesive wireless strategy within an enterprise is difficult. There are technological hurdles, cost/efficiency trade-offs to be considered, and obtaining buy-in/acceptance at all levels of the company. To identify and overcome these issues, we have developed a model called enterprise-grade wireless. This article is a discussion of the model itself, the context in which it exists, and a justification of its criticality to the enterprise.

WIRELESS IN THE ENTERPRISE DEFINED

It is important that we first define the context of this article. We have a specific view of what constitutes wireless in the enterprise; note that we are not espousing that this is the only view, just defining the perimeter of the space to improve the applicability of the various points we make in the discussion that follows.

by Bruce Zenel

Kode Vicious

Kode Vicious vs. Mothra

Dear KV, My co-workers keep doing really bad things in the code, such as writing C++ code with macros that have gotos that jump out of them, and using assert in lower-level functions as an error-handling facility. I keep trying to get them to stop doing these things, but the standard response I get is, "Yeah, it's not pretty, but it works." How can I get them to start asking, "Is there a better way to do this?" They listen to my arguments but don't seem convinced. In some cases they even insist they are following good practices.

Kode Vicious vs. Mothra!

In this month’s installment, Kode Vicious tackles everything from goto-mongering to language snobbery. All in a day’s work, as they say. If he weren’t so vehemently opposed to it, we’d put him in tights and a cape with a big “KV” on his chest and send him out to fight Mothra, where he’d personally see to it that all of your koding konfrontations were put to rest once and for all. On the other hand, it might be safer for all involved if he sticks to his e-mail account, which, by the way, is kv@acmqueue.com.

Dear KV,

by George Neville-Neil

Curmudgeon

Mal Managerium: A Field Guide

Please allow me the pleasure of leading you on an 'office safari', so to speak. On today's journey we'll travel the corridors of computerdom in search of the widespread but elusive mal managerium, or bad manager, in common parlance. They will be difficult to spot because we will be in a sense looking for that most elusive creature of all: ourselves. That is to say, it's quite possible that many of us will share some of the qualities with the various types of bad managers we shall encounter. Qualities that we are loath to admit we possess, I might add.

Mal Managerium: A Field Guide

Phillip Laplante, Penn State University

Please allow me the pleasure of leading you on an “office safari,” so to speak. On today’s journey we’ll travel the corridors of computerdom in search of the widespread but elusive mal managerium, or bad manager, in common parlance. They will be difficult to spot because we will be in a sense looking for that most elusive creature of all: ourselves. That is to say, it’s quite possible that many of us will share some of the qualities with the various types of bad managers we shall encounter. Qualities that we are loath to admit we possess, I might add.

To help you handle this unsettling glance into the mirror, I’ve prepared this field guide to identifying bad managers. I hope that you find it useful in identifying the bad manager in both yourself and your superiors, where applicable. But first, some background.

by Phillip Laplante

Articles

Mobile Media: Making It a Reality

Many future mobile applications are predicated on the existence of rich, interactive media services. The promise and challenge of such services is to provide applications under the most hostile conditions - and at low cost to a user community that has high expectations. Context-aware services require information about who, where, when, and what a user is doing and must be delivered in a timely manner with minimum latency. This article reveals some of the current state-of-the-art "magic" and the research challenges.

Mobile Media Making it a Reality

Two prototype apps reveal the challenges in delivering mobile media services.

FRED KITSON, HP LABORATORIES

Many future mobile applications are predicated on the existence of rich, interactive media services. The promise and challenge of such services is to provide applications under the most hostile conditions—and at low cost to a user community that has high expectations. Context-aware services require information about who, where, when, and what a user is doing and must be delivered in a timely manner with minimum latency. This article reveals some of the current state-of-the-art “magic” and the research challenges.

In our research we are combining media systems and mobility systems to support the creation, distribution, and consumption of rich media to mobile or nomadic users. In this article we present two visions of future applications. The first is an example of personal context-aware mobile services that leverage RFID technology. The second is a highly collaborative interactive mobile gaming system. This example in particular highlights some of the key technical challenges we encountered while developing a prototype. We then focus on some of the broader system and software issues that need to be addressed to fully realize commercially viable mobile media systems. In particular, we summarize the complexities of getting media anywhere, creating media anywhere, and securely delivering media anywhere.

by Fred Kitson

Streams and Standards: Delivering Mobile Video

Don’t believe me? Follow along…

Mobile phones are everywhere. Everybody has one. Think about the last time you were on an airplane and the flight was delayed on the ground. Immediately after the dreaded announcement, you heard everyone reach for their phones and start dialing.

Streams and Standards: Delivering Mobile Video

The era of video served up to mobile phones has arrived and threatens to be the next “killer app” after wireless calling itself.

TOM GERSTEL, TURNER BROADCASTING SYSTEM

Don’t believe me? Follow along…

Mobile phones are everywhere. Everybody has one. Think about the last time you were on an airplane and the flight was delayed on the ground. Immediately after the dreaded announcement, you heard everyone reach for their phones and start dialing.

You Don't Know Jack about Network Performance

Why does an application that works just fine over a LAN come to a grinding halt across the wide-area network? You may have experienced this firsthand when trying to open a document from a remote file share or remotely logging in over a VPN to an application running in headquarters. Why is it that an application that works fine in your office can become virtually useless over the WAN? If you think it's simply because there's not enough bandwidth in the WAN, then you don't know jack about network performance.

You don’t know jack about Network Performance

Bandwidth is only part of the problem.

KEVIN FALL, INTEL RESEARCH, STEVE MCCANNE, RIVERBED

Why does an application that works just fine over a LAN come to a grinding halt across the wide-area network? You may have experienced this firsthand when trying to open a document from a remote file share or remotely logging in over a VPN to an application running in headquarters. Why is it that an application that works fine in your office can become virtually useless over the WAN? If you think it’s simply because there’s not enough bandwidth in the WAN, then you don’t know jack about network performance.

Consider this real-life example of a large bank with headquarters in Europe and operations in North America. The bank’s CIO was getting big-time heat from a business unit with European users trying to access an important application from across the pond. Performance was horrible. Under pressure, the CIO ordered his trusted network operations manager to fix the problem. The network manager dutifully investigated, measuring the transatlantic link utilization and router queue statistics. He reported that there were absolutely no problems with the network, as it was only 3 percent utilized. “I don’t care, double the bandwidth!” the CIO ordered. The network manager complied, installing a second OC-3 link. And, guess what? The network went from 3 percent to 1.5 percent utilized, and application performance was still horrible. That CIO didn’t know jack about network performance.

by Kevin Fall, Steve McCanne