Recursive Complexity

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Archive for June 2011

The smartphone and the cloud…few possibilities (part 1)

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This is the first article in a series of 3, discussing applications of the cloud for the smartphones of the future not far off.

In this article, I will discuss booting a smart phone off the cloud.

The ideas presented in this series can be debated and have drawbacks, but I am sure this is the direction the smartphones are headed. The desktops and servers of today are already there and the next step is for the mobile phones to do the same.

I use the term smart phone assuming that all mobile phones of the future will be smart enough to interact with the cloud.

Boot is a term widely used for computers and as I am unaware of the term used to bring up a mobile phone, I will use the same here.

Booting a smart phone off the cloud.

Smartphones of today have the operating system (OS) image stored in permanent memory that comes along with them. When we power on a smart phone, the OS image is loaded into main memory (RAM), the control is transferred to it, after doing some necessary initialization and error checking and the phone starts to boot. Imagine a scenario where the OS image is stored in the cloud, in data centers and when we power on the smart phone, it requests the desired image from the cloud which is then provided to it by the cloud. See figure below.

Booting a smart phone from the cloud

Prerequisites for this process would be,

  • A ROM burned into the device that can communicate with the cloud.
  • User/client specific access to data stored on the cloud.
  • Security against snooping, hacking and other malicious activities.

The steps for the process would be,

  • The smart phone is powered on by the user.
  • The ROM is loaded into main memory and given control.
  • It establishes a secure connection to the cloud.
  • A request for the user OS image is made.
  • The cloud finds the user specific OS image by communicating internally.
  • The cloud then securely responds to this request.
  • The OS image is downloaded to the smart phone and then loaded into main memory and given control.
  • The phone starts to boot.
  • After the user is done using the phone, he powers off the phone.
  • A background process initiates a ‘save all changes’ session to the cloud.
  • All changes made to the OS and its application are saved to the cloud.
  • The device powers off.
  • The next time the user powers on the device, the updated OS image is provided.

As mobile phones are used by almost everyone today including me :-), a scenario observed is that we never switch off our phones. So when do the changes get committed to the cloud ?

An answer to this would be to have the back ground process save the changes, if any, at regular intervals, which the user can customize.

This idea is merely an extension of what is already there for desktop and server systems. Technologies like PXE, iSCSI, FC and FCoE are widely used in SAN environments to remotely (diskless) boot computers. The same technologies adapted to portable devices or new technologies based on them may be brought forward to achieve remote boot of mobile phones.

Advantages

  • If a mobile phone is lost or damaged, data is still present on the cloud. No need to worry about data loss.
  • Data centers have advanced backup facilities that cannot be replicated by the user.
  • One place upgrade of OS and other applications which serves all clients.
  • Saves storage space previously occupied by the OS.

Disadvantages or drawbacks

  • Security is a major concern as is with all things associated with the cloud.
  • Cannot boot a mobile phone if there is no access to the cloud as can happen in remote places.
  • Slow network speeds can make the boot process a terribly long wait.

Given that networks all over the world are becoming more secure and everything is moving to the cloud, this seems to me to be a logical step for the smart phones of the future.

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Written by Vivek S

June 26, 2011 at 10:56 am

Posted in Tech

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Why Roger Federer loses to Rafael Nadal

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1. Roger Federer is far less tough in his mind than Rafael Nadal. Don’t get me wrong here. He’s tougher than everyone else but Nadal. There is no one on the planet who fights like Nadal.

2. Roger Federer plays a toned down game of grass court on clay where he tends to hit the ball on the rise and with pace which doesn’t help his cause at all. Clay court requires a totally different game than grass or hard court.

3. Most important of all, Federer plays Rafael Nadal, his tormentor rather than playing the ball. Nadal’s in his mind and he plays him, rather than playing the match like any other!

The finals of French Open was a brilliant game. This was Federer’s best French open and Nadal came through to win even though he wasn’t playing his best tennis. So there are positives for both the players. Federer got it right when he started the match. He seemed to have a plan. He played aggresively and was in no time up 4-1. Then everything went down. Nadal got some rhythm and started to get Federer’s tactics. The problem for Federer is that I don’t think he has a plan B. If he doesn’t get it right the first time, he struggles. Tactically Nadal is brilliant. He approaches every game as though it is his last. It’s also so amazing to see Nadal learn the grass court and hard court games so quickly whereas Federer has not been able to do the same on clay.

On the whole, it was a brilliant game of tennis and I wonder how many more days are left before this great rivalry comes to an end given the fact that Federer is nearing the end of his career. Till then feast your eyes on those wonderful moments in the history of this game when they both played magical tennis (Wimbledon finals 2007 and 2008, Australian open finals 2009). Two greats of the game.

Written by Vivek S

June 7, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Posted in Tennis

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Roger Federer has the best game in tennis

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I hate to admit this, but off late, I have become a huge fan of Roger Federer. The guy never seizes to impress me. Yesterdays semi final clash which most people thought would be won by Novak Djokovic went so horribly wrong for them when Federer started playing his trademark game from the very beginning. Novak Djokovic came into this match with an unbeaten streak of 41 games in 2011 and 2 short of equalling McEnroe’s record 43 games in a season. He was in prime form and in contrast, Federer was not playing his best tennis for some time.

The match started and it was clearly visible that Federer was aggressive right from the beginning knowing that he cannot outlast Djokovic by playing defensively. Aggression was his only choice and believe me, he played sublime tennis. The first 2 sets were a treat to watch. Both players fought point to point in the first set resulting in Federer taking the set in a tie break and in the second set, the constant pressure Federer put on Djokovic started to show and he took it 6-3. Djokovic and Nadal have the same kind of game where they run around the court and make you play that one more shot to win a point. Trying to outlast them by playing defensively is hopeless which Federer has already experienced (His defeats to Nadal in 2008 Wimbledon final and 2009 Australian open) . He had a game plan and the execution was just brilliant. He took his foot of the pedal in the 3rd and Djokovic took it 6-3. It was an example of how tough it was to beat Djokovic. You have no time to relax. One small mistake or lapse of concentration and you lose the set. Federer realised it, and Djokovic with some confidence now fought for every point in the 4th. They went on breaking each others serve and in one game Federer was on the back foot with Djokovic making him run from one corner to another. Djokovic approached the net with a good shot toward the left corner of the court. Federer ran, stretched out and hit a back hand passing shot and my day was made ! Only he could have hit it. The whole crowd was on its feet and there were people bowing to him. Even Federer was not able to hold back and put his finger up, probably to still indicate that he has the number 1 game. It was the stroke of a genius, a man who never loses control of what he is doing, a master and a champion.

There are very few people who evoke this kind of emotion in me. Sachin Tendulkar is right at the top. Others are Zinedine Zidane (Decimating Brazil single handedly in 2006 world cup quarter finals), and Rafael Nadal. I didn’t like Federer and didn’t want to like him either because he was arrogant during his post match interviews and appeared to me as a headstrong fellow. When Nadal defeated Federer in the finals on Winbledon 2008, I was overjoyed. But watching him closely over the past few months and also some of his previous matches has made me wonder whether there is any one in modern era who has such a sublime game. I cannot ignore the fact that he’s a champion, but most of all I cannot ignore the fact that his is a game of a genius and that was what was on display yesterday. Federer is 29 and probably has just one more year left at the top and he’s still playing some brilliant tennis.

I am all set to watch the finals this sunday and I am rooting for Nadal  :-), but with a softened stand towards Federer. May the best man win.

Written by Vivek S

June 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Posted in Genius

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