Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Why Google Should Consider Putting A Data Centre In Saskatchewan

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According to numerous rumours high tech behemoth Google is constructing more data centres to meet demands for Google services from Gmail to YouTube.  The latest data centres Google are not in buildings that sit on land, but float on barges just a few miles off shore from North America's coastal cities. 

Housing the world's most popular online services in server farms on boats poses some unique challenges most notably power and an Internet connection.  Satellite and fixed wireless could and likely would used to help put thousands of servers on a boat online satellite and wireless connections cannot replace dedicated fiber optic connections due to latency issues.

The other requirement that a data centre needs, hundreds of kilowatts of power would be difficult to deliver to a floating data centre.  An alternative to expensive data centre on a boat would be a traditional land based data centre sitting on land that has distinct advantages over other locations where data centres are located.

Building a building full of computers that power Google's popular online services generates a lot of heat internally requiring millions of BTU's of air conditioning. A data centre in Saskatchewan could use the cold dry winter air to cool the servers in the data centre reducing the need for air conditioning thus reducing operating cost and greenhouse gas emissions.  

Saskatchewan's cold winters are not the only weather resource that would be beneficial to the operation of a data centre getting the most hours of sunshine  per year in Canada makes using a solar power another way to reduce the need power to operate air conditioning in summer and help power the servers in the winter.  

Plentiful natural resources are not the only benefit for Google to take advantage of.  Both the Universities of Saskatchewan and Regina have computer science programs turning out graduates looking for jobs as hardware, software, and network engineering.  A Google data centre would be an excellent source of jobs for computer science graduates that would let them stay in Saskatchewan. 

Cost savings found in Saskatchewan go beyond natural and human resources.  Insurance costs lower in Saskatchewan than in places where Google's existing data centre are located near populated areas on the West and East costs of North America. Public vs. private insurance debate aside, insurance would cost less due to fact that Saskatchewan is a thousand miles away from the closest hurricane, earthquake or tsunami.

For the average Saskatchewanian who maybe asking that's all great for Google buy what di I get from it? The answer comes in two words, Google Fibre the low cost high bandwidth home broadband service challenging the cable telco duopoly in cities near Google's existing data centres.  Getting Google Fibre would make Saskatchewan's cities the first in Canada putting Saskatchewan on the high tech map.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tech Items You Need To Have In Your Emergency Kit

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In Canada having two major disasters within a month, the Flooding in Alberta and the train accident in Quebec the importance of a well stocked emergency kit should be top of mind.  A first aid kit, a supply of food and water to last 72 hours  a radio and batteries have been the staple items for an emergency survival kit.  Modern technology now provides more items that can improve the chances of surviving a major disaster.

TV antenna: 
Disasters both natural and man made hitting Canada within the past month has brought attention that people need a 72 hour emergency kit in order to survive any emergency situation that arise from any disaster. A first aid kit, bottled water, food and a radio and batteries are considered to be the key items for an emergency kit.  Modern life needs a few more essential items to ensure access to information and communications in an emergency.  

First on the list of modern emergency essentials is an item that some consider obsolete but can provide access to information on television even when cable TV infrastructure is destroyed in the aftermath of a disaster is a TV antenna.  Even satellite TV subscribers should have an antenna ready for local information in the event of a disaster that damages satellite dishes rendering satellite TV service inaccessible.  

Restoring utility services power and wireline telephone take priority over cable TV could mean weeks before service can be restored to subscribers.  In the aftermath of a disaster over the air broadcasting is going to be the only source of information from emergency officials.

Satellite TV subscribers would be equally wise to have an antenna ready in case of emergency.  Replacing satellite dishes damaged by a disaster could take weeks as well.  With a limited supply of replacement dishes and technicians to install them.  Many small towns and rural areas are served by TV stations that are not carried on Satellite TV that makes a TV antenna an even more essential item to have in an emergency kit.

Cell phone on a competing carrier:  After a disaster that cuts off wireline telephone people depend on their cell phone even more than they do in normal life.  If the disaster if bad enough to disable cell towers then even that lifeline can get cut off.  If someone's regular carrier is unable to service in an emergency chances are a competing carrier will be able to provide service.

A Bell subscriber would be wise to have a cell phone for Rogers service even without an active subscription.  In the event that Verizon service is not available due to damaged tower.  A cell phone without active subscription can still make a call to 911, the only stipulation is that inactive cell phones have to use technologies that are still supported by the cellular carriers.  Analog and TDMA based cell phones do not have the ability to call 911 since there are no networks using those technologies any more.  CDMA and older GSM phones can still make 911 calls and can still be activated on prepaid service which is useful for getting in touch with our of town relatives after an emergency.

Online banking app: In the immediate aftermath of a disaster severe enough to close local bank branches the need to access money will be difficult to meet.  Using an app on a smartphone or tablet when Internet access is available will help with that need, emergency funds in a savings account can be easily transferred into a checking account or onto a credit card account quickly or easily.  Using an online banking app people can find an ATM in service if cash is needed in the event if stores are unable accept credit or debit cards due to disruptions to payment processing systems.

Solar Charger: With smartphones and tablets being the most important communications and information gathering tools many people use, with available Internet access the ability to keep these tools charged and ready for use will detirmine how effective will be an emergency situation. If there is no power available to charge these devices access to information and communications services will be limited to a period while the batteries in these devices are charged.  Having a solar charger ready for use provides a source of power to charge smartphones and tablets without needing plug in grid power. 

Being prepared for if the unthinkable ever happens, having the right technology will be as important as food and water to survive.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What Will Canadian Gamers Get On The Xbox One

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Gamers and the video game industry as a whole got excited by the Xbox One announcement from Microsoft earlier this week.  Just like current and next generation consoles the Xbox One goes above and beyond playing video games to be home entertainment device.  Pulling from streaming services such as Netflix just as the 360 does, the Xbox One will support Hulu Plus out of the box. 

Games and game content there won't be much difference however there may be differences in price for content depending on exchange rate.  While most of what Canadians will get on Xbox One will the same what gamers will get in other parts of the world outside of the United States.

Could Apple Make A Move Into Video Games?

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No single company has come to dominate digital content as much as Apple.  Most music, movies and TV shows sold and delivered online is sold through iTunes.  The single most popular content apart from music is games for iPhones, iPod Touch and iPad, naturally rumors have been swirling that Apple will make a move into the video game industry taking on Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. 

Now more than ever could be the time for Apple to get into video games not just portable handheld gaming where sales of Nintendo's DS systems and Sony's Playstation Portable and Vita systems have seen large declines due to the popularity of iPhones and iPod touches.  For numerous reasons moving into home game consoles could lead to new success and revenue for Apple. 

Well established platform:  With iOS powering Apple's handheld devices as well as Apple TV, there are already is millions of potential of devices and millions of potential gamers already out there.  Using an Apple TV as the home console and iPhone or iPod Touch as controllers gives gamers a low cost of ownership because they are using Apple hardware they already own but gives Apple room to sell that one piece of hardware that potential gamers don't already have most likely the Apple TV.

Established relationships with game developers:  No video game system can be successful without game software for customers to play.  With iOS devices as ubiquitous as they are game developers and publishers from the giants like EA and ActiVision right to the independents making games for iOS a supply of games is already guaranteed to be there.

If Apple ends up taking on  Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo the video game industry which has seen lackluster sales in the past few years, will get a shot of new life that it desperately needs.  The established giants of the industry will be getting a competitor they simlpy cannot ignore.  Apple is already bigger than Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo and can crush any of them if Apple gets a chance.

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