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    Friday
    Jan292010

    Washington State proposes legislation to restart data center construction, 15 month sales tax exemption

    In Olympia, Washington there are two bills introduced with bipartisan support to allow a 15 month sales tax exemption on the purchase and installation of computers for new data centers.

    Legislation to boost rural counties

    DateWednesday, January 27, 2010 at 5:23PM | AuthorWNJ-Editor

    Today is a good day. The bills that we support -- SB 6789 and HB 3147 -- were introduced in Olympia with wide bipartisan support. The 13 sponsors of the bills are from all over the state, from Seattle and Spokane to Walla Walla and Wenatchee. And the state Department of Revenue requested the bills.

    The bills allow a 15-month sales-tax exemption on the purchase and installation of computers and energy for new data centers in rural counties. As the bills state, they provide a short-term economic stimulus that will sustain long-term jobs. In other words, the exemption will be temporary, but the jobs and tax revenue from the centers will boost rural counties for years and years to come.

    DataCenterKnowledge and I blogged on this issue back in Mar 2008.

    Mar 19, 2008

    Washington State Gov't uses Interpretation of Manufacturing Tax Law to Tax Data Centers

    DataCenterKnowledge reports on the action by the Washington State Legislation to tax data center construction, removing a tax incentive all other gov'ts offer.

    Legislation in Washington state that would have restored a tax break for data centers won't be passed in 2008, leaving Microsoft (MSFT) and Yahoo (YHOO) to mull the future of their plans to continue building in the state. Last month Microsoft and Yahoo halted construction on their multi-facility data center campuses in Quincy, Washington while state legislators debated the tax bill.

    The tax package was drafted after the state ruled that data centers were no longer covered by a state sales tax break for manufacturing enterprises, and thus must pay a 7.9 percent tax on data center construction and equipment. Gov. Chris Gregoire requested an exemption in Senate Bill 6666, which would restore the exemption for data centers. The bill was caught up in tax politics, with media terming it a $1 billion tax break for high-tech giants.

    There were local officials who thought the low energy prices would keep data center momentum, but as the press release, says no data center permits have issued in the state since 2007.

    But no data centers have been built in Quincy or anywhere in Washington since the decision in 2007 that made the tax climate inhospitable. Can you imagine how the tech companies -- and jobs and tax revenue -- will return to rural counties if SB 6789 and HB 3147 pass?

    The unemployment rate in rural Washington has people’s attention as Facebook went to Prineville, OR.  Note Oregon doesn’t have sales tax.

    Grant County in central Washington, for instance, has a whopping 12.5 percent unemployment rate, one of the worst in the state. Its largest city, Moses Lake, has 15,000 people. But just a couple years ago, the city of Quincy nearby, with just 5,000 people, saw the largest tech companies in the world, such as Microsoft and Google, come to town and build massive data centers.

    image

    We’ll see if data center construction comes to the State of Washington soon.

    In the short term, maybe Microsoft will bring back some of its servers from Texas.

    Aug 05, 2009

    Washington State Sales Tax Drives Microsoft Windows Azure Servers to Texas

    Mary-Jo Foley at ZDNnet picked up news on Microsoft’s decision to remove USA- Northwest from a deployment choice for Windows Azure.

    Tax concerns to push Microsoft Azure cloud hosting out of Washington state

    Posted by Mary Jo Foley @ 11:55 am

    Microsoft is making preparations to move applications that developers are hosting on its Azure cloud infrastructure out of its Washington state datacenter, due to a change in the tax laws there.

    Microsoft warned customers testing their apps on the Azure test release about the planned change earlier this week. Microsoft is readying a migration tool to help testers with the move, company officials said.

    Cloud-computing and .Net expert Roger Jennings put together all the various reports and clues into a detailed August 5 post on his OakLeaf Systems blog.

    Click to read more ...

    Friday
    Jan292010

    Nicholas Carr says iPad marks end of PC Era

    On Nicholas Carr’s blog RouchType he makes the point that the iPad marks the end of the PC era.

    Hello iPad, Goodbye PC

    JANUARY 27, 2010

    The New Republic has published my commentary on Apple's iPad announcement. I reprint it here:

    The PC era ended this morning at ten o’clock Pacific time, when Steve Jobs mounted a San Francisco stage to unveil the iPad, Apple’s version of a tablet computer. What made the moment epochal was not so much the gadget itself - an oversized iPod Touch tricked out with an e-reader application and a few other new features - but the clouds of hype that attended its arrival.

    Tablet computers have been kicking around for a decade, but consumers have always shunned them. They’ve been viewed as nerdy-looking smudge-magnets, limited by their cumbersome shape and their lack of a keyboard. Tablets were a solution to a problem no one had.

    Keep in mind the iPad is the start of a wave of tablet devices.

    The transformation in the nature of computing has turned the old-style PC into a dinosaur. A bulky screen attached to a bulky keyboard no longer fits with the kinds of things we want to do with our computers. The shortcomings of the PC have created, the iPad hype suggests, a yearning for a new kind of device - portable, flexible, always connected - that takes computing into the cloud era.

    Nicholas makes an interesting observation that the iPad is good for three handed people.

    But will it succeed? The iPad is by no means a sure bet. It still, after all, is a tablet - fairly big and fairly heavy. Unlike an iPod or an iPhone, you can’t stick an iPad in your pocket or pocketbook. It also looks to be a cumbersome device. The iPad would be ideal for a three-handed person - two hands to hold it and another to manipulate its touchscreen - but most of humans, alas, have only a pair of hands. And with a price that starts at $500 and rises to more than $800, the iPad is considerably more expensive than the Kindles and netbooks it will compete with.

    What is needed is the iBjorn, a modified Baby Bjorn to carry iPad devices.

    image

    One alternative Apple could do is have one-handed typing keyboards like right-handed Dvorak, but I doubt they’ll choose this as it is too big a shift to give users a different keyboard layout.

    File:KB Dvorak Right.svg

    it is interesting to think of the ergonomics of input comparing the iPad vs. iPhone.  One handed which is faster?

    We’ll see how well the iPad does.  It reminds me of the adoption of the original Mac.  The world went crazy (in Apple’s view) for the Mac.  But, sales didn’t turn out as well as expected until the Mac Plus. Thank god Apple had the Apple IIGS to continue bringing in revenue.  Back in 1985 when I worked for Apple I was working on the IIGS.  Later, I worked on the Mac II.

    Apple will have a revenue stream to allow it to ride out the adoption of the iPad.

    We’ll see if people grow a third hand, start buying iBjorn’s to use the device while standing or find one handed use acceptable.  Apple will sell out for the first 3 – 6 months,  The real test will be Xmas sales in Dec 2010.

    You know Apple has the iPad plus prototypes in the works.

    Click to read more ...

    Wednesday
    Jan272010

    Obama says we need new generation safe, clean nuclear power plants

    cnet news has a post on President Obama’s speech.  An excerpt they have from the speech on energy is.

    Here are some excerpts from the president's speech:

    We should put more Americans to work building clean energy facilities, and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy efficient, which supports clean energy jobs...(Last year's investment) could lead to the world's cheapest solar cells or treatment that kills cancer cells but leaves healthy ones untouched. And no area is more ripe for such innovation than energy. You can see the results of last year's investment in clean energy--in the North Carolina company that will create 1,200 jobs nationwide helping to make advanced batteries; or in the California business that will put 1,000 people to work making solar panels...

    But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. And yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.

    Going to white house gov web site is the same with inserts for (applause).

    Next, we need to encourage American innovation.  Last year, we made the largest investment in basic research funding in history -– (applause) -- an investment that could lead to the world's cheapest solar cells or treatment that kills cancer cells but leaves healthy ones untouched.  And no area is more ripe for such innovation than energy.  You can see the results of last year's investments in clean energy -– in the North Carolina company that will create 1,200 jobs nationwide helping to make advanced batteries; or in the California business that will put a thousand people to work making solar panels.

    But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives.  And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country.  (Applause.)  It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development.  (Applause.)  It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies.  (Applause.)  And, yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.  (Applause.)

    On my next trip to Mizzou, I want to see if I can visit the faculty at University of MIssouri Research Reactor Center that I blogged about in Oct 2009.

    Nuclear Reactor Research at University of Missouri

    I was just in Columbia, Missouri, and the folks I was with took me on campus and we drove by the University of Missouri Nuclear Reactor, a 10 mW facility.

    Endowing The Future

    The internationally recognized University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR), a
    10-megawatt facility, is the most powerful among the dozens of research reactors located on our nation’s university campuses.

    Even worldwide, few facilities can compare.

    Those at MURR treat it like the unique national resource that it is, employing the facility as a research source – providing products and services that will save or extend people’s lives.

    The superior level of the science at MURR helps put the products and services it offers a step ahead, further fueling the depth of its research.

    Click to read more ...

    Wednesday
    Jan272010

    Trust in the Data Center, Lost in Translation

    Mike Manos’s post on why Private Clouds will exist brings up an interesting view, a belief that “trust” is what is going to define people’s behaviors using cloud computing.

    Private Clouds – Not just a Cost and Technology issue, Its all about trust, the family jewels, corporate value, and identity

    January 24, 2010 by mmanos

    I recently read a post by my good friend James Hamilton at Amazon regarding Private Clouds.   James and I worked closely together at Microsoft and he was always a good source for out of the box thinking and challenging the status quo.    While James post found here, speaks to the Private Cloud initiative being what amounts to be an evolutionary dead end, I would have to respectfully disagree.

    It’s a little ironic that Mike discusses ‘trust” as an issue when he is a Sr. VP at Digital Realty Trust.  But, this trust is more like this kind.

    In common law legal systems, a trust is an arrangement whereby property (including real, tangible and intangible) is managed by one person (or persons, or organizations) for the benefit of another

    The Trust Mike Manos refers to

    In sociology and psychology the degree to which one party trusts another is a measure of belief in the honesty, benevolence and competence of the other party. Based on the most recent research, a failure in trust may be forgiven more easily if it is interpreted as a failure of competence rather than a lack of benevolence or honesty. In economics trust is often conceptualized as reliability in transactions. In all cases trust is a heuristic decision rule, allowing the human to deal with complexities that would require unrealistic effort in rational reasoning.

    Part of the problems to establish trust is the lack of good communication.  Lost in Translation is a book on this topic for IT.

    Do you speak "business" or "IT"? Perhaps you speak a little of both. In today's connected world, where business and IT are fused, chances are that if you're a business or IT executive, or someone working to transform a business, you speak a little of both. But what if there was a "third" language? A common language that was natural for both "business" and "IT," straightforward enough to use, yet sophisticated enough to work in today's connected world? What if such a language only comprised a handful of words? With such a language, the "loss in translation" between the business and IT would happen less, because both would be using the same language. With such a language, business outcomes and transformations would become much more achievable. This handbook describes what this language is-the language of Information Systems for the 21st century.

    How many problems do you think could be addressed if both parties understood each other better?  And not Lost in Translation?

    Click to read more ...

    Wednesday
    Jan272010

    Complex technology projects, learn from Apple System 7 Blue Meanies

    One of the most enjoyable projects I worked on was Apple’s System 7.  There were many lessons I learned working on that project, one of which is “don’t tell the whole development team to innovate.”  Because if everyone innovates, the system doesn’t work.

    For all the years I spent working on Windows Operating Systems from 1992 to 2006, the last client OS i worked on was Windows XP, running the Technical Evangelism team. 

    When Windows Vista (aka Longhorn) came after Windows XP, I recognized the pattern from System 7 pushed too far as Jim Allchin and the rest of the executives ordered innovation in all parts of the OS.  We saw powerpoints for features that had little hope of seeing the light of day.

    One big lesson that worked well to ship System 7 was “Blue Meanies.”  Who are the Blue Meanies?  Here is the secret about box with the people.

    System 7.0.1:

    Help! Help! We're being held prisoner in a system software factory!

    The Blue Meanies

    Darin Adler
    Scott Boyd
    Chris Derossi
    Cynthia Jasper
    Brian McGhie
    Greg Marriott
    Beatrice Sochor
    Dean Yu

    What did they do?

    While the Meanies have sometimes been characterized as the "coders of System 7", the Mac OS was by then sufficiently large that major subsystems such as QuickDraw and QuickTime were developed and maintained by specialized groups, and the Meanies primarily focused on getting the pieces to work together.

    If you have a complex project where there is a lot of innovation which causes conflicts between groups when don’t work, think about creating a group of people whose job is to get the pieces to work together.

    Some may call this architecture, but getting systems to work together many times require the skills of implementation, not just architecture.  The Apple System Blue Meanies did it all.

    In your complex data center projects who are the Blue Meanies on your project?

    Click to read more ...