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November 2019

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Over the years Sun Microsystems has been extremely apprehensive of Linux, and x86 based servers. Sun did recognize cheap x86 hardware as a threat long time ago, but the company didn’t know what to do about it. Sun was afraid of entering the x86 market as the margins in the x86 market were not healthy, and such a move would have cannibalized its high-margin UltraSparc business. After the dotcom bubble burst, Sun made a number…

In recent times the software industry has come under a lot of pressure from open source developers. Open source software (OSS) has the tendency to persevere and continue attacking a market in spite of failure. This characteristic is precisely the prerequisite for success in the software business. Consequently, OSS is the most unsettling competition to the software industry. The success of Linux has emboldened open source developers, and people are now openly questioning the viability of…

Sometimes an excellent software product comes to market, gets rave reviews, and then disappears. This happens regardless of a clear need and want for the product. The problem is not specific to any particular software domain; BeOS, and Lotus Improv were both great products but seem to have nothing in common apart from being good ideas that failed. Lotus Improv introduced a radical spreadsheet metaphor, and although BeOS was not as revolutionary it too brought plenty of good ideas…

A cascade in Minesweeper (Windows version) occurs when a single click uncovers many adjacent squares. A cascade can expand and uncover large portions of the board. Understanding the cascade algorithm is not only interesting from a programming point of view but can also provide a slight advantage when playing the game. Inferring the behavior of the cascade algorithm just by playing Minesweeper is fairly difficult. However, it should be obvious that a cascade occurs only…

In the well-known story “The Library of Babel” author Jorge Luis Borges envisions a library that contains all possible books of 410 pages. The library (Library of Babel) contains all books that have ever been written and also includes all possible books that can ever be written. The library is not limited to books that make sense. It stores all books consisting of any combination of a 25 symbol alphabet. On first thought it seems that a digital implementation…

Google always had excellent search engine indexing technology, but Google’s search technology by itself never generated profits for the company. Google’s profitability comes from its search technology combined with text ads and an ad placement mechanism that allows advertisers to bid for the placement of their ads (bid-for-placement mechanism). From a profitability perspective, the bid-for-placement mechanism is as valuable as Google’s indexing technology. In the absence of the bid-for-placement mechanism, ad pricing can at best…

Google always had excellent search engine indexing technology, but Google’s search technology by itself never generated profits for the company. Google’s profitability comes from its search technology combined with text ads and an ad placement mechanism that allows advertisers to bid for the placement of their ads (bid-for-placement mechanism). From a profitability perspective, the bid-for-placement mechanism is as valuable as Google’s indexing technology. In the absence of the bid-for-placement mechanism, ad pricing can at best…

When Google acquired blogging startup Blogger in February 2003, nobody foresaw that two years later Google will earn the ignominious distinction of being one of the first corporations to fire an employee for blogging. In January of this year, Mark Jen a new Google hire was sent packing for a blogging offense. Mark Jen writes in his blog: “I was terminated from google. either directly or indirectly, my blog was the reason. this came as a…

Microsoft’s now retracted acquisition bid for Yahoo has been endlessly analysed in the media and myriad explanations have been offered for Microsoft’s interest in Yahoo. Analysts have generally assumed the obvious that Microsoft made the bid in order to acquire Yahoo. Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang, though, does not agree with this assumption. He has publicly claimed that Microsoft did not intend to acquire Yahoo. Some analysts have dismissed Jerry Yang’s claim as self-serving, but this can not be so.…

Many problems require the use of randomly generated permutations, kpermutations, and ksubsets. Simple and efficient algorithms exist for producing these combinatorial objects; however, these algorithms are somewhat subtle and most people do not intuitively understand them. The algorithm for generating random permutations is the most significant of these algorithms, and the other algorithms are simple variants of this algorithm. Permutations are rearrangements of items where the order the items are listed in is important. For…