Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Interesting Story : South Korea's 'dependency' on MS

A story from CNet News.com

Yes, the stories about the police raid and how companies react to them seem true. I've heard about such stories many many times, too.

Flash HDD

Most bottlenecks when processing large sized data exists in file I/O. Two most notable bottleneck locations are HDD and networks.

Google must've known this problem better than anyone and it uses its specially designed data processing algorithms (Map and Reduce) on it s powerful distributed computing environment which also runs distributed file system (Google File System). Google's algorithm tries its best to do all the data processing in one machine so that there will be minimal amount of data transactions over the networks.

But more serious botttleneck problems exist with the current HDD. The fastest HDD out there cannot even match data trasaction rate of the gigabit ethernet which is common nowadays, not to mention fibre channel which moves data at the speed of light (in theory!) Speed isn't the only problem, either. HDD has got many mechanical parts that fail quite frequently as well.

Semiconductor manufacturers know this problem, too, and they know there are demands for faster HDD. So they come up with Flash HDD, like the one pictured above!

Someone at Samsung once said something like conventional HDD is dead and the age of Flash is upon us. I totally agree. If they can get the cost down, which they will surely do, it will be everywhere.

Maybe it's time to buy Flash manufacturers' stocks...

By the way, I wonder if Google replaced all its HDD with Flash HDD how much faster their search and other services will be.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Why companies want grid/clustering technologies?

Why do companies want grid/clustring technologies?

Once again, there is that difference between companies desire to build or deploy a clustering/grid software.

Companies with just a bunch of PC's that do not require massive computing power won't need it. Sure, it will be better if they have it, but the reward for them to use it isn't that much.

On the other hand, companies that do quite a lot of massive calculations (e.g. banks, insurance companies, bio-tech companies, etc.) must've bought those super expensive computers (e.g. a 8 cpu server, mainframes, etc.) because there are times that they need the power of those machines. Not 24 hours a day, but there are times when they seriously need them. What they really want to do is maximize the use of their investments. The opportunity cost lost for their machines to sit idle is just too much. So, they research/develop/deploy/buy grid/clustering software, and even though grid/clustering software is often expensive, its cost will be covered by the opportunity cost gained by having their super machines up and runnig at close to 100% of their capacities.

What if those expensive machines become cheaper? Then, the needs and demands for grid/clustering technologies will have to go down, too.

Higher in the ladder...

I've been working at a various companies or government jobs for almost 3-4 years.
One thing I have noticed is the difference between people's commitments to their works. This is very much like an economics question. Everyone has got different value, or different motivation, and that difference is why people behave differently at work.

Over the years I have found that people that are more "intense" at work are often higher in the ladder. If they score big, they will get rewarded big time. But if they screw up, they will get nailed big time, too. So they work hard and they want others to work hard because it makes the score big.

People who are super intense at work - for example, sweating to death or saying f-words if things go wrong - are most likely high managers or directors. Why? because if things go wrong, they will probably be fired or brought down from their positions. For the working drones at the bottom (e.g. me!), the rewards or punishments are not as big as those of the higher in the ladder and it's probably the reason why people at the bottom are more friendly and less intense at their work.

So don't go mad even if your boss or your companies directors scream at you. They are just scared - more scared than you are because of the fears of what they'll lose.

If you were in that situation, you would've done the same thing (even though you swear that you will not be like one of them, now.) and I think it's just a very natural thing.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Top Gear - Bling Bling Escalade

This is so funny.

"A bling vehicle will get you from A to B, but you get to B very late."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Can't fuck with the Bank of Korea

In the days of "IMF" - those are the days in 97-99 when many Asian economies were rampaged by merciless hedge funds and financial institutions - the Korean government (precisely, the Bank of Korea) did not have any foreign exchange (US dollar) left in their pockets.

Of course, the smart and opportunitistic money makers from the world with handful of dollars flooded into Korean market and played the situation to their advantages. They knew Korean economy needed US dollars but the Bank of Korea did not have any dollar to support the economy. So what did they do? They held on to US dollars, creating big big shortages of US dollars and causing big big havoc for Korean econmoy. Eventually, the Korean government had to borrow dollars from IMF (International Monetary Fund) and people in Korea call those days "IMF period."

Those were good days for those bastards.

Now, the Bank of Korea has so much US dollar in their hands, they can match anybody or any groups who try to play around with the foreign exchange between Korean Won and US dollar. One of my close friends work for a pretty big hedge fund company in New York and he said he and his people sometimes played around with Korean foreign exchange but as soon as they senseed or heard a news that the Bank of Korea was about to make a move, they would back off. Sure, they run a lot of money, but even they are no match for the Bank of Korea.

This is the way it should have been in 1997. They should have crushed those bastards, but unfortunately the Korean gov't at that time was a stupid dumbass government who could not even fight a single group of hedge funds.

Cluster/Grid Technologies. Who uses them?

PBS Pro, LVM, Mosix, SSI, IBM's Load Leveller, etc...
I never knew exactly who actually are using these stuff.

But after meeting some vendors who try to re-sell some clustering software, I realized most big companies are using or planning to use some sort of clustering software.

One thing that I am 99.9% certain is that any big businesses who make their living by working with numbers ($$$) - financial insitutions, banks, insurance companies, etc. - all use some sorts of grid/clustering technologies.

By the way, I wonder how much they pay for those pieces of software... but I am sure it's probably way more than I can imagine... maybe in the range of a few thousand dollars per piece. Sure building clustering s/w is not so easy, but it's not exactly a rocket-science, in my opinion.

The best that I have encountered so far, in terms of features? OpenSSI!!
Its problems? Scalabilities and High Availability features.
And those are pretty big factors when choosing a clustering software and maybe they are why OpenSSI is not used as widely as we thought.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Larry Bird

"A winner is who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tails off to devleop them into skills, and use these skills to accomplish his goals."

Larry Bird

The truest hustler on and off the court.

Why is Hyundai more expensive in Korea?

왜 현대차는 한국서 더 비쌀까?
Why is Hyundai more expensive in Korea?

There have been news articles the same cars manufactured by Hyundai are so much cheaper in other countries (U.S., Canada, Japan, Europe, etc.) than in Korea, the birthplace of those cars.

This is simply unacceptable and very much a mystery to many people. Selling Hyundai cars in U.S. requires shipping, paying some tariffs, and a lot of extra paperworks. It's more time and money and energy consuming.

Then is Hyundai more expensive in Korea? (or Why is Hyundai so cheap in other countries?)

Let's approach this question from a different perspective.
We can ask "Why are imported cars SO MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE in Korea?"

The answer, as you may all have guessed, is the Korea's not-so-open market.
Simply put, an open market is free of restrictions and there is no friction in transaction.

However, there are so many frictions and restrictions in Korean automobile market.

1. Obvious, "everybody-can-see-it", restrictions such as import tax (tariff)

2. Not-so-obvious "not-easily-seen" restrcitions : You are treated as a cancer to Korean society/economy because you own and drive an imported vehicle, and Korean tax man goes after you the year you register an imported vehicle under your name. Doesn't matter if it's a shitbox from Ford. If it's from abroad, there goest the Korean taxman. (I don't know if this is still true.)

3. Others : Import Dealers often say the reason their prices are so high is because Korean market is so small and there is no chance they can achieve economies of scale. It's somewhat true, but I think it's just a BS. You just ship the car from its origin, mark up, and sell it.

Because of these reasons (and there are probably many other factors, too.), imported cars are very expensive in Korea and guess what it does to Hyundai. They become relatively more competitive in terms of price. They don't have to do anything. Those advantages are just given to them as if they were gifts from the God.

Hyundai is a corporation and a corporation exists for making most profits. And guess what. They do, too. So what do they do? They bump their prices up and up and up until they can sustain their pricing advantages. This is bloody obvious.

But, what would happen if they bumped their prices up in U.S. just like they would do in Korea? Then, they'll probably go out of business. Why? because imported cars (okay, Ford and GM are not "imported" cars in U.S.... anyways.) are so much cheaper there. In other words, Hyundai does not have that gift of automatic price advantages. And what that means is that, in the U.S. auto market, Hyundai is much less competitive.

Then what would have to be done if we want to see the Hyundai's price in Korea is as low as that in other countries?

Open the damn market!

Then, imported cars in Korea will have to be cheaper than they are now. Then what will Hyundai have to do?

1. Work on details, improve their products, close the quality gap between their products and imported vehicles like Toyota and BMW.
2. Lower their price!!!!!!! What else can they do?

What if the market simply won't be opened up?

Let's give an example.

- In Korea, a BMW is 50% more expensive than a Hyundai.
- In U.S., a BMW is 20% more expensive than a Hyundai.

Then, In Korea, Hyundai will increase their prices until people in Korea say "BMW is 20% more expensive than a Hyundai in Korea." (By the way, this is what is happening right now in Korea.)

In the end, the percentage difference between a Hyundai and a BMW will be the same in U.S. and Korea. But, people in Korea pay more money for the very same product. Why? All because of the closed market.

This is why closed market is no good. In the end, sellers/manufacturers like Hyundai and BMW can sell the same stuff for more and make more profits, but buyers/consumers take all the hits.

So, Don't blame Hyundai for selling their stuff very cheaply in U.S. Don't blame Hyundai for giving 10-year warranty to the buyers in other countries. don't blame Hyundai building theirs cars to be sold in Korea like junks. (Okay, this is just a rumour, but many people believe so and it may be true...)

What they do as they do is very natural. They want to make profits and squeeze the market until there is no juices left. It is their mission. "Make as much profits as possible!"

If you want to blame anybody, blame that government and beauracrates who created this market full of frictions.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year's Resolution

06 is already behind us. It's now time to put up some New Year's Resolution!

1. Read 12 non-technical books.
2. Run 4 miles x 4 times a week.
3. Workout + gain 10 more pounds (I mean, 9 pounds of muscle + 1 pound of fat!)
4. Contribute and participate in at least one open source project.
5. Start working on our project. Yes, we'll make it!
6. Find a girlfriend, please.

Seems like a stretched goal, but I will make it.