Big data - turning masses of data into useful information - is by definition too big to handle individually. You don't care what speed five drivers are doing around the M25 - you care what speed 5,000 drivers are travelling at and whether the 5,000 travellers who drove the same route yesterday and the same day last week and the same day last month went faster or slower so you know if there's something unusual about the traffic.
500 words into the future
Unapologetically opinionated views on technology, in the office and out
Simon Bisson is a freelance technology journalist. He specialises in architecture and enterprise IT. He ran one of the UK's first national ISPs and moved to writing around the time of the collapse of the first dotcom boom. He still writes code.
Mary Branscombe is a freelance tech journalist. Mary has been a technology writer for nearly two decades, covering everything from early versions of Windows and Office to the first smartphones, the arrival of the web and most things inbetween.
I'm carrying an extra device this week, juggling a PlayBook alongside my tablet PC, multiple smartphones, digital recorder and Exilim digital camera.There's a lot of redundancy between those devices, and not just because I have more than one phone.
RIM showed off what consumers see as the missing pieces for the PlayBook at its BlackBerry World conference today; email that's not in a Web page or coming over Bridge from a BlackBerry and BlackBerry apps (and indeed Android apps) running on the tablet. Both of those run in what RIM calls 'players' - Java environments that run on QNX - and they're both still under development; the Android player doesn't support multi-tasking yet although that's the aim.
If privacy is dead (as a number of technology executives in whose interest it is for us not to care about privacy have opined), there wouldn't have been much fuss over the most recent time researchers discovered that iPhones - like pretty much every other phones in the world - track your location and use it to build up maps and traffic information.
Let's start this anecdote with a confession, as all good war stories must.As much as I like IE9, I've not really got the hang of pinned sites.
It's been a few days since the news about iPhones (and other smartphones) storing device locations came out again. This time, however, it hit the mainstream press, rather than staying in the more refined heights of the computer forensics world - and simple tools for exploring the data followed quickly.
Microsoft ruffled a few feathers in the browser community this week by seemingly inventing a new term; native HTML. "The sites that you visit and the sites that you write are better when your browser runs them natively," as IE leader Dean Hachamovitch put it.
Last week Facebook publically unveiled its data centre design, showing off its architecture, and telling the world that it was open source. I suspect that last bit was a bit of a surprise to anyone designing and building modern data centres, as they’d been using similar techniques for the last few years.
Even though IE9 supports Google's WebM HTML5 video codec 'natively (for values of 'native' meaning it works and all you have to do is install the codec) alongside H.264, the HTML5 video situation continues to be murky.
If you spend any time on the road, to get work done and preserve your sanity you need to be able to hear your phone and your PC properly. I sat in a noisy coffee shop for the infamous Intel Thunderbolt conference call (configuration issues on the conference bridge made it very difficult to hear) and without an noise isolating in-ear the technical details were indecipherable.