June, 2019

IBM offers instant messaging profile to standards committee

From the viewpoint of the individual, the Internet has developed into a superb communication medium. Users can turn to e-mail, blogs, Usenet, instant messaging, and more, to say whatever they wish to just about anyone they can think of. From a business-to-consumer point of view, reaching customers has also never been easier, and commerce (or the desire to generate it) now drives much of the Internet’s traffic. Yet as far as business-to-business (B2B) is concerned, consumer-grade messaging applications don’t quite provide the level of reliability and interoperability that is required for large companies to put their collaborative operations online. Proprietary web-services applications exist to serve the needs of business, but that same proprietary aspect diminishes their usefulness in a B2B environment.HangZhou Night Net

Enter RAMP, or Reliable Asynchronous Messaging Profile. Developed by IBM in association with Daimler-Chrysler and Ford, RAMP is an outline for making use of existing web services standards to simplify messaging (and therefore collaboration) across platforms and corporate boundaries. RAMP is not the first attempt at doing this and probably won’t be the last, yet the profile may get an important boost this week: it is under consideration for acceptance by the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I), an industry standards group.

WS-I is an organization that assembles profiles from existing technology, endorsing certain methodologies so that companies can interoperate more easily. From the early stages, IBM has designed RAMP to follow the guidelines of existing WS-I profiles, so its acceptance by that group seems probable.

Although RAMP was created with the needs of automotive companies in mind, it is likely to find use in many other industries as well. RAMP can simplify moving documents from one company to another, for example. That’s a fairly easy task if you just want to e-mail a Word document, but can become quite complicated when collaboration is involved. Use of differing formats for billing or order forms is another complication that can be eased by adopting RAMP.

"I was surprised to find (corporations) spend so much time talking about messaging protocols," [IBM VP Bob] Sutor said.

He said standards-based reliable messaging software "has reached a point where it’s something customers should use" and a profile from the WS-I will accelerate adoption of Web services-based software overall.

Making RAMP a standard should indeed take it a long way toward acceptance in corporate environments, as there are genuine economic benefits for businesses who wish to streamline messaging and communication with their partners. RAMP could turn out to be influential, but I don’t see it affecting many organizations smaller than mid-sized in the near term. Since smaller companies and individuals have less to gain from something like RAMP, any direct benefits those users will see will probably be the result of trickle-down technology, rather than direct adoption.

Playing games with quantum mechanics

Game theory is a form of mathematical reasoning much used in fields like economics. The classic example of game theory is the prisoner dilemma, which can be summarized as follows. Alice and Bob have committed some crime and are now being interrogated by the police. If neither Alice nor Bob tell the police anything, then they will both go free and be able to share in the spoils of their crime. However, if Bob talks to the police then he will be offered some compensation (e.g., a reduced sentence). In this case Alice will receive nothing, however, Alice can also talk, in which case Bob gets nothing. The final scenario is that they both talk in which case they both receive a very small pay off. To summarize HangZhou Night Net

    Neither talk and both share the spoils of their crime, pay off
    = 2.5 per person.Bob talks and Alice doesn’t, the pay off is Bob = 3 and Alice
    = 0.Alice talks and Bob doesn’t, the pay off is Bob = 0 and Alice
    = 3.Both talk and the pay off = 1 per person.

Because the pay off for options two and three are greater than for one, Bob and Alice both talk and end up at option four, called the Nash equilibrium.

Some physicists, with too much time on their hands, have been wondering what happens when the prisoner dilemma is played out using quantum mechanical thieves and they've found that, when applied to quantum states, the results can mean everybody wins. Because of the nature of quantum mechanics the game is played slightly differently. A neutral party prepares an initial state, which is then passed on to Bob and Alice; these players modify the quantum state given their local conditions and pass the state back to the neutral party. The neutral party performs a measurement on the returned state and announces the outcome. Interestingly, the outcome now depends on the circumstances. The game can be played out in 4 different ways:

    Bob and Alice are independent and the measurement is done in a
    non-entangled fashion.* Bob and Alice are independent and the measurement is done in
    an entangled fashion.Bob and Alice are entangled and the measurement is done in a
    non-entangled fashion.Bob and Alice are entangled and the measurement is performed
    in an entangled fashion.

Thus, the quantum mechanical version of the prisoner dilemma has 16 different pay offs depending on how the neutral party prepared and measured the state. Case 1 is identical to the classical case detailed above. However, cases 2-4 produce some interesting non-classical results. Cases 2 and 3 give two Nash equilibriums, both of which can result in a pay off greater than the equilibrium pay off from the classical game. However, it was found that when the game is played under case 4 then only a single Nash equilibrium point exists, but it happens to correspond to a maximum pay off for both players (i.e., the pay off = 3 per player). This is a situation which doesn’t occur in classical game theory and shows how the rules of quantum mechanics can introduce weird effects. In this case we have the equivalent of both prisoners talking and not talking simultaneously to gain the maximum pay off for both.

If you and your partner are planning to commit a crime; make sure that your interrogation is performed via quantum mechanical operators. Instead of asking for your lawyer, request an entangled state and insist that the measurement be performed in an entangled fashion.

*= this is an essentially mathematical concept and I have done the best I can to describe what is meant here.

Gaming credit cards could offer virtual rewards

Credit cards are a crucial part of modern life. While many people worry about finding themselves saddled with increasingly heavy consumer debt loads, it is becoming difficult to imagine being part of 21st century civilization without at least one piece of plastic.HangZhou Night Net

Credit card companies are becoming increasingly competitive with one another, offering potential customers all kinds of different incentive plans if they sign up. Bonus air miles were just the beginning—now there are cards that offer rewards from Star Trek merchandise to NASCAR rides. According to MakeZine.com’s associate editor Phillip Torrone, it is only a matter of time before credit card companies reach out to online gamers:

“It’s not a matter of if, just when – credit card companies, Pay Pal, Amazon, eBay and the individual ‘gaming’ companies eventually bridge the real and virtual currencies with loyalty programs and private label credit cards—there’s too much money out there to not to do this.”

While some games, most notably Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, explicitly forbid the concept of trading real money for in-game items and virtual gold, others are more willing to integrate with the real-world economy. Linden Lab’s Second Life, for example, encourages players to trade real money for virtual items. Project Entropia even allows players to purchase large-scale game content, such as a space station. Such games could easily have credit card reward programs associated with them. And even Blizzard has occasionally given players in-game rewards for real life purchases, such as the special pets (like the Zergling from Starcraft) that are available only to players who purchased the Collector’s Edition of the game.

Even if game companies flinch at the idea of offering rewards based on credit card use, there are still other options available. How about a credit card featuring your in-game avatar? People have shown a willingness to purchase customized checks and license plates in the past, so the idea of a custom-printed credit card is not all that far-fetched.

Don’t leave home without it!

Torrone isn’t just predicting the future—he’s actively trying to make it come about. He says that he has approached credit card companies about these ideas in the past, but the population of players wasn’t quite large enough to interest them. These days, with many online games boasting player populations in the hundreds of thousands, and World of Warcraft subscriptions reaching six million, he feels the time is right.

Would online game credit cards further blur the line between reality and fantasy? There is a concern that people are spending too much time in multiplayer fantasy games already, and that integrating real-world economics with what is supposed to be a pleasant, escapist pastime may result in further addiction problems. However, online gaming is not going away. Credit card companies may soon realize that there is some real money to be made from gamers’ wallets.

Cosmic gravitational background

When the big bang theory was proposed to explain the origin and expansion of the universe it was a sort of so-so story. The universe expands, therefore it must have started out quite small and a sort-of cosmic explosion would fit that data quite well. Since then, cosmologists have used general relativity and quantum physics to help them understand what the early universe looked like and make predictions about what we should observe today if, indeed, there was a big bang in our universe’s history. One of the lynchpins of the big bang theory is the cosmic microwave background radiation. This is light leftover from the big bang that has cooled as the universe expanded and is now detected in the microwave region of the spectrum. As we have reported earlier, this leftover from the big bang has given us a window into the earliest moments of the universe. However, at times earlier than this the universe was optically opaque and the cosmic microwave background cannot help us. If we understand the physics of the big bang correctly there should also be a background gravitational signature from it called the cosmic gravitational background (CGB). The detection of this background signal would allow cosmologists to distinguish between competing versions of the big bang theory. HangZhou Night Net

Some recent work has gone into determining just how sensitive a detector we would need if the CGB were to be detected. Gravitational waves have not yet been detected, and the waves due to the CGB are expected to be much weaker than the gravitational waves generated by more recent events. To make detection more difficult, it is expected that the CGB waves will be isotropic (i.e., the same in every direction), thus one cannot expect to detect these waves with a single detector. Gravitational wave detectors are interferometers; light is split and recombined after traversing two separate paths. On recombining very small differences in the length of the two paths, such as those caused by gravity waves can be measured. Currently, physicists use Earth based interferometers, which are only sensitive enough to detect extreme events that are nearby. Space based interferometers are planned and these are expected to be sensitive enough to regularly detect gravitational waves. In fact, it has been determined that the proposed big bang observer will, if it is configured correctly, be able to detect the CGB. CGB waves are expected to be detectable at very low frequencies, while more recent events should dominate the higher frequency signals. Thus, this one instrument could open a window into a time when the universe was optically opaque and still be able to observe other more recent events.

Microsoft gets a new Bob

Microsoft has purchased the software maker Apptimum, Inc., which is the creator of the popular Alohabob PC Relocator application. Alohabob allows users to automatically transfer their programs, files, and other content to different PCs. HangZhou Night Net

While the Alohabob website looks as though it was ransacked and left for dead, the company has posted a message stating that it will continue to support the Alohabob product line. The message also states that Microsoft has no intentions of continuing the sale of Apptimum products. Rather than resale the product, Microsoft has said that it will be including the tool as an optional download for Vista.

"The first public release of a Microsoft product based on the Apptimum technology is planned to be an optional download for Windows Vista customers. Further details about the planned Microsoft product, including the timeline for delivery, are not yet available."

The company's Amitabh Srivastava, corporate vice president of Windows Core Operating System Development, continued:

"Our customers and partners have been asking for a much easier way to transfer their data and applications from old computers to new ones. We’ve improved this experience in Windows Vista, and as a result of the Apptimum acquisition we will make it even easier for customers to transfer the applications that are most important to them."

The optional download will be a welcomed late addition to Vista, but like Ed Bott states, it would have been great to see Alohabob as part of the initial Windows Vista release.

So why didn’t someone think of this a year ago? With a little foresight, this technology could have been ready for the launch of Windows Vista later this year.

Including Alohabob with Vista right out of the door would have been a great selling point, especially because it could have helped many new upgraders easily transfer their files and possibly some applications to their new operating system—assuming that it could talk with Windows XP. Now, it will be interesting to see if the download will be available for all users or just the "Premium" ones.

Powered by WordPress. Design: Supermodne.