Wrapping up my series on a [Laptop for Grandma], I finally have something that I think meets all of my requirements! Special thanks to Guidomar and the rest of my readers who sent in suggestions!
I could have called this series "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly". The [Cloud-oriented choices] weren't bad per se, but expected persistent Internet connection. The [Low-RAM choices] were not ugly per se, but had limited application options. The ones below were good, in that they helped me decide what would be just right for grandma.
Lubuntu and Linux Mint LXDE were similar, but I decided to go with the latter because I like that they do not force version upgrades. This is a philosophical difference. Ubuntu likes to keep everyone on the latest supported releases, so will often remind you its time to upgrade. Linux Mint prefers to take an if-i
A few finishing touches to make the system complete:
I considered installing [ClamAV] for anti-virus protection, but since this laptop will not be connected to the Internet, I decided not to burn up CPU cycles. I also considered installing [Team Viewer] which would allow me remote access to her system if anything should every fail. However, since she does not have Wi-Fi at home, and lives only a few minutes across town, I decided to leave this off.
Once again, I want to thank all of my readers for their suggestions! I learned quite a lot on this journey, and am glad that I have something that I am proud to present to grandma: boots quickly enough, simple to use, and does not require on-going maintenance!
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Thanks to all the readers who responded to my bleg for help for the [Laptop for Grandma]!
I've gotten suggestions to upgrade the memory and disk storage, and how to fine-tune the Microsoft Windows XP operating system. Others suggested replacing the OS with Linux, and to use the Cloud to avoid some of the storage space limitations.
But first, I have to mention the latest in our series of "Enterprise Systems" videos. The first was being [Data Ready]. The second was being [Security Ready]. The now the third in the series: the 3-minute [Cloud Ready] video.
So I decided to try different Cloud-oriented Operating Systems, to see if any would be a good fit. Here is what I found:
(FTC Disclosure: I work for IBM and own IBM stock. This blog post is not meant to endorse one OS over another. I have financial interests in, and/or have friends and family who work at some of the various companies mentioned in this post. Some of these companies also have business relationships with IBM.)
I contacted grandma to ask if she has Wi-Fi in her home, and sure enough, she doesn't. Her PC upstairs is direct attached to the cable modem. So, while the Cloud suggestion was worthy of investigation, I will continue to pursue other options that do not require being connected. I certainly do not want to spend any time and effort getting Wi-Fi installed there.
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Happy Winter Solstice everyone! The Mayan calendar flipped over yesterday, and everything continued as normal.
The next date to watch out for is ... drumroll please ... April 8, 2014. This is the date Microsoft has decided to [drop support for Windows XP].
While many large corporations are actively planning to get off Windows XP, there are still many homes and individuals that are running on this platform.
When [Windows XP] was introduced in 2001, it could support systems with as little as 64MB of RAM. Nowadays, the latest versions of Windows now requires a minimum of 1GB for 32-bit systems, with 2GB or 3GB recommended.
That leaves Windows XP users on older hardware few choices:
Here is a personal example. A long time ago, I gave my sister a Thinkpad R31 laptop so that she could work from home. When she got a newer one, she passed this down to her daughter for doing homework. When my neice got a newer one, she passed this old laptop to her grandma.
Grandma is fairly happy with her modern PC running Windows XP. She plays all kinds of games, scans photographs, sends emails, listens to music on iTunes, and even uses Skype to talk to relatives. Her problem is that this PC is located upstairs, in her bedroom, and she wanted something portable that she could play music downstairs when she is playing cards with her friends.
"Why not use the laptop you have?" I asked. Her response: "It runs very slow. Perhaps it has a virus. Can you fix that?" I was up for the challenge, so I agreed.
(The Challenge: Update the Thinkpad R31 so that grandma can simply turn it on, launch iTunes or similar application, and just press a "play" button to listen to her music. It will be plugged in to an electrical outlet wherever she takes it, and she already has her collection of MP3 music files. My hope is to have something that is (a) simple to use, (b) starts up quickly, and (c) will not require a lot of on-going maintenance issues.)
Here are the relevant specifications of the Thinkpad R31 laptop:
The system was pre-installed with Windows XP, but was terribly down-level. I updated to Windows XP SP3 level, downloaded the latest anti-virus signatures, and installed iTunes. A full scan found no viruses. All this software takes up 14GB, leaving less than 6GB for MP3 music files.
The time it took from hitting the "Power-on" button to hearing the first note of music was over 14 minutes! Unacceptable!
If you can suggest what my next steps should be, please comment below or send me an email!
Most readers know thta Tucson is home of one of the largest collections of world-renowned experts on IT storage. But what you may not know, is that Tucson is also the home of experts for optical sciences. This week, I was part of a delegation of IBMers invited on a tour of the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab [SOML].
SOML was built in 1990 underneath the football stadium at the University of Arizona. Why under the stadium? Their motivation was [Chicago Pile-1], the world's first nuclear reactor, built by Enrico Fermi under the football stadium at the University of Chicago.
We got to see all aspects of the process to develop the huge mirrors used in large telescopes. SOML did not always offer lab tours. Back in 1993, two dozen members of the Earth First! terrorist organization [attacked the lab with hammers and monkey wrenches to destroy and dismantle the mirror lab]. Now, security is tight to ensure no-one damages these mirrors, some of which fetch as much as $30 million dollars.
At other mirror labs, mirrors start as a large, heavy, flat piece of glass and then ground and polished to the correct parabolic curve. SOML created a new process that works a lot better, similar to making a [Pineapple Upside Down Cake]. For those who are not familiar with this cake, you arrange sliced pineapple rings on the bottom of the baking dish, then pour the liquid cake batter that fills in and around the pineapple slices, then bake.
The first step is creating a base of 1,690 hexoganal tubes made of Aluminum Silicate. These are like the pineapple rings in the cake. The tubes are bolted to the baking dish that is 8.4 meters wide. These tubes form the base of the [parabolic shape] that focuses starlight to a small focal point. The tubes are spaced with about an inch of space in between. The Aluminum silicate feels like clay.
Once the base is built, chunks of glass are placed on the surface. Rather then pouring on the cake mix of molten glass, these chunks will be melted in place. This isn't normal glass, but a special Boron Silicate glass that does not expand or contract much during changes in temperature, made by the [Ohara Corporation] in Japan.
The oven is then lowered onto the baking dish. Once the temperature reaches 700 degrees, the entire system is then rotated at 7 RPM. This allows the glass to melt and take its parabolic shape through [centrifugal force]. The people who run the oven are called "oven pilots", and they monitor the entire process to make sure nothing goes wrong.
This particular mirror is one of the two that will go into the [Large Binocular Telescope]. The mirror will be 36 inches thick at the edges, and 18 inches in the middle. If the glass cools down to quickly, it may crack or form crystals, so instead the oven is kept in place and the temperature lowered slowly over the course of a few months. This is called annealing.
Once a mirror has annealed, 24 suction cups are glued to the top surface to pull the mirror out of the baking dish. It is then tipped on its side so that all the bolts can be removed and the hexagonal tubes washed out, leaving behind a honey-combed effect on the bottom of the mirror. This means the mirror is 80 percent air, making it strong and lightweight.
The next step is grinding the surface with diamonds. In most cases, the process of spinning creates the correct shape so little grinding is required. However, for this mirror here for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope [LSST], about five tons of glass will be ground out of the center. This will actually have two parabolic curves, the outer curve is shallow, and the inner curve is deep. This will allow for the LSST to survey a wide area of space at a time.
Once the glass is ground to the right shape, it will be polished with Cerium Oxide, what is commonly known as Jeweler's Rouge. How smooth does it have to be? If this mirror were the size of the United States, there would be no bump higher than 2 inches tall!
Most mirrors are symmetrical, so the polishing can be done on a spinning platform, but this mirror is not. The Large Magellan Telescope will consist of seven mirrors, one in the middle that is symmetrical, and surrounded by six other mirrors that will all continue the parabolic shape in each direction. This is one of the outer mirrors, which means that each part of the polishing process will be controlled by computers to get exactly the curve required.
Here is a small scaled-down model of the Magellan Telescope. Each of the seven mirrors will be 8.4 meters wide. At this point, one person asked why all the mirrors were 8.4 meters wide. I joked that this was the size of the oven! It reminded me of [the story where newly-wed had to ask her grandmother why she cut the ends off the pot roast]. The actual reason was that the posts of the football stadium are 8.5 meters wide, so any mirror made inside the lab larger than that could not be removed easily for transportation.
The LMT will be installed on [Cerro Tololo] in Chile, where my father worked earlier in his career. Why Chile? Observatories need high altitude, dry climate and clear skies. That is why Arizona is home to many observatories, including Kitt Peak National Observatory and the Vatican Observatory on Mount Graham. Cerro Tololo in Chile is close to the equator and meets these requirements.
Once operational in 2020, it will gather 6 TB of images every evening. That got all of the IBMers on the tour very excited!
To verify the polishing is complete, it is put on three red stands and measured with a laser. Once the measurements are complete. The surface will be coated with aluminum to provide the reflective surface. You can't just paint the surface with a roller! Instead, the aluminum is vaporized and allowed to land on the surface of the mirror evenly, in a layer that is only three molecules thick. There is more aluminum in standard size beer can than on the surface of one of these 8.4 meter size mirrors!
So that was the tour. It took almost 2 hours. If you are ever in Tucson, consider contacting the SOML and arranging a tour for yourself. There is no other mirror lab like it!
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Last year, Mo and I traveled down alongside the Mississippi river, attempting to cover [Eight States in Eight Days], but ended up covering [Seven States in Nine Days]. This time, we decided to go overseas, to knock off a few items from her [bucket list].
I would like to thank Delta Air Lines for letting Mo and I take this trip using frequent flyer miles, Hertz Rental Cars for offering a sweet deal on a tiny Hyundai i20 car, the Gran Hotel Benahavis for their hospitality, and the incredibly warm and helpful people of Atlanta. I am glad that my language skills in French, Spanish and Arabic came in quite handy!
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Last week, in my post [IT Support for the Holidays], I mentioned that I was scrubbing computers in preparation to give them to charity. A local reader asked if I would be willing to donate one of the computers to her kindergarten class. She teaches a class of 20 kids, at the very same elementary school that I went to when I was that age.
So here is the beefiest machine of the set.
Make/Model: Sony PCV-RC850 Processor: 2.4GHz Intel 32-bit RAM: 512MB Hard disk: 40GB Removable media: CD/DVD-ROM and CD/DVD-RW Keyboard/mouse: standard PS/2 Sound: headphone jack Ethernet port: 100Mbps USB ports: two
IBM likes grand challenges, like [Deep Blue computer] to play chess against Grandmaster Garry Kasparov, and the [Watson computer] to play against two experts on the game show Jeopardy! My "Kidergarten Desktop" challenge is certainly on a smaller scale--to install software on this machine that will neet the following requirements
The 512MB is not enough to run Microsoft Windows 7, but certainly enough to run some flavors of Linux. Inspired by this review of [Top 6 Linux Distributions for Children], I thought I would give a few a spin.
Many of these have Live
I had already scrubbed the [Windows XP] and replaced with [Linux Mint 12 LXDE]. Can I just install the Edubuntu-desktop on Linux Mint? While Linux Mint is Ubuntu-based, it is not binary compatible, so I will need to install fresh.
The [Edubuntu] LiveDVD requires 1GB of memory to try out, so to get this installed, I used the "Alternate Ubuntu 12.04" installer DVD.
Why 12.04 release of Ubuntu? The current release is 13.10 will only be supported for 9 months, and in keeping with "Requirement #3 Minimal Maintenance", the [Edubuntu team recommends installing a Long Term Support (LTS) release], and 12.04.3 is the most recent LTS that will be supported through 2017.
Edubuntu recommends 20GB of disk space to run, so I have partitioned the 40GB drive as follows:
For this machine, I will have three users configured:
Ubuntu's [Alternate Installer] uses basic graphic mode that can run in 512MB, and once installed, I was then able to install the Edubuntu Desktop and both preschool and primary-level educational software, to account for all learning ability levels of the children.
admin-$ sudo bash admin-# apt-get install edubuntu-desktop admin-# apt-get install ubun
I am not a big fan of Ubuntu's "Unity" panel on the left, and was hoping that Edubuntu-desktop would remove it, but no luck. so I removed it manually.
This system does not boot USB files natively, and getting Grub2 boot loader to boot ISO files was more difficult than I imagined. I was able to extract the necessary files over to sda2 hard disk to get them to work. I took "Clonezilla" full system backups to a separate SSH server over my local subnet.
Well, that's my start. Any suggestions? Has anyone done this before? Please enter comments below.
Continuing my series on building a Desktop computer for a kindergarten class, I look at three other Linux systems mentioned in the article [Top 6 Linux Distributions for Children (Ages 2 and Up)].
(This series started with my post [Kindergarten desktop - The Challenge]. I have a 512MB RAM system with 40GB disk drive that I will install Linux and educational software for a class full of kindergarten children.
First, I re-partitioned the 40GB hard drive as follows. On the extended partition, sda5 will hold my system utilities, like Clonezilla and SystemRescue, and sda6 is my swap space. This gives me three primary partitions to install three flavors of Linux to try out.
The first was [LinuxKidX], which actually started out as a Portuguese-language effort in Brazil. It was then translated to the English language to extend its reach. It is based on the KDE desktop familiar to users of OpenSUSE Linux.
Many of the education software were similar or the same as those from Edubuntu I mentioned in my last post. However, not everything was translated, and unless you are able to read Portuguese, you may not want this one.
Next, I wanted to look at [Qimo for Kids], but first I had to look for the distribution, as the mirrors listed seemed to be unavailable. I was able to find an qimo
Unlike Edubuntu, Qimo fits on a CD-ROM for older PCs that may not have DVD drives. Based on lightweight XFCE desktop, the LiveCD runs comfortably in 512MB, with a kid-friendly app launcher at the bottom of the screen. However, Qimo 2.0 is based on Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) LTS, with long term support expiring this May 2013. The Firefox 3.6.3 was too old to run Gmail.
Why hasn't Qimo been enhanced since 2010? It looks like you can just install the packages qimo-session and qimo-wallpaper on newer levels of Ubuntu.
Third, I tried Foresight Linux for Kids 1.0 release. The most recent Foresight is 2.5.3, but Linux for Kids is still at the 1.0 level. The "installer" was very outdated, so the website suggested following the [power-user install HOWTO].
The HOWTO can be a bit intimidating, but I was able to install just fine in 512MB of RAM. Foresight detected I had pre-configured a swap space, and used that to help finish the install process.
Like the others, it had many of the same educational software as before. A key difference is the [Conary package management]. Most systems use either Debian (DEB) or Redhat Package Manager (RPM), but this one is different, and the use of Conary may reduce the number of software applications available.
So what have I learned from these?
If you have had any experience with any of these three distros, please comment below.
Continuing my series on building a Desktop computer for a kindergarten class, I look at Fedora with Sugar mentioned in the article [Top 6 Linux Distributions for Children (Ages 2 and Up)].
(This series started with my post [Kindergarten desktop - The Challenge]. I have a 512MB RAM system with 40GB disk drive that I will install Linux and educational software for a class full of kindergarten children. My previous post covered three other Linux distributions [LinuxKidX, Qimo, and Foresight for Kids].)
I am not stranger to the Sugar learning platform, developed as part of the One Laptop per Child [OLPC] project.
As I mentioned in my post [Helping Young Students - part 1], I was part of the OLPC development team back in 2008, helped local volunteers deploy laptops to children in Nepal and Uruguay, mentored a college student in India, and learned a lot of Python programming language in the process.
Sugar is now developed by Sugar Labs, a nonprofit spin-off of OLPC. The code is free and open source desktop environment for many other machines, including as a "Desktop Environment" for Fedora Linux.
I kept my 40GB hard drive partitioned as follows. On the extended partition, sda5 will hold my system utilities, like Clonezilla and SystemRescue, and sda6 is my swap space, increased to 1500MB. Partition sda1 has Edubuntu 12.04 on it, and I will use sda2 to install Fedora with Sugar.
[Sugar-on-a-stick], is so named because it is designed so that each child has their own LiveUSB. This can run on PC with Windows or Mac OS without affecting those operating systems, allowing a child to use Sugar in the classroom, then take the stick home and continue on their home PC.
A 2GB or greater USB memory stick can hold both Fedora and Sugar, and use that to boot your desktop. Unfortunately, it requires 1GB of RAM, and I have only 512MB. Can I just run Sugar natively on a Fedora install? Yes, thanks to the [Sugar not "on a stick"] instructions, I can install Fedora first, then just:
$sudo bash #yum groupinstall "Sugar Desktop Environment"
Unfortunately, the latest Fedora release (F20) recommends 1GB of RAM. Fortunately, I found Dean Howell's rant [Fedora Irresponsibly Lowers Memory Requirement To 512MB] about the Fedora F17 release. I gave this a try.
There are three ways to install Fedora:
I chose method 3 and downloaded the appropriate ISO file. While F17 only requires 512MB of RAM to run, the graphic installer requires 768MB, and is fully explained in this [29-step F17 installation guide].
To get around this, select "Troubleshooting" which then lets you select low-graphics/text mode installation that ran well under 512MB. I installed both LXDE and Sugar, and everything worked fine!
Why both LXDE and Sugar? Well, Sugar is quite a different environment, and I wanted LXDE as an alternative for the admin and teacher to use.
The article on [Sugar software on Wikipedia] sums it up well:
"Unlike most other desktop environments, Sugar does not use the 'desktop', 'folder' and 'window' metaphors. Instead, Sugar's default full-screen activities require users to focus on only one program at a time. Sugar implements a novel file-handling metaphor (the Journal), which automatically saves the user's running program session and allows him or her to later use an interface to pull up their past works by date, activity used or file type."
Now that I have that working, it is time to upgrade from non-supported F17 to a supported level. Ravi Saive explains the [Four Ways to Upgrade from Fedora 17 to Fedora 18]:
As you can probably guess from the title of this post, I chose method 2 "FedUp" as it seemed to be the least invasive. I was unsure if method-1 "Clean Install" of F18 would work with 512MB of RAM, and I have been through enough horrors of failed yum upgrades on my own Red Hat Enterprise Linux [RHEL] at work to avoid method 3. Method 4 is just a script to automate the steps of method 3.
The steps are fairly straightforward. First, install the FedUp package, run "yum update" to ensure you have all the latest kernel and F17 packages for everything else, and reboot.
Then run the fedup-cli command, which upgrades all the packages to F18 level and creates a special kernel level that will then finish the install after the second reboot. It took a while, so I let it run unattended. I put the debug log on partition sda5 in case anything went wrong.
#fedup-cli --reboot --network 18 --de
What could go wrong? Well, it turns out that fedup works by updating the Grub2 boot loader configuration, but my grub2 resides on sda1 partition instead, owned by my existing Edubuntu. The reboot did not give me the option to run the specialized kernel to finish the process.
Fixing this was a hot mess, but I managed to configure Grub2 on Fedora, and complete the upgrade and get everything working as before. However, even though it just came out last year, [F18 version is already out of support]! This means I get a second chance to do FedUp, this time to F19 release. Oh boy! Fun!
While the second time went smoother, the problem was that F19 doesn't seem to run well in 512MB of RAM, and chances are F20 won't either.
So what have I learned from this?
If you have any experience with Fedora or Sugar in the classroom, comment below!
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Next week I am "briefing" a client on a variety of topics, everything from our overall strategy, to our DS4000 disk systems, LTO tape, the DR550, and storage virtualization. A lot to cover, and they only gave me 60 minutes!
The challenge is not gathering the material, as it is shrinking it down to cover all the key points into a fluid story. Which reminds me of a saying we have inside IBM: "Develop with prose, Market with poetry." When I was in development, I had to write some huge specifications. Now that I am in marketing, the fewer words the better. In looking to see if this saying was a modified version of a famous quote from someone else, I encountered this interesting quote below. John Windsor of YouBlog might argue this could apply to most marketing attempts just as easily as most poetry.
Most people ignore most poetry
Roger over at Creative Think asks ifChip Heath is the Next Malcolm Gladwell?, relating to a book called "Made to Stick". I just started reading this book yesterday, but it starts out with how some stories are more memorable than others. Some just "stick" in your head, like songs, and others are quickly forgotten.
I tell a lot of stories, some stick, some don't. For example, I had read in a Barnes and Noble flyer a description of a book that interested me. I went to the store, but had forgotten to bring the flyer with me. When the person at the help desk offered to help me find it on their computer system, I realized that I could not remember the author, the title nor the publisher. The only thing I could remember was that it was a dark green book. It was actually a collection of short stories that were all 55 words in length, all winners of a 55-word story contest. She then took out the flyer itself, and we found it easily from there. She asked why I only remembered that it was green, and I told her: "Because I collect green books."
I am amazed that the writers could cram a setting, characters, plot and resolution into only 55 words, and then I saw Anecdote's post Let's Be Brief which talks about the latest 6-word story contest, inspired by Hemmingway’s shortest story, which was only six words long.
Now that's brief!Read More]
Just in time for [Cyber Monday], Volume II of my "Inside System Storage" book series is now available. As I mentioned in my post on the [October 7th Launch announcement], I finally got past all the internal restrictions that prevented this volume from being published earlier.
The books come in a variety of formats, including hardcover with dust jacket, paperback, and online eBook (PDF). My publisher, Lulu, now supports ePub format, so I am investigating the time and effort required to build this format from the source files.
Either way, I hope you can help out the US economy get back on its feet!
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Well, it's Tuesday, and you know what that means? IBM announcements!
Today we had several for the IBM System Storage product line. Here are some of them:
technorati tags: IBM, DS8000, thin provisioning, Linux, UNIX, Windows, zHPF, z/OS, XIV, SMI-S, asynchronous mirroring, TSM, LDAP, SVC, TS7650, deduplication, dedupe, replication, GPFS, supercomputers, cloud computing, cloud storage, burning man[Read More]
With mixed emotions, Jon Peake announced he will retire from IBM next week. Jon is known as thefather of IBM Virtual Tape Server (VTS), the industry's first virtual tape system, announced in 1996and generally available in 1997.One of my 19 patents was for the VTS pre-migration capability, and as lead architect for DFSMS, I worked closely with Jon and his tape systems team to ensure its success.
At his retirement celebration, Jon was awarded the coveted "Project Bulldog" jacket, which has an interesting history.
In response to IBM's 1996 VTS announcement, the top StorageTek (STK) tape sales teams and most of the dedicated tape technicians were invited to a global assembly at a fancy resort in Winter Park, CO (about 90 miles west of STK's Louisville headquarters) in early 1997. The gathering was named Project Bulldog, after Ron Korngiebel, STK's director of competitive marketing, who I am told had voice and facial resemblance to justify the project moniker. Ron had recruited Fred Moore, Steve Blenderman, and other prized engineers as speakers. I have seen both Fred and Steve speak at various conferences such as SHARE and GUIDE, and agree they are high quality speakers.
The goal was to have STK's brightest in Louisville go down in the trenches, work the field guys into a frenzy, defend STK Tape at any cost, and send IBM packing. At the end of the two day fest, many participants received the coveted Project Bulldog jacket.
Former STKers who now work at IBM can remember this meeting involved:
While some analysts frowned on Sun's [2005 acquisition of StorageTek], IBM was delighted, given Sun's previous track record in storagecompany acquisitions. I joke that we are still picking up confetti in the hallways of IBM's Tucsonlab. I was in New York city when I heard Sun's announcement, and it didn't take long for STKemployees offering me their resumes.Since then, many STK engineers, technicians and sales team have left Sun, many coming over to IBM.Back then, there were many intelligent and talented people working for StorageTek, and IBM is gladto have hired them.
With the resurgence of interest in tape systems, from dealing with new legislation for long term retention of electronic data to a focus on energy efficiency, Jon leaves much like a champion retiring at the top of his game.
Jon, I am going to miss you! Enjoy your retirement!Read More]
August 31 is my good friend Jim Cosentino's retirement day as a full-time employee at IBM. After over 30 years at IBM, in various marketing, sales and consulting roles, he is going to be thinking about happy things instead of working. His last seven years has been at theIBM Poughkeepsie Customer Executive Briefing Center as the lead System Storage presenter.
The past few years, I've traveled with him around the world on various business trips, teaching our IBM sales force and IBM Business Partners about our System Storage offerings, and presenting to clients. He is a class act, always positive, laughing, seeing the bright side of things.
While "spend more time with his family" has become a business cliche, I know Jim will actually enjoy his retirement years, spend more time with his family, take on other pursuits and hobbies, and perhaps do some more traveling.
Jim, if you are reading this, I have one suggestion. I know you have lots of friends within IBM, and count myself as one of them, but may I suggest your first goal is to makeat least three newfriends, to help you in your transition to retirement.
Congratulations Jim! Enjoy your well-deserved retirement!Read More]
GDPR is the IT industry's next "Y2K crisis." Effective May 25, 2018, it ensures that any citizen of the European Union can review, rectify, and even erase any personal data from corporate datacenters. Companies that fail to respond to requests can be heavily fined. See Bob Yelland's quick 13-page guidebook on this, titled [GDPR - How it Works].
Known as the "Wizard of Big Data", Jeff Jonas is at home in Las Vegas. Back in the 1990s, Jeff developed software for the casinos to identify and catch cheaters, which was used to catch the six MIT card-counters depicted in the Ben Mezrich's book [Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions], and the 2008 movie  starring Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey, and Lawrence Fishburne.
His team also developed the Non-Obvious Relationship Awareness (NORA) software for the casinos, combining the records of 15 million customers, 20,000 employees, and 18 different watch lists. If a casino did business with people on certain watch lists, they could be put out of business or heavily fined.
NORA alerts identified 24 active VIP players as known cheaters, 12 employees were active gamblers against company policy, 192 employees had possible relationships with casino vendors, and in seven cases the players were the vendor. One casino discovered they were paying to have one of these cheaters flown to Las Vegas to play at their tables!
(IBM acquired Jeff's company Systems Research and Development (SRD) back in 2005. I had the pleasure of working with Jeff during his 11 year stint at IBM, and participated in his G2 project that was later spun off in 2016 to form his newest company, Senzing. See my 2011 blog post [Storage Innovation Executive Summit] of Jeff's thoughts back then.)
Jeff identifies four challenges in complying with GDPR regulation. Suppose an EU citizen comes to your company and asks just to review all information that you have on them. How would you do that?
So this is Challenge #1: There are lot's of places to look. You have a customer database, loyalty club, marketing programs, vendor and supplier databases, and customer service. But wait, the person might have also been an employee! Does your employee database let you search for information on former employees?
Challenge #2 is that the data occurs in variations. Liz Reston could be stored as Elizabeth or Beth. Her last name might have changed from various marriages and divorces. Can you generate all of the variations to search on?
(I know this personally. I am not the only famous "Tony Pearson" out there. There is Tony Pearson, a cricket player in England. There is Tony Pearson, Chief of Staff in the Australian government. And finally, there is 61-year-old "Mr. Universe" Tony Pearson, the "Michael Jackson" of Bodybuilding. Needless to say, women who showed up at my house unannounced looking for him instead were sometimes disappointed!)
Challenge #3 is that existing systems have search limitations. Imagine going to a library that doesn't have a card catalog or computerized index. Rather, you need to go floor by floor, row by row, book by book, looking for the information you are looking for.
Human Resources software might only offer search options for name, date of birth or employee serial number. Hotel systems don't offer you search capabilities of billing or home addresses.
Small typos can result in incomplete search results. Home addresses, for example, are often written in different ways, suite or apartment numbers may be represented differently as well, and abbreviations may be used to represent fully-qualified names.
What are you going to do, ask the IT department to write custom SQL queries for you? One of the unexpected benefits of Jeff's NORA system was that it could match entities between databases by street address, a trick that normally isn't designed into most applications.
Challenge #4 is that not all things that look alike are alike. For example, Liz Reston and her co-dependent husband Bob might [share the same email address].
Family members might have the same home address and phone number. Sons are often named after their fathers, but don't always write "Senior" or Junior" or "III" at the end of their names.
In other cases, roommates in college, who are not related in any other way, might share the same home address. The same apartment number or home address could be used by different people as the house is sold or apartment is rented from one family to another.
It took Jeff decades to appreciate the results of these entity relationships, and then GDPR happened in 2016. When a citizen asks to review their personal data, which they can after May 25 for free, a company must deliver within 30 days. The person can then ask to rectify certain information, or have it erased altogether.
So what seems like a simple enough question, "What do we know about Liz Reston?" turns out to be challenging to answer for a variety of reasons. Jeff did a survey of over 1,000 European companies, here were the results:
Having access to powerful enterprise-wide "single subject search" discovery tools, however, can also lead to search abuse. For example, a famous celebrity is admitted to a hospital, and suddenly sensitive information is leaked to the tabloids or paparazzi. Someone asks their friend, a police officer, to search the license plate on someone's vehicle. A father searches his corporate database for information on his daughter's new boyfriend.
To address this privacy concern, Jeff suggests a tamper-proof audit log that shows who searched for whom. Where are we going to get technology to do this? We already have it: Blockchain! That's right, the technology that enables Bitcoin to operate without government controls already includes a tamper-proof audit log for transactions.
Jeff's plans for his new company Senzing is to deliver software for different use cases, with APIs for popular programming languages like Java and Python, and a workbench that runs on Windows. He is also considering a "Community Edition" that could be affordable for even the smallest of businesses, with a challenge to the audience to please contribute to this as an open source project.
The video is still available on [IBM Think 2018 Replays].
technorati tags: IBM, #Think2018, #Think18, #Think, #IBMthink, Jeff Jonas, Data Scientist, Senzing, European Union, General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR, Y2K crisis, Bob Yelland, MIT, Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey, Lawrence Fishburne, SRD, NORA, Las Vegas, VIP, G2 project,card catalog, Human Resources, shared email, SQL query, single subject search, search abuse, tamper-proof audit log, Blockchain, Bitcoin, Java, Python, Community Edition
IBM announced that it will offer [three free months of IBM Smart Business Cloud] computing and storage services to government agencies, charitable non-profit organizations, and other organizations involved with reconstruction resulting from the earthquakes and tsunami in Japan and the northern Pacific region.
With traditional communications down, and many data centers incapacitated, Cloud Computing can be a great way to resume operations. According to the announcement, organizations can submit their requests now until April 30, and the program will run until July 31, 2011. Options include:
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Happy New Year everyone!
Well it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
(Update: I thought it was quite clever to announce the new z13 mainframe on January the 13th. A few [triskaidekaphobic] employees pointed out that certain [Greek and Spanish-speaking cultures] consider Tuesday the 13th to be an unlucky day. However, superstitious people should probably not work in IT, as it would be difficult for a worldwide company like IBM to avoid all the numbers that different cultures consider unlucky.)
IBM will have a live streaming event on Jan 14, Redefining Digital Business: The new generation of IBM z Systems], for those who want to hear the announcement in more detail. Here is what the invitation page has to offer:
You are cordially invited to join IBM on January 14 from 2:00pm to 4:30pm Eastern Standard Time (US) when IBM will share a whole new generation of IBM z Systems™ built to meet the needs of your digital business. Join us and learn how IBM z Systems are designed to:
At this live streaming event, you will hear from a remarkable group of business and technology leaders who will share success stories, best practices and the exciting technology innovations and capabilities of the new generation of IBM z Systems. Go to the Registration page] to participate.
But what does this really mean? Are you thinking BFD?
(Update: For those not familiar with IT acronyms, BFD refers to "Bigger, Faster, Denser" -- the trend in IT to announce new generations that are merely bigger, faster, and/or denser versions of the previous generations. Fortunately, the z13 takes up the same amount of data center floor space -- 2 floor tiles = 2 square meters = 20 square feet -- and weighs approximately the same as the z196 and zEC12, so raised floor struts do not have to be strengthened or reinforced to take in this new system.)
You may have noticed that we are now talking about "z System" instead of "System z". This change was made to line up with IBM's change to "POWER Systems" from "System p". Leadership felt that dropping the stodgy old zEnterprise and giving the mainframe a "hip" new name would attract new emerging digital workloads like Cloud, Analytics, Mobile and Social.
This is not the first time IBM has renamed products in a series. While the IBM mainframe just celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, the "13" refers to the 13th generation of CMOS-based mainframe technology introduced in 1994. Here is a quick table to show you the names that have evolved over the years:
(Note: This change also corresponds to a completely restructuring of IBM into business units, eliminating its former hardware and software groups. The design and development of all mainframe-related hardware, software and middleware will be consolidated under the IBM Systems business unit. I will wait for IBM's 4Q financial results announcement on or after January 20 before I cover this in any more detail.)
The z13 machine itself has some unique differences from previous generations. Instead of a "Multi-chip Module" (MCM) that contained multiple processor and storage controllers on a single slab, the z13 uses Single-Chip Modules (SCM) that are either a single 8-core processor, or a single system controller, allowing them to be field replaceable units (FRU).
Previous generations organized the processors in 1 to 4 vertical "books". The problem was that if you had a single book system, you bought a lot of hardware infrastructure designed to support a full four books. In the new design, processors are organized into horizontal Central Processor Complex (CPC) drawers, with additional hardware infrastructure provided per drawer. This makes the lower-end models more affordable. Each drawer has six processor SCMs and two system controller SCMs, providing 39 to 42 usable cores per drawer. Models ranges from 30 to 141 usable cores, with the option to upgrade from one model to another as your needs grow.
The z13 provides N-2 generation compatibility. This means you can have the z196, zEC12 and z13 all participate in the same Parallel Sysplex. You will also be able to upgrade your z196 or zEC12 to the new z13 system.
The new z13 can have up to 10TB of memory, and this can be assigned entirely to a single Logical Partition, or LPAR. The system can be subdivided up to 85 LPARs, versus 60 on the previous generation. Currently, z/OS v1 can only have up to 1TB per LPAR, and z/OS v2 can only go up to 4TB, so I suspect this 10TB is planning for future OS releases.
The new z13 now offers Simultaneous Multithreading [SMT]. Initially, this will double the number of threads for IFL engines (supporting Linux and z/VM), and zIIP engines supporting DB2, Java, XML and IPsec workloads. IBM is eliminating the zAAP engines, since zIIP engines can do all of that. The new [Preview z/OS v2.2] will take advantage of this SMT capability.
To assist with database, analytics and multimedia workloads, the z13 offers Single Instruction, Multiple Data [SIMD] capability. This allows a single instruction to perform the same update or action across many data fields.
For those clients with zBX models 2 and 3, allowing you to run POWER-based AIX and x86-based Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems on your mainframe, they will be able to upgrade to [zBX model 4 for the z13 System]. Now that IBM has sold off its x86 server business to Lenovo, I suspect it will also phase out the zBX offerings as well.
To handle emerging workloads of Cloud, Mobile and other Web applications, IBM will offer a new stronger and faster Crypto Express5S cryptographic adapter. The z13 will enhance public key support for constrained digital environments using Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) for users such as Chrome, Firefox, and Apple's iMessage. The z13 will also minimize reformatting of databases with new exploitation of VISA format preserving encryption (FPE) for credit card numbers.
The z13 also made some enhancements for Linux clients. The zAware analytics that analyzes internal traces and logs for z/OS has been extended to support Linux on System z. For those who want to use GDPS Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery services, but don't want to develop z/OS skills for the "K" system, there will now be a Virtual GDPS appliance that will run self-contained z/OS. Lastly, IBM has made a statement of direction that it will support open source Linux KVM as a Linux-only alternative to z/VM hypervisor. OpenStack will support both this new Linux KVM as well as z/VM 6.3 release.
The PCIe bus has been upgraded to Gen3 at 16Gbps, from Gen2 used in the zEC12. These can be used for Coupling Facility Links, which are faster than the legacy 6 Gbps InfiniBand, which are also supported for legacy migration. People with z196 and zEC12 can either carry forward their I/O drawers they have previously purchased, or move the PCiE Gen2 cards into the new Gen3 drawers.
The new z13 will also support 16Gb FICON, using the new FICON Express5S cards. Here is my segue into storage, as you are probably now wondering when I was going to get to the storage part of the announcement!
IBM is also announcing corresponding changes to the DS8870 firmware and accessories to go with the z13 System. This includes:
But don't just take my word for it, here are reviews of the new system from various journalists:
"They seem a computing odd couple: the mainframe, the old workhorse, and the smartphone, the cool-kid computer of today. But IBM has designed the latest version of the mainframe, which is being introduced on Wednesday, with the smartphone in mind. The new mainframe, the z13, has been engineered to cope with the huge volume of data and transactions generated by people using smartphones and tablets."
"One customer enthusiastic about such features is Citigroup Inc., a longtime IBM user that favors mainframes for both reliability and security. 'Security is in the DNA of the mainframe,' said Martin Kennedy, Citi's managing director for platforms and storage. Another factor shaping the bank's needs, Mr. Kennedy said, is the rising volume of transactions carried out using smartphones and other mobile devices. Mainframes are particularly good at combining data from a variety of systems and presenting them to a user's mobile app, he said."
"IBM is introducing a new mainframe in a bet that clients will need its souped-up speed and security to handle a surge in consumers using smartphones for everything from banking to checking health-care records. The z13 system can encrypt and analyze data in real time and process 30,000 transactions a second, International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) announced today. That means faster and safer transactions for consumers on mobile phones."
"With the unveiling of the z13, IBM has taken its MobileFirst Platform to deliver even better performance and security than before, as it incorporates the fastest microprocessor in the world, server processors that are twice as fast as existing products, 300 percent additional memory and 100 percent more bandwidth analytics speed. Last year, IBM formed a partnership with Apple to help bring Apple's iDevices to business customers to boost sales, with IBM providing cloud and mobile analytics support."
"'We're driving toward a world where more and more people are using mobile devices, or embedded devices, to interact with systems,' John Birtles, director of IBM z Systems, tells WIRED. 'We need to make sure that those devices are secure, that the transaction's secure, and that our clients get the level of analytics that gives them opportunities to improve their businesses.'"
IBM mainframes are used to process the majority of financial transactions around the world, is well positioned to handle Cloud, Analytics, Mobile and Social workloads. The IBM DS8000 series disk is the #1 market leader for disk storage on mainframe environments.
This week I am in IBM Research Triangle Park (RTP) near Raleigh, NC visiting clients and participating in the ITSO Cloud Social Media Residency.
This blog post is part of a five-part series:
The first day of the residency started with introductions. Our emcee and project leader is Vasfi Gucer from IBM Austin lab. There are 17 participants (referred to as "residents") from the USA and various countries including Brazil, Canada and Sweden.
Michael Fork presenting. I am sitting on the far left side
in the pink shirt. Photo taken by Tina Williams.
To set the right expectations, Tina Williams (IBM Social Media ITSO Projects Program Manager) explained what was going to happen this week.
In a typical "residency", residents are brought together for 4-6 weeks to write an [IBM Redbook] which are often how-to guides written in a very conversational tone.
This residency is different. A bunch of social media and Cloud experts have been brought together to share experiences and to build up skills to write individual blog posts about IBM Cloud offerings. I was invited as both a world-reknown blogger as well as a Cloud expert. Everyone who signed up for this commits to write at least six blog posts about Cloud sometime in the next 90 days.
(Residents who do not have their own blogs can post to the IBM [Thoughts on Cloud] group blog Publishing is part of our promotion process, and writing blogs consistently over a period of time counts!)
Jennifer Turner (IBM Worldwide Cloud Marketing Manager) explained IBM Cloud Social Media Initiative. Five years ago, IBM was one of the top 5 Cloud service providers, then a whole bunch of things happened, and we fell out of the top 5 list, and now with the recent [IBM acquisition of SoftLayer], we are in the top 5 again!
Michael Fork (IBM CloudFirst Lead Architect), presented the latest about SoftLayer. Wow! He did a great job, and am glad to have him as a contact in case I have future questions from clients at the Tucson Executive Briefing Center.
Mohsin Syed [@mohsinusyed], IBM Development Manager, presented [IBM Social Media Analytics], combining Hadoop-style analytics using IBM BigInsights, DB2 database and Cognos reporting. IBM can do [sentiment analysis] to determine positive and negative comments in various languages. This product was formerly known as Cognos Consumer Insight.
I was the last speaker of the day. As one of the top bloggers in both the IT Storage Industry, and company-wide within IBM, I was invited to provide a few tips on blogging to the newbies in the audience. Jeff Antley, the "co-owner" of my blog [Inside System Storage] who works on the IBM developerWorks team, was there on hand to help answer questions.
(IBM requires all highly-visible corporate blogs like mine to have at least two owners. Jeff is an expert at HTML, CSS and other web design and has been immensely helpful in getting my blog looking nicer.)
Everybody asks me how to be a great blogger. Luckily, I just happened upon a post from fellow blogger David Spark of Spark Media Solutions titled [Why I'm Annoyed By All "How to Create Great Content" Advice] and it was perfect timing!
Anyways, my presentation [A dozen blogging tips from an experienced blogger] is posted on the IBM Expert Network on SlideShare for everyone to look at. And yes, SlideShare runs on IBM SoftLayer!
What's the best, or worst, advice you have ever heard about blogging? Enter your comments below!
technorati tags: IBM, #cloudres, ITSO, Redbook, Vasfi Gucer, Michael Fork, Tina Williams, Jennifer Turner, Mohsin Syed, Jeff Antley, David Sparks, Spark Media Solutions, IBM Expert Network, SlideShare
Wrapping up my coverage of the ITSO Cloud Social Media Residency, the final day was focused writing your first blog post.
This blog post is part of a five-part series:
Each resident presented at least six proposals for blog post ideas. A proposal included a title and short description of what it would entail. Titles had to be less than 70 characters, and the short descriptions were typically just a few sentences.
These were presented to the entire team, and we picked them apart, suggested better wording for the titles, or different ways to approach the topic.
IBM Social Media Guidelines
The residents were reminded to abide by the [IBM Social Media Guidelines] which are made publicly available for all to see.
I also subscribe to the notion of the [Blog with Integrity] oath, which is as follows:
"I treat others respectfully, attacking ideas and not people. I also welcome respectful disagreement with my own ideas.
Words to live by.
The residents spent most of the day working on our blogs from the proposals that were approved. The target was around 400 to 600 words in length, with one or two stock photos.
IBM is the #1 vendor for Social Business tools, so it makes sense for us to use our own stuff to facilitate the submission process. The residents submit their blog posts to IBM Connections as an activity in the Cloud Social Media Residency community. All of the resources we used, and all the presentations we saw, are all here in the community.
As an incentive, prizes were given out to those who submitted the most posts by end of the day.
One was the book, signed by fellow author Ed Brill, titled [Opting In: Lessons in Social Business from a Fortune 500 Product Manager].
I brought in a few copies from my book series [Inside System Storage: Volume I, Volume II, Volume III, Volume IV and Volume V.]. I signed them personally to each winner.
We were given certificates for completing the class, and a "Redbooks Thought Leader" emblem to put on our blog.
Ryan Boyles took a group photo! If it seems that the photo is slightly askew, it is to make me look taller. Yes, I could have used GIMP to fix the orientation, but why bother? I look tall! Woo hoo! I will have to remember this technique for future group photos.
Lastly, I would like to thank Vasfi, Tamikia, Hillary, Caroline, Ric, Jane, LeeAnne, Tina, Karen, Michael, Shelbee, Farzad, Stewart, Arun, Eric, Chris, Hans, Odilon, Mohsin, Wolfgang and the rest of the ITSO team for a wonderful job organizing this week!
technorati tags: IBM, ITSO, Social media guidelines, blog integrity, social business, IBM Connections, Ed Brill, Redbooks, thought leader, Ryan Boyles, Vasfi Gucer, Tamikia Barrow, Hillary Danz, Caroline Wall, Ric Telford, Jane Munn, LeaAnne Williams, Tina Williams, Karen Davis, Michael Fork, Shelbee Eigenbrode, Farzad Aidun, Wolfgang Kulhanek, Stewart Hyman, Arun Anandasivam, Eric Kern, Mohsin Syed, Chris Rosen, Hans Zai, Odilon Junior
Continuing my coverage of the ITSO Cloud Social Media Residency, day 4 was focused on incorporating video into your blog.
This blog post is part of a five-part series:
As a filmmaker, I am not stranger to making and being filmed in videos. Here are some of the different types of videos that you can incorporate in your blog.
[Machinima] is the use of real-time computer graphics engines to create a cinematic production.
In 2006, I produced IBM's first [Product Launch in Second Life - April 26 Event].
It was a live event, but we decided to screen capture it for posterity, and we created a short [Second Life Highlights of IBM Product Launch] video on YouTube.
In 2011, I thought it would be good to bring back this video as the basis for an April Fools' prank, titled [IBM System Storage Video Recognized at International Film Festival].
In the prank, I indicated that I had submitted my video to the [Arizona International Film Festival], of AIFF for short, which coincidently was running April 1-20, and that it had won an award. I invited everyone who read my blog to see me accept the award at a ceremony at 6:00pm on April 1 at the Fox Theater, followed by the 8:00pm showing of another award-winning film.
I didn't submit the video, the video didn't win any award, and I was not invited to the award ceremony. I did, however, plan to see the movie at 8:00pm.
When I got there, I learned that a dozen of my friends, not realizing it was a prank, showed up, asking for me. The AIFF was quite amused, and invited me to award ceremony still going on. The other filmmakers were impressed I had concocted such an elaborate social media campaign!
A slideshow is another style of video, animating still images to music. The [Ken Burns effect] was named after the technique fellow filmmaker Ken Burns used in his documentaries.
In 2010, I worked with the XIV team to address FUD that our competitors were flinging about double drive failures. My blog post [Double Drive Failure Debunked: XIV Two Years Later] set the record straight and put this issue to rest once and for all. XIV sales shot up dramatically after this post went public!
Live-action is what we traditionally think of video of humans, cats and other animals. I did [Enterprise Systems: Storage] for a product launch last year, and [New Redpaper on IBM Smart Storage Cloud] to promote the new ITSO Redpaper.
For this residency, one of the exercises was to make a quick 30-60 second live-action video talking about your thoughts on cloud, when was a good "cloud moment" or vision for the future.
Here Martin Keen (IBM Redbooks Project Leader) is filming Farzad Aidun, IBM Cloud Client Technical Specialist for US Federal. His video is [Cloud: Meet Farzad Aidun].
Here is my video [My Cloud Moment by Tony Pearson], referring to Derek Gottfrid's success at the New York Times using Cloud to convert millions of articles into PDF. You can read the original NYT article [Self-Service, Prorated Supercomputing Fun!]
For some fun, Martin put together a [blooper reel].
What was your "Cloud moment"? When did you realize that Cloud Storage and Cloud Computing was a major driver for business growth? Enter your Cloud moment in the comments below!
technorati tags: IBM, machinima, Second Life, Arizona International Film Festival, AIFF, Ken Burns, Ken Burns Effect, XIV, DDF, Animoto, ITSO, Redbooks, Farzad Aidun, NYT, DerekGottfrid, Martin Keen, Camtasia, Jing
Continuing my coverage of the ITSO Cloud Social Media Residency, day 3 was filled with strategic and technical sessions on private, hybrid and public cloud solutions from IBM.
This blog post is part of a five-part series:
But first, a quick story.
A few years go, I was at the [Venetian hotel in Las Vegas], and took their famous [gondola ride] in a flat-bottom boat along a canal, partly in the hotel, and partly outside.
I asked Vasfi Gucer, our ITSO project leader for this residency, why there were so many Cloud topics on the agenda for this social media training. He explained it was just as important to emphasize "why" people need to be passionate about Cloud, in addition to the "what" and "how" of blogging.
This reminded me of this quote from fellow author Hugh MacLeod. I highly recommend his series of books.
Excerpted from "Ignore Everybody" by Hugh MacLeod of [gapingvoid.com]
"Blogging requires passion and authority. Which leaves out most people."
Vasfi had invited Cloud experts who already have the authority to blog, and the point of this residency is for the residents to become passionate in sharing their expertise.
Here are some of the people that spoke on Cloud:
What did I present on for my "Share your expertise" session? IBM System Storage, of course! Storage is a critical part of Cloud!
So, my gentle readers, what topics do you want me to write about that combines Storage and Cloud? Enter your suggestions in the comments below.
technorati tags: IBM, Las Vegas, Venetian Hotel, gondola, Vasfi Gucer, Hugh MacLeod, Ric Telford, Jane Munn, Michael Fork, Hans Zai, Odilon Junior, SoftLayer, OpenStack, Cloud Foundry, SmartCloud, SAP, Social Business, System Storage, LotusLive