[FoRK] Who Ya Gonna Call? App Busters!

Ken Meltsner meltsner at alum.mit.edu
Fri Jul 17 16:56:00 PDT 2009

Johnnie Walker Blue is high-end; $75 a bottle at the duty-free IIRC.

Ken Meltsner

On 7/17/09, paul <paul at remsset.com> wrote:
> Interesting:
> http://www.cringely.com/2009/07/who-ya-gonna-call-app-busters/
> And without the comments,
> After this week’s Google/Microsoft column appeared in the New York
> Times, I got a message from an old friend, Rohit Khare, that sparked
> some thinking about our vulnerability as individuals when our data is
> held in the cloud — somebody else’s cloud.  How do we save it, get it
> back, destroy it? Given the recent case of Facebook hanging-on to old
> user data essentially forever, this is not just a theoretical concern.
> “’Cancellation on a whim’ is a key insight,” wrote Rohit.  “After all,
> with desktop software you at least had the right to keep using what you
> wanted, as long as you kept the old hardware/software/OS running — I
> know of mission-critical custom apps still running on Win98!”
> “SaaS (Software as a Service) for businesses may have SOME rights, but
> consumer services leave you completely out in the cold, and are
> unavailable afterwards at ANY price.”
> Well Rohit, whom I met when he was an undergraduate at CalTech, who
> later earned a PhD from UC Irvine, and has worked for both the World
> Wide Web Consortium and some startups, ought to know, but I find myself
> wondering if, in fact, we really ARE out of luck when our SaaS vendor
> packs it in?
> Say your favorite web-based application is suddenly unavailable because
> the group that wrote it has disbanded, are you truly SOL, those
> embarrassing pictures of your old girlfriends gone forever?  Today I’d
> say “yes,” unless you’ve made a heroic effort to save the data in some
> database or file system that is unlikely to be compatible with the
> original application. No vendor I am familiar with has created an
> end-of-life (EOL) migration tool, though they certainly could.  What we
> need is an API and I am here to propose one.
> If web- and cloud-based application software is here to stay (it is)
> then there will inevitably be backup and EOL issues as platforms and
> companies die or are acquired.  The best way to handle this in my view
> is for the Internet Archive to propose an Application Programming
> Interface to handle data migration and preservation issues for obsolete
> web applications and services.
> I think there is nothing Brewster Kahle, the Archive’s founder, would
> like better than to preserve for posterity such code and associated data.
> Imagine a social network app that would continue to work after death, at
> least to the extent that members could retrieve (or destroy) their own
> information.
> The problem with this idea, of course, is that this also creates a very
> attractive interface for hackers and thugs.  But I have an answer to
> that, too.  What we need is the digital equivalent of one of those
> envelopes characters sometimes leave in books and movies — an envelope
> inevitably labeled “to be opened in the event of my death.”
> Participating organizations would store compressed and encrypted
> versions of their data with the Internet Archive, where they would be
> held in an inactive state but updated frequently.  Then, in the event of
> that outfit’s death, the digital envelope would be opened, revealing a
> decryption key and enough application code to get a vanilla version of
> the original net app up and running.  It would, as archives are intended
> to do, preserve the final state of the application as well as its final
> data.
> This is going to be a big problem in the future .  I suggest we think
> about it now.
> Meanwhile, back to Rohit, whose new company is called Ångströ.  Two
> obscure punctuation marks in a single name tell me this is a company to
> spelled with. Ångströ apparently creates real time notifications when
> specific data changes in social network applications, creating a kind of
> cross-platform news feed about you or anyone else you happen to be
> stalking.  Cool.
> Everything Rohit is involved with is interesting.  His threaded
> discussion group, Friends of Rohit Khare (FoRK) has been around for more
> than a decade and has long offered some of the most interesting (and
> funniest) examinations of technology news on the Net.  It is now an
> age-restricted group on Yahoo.
> Rohit does everything his own way.  When he was still an undergraduate I
> employed Rohit and his business partner Adam Rifkin as consultants,
> bringing them to Japan to make a presentation to a major client.  The
> trip was L.A. to Tokyo and back but Rohit and Adam parsed the United
> Airlines routes until they found a way to get to Tokyo for the same
> money by going around the world FIRST CLASS, earning quadruple frequent
> flier miles in the process.  The boys arrived on schedule though
> lubricated the entire way with Johnny Walker Blue Label.
> We dried them out a bit and their presentation was boffo.
> -------------
> Johnny Walker Blue?  I've seen Red and Black...
> paul
> --
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