Andrew Cobley

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Andy is a Senior lecturer at the University of Dundee. A web developer since 1994 he is the Program Director for the Data Science MSc.
Amazon data center

Yes sir, no sir, 3 bags NoSQL sir: It's a whizz-bang benchmark ... but WTF does it signify?

Sometimes fast just isn’t fast enough and in the fast moving world of NoSQL databases, what was considered blindingly fast yesterday can be seen as slow today. For instance, Cassandra has always been thought of as a fast solution for ingesting data into a database cluster, but today upcoming systems such as Aerospike and Scylla …
Andrew Cobley, 7 Dec 2017
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Do you Word2Vec? Google's neural-network bookworm

Several years back, the Google "Brain Team" that was behind Tensorflow hatched another novel neural tool: Word2Vec. Word2Vec is a two-layer neural net for processing text. It swallows a given set of text that it then returns as a set of vectors – turning the words into a numerical form that computers can understand. Word2Vec …
Andrew Cobley, 13 Oct 2017
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The hidden horse power driving Machine Learning models

Machine Learning is becoming the only real available method to perform many modern computational tasks in near real time. Machine Vision, speech recognition and natural language processing have all proved difficult to crack without ML techniques. When it comes to hardware, the tasks themselves do not need a great deal of …
Andrew Cobley, 17 Jul 2017
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TensorFlow: I want to like you, but you're tricksy

Hands-on Occasionally a technology comes along that changes the way that people work. Docker has had a profound effect on how applications are deployed in the cloud, Hadoop changed how analysis of big data was done and the R language has disrupted the statistics market. And so to TensorFlow, which emerged from the Machine Learning team …
Andrew Cobley, 12 May 2017
Charlie Chaplin Modern Times

Google Spanner in the NewSQL works?

The commercial release by Google of its Spanner database as a public beta last month came as both a pleasant surprise and a wake-up call: perhaps the end of NoSQL databases is in sight. Spanner represents the pinnacle of the so-called NewSQL movement, which is a rejection of NoSQL values and a return to the old values of SQL, …
Andrew Cobley, 21 Mar 2017
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Dirty data, flogged cores: YES, Microsoft SQL Server R Services has its positives

The R language has enjoyed a great reputation in statistical computing and graphics for decades. However, it is also known as something for statisticians. Born around the time of Java, PHP and Python, R lags behind all three by a long chalk on the TIOBE rankings. Yet Microsoft spotted an opportunity in this era of analytics …
Andrew Cobley, 16 Feb 2017
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Fear of Staxit: What next for ASF's Cassandra as biggest donor cuts back

I've been a user of Cassandra for quite a number of years. I've suggested fixes for Apache Cassandra and – I believe – was the first to build a small cluster on Raspberry Pi computers. This year I was lucky enough to be voted an Apache Cassandra MVP. It's for these reasons that I've been saddened by this year's falling out …
Andrew Cobley, 14 Nov 2016
War Games

Steve Jobs' thermonuclear showdown with Samsung reaches US Supreme Court

Steve Jobs’ “"thermonuclear war"” against Samsung over smartphones has landed in the US Supreme Court. The US's court of courts will hear oral arguments from both sides on Tuesday. The case was launched by Apple five years ago and seeks $399m over claimed iPhone patent infringement by the electronics giant. Samsung has …
Andrew Cobley, 10 Oct 2016
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In Red Hat, Veritas: Firm backs OpenStack convergence play

Red Hat is working with information management firm Veritas on data backup and storage in OpenStack clouds. The duo will work together to delver what they call “predictable” quality of service to OpenStack applications and workloads “regardless of scale”. Veritas will work on integration of the Red Hat OpenStack Platform for …
Andrew Cobley, 14 Sep 2016
Homer Simpson

Data's democratisation: Because there's no doh in Type 0

There has been a slow but steady democratisation of business intelligence (BI) and data science over the years with Excel (and PowerPivot), through introduction of self-service BI and growth of R as the language of choice for statistics. For those from a traditional programming background, Python has become the analytical …
Andrew Cobley, 26 Jul 2016
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Question: What's missing in Microsoft's data science professional degree?

Comment Microsoft grabbed the headlines this week when it announced a Professional Degree Program at its annual partner conference. It starts with data science. Microsoft claims to have consulted data scientists and companies that employ them in order to ensure students the core skills for a job in this extremely hot field of …
Andrew Cobley, 20 Jul 2016
management intelligence

Apache not a loser

Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has turned a projected loss for its most recent fiscal year into a profit [PDF]. The umbrella group for some of the industry’s best known-software projects has turned an estimated loss of $315,000 for the year into a net profit of $122,000. ASF attributed the reversal into taking in more cash …
Andrew Cobley, 6 Jun 2016
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Lost containers tell no tales. Time to worry

Containers are becoming the de facto way of spinning up new services and applications. Many are running on cloud servers which themselves are virtual machines running on bare metal, well... somewhere in the world. For many developers, containers are a way to create hermetically sealed application services. But once started, …
Andrew Cobley, 24 May 2016
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SAP rolls Cloud Foundry HANA Platform beta

SAP has released a beta version of its Hana Cloud Platform for Cloud Foundry. The software giant yesterday released a Cloud Foundry beta service that works on the Pivotal-inspired open-source cloud. Coming with the beta is support for Java, Node.js, HTML5, MongoDB, Redis, PostgresSQL and RabbitMQ. SAP said this would let …
Andrew Cobley, 19 May 2016
The Hollow Crown

How NoSQL graph databases still usurp relational dynasties

Analysis Despite being assaulted from all sides, the relational model for databases is still the king of the hill and it looks like it will not only survive, but thrive as well. NoSQL databases have become increasingly popular and have been offering a number of data and deployment modes that have overcome the limitations – real or …
Andrew Cobley, 29 Mar 2016
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Let's play immutable infrastructure! A game where 'crash and burn' works both ways

If you’ve ever had the misfortune to work as a systems administrator (and it doesn’t matter if it’s a Windows or Linux shop) you’ll know the feeling of logging on on Monday morning, checking a few log files and noticing something’s not quite right. It might be file systems filling up, a spam attack has filled the log …
Andrew Cobley, 8 Feb 2016
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No, Agile does not 'equal' DevOps: Examining complexity and the long haul

Two of the hottest buzzwords in the industry at the moment are DevOps and microservices – both are riding high on the hype cycle and we're starting to see gurus emerge telling us that they will save the IT industry (or at least save the industry a great deal of money). One of the ideas of DevOps is that software deployment …
Andrew Cobley, 14 Jan 2016

Time to worry about container standard's AWOL dates?

Containers are great. Without them, the cost of shipping materials and goods around the world would no doubt be considerably higher. It's economical because intermodal container dimensions are clearly defined by an international set of standards (ISO 668:2013 and ISO 1496-1:2003 if you must know) that allow containers to be …
Andrew Cobley, 11 Jan 2016
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NoSQL: Injection vaccination for a new generation

We are becoming more and more accustomed to reading about losses of online data through malicious hack attacks, accidents, and downright carelessness – it’s almost as if we don’t know how to secure data against the most common forms of attack. Of course, that isn’t really true as best practice, legislation, and education on …
Andrew Cobley, 13 Nov 2015
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Using SQL techniques in NoSQL is OK, right? WRONG

Now that we have CQL for Cassandra and N1QL for Couchbase, it seems the power of SQL is being opened for NoSQL database developers. There is, however, a real danger that developers who see these SQL-like languages as an implementation of SQL are in for a world of pain as they try to leverage their SQL skills on a NoSQL …
Andrew Cobley, 25 Aug 2015

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