Google and Microsoft to throw their weight behind OpenID

While it is not a slam dunk yet, both Microsoft and Google recently announced plans to act as provider’s for OpenID authentication.  This news means 3rd party sites supporting OpenID can direct their users to a login page on Microsoft or Google; parse the return request to verify their identity, and pull out any profile information such as real name or email supplied by the user.  Illusrated below:

OpenID signin with Google (credit Google Inc.)

OpenID signin with Google (credit Google Inc.)

Yahoo! has been an early addoptor supporting OpenID for a number of months now.  It commissioned some research into the usability aspects of signon using OpenID, demonstrating that users were confused when having to input a URL http://me.yahoo.com/username instead of the more traditional username@yahoo.com.  Users appear comfortable with clicking a specific ‘Sign in with Yahoo’ button, however this won’t scale with the number of OpenID providers available today (popular ones being Yahoo/Google/MS Live/AOL).  

It will be interesting to see how the interface for OpenID pans out; Perhaps a URL derived from an email may be a feasible alternative if all top level domains conformed to pattern eg: “openid.provider.com/username”.

Yahoo continues to dive; roll out products

Despite the fact that many commentators in the bloggosphere consider Yahoo! a train wreck, it still seems to be turning over new products in attempt to compete with the likes of Google.  This week alone included the not-so-impressive and long overdue calendar upgrade.  But more interesting it rolled out its IndexTools aquisition in the form of a free web analytics package to compete head-to-head with Google’s own aquisition Urchin, better known as Google Analytics.  

Although this platform would tie in nicely with its search marketing offering, the timing is unusual given Yahoo! is still negotiating a deal to outsource its search advertising.

Meanwhile Omniture Inc. a leading analytics vendor released Site Search, an intelligent plugin for web sites to enable returning the most relevant search results based on calculated usage data such as ‘best selling’ item.  The results are fed back into SiteCatalyst for further analysis.

MPI.NET library enabling scientific cloud computing

The Message Passing Interface MPI standard to supporting writing software that run across many machines.  It has been used by the scientific community for high performance numerical libraries typically written in C or FORTRAN.

The University of Indiana recently released MPI.NET which requires the Microsoft Computer Server Cluster SDK on Windows 2003, or is naively supported on Windows Server 2008 HPC.

Cloud computing is shifting the way software is developed, so it probably won’t be long before native MPI implementations are supported in respective platforms such as Amazon’s EC2 with python, or naively on Microsoft’s forthcoming clustered offering.

Most software leveraging MPI such as PETSc is programmed in C.  Object oriented libraries have proved popular to programmers, and more recently functional languages such as Microsoft’s new F# (based on OCAML) have taken off as an alternative for mathematical libraries as seen in this blog post by Matthew Podwysocki.