Archive for April 22, 2010

10 Best Software Tools To Conduct Root Cause Analysis and Solve Complex Problems

Root cause analysis (RCA) is a structured evaluation method that is conducted to identify the root causes for a problem or a undesired outcome.

The resulting actions are adequate to prevent recurrence of the problem. A Root Cause Analysis helps to determine what happened, how it happened, and why it happened. Here there are many techniques like 5 Whys, Fault Tree analysis etc. there are few software tools that guide you through the process of performing a RCA. While there is intelligence needed to do a RCA, these software tools are designed so well that it can intelligently guide you through the process and determine the cause. Another advantage of using a software tool to do a RCA is that it would be a independent assessment of the problem was it is machine driven.

RCA

Image Source : http://www.rootcause.com

Recommended Reading:

Here in this post we have reviewed 10 best software that help you perform and document an RCA-based Corrective Action.

1. REASON Root Cause Analysis Software

The REASON Root Cause Analysis Software is designed for organizations that have commitment to operations excellence.  It is an expert system software that guides you to uncover the root causes of your operations problems, enables you to manage and track your corrective action plans and communicates the lessons learned from your problem solving activities. It aims to preserve and communicate the knowledge learned from identifying and correcting the root causes of their problems.

More info here.

2. TapRooT Software

TapRooT software was once was just a great root cause analysis tool and is now an Investigation Management System. It provides tools to manage  from reporting of an incident to validating the effectiveness of corrective actions. You  can use one the software to report incidents, analyze root causes, develop corrective actions, write and approve reports, track fixes, validate the effectiveness of the fixes, and trend performance in a secure, password protected environment. TapRooT Software is unique, advanced and it has been patented.

More info here.

3. NASA Root Cause Analysis Tool (RCAT) Software

The NASA Root Cause Analysis Tool (RCAT) is designed to facilitate the analysis of anomalies, close calls, and accidents and the identification of appropriate corrective actions to prevent recurrence. The RCAT software provides a quick, easy, accurate, and repeatable method to perform and document root cause analysis, identify corrective actions, perform trending, and generate data usable in precursor analysis and probabilistic risk assessment.

If you are interested in your company receiving a copy of the software, you could complete the online form by providing the required information and request for a copy of the software.

More info here.

4. XFRACAS

ReliaSoft’s XFRACAS software tool is a Web-based, closed-loop, enterprise-wide incident reporting / failure reporting, data analysis and corrective action software system. The XFRACAS software provides all of the tools that any organization will need to troubleshoot issues as they occur in the lab or in the field, capture the data required for important reliability, quality, safety and other analyses, work as a team to resolve underlying problems and build a “knowledge base” of lessons learned that will be instrumental to future troubleshooting and development efforts.

More info here.

5. PathMaker

Pathmaker helps you to systematically improve quality, solve problems, execute projects, and design innovative products and services. It has tools to brainstorm together, create flowchart together,, create charts and graphs together, Analyze problems, track progress and indicators, think of solutions and accelerate your projects.

More info here.

6. RealityCharting

RealityCharting is a powerful, user-friendly software solution created to help people better understand their problems and identify effective solutions that prevent recurrence. Whether you are a professional incident investigator, facilitator or just one of many interested parties, RealityCharting will help you understand and document your problem better than you ever have before. A Wizard window guides the new or occasional user through the rules of the Apollo method and leads them towards completion of a Realitychart. Creating a Realitychart is accomplished in an iterative five-step process integrally connected to implementation of the Apollo RCA process.

More info here.

7. Solve

Solve makes the root cause analysis very simple as the software is is designed to be extremely easy to use. The software helps you to build the Root Cause Tree directly on the screen and analyze all elements in a Path to Failure in one simple view. It lets you examine the entire Root Cause Tree in the Overview screen and instantly see the big picture to come up with relevant actions to address the cause.

More info here.

8. Tripod Beta

Tripod Beta is a systematic and structured process of incident investigation and analysis. It makes unknowns and uncertainties visible during the investigation and provides insight into the effectiveness of control mechanisms, latent failures and lists the remedial actions to achieve sustainable improvement. It generates a Tripod Beta tree that is a graphical representation of the investigated incident. The tree is easy to interpret and is a powerful tool for presenting and communicating the investigation results.

More info here.

9. PROACT

The PROACT® RCA Enterprise Suite enables your organization the ability to collaborate on and share root cause analysis data with your investigation team and management personnel within your facilities worldwide. Build fact driven logic trees, import/export numerous file types, organize analysis data, and customize automatically generated analysis reports then print and share.

More info here.

10. Investigation Catalyst

Investigation Catalyst is a new genre of self-directing, collaborative investigation support software for documenting, understanding, analyzing and improving phenomena and processes of all kinds of problems faster and better.  It is process design, investigation and improvement support software, developed to support the management and conduct of process development, hazard analyses, accident and incident investigations and analyses, investigation report quality assurance, and change management tasks.

More info here.

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NoSQL For Dummies – Rise Of Non Relational Database Engines

Apache has recently released Cassandra 0.6 – Large Scale distributed database system formerly maintained by Facebook but currently supported by Apache foundation. Cassandra is popular, which is being used by biggies like Rackspace, Twitter, Digg etc. Is this a threat to MySQL and the like? Cassandra now comes with built-in support for Hadoop (The Apache Hadoop project develops open-source software for reliable, scalable, distributed computing) image

What is NoSQL?

NoSQL (NoREL or Not Only SQL, it is misleading) Movement is catching up and is on the rise to become the most popular emerging next generation database concept in 2010. NoSQL is nothing but rapidly evolving new breed of databases that are clashing with the hoard of traditional relational database systems like MySQL, MS SQL, PostgreSQL etc; they are

  • Non Relational
  • Distributed, Large Scale Databases
  • Horizontally Scalable (More nodes/servers)
  • Open Source
  • Schema Free
  • Eventually Consistent (BASE – Basically Available, Soft state, Eventual consistency)
  • Easy Replication Support
  • Simple API support

Why Non Relational, Distributed Databases?

Relational Database Systems have been around for a while powering many giant e-commerce websites etc. The essence of relational database is non redundancy relations and non redundancy is desired. Database tables are designed in such a way that redundant data is minimized (Normalization). But, this actually becomes a problem for huge database as we need to maintain data redundancy across servers, nodes etc. So, it is not possible to have efficient redundancy and parallelism in relational database systems (at least not trivial). This leads to single point of failure.

image

So, for huge databases running into multiple terabytes, relational database is not good. This is the reason, why Amazon, Google, Facebook started working on Non relational databases. In Distributed databases, information is distributed in a redundant manner across ring of identical computers/nodes or servers. Data will be queried with  key map. This reduces the risk of single point of failure. Data is redundant and stripped across nodes. So changes in one place, eventually will be propagated (asynchronous) to other nodes, thus the name Eventually Consistent.

image

Notable Proprietary implementation of NoSQL

  • Amazon’s Dynamo – Distributed storage system, unlike relational database system, it does not break data in to tables. Instead all objects are stored and looked up via a key map.
  • Google’s BigTable – BigTable is a compressed, high performance database built on Google proprietary platform. BigTable is an extremely large DBMS capable of handling several thousands servers, nodes with several petabytes range of database size.

Notable Open Source implementation of NoSQL

  • Apache’s Cassandra – The Apache Cassandra Project develops a highly scalable second-generation distributed database, bringing together  Dynamo’s fully distributed design and Bigtable’s  ColumnFamily-based data model.
  • HBase – HBase is the Hadoop database. Use it when you need random, real-time read/write access to your Big Data. This project’s goal is the hosting of very large tables — billions of rows X millions of columns — atop clusters of commodity hardware.
  • Hypertable – Hypertable is an open source project based on published best practices in solving large-scale data-intensive tasks. It tries to bring the benefits of new levels of both performance and scale to many data-driven businesses who are currently limited by previous-generation platforms.

However, it should be noted that all the technology discussed here applies to very large scale database systems. Our usual small scale web systems still continue to use RDMS like MySQL. It is more than sufficient to handle couple GBs of data and non distributed environment.

Via [ReadWriteWeb] and other sources

A Brief History Of Point-In-Time Backup and Recovery

Backing up data sounds like a fairly easy process. But anyone who’s ever had to shop around for backup software has probably been surprised by the wide range of features and methodologies offered by different providers.

In order to get a better understanding of how modern backup solutions work, you’ll need to go back in time and review the evolution of data protection. image

In the early days of computing, backing up was relatively simple. Just copy all of the data to a secondary storage device (usually tape, because it was cheap) then truck it off-site.

Of course, as technology evolved, so did the threats that businesses had to face. Soon, companies needed to worry about things like corrupted data, overwritten files and viruses. Obviously, if you copy invalid data to your backups, then you also make it impossible to restore.

Another major threat came from the fact that tape backups would sometimes fail during the recovery process, causing the business to lose all of its data.

In order to fix this, they had to start protecting their files using a rotating series of “grandfather” backups. Every day, for 7 days, they would use a new tape to perform the backups. Then, after 7 days, they record the latest backup over the oldest version. After this, they just keep rotating the tapes.

In the event of data corruption or backup failure, this allowed them to go back in time up to 7 days and recover their critical business data. Today, these are more commonly known as “point-in-time versions”.

But this approach also had its limitations. As computers began to produce more data, backups would also start to take longer. In some cases, the time required to back up would exceed the time between the company’s closing and opening hours.

Also, much of this work was redundant. On any given day, less than 1% of the total data might have changed, yet all of the unchanged files still needed to be copied.

That’s when software companies began offering backup systems with “incremental” backup policies.

With these systems, the IT manager would only perform a single full backup once a month, and then they would only copy the files that had changed since that monthly master copy.

If you ever needed to recover, you would simply load the master backup from the beginning of the month, and combine it with the latest changes from the incremental backups.

As companies got access to faster and more reliable network connections, many began to see this as an opportunity to backup up their data remotely. Instead of paying 5 employees to back up 5 different offices, a single IT administrator could protect all of the remote sites from a single server.

But once again, size became a problem.

Although these incremental uploads were smaller than the full daily backups of the past, they could still sometimes cause the network to slow down during transfer. And the monthly full backups were simply too large to even contemplate sending over a network connection.

Once again, new technologies were developed to solve these 2 problems.

In order to eliminate the need for full monthly uploads, backup companies found new ways to artificially “recompile” the original full version using software. This way, you’d only ever need to perform a single full backup when you first install the software. This is often called “incremental forever” technology, since you’ll never need to perform the full backup again.

And in order to further minimize the size of the incremental uploads, backup companies found a way to analyze individual files and isolate only the changed portion of each file.

For example: If you’d changed a single slide in a PowerPoint presentation, it would only upload that one slide instead of the entire file.

These were called “block-level” incremental uploads.

Without all of these innovative technologies working together, businesses would not be able to safely operate at the rapid pace that they do today… and critical data loss incidents would certainly be an everyday occurrence.

Consider that a typical business user today might have about 5GB of critical business data on their local hard drive. In order to get 30 days worth of protection using a traditional backup methodology, they would have to copy over 150GB of data EACH MONTH!

But thanks to new developments such as “incremental forever” and “block-level” backups, you would only need to generate about 0.5GB to get the same result. That’s the equivalent of 2 or 3 few YouTube videos per day.

A Guest Post by Storagepipe Solutions

Storagepipe Solutions has been an innovating pioneer in the online backup and backup software industry since 2001.

10 Terrific Free Massively Multiplayer Online Games

Why play alone when you can play with hundreds and thousands of players online and compete with each other. Massively Multiplayer Online Game and those class of games that are capable of supporting hundreds or thousands of players simultaneously. They are usually played on internet and provides at least one virtual world.  They are many massively multiplayer online games that run on a non-profit basis and provide terrific entertainment to the gamers without requiring any payments.

Recommended Reading:

Here in this post we look at 10 massively multiplayer online games that are free for the players

1. Allegiance

Allegiance is a multiplayer online that was initially developed by Microsoft Research and was later released under a shared source license in 2004. Now it is maintained and developed by volunteers. The game provides a mix of real-time strategy and player piloted space combat gameplay.

Allegiance

More info here.

2. SubSpace

SubSpace is a two-dimensional space shooter computer game published in 1997. It incorporates quasi-realistic zero-friction physics into a massively multiplayer online game. It was a finalist for the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Online Game of the Year Award in 1998. SubSpace utilizes client-server architecture and both the client and server were provided by Virgin Interactive Entertainment initially. Then the client executable was titled SubSpace nut a new client, titled Continuum is available that was created by players PriitK and Mr Ekted. The server is now a small Subspace Server.

 continuum

More info here.

3. Infantry

Infantry Online is an isometric perspective multiplayer combat video game with sprite animation graphics. The graphics are provided using complex soldier, ground vehicle and space-ship models on a complex terrains. It lets players to choose from a list of game zones to enter and each zone has a unique style of gameplay. It offers a wide diversity of weapons, player classes and objectives.

infantry

More info here.

4. Gekkeiju

Gekkeiju is a 3D Massive Multiplayer Online Role Play Game developed by a Finnish indie software company call Coolhouse. It add in anime-style characters into a medieval fantasy world. The game’s character options consist of nine playable character races : humans, elves, halflings, half-giants, dwarves, wild elves, dark elves, goblins and catfolk. Each of the races come with with their own advantages and disadvantages. Its fun as it provides options to change the race during play, through reincarnation

gekkeiju

More info here.

5. Astro Battle

Astro Battle is a science fiction Multi-directional shooter game that focuses on players designing star fighters to fight against other players’ ships in an overhead melee. The game is developed and published by Lava Lord Games for Microsoft Windows and Linux. The objective of Astro Battle is to destroy other player’s ships in multi-player online matches.

astrobattle

More info here.

6. Crossfire

Crossfire is a free and open source cross platform multiplayer online computer role-playing game that features a tile based graphic system with a pseudo-isometric perspective. It lets any number of players to connect and play on the public servers, finding and using items and battling monsters. They can choose to cooperate or compete in the same world which includes both static and randomly generated content. It is a client and server based game with the ability to be played over the Internet, on a local network setting, or on a single computer setup.

Crossfire

More info here.

7. Terra: Battle for the Outland

Back in 1996, Kaon interactive introduced one of the internet’s original Massive multiplayers online role-playing game was Terra. Terra is a virtual world played from the first-person perspective with one of several vehicles. The game has some role-playing aspects to it as each player makes a character whose statistics are tracked continuously.  Terra is one of the few on-line games still playable by older computers and modems. In battle areas, where there is heavy vehicle traffic and weapons fire, the slowdowns are apparent but the game is still playable.

terra-_battle_for_the_outland

More info here.

8. Urban Dead

Urban Dead is a Free HTML/text-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game created by Kevan Davis. It lets the players to enter the game either as a survivor or a zombie, each with different abilities and limitations. Survivors become zombies when they are killed. There are no non-player characters in the game: all survivors and zombies are controlled by players.

Urban_dead

More info here.

9. Underlight

Underlight is a fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game that focuses on character development and interaction rather than combat or items. The game has enforced ‘in-character’ roleplaying and gives players the power to teach skills to other players. It has player-driven monsters and allows higher powered players to gain experience from subordinates.

Underlight

More info here.

10. IVAO – International Virtual Aviation Organization

IVAO provides flight-simulation enthusiasts with a network that allows them to either fly online with other people as pilots, or direct virtual air traffic as air traffic controllers. It has its own software for air traffic controller called "IvAC. The flight simulation requires that a flight-simulation program such as Microsoft Flight Simulator or X-Plane installed on the local computer. This flight-simulation program uses internet to communicate with the IVAO servers network using the free IVAO software IVAP (X-IVAP for X-Plane).

Ivao

More info here

10 Free Tools to Compose Your Own Music

For music lovers it also fun to create your own music by editing and mixing. The digital audio applications on computers provide an easy way to record, edit and compose your own music. Some of them provide advanced features like mixing multiple sound sources/tracks, combining them at various volume levels and add some simple and advanced sound effects. These tools give freedom to try your creativity and compose your own tracks.

Recommended Reading:

music-composer

Here in this post we review 10 free software and digital audio editors that are either free or free open source available to unleash your creativity and compose your own music.

1. LMMS – Linux MultiMedia Studio

LMMS is a free cross-platform alternative to commercial programs like FL Studio®, which allow you to produce music with your computer. This includes the creation of melodies and beats, the synthesis and mixing of sounds, and arranging of samples. You can have fun with your MIDI-keyboard and much more; all in a user-friendly and modern interface. It supports Windows, Mac and Linux.

lmms

More info here.

2. Audacity

Audacity is a free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, and Linux. With Audacity, you can Record live audio, Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs, Edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WAV or AIFF sound files, Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together and Change the speed or pitch of a recording.

audacity-macosx

More info here.

3. Jokosher

Jokosher is a simple and powerful multi-track studio. Jokosher provides a complete application for recording, editing, mixing and exporting audio, and has been specifically designed with usability in mind.

jokosher

More info here.

4. Rosegarden

Rosegarden is a well-rounded audio and MIDI sequencer, score editor, and general-purpose music composition and editing environment. Rosegarden is an easy-to-learn, attractive application that runs on Linux, ideal for composers, musicians, music students, and small studio or home recording environments.

rosegarden

More info here.

5. Ardour

Ardour is a free software that is a hard disk recorder and digital audio workstation application that runs on Linux, Mac OS X and FreeBSD. It provides the ability to record, mix, edit and collaborate.

Ardour

More info here.

6. Free Audio Editor (FAE)

Free Audio Editor lets you to edit audio files visually, record audio from a microphone or any other available input device, apply various effects, burn audio CDs from MP3, WMA, WAV, and OGG. It has a powerful audio recording feature that lets you to edit audio files visually and apply various effects easily.

FAE

More info here.

7. KRISTAL Audio Engine ( KRISTAL or KAE)

KRISTAL Audio Engine is a digital audio editor, multi-track recorder and sound mixer. It operates on Windows compatible PCs and is capable of managing up to 16 separate channels of audio.

KRISTAL

More info here.

8. Frinika

Frinika is a free complete music workstation software containing sequencer, midi support, soft synthesizers, audio recorder, piano roll/tracker/notation editing and more. The goal of Frinika is to be a complete platform for making music with your computer, using the versatile Java platform to be able to run on several operating systems, and being open source to be able to embrace the best open source technology being available at any time. 

Frinika

More info here.

9. Qtractor

Qtractor is an Audio/MIDI multi-track sequencer application that runs on Linux. It has the Jack Audio Connection Kit (JACK) for audio, and the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA) for MIDI as the the main infrastructures for Linux desktop audio workstation GUI specially dedicated to the personal home-studio. Qtractor is free and  open-source software.

qtractor

More info here.

10. Myna

Myna is a free online sound editor. Myna let you to to remix music tracks and audio clips. You can apply sound effects and record your own voice or instruments.

myna_screen

More info here.

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