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DB Query Becomes Browseable In Virtual World 82

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the kill-that-query-takes-on-a-whole-new-meaning dept.
Jani Pirkola writes to tell us that Green Phosphor's new project "Glasshouse" allows users to take database queries or spreadsheets and create 3D representations in a virtual world. Man what I wouldn't give to mash my level 80 death knight up with some of the ugly joins I have run across in the past. "Users can see data, and drill into it; re-sort it; explore it interactively - all from within a virtual world. Glasshouse produces graphs which are avatars of the data itself. We've tailored the system for the use of biotech companies, specifically for drug discovery and development. Dr. David Resuehr, a molecular biologist, recently joined Green Phosphor as our Chief Scientist."
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DB Query Becomes Browseable In Virtual World

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  • 3D data graphing over Second-Lifeish CG landscapes. Groundbreaking.
  • by PotatoFarmer (1250696) on Monday March 16, 2009 @05:40PM (#27217429)
    But the real question, of course, is whether or not a teenage hacker girl can successfully use this to navigate your data and fix your TPS reports before the velociraptors eat you all.
    • by maxume (22995)

      In Disclosure, the lead actually uses a 3d filing cabinet system to access some files that he needs (if I remember correctly, the premise was that the virtual system, setup as a demo, let him bypass some physical security).

    • my eyes, my eyes, will you do nothing about the memes?!?!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sukotto (122876)

      Only if it's Unix. She KNOWS that.

    • by magarity (164372)

      I was really suprised there wasn't a new tag: iknowthisitsunix

    • by Moskit (32486)

      It's not, it is Deutsche Bahn query, of course.

    • Or teenage hacker boyz stealin' ur garbage filez. LOL I gotz proof!!!!111!11one!!1!1!

  • I blame CSI for generating interest in these tools. Flashiness at the expense of clarity and efficiency.

    Now, just add an animated avatar removing its sunglasses and we're set.

    • by Seakip18 (1106315) on Monday March 16, 2009 @06:03PM (#27217809) Journal

      [Outside a Miami office building, a quick shot to a broken window several floors up.]
      [Then a cut to the street where Horatio knells over a bloodied monitor, with the attached tower in parts. Delko pokes at the nearby keyboard various instruments]
      D: It looks like a lot of energy was transferred from the keyboard to this monitor.
      H: You can tell by the missing keys on the keyboard, this was an old fashion capacitor driven board...
      D: Well whoever did this did a select * on destruction with both hands.
      [Horatio stands, removing his sun glasses]H: He didn't just go Select *...he committed the changes without a rollback.
      [Intro to the The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again"]

    • by Firehed (942385)

      Flashiness and clarity don't have to be mutually exclusive - and aren't when executed well (which admittedly isn't too often). As for efficiency... the code may or may not be fantastic, but leaving end-users to wander around data visualizations leaves more time for you to do something that's actually important.

    • by arkowitz (1185265)
      LOL those "user interfaces" in CSI are so cheesy - Arkowitz
    • Now, just add an animated avatar removing its sunglasses and we're set.

      "Hi. I'm Ray. Ray Tracer. I surf the net."

      I miss Reboot.

  • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Monday March 16, 2009 @06:11PM (#27217927)
    Remember when Zaphod Beeblebrox fixes things in the galactic accounting system by entering a virtual old-style accounting world? How many other big ideas did DNA get to first? - including his request for the universal power brick.

    More seriously, the point about visualisation of data is well made. How many people who think they are information literate produce incomprehensible spreadsheets and graphs that conceal reality? However, the example on the web page (oil production) is a terrible one - very hard to read, unnecessary wodges of solid color, everything that upsets Tufte. To make a project like this really work, I think they are going to have to concentrate on what to leave out, as much as what to leave in. And silly avatars don't cut it. Learn from Clippy, guys. I am sure that there is a right way to use data to virtual reality 3D modelling, but, and I can't say this too strongly, when marketing demands more color, more widgets and exciting background sound tracks, tell them to go fornicate off. Thousands of data analysts will thank you.

    • when marketing demands {*anything at all*}, tell them to go fornicate off.

      Yeah right. Sounds like a fast way to get "rightsized" where I work.

    • by lennier (44736) on Monday March 16, 2009 @06:39PM (#27218317) Homepage

      "How many people who think they are information literate produce incomprehensible spreadsheets and graphs that conceal reality? "

      You say that as if revealing reality were what corporate reports were about in the first place.

    • Remember when Zaphod Beeblebrox fixes things in the galactic accounting system by entering a virtual old-style accounting world?

      I'm as big a DNA fan as anyone, but you must not be that old. They've been talking about 3D data visualization (and other forms of virtual reality) for about 50 years now.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by StormReaver (59959)

      > How many people who think they are information literate produce incomprehensible spreadsheets and graphs that conceal reality?

      And that is why this "technology" won't displace any current business methods. Producing business data in 3D won't tell you anything more interesting than it will in 2D (with the exception of a few specialized fields which already represent their data in 3D). Anyone unethical enough to intentionally hide business reality in 2D will still unethically hide business reality in 3D

      • by arkowitz (1185265) on Monday March 16, 2009 @09:47PM (#27220357)
        The magic pixie dust is the realtime collaboration. That's why it matters that the data is in the virtual world. Also, I have to respectfully disagree with your assumption that using three dimensions to display data gets you no more understanding than using two. Just the ability to see time, grouping, and magnitude all at once exposes relationships that were not obvious in two dimensions. This is why scientists have been using 3+D visualization for a long time. Why not apply the same techniques to business and to government? Arkowitz
        • It cam be more than that when local frames of reference and their magnitudes along individual axis are considered. In other words X+,X- (same with other axis) with respect to point of local origin can represent different things. Add in other qualities like color, texture, transparency, and even sound (everyone neglects sound) along with positional relationship to other frames as well as time and the information density can be higher than 2D

          The main question for 3D representations are the prevention of infor

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by arkowitz (1185265)
      Tufte unfortunately did not have an actual 3D world in which to experiment. He was stuck on the page. Screenshots are bullshit no matter what you do; 3D requires motion. Try it someday. Arkowitz
    • by Tablizer (95088)

      when marketing demands more color, more widgets and exciting background sound tracks, tell them to go fornicate off.

      Being employed and being right sometimes conflict. In this bad economy, I'll pick the first for now. They want dancing teddy bears, I'll give them dancing teddy bears. Just shower extra long when you get home.
           

  • New excuse (Score:5, Funny)

    by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Monday March 16, 2009 @06:19PM (#27218029)
    No boss, I'm not playing rpg games at work, I'm working on my quarterly sales report
  • What drops?
  • Has someone been watching TRON? "Bring in logic probe!"
  • This is for the CEO of a small bioitech to pitch his shill to the VC, hard to imagine a molecular biologist seeing any need for it...
  • Cathartic (Score:3, Funny)

    by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Monday March 16, 2009 @06:27PM (#27218155)
    Users can see data, and drill into it; re-sort it; explore it interactively - all from within a virtual world.

    Can you shoot at a stock prices chart until it explodes in a huge fireball? Can you chop it up with an axe? Can you take a dump on it? I can see some value in this after all
  • Now just set up a file system that looks like buildings.
  • From the article:
    "First off I believe that visualization of money in/money out could have turned authorities on to the fishy accounting Enron was up to, and caught them earlier. Perhaps better visualization would have revealed Madoffâ(TM)s ponzi scheme as well."

    Hahahahahahaha....hmmm...maybe?...nah!....
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Priceless!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Black Sabbath (118110)

      In a slightly more considered tone I will say this:

      This tool (assuming it has some diagnostic benefits), can be just as easily deployed to mislead as to inform. Anybody that's looked at company reports knows they're full of graphs that for the most part tend from lower left to upper right. "That's good isn't it?"

      • by arkowitz (1185265)
        Yes, garbage in garbage out. There has to be a mechanism to vet data. Let's see, I think in the scientific community it's called peer review... Arkowitz
  • by argent (18001) <<moc.agnorat.6002.todhsals> <ta> <retep>> on Monday March 16, 2009 @07:18PM (#27218769) Homepage Journal

    It works, surprisingly well, but it really needs a richer scripting environment than Second Life provides to really produce good feedback. Also, it would benefit from having the ability to manage and maintain the parameters of the display outside the 3d world, because editing and retyping a database query in "chat" is not pretty.

    • by arkowitz (1185265)
      Try the new beta! There's an applet which runs via Java webstart, and gives you a UI for defining graphs - no more typing commands in chat. Arkowitz
      • by argent (18001)

        Oh good. Instead of a small simple web page with a set of pulldowns, a command line and history, which could be implemented without even involving javascript and would be simple enough to run in a secure browser, they do something that needs JAVA?

        Who came up with that idea? Bergholt Stuttley Johnson?

        • by arkowitz (1185265)
          Look mon. Java is a sweet technology; the java app run through webstart (rather than applet within a browser sandbox [though you can still use the JApplet class :)]) is a great way to write code which can access the local filesystem, open sockets, do all the things a real programmer would want to do. Besides, one needs JRE or JDK 6 anyway to run the lg3d-wonderland application. Come on. Microsoft, whom you may or may not dislike strongly (I worked there in Redmond for a year and I am not a fan), screwed
          • by arkowitz (1185265)
            what? no pro-Java meta-moderatoroators? I should get a 4 on this at least...
          • by argent (18001)

            Besides, one needs JRE or JDK 6 anyway to run the lg3d-wonderland application.

            I have no idea what it's like in Sun's virtual world environment, I looked at it in Second Life.

            Java is a sweet technology; the java app run through webstart (rather than applet within a browser sandbox [though you can still use the JApplet class :)]) is a great way to write code which can access the local filesystem, open sockets, do all the things a real programmer would want to do.

            No thanks, I don't care whether they call it "J

            • by arkowitz (1185265)
              It's not web content. I have no interest in "web content". The program is actually an instance of Glasshouse; it can access an Excel file locally and transmit visualization definitions to, and respond to commands received from, a virtual world through use of a protocol we created called CICP. The web is just a way to launch it. One benefit of this is we don't have to be in the business of storing people's data files. They never get uploaded; the application running on people's local pc's produces the v
              • by argent (18001)

                The web is just a way to launch it.

                Having the ability to launch unsandboxed code directly from the web is inherently insecure. If I am going to run unsandboxed code I'm going to download and install it, explicitly, as a local application. Anything else makes it too easy for "this application is going to install a virus on your computer, OK/CANCEL" type attacks.

                • by arkowitz (1185265)
                  The ability is there, and I'm using it. You know it's weird that I'm having this frustrating argument with a guy who hand-codes his html, optimizes for lynx, and is (or was?) an Amiga user. These are all things I respect, and have in common with you. And hey, even a total hatred of EJB, despite my use of Java.
                  • by argent (18001)

                    The ability is there, and I'm using it.

                    It's people using things like this that turn them from security holes into security tarpits.

                    • by arkowitz (1185265)
                      Are you against people creating any software designed to run locally on a PC, or just programs written in Java?
                    • by argent (18001)

                      I'm against the use of any facility that downloads and runs unsandboxed content directly from a web page, with or without "do you really want to infect your computer" dialogs. If it's going to run outside a sandbox, then the user should explicitly download and explicitly install it.

                    • by arkowitz (1185265)
                      Webstart lets us package everything as an appliance which can be placed behind a customer's firewall and gives their people access to the local piece of the software without requiring installs.

                      Again, the reaon for running locally is so that people can choose what to visualize, whether it be an Excel spreadsheet or a SQL query hitting any JDBC-accessible db, and the server doesn't have to have the data - only the visualization definition.

                      While I could certainly take the same application and require peo
                    • by argent (18001)

                      Webstart lets us package everything as an appliance which can be placed behind a customer's firewall and gives their people access to the local piece of the software without requiring installs.

                      Not precisely. What it does is let you hide the install behind a "security dialog".

                      I spent almost a decade cleaning up after people who clicked the wrong thing in these kinds of dialogs.

                      This isn't a "nice little point about security", this is the biggest security problem I had to face as a system/network admin from 1

                    • by arkowitz (1185265)
                      Would you at least agree that if it is deployed on an appliance sitting behind the firewall, and not public on the Internet, that it is not contributing to the problem?
                    • by argent (18001)

                      "Intranet" use of ActiveX has been frequently mentioned as justification for not killing it, so no. It is not possible to design this technology so it's safe. The closest is Firefox XPI installers, and they're more annoying to sit through than downloading a package and installing it would be. It's not acceptable, whether it's ActiveX, Webstart, Internet-enabled disk images, "Open Safe Files After Downloading", or XPI.

                    • by arkowitz (1185265)
                      What if we deployed it in a boat, with a goat?
                    • I don't think that's part of the solution.

                      In fact, if you put a boat in a goat, pretty soon you're going to have a bunch of precipitate to deal with.

                    • by arkowitz (1185265)
                      Well it seems the only thing you will accept is if it's in a box with a firefox.
                    • by argent (18001)

                      No, no, firefox is part of the precipitate too.

  • These tools.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mewsenews (251487) on Monday March 16, 2009 @07:25PM (#27218841) Homepage

    .. always seem fun and then never seem to go anywhere. Anyone else remember psDooM [sourceforge.net]? Blast away unwanted processes with a shotgun? Sounds great, right?

    Well.. turns out, when you actually want to terminate a process, Windows Task Manager, or ps & kill are vastly more efficient, effective, and obvious tools to do the job.

    • by billstewart (78916) on Monday March 16, 2009 @07:46PM (#27219117) Journal


      You are in a small dusty directory called "$HOME".
      A stairway called ".." leads up and a stairway called "docs" leads down.
      There are files here.
      > throw file "foo" at lineprinter daemon.
      The lineprinter daemon eats your file and belches.
      > Delete file "bar"
      What? With your bare hands?

      Doug Gwyn's Adventure Shell added a layer of Adventure-like syntactic sugar to the regular Bourne Shell. It wasn't terribly useful, but it was fun for 15 minutes, and since it was written in shell, you could hack on it yourself, and everything worked relatively normally.

      If I were using the 3D visual interface, I'd expect my data to be slightly out of focus and to get carried off by pterodactyls if I didn't pay enough attention to everything at once...

  • Isn't that what data warehousing is for, OLAP - Online Analytical Processing? Slicing data into cubes in a multi-dimensional space? Which has only been around for two+ decades?

    • by arkowitz (1185265)
      An OLAP database is the perfect backend for Glasshouse. What OLAP has been missing is a 3D user interface; now it's here.
  • I used neural networks to categorize data first.. read yourself. [cybertechnews.org]

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