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Amazon Announces AWS Challenge Winner

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Amazon Web Services is a series of core infrastructure services that are common to a wide variety of web applications. Here are the most popular services:

  • S3 (Simple Storage Service) provides a web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. In November, Amazon made this service also available in Europe.
  • EC2 (Elastic Computing Cloud) is a web service that provides "resizable compute capacity in the cloud" (i.e. on demand personalized Linux images). Amazon recently opened the beta version to all potential customers and made RedHat Enterprise Linux available on EC2.
  • SQS (Simple Queue Service) offers a reliable, highly scalable hosted queue for storing messages as they travel between computers. With SQS developers can move data between distributed application components performing different tasks, without losing messages or requiring each component to be always available.
  • FPS (Flexible Payment Service) is designed specifically for developers. The set of web services APIs allows the movement of money between any two entities, humans or computers. It is built on top of Amazon's reliable and scalable payment infrastructure.

Brier Dudley, chronicler at the Seattle Times, attended the AWS Challenge:

Candidates were winnowed down to the seven that [presented] to a panel of judges. [The] winner will ... receive $50,000 cash, $50,000 in Amazon Web Services credits and the offer of an investment from Amazon.

The finalists were:

Brainscape is a database for resting state functional connectivity studies that

...aims at mapping the intrinsic functional topography of the brain, evaluating neuroanatomical models, and investigating neurological and psychiatric disease.

Commerce 360 provides paid and organic search marketing services that help with "pay-per-click" marketing campaigns and search engine rankings.'s video portal provides live video streams featuring people, places, and events from around the world. Broadcasters have complete control over the look of their channel page. The interactive chat window allows anyone to chat with other viewers and publishers

The archive system automatically saves all video streams and allows viewers to easily navigate through a channel's history. Viewers can create highlight clips which can be linked to, shared, and embedded anywhere on the Internet for all their friends to see.

MileMeter will offer "auto insurance buy the mile":

Customers will buy miles in advance and renew as needed - without vehicle tracking devices. With MileMeter's insurance by the mile, you only pay for the insurance you need.

MileMeter wants to reward reduced driving with lower insurance costs. They expect to have a positive environmental impact and to make insurance fair, accurate and affordable.

Ooyala : Ooyala is a technology company that delivers the best video experience for all, be they content owners, advertisers or viewers.

In early '07, [the three founders, former Google employees, were] bemoaning the lack of quality video available on the Web. [They] pinpointed the problems with the current delivery modes ... came up with an idea... Ooyala.

Ooyala ... developed a platform that gives content owners control -- marketers accountable video advertising -- and viewers high quality interactive video with non-intrusive advertising.

This platform ... is able to deliver up to HD-quality video over the Web at a fraction of the cost. [The] ad system uses elements of computer vision and machine learning to deliver a targeted advertising experience. : uses the Web 2.0 crowdsourcing model to dramatically drop the price of usability testing. It lets website owners easily get pre-screened users to rapidly do usability testing of their websites.

For $19 (one user tester), provides:

  • A Flash video of a user speaking their thoughts as they browse your website.

  • A written review where that same user tells you what they liked, disliked, and what would have caused them to leave your site.

Jakob Nielsen says that you’ll discover as many as 85% of a site’s problems with five user testers.

WeoGeo is built on a vision to map the world.

WeoGeo creates a one-stop marketplace for mapping. It supplies surveyors, engineers, cartographers, and scientists with the ability to conveniently store, search, and exchange high-resolution CAD and GIS mapping products.

And the winner is...

Ooyala's platform (Backlot). One of the key advantages for content sites is that each video only buffers 30 seconds in advance so customers are not paying for video that is never seen. Sean, one of the founders, explains:

Essentially, what we have done is hybridized progressive, streaming, and p2p delivery to eliminate waste and deliver video with increased efficiency than can be done in a standard streaming or progressive environment.

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