Archive for August, 2008

tech: fun programming quotes

Here is a nice list. Not only do I laugh, but I agree.

tech tips marcelk 20 Aug 2008 No Comments

tech: reliable cloud computing

There have been several articles in the industry press recently about “problems” with cloud computing services, specifically Google, Amazon, Apple, etc. Basically it comes down to outages.

Cloud computing is not a silver bullet, just like anything else is not a silver bullet. The way a lot of people talk about cloud computing, at least the way it is used today, it is just another name for consuming externally hosted services. Consuming externally hosted services will always have these flaws: (1) the Internet is inherently an unreliable network, (2) service providers can have temporary interruptions in their service, (3) service providers can betray the customer in big ways such as compromising sensitive customer data or by going out of business entirely.

So how to deal with these issues? Try the following:

  • create an SLA (service level agreement) with the service provider, so expectations are set with both parties, and the service provider can incur penalties for breach of be encouraged to keep the agreement.
  • have an offline/sync capability for the service so your business process can keep running during a temporary outage of the service provider, and merge non-destructively when they are back up.
  • keep local backups of your cloud data in case the cloud gets corrupted. Usually storage is cheaper than transaction processing to replicate locally.
  • run your piece of the cloud internally, so you maintain control of the infrastructure. In effect, you become part of the cloud, with the only customer being you.

Not every business process is business critical, and all have different risk elements/levels. I use Mozy for backup, keep things in the Google cloud, and others. But I don’t run drop-dead business-critical processes in someone else’s cloud. In the end, you are responsible for your I/T. Cost management and risk management always go together. If you want to reduce the cost by shifting the ownership/management to someone else (the service provider), be prepared for increased risk, or at least the perception of increased risk, because you no longer control the infrastructure for your business process. I/T is still a balancing act.

I think there is more to cloud computing than simply consuming externally hosted services.

tech tips marcelk 14 Aug 2008 No Comments

entertainment: HD Tivo

I just replaced my Tivo Series 2 (standard-def) with a Series 3 HD, and I am pleased on multiple fronts.

First, I paid $199 for the system, including a wireless adapter. There was no tax or shipping cost. This was a discount of around $170, which was offered to me directly from Tivo via email. I’m not sure what I did to become eligible for the discount, other than own a Series 2 for more than 3 years and poke through their web site upon receiving an earlier offer for a $50 discount. The price is great. And since I did a transfer-of-service from my Series 2, I don’t have a minimum commitment period. I’m still on the monthly plan. It’s the best of all worlds. I did have to call Tivo to get the discount and place the order (the discount wasn’t available in the online sotre), and they did check my Tivo service number for the offers/discounts that I was eligible for.

I am unusual in that I get my TV content via an antenna, I don’t have satellite or cable. Yes, my Tivo HD is connected to an antenna, and it does great at receiving digital content. And I’m using only a pair of “rabbit ears” on top of the cabinet, I’ll upgrade to a roof-mount antenna when I run some cable under the house. The Tivo HD has migrated me to terrestrial digital without an external converter box. And it can record two channels simultaneously, something my Series 2 couldn’t do. Even with my old standard-definition TV, the picture quality of all the channels (even the digital standard-def channels) is much improved versus the analog content which had static and ghosting. Even the non-techies in the family like it.

This is a great product at a great price. I wish I could tell you how to become eligible for the same discount I got.

cool stuff that doesn't cost much &entertainment &tech tips marcelk 07 Aug 2008 No Comments

entertainment: good earbuds at a great price

I just got a set of Sennheiser CX300 earbuds. When I originally got my iPod, I ditched the Apple earbuds for some better Sony earbuds. The Apple earbuds are disappointing. But those Sony earbuds recently died after a long life which predated my iPod. Being a bit picky about sound quality (yes, uncompressed cd’s would be ideal on an iPod if memory were unlimited) I decided to try these Sennheiser earbuds. I am pleased!

It appears that the list price is in transition from $89 to $49. But I found them on Amazon for $30, and there are other suppliers that carry them at various discounts.

They sound better and are more comfortable than my old pair of $30 Sony earbuds, and leave the Apple earbuds in the dust. These are a definite step up from the usual consumer earbuds, but are still at a consumer price. They have a sound that I would describe as full, detailed, clear, and pleasant. The box advertises “bass-driven sound” and I do find that the bass is almost too much. On my other earbuds I used to run the iPod EQ as “Bass Booster”, but with the Sennheisers I put the iPod EQ as “Bass Reducer” to keep it flat, or as “Off” if I want the bass to kick. The bass, lack of a tinny sound, and presence is very dependent on a sealing fit. The earbuds come with 3 different sizes of rings for the earbuds for your ear canal. Sometimes on a big yawn an earbud can come unsealed and the bass drops off dramatically. I haven’t tried any strenuous physical activity with them yet, but they fit me well. Because of the seal effect, they do offer good isolation from ambient sound. In fact, my family has taking up to sneaking up on me from behind while I’m listening at my desk because they like to see me jump. One good tip with the asymmetric cord is for the cord section from the split to the right ear to be worn behind your neck – it is less apt to get tangled on something near you. The cord is made of a strange rubber that never wants to get completely unkinked, but that is just a nit.

I definitely like these earbuds, especially at this price point. Read the comments below for some caveats.

cool stuff that doesn't cost much &entertainment &tech tips marcelk 07 Aug 2008 2 Comments