Two Days, Two Compromised Introductions

Posted by: on Feb 21, 2013 | No Comments

Sony PS4: it seems like it’ll be a nice machine, albeit much less unique than the PS3. Console gaming over the last two decades has been amazing, but we’re in the twilight years. (See Wii U.) Mobile is clearly where the business is going and handheld devices are rivaling in terms of power. Sony also completely hosed the intro by holding journos hostage for 140 minutes then offering no price, pictures, or dates. But we did get to see a new DualShock…. so, there’s that.

Google Chromebook Pixel: Not completely sure why this thing exists, other than because it can. It’s gunning for the MacBook Pro, in a way that threatens Apple sales exactly zero.

  1. The non-LTE version is a bit of a mystery as Google’s cloud-based Chrome OS depends on, you know, the cloud and thus internet connectivity.
  2. It costs entirely too much. A 13″ Retina MacBook Pro is only $50 more.
  3. Being a “hybrid” it does neither tablet nor notebook well. It’s too bulky to hold for any extended period of time and the smaller screen and keyboard don’t lend itself well to extended work sessions. Having an i5, battery life is disappointing. A clear compromise that satisfies exactly what?

Rather amazing Google is seldom penalized on the stock market for clear missteps of which I think this probably one. It’s up 13% in the last month. Anyone remember the Nexus Q?

iTunes 11 now lets you know why you should “Encrypt iPhone backup”

Posted by: on Dec 3, 2012 | No Comments

Bugged me for years. iTunes has always allowed you to encrypt your iPhone backup done through iTunes but it never had explanatory text that this was the only way to keep passwords stored with the backup. Otherwise you’d be re-entering passwords like mad after a restore. All of them. Wi-fi, screen lock, mail, etc. etc.

In iTunes 11:

Finally! :-)

 

Massive #FAIL: Gawker is still down.

Posted by: on Nov 2, 2012 | No Comments

So Gawker and it’s family of sites (Jalopnik, Jezebel, io9, Lifehacker, etc) has been down since Monday. This is a site that does between 30-40MM uniques a month. They’ve since shifted to a bunch of tumblr blogs and I even saw a former Gawker writer praise them for monetizing their new tumblr existence with State Farm ads. This is all sorts of crazy and more importantly, it just didn’t need to happen.

(Disclaimer: I don’t work for Gawker, never have had any involvement with them, and have only been following this with some interest because it was so avoidable. Some of my clients were in the direct path of Sandy and while we didn’t experience any downtime, we were prepared.)

Apparently they’re hosted in a data center in downtown Manhattan, which still lacks power, the lower floors flooded, and their pipes might even be cut. BuzzFeed, HuffPo and even Fog Creek all experienced some amount of outage as well, yet it was brief.

Rather obviously, Gawker lacks failover. I’m sure some sort of local redundancy exists, multiple webservers, dB boxes and the like. Maybe even switches. These are more likely in place for load reasons than redundancy given that they’re still down today.

Now, Gawker was hacked back in 2010 which resulted in the release of their source code and database. I’ve not looked at it personally (nor should you ever admit to doing so) but I’ve seen some analysis and it’s a fairly straight-forward set up of PHP and MySQL. This provides some valuable insight. There’s no one-of-a-kind appliances or ornate setups in the mix. It’s basically code + dB, like most sites.

There’s a million mitigation strategies one could use to allow geographic failover without any downtime or data loss. Database clusters, for example. I won’t go into those details here. I’d argue a site as large as Gawker should be using them, but they do increase hosting costs (obviously) but that’d be marginal for the cash-cow that is Gawker. But of course such a plan wasn’t in place. I think it’s rather obvious they didn’t have a fucking clue as even what to do given the days of warnings about what was to happen. The news didn’t overplay this one.

What they should of done (and this is the “they didn’t prepare shit until the skies went grey out the window” scenario):

  • When the shit started getting real, put the site into real-only mode.
  • Dump the DB and anything else associated that might be user/editor-generated content. (Images, for example.)
  • Move the critical data off-site into something safer, say S3.
  • Have EC2 instances (or similar) ready to become your backup webservers and databases boxes. This costs almost nothing if they’re not actively running. They’re simply sitting around as AMIs ready to be launched. (And considering we’re 5 days out, they could of even started from scratch and accomplished this on Monday night.)
  • I believe most of the data centers warned when they were about to go caput, given their generators were flooding. Spin up your backup instances now. (Better yet, move to them before the inevitable happens as everything below 39th is rapidly becoming part of the east river.)
  • Bring your code up to date by pulling from your code repository or using the backup from your primary boxes.
  • Load in the latest dB snapshot.
  • Change IPs to point to the new site.
  • Resume Lohan updates and snark funnel.

So shall we call it incompetence? Probably. That’s completely fair 5 days out. That didn’t bother State Farm apparently but I’d guess advertisers and even employees are wondering why they deal with a place that treats their core product with such lax concern.

Remember Josh Barro is a conservative

Posted by: on Sep 19, 2012 | No Comments

Sane gay Republicans?

Nixeus 27″ S-IPS 2560 x 1440 pixel WQHD Monitor (Same panel as Apple Thunderbolt display for $430)

Posted by: on Sep 18, 2012 | No Comments

I’m on day two with one of these cheap ($430) Korean monitors which feature a LG S-IPS panel inside a less-than-Apple package. Expect updates to these initial impressions.

TL;DR: It’s an awesome monitor. A little annoyance makes up for the savings.

This Nixeus (“Nexus” with an extra vowel? who knows) features the same LG S-IPS panel found in the Apple Thunderbolt display. Allegedly. Not sure how to verify without pulling the thing apart, but my eyes tell me it’s a high-quality display.

I won’t go into why you might want a quality display. If you’re serious about color and accuracy and have a relatively unlimited budget you’re already ignoring this on your EIZO monitor.

So a quick comparo to the Apple Thunderbolt Display:

What it does have:

  • It’s $570 cheaper
  • LG S-IPS panel
  • 8-bit color
  • DVI / DisplayPort / HDMI 1.4
  • Portrait tilting
  • Screws that you need to use to assemble the base to the monitor and finally to the stand. It’s a bit flimsy.

What it doesn’t have:

  • Thunderbolt
  • The ability to charge your MacBook
  • Clean, fancy Apple packaging
  • Accurate color out of the box. You will struggle a bit with this.

A great example of what Apple would never allow: the bezel and screen were protected by sticky plastic wrap, a good thing as it protects the shiny bits during shipping. However, the plastic was applied before final assembly meaning when you peal it off bits were stuck behind the bezel and required some surgical precision to remove. Not fatal, but annoying and tedious.

These monitors have just entered the US on official channels so there’s a bit of a rush on them. Right now, I can’t find them for much under $500 and delivery dates seem a bit hinky.

Here’s where you can grab them with defined delivery dates.

Selling: Canon EF 16-35mm F/2.8 L USM Lens

Posted by: on Aug 27, 2012 | No Comments

Tried to sell this through eBay but of course it’s nothing but a hive of scum and villainy over there and my winning bidder was bogus.

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L USM Lens

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L USM Lens with accessories

 

Here’s my “winning bidder” backing out:

 

In text form:

ebay name: abogloye, email: v_7777@hotmail, “listed” address:

MOHAMMEDSAAD ALTWIM-JED14492
Springfield Gardens
Springfield Gardens NY 11413
United States

Hello
Really shocked when he came Email benefit of winning a commodity
Where I did not enter any auctions and the reason
The use of children and tampering with my computer
You apologized strongly and I hope the withdrawal of Bid that have not done
With all appreciation

eBay never changes. Of course my options to report this loser are nil until after 4 days of trying to “collect payment” which will never come. Some will tell me it’s my responsibility to stay on top of the auction and cancel bogus bidders (0 feedback) and what not but eBay has never made any serious efforts to clean up the sea of fuckery that flows over it on a daily basis. They ran the numbers and it just didn’t jive.

Remember when former eBay CEO Meg Whitman ran for Governor of California? That was fun. Now she’s slashing and burning Hewlett-Packard in an attempt to eek out a few quarters of shareholder profit before she throws a once great company into the dustbin of history. We should be thankful she didn’t get ahold of the state.

I digressed.

If you want a great, barely used, fantastically beautiful Canon L lens shoot me a note. It’s fairly unmolested, I tend to keep longer zooms attached to my camera and it’s just not seen much use.

Date code  UU0717. (That means it was built in 2006)

Some thoughts on the Nexus 7

Posted by: on Jul 19, 2012 | No Comments

In no particular order:

  • At $200, it’s a steal.
  • On a 8GB model, you get about 5 1/2 of “free” space left when you receive the device.
  • Out of the box, it’s tightly integrated with Google’s services and Google Play. You have no obligation to use them.
  • If you have a problem with the big Goog, remember they loose money every time you buy one. (More so on the 16GB model, the price difference between the 16GB and 32GB in raw parts is only ~$5)
  • Do not expect iPad Retina crispness, but the display is bright, vibrant and holds up well in bright ambient sunlight. (I’ve not tested in direct sunlight, tablets don’t tend to like that as they quickly absorb heat anyway.)
  • Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean” is the best yet.
  • Scrolling/swiping still doesn’t come close to iOS’s buttery smoothness. I’m not sure why Android can’t get this right.
  • The mix of a “welcome” screen (when you first swipe to unlock), various widget pages and navigation to get to apps will still confuse the uninitiated. Not so much that people won’t find what they’re looking for, but there will be many who only know “Oh, I unlock, then I this screen (that I don’t want) and then click this button to get to my stuff.”
  • Almost nothing orients to portrait. Some apps force it for necessity, such as Netflix.
  • Annoyance: The soft keyboard does not pop in all cases when text input is expected.
  • Annoyance: If I sleep the device, then click it back on, it doesn’t return to the app I was in but rather Google’s “cards,” which while neat, I would really like to turn off save a home screen widget.

 

Jelly Bean’s assistant: Google Now

Posted by: on Jun 27, 2012 | No Comments

This sounds neat:

  • When a user is located at a bus or train station, a Google Now public transportation card will appear that says when the next buses and trains are arriving.
  • As a user walks down the street in a new place, Google Now will suggest points of interest.
  • Once a user searches for a flight, Google Now creates a card for it that is updated with flight status and delays.
  • Google will also determine what sports team a user is most interested in, based on search history, and show a card of scores and upcoming games.
  • There are also cards for travel, translation, etc.

Definitely this is the wave of current “it” apps such as Waze and Cue, and even Siri to some extent. It’s a drain on the battery, but that’s technical and can be solved. It raises all sorts of privacy concerns — imagine your phone beaming out location data constantly to a dozen different companies.

But the real problem is the annoyance factor: your phone never shutting up with coupons for Subway, spas, and offers to test drive Hondas. It’s going to be tough to balance and get the noise level manageable. Many will just shut them off entirely if annoyed even once.

Apple provides decent controls over Notification Center, we’ll see how well Google does it considering that to them this is just another platform from which to beam shitty ads to your eyeballs.

Mac Pro Smash

Posted by: on Jun 11, 2012 | No Comments

20120611-153549.jpg

A lot of us were waiting for a Mac Pro update today, and we got one. Sort of.

It’s the same Mac Pro sold two years ago. Sure, there’s a speed bump, and someone will spend 8 seconds throwing an SSD in one of the drive bays, but everything about it is two years old.

  • Xeons? The same as two years ago, albeit at a higher clock speed.
  • Radeon 5770 and 5870? Same as Mac Pro 2010.
  • 1333 MHz Memory? Same as Mac Pro 2010.

There is no USB 3 or Thunderbolt, the latter having been on other Macs for over a year now. And USB 3 was added to the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro today. (And yes, the iMac will get it during the next refresh.)

I’m not even sure why Apple bothered. They probably did more damage with this lazy, disappointing update than by doing nothing at all.

And yes, I’m gonna say it: Steve wouldn’t of allowed this shitty rehash.

I think it’s safe to say we’ve seen the last Mac Pro.

Other World Computing Accelsior PCIe SSD

Posted by: on May 30, 2012 | No Comments

I installed two 240GB versions of these in a stripe inside my 12-core 2010 Mac Pro. (The PCIe cards feature removable NAND memory in two sticks each, themselves in an “on card” RAID stripe, but we’re getting into the weeds. If you install two, just RAID them like you would anything else in Disk Utility. They show as a single drive per Accelsior.)

I was using an SSD previously as a boot/applications drive, this afforded me a bit more space so most of my User folder got moved over there as well. The system was never slow, the previous SSD sitting in the empty optical bay and the HDD bays filled with WD Caviar Black drives striped together for speed.

It’s fast vs. impossibly fast at this point.

To back up a moment, SSD’s are computing crack. Once you experience one, you will never go back. It’s not even so much the speed as the complete lack of latency that’s addictive — stuff just “pops.” Instantly. I’ve outfitted everything possible with an SSD at this point now that the prices are a bit more reasonable and given space. But you can’t replace your 3TB Green drive with an SSD, so planning is needed. Topic for another day.

Performance-wise, here’s what the two PCIe drives are pushing. To put that in perspective, that’s about 3x what the previous single SSD was doing. It’s that fast.

More later.

OWC 2x 240GB Accelsior in Mac Pro

OWC 2x 240GB Accelsior in Mac Pro