dannyman.toldme.com


Politics, Technology

Notes from May, 2019

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2019/06/07/notes-2019-05/

Warren is bursting with what we might call “charisma” in male candidates: She has the folksy demeanor of Joe Biden, the ferocious conviction of Bernie Sanders, the deep intelligence of fellow law professor Barack Obama. But Warren is not a man, and so those traits are framed as liabilities, rather than strengths.

It’s significant that the “I hate you; please respond” line of political sabotage only ever seems to be aimed at women. It’s also revealing that, when all these men talked about how Warren could win them over, their “campaign” advice sounded suspiciously close to makeover tips. In his article, Payne advised Warren to “lose the granny glasses,” “soften the hair,” and employ a professional voice coach to “deepen her voice, which grates on some.”

Warren really is an intellectual, a scholar; moreover, she really is running an exceptionally ideas-focused campaign, regularly turning out detailed and exhaustive policy proposals at a point when most of the other candidates don’t even have policy sections on their websites. What’s galling is the suggestion that this is a bad thing.

The “schoolmarm” stereotype now applied to Warren has always been used to demean educated women. In the Victorian era, we called them “bluestockings” — unmarried, unattractive women who had dared to prioritize intellectual development over finding a man. Educators say that 21st-century girls are still afraid to talk in class because of “sexist bullying” which sends the message that smart girls are unfeminine. Female academics still report being made to feel “unsexual, unattractive, unwomanly, and unnatural.” We can deplore all this as antiquated thinking, but even now, grown men are still demanding that Warren ditch her glasses or “soften” her hair — to work on being prettier so as to make her intelligence less threatening.

Warren is accused, in plain language, of being uppity — a woman who has the bad grace to be smarter than the men around her, without downplaying it to assuage their egos. But running in a presidential race is all about proving that you are smarter than the other guy. By demanding that Warren disguise her exceptional talents, we are asking her to lose. Thankfully, she’s not listening. She is a smart woman, after all.

Sady Doyle, “The Media Gaslighting of 2020’s Most Likable Candidate

On average, cars left 10 inches (29 cm) less room when cyclists were using painted cycle lanes, 12 inches (30cm) less room when there were rows of parked cars along the curbs, and 15.7 inches (40cm) less room when a road had both parked cars along the curb, then a painted cycle lane. (In other words, cars left cyclists the most room on stretches of road with no painted cycle lanes and no parked cars.)

“We know that vehicles driving closely to cyclists increases how unsafe people feel when riding bikes and acts as a strong barrier to increasing cycling participation. Our results demonstrate that a single stripe of white paint does not provide a safe space for people who ride bikes,” said Dr. Ben Beck, lead author of the study.

Jonathan M Gitlin, “Bike Lanes need Physical Protection from Cars”

Over time, my husband and I started to suspect that Sam’s musings on doxxing and other dark arts might not be theoretical. One weekend morning as we were folding laundry in our room, Sam sat on the edge of our bed and instructed us on how to behave if the FBI ever appeared at our door.

Anonymous, “What Happened After My 13-Year-Old Son Joined the Alt-Right”

Mr. Smart Phone sized me up — an elderly, decently-tailored gentleman with a walking cane — and thought I would immediately be on his side. He walked towards me and started to complain about how the gray-haired man and his hippie van were parked overnight on the street.

“Okay,” I said, “but why are you surveilling him?” It was a loaded question for Mr. Smart Phone. He knew “surveillance” was still not totally cool in San Francisco. As he was continuing towards me, his jaw hardened and his eyes grew cold. He said nothing. So I asked him another question, even though I knew it would be even more provocative. Like I said — I’m an idiot. We live in times when even the most everyday altercations can turn deadly. But I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.

“I’m curious — I’ve lived in this neighborhood for a long time and I don’t recognize you,” I said. “How long have YOU lived here?” Since he was applying residency standards to the man in the hippie van, I thought it was a legitimate question. But Mr. Smart Phone didn’t. “Fuck you!” he exploded, just a few feet from my face. Here I was trying to calm things down and they were quickly spiraling out of control.

Just then a neighbor whom I’ll call Maria, whose fluffy little dog often plays with Brando, came to the rescue. “Why are you bothering people with your phone?” she bravely asked the menacing man. “We don’t like that sort of thing in our neighborhood.” And with that show of neighborhood solidarity — that clear expression that Mr. Smart Phone was violating our more tolerant community standards — he sheepishly backed down and walked away.

The hippie van-owner then hurried over to Maria and me and thanked us profusely for our intervention. “This gives me hope about our city,” he said. “You can’t treat people the way this dude was treating me — like I don’t belong here — like I don’t have a right to exist. I’ve lived in San Francisco for 35 years. I was a social worker, but I lost my home. I’m only going to park here for a couple more days, then I’m leaving the city.”

David Talbot, “A hippie van and an annoying smart-phone dude”

The spate of milkshake attacks in the United Kingdom follow on from the story of Australia’s “Egg Boy,” a swoopy-haired teenager who cracked an egg on the back of far-right lawmaker Fraser Anning’s head at a news conference in March. Following the attack, Egg Boy was punched in the face by the senator, as security officials scrambled to control the situation.

Last month, political eggings continued in Australia. Prime Minister Scoo Morrison was hit on the head with an egg – although on this occasion it failed to crack.

In Britain, it is believed that milkshakes have become the preferred weapon of choice as attackers sipping shakes appear far more inconspicuous than bystanders clutching eggs.

Jennifer Hassan, “What is ‘milkshaking?’ Ask the Brits hurling drinks at right-wing candidates”

The trackball was invented 11 years before the mouse, in 1952. It was invented by Tom Cranston and Fred Longstaff as part of a computerized battlefield information system called DATAR, initiated by the Canadian Navy. It used a standard five-pin bowling ball as its trackball, which is smaller than the more common 10-pin bowling ball.

“The History of PC Hardware, in Pictures”
“We need someone that people can see themselves getting a beer with, because drinking beer is one of the most important parts of being a president.”

“Legislators could have done nearly anything to alleviate California’s crippling housing crisis. Instead, they gave us vanity plates.”

Daily Bruin Editorial Board

“And then there is the ever annoying parking in the cycle lane.”

AT LAST! A bit of Dutch infrastructure that sucks in a way that an American can relate to!

I love watching these vehicles but it also makes me frustrated that the most cutting edge American bicycle infrastructure is already obsolete in the Netherlands. :)

In late 2014, Lieutenant Graves said he was back at base in Virginia Beach when he encountered a squadron mate just back from a mission “with a look of shock on his face.”

He said he was stunned to hear the pilot’s words. “I almost hit one of those things,” the pilot told Lieutenant Graves.

The pilot and his wingman were flying in tandem about 100 feet apart over the Atlantic east of Virginia Beach when something flew between them, right past the cockpit. It looked to the pilot, Lieutenant Graves said, like a sphere encasing a cube.

The near miss, he and other pilots interviewed said, angered the squadron, and convinced them that the objects were not part of a classified drone program. Government officials would know fighter pilots were training in the area, they reasoned, and would not send drones to get in the way.

“We have helicopters that can hover,” Lieutenant Graves said. “We have aircraft that can fly at 30,000 feet and right at the surface.” But “combine all that in one vehicle of some type with no jet engine, no exhaust plume.”

Lieutenant Accoin said only that “we’re here to do a job, with excellence, not make up myths.”

New York Times

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Biography, Letters to The Man, News and Reaction, Technical, Technology, Testimonials

FCC Should Expand Competition for Internet Service Providers

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2018/08/29/fcc-should-expand-competition-for-internet-service-providers/

At the behest of my ISP, Sonic, I wrote a letter to the FCC, via https://savecompetition.com/:

Dear FCC,

I am a successful IT professional. I got my start in the 90s, answering phones at an independent ISP and getting folks online with their new modems. This was a great age when folks had a choice of any number of Internet SERVICE Providers who could help them get up and running on AT&T’s local telephone infrastructure.

To this very day, I use the DSL option available from the local Internet Service Provider (Sonic) over AT&T’s wires. I use this despite the fiber optic cable AT&T has hung on the pole in front of my house. Fiber would be so, so much faster, but I’m not going to pay for it until I have a CHOICE of providers, like Sonic, who has always been great about answering the phone and taking care of my Internet SERVICE needs.

Competitive services were the foundation of my career in IT. I believe they were a strong foundation to get Americans online in the first place. Competitive services are, in my opinion, REQUIRED, if you want to get Americans on to modern network technology today.

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Letters to The Man, News and Reaction, Sunnyvale, Technology, Testimonials

On Dockless Electric Scooters, I had the last word

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2018/04/11/on-dockless-electric-scooters-i-had-the-last-word/

On the drive in this morning, I caught Forum’s program on the new dockless electric scooters that have been showing up in San Francisco. This service is a new take on dockless bike share. There is concern that users are riding on sidewalks, menacing pedestrians, and that despite state laws, they aren’t wearing helmets. Also, the scooters are often left blocking up the sidewalks.

The scooter proponent answered that since the scooters are a handy way to save car trips, San Francisco can continue its efforts to convert car lanes to bike lanes, where the scooters could safely scoot apart from pedestrians. That sounds great to me. The helmets, though … as I pulled up to the office, I emailed in a brief opinion. I then hung back from going into the office for a couple of minutes to catch the very end of the show. I’m glad I did. Michael Krazny closed with this:

We’ll leave it there! Well, except for one more comment about helmets that I want to read here, from Daniel, who says: “We should revisit the helmet requirement. Helmet use is a cultural convention. For example, they don’t wear helmets in Amsterdam or Copenhagen, which makes bicycling even easier in those places. It is safer to wear a helmet when riding in a car, yet we wouldn’t expect anyone to wear a helmet as a requirement to ride in a car.”

I think it would be nice to see these scooters in Peninsula suburbs, where we tend to lack good “last mile” transit options, and where there are fewer pedestrians to upset. Rental electric scooters sound like a better option than rental bikes in a lot of cases because they’re cheap to deploy, require less knowledge to ride, and require less storage space. And I suspect that the helmet requirement is probably unworkable.

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Linux, Technical, Technology

Duct Tape Ops

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2017/01/27/duct-tape-ops/

Threading specification, via Wikipedia

Yesterday we tried out Slack’s new thread feature, and were left scratching our heads over the utility of that. Someone mused that Slack might be running out of features to implement, and I recalled Zawinski’s Law:

Every program attempts to expand until it can read mail. Those programs which cannot so expand are replaced by ones which can.

I think this is a tad ironic for Slack, given that some people believe that Slack makes email obsolete and useless. Anyway, I had ended up on Jamie Zawiski’s (jwz) Wikipedia entry and there was this comment about jwz’s law:

Eric Raymond comments that while this law goes against the minimalist philosophy of Unix (a set of “small, sharp tools”), it actually addresses the real need of end users to keep together tools for interrelated tasks, even though for a coder implementation of these tools are clearly independent jobs.

This led to The Duct Tape Programmer, which I’ll excerpt:

Sometimes you’re busy banging out the code, and someone starts rattling on about how if you use multi-threaded COM apartments, your app will be 34% sparklier, and it’s not even that hard, because he’s written a bunch of templates, and all you have to do is multiply-inherit from 17 of his templates, each taking an average of 4 arguments … your eyes are swimming.

And the duct-tape programmer is not afraid to say, “multiple inheritance sucks. Stop it. Just stop.”

You see, everybody else is too afraid of looking stupid … they sheepishly go along with whatever faddish programming craziness has come down from the architecture astronauts who speak at conferences and write books and articles and are so much smarter than us that they don’t realize that the stuff that they’re promoting is too hard for us.

“At the end of the day, ship the fucking thing! It’s great to rewrite your code and make it cleaner and by the third time it’ll actually be pretty. But that’s not the point—you’re not here to write code; you’re here to ship products.”

jwz wrote a response in his blog:

To the extent that he puts me up on a pedestal for merely being practical, that’s a pretty sad indictment of the state of the industry.

In a lot of the commentary surrounding his article elsewhere, I saw all the usual chestnuts being trotted out by people misunderstanding the context of our discussions: A) the incredible time pressure we were under and B) that it was 1994. People always want to get in fights over the specifics like “what’s wrong with templates?” without realizing the historical context. Guess what, you young punks, templates didn’t work in 1994.

As an older tech worker, I have found that I am more “fad resistant” than I was in my younger days. There’s older technology that may not be pretty but I know it works, and there’s new technology that may be shiny, but immature, and will take a lot of effort to get working. As time passes, shiny technology matures and becomes more practical to use.

(I am looking forward to trying “Kubernetes in a Can”)

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Technical, Technology

It Wasn’t That Bad

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2016/12/29/it-wasnt-that-bad/

Friend: Dang it Apple my iPhone upgrade bricked the phone and I had to reinstall from scratch. This is a _really_ bad user experience.

Me: If you can re-install the software, the phone isn’t actually “bricked” …

Friend: I had to do a factory restore through iTunes.

Me: That’s not bricked that’s just extremely awful software.

(Someone else mentions Windows.)

Me: Never had this problem with an Android device. ;)

Friend: With Android phones you are constantly waiting on the carriers or handset makers for updates.

Me: That is why I buy my phones from Google.

Friend: Pixel looks enticing, I still like iPhone better. I am a firm believer that people stick with what they know, and you are unlikely to sway them if it works for them.

Me: Yeah just because you have to reinstall your whole phone from scratch doesn’t make it a bad experience.

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News and Reaction, Technology

Tool for Generating Isochrones: Mapzen Mobility Explorer

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2016/11/24/tool-for-generating-isochrones-mapzen-mobility-explorer/

Via Steve Vance, Mapzen has a new tool, Mobility Explorer, which can generate isochrones for walking, biking, driving, and transit. I have previously used tools provided by Walk Score, but Mapzen seems more accurate, and the transit shed can be calculated based on a time-of-day.

Here is how far you can get on public transit from Sunnyvale at noon on a Wednesday in 15, 30, 45 and 60 minutes.

Here is how far you can get on public transit from Sunnyvale at noon on a Wednesday in 15, 30, 45 and 60 minutes.

The colors on the web site color scheme are not that great. On Steve’s blog you can see he’s generated his own map via an API call.

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FreeBSD, Linux, Python, Technical, Technology

VMs vs Containers

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2016/08/24/vms-vs-containers/

I’ve been a SysAdmin for … since the last millennium. Long enough to see certain fads come and go and come again. There was a time when folks got keen on the advantages of chroot jails, but that time faded, then resurged in the form of containers! All the rage!

My own bias is that bare metal systems and VMs are what I am used to: a Unix SysAdmin knows how to manage systems! The advantages and desire for more contained environments seems to better suit certain types of programmers, and I suspect that the desire for chroot-jail-virtualenv-containers may be a reflection of programming trends.

On the one hand, you’ve got say C and Java … write, compile, deploy. You can statically link C code and put your Java all in a big jar, and then to run it on a server you’ll need say a particular kernel version, or a particular version of Java, and some light scaffolding to configure, start/stop and log. You can just write up a little README and hand that stuff off to the Ops team and they’ll figure out the mysterious stuff like chmod and the production database password. (And the load balancer config..eek!)

On the other hand, if you’re hacking away in an interpreted language: say Python or R, you’ve got a growing wad of dependencies, and eventually you’ll get to a point where you need the older version of one dependency and a bleeding-edge version of another and keeping track of those dependencies and convincing the OS to furnish them all for you … what comes in handy is if you can just wad up a giant tarball of all your stuff and run it in a little “isolated” environment. You don’t really want to get Ops involved because they may laugh at you or run in terror … instead you can just shove the whole thing in a container, run that thing in the cloud, and now without even ever having to understand esoteric stuff like chmod you are now DevOps!

(Woah: Job Security!!)

From my perspective, containers start as a way to deploy software. Nowadays there’s a bunch of scaffolding for containers to be a way to deploy and manage a service stack. I haven’t dealt with either case, and my incumbent philosophy tends to be “well, we already have these other tools” …

Container Architecture (CC: Wikipedia)

Container Architecture is basically just Legos mixed with Minecraft (CC: Wikipedia)

Anyway, as a Service Provider (… I know “DevOps” is meant to get away from that ugly idea that Ops is a service provider …) I figure if containers help us ship the code, we’ll get us some containers, and if we want orchestration capabilities … well, we have what we have now and we can look at bringing up other new stuff if it will serve us better.

ASIDE: One thing that has put me off containers thus far is not so much that they’re reinventing the wheel, so much that I went to a DevOps conference a few years back and it seemed every single talk was about how we have been delivered from the evil sinful ways of physical computers and VMs and the tyranny of package managers and chmod and load balancers and we have found the Good News that we can build this stuff all over in a new image and it will be called Docker or Mesos or Kubernetes but careful the API changed in the last version but have you heard we have a thing called etcd which is a special thing to manage your config files because nobody has ever figured out an effective way to … honestly I don’t know for etcd one way or another: it was just the glazed, fervent stare in the eyes of the guy who was explaining to me the virtues of etcd …

It turns out it is not just me who is a curmudgeonly contrarian: a lot of people are freaked out by the True Believers. But that needn’t keep us from deploying useful tools, and my colleague reports that Kubernetes for containers seems awfully similar to the Ganeti we are already running for VMs, so let us bootstrap some infrastructure and provide some potentially useful services to the development team, shall we?

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Technical, Technology, Testimonials, WordPress

Testimonial: SSLMate

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2016/07/19/testimonial-sslmate/

I recently started using sslmate to manage SSL certificates. SSL is one of those complicated things you deal with rarely so it has historically been a pain in the neck.

But sslmate makes it all easy … you install the sslmate command and can generate, sign, and install certificates from the command-line. You then have to check your email when getting a signed cert to verify … and you’re good.

The certificates auto-renew annually, assuming you click the email. I did this for an important cert yesterday. Another thing you do (sslmate walks you through all these details) is set up a cron.

This morning at 6:25am the cron got run on our servers … with minimal intervention (I had to click a confirmation link on an email yesterday) our web servers are now running on renewed certs …. one less pain in the neck.

So … next time you have to deal with SSL I would say “go to sslmate.com and follow the instructions and you’ll be in a happy place.”

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Linux, News and Reaction, Technology

Ubuntu 16.04 Reactions

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2016/04/21/ubuntu-16-04-reactions/

Xerus: an African ground squirrel.

Xerus: an African ground squirrel. CC: Wikipedia

I have misplaced my coffee mug. I’m glad to hear Ubuntu 16.04 LTS is out. “Codenamed ‘Xenial Xerus'” because computer people don’t already come off as a bunch of space cadets. Anyway, an under-caffeinated curmudgeon’s take:

The Linux kernel has been updated to the 4.4.6 longterm maintenance
release, with the addition of ZFS-on-Linux, a combination of a volume
manager and filesystem which enables efficient snapshots, copy-on-write
cloning, continuous integrity checking against data corruption, automatic
filesystem repair, and data compression.

Ah, ZFS! The last word in filesystems! How very exciting that after a mere decade we have stable support for it on Linux.

There’s a mention of the desktop: updates to LibreOffice and “stability improvements to Unity.” I’m not going to take that bait. No sir.

Ubuntu Server 16.04 LTS includes the Mitaka release of OpenStack, along
with the new 2.0 versions of Juju, LXD, and MAAS to save devops teams
time and headache when deploying distributed applications – whether on
private clouds, public clouds, or on developer laptops.

I honestly don’t know what these do, but my hunch is that they have their own overhead of time and headache. Fortunately, I have semi-automated network install of servers, Ganeti to manage VMs, and Ansible to automate admin stuff, so I can sit on the sidelines for now and hope that by the time I need it, Openstack is mature enough that I can reap its advantages with minimal investment.

Aside: My position on containers is the same position I have on Openstack, though I’m wondering if the containers thing may blow over before full maturity. Every few years some folks get excited about the possibility of reinventing their incumbent systems management paradigms with jails, burn a bunch of time blowing their own minds, then get frustrated with the limitations and go back to the old ways. We’ll see.

Anyway, Ubuntu keeps delivering:

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS introduces a new application format, the ‘snap’, which
can be installed alongside traditional deb packages. These two packaging
formats live quite comfortably next to one another and enable Ubuntu to
maintain its existing processes for development and updates.

YES YES YES YES YES YES YES OH snap OH MY LERD YES IF THERE IS ONE THING WE DESPERATELY NEED IT IS YET ANOTHER WAY TO MANAGE PACKAGES I AM TOTALLY SURE THESE TWO PACKAGING FORMATS WILL LIVE QUITE COMFORTABLY TOGETHER next to the CPANs and the CRANs and the PIPs and the … don’t even ask how the R packages work …

Further research reveals that they’ve replaced Python 2 with Python 3. No mention of that in the email announcement. I’m totally sure this will not yield any weird problems.

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Technical, Technology

Technology Journey Back in Time

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2016/03/24/technology-journey-back-in-time/

It started when Tom Limoncelli shared a link to teens reacting to Windows 95.

In my mind, what is most unfortunate about that setup, is they did not get to experience Dial Up Networking via a modem. I think they would have been truly blown away. Alas, the Internet contains wonders, like this guy getting a 50 year old modem to work:

What could be more amazing than that?  How about this guy, with a 50 year old modem and a teletype, browsing the first web site via the first web browser, by means of a punch tape bookmark?

You’re welcome, nerds!

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Linux, Technical, Technology

Windows 10

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2016/01/02/windows-10/

The other day I figured to browse Best Buy. I spied a 15″ Toshiba laptop, the kind that can pivot the screen 180 degrees into a tablet. With a full sized keyboard. And a 4k screen. And 12GB of RAM. For $1,000. The catch? A non-SSD 1TB hard drive and stock graphics. And … Windows 10.

But it appealed to me because I’ve been thinking I want a computer I can use on the couch. My home workstation is very nice, a desktop with a 4k screen, but it is very much a workstation. Especially because of the 4k screen it is poorly suited to sitting back and browsing … so, I went home, thought on it over dinner, then drove back to the store and bought a toy. (Oh boy! Oh boy!!)

Every few years I flirt with Microsoft stuff — trying to prove that despite the fact I’m a Unix guy I still have an open mind. I almost usually throw up my hands in exasperation after a few weeks. The only time I ever sort of appreciated Microsoft was around the Windows XP days, it was a pretty decent OS managing folders full of pictures. A lot nicer than OS X, anyway.

This time, out of the gate, Windows 10 was a dog. The non-SSD hard drive slowed things down a great deal. Once I got up and running though, it isn’t bad. It took a little getting used to the sluggishness — a combination of my adapting to the trackpad mouse thing and I swear that under load the Windows UI is less responsive than what I’m used to. The 4k stuff works reasonably well … a lot of apps are just transparently pixel-doubled, which isn’t always pretty but it beats squinting. I can flip the thing around into a landscape tablet — which is kind of nice, though, given its size, a bit awkward — for reading. I can tap the screen or pinch around to zoom text. The UI, so far, is back to the good old Windows-and-Icons stuff old-timers like me are used to.

Mind you, I haven’t tried anything as nutty as setting up OpenVPN to auto-launch on user login. Trying to make that happen for one of my users at work on Windows 8 left me twitchy for weeks afterward.

Anyway, a little bit of time will tell .. I have until January 15 to make a return. The use case is web browsing, maybe some gaming, and sorting photos which are synced via Dropbox. This will likely do the trick. As a little bonus, McAfee anti-virus is paid for for the first year!

I did try Ubuntu, though. Despite UEFI and all the secure boot crud, Ubuntu 15.10 managed the install like it was nothing, re-sizing the hard drive and all. No driver issues … touchscreen even worked. Nice! Normally, I hate Unity, but it is okay for a casual computing environment. Unlike Windows 10, though, I can’t three-finger-swipe-up to show all the windows. Windows+W will do that but really … and I couldn’t figure out how to get “middle mouse button” working on the track pad. For me, probably 70% of why I like Unix as an interface is the ease of copy-paste.

But things got really dark when I tried to try KDE and XFCE. Installing either kubuntu-desktop or xubuntu-desktop actually made the computer unusable. The first had a weird package conflict that caused X to just not display at all. I had to boot into safe mode and manually remove the kubuntu dependencies. The XFCE was slightly less traumatic: it just broke all the window managers in weird ways until I again figured out how to manually remove the dependencies.

It is just as easy to pull up a Terminal on Windows 10 or Ubuntu … you hit Start and type “term” but Windows 10 doesn’t come with an SSH client, which is all I really ask. From what I can tell, my old friend PuTTY is still the State of the Art. It is like the 1990s never died.

Ah, and out of the gate, Windows 10 allows you multiple desktops. Looks similar to Mac. I haven’t really played with it but it is a heartening sign.

And the Toshiba is nice. If I return it I think I’ll look for something with a matte screen and maybe actual buttons around the track pad so that if I do Unix it up, I can middle-click. Oh, and maybe an SSD and nicer graphics … but you can always upgrade the hard drive after the fact. I prefer matte screens, and being a touch screen means this thing hoovers up fingerprints faster than you can say chamois.

Maybe I’ll try FreeBSD on the Linux partition. See how a very old friend fares on this new toy. :)

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About Me, Technical, Technology

IT Strategy: Lose the Religion

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2015/10/29/it-strategy-lose-the-religion/

High Scalability asks “What Ideas in IT Must Die?” My own response . . .

I have been loath to embrace containers, especially since I attended a conference that was supposed to be about DevOps but was 90% about all the various projects around Docker and the like. I worked enough with Jails in the past two decades to feel exasperation at the fervent religious belief of the advantages of reinventing an old wheel.

I attended a presentation about Kubernetes yesterday. Kubernetes is an orchestration tool for containers that sounds like a skin condition, but I try to keep an open mind. “Watch how fast I can re-allocate and scale my compute resources!” Well, I can do that more slowly but conveniently enough with my VM and config management tools . . .

. . . but I do see potential utility in that containers could offer a simpler deployment process for my devs.

There was an undercurrent there that Kubernetes is the Great New Religion that Will Unify All the Things. I used to embrace ideas like that, then I got really turned off by thinking like that, and now I know enough to see through the True Beliefs. I could deploy Kubernetes as an offering of my IT “Service Catalog” as a complimentary option versus the bare metal, hadoop clusters, VM, and other services I have to offer. It is not a Winner Take All play, but an option that could improve productivity for some of our application deployment needs.

At the end of the day, as an IT Guy, I need to be a good aggregator, offering my users a range of solutions and helping them adopt more useful tools for their needs. My metrics for success are whether or not my solutions work for my users, whether they further the mission of my enterprise, and whether they are cost-effective, in terms of time and money.

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Technical, Technology

AWS: Glacier Restores Can Get Pricey

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2015/04/08/aws-melt-glaciers-slowly/

I have been working with AWS to automate disaster recovery. Sync data up to S3 buckets (or, sometimes, EBS) and then write Ansible scripts to deploy a bunch of EC2 instances, restore the data, configure the systems.

Restoring data from Glacier is kind of a pain to automate. You have to iterate over the items in a bucket and issue restore requests for each item. But it gets more exciting than that on the billing end: Glacier restores can be crazy expensive!

A few things I learned this week:

1) Amazon Glacier restore fees are based on how quickly you want to restore your data. You can restore up to 5% of your total S3 storage on a given day for free. If you restore more than that they start to charge you and at the end of the month you’re confused by the $,$$$ bill.

2) Amazon Glacier will also charge you money if you delete data that hasn’t been in there for at least three months. If you Glacier something, you will pay to store it for at least three months. So, Glacier your archive data, but for something like a rolling backup, no Glacier.

3) When you get a $,$$$ bill one month because you were naive, file a support request and they can get you some money refunded.

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JIRA, Religion, Technical, Technology

HOWTO: Develop Software Agilely

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2015/03/06/howto-program-agile/

There seems to be some backlash going on against the religion of “Agile Software Development” and it is best summarized by PragDave, reminding us that the “Agile Manifesto” first places “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools” — there are now a lot of Agile Processes and Tools which you can buy in to . . .

He then summarizes how to work agilely:

What to do:

Find out where you are
Take a small step towards your goal
Adjust your understanding based on what you learned
Repeat

How to do it:

When faced with two or more alternatives that deliver roughly the same value, take the path that makes future change easier.

Sounds like sensible advice. I think I’ll print that out and tape it on my display to help me keep focused.

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Sundry, Technical, Technology, Testimonials

Windows 8 Is a Horrible Horrible Operating System

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2014/11/22/windows-8-wtf-microsoft/

I had the worst experience at work today: I had to prepare a computer for a new employee. That’s usually a pretty painless procedure, but this user was to be on Windows, and I had to … well, I had to call it quits after making only mediocre progress. This evening I checked online to make sure I’m not insane. A lot of people hate Windows 8, so I enjoyed clicking through a few reviews online, and then I just had to respond to Badger25’s review of Windows 8.1:

I think you are being way too easy on Windows 8.1 here, or at least insulting to the past. This isn’t a huge step backwards to the pre-Windows era: in DOS you could get things done! This is, if anything, a “Great Leap Forward” in which anything that smells of traditional ways of doing things has been purged in order to strengthen the purity of a failed ideology.

As far as boot speed, I was used to Windows XP booting in under five seconds. That was probably the first incarnation of Windows I enjoyed using. I just started setting up a Windows 8 workstation today for a business user and it is the most infuriatingly obtuse Operating System I have ever, in decades, had to deal with. (I am a Unix admin, so I’ve seen things….) This thing does NOT boot fast, or at least it does not reboot fast, because of all the updates which must be slowly applied.

Oddly enough, it seems that these days, the best computer UIs are offered by Linux distros, and they have weird gaps in usability, then Macs, then … I wouldn’t suggest Windows 8 on anyone except possibly those with physical or mental disabilities. Anyone who is used to DOING THINGS with computers is going to feel like they are using the computer with their head wrapped in a hefty bag. The thing could trigger panic attacks.

Monday is another day. I just hope the new employee doesn’t rage quit.

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