Category Archives: computer

What are Teh Klowd? (IOW, What is the cloud?)

The cloud.

A nebulous frontier.

I tried to imagine the data.  What did it look like?  Were the collections like cumulus clouds?  Were the users like sky-divers?  Or were they hapless passengers thrown out the door, free-falling to their demise…

All apologies to Tron: Legacy there.  But I think my parody sums up the wacky vision promoted by so many sales people and executive-level mumbo-jumbo speakers.  They don’t know what it is.  They talk about it like is a the next best thing, but I haven’t yet heard a sales, technical, or architecture person describe it in a way that makes real sense — something that makes it more than just a big blob of storage “out there” that can be used for “lost of cool stuff”.

Then I read this post by Lee Dallas.  Nail, on, the, head … man.  Perfect.  This is what the cloud brings:  data + context, permitting you to use any device to access the same data and have awareness.  Whether it is a book, a paused movie, a spreadsheet, or whatever.  The next step, of course, is full-blown programs that allow you to disconnect and reconnect to their instances from any device.

That makes it sound cool, in a tangible way … in a way that I understand and can explain to others.

I could go off about privacy concerns, but for now I’ll let this serve as a lengthy pointer to Lee’s post which is such a nice explanation of what “the cloud” means.

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Yes, a day late.  Because I’m not going to talk like that kind of pirate, and I’m going to break my “non-controversial” seal a little bit.  This is going to be about piracy through technology.

Sometimes I marvel at the various technologies we have and the ability to receive entertainment through a variety of channels.  I can watch television shows, movies, and other videos on my phone, computer, or television via DVD, Blu-Ray, streaming video from my cable provider or from the Internet.  However, various and frustrating barriers remain preventing this from being easier, more convenient, diverse, and overall, practically useful.

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Synergy Plus

I feel very behind the times.  One of my favorite tools has not been maintained for years.  BUT, there is a fork of it that is maintained:

Even with a KVM, this additional tool is great.  I have a dual-monitor setup where one monitor is on a KVM.  The second monitor on my desktop system and my laptop screen are dedicated to those systems.  With the KVM I can make either desktop bigger, but since I spend most of my time with my laptop (for work), Synergy+ lets me quickly drift over to my desktop and deal with anything displaying on the secondary screen (IRC, music, etc.).

File Recovery with Ubuntu

Today I found the most impressive piece of open source file/data recovery software:  foremost (also found here as sources).  I think this also convinced me that I need to include in my toolkit an Ubuntu Rescue Remix (URR) thumbdrive.  The most amazing this about this tool is its origins and the fact that it ended up in the FOSS community.

I called this utility into service out of a last-ditch attempt to recover files that were deleted from a Windows machine a month or so ago.  Yes, from a Windows machine.  And it worked very well.

I ran it from an Ubuntu Live USB and it installed with a hiccup that I was able to work out.  The easier way would have been to run URR, but I didn’t have the time to make a Live USB of that.

From that Live USB, I was also to install that utility, switch to the Window’s disk to recover, and run the recovery with the file destination as that drive.  I think something like 12,000+ files were recovered, and it included a vast majority of the files we were looking for.

I did not find the audit feature of this utility very useful, but I think if I was going into a drive cold and wanted to know what was available for recover, it could be useful.  Also the audit stack dumped and was unable to finish — strangely, the actual file recovery ran successfully.

This has, without a doubt, convinced me that I need to make a URR Live USB as soon as possible.  The great amount of documentation on the web about data recovery, and the availability of fantastic free tools makes this a must have for anyone who does this sort of thing.

Solaris 10 (Intel) and Documentum

So I previously, and ecstatically, posted about running Solaris 10 in a VM.  While that worked nicely, there was a killer detail I overlooked.  The goal was to run Documentum Content Server in that VM.  But, alas, the installer is for an UltraSPARC processor so the bundled JRE failed miserably.

While there might be a way to trick the basic Linux installer to work in an Intel/Solaris-10 configuration, it is more prudent to switch over to CentOS 5.3 to emulate a RHEL 5.3 install.  Oracle can be coerced into installed on CentOS 5.3 (did it for Fedora Core a couple years ago), and the EMC|Documentum CS is none-the-wiser about the RHEL clone (well… I’m hoping that is still the case).

Today drips with geekdom, and it is good.

Solaris 10 in a VM

I had the chance today to assist a coworker install Solaris 10 in a VM.  The last time I used Solaris in any meaningful was was Solaris 7, I think.  But I could be such a geek that I am mixing that up with the arena planet in Battletech…  but back to the point.  I never thought I would see the several things that I saw.  I was very surprised at how well this went given relative ignorance of a Solaris installation.

The most noteworthy surprise I believe is in actually seeing Solaris run on non-SPARC architecture.  That’s been how long it has been since I’ve sat at a SPARCstation and been meaningful with Solaris.  I did a Documentum install/config on Solaris last year, but that is different — if you’ve installed it on one ‘nix, you’ve installed it on them all (except for Solaris’ damn penchant for useless, superfluous directory levels…).

The second biggest surprise is… free.  I’m trying to figure out the catch here.  We downloaded the ISO, installed it, and never was there something that said in so few words “you must pay for this or enter a license key”.  It just worked.

The biggest challenge was in getting the partitions setup the way we needed them.  Of key importance was getting the swap partitions setup so that Oracle (10) would run at all.  I will draw your attention to setting up the swap space.  That was fun.  But that was fun only after I figured out how to partition on Solaris.  It works nothing like Windows or Linux, and I am glad I remembered my acronyms so that c0d0p0s0 made sense to me.   Unlike anything else I’ve done, the partition is not what I expected and the slices are what I expected the partitions to be.  A little trial-and-error helped me figure that one out pretty easily — and a couple of web searches, albeit none very informative about what I was seeing.  Many kudos here to SUN (Oracle) for having such a clear and clean installer.

The swap space was perhaps the strangest thing I have setup.  We made the primary filesystems UFS, and when it came to the swap space, all you do is call it “swap” … just like calling root “/” and any of the other mount points by their appropriate path.  In the end, the three swap spaces we defined (to get 3GB) just simply existed and were implicitly understood to be of fstype “swap”.  Huh…

Finally, I have to say I like what they did with Gnome… at least, I think it is Gnome.  They molded it into a very familiar paradigm (more like KDE3 than typical Gnome), and it was quite easy to navigate.  It still had some of that 1980s feel to it, but how could it not.  It would be a shame if it were to look too bleeding-edge.  {har har}

I will be interested to see the final results.  I have installed Oracle on UNIX before, but never on Solaris.  This is all to facilitate a client in upgrading a system and move it from either “Oracle on SunOS4” (ACK!) or “Oracle on Solaris 2” over to MS SQL Server on Windows Server 2008.  Yes, you read that right — I don’t understand, but I won’t bait for debait {har har}.

Overall, this makes today more interesting than other days, and definitely worth of a technology note.  Solaris in a VM.  Amazing.  I love it.  There is even a VirtualBox appliance that can be downloaded.  I am tempted to do it just for the fun of it because I still get the yearning to tinker away at Solaris from time to time.  It was the ‘nix I cut my teeth on, and it will always have a place in my geeky little heart.

Recycle Electronics (part 2)

Finding the information to support my previously mentioned rumor about computer “recycling” in China and the toxic side effects was not all that hard to find.

My point here is to create some or more awareness.  There are many sources that point to the great possibility that our recycled nasty bits of electronics do not end up cleanly disposed of.  Worse, our thrown away nasty bits of electronics very likely pollute our environment.  Much like how we should think about where our food comes from, we should think about where our toxic junk goes.  Look up a place like BoxQ, but do your homework on where they send their stuff.  Our effort in recycling toxic electronics goes beyond finding a place to do it, and includes understanding the whole process to make sure we aren’t paying to dispose of our items safely only to have them disposed of unsafely.  From a consumer model, that’s a rip-off; from a responsibility model, that’s irresponsibility through laziness.

Now I get to put my money where my mouth is and do this research on BoxQ.  I will certainly make another entry about those results.  They make a lot of claims about responsibility of their disposal methods and not shipping overseas, but there are few actual details around what they mean by that.  For example, it is important to determine if they hand over the components to refineries that responsibly handle the process; not doing so would invalidate their intentions.