Archive for the ‘Tech’ category

Ten Months with a Luggable Server: The Dell M6500

April 3, 2011

According to Dell, my Precision M6500 shipped around May 15th of 2010, which seems right to me. It has been pretty satisfying, but not without bumps.
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The iTunes Advantage: Not What You Think

March 28, 2011

Apple’s enormously successful iPod/iPhone/iPad line have something in common with their iPod ancestors: you can’t even get started without a computer and iTunes.

This is given Apple a huge advantage, one that Apple’s competitors have failed to do anything about. And that advantage has nothing to do with songs, videos, apps or podcasts.

No, the real advantage of iTunes is that it ensures every iDevice user, first generation Nano to Verizon iPhone 4 to iPad, is an Apple customer.
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Apple’s Goes Evil, Heads Toward Diabolical

February 17, 2011

Sadly, the latest actions by Apple push them from the control-fanatics state to Lawful-Evil. No way to argue it.
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CEO Larry Page: Please Call Larry Ellison

January 22, 2011

Google has had extraordinary success. The king of search, created a mobile market out of thin air, spins off interesting new technologies as naturally as breathing, and generally are thought of as the apex of geek-success culture.

After ten years at the helm, Eric Schmidt is stepping aside, with co-founder Larry Page moving into the CEO seat. This will prove and interesting time for Google, no doubt.

Also interesting is Google’s current intellectual property death-match with Oracle over Android/Java issues. Feel free to read about this elsewhere.

This leads naturally to what Google really needs to do next.
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The Epic Fail of Music Syncing under Linux

January 18, 2011

Ouch. Ask a silly question, get a ridiculous answer.

I have, as has been noted before, a Motorola Droid X. Mostly, I use Grooveshark, Slacker, and Pandora for my music needs, but I do have 5000+ songs on a server at home. On my desktop (wherever I might be) I access those songs via Ampache, streaming as I need them.

To sync some songs with my Droid, I turned to the wonderful Media Monkey, under Windows. The Monkey is a truly awesome piece of software; the kids and I have used it forever to sync music into various MP3 players. Always works. Edits tags with ease. Displays none of iTunes despicable bloat. Doesn’t crash. Handles a network music collection with aplomb. My oldest daughter goes to sleep to a playlist in Media Monkey!

I’ve used MM for so long, on so many different little players, of course it was where I turned first for my Droid.

Trivial. Plug in with Mass Storage mode, configure the directories for Music and Playlists, boom, works.

I promptly forgot about it. I don’t sync that often. Local content is music of last resort for me.

Until this weekend, when I was recovering from my Number One Daughter’s ten-girl sleepover. Traumatic events prompt the strangest questions.

In this case I asked, “Surely I can sync my playlists and music from Linux, right?”
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A Volatile Look At HSQLDB

January 13, 2011

Recently, I had cause to look at HSQLDB, one of several pure Java databases out there. At my job, we use RDBMS technology to back our deductive database systems. As such, we have need for a small-scale development RDBMS to accompany larger enterprise-grade RDBMS’s. For several years we have used H2, and it has been good to us. It is small, fast, very complete and reliable.

However, a couple years ago H2 changes it’s on-disk storage system. The new storage system is neater and cleaner, but it had a side effect: H2 is now significant less concurrent. Our deductive engine is highly concurrent (we implemented a form of Actor concurrency before we knew what Actors were), and we routinely run hundreds of SQL queries simultaneously. We treat the RDBMS backend much like a NoSQL database, and really thrash it at times, especially before the caching and materialization layers kick in. In recent years, as every machine gained cores like mad, this has become a problem. H2’s lack of concurrent execution sometimes slows the system down to the point where even on small datasets, Postgres is faster, despite the network hop. (This is not a knock on H2; highly concurrent access is not a design goal that seems to be emphasized. Fair enough.)

So this is a problem, so I decided it was time to survey embedded DB’s again. In the past, I had looked at HSQLDB and Derby and rejected them for performance reasons. Perhaps, in the intervening three years something had changed?
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The Curious Case of Netflix Streaming Quality

January 3, 2011

We stream a lot of media in my house. Yes, we have a full Comcast triple-play package, and we take full advantage of on-demand programming. We have HBO and Showtime subscriptions. You’ll pry my TiVo from my cold, dead hands. No immediate danger of cutting the cable here.
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