» Belkin WeMo This kind of looks like the future of home automation.
Belkin WeMo

Nice feature overview here.

X10 is cool but complicated; whereas this looks cool and simple.   |
» Bookcrossing A friend pointed me at Bookcrossing.

Seems like a great way to redistribute your old books and having some fun doing it.

The basic idea - label your old books with a unique identifier, then drop them off wherever you like. Log the 'drop' on the Bookcrossing website for someone to pick up. If they log the collection you can track who and where the book goes. Obviously there are the usual anonymity options and if a non-Bookcrossing person picks up the book they may choose not to join-up (its free, they make money selling accessories like custom labels and bookplates).

Pretty cool.   |
» Mailorder Beer A plug and a bit of a bookmark for myself - Beerstore in NZ does a great job of distributing beer of all kinds delivered to your door.

I've used them a few times now and they're quick and efficient - I even had one delivery with broken bottles which the couriers obviously screwed up and within a couple of days Beerstore had another order on my doorstep no questions asked. Now thats service !   |
» What is a karonkka? A friend of mine recently returned from Finland where he was examining a PhD defence - the process is called a Karonkka.

As well as getting decked out in a full-on tux & tails they actually had ceremonial swords to boot. How cool is that ?

Be sure to read Shauns other posts on the nature of research, patents, science and technology in New Zealand.   |
» TED Talks A friend of mine (cheers Eddie!) pointed me at the excellent TED Talk series.

Subscribe to their RSS feed now.

Theres always something you can set aside 15 minutes of your time to learn about or dump to your mp3 player to listen/watch while you commute.

Recent favourites of mine have included - 'Build a brain in a supercomputer', 'Our buggy moral code', 'What brain damage can point out about our mind', 'Why are babies cute? Why is cake sweet?'   |
» Useful Ways to be Persuasive I realised my Linkdump category hadn't been updated in a looong time so I'll kick start it with this link to some common-sense ways to be persuasive.

As per the link comments in the preamble, its a bit pop-psych but theres some useful stuff to help get your head around how you can get your point of view across to other people.   |
» Because you need to know - Tracking the $700 Billion Bailout It'll be interesting to see if the New York Times keeps this table up to date - Tracking the $700 Billion Bailout.

See which financial institutions receive money and how much they get.   |
» Good Music - Le Pop by Katzenjammer Discovered while reading Popmatters list of Also-rans for 2008 - Katzenjammers 'Le Pop' is one of those joyful albums by a band determined to put a stupid grin on your face at all costs or die trying (cf early Violent Femmes, Crowded House, Pogues).

Check out a couple of videos on YouTube - 'A bar in Amsterdam' and 'Aint no thang'   |
» Good Books - The Shock Doctrine Another excellent read from Naomi Klein - The Shock Doctrine. I have to admit I'm only halfway through this book - mans inhumanity to man makes for tough going - however its pretty much compulsory reading for anyone that wonders how the worlds free market economy's were lead down the track they're currently on.

Essentially what Klein does is posit the idea that free market economies and reforms can only be forced through on the back of an external crisis (sometimes real and sometimes engineered). As a result those people best placed to take advantage of the reforms do extraordinarily well and the vast majority of us end up worse off - with globalisation these disparities keep getting worse as multi-nationals cease to be bound by georgraphy.

As the recent recession and American bank / finance / auto bail-outs have shown - the free market has failed to a certain extent - their own calls for deregulation have bit them on the ass and now they're going cap in hand to the very regulatory bodies they once reviled for assistance.

So even when things go wrong for the wheelers and dealers of the world - they still come out on top.   |
» Good Books - Killing Rommel by Stephen Pressfield Another quick summer read - Killing Rommel is a return to form for Stephen Pressfield - his 'Gates of Fire' was a masterpiece but after that I found 'Tides of War' and 'Last of the Amazons' to be a little dry.

His latest novel tells the tale of the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) and their various exploits in the North African campaign, culminating in a mission to track down and kill Rommel.   |

NZ vSphere Launch

Sunday 31 May 2009 at 4:58 pm I attended a VMWare vSphere Launch this week - here are some compelling reasons to upgrade (I wasn't at all swayed by the open bar . . .) -

  • dynamic hardware changes (add ram & processors on the fly to OS's that support hot swap changes - eg Windows 2008)

  • thin-provisioning of vm disks (allocate 100Gb but only use 16Gb and dynamically expand as required)

  • much better vcb backup integration - essentially setup a backup regime to disk and then dump to tape

  • server level raid - host hardware fails it immediately picks up on other available hardware platform (ie two servers run in lockstep)

  • much better hardware cpu & ram utilisation

  • better performance of an Exchange install that has been virtualised as compared to actual physical hardware - obviously this doesn't quite mean its faster just more efficient and scalable

  • clients now virtualising for enhanced bcp / dr even if it is a single app on a single host physical server

  • built in firewall capability to encompass DMZ style security on your internal production virtual farm using vShield Zones

  • virtual Cisco switching capability

VMware Acquires Tungsten Graphics

Wednesday 17 December 2008 at 08:27 am Came across this via HackThePlanet - VMware Acquires Tungsten Graphics. From their own site - Tungsten Graphics.

Apparently the last bastions of virtualisation are around 3D acceleration (eg in CAD & Scientific modelling) - VMWare have it in their Workstation product so its not as if they don't know how to do this. They claim they're happy to throw 3D acceleration into their ESX product, the only thing holding them back is that they can only virtualise real hardware. So if a server vendor can be convinced to start shipping 3D accelerated graphics cards into their systems (rather than the anemic 2D ones in the majority of servers) they'd be able to make that functionality available.

Picking up Tungsten might be their first step into laying the foundations for full on virtualised 3D support in their ESX range.

ESX 3.5 Gotcha

Friday 21 December 2007 at 5:57 pm Just doing some test upgrades from VMWare ESX 3.01 to 3.5 - using the in place upgrade zip file and 'esxupdate' worked a treat.

The biggest PITA (pain in the ass) is that the new VI 2.5 client doesn't work on a 64bit OS (ie WindowsXP or Vista 64) - feck!

The previous client worked - why would they remove functionality ?


I guess you just run it in a 32bit VM on VMWare Workstation!

Other than that 3.5 looks pretty nice.

Another ESX Advantage

Friday 08 June 2007 at 1:31 pm Built in clustering & high availability!

Even if you have an application which is CPU hungry (say Exchange) you can drop it into an ESX farm and allocate resources equivalent to a single physical server - then if you leverage VMotion and High Availability if the Exchange server crashes you can migrate it (manually or automatically) to another physical server with minimal downtime. In the old-days if the server failed catastrophically you potentially needed to re-install and restore from backup (assuming you had spare hardware available).

ESX 3 Network Reconfig

Thursday 17 May 2007 at 09:14 am From here Changing the IP address of service console in ESX 3.x :

esxcfg-vswif -a vswif0 -p Service\ Console -i -n -b

And don't forget to set the correct gateway in /etc/sysconfig/network or the command to configure the virtual switch interface will hang.

If this doesn't work chances are the interface already exists and it won't let you reconfigure it - so delete it first using - "esxcfg-vswif -d vswif0" and then re-run the above command.

ESX is very cool and they've made it pretty compelling in terms of a step up on the free Server (and older GSX) versions. It include user ACL, virtual switching, more efficient hypervisor (the RedHat 7.2 upon which ESX is based is stripped to the bare bones) and more granularity in terms of resource allocation. One of the things that isn't made very clear is that if you want to leverage some of the bells & whistles (eg High Availability, VMotion, Backup, centralised licensing) you'll need a SAN (or NAS in a pinch) and another box - ideally physical although it could be virtual (obviously you can't do HA or VMotion if your ESX instance hosting the management box dies though!).

Wow - P2V -> Physical to Virtual

Saturday 29 April 2006 at 08:53 am Two products I came across while reading a previously linked article offering datacenter tips - PlateSpin PowerConvert and Leostream.

The fantastic thing about these products is that they let you seamlessly migrate physical servers into virtual servers.

This is amazing stuff:

Stream servers between physical servers, blade infrastructures, virtual machines, and image archives over the network

Gone are the bad old days of Systems Admin where you needed to audit and plan every aspect of a server migration to new hardware. Even then it was so easy to miss something - particularly with Windows which doesn't offer much in the way of storing a running config - sure you can restore a registry but if you try that to different hardware you'll render the target system inoperable. Now the only risk is a virtual machine going 'stale' as it gets moved from one virtual environment to another. At least with a hardware refresh you're forced to look at what services can be dropped or how an install can be improved when starting with a clean slate.

VMWare Server Available for Free

Tuesday 07 February 2006 at 12:23 pm If you didn't already know the good folks have released VMWare Server as freeware (you do need to register though).
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