Sunday, August 29

Beloit College Mindset List - 2014

Beloit College Mindset List for the entering class of 2014

Beloit, Wis. – Born when Ross Perot was warning about a giant sucking sound and Bill Clinton was apologizing for pain in his marriage, members of this fall’s entering college class of 2014 have emerged as a post-email generation for whom the digital world is routine and technology is just too slow.

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. The creation of Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief, it was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references, and quickly became a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation.

The 10 People Who Follow Me That I Won't Follow On Twitter

1. Social media 'gurus,' 'ninjas,' 'rockstars,' 'samurai' or 'experts.'
2. Multi-level marketers (MLM) or affiliate program marketers.
3. SEO 'gurus,' 'ninjas,' 'rockstars,' 'samurai' or 'experts.'
4. The ignorant and/or the bigoted.
5. Non-conversationalists.
6. Porn 'stars' or porn spammers.
7. Self-proclaimed, no-name rappers.
8. Drama queens.
9. 80 million following to follower ratio'd.
10. No-name DJs/MCs/emcees.

Tuesday, August 24

SaaSGrid: Decoupled, shared storage in grids

SaaSGrid Shared Content Storage

When you're working in a grid environment like Apprenda's SaaSGrid, many people are uncertain how to deal with the need for shared state and shared binary content.

This is not unlike Amazon's EC2, though it should be noted that EC2 and SaaSGrid are not in the same category of offering -- you can run a SaaSGrid environment on top of Amazon's IaaS offering: EC2 VM images. SaaSGrid itself is a distributed application server and runtime for SaaS. EC2 is a cloud of virtual machines, part of Amazon's larger AWS suite.

With EC2, you do not have persistent storage locally on your virtualized AMIs -- when your AMI reboots or powers down, all local state is lost. Instead, Amazon offers Elastic Block Storage (EBS) for non-volatile storage of data and content used when bringing your AMIs online, database repos, etc.

Likewise, you cannot assume persistent local storage on any given SaaSGrid node -- any given request to SaaSGrid may take multiple paths to reach its destination, and any given node may leave or join the grid environment at any time. This is why SaaSGrid application development, and most other SOA architecture, best current practices dictate stateless design and implementation as much as possible. Some amount of state can be persisted in an out-of-process cache, such as memcached, but there is still often a need for a binary content repository accessible to all nodes.

I diagrammed this concept over on the SaaSGrid Developer Blog yesterday.

Product review: HTC Incredible accessories

Having had some time to exercise the case+holster, car mount and extended-life battery (yep, I gave in) for my HTC Droid Incredible, I am now prepared to render my verdicts.

First up: Seidio Innocase II Surface case + holster combo

Seidio Innocase II Surface case in matching holster for HTC Droid Incredible

Seidio remains one of my favorite mobile accessory brands. The Innocase II Surface is perfect -- light, great fit, great protection for everything but screen, (LOVE the camera lens protection!) and even with the case on, not too much bulk for my pockets, no pants dragging at the waistline due to weight. As such, I've had no reason to use the holster, which was an unwanted but pragmatic requirement since the days of my brick of a HTC Hermes some five years ago.

Two thumps up! Three if I had a ... three!

Next up: Arkon universal car mount

Arkon Universal smartphone car mount

I had hoped to use the Arkon in a vent-mount configuration, but in my 2001 Blazer, that's a no-go. I'm not sure if it is the Blazer's vents, the Arkon's vent clips, or a combination of the two, but this is just not a sturdy setup. I have not had a chance to try the suction cup, I'm not sure I really have a convenient area for it, but will try soon and report back. All in all, not thrilled with Arkon. The part that holds the smartphone is snug, I do like that, but the rest of the kit seems flimsy.

No thumbs up at this time.

Finally: Seidio Extended Life 1750mA battery

Seidio red extended life battery for HTC Droid Incredible

Back to Seidio! I decided to trust the brand and cough up the cash for the 1750mA battery, 400mA more than the standard battery provided for the Incredible by HTC. Not the beefiest extended life smartphone battery out there, but I did not want to disturb the Incredible's awesome sexy slim & convenient profile, especially not with the Innocase II Surface in place. I wasn't sure this was going to be worth it. I'm still not certain it was. I haven't run out of juice in the middle of the day since I swapped in the extended life battery, but that could be better battery management and charging practices (screw USB!) on my part as well.

I'm going with one thumbs up on this one. I think I'm seeing increased battery life, but it could be wishful thinking as well. It has not been a total disappointment, but I'd rather have spent $20 on it than the $59 I seem to recall dropping.

Monday, August 23

Windows 2008R2: Windows Update stuck at 0%

Windows 2008R2 has finally let me down. For some time now it has been my most-favorite Microsoft OS since MS-DOS 3.0. Administrator- and developer-friendly, stable, performant, reliable. Until now.

For a week or so now, since the off-schedule high-priority Microsoft updates 2-3 weeks ago perhaps, I have had a six-month young Windows 2008R2 Standard (x64) machine (Hyper-V image) that refused to download updates. Despite doing some minor cleanup, service tweaking, rebooting a few times, it was just plain stuck.

Windows Update stuck at 0% downloading status

I didn't see any apparent system errors or Windows Update specific entries in the Event Viewer - Windows Logs, System or Application. There were, however, a number of TrustedInstaller errors:

Windows TrustedInstaller, ntdll.dll event viewer messages

Though I had not had the "opportunity" to experience an issue with Role Management, I was simply concerned with getting Windows Updates back to up-to-date, after days of frustration I came across this MSDN forum post that led me to a working solution.

I worked through all steps of the post marked as answer, finding that an in-place "upgrade" was apparently the only solution that worked in my scenario. This is rather disappointing -- up until now, Windows 2008R2 had never failed me.

Wednesday, August 18

SaaSGrid Blog: High Availability SaaSGrid

I just posted a blog on "High Availability SaaSGrid" on the SaaSGrid community site. In IIS7+ we now have "Application Request Routing" (ARR) and the "Web Farm Framework" available to facilitate deployment and management of high availability IIS webfarms (clusters).