Fitness Week 8

This weeks sports was a titanic sports struggle

First person to win 250 squash games
Kieran: 17 Games
Mark: 39 Games
(1 point head start on a game for every 10 games the other person is ahead)
(we also play by “you have to WIN a game, genuine mistakes on game points are ‘let’ “)

Mr Green gave me a sound 3-1 thrashing on Tuesday, but the combination of no sleep for 3 nights this week for him and the need to ‘vent a bit’ due to the actions of a petty minded person, lead to a 0-5 moment, but quite frankly i hurt everywhere!!

First person to loose 2 stone
Kieran ( Initially 15 Stone, 8 pounds) : 14′ 12″
Mark ( Initially 16 Stone, 8 pounds) : 16′ 4″

hes pulling away, I may need to chop a leg off to win!!

Amazon Web Services Free Seminar

“Like all 2-year projects, they fail” – This came from Dr Werner Vogels VP & CTO Amazon.com (who is actually a very very good speaker) while I was attending a free promo afternoon for Amazon web services. I think this endorsement of JFDI as a methdology is both wonderful and frightening to hear, frightening as I’m sitting next to Ian ‘the Gremlin’ Watkins, who practically personifies the act of just f**king do it (his little eyes sparked and I could see a ‘fag packet’ tech spec forming in his mind).

But I digress, as expected from Amazon it was a very good sales pitch and had the technical proof behind it to satisfy the corporate techs that filled the audience. Such an example was Nasdaq who built a full reporting system off all the Wall Street historical data by just pumping the raw Wall Street data into text files (actually it was a split on their current data pump from Wall Street) stuffing them onto Amazon S3 then hiring an Adobe Air dev to do a front end, thus producing a global scaling application for the cost of $30,000 Dev work and $500 Amazon storage cost, no screwing around, no extra stuff to buy, Oo er!!!

To put it at its very crudest, AWS comprises of virtual servers (they call them instances) which are called “EC2”, virtual storage of various different types (S3 being the one you have heard of) and the normal batch of peripherals services done as API (such as email, e-commerse, monitoring and the like) if you want more details go to http://aws.amazon.com as they explain better. However, where it starts to differ from what we are used to, is in the way these services are available to you without the huge initial infrastructure costs. Also, upgrading is a smooth and swift affair rather than the jerks that are normally associated with adding new servers (they gave a good example of a website that became an Internet meme due to Facebook and whose instance/server numbers went from 100 to 3500 in one weekend because of the demand, something quite impossible in a normal infrastructure setup)

Dr Werner stated that at the core of cloud computing are 2 things, “on demand” and “pay as you go”. If it’s missing these it’s not cloud computing!!!
‘On demand’ = Needs to grow and shrink in an unlimited automated fashion without manual intervention.
‘Pay as you go’ = A non-contract, ‘only pay for what you want’ model, ‘if you don’t like our service, you can leave whenever you want’

Amazon were at some pains to point out that Amazon.com does not get any preferential treatment on the amazon cloud (listen to this, bloody Apple!!!) so fair are they that they even host Netflix who is their direct competitor in the US. They also say that they treat Amazon.com and Amazon AWS as separate companies with no knock effect, i.e. when the amazon website gets busy in the xmas rush, they ‘wont pull the rug, out from under our AWS clients’ (this statement seems to have been born out of some FUD that their competitors have been spreading around).

For those of you that already use it in some way (say for jungle disk backup) the reason it’s so bloody cheap is the economies of scale and believe me, they are huge, they purchase ’10s of racks each week’ of servers, which apparently lets them get away with murder with the hardware people. This led on to a rant about vendors who say “no no no, you don’t want to use Amazon cloud, what you want is to build your own cloud…..with our kit”. He then introduced VPC (Virtual Private Cloud), so you can test a walled-off part of the cloud to see what it’s like with no risk. Oh, on that note they seem to be borderline obsessed with security, first port of call on that is their ‘Security Best Practices’ white paper found at http://aws.amazon.com/security/

A few nice touches to it are:

1) They allow you to place your data in certain regions for jurisdiction reasons, e.g. EU data wont ever be stored in the US if you don’t want it to.
2) ‘We don’t want to tell you what tools to use to build your apps, build them with what you want’ (you still listening Apple)
3) They have these things called “spot instances” in which you can state how much a job or task is worth, and Amazon will only run it if the cost is low enough, say for data mining for reports (the reason for the fluctuation in cost is based on how busy the cloud is and therefore how much left over processor time they have lying around).
4) You can remap an IP address from instances (servers) to other servers via API calls and have it take full effect in seconds. They call this ‘elastic IPs’ (well I think its cool).
5) Packet sniffing does not work, your instance (server), can only see packets destined for it (promiscuous mode or not) – this does not apply to VPC if you have it.

They did give a example of scaling: there are 120 billions S3 objects and when load testing the US turbo Tax application they reached 300,000 concurrent submits before deciding that they weren’t going to break it.

Downsides:

1) Some of the clients had the problem of getting finance to understand the change between capital versus operating costs.
2) As cost is done on demand, the naffer and more inefficient your code/app is in terms of network and CPU use, the more it’s gonna cost you. Finance will see this and nail you to the wall sooner or later (well actually this is a good thing really but only for good developers, alas I’m not such a one {just ask my clients}).
3) It was noted that support from the SME level of privider was limited, perhaps we can all bone up on this to fill that gap, eh?

All in all a very exciting afternoon, and one that has left me with the desire to do a number of projects/proof of concepts (and they gave away free beer). 🙂

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2010-04-17-Fitness-Week-7

Ack!, 2 sports post in a row and i have not delivered on the JPA blog post is was supposed to write

First person to win 250 squash games
Kieran: 14 Games
Mark: 33 Games
(1 point head start on a game for every 10 games the other person is ahead)
(we also play by “you have to WIN a game, genuine mistakes on game points are ‘let’ “)

Each game is getting harder and harder, with Mr Green turning into a swine of a drop shot player, he also has been reading up on how you actually play squash, as well as some strange thing called ‘rules’, i don’t know where he gets these crazy ideas from

First person to loose 2 stone
Kieran ( Initially 15 Stone, 8 pounds) : 15′ 0″
Mark ( Initially 16 Stone, 8 pounds) : 16′ 5″

No move for either of us on the weight front, my lack of weight loss is down to clean living and general wholesome ness, Mr Green’s is because he is an evil decadent swine

Fitness Week 6

Another slightly off week (what with easter and all but we still managed to get 2 more squash sessions in)

First person to win 250 squash games
Kieran: 10 Games
Mark: 28 Games
(1 point head start on a game for every 10 games the other person is ahead)
(we also play by “you have to WIN a game, genuine mistakes on game points are ‘let’ “)

The Friday game was particularly good, real heart attack stuff, but very very satisfying

First person to loose 2 stone
Kieran ( Initially 15 Stone, 8 pounds) : 15′ 0″
Mark ( Initially 16 Stone, 8 pounds) : 16′ 5″ (Gone up!!, Noooo)
(Mr Greens tape worm is working its magic, grrrr)

Ubuntu 10.04 first impressions

The latest Ubuntu release is out, and as its the Long Term Support version both my home media machine and work laptop received the full treatment, both are complete rebuilds (new harddrives) so an ideal upgrade path. For me its a worth while upgrade removing many of the irritations that i had with 8.04 on my work laptop, such as the integrated support for 3G mobilebroadband sticks, which just work with the simplest of wizards, faster bootup times and possibly the greatest relief, the fact that vmware workstation 7 worked flawlessly straight off.

I’m still using the 32bit version, but swapped out the kernel for the server one for the 3gb+ memory support with the simple commands

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo sudo apt-get install linux-headers-server linux-image-server linux-server

A lot of my settings came over just fine when I copied the contents of my ‘Home’ directory from the old hard drive to the new, and I’m well on my way removing all the eye candy that they have added, I’m not going to review anymore as there are no doubt a thousand reviews of it out there already. but well done Canonical, real progress and feels like more and more like a real contender

local JBoss on VPN

If your running JBoss or another Java server locally and you occasionally get the error

java.net.SocketException: IP_ADD_MEMBERSHIP failed (out of hardware filters?)

and suddenly nothing works, ie you cant reach your local server anymore via http, you may have found that it nearly always goes away after a reboot, but sometimes not, if you have a repeat offender for this and your are on a corporate VPN, then that may be your problem, if your VPN is set to “route all traffic through gateway”*, ‘all traffic’ often means even local (127.0.0.1), if you cant disable the setting, then the only work around i have found until now is to start your server with the VPN client disconnected, then connect once you are running (or if you have data-sources or mbeans, wait till they attempt to reach the database, then connect)

sad little tip for Easter Sunday, but it cant be helped

* This setting is found on checkpoint VPN-1 for windows, by going to the status tray when its not connected, and ‘right click’ –> ‘Settings’ , then on the ‘Connections’ tab, select your profile, and click the ‘properties’ button, then go to the ‘Advanced’ tab, it is the checkbox at the bottom.

Java DNS cache on Domino

This is a very old bug but affects at least Java 1.4 though 1.6 so pretty much hits all versions of domino, the problem is:

“Once an application has performed network access (i.e. urlconnection, parsing of xml document with external references, etc), the DNS settings get cached so any subsequent operation will use the old settings even if the real settings have changed. To reset everything, you have to restart the server since the default setting JVM setting is to cache forever.”

I.E., if any of your Java on domino makes a call to a website or network resource, and that resource changes its IP address, you have restart your JVM and therefore your whole Domino box, most people will restart a server to try and fix an unknown problem anyway so the problem will seem to have fixed its self, but some times its good to know why (i just hit it on my use of reCAPTCHA as provided by Chris Brandlehner)

sources:

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1835421/java-dns-cache-viewer
http://www.rgagnon.com/javadetails/java-0445.html
http://www.mattryall.net/blog/2005/03/javas-awful-dns-caching

Fitness Week 5

A bit of a slow week due to illness and some other none fun bits, but a least we had one squash match including a 20 min death and horror 10-11 killer game, i think i will have a limp tomorrow

First person to win 250 squash games
Kieran: 7 Games
Mark: 23 Games
(1 point head start on a game for every 10 games the other person is ahead)

First person to loose 2 stone
Kieran ( Initially 15 Stone, 8 pounds) : 15′ 2″
Mark ( Initially 16 Stone, 8 pounds) : 16′ 3″
(Mr Green says losing 4 pounds in a week due to illness is cheating, i just think his is jealous of my IBS)