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Technology is the term we use for things that don't quite work yet.

2014 I haven’t posted in almost 2 years! Yikes, damn day jobs… Recently the door knob in the office building has had a thing against me. So, I took a picture. I was hoping for a little more definition, but I’m going to have to do some experimenting to figure out how to get the best shot. For now, this didn’t come out too bad. I tried various exposures but generally between 1/4 to 1.3 seconds at ISO 1600-3200 and F2.8-F8. I did find someone else who did the same thing, over the course of 3 days he refined his technique and used pyro to enhance the effect. I’d like to stick to purely electricity. He was doing longer exposures. But, i’m not sure that’s the effect I want. I think I’d like even shorter exposures, but without a continuous source of sparks, the timing would be difficult. I more secure rig might help as well, but i’m not sure.

Seriously, after reading a few articles (yes, I haven’t actually installed it yet) the amazing new feature list includes…

iCloud Integration: Nice, but not revolutionary.
Notification Center: Don’t we already have this with Growl?
Gatekeeper: A step backwards IMHO. I understand the reasoning but by making this the default, they are going to financially harm any developer not in the store.
Notes: Stickies
Messages: iChat
Calendar: iCal
Reminders: Nice, but its little more than a dashboard app. If they integrate Siri that would be nice.
Share Sheets: This has promise, the OS is due to have some social integration built in.
Game Center: Also very welcome, while not strictly needed, it will probably invigorate casual gaming on the mac.
AirPlay Mirroring: Also welcome, but, it seems like a fairly niche feature.

So really, I’m not sure of the direction they are going in, maybe I’m getting old and skeptical. But, I think the “Mountain Lion” part of this is just like ‘snow leopard’, not quite a full update even if it’s getting a new version number.

Things I’d *like* to see in a new OS X?

Seamless data management. Think time machine with hardware knowledge. “There appears to be 1025 files in 10gb that are only located on a single storage volume and are more than 30days old, please insert a blank bluray, sync to icloud, or add a new volume”. “there is data on a dvd-r you burned 3 years ago and is not backed up anywhere, please insert the disk to make it redundant.”

But, I fear they are going the Cloud Path with no looking back and I just don’t know if i’m a luddite for not wanting my data spread across that series of tubes…

Bring back the Snow Leopard color schemes and scroll bar options.

True resolution independence.

Fix the issues with Lion automatic saving, things like mark a checkpoint for good versions.

Ok, thats all the rant I have in me at the moment…

I’ll keep the commentary to a minimum, many already know that Richter isn’t a useful tool to determine total damage, but I thought I would spread the word. Here are some shake intensity maps for various earthquakes. I was particularly interested in the Northridge quake. It caused widespread damage and was very intense, yet rated comparatively low on the Richter scale. Here is an interesting excerpt from the Northridge Earthquake wikipedia page that backs up the maps. “The earthquake had a “strong” moment magnitude of 6.7, but the ground acceleration was one of the highest ever instrumentally recorded in an urban area in North America,[2] measuring 1.7 g (16.7 m/s2)”.

Take a look at the images and for more information the USGS page has an enormous wealth of data on earthquakes including both real-time and historical data. You can even report earthquakes you’ve felt and contribute to the data.

Safari
Safari

Only took 12 months for the keyboard scrolling interrupt bug to finally get what was coming to it. At least 7 geeks world wide rejoice now that they can scroll complex long vertical pages in Safari with their key repeat set to overdrive. Actually, i’m sure a few non-geeks with older machines are probably thinking ‘hmm this seems a little faster’ too.

Either way, I’m glad it’s fixed, it was really annoying me forever.

Update: So it seems to be fixed on both my Mac Intel Mini and my G5 Tower, but oddly still not fixed on my brand new MacbookPro. All I have to say is…REALLY? Really…i mean seriously really?

Watching my G5 scroll faster than my i7 is just disturbing.

Good design! Low unsprung weight while retaining direct drive benefits.

Bad hub wheel motor design.
Bad hub wheel motor design.

I’m not going in to the details on particular attempts at hub motors, but even if executed perfectly they are bad.

Unsprung weight means terrible handling and reduced road-holding capabilities!

Done, end of story, move on.

Good news: There is an alternative.

In-board electric motors: You place the motors in the center of the vehicle and use standard short drive shafts to bring the power to each wheel. The downside? Space… you need to fit two motors (remember you no longer have a differential) as close the center of the vehicle as possible and either have the entire motor pivot or have short angled drive shafts from each one.
By placing the center of gravity of each motor almost completely off the wheel you mitigate the unsprung weight to almost nothing.

There are a couple other problems with wheel motors, you need a massive amount of current and a motor that is efficient over a wide range of RPM’s. Modern high powered IGBT’s and MOSFET’s are probably up to the task and when integrated in to intelligent power controllers, they can drive various forms of electric motors at high levels of efficiency and power.

The second problem ‘massive current’ is a bit harder. Battery chemistry is changing rapidly, but it is still difficult to find chemistries than can supply large current, long cycle life, reasonable price, weight, size, safety and the ability to be mass produced.

All said, drop the stock differential, the stock drive shaft, the motor, the transmission, exhaust, emissions equipment and all the other ICE components that become redundant and then you might have a chance of building something that has a reasonable power to weight ratio and efficiency level.

One last thing, as an alternative you could place the motor where the transmission is on a RWD vehicle, keeping the existing differential and drive shaft (a 100 year old design). This adds additional weight, but you no longer have the space restrictions and gain a bit of gearing which might lower your peak power needs.

This Detroit Electric design is ancient but a good compromise.


So after my mild disappointment with Apple releasing an uninspired speed bump to the recent MacPro line (no case redesign (it could lose 20lbs), eSATA, 10GigE, FW1600, or even USB3.0), I started doing some research on 10GigE just to see the state of affairs.

Things I learned:

1. What I want is 10GBase-T the standard RJ45 cabling we all love.
2. Cat6 isn’t going to cut it, Cat6a or Cat7 are going to be the only ‘real’ options. I say it like that because under good conditions (short distances, low interference, not in big bundles of cables) Cat6 will work. But, for safety sake, I wouldn’t count on it.
3. Various fiber and copper cables are being used in the interim. CX4 and SFP+ are the common cables in use and are designed for shorter connections. But, they aren’t that interesting unless you’re building a small dedicated cluster and really what I want is something that interoperates in the rest of the GigE world.
4. There are 3 (that I could locate) actual 10GBASE-T switches, most are just gigabit switches with a couple 10GBASE-T uplinks OR are massive datacenter switches. The 3 I did find are too expensive ($11000-19000) for home use, but aren’t out of range for the right small business application.

Arista 7120T-4S
This 24 port swtich is really the best choice if you need ultra low latency (think network computing) and/or raw bandwidth (think editing RAW HD Video). It features 20 auto-negotiating 1/10GBASE-T ports and 4 SFP+ uplinks. Network World tests put the latency at a very stable 800ns! That’s 0.0008ms a.k.a. very, very fast. I would love a low cost 8 port version of something like this. A quick google product search shows you can pick one of these up for ~$13,500.

Dell PowerConnect 8024
Another possibility is the Dell 8024. It has the most configurable port setup (24x SFP+ (10Gb/1Gb) w/4 Combo Ports of 10GBASE-T (10Gb/1Gb/100Mb) or SFP+) and is the lowest cost of the bunch at ~$11,500 (google product search). If you need all 24 ports, or if that extra $2k is going to put you over budget or if you merely need the extra bandwidth 10GigE brings, this is probably your best choice.

Extreme Networks Summit X650-24t
While I’m a big fan of Extreme as the underdog of high performance network switching, unfortunately, as far as I can tell from the datasheet, the ports are 10GBase-T ONLY and aren’t backwards compatible with GigE or slower. This is a bit disappointing as they were a great company to work with back in the Static days when we used their products. On a positive note they performed the best on IGMP multicasting, so if IP multicasting is your thing, this is your switch! $18,709.86 on Amazon :)

Network world did a nice review (although its terrible to navigate) of the bunch and put the Arista on top. Here is the comparison chart for a general overview.

Further reading:
High Performance Made Simple: The 10 Gigabit Ethernet Cluster

Safari
Safari

I mean that pretty much sums it up. I was really hoping 5.01 would fix it, but apparently, no such luck. Basically, if you have your keyboard repeat rate set to anything other than dog slow, Safari starts animating the scroll, then in the middle of starting to animate it sees the next keyboard input and interrupts the first scroll and just gets terrible. Using the mouse is super silky smooth, the arrow controls work albeit a little chunky, but, I suspect it’s merely because the repeat rate is slower.

I’m sure a method is getting reentered and somewhere an if statement is missing or broken… e.g.

if (animating == YES) DON'T INTERRUPT ANIMATION!;

In the video I first use the keyboard arrows, then the pageup/pagedown, then the mouse controls and finally some more keyboard.

Safari 5.0/5.01 Terrible Keyboard Scrolling Video Click HERE

Update: 9/8/10 5.02 did NOT fix the bug…so sad…
Update: 10/18/10 5.03 did NOT fix the bug…sadness continues…
Update: 4/14/10 5.05 DID fix the bug! Rejoicing ensues!!! Thank you Apple!

DSL Reports Speedtest

DSL Reports Speedtest

So got my new 35/35 service running and apparently we’re getting close to the maximum upload. Verizon had called me on the upgrade date and told me that I would only get 29mbit upload because the ONT at the house wasn’t capable of more. He offered to send a tech out to replace it, so I said “sure”. The tech came out today and basically said he wasn’t aware of any speed difference on the other ONT’s. He called his boss and he said the guy I talked to was misinformed because the 611/612 ONT’s are all pretty much the same (just different port configuration and MOCA support) and won’t go any faster than my 610.

The second thing he said was they only guarantee 75% of the claimed speed (which is 26.25mbit) so there really isn’t much of an option at this point. I guess I’ll be satisfied for now, but I’m a bit miffed that they said they could fix it and now they can’t or won’t now.

I just wished the sales/service people who called you would actually not make promises they can’t keep. I think they continue to have a shortage of highly qualified guys.
I tried to do some searching for the AFC AccessMax SFH ONT 610X specifications, but I couldn’t find any useful data.

My old gallery of my FIOS Installation in case anyone is interested.

UPDATE 1/22/10:So my wife just reported that Verizon called back and DID claim it was an equipment problem and will be sending techs back on saturday to fix it (shaking head). Big company communication fun, I have no idea, I’ll update again Saturday.

this is fios, this is big

This is FIOS. This is BIG.


The good news is the latest bundles as of 1/17/2010 while not great for everyone, are a good upgrade for me. Something changed last month and my bill was $10 up so it all coincides well for a change of plan. I’ll end up saving a few bucks a month while getting 35/35mbit service (up from 20/20) and a few extra FIOS TV channels. The bad news (and its not new news) is the Wi-fi hotspot joke they claim you get.

Verizon Wi-Fi is not available for PDAs, phones, desktop PCs or Macs.
In fact 64-bit Windows need not apply as well. It is ONLY available for 32-bit vista/xp. This is just ridiculous, wifi access is built on all open standards. It’s purely a marketing/business decision to alienate all of the PDAs, phones, Macs, etc…

It amazes me how Verizon can wave the Network Neutrality Flag and yet at the same time not offer any access to all to various devices. So, its network neutrality, as long as you’re the type of device we think deserves it.

The ugly? Well, the $1.99 mysterious fee is still an unknown factor and ETF’s have doubled on both FIOS and Wireless up to $350 and $360 respectively. FIOS prorates at $15/month and wireless is oddly $10/month which will leave a hefty chunk even at the end.

They continue to be my most hated/loved company. FIOS and FIOS TV are unparalleled, the wireless on the other hand? Well, lets just say I won’t be a quad-play subscriber any time soon.

iptraf
So I’m a pretty technical guy and sometimes I know what I want to do, but I have no idea how to do it with the latest version of whatever operating system I’m using. Typically these days thats usually a Linux flavor of some sort. I use it for my web-server, my file server and a few other things, but typically I set it up leave it and don’t touch it for a year or so. So instead of having to troll through man pages every time I want to do something, I started to keep a list of not-frequently used commands that I always seem to forget. So this is sort of an anti-FAQ for Linux. I mean if they were frequent, i wouldn’t forget!

Scan for viruses manually with clamscan – Most of this is excluding the test directories and system devices.

clamscan -ir –exclude=/sys/ –exclude=/usr/share/doc/clamav-0.95.1/test/ /

Firewall aka. IPTables
Block IP address – * for a range

iptables -I INPUT -s 192.168.0.* -j DROP

List IP’s instead of RDNS

iptables –list -n

Delete the 3rd rule

iptables -D INPUT 3

Remove file with crazy name – Ever mange to munge a filename so bad rm won’t remove it?

ls -il
find . -inum 124043383 -exec rm -i {} \;

Hard disk tweaking – not sure how much this helps but it helped me.

cd /sys/block/sda/queue/iosched/
echo 1000 > write_expire
echo 0 > slice_idle
hdparm -Tt /dev/sda

SMART Hard Disk Check- run smart report if you have a Highpoint controller that supports it. Remember to run a periodic short/long test. I’ve found the basic report is often inadequate.

smartctl -a -d hpt,1/1 /dev/sda

Yum locate dependency- some package failing because it needs some dependency? This was a real lifesaver.

yum whatprovides yourlibraryhere

Did something before but forgot? grep the .bash_history file, it seems to keep everything from the beginning of time.

iptraf traffic statistics- need to know traffic flow on your machine right now? Yeah you could do some sort of netstat command but I can never figure it out on the local platform (its “netstat -I en0 -w 1″ on OS X).
This app will give you all sorts of useful live statstics on your ethernet connections.

Next time – SELinux – all you need to know to setup your apache/php/centos webserver.

P.S. Any useful commands you use that you think might be helpful? Leave a comment :)