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August 21, 2008

Recent Blue Screen of Death Sightings

Filed under: Rants/Musings,Software — cangione @ 2:58 am

There have been a couple funny Blue Screen of Death sightings that have appeared in the press recently that I just couldn’t pass up sharing.

The first was a Wired article about the Sheraton Hotel chain rolling out the Microsoft Surface table. While this might not be a true Blue Screen of Death it sure looks like it!

Microsoft Surface Blue Screened

The second Blue Screen sighting was reported by Gizmodo about the torch lighting at the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. Good thing this computer wasn’t controlling anything critical!

Torch Lighting Blue Screen

August 5, 2008

Partly to Mostly Cloudy

Filed under: Rants/Musings,Software — cangione @ 9:19 pm

I’m moving further into the cloud. The internet cloud. Wikipedia is defining Cloud computing as a style of computer “where IT-related capabilities are provided as a service”.

I started with Google Docs. Storing my checkbook register (an excel spreadsheet), some Power Point presentations and some PDF white papers I always find myself looking for. I want access to these documents quickly and easily from any and all computers I might happen to have available to me even if only for a few minutes.

My move further into the cloud happened when I had to decide if I was going to put additional Network storage on my home network or lease secure disk space somewhere in the cloud. We’re at 2 terabytes and climbing at home already. Some of the disks have been spinning for a few years so I wouldn’t trust critical or archive data to them. Truly archiving data means having it mirrored on at least two different disks if not on a DVD as well.

I decided to roll with the Amazon S3 service instead of buying more disk that I have to maintain. Amazon S3 is a simple web service that can be used to securely retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. Amazon does not provide a front end to the S3 web service. It is intentionally built with a minimal feature set.

For a front end to the S3 service I decided to use Jungle Disk. Jungle Disk supports Linux, Max, and Windows (including Vista) platforms as well as USB sticks. It makes the Amazon S3 service appear as a network drive on your machine where you can drag and drop or copy files.

One of my major complaints with approaches like this in the past has been that passing lots of info or large files over the network takes time and can be process intensive depending on your OS (this is really the kindest way I could put this without saying Windows slows to a crawl). Jungle disk has solved this. It caches the files local on your machine and slowly feeds the bits to the S3 service as CPU and bandwidth are available (configurable). To the end user it makes the copy to the Network drive look instantaneous. The software also comes with a backup routine where you can backup selected folders. The software is 20 bucks with life time upgrades.

You pay for the Amazon S3 service monthly. The rates are reasonable. Storage is $0.15 per GB-Month of storage used. You also pay a small data transfer fee for incoming and outgoing data transfer. Amazon provides a fee calculator to figure out your approximate costs. If you think about what hard disk space costs to install and mirror (for a true archive) as well as administer, the fees keep looking better and better! I’m willing to pay for good service and zero headaches!

So what’s left on my Network Storage at home? VMware images. Lots and lots of VMware images. Large files that are I/O and bandwidth intensive are not the type of thing I’m looking to store out in the cloud…..at least not yet. Next thing on my list to explore is Amazon EC2. The topic of a future post I’m sure.

-Charles

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