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25Mar/11Off

RIP: F-22 Raptor

TechOps Guy: Nate

This isn't really directly related to the IT field but is related to technology so is relevant to the tag line of the site.

First off let me disclose I am not a pilot, and do not closely follow military stuff so I quite likely  have some things wrong, this is more of a comment(like most things) than me trying to report on something.

The F-22 Raptor, what seemed to be the most technologically advanced aircraft ever developed seems to be close to retirement before it ever saw action.

The F-22 Raptor

Like most people with the No Fly Zone over Libya I expected Hey, this is a great opportunity for the Raptor. After all with it's next generation stealth technologies in theory the Raptor could enforce the no fly zone without even attacking the anti aircraft systems since they wouldn't see it anyways(short of getting lucky with some flak or something).

I've looked at the Raptor in awe for what seems like almost 20 years now, I remember back in high school I was a pretty avid reader of Aviation Week and Space Technology (think I will subscribe to it now that I am thinking about it). I haven't really read it since high school but I have to say the Raptor sounded so cool at the time, I still remember even today I had a laminated artist conception of the Raptor for years, it was beautiful.

As time went on I got bits of pieces of information here and there from various sources. More recently was a documentary called Dogfights of the future (one cool segment is available here) which renewed my enthusiasm for the fighter. I remember being quite disappointed when the Commanche was canned, but there was still hope with the Raptor!

But it seems the Raptor has too many issues, or is too expensive, or deemed not to be needed in the world today since we have such dominance in the sky, although with China working hard on building a stealth fighter and the general rise of China as a world power it wouldn't surprise me if we have conflicts with them in the future if over nothing else over natural resources.

The one incident I do remember with the Raptor was several years ago when a bunch of them were flying to Asia, and when they crossed the international date line their computers all crashed.

Maj. Gen. Don Sheppard (ret.): ”...At the international date line, whoops, all systems dumped and when I say all systems, I mean all systems, their navigation, part of their communications, their fuel systems. They were—they could have been in real trouble. They were with their tankers. The tankers – they tried to reset their systems, couldn’t get them reset. The tankers brought them back to Hawaii.

It seems that support for the F-22 Raptor is all but gone at this point, another reason for my interest in the Raptor recently was that report from CNBC I saw it yesterday. I don't see lack of communications with other aircraft as being a reason not to use the jet in Libya, after all it's stealth, you don't know it's there. They can see you, you can't see or shoot it, well unless you get in close with a heat seeker or get lucky with guns (assuming the stealth works as well as it is hyped anyways). It's clear that almost 14 years after it's first flight, the powers that be have lost patience and confidence in the program.

The next solution seems to be (I think?) the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which obviously doesn't have nearly the amount of bling that makes the Raptor so bad ass(like Supercruise). I don't know if it is still an issue but at one point some of the partners of the F-35 were threatening to stop support because they weren't allowed access to the source code of the software that powers it. Not to mention the fact that the F-35 has it's own delays associated with it and budget overruns.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

In a world where we can't seem to kill a program because the people who make it have political vested interests in their districts, despite the fact the military says they have too many and don't want any more, it makes me sad that something like the F-22 and the Commanche for that matter goes away.

The Air Force hasn’t asked for more money to buy C-17s since 2007. That year the Air Force wanted 12, and Congress bought it 22. In 2008, the Air Force wanted none, but Congress bought 15. In 2009, the request was also zero, and Congress bought eight. In 2010, the Air Force once again asked for no C-17s, and lawmakers bought 10.

I don't know the inside story of course, maybe the systems really are plagued and it's not realistic to fund them further, whatever the real reason is, it is too bad.

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21Mar/11Off

Please do not extend Data center tax breaks

TechOps Guy: Nate

This is just disgusting to me. It pissed me off when it passed the first time and it is even more stupid and crazy if it happens to pass again.

Just read on DataCenterKnowledge that Washington state (where I am) has someone(s) proposing a bill that would extend data center tax breaks for another 10+ years.

This, in a time where the state forecast just last week an even larger state budget deficit.

Key lawmakers now turn their full attention to writing budgets for the 2011-2013 cycle. Revenue is expected to be down for that budget by an additional $700 million, Thursday's forecast said. Now, the deficit is estimated to be about $5.1 billion, but that includes voter-approved mandates that lawmakers don't plan to fund.

The big issue I have with this data center tax break is these data centers really don't contribute much. They have a short term gain in construction jobs but operationally they employ hardly anyone and they consume an enormous amount of energy and water requirements for cooling.

Take a look at this $1 billion Apple data center for example -

Tax breaks could total $300 million for 50-employee server farm in North Carolina

If your going to give tax breaks, give them to businesses that actually generate jobs. There should be some sort of rule, # of jobs per square foot, or # of jobs per $ in tax break or something. Data centers are a waste for tax breaks, let them go somewhere else.

The original tax break to data centers was approved right after the state announced a $1 billion tax increase on the rest of the state.

14Mar/11Off

Right vs Privilege for Broadband

TechOps Guy: Nate

I wrote about this a while back, at the time the topic was AT&T imposing caps on mobile data plans, so won't go into all the same arguments again.

But this time it is AT&T imposing caps on their various broadband plans. I don't know whether to laugh at or feel sorry for some of these people (see the comments on the site) that believe they have a right to maximum performance, unlimited bandwidth for a few bucks a month.

**** YOU and your troll crap. DONT BE MAD BECAUSE IM TELLING THE TRUTH YOU AT&T DRONE. YOU WEEP FOR THE COMPANY WHO HAS MORE MONEY THAN THE U.S TREASURY. GET YOUR HEAD EXAMINED.

IF YOUR CRAPPY DSL IS SLOW IT'S BECAUSE YOUR ISP IS TOO CHEAP TO UPGRADE TO THE NEEDS OF THE WORLD IN 2011!!!!

This post really is funny

If only two percent of people are affected, why do you feel the need to screw the rest of the 98%?!

As a Comcast broadband customer I have a 250GB cap a month. I have no doubt though that I fall far short of the cap, I'd be surprised if I do more than 20GB a month (that is with occasional netflix streaming though these days I can't find anything I want to stream on Netflix, I've watched one or two things in the past month) UPDATE - I forgot Comcast does have a bandwidth meter you can check, so I got my account info and checked it out. I wonder where I stand as far as a percentile of their customers - low usage on average? medium?

I do run a server as well in the Terremark cloud, so I checked out the bandwidth on it as well (which hosts this blog along with my email services, other web sites etc)

  • February - 6GB data transfer (I assume they charge on inbound and outbound transfers?)
  • January - 2GB data transfer
  • December - 2GB data transfer

The world is built in over subscription, that's a big driver to keeping costs low. Whether it's bandwidth, or phone/mobile call capacity, or even your local grocery store.

I for one think AT&T's plan is very reasonable, they will charge you $10 per 50GB over their limits, $100 for 500GB of data transferred. They will also provide notifications when you hit certain levels of that cap.

The big mistake all of these providers made was of course to offer unlimited plans in the first place.

Tagged as: 2 Comments
9Mar/11Off

Next Gen COPAN

TechOps Guy: Nate

About a year or so ago SGI bought COPAN for what seemed like fractional pennies on the dollar, well they recently came out with the next generation of COPAN and I'm still amazed at how much storage they can fit in a rack.

ArcFiniti comes in 5 factory-configured models to suit any archive environment. Lower-capacity models can be upgraded to higher capacity, maxing out at just over 1.4PB of usable archive in a single rack.

Full specifications don't seem to be disclosed at the moment, the original COPAN systems topped out at a hefty 3,000 pounds per rack, the only storage system that I had heard of that weighed in more than 3PAR (about 2,000 pounds max per rack).

The original systems kept roughly 75% of the drives spun down at any given point.

 

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3Mar/11Off

No.

TechOps Guy: Nate

Here's some more color to my blog.

 

I saw this on LinkedIn a few minutes ago and couldn't help but laugh.


 

Tagged as: 1 Comment
2Mar/11Off

Innovation Unleashed

TechOps Guy: Nate

This has really nothing to do with IT, but it has to do with innovation, and my three readers know I like innovation, whether it is in IT systems or other technology.

So, in a nutshell I bought a new car this past weekend. I'm very happy and excited about it, it's really my first new car that I have owned, past vehicles I've always bought used.

The tag line for the car is Innovation Unleashed.

My previous vehicle had 113,000 miles on it and was 10 years old. The check engine light seemed to be coming on once every 3-4 months and I was getting tired of it. Bottom line - if I knew how much it was going to cost to maintain for the next two years I would be happy, but for all I knew it may be another $5k in repairs and parts, I don't know. I'm not a car guy.

So a couple of weeks ago the check engine light comes on again and I start thinking about the possibility of a new car, I wanted:

  • Something that I could fit into, need leg room, I'm not a small person
  • Something that was smallish on the outside so it's easier to park than my previous SUV
  • Wanted a SUV of sorts, I didn't want to have to seriously climb down into a really low riding car.
  • Something that was more fun to drive (want more speed for passing)

So after some research, and a few test drives...

I decided on the 2011 Nissan Juke SV. There is a good video-review of it here.

Those are generic pictures, not of my car specifically.

Innovations in the Juke

First off, let me start by saying cars have come a long way since I last really looked at them, I mean features that I would of expected to be on $50,000+ cars seem standard on cars that cost half as much.

Torque Vectoring All wheel drive

That just sounds cool doesn't it? Anyways, I learned something new from this buying experience (again I'm not a car person so don't keep up to date on this stuff). Traditional all wheel drive systems transfer power between the front and back wheels to increase traction. That much I knew of course.

Torque vectoring all wheel drive goes one step further, in addition to front and back it can control power side to side as well, individual wheels can have their power levels adjusted for maximum control. By default the car tries to say in 2WD mode to improve fuel economy but of course automatically switches to 4WD/AWD when it feels a disturbance in the force and needs more traction.

Here is a video that shows it in action.

This really does make it pretty fun to drive, you can make some crazy tight turns and it doesn't seem to lose any grip.

In between the gauges for MPH and RPM is a dynamic LCD, which has many modes, one of which shows real time information as to which wheels are getting the power applied to them, so you can see when making tight turns that typically one wheel gets almost all power removed from it, and the others get more power.

I-CON System

The I-CON, or Integrated Control system is just below the stereo / navigation system and is a really neat way to control the car, and is very easy to use.

The same set of controls manages two different modes, either climate controls, or driver controls which change how the car performs. The same buttons and interface are used and the functions change seamlessly at the touch of a button, here is part of a video of it in action.

Climate controls are pretty typical, hot/cold, fan speed etc. The graphics on the LCD are neat to see though.

Driver mode is a bit different though, there are 3 modes - Normal, Sport, and Eco. Changing modes adjusts a few things dynamically in the car to suit more towards sporty driving or more towards fuel economy. Me, at the moment like sport mode, only down side is the car defaults to Normal whenever it starts so I have to manually switch it to sport each time, it doesn't remember the last mode it was in.

Then there are more ..how can I say, cosmetic things the LCD displays such as

  • Boost level (the car has a turbo boost)
  • Torque level
  • Fuel economy information (MPG over the last X number of starts, or last X number of days etc)
  • G-force information

Performance and Fuel Economy

The car has a 4-cylinder direct injected gas turbo charged engine. To me that says, it has a smaller engine for fuel economy, but has the turbo charger for performance. So you get a balance of both. It really works well together.

The official specs are 188 horsepower and 177 pound feet of torque. If only they could give me a number that measured performance in IOPS...

Fuel economy for the AWD version is 25 city, 30 highway, the FWD version gets slightly better economy. My previous vehicle was 12 city, 17 highway, so I'm coming out ahead in either case! Not that fuel economy is at the top of my list of priorities.

Other misc features

It has a standard (but to me fancy since I don't think I've ever used such a system before) key less entry and operation system, push button starter, I put a big fancy audio system in it with multiple amps, sub woofer (which turned out a lot bigger than I expected, and got a custom fiberglass enclosure for the sub woofer), high end navigation system(which is windows based - it's already crashed on me once and I had to turn the car off than on again to reboot it, there might be another way to reboot it I'm not sure). After market backup camera (again, heard of them never used one before).

It comes standard with a CVT, or Continuously Variable Transmission, where it does not have traditional gears, instead has hundreds (thousands?) of smaller gear ratios or something which provides for smoother shifting and stuff. AWD models are automatic only, manual transmission not available. But even in the automatic version it has a manual mode, which emulates a six speed transmission. The only thing lacking is paddle shifters...some day hopefully someone will come out with some. I do prefer manual, but if I have to make a choice, AWD or manual I'll take AWD. My last vehicle didn't have the best of traction (even with new tires) on slick surfaces.

It comes standard with 17" wheels.

The transmission comes standard with a 120,000 (or is it 110,000) mile / 10 year warranty, I opted for the 100,000 / 7 year extended warranty as well. Cars are so complicated now, and given this is the first model year for this car and it has a lot of brand new things, who knows what might break in the coming years or how much it'll cost to fix.

How it drives

It's a mean little car, it has some solid power to it, I haven't pushed it too hard yet the manual says to keep it under 4,000 RPM for the first 1200 miles (have about 400 on it now), so doing my best to keep it under 4,000 RPM, sometimes unavoidable though with the turbo, since there is some lag before turbo kicks in the RPMs tend to spike really high, so i try to slow down quickly so it doesn't stay above 4k RPMs for more than a couple seconds.

I can't help but think I'm driving a cross between a Prius and a Porsche.

Sound system is pretty amazing, Navigation system is nice. I have no sense of direction so navigation is a must, past few years I have been using Sprint Navigation on my various phones, it gets the job done but certainly not as nice as an in-dash unit, especially a Navigation system that doesn't rely on a 3G signal, that has screwed me up on Sprint Navigation more than once since it requires 3G connectivity to get map data.

It has a really tight turning radius, and is significantly shorter than all other SUV-type vehicles on the road, so makes it easy to park. Despite it's small exterior it has a lot of space in the front seats. The back seats are cramped as is the trunk, all I really care about is the front seats though.

What's missing

Nothing is perfect, and Juke is no exception, there are a few minor things I would like to see:

  • Paddle shifter option (mentioned above)
  • Some sort of compartment to put sun glasses
  • Arm rest for drivers right arm

Only Complaint

Not about the car itself but rather the process of buying the car. For the most part it went very smoothly and I was very happy with the service I got. When trading in my previous vehicle the sales rep came back and said there was an accident reported on my vehicle by carfax and that would lower the resale value, I asked him What? Why is there an accident reported? And he said there just is, so I asked to see the report and there it was.

I bought the vehicle used in late January 2004 in Washington. I have traveled to Washington, Oregon, California and Arizona in it, that's it.

So you imagine my surprise when he said there was an accident reported on my vehicle in New York. In 2008. I've never been to New York. I never intend to ever visit that city ever in my lifetime (too crowded). So I was kind of confused. I owned the car in 2008, and it never got further east than Arizona.

I of course ran a carfax report when I bought the vehicle in 2004, and it came back clean. So I naturally wasn't too happy.

It turns out that my vehicle came from New Jersey and was sold at an auction in 2004 in the northwest. So I can only assume, for some really stupid #$%@ reason that someone decided to wait 4-5 years before reporting to whatever system carfax uses to get it's data. I mean I can understand a few months, six months maybe a year, but practically half a decade? That's not right. Maybe it was a mistake, I don't know. Cost me about $1000 in value though.

I'm sure there may be things I could of done to contest it and stuff I just wanted to be done with the whole situation so said screw it, I don't care, just put it behind me and move on, so I did.

Overall

Overall I am very satisfied with the Juke so far (only been driving it for 4 days now), it is a good value (base model price of the version I got is roughly $24,000). It's small enough for easy parking, has good space up front (compared it to much larger SUVs and it has comparable or even better space than them for the driver's seat at least). I can't wait to take it on some kind of road trip, at least a couple hundred miles, that will be fun.

While I have seen some comments on line how some people hate the way it looks (for whatever reason), I think it looks fine and so far everyone I have come across really likes it as well, so I wouldn't be surprised if it became a really successful model for Nissan, especially given it's low cost.

The Juke looks even meaner at night, with the various gauges and the illuminated kick plates that have the Juke logo.

At the moment Jukes are made only in Japan and imported to the U.S. Supplies are tight, in fact there was only one Juke SV (the one I bought) that did not have a navigation system(remember I put in an after market system) in the entire northwest region. It came from somewhere in Oregon, they managed to get it to the dealership here in a matter of hours and I picked it up the next day. My dealership didn't even have an AWD model to test drive so my test drives were only on FWD.

Tagged as: 4 Comments
2Mar/11Off

Compellent gets Hyper efficient storage tiering

TechOps Guy: Nate

So according to this article from our friends at The Register, Compellent is considering going to absurdly efficient storage tiering taking the size of data being migrated to 32kB from their currently insanely efficient 512kB.

That's just insane!

For reference, as far as I know:

  • 3PAR moves data around in 128MB chunks
  • IBM moves data around in 1GB chunks (someone mentioned that XIV uses 1MB)
  • EMC moves data around in 1GB chunks
  • Hitachi moves data around in 42MB chunks (I believe this is the same data size they use for allocating storage to thin provisioned volumes)
  • NetApp has no automagic storage tiering functionality though they do have PAM cards which they claim is better.

I have to admit I do like Compellent's approach the best here, hopefully 3PAR can follow. I know 3PAR allocates data to think provisioned volumes in 16kB chunks, what I don't know is whether or not their system is adjustable to get down to a more granular level of storage tiering.

There's just no excuse for the inefficient IBM and EMC systems though, really, none.

Time will tell if Compellent actually follows through with going as granular as 32kB, I can't help but suspect the CPU overhead of monitoring so many things will be too much for the system to bear.

Maybe if they had purpose built ASIC...