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26Apr/11Off

Misleading 3PAR

TechOps Guy: Nate

Hello to my two readers out there!

You know I like 3PAR, have been using them for years, and know their stuff inside and out.

I was on a Computerworld article a few moments ago and saw an advertisement for 3PAR by HP and it made me cringe

While it is true that 3PAR has Intel Xeon processors, it's really the custom built ASIC that does all the heavy lifting. General purpose CPUs don't have a prayer in being able to keep up, much like general purpose CPUs don't have a prayer in keeping up with high performance network switching fabrics.

I think the advertisement is bad, and misleading (by misleading I mean removing perceived value of the 3PAR platform by implying that Intel processors are the workhorse on the system). I'm sure that 3PAR would of never had made this mistake on their own. Someone at HP needs to be educated on the platform.

So I have to knock HP on that one.

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25Apr/11Off

Netflix: more users than Comcast ?

TechOps Guy: Nate

Netflix seems to be unstoppable for the moment, with their stock continuing to go through the roof and their subscriber numbers climbing all the time.

Just saw this on slashdot

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Netflix knocked over a new milestone Monday: It now has more subscribers than the largest cable TV operator in the U.S.

[..]

Revenue rose 46% to $719 million.

Sooner or later I think investors, and customers will realize that the streaming model Netflix has doesn't scale, the unicast nature of the platform just won't scale. Doesn't matter if your on every CDN on the planet. Maybe with IPv6 multicast (assuming it works as advertised as far as I know nobody has ever deployed multicast on anything remotely approaching the size of a cable network over the internet).

Myself I already do have trouble streaming from Netflix on occasion (and I rarely stream from them, because I rarely find anything I am interested in watching). I can't remember the last time I was able to actually stream HD. (I'm on Comcast and have what is advertised as a 16Mbps connection, which speedtest.net claims at this point in time - 9:48PM on a Monday, I get 22Mbps download and 5Mbps upload)

Here's hoping Tivo can survive. My 70 season passes give me a whole hellva lot more entertainment than Netflix can hope to provide me.

That being said I am still a Netflix customer, but I tend to watch maybe 2-4 DVDs a month (average), and stream, at this point 1-2 hours/month (there was some points where I came across a series or something that I liked a lot and watched the whole thing but it's been a while since that happened).

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23Apr/11Off

Palm Pixis as PDA/Media player

TechOps Guy: Nate

So my pair of Palm Pixi Pluses arrived yesterday. I'm by no means a hardware hacker, have never really had a whole lot of interest in "breaking in" to my systems unless I really needed to (e.g. replace Tivo hard drive that is out of warranty).

Palm Pixi Plus for Verizon

I have read a lot over the years how friendly the WebOS platform is to "hacking". For one you don't have to root the device, there is an official method to enable developer mode at which point you can install whatever you want.

First thing I wanted to do was upgrade the OS software to the latest revision, the units shipped with 1.4.0, latest is 1.4.5. Given Palm is working on WebOS 2 and WebOS 3, I'm not really expecting any more major updates to WebOS 1. Upgrading was very painless, just download WebOS Doctor for your version/phone/carrier and run it, it re-flashes the phone with the full operating system, then reboots it.

One of the things I didn't really think of when I ordered my Pixis were the fact that they would require activation in order to use (on initial boot it prompts to call Verizon to register, and of course I am not a Verizon customer and have no intention of using these as Phones).

Fear not though, after a few minutes of research turns up an official tool to bypass this registration process, and is really easy to use:

nate@nate-laptop:~/Downloads$ java -jar devicetool.jar
Found device: pixie-bootie
Copying ram disk................
Rebooting device...
Configuring device...
File descriptor 3 (socket:[1587]) leaked on lvm.static invocation. Parent PID 947: novacomd
 Reading all physical volumes.  This may take a while...
 Found volume group "store" using metadata type lvm2
File descriptor 3 (socket:[1587]) leaked on lvm.static invocation. Parent PID 947: novacomd
 6 logical volume(s) in volume group "store" now active
File descriptor 3 (socket:[1587]) leaked on lvm.static invocation. Parent PID 947: novacomd
 0 logical volume(s) in volume group "store" now active
Rebooting device...
Device is ready.

So now I have the latest OS, and I have bypassed registration (which also includes turning on developer mode by default). I do lose some functionality in this mode such as:

  • No access to online software updates (don't care)
  • No access to Palm App Catalog (not the end of the world)

I had installed OpenSSH on my Pre in the past (though never tested it), this time around I was looking how to get a shell on the Pixi, and looked high and low on how to get SSH on it, to no avail (the documentation is gone, and I can't find any ssh packages for some reason). Anyways in the end it didn't really matter because I could just use novaterm, another official Palm tool to get root access, I mean it doesn't get much simpler than this:

nate@nate-laptop:~$ novaterm
root@palm-webos-device:/# df -h
Filesystem                Size      Used Available Use% Mounted on
rootfs                  441.7M    394.8M     46.9M  89% /
/dev/root                31.0M     11.3M     19.7M  37% /boot
/dev/mapper/store-root
 441.7M    394.8M     46.9M  89% /
/dev/mapper/store-root
 441.7M    394.8M     46.9M  89% /dev/.static/dev
tmpfs                     2.0M    152.0k      1.9M   7% /dev
/dev/mapper/store-var
 248.0M     22.7M    225.3M   9% /var
/dev/mapper/store-log
 38.7M      4.6M     34.1M  12% /var/log
tmpfs                    64.0M    160.0k     63.8M   0% /tmp
tmpfs                    16.0M     28.0k     16.0M   0% /var/run
tmpfs                    97.9M         0     97.9M   0% /media/ram
cryptofs                  6.4G    549.6M      5.8G   8% /media/cryptofs
/dev/mapper/store-media
 6.4G    549.6M      5.8G   8% /media/internal

I don't think I will need to access the shell beyond this initial configuration so I am not going to bother with SSH going forward.

I have a bunch of Apps and games on my Palm Pre and wanted to try to transfer them to my Pixis. I was hoping for an ipkg variation of dpkg-repack but was unable to find such a thing, so I had to resort to good 'ol tar/gzip. All of the apps (as far as I can tell) are stored in /media/cryptofs/apps. So I tarred up that directory on my Pre and transferred it to my first Pixi and overwrote the apps directory on it, then rebooted to see what happened.

It worked, really much better than I had expected. Several of the games (especially the more fancy ones) did not work, I suspect because of the different screen size, a couple of the other fancy games started up, but the edges of the screen were clipped. There are probably Pixi versions for many of them, but that wasn't a big deal, all of the apps worked.

I put the phone in Airplane mode to disable the 3G radio, installed a few patches (which modify system behavior) , and a few more free apps/games via WebOS Quick Install. Copied over some music to test it out, works awesome. The speakers on the Pixi sound really good in my opinion.

After the apps are installed there is roughly 6.3-6.5 GB of available storage for media.

Only thing missing? Touchstone charging, the custom case to support that looks like it starts at $20, I already have 3 touchstone docks, if I did not, that runs $50.

The UI in WebOS is really great, with full multi tasking, a great notification system, and has everything integrated really well.

Having all of these apps, some games, full wifi (which I can use on 3G/4G with the Sprint Mifi that I have), media playback abilities, a keyboard, nice resolution screen, camera with flash, GPS, user replaceable battery, no carrier contracts, all for $40 ?! I really wish I did buy more than two.

Really looking forward to the Pre 3 and the Touchpad.

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14Apr/11Off

Palm Pixi Plus $40 w/no contract today only

TechOps Guy: Nate

Just came across this on PreCentral, seems like a good deal to me, I ordered two. I don't know if I will ever really use them, I think I could give one as a gift or something and keep the other for..I don't know. I'm a big fan of WebOS though, and these phones are wifi equipped. I suppose they could be fancy MP3 players if nothing else they have 7GB usable storage, and I don't believe they have any expansion storage.

Here are the specs for the Palm Pixi Plus.

Offer is good for today only. I have not heard of The daily steals web site until today so I can't vouch for them(yet). As usual I used a temporary credit card to make the purchase.

I retired my Palm Pre 1 while I wait for a Pre 3, and I must say since I've had the Pre in airport mode the battery lasts forever, wow. I was really truely shocked. It could go all day and maybe drop 2-3% at the most. Battery life was at the lowest level when I had my Pre integrated with Exchange I'd have to charge it a couple times a day. Thankfully the touchstone made that easy.

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7Apr/11Off

AT&T+T-Mobile – Spectrum

TechOps Guy: Nate

One of the bigger things announced recently was that AT&T and T-Mobile are going to try to merge.

I'm watching an interview on CNBC with some bigwig from some company called Evercore Partners, whom is apparently an advisor in this merger.

Anyways one of the main arguments the guy tried to make (along with AT&T) is spectrum. That there isn't enough spectrum for all of the wireless data that is out there and this merger will some how make more spectrum magically appear.

First off I have for a long time said that the edge data technology (wired or wireless) just doesn't scale, period (and when I say scale I mean cost effectively scale you can make it go faster in many cases but then it becomes too expensive for almost everyone out there limiting the market opportunities, of course there are those out there that expect and demand gigabit speeds to their home for $20/mo).

This guy seems to forget that there are tens of millions of people using this spectrum already, giving it, and the customers to AT&T really isn't going to have much of an impact from a spectrum standpoint. They may be able to drive higher capacity utilization so maybe they get an extra 10-20-25% out of it by segmenting their network better in some way, but the bandwidth available to that spectrum is going to be eaten up so fast customers won't even notice it was there to begin with.

Both AT&T and T-Mobile have very large footprints in the Seattle area, and with all of the job cuts expected during the merger I suspect it will have a harmful impact on the local economy here.

The only good thing about this merger is at least AT&T picked a compatible technology to merge with (that is GSM to GSM), unlike the Sprint Nextel merger which was of course about as polar opposite technologies as you can get.

I like many believe the merger will hurt competition, specifically because T-Mobile has a someone unique position in the market from a pricing standpoint, and being a national carrier they have a lot of coverage. AT&T tries to bring up all these small regional companies as evidence of competition, but in the grand scheme of things they are just the scraps on the plate. I can't help but assume the merger will result in T-mobile plans turning into AT&T plans at some point.

What we need is something like sub space communications from Star Trek, where data rates are a billion times faster than they are today that will give us enough buffer to grow in to.

My solution to the bandwidth crunch on mobile? Broadcast TV. Want streaming video on your phone? Stream it from the local TV stations in your area via digital antenna (e.g. don't use the phone network, don't use wifi). I'm not aware of phones that have this ability at this point though. Don't have the content your looking for?  Oh well.

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