Macbook Crashed

Hmm, just finished the update to the latest version of Safari. Afterwards, I was doing some work and then everything suddenly froze. A few seconds later a screen came up saying that I would have to hold down the power button to restart my laptop. Upon rebooting it asked to file a crash report to Apple, which I let it do.

This is the first time ever that I’ve had a Mac actually crash hard on me. Hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come.

I’d hate to use this as a reason to have to upgrade my laptop. It still works great, but it is starting to show its age. One of the clients that I’m working with at JBM Labs has a rather dirty office due to the type of work that they do and doing troubleshooting there with my white Macbook has caused quite a few stains on the keys and surface of the laptop. I’d really like to get one of the new Macbook Pros, but just can’t justify the price right now.

Mac Spaces is just as good as linux desktops

One of the main reasons I was interested in upgrading my Macs to 10.5 was the inclusion of Spaces. I’ve been working with virtual desktops on Linux for years. I’ve gotten so used to being able to partition applications by logical group, what I was doing, that I’ve found working with windows and older versions of OSX rather painful. There was just never enough room and I was always spending time moving windows around instead of getting things done.

I would have a desktop for web browsing, one for email, one for tailling logs, … And then on top of it all I would use xosview placed in a corner and visible on every desktop to get a quick view of what my computer was doing at any moment.

I discovered awhile back that OSX had the Activity Monitor, which is found in the Utilities folder in Applications. It’s not quite as good as xosview, but it gets the major things. I usually put in the dock and set it up to show memory and then have a floating cpu window.

The main drawback though was that the cpu indicator would only be on one desktop with Spaces. So if you moved to another desktop you wouldn’t have that quick view. Today I discovered that if you go to the Spaces Preferences there is an option to specify that certain applications reside in all desktops. I simple added the Activity Monitor to this list and now the floating cpu window is always in the bottom left corner, no matter which desktop I was on.

Signed up for EC2 as well

Since I’m on the waiting list for Google’s AppEngine, all of the buzz got me thinking about how the cloud computing realization could augment the projects that I’m currently working on. After doing some homework on what was available out there it actually appears that Amazon’s EC2 is better suited to my needs.

EC2 can provide quickly requisitioned servers for an incredibly low price. This makes several aspects of scaling out a web service much simpler. Now I’m trying to wrap my head around a new way of thinking. I’ve got a small cluster of computers that I would like to expand through EC2, the question is where to draw the line. What stays in my datacenter and what goes to Amazon’s?

You have to pay for moving data in and out of EC2, so you want to be careful about how different parts of the system interact. I currently have several aspects of ReadPath that are implemented as web services to make it easier to change the configuration of the underlying systems. These systems would be excellent candidates for moving to EC2, but what I’m also considering is actually moving all of the background computation and crawling into EC2. Then only having the public web interface in my datacenter. For the web portion the crawl data is read only while the user data is read/write. So we could separate the content data from the user data and create a nice separation. The main risk is if the EC2 systems aren’t stable and cause data loss, we’ll just have to see.

Signed up for Google’s AppEngine

So I’ve finally taken the plunge and signed up for one of the cloud computing services. The main reason why I chose Google’s was because it offered a free trial to see how my applications would integrate. I know Amazon’s is really cheap, but you don’t have any money coming in yet there is still a difference between really cheap and free.

Only problem is that I’m waitlisted, well that gives me some time to look it over and model things out before I dive in completely.

Been busy the last month

I’ve been really busy the last month as my Company, JBM Labs, has finally gotten going. JBM Labs is focusing on bringing tech consulting to small companies. It’s been a really exciting ride so far. It’s very different work than the 9-5 work I had been doing since 2000. So far so good. I’ll post more updates on how things are going here.