Launching BetterDistricts Today

BetterDistricts is a personal project that I’ve been working on for awhile.

I think that there is something fundamentally broken about how our government is working. I believe that a lot of the symptoms that we see:

  • Feeling that no one is actually listening
  • Inability to get anything done
  • Shouting past each other
  • No real debate
  • Creating caricatures of those we disagree with

have at their root the inability to hold our elected officials accountable. We send officials to D.C. to represent the people of their district. But how can we ever tell if they’re doing that? There is no mechanism to compare what the individuals in a community believe and how their elected officials vote.

I created BetterDistricts to try and do something about this. You can either vote on the bills that are in Congress, sending a signal as to how you would like to be represented or you can create a proposal to put forward.

Let me know what you think.

Terminal hack to make logging into a cluster easier

I’ve been looking for a way to make it simpler to quickly login to all nodes of a cluster from a mac terminal. Discovered a small npm module that helped me do it called ttab. With this npm module I can then write a bash script:

#!/bin/bash

TYPE=$1

rs6 () {
ttab -w ssh bryan@example1.com
ttab ssh bryan@example2.com
ttab ssh bryan@example3.com
ttab ssh bryan@example4.com
ttab ssh bryan@example5.com
ttab ssh bryan@example6.com
}

if [ “rs6” = $TYPE ]
then
rs6
fi

This will open one new terminal window with 6 tabs all logged into the different servers.

Macbook Quibble

I really don’t understand the decision in the Mac Settings to link together the scroll direction of the trackpad and mouse. There are two different check boxes for whether you want natural scroll direction or not for each of these inputs.

On the trackpad, I definitely want natural scroll direction. However, the so called “natural” direction on the mouse is the opposite of every other computer that I use. Since there are two check boxes, one for each of these settings, I would REALLY like to be able to have them set opposite of each other. The problem is that if you check one, it checks the other and vice versa.

Otherwise the macbook pro is the state of the art when it comes to laptops. Especially when paired with a thunderbolt display in the office.

iPad Kindle Update

This is just a quick post for any of the Amazon iPad Kindle Reader developers out there that might be listening. As someone that has purchased and read hundreds of kindle books, the latest update is a step backwards.

Instapaper has better reading options and that’s a done by a single developer. The margins change is really bugging me. I realize that you just cant pick a single setting that is going to make 100% of the people happy, so there should just be a slider for margins. Then everyone can choose what they’re comfortable with. A slider for brightness and a slider for font size. Then you could let people choose their favorite font and you’d have the perfect reader.

I know that some of these changes are difficult. How would you calculate page numbers with infinite variations in the text? But making difficult things look easy is why Amazon is great.

Virtualizing Mission Critical Applications

Jaimie has organized a webinar to discuss what it takes to manage a large scale virtualization project.

One of the speakers, Mr. Brodhun, is uniquely qualified on this subject having previously served as Technical Director for Enterprise Standards and Technologies for the United States Marine Corps, where he oversaw the deployment of approximately 2,300 ESX hosts and nearly 7,000 virtual machines across 167 sites.

Regardless of the size of your virtualization project, you’ll learn how to maximize uptime and performance of mission critical applications, while eliminating hidden costs that can decrease virtualization ROI upwards of 50%.

Click here to register for this webinar.

Streaming music on the appleTV

I just stumbled across a little feature on the appleTV that I hadn’t been aware of before. It appears that if you create a playlist in the iTunes library that the appleTV is connected to. Then put streaming urls into that playlist. When you then go the internet tab on the appleTV, there will be a playlist menu item with those items in it. This way you should be able to get whichever streaming media that you want on your appleTV.

The Future has arrived

Ever since I moved out to California, one of the things that I’ve secretly wanted was to be able to listen to my favorite music while driving. The problem has always been that my favorite channel by far is the Vocal Trance channel off of Digitally Imported Radio. So this meant that I would need to be able to stream internet radio while driving in the car.

Well, today that day has finally arrived. I noticed yesterday that DI has an iPhone app that allows you to stream their premium channels over 3G. I was listening today for about an hour while out running some errands with Caitlin. I only lost the signal once for about 5 sec while driving in some hills, the app does a great job of buffering and keeping the music going. The quality is great and with ~1hr of streaming it only used 25Mb of data according to the built in meter (I’ll have to double check with ATT’s meter).

One of the greatest things about the app is that if it does cut out for any reason it can determine that it’s at the end of a stream and gracefully fades out so that there aren’t any jarring cuts in or out. Every streaming app should copy this.

Adding RSS discovery to Chrome

For Chrome on the mac, it appears that RSS auto discovery is not included by default. This is the feature that puts a little RSS icon in the URL bar when the page that you’re on has an RSS feed available. In order to enable this feature for Chrome on the mac you need to install this extension. This is an extension from Google and seems to work great.

Then if you find a RSS feed that you’d like to add to ReadPath, drag the link below to your bookmark bar.

Add To ReadPath

Then when you’re on a page that you want to subscribe to, press the bookmarklet and it will have ReadPath subscribe you to the feed.

Changing my comment policy

I’ve turned off comments on this blog for now. While I’ve gotten some great comments in the past, the volume of spam just isn’t worth the hassle. Instead I’ve put a mailto: link at the bottom of each article. This is the best way to get ahold of me anyway. If you send something relevant and worth sharing I’ll add it to the blog post.

Oh, I changed the name of the blog as well. Not as worried about having my real name on the web anymore.

Playing with ESXi

I had to test out a desktop virtualization product (Pano Logic) this week and as part of the installation I needed a VMware ESX base system. I’m a huge user of their Workstation product, but I had never used the ESX line since it used to be so expensive and required certified hardware. Things have changed though and it’s now possible to download a copy of ESXi for free and to run without a dedicated SAN.

One of the difficulties with VMware is that their acronyms can be very difficult to wade through. ESXi is what they refer to as a hypervisor. This essentially is a very cut down operating system that is designed to only run other Virtual Machines. There are some requirements to running ESXi, I had to go through 3-4 servers before I found one that the installer had all of the drivers. I finally got it to run a server I had picked up from Penguin Computing (2x dual core Opteron with 4Gb mem and 250Gb hard drive).

Once I found a server that worked, the system installed quickly. The next problem was that you need to download the vSphere client to administer the server which is windows only (there are command line clients for other operating systems, but I wasn’t ready for that yet). I didn’t have a windows box laying around (all linux and mac), so I had to launch a WinXP VM in workstation on my linux desktop to administer my ESXi server. Amazingly everything worked great.

The next issue that I ran into was that I already had a large number of VMs created that I was using on workstation, but I couldn’t see how to get them on to the ESXi server. In the vSphere client there are clear instructions on how to create a new VM or download an appliance, but not how to import an existing VM. It turns out that VMware has a very simple way of doing this using the VMware Converter. This product works as a switchboard allowing you to convert or move VMs from one place to another, a really handy tool.

Overall ESXi is a great tool for running a whole bunch of server VMs. VMware offers a huge number of management products in the vSphere product line for managing load and moving VMs in a datacenter. But if you just need to run a few VMs on a single server I would definitely recommend looking at ESXi.

Just ordered a new kindle

I just placed a pre-order for Amazon’s newest Kindle the other day. This one is to replace Jaimie’s Kindle since she was still using the very first generation model and there are quite a few updates in this newest version. Supposedly much better battery life, better contrast, and faster page turns, all great things for a power reader.

We also decided to go with the wifi only model, which is cheaper, but most of our book reading is at home where there is total coverage. If we’re out and about we read on the iPhone and then sync back to the kindle to continue reading at home.

Hopefully this latest version will arrive before the next round of books that we’ve been waiting for. I’m waiting for The Evolutionary Void and we’re very happy that MockingJay will also be released in a kindle version.

I was happy to hear that Bezos was focusing on creating the best book reader instead of chasing yet another tablet.

Caitlin’s clothes

So, I was doing the laundry today and realized that at 18 months Caitlin has hit a critical milestone. She now has more clothes than her dad, BY VOLUME, and I’ve got some pretty big clothes. I suppose I should just accept this and realize that as she moves on towards high school and college it’ll only get progressively worse, but it was still a bit of a shock.

Playing around with the layout

I’ve updated the theme to try out a new look for the blog.

I had originally placed a few types of ads on these pages, just so that I could try them out somewhere other than at the day job. But now that I’ve got ReadPath cranking there really isn’t any need to experiment here any longer.

I’m fairly happy with this new theme, but you might continue to see some changes as I customize things.