- Why Your Netflix Traffic is Slow, and Why the Open Internet Order Won’t (Necessarily) Make It Faster
- ‘I Would Prefer Not To’: The Origins of the White Collar Worker : Longreads Blog
- The Man Who Made Singapore by Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal March 23, 2015
- TED-Ed and Periodic Videos
- SXSW’s Identity Crisis Is Our Own - "But the convergence of industries and brands that produces those metrics is precisely what’s rendered SXSW placeless and aimless. The festival has little need for Austin. It could be staged in almost any large city anywhere in the world, and attendees and sponsors would hardly notice. "
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Sadly, Kathy Sierra doesn’t blog any longer for reasons that I’m not going to get into here. But the good news is that she has a new book out, Badass: Making Users Awesome . It’s a book about making products successful but doing so through the lens of the user. She writes that an “awesome product” is a side-effect of products that help users to be successful at whatever they want to do do. And that’s what leads to success.
Where you find sustained success driven by recommendations, you find badass users. Smarter, more skillful, more powerful users. Users who know more and can do more in a way that’s personally meaningful.It’s Kathy’s contention that a lot of the time companies don’t put enough focus on helping users advance the skills in the “compelling context” around their tool rather than just the tool itself. For example, a camera is a tool. Photography is the context. And, by helping users advance their photography skills and engaging with them around that context, companies can be more successful.
There’s science and examples to buttress Kathy’s points. Research on motivation from Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck. Ski instruction techniques from Lito Tejeda-Flores. “Deliberate practice” to move skills to the Mastered (i.e. reliable/automatic) category. The acquisition of perceptual knowledge. The book is far from a textbook though. It has simple exercises, lots of graphics, and highly readable prose. (If you’re familiar with the O’Reilly Head First series of programming books, the style of this O’Reilly-published work is somewhat similar.)
The bottom line is that Badass is highly engaging and biased toward the practical. You can read the whole thing in a flight across about half the US. To the degree that I have a criticism, it’s the flip side of my praise. It’s perhaps a bit too breezy a read. Some more examples using a wider variety of products might have better grounded the book in concrete specifics.
Overall grade: 4/5
Monday, March 23, 2015
Writing about bimodal IT in CIO, ActiveState Software’s Bernard Golden wrote:
Bimodal IT echoes a presentation I saw several years ago from Will Forrest of McKinsey, who said that CEOs are so tired of how poorly their IT organizations are performing that they’re setting up separate organizations to pursue new opportunities. The implication is clear -- traditional IT is on borrowed time and faces a future where it is consigned to unimportance. It may, in fact, be too late for enterprise IT to do anything about this.
By way of background, bimodal IT  refers to the idea that, according to Gartner’s Daryl Plummer, "Forty-five percent of CIOs state they currently have a fast mode of operation, and we believe that by 2017 75 percent of IT organizations will have gone bi-modal in some way… Traditional IT has focused on operational excellence. IT has been like rocks in a river. In contrast, the digital world is in continuous flow. In “business moments”, businesses can leverage some ‘digitalized' process to create new opportunities. Those moments are supported by more fluid form of IT, more flexible and ready for anything.”
Of course, this is something of an oversimplification. Most IT organizations are complex and heterogeneous. They have many modes and types of infrastructure, applications, and operations. IT is multi-modal as another analyst put it to me. However, I find the binary lens useful because it helps to crystalize the opposing priorities of stability and speed—because it’s really pace of change that distinguishes the two modes.
But pace is not an absolute. It’s not zero and infinity. Which is where I quibble with Bernard’s piece that I quoted above and why I caution about equating slow or Mode 1 IT with terms like legacy, outdated, or old. (Even though it may be those things in some cases.)
Instead, think of classic or traditional IT as simply more focused on stability and efficiency and operated at a more deliberate pace. But it’s not necessarily static. It’s an opportunity to modernize and refresh within a go slow paradigm. As another recent Gartner report noted: "Software evolution is driving the IT market rapidly toward new architectural models and implementation practices. The trend toward bimodal IT will accelerate this evolution, and increasingly expose legacy operating systems like Unix (and the workloads based on those operating systems) as classic 'Mode 1' technology that is suited to traditional data center modernization."
The distinction between doing nothing and modernizing is an important one and I suspect that not recognizing that distinction fuels some of the criticism I’ve heard and read about the multi-modal or bimodal view of modern IT. Doing nothing implies giving up. It suggests that there is no benefit to undertaking IT projects that aren’t all-in with respect to agile development practices and infrastructure architectures. It effectively provides an excuse for not using IT for any sort of incremental strategic business advantage.
While incrementalism can indeed sometimes be a poor alternative to making needed changes, so too can the perfect be the enemy of the good. So pursue game-changing IT initiatives that take fundamentally new approaches like OpenStack IaaS, OpenShift by Red Hat PaaS, containers, cloud management platforms (such as CloudForms), and more. But don’t miss out on opportunities to streamline your existing IT model as well.
 Bimodal IT is a “Gartner-ism.” However, a variety of others have expressed similar concepts using different terminology. For example, IDC refers to cloud/social/mobile/big data under the “3rd platform” moniker to distinguish it from the older-style “2nd platform."
- The Peril and Promise of Early Adoption: Arriving 10 Years Early to C…
- A Brief History of the Corporation: 1600 to 2100
- NoSQL market frames larger debate: Can open source be profitable? | SiliconANGLE
- Think Millennials Prefer The City? Think Again. | FiveThirtyEight - “The fastest population growth right now is in the lowest-density neighborhoods, the suburb-iest suburbs,” Kolko said.
- Pre-Code: Hollywood before the censors | Deep focus | Sight & Sound | BFI
- Penn Station: A Place That Once Made Travelers Feel Important - NYTimes.com - "The design for a new Madison Square Garden was rendered in banal mid-1960s corporate vernacular by the architect (and former president of Pepsodent and Lever Brothers) Charles Luckman, who — referring to McKim’s Pennsylvania Station — admonished a reporter not to regard buildings as monuments “to the architect or to the owner.”"
- Inside Scoop SF » Din Tai Fung confirms its first Bay Area restaurant - Din Tai Fung is coming to Bay area—though alas San Jose rather than SF.
- Will Predictive Maintenance Be an Engine for Economic Transformation? | William Ruh | LinkedIn
- Photo Essay: Remembering Kodachrome - Gear Patrol
- The Price of Music | Re/code
- How we listen to music | Music Machinery - How we listen to music by @plamere (alas just slides)
- Badass Users Book Trailer on Vimeo - RT @SaraPeyton: You've heard about Kathy Sierra's Badass: Making Users Awesome. Here's her movie trailer: It's Badass!
- Reuven Cohen on Twitter: "Map: The Bay Area, Through A New Yorker's Eyes http://t.co/Qmc3utAyw8" - RT @rUv: Map: The Bay Area, Through A New Yorker's Eyes
- Richard Stallman’s GNU Manifesto Turns Thirty - The New Yorker
- Driverless cars: A tremendous innovation with a glaring Achilles’ heel - The Washington Post - RT @vpostrel: "Is one death caused by a machine error better than 10 deaths caused by human error?"
- Apple's TV service could be ready to launch by fall - Fortune - RT @poniewozik: Reported Apple TV stream intriguing, but don't hold yr breath expecting "everything I want to watch, but cheaper":
- Revealed: The best and worst of Docker | InfoWorld - RT @icecrime: Rare occurrence of an article neither 100% pro or 100% against - “The best and worst of Docker” by @syegulalp
- What Gartner’s Bimodal IT Model Means to Enterprise CIOs | CIO
- Etsy’s Success Gives Rise to Problems of Credibility and Scale - NYTimes.com - “Handmade businesses aren’t infinitely scalable, just by the definition of the term,” said Grace Dobush, a writer and longtime Etsy seller who made waves last month when she declared she was finally done with the site. “As Etsy has gotten bigger, it’s gotten more like eBay.”
- Log In - The New York Times - Etsy loses money on $196 million in revenue? Really?
- Gigaom: The Life and Death of a Venture Funded Media Startup — Medium - RT @jyarmis: Gigaom: The Life and Death of a Venture Funded Media Startup — Medium - > best read on the subject
- GigaOm Fired Staff After Struggling With Debt | Re/code - "But GigaOm’s research business had become a significant drag on the company. While it had started out as a “pro” subscription business charging individuals as much as $299 a year, after a couple of pivots, the company’s research arm was now focused on creating custom whitepapers and other products, like Webinars, for corporate clients. While that group booked $8 million in business last year, it wasn’t profitable. That was partly due to high sales and product costs and but also because some of that $8 million never materialized as the company didn’t create the work it was supposed to."
Thursday, March 12, 2015
- Cilantro Chinese Cambridge - a first look
- Exit interview: Mathew Ingram - Columbia Journalism Review - "In a lot of ways the bet was that editorial, research, and events would create this kind of virtuous circle, in which they all supported each other and research and events were kind of the monetization model for the audience that we developed through editorial. And I would argue that the editorial side itself was not actually the problem. The problem was that research and events did not support as big a business as they were intended to. Research just didn’t produce the kind of returns that were required in order to support a business the size of Gigaom."
- Untitled (http://www.cnet.com/news/its-successful-standards/) - In honor of USB-C, a piece I wrote a while back for CNET about successful computer-related standards:
- 10 Things I Would Tell a New Lightroom User: #10 - Lightroom Killer Tips
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
I was going to start this post by relating focal points (aka Schelling points) to open source projects and the way in which some projects gain critical mass quickly (and others don’t). Think docker and other projects around containerization today as an example of a concept gaining adherents among both true believers and some who may just be sensing the direction of the wind. I think there’s something there. Computational biologist Luis Pedro Coelho writes about Schelling Globalization as an explanation for the popularity of soccer—his idea is that people watch things in part because other people are watching them. There’s also a cultural element that makes the concept a bit different from power laws and network effect that also lead to coalescing around particular approaches, technologies, or outcomes.
But my game theory isn’t solid enough to tackle this today—although I do think that there’s an aspect of shared cultural understanding and implicit agreements about mutually beneficial outcomes that’s relevant to the most successful open source projects.
Instead I’m going to do something that you may find entertaining. Feel free to play along at home and in the comments.
First, a modicum of background.
Thomas Schelling is an American economist. He won the 2005 Nobel Prize in economics for his work on "understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis.” Among his ideas was the concept of a focal point. Schelling describes them as "each person’s expectation of what the other expects him to expect to be expected to do.” That’s a bit of a mind twister but, in other words, everyone in a group tries to guess an outcome—say, a number from a list of numbers—that they expect others from the group to pick as well and to do so without communicating.
Schelling also presented the best-remembered and quoted example of a focal point as applied to locations. In the words of Wikipedia:
Schelling himself illustrated this concept with the following problem: "Tomorrow you have to meet a stranger in NYC. Where and when do you meet them?" This is a coordination game, where any place in time in the city could be an equilibrium solution. Schelling asked a group of students this question, and found the most common answer was "noon at (the information booth at) Grand Central Station." There is nothing that makes Grand Central Station a location with a higher payoff (you could just as easily meet someone at a bar, or the public library reading room), but its tradition as a meeting place raises its salience, and therefore makes it a natural "focal point".
It seems a rather remarkable result. Two people could randomly find each other in Manhattan? Which is doubtless the reason the story is so memorable. The noon part is fairly trivial. (Pretty much everyone picks noon when asked a question of this form.) But what of the location? Would Grand Central win out today? What of other cities?
In 2005, economist Tyler Cowen posited the clock at Grand Central would still win out but only because of awareness of Schelling’s result. Here’s my take on New York and some other cities. If you’d like to play along, here are some cities I know well enough to have an opinion about. Think about it and come on back.
New York, Boston, Cambridge MA, San Francisco, Seattle, New Orleans, London, Paris, Tokyo, Beijing, Philadelphia, Washington, St. Louis, Geneva.
I imagine Tyler travels in circles where the name Schelling rolls off more tongues than the ones in which I do, so I don’t really buy into his rationale. I don’t really believe that a broad cross-section of even New Yorkers would tend to pick Grand Central as a meeting place these days; Amtrak doesn’t even come into that station. It’s a great meeting place but it’s just not going to pop into the mind of most people who don’t commute in and out of there.
The top (well 86th floor) of the Empire State Building is, of course, enshrined in countless movies. But it would be a horrible meeting place; you have to pay and may have to wait for hours. I imagine few would pick it anyway.
I can think of a number of imposing steps that would make a good meeting place: New York Public Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History. But that’s the problem. I couldn’t really choose one over the other.
I think I’d go for Times Square. The problem is that it’s a big place with lots of people. But, if you either know the area or scout it a bit, there’s actually a fairly modest wedge of pavement where the George M. Cohan statue, Father Duffy statue, tkts booth, and a set of bleachers sit. Barring New Year’s Eve or Tony Awards level crowds, you’d probably find another person with a rose in their lapel easily enough.
I think that in front of Faneuil Hall is probably the obvious choice. I could offer up alternatives such as the swan boats or Fenway Park but my heart wouldn’t be in them. There is a cultural context to how one answers though. If I were playing this game with certain friends, I would certainly pick Fenway along Yawkey Way. (And, generally, there’s a contextual element to all this that might lead us to, say, the baseball park in a given city.)
Out of Town News in Cambridge seems the logical choice. Though that might be assuming locals. For a broader group of tourists though it’s hard to say where exactly—maybe the John Harvard statue? (Unless they were MIT students in which case it would be 77 Mass Ave.)
In front of the Ferry Building. I don’t really feel comfortable with this and I doubt most non-residents would answer this way. But the Golden Gate Bridge? Hard to get to and the most obvious meeting point on the Marin side isn’t even in San Francisco. Fisherman’s Wharf? Maybe. Yuk. And Golden Gate Park is both out of the way from downtown and doesn’t really have a single obvious meeting place.
Pike Place Market at Rachel the piggy bank. I realize that this is probably a very tourist-centric answer but, as a very occasional tourist, I have absolutely no alternatives to offer.
This is tough. Bourbon Street is obvious, but where? There’s no single focal point within the focal point. There’s Pat O’Briens but that’s actually a little off of Bourbon. Cafe du Monde for locals perhaps though that’s probably overthinking it.
Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square, right? I haven’t spent a huge amount of time in London but seems likely.
Presumably the Eiffel Tower although I confess I don’t know what that means exactly with respect to a meeting spot. I guess the pyramid at the Louvre is a possible alternative but probably not a very likely choice.
Hachiko’s statue is apparently already a popular Tokyo meeting spot so I’ll go with that. It’s also at Shibuya which is one of the city’s big railroad stations. Other options likely include places like Studio Alta but I doubt they’re a better guess.
Tiananmen Square seems obvious although it’s huge. So I’ll say Tiananmen Square in front of the Forbidden City.
In spite of the fact that I grew up outside of Philadelphia, I’ve spent very little time in the city, so I’m really coming at this from the perspective of a tourist. So I’m going to go with the Liberty Bell. (Independence Hall is across the way.)
This is hard; there are so many iconic locations on the Mall. I’m split between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument but I’ll narrowly pick the former.
Jet D’Eau, I assume?
I hope you enjoyed reading this and possibly playing along. Before we close though, a coda by way of a quote from a 2005 Schelling interview:
When I first asked that question, way back in the1950s, I was teaching at Yale. A lot of the people to whom I sent the questionnaire were students, and a large share of them responded: under the clock at the information desk at Grand Central Station. That was because in the 1950s most of the male students in New England were at men’s colleges and most of the female students were at women’s colleges. So if you had a date, you needed a place to meet, and instead of meeting in, say, New Haven, you would meet in New York. And, of course, all trains went to Grand Central Station, so you would meet at the information desk.
So, in fact, the Grand Central result was perhaps not all that remarkable after all given the context in which it was asked. And perhaps this points to an important lesson for reaching points of intersection and agreement; the assumptions, experiences, and culture of the participants matter a lot.
Jim Stogdill has a Public vs. private cloud: Price isn’t enough piece up on O’Reilly Radar which is well worth a read. Here’s the gist of his analysis:
I think this is the point that some public cloud proponents miss. We are talking about decisions that at least feel like high risk, and they don’t seem to produce the material levels of ROI necessary to give up control.
This is not unlike the choices consumers make every day when they buy a car and choose the convenience of an SUV over the fuel economy of alternatives. For many people, the incremental fuel cost just isn’t that big of a deal in the context of their total household budget. If they do choose not to go with an SUV, it’s often because of other concerns.
I think private cloud will be around, at least in very large enterprises, for a long time and for similar reasons. The control the chief information officer (CIO) (and general counsel) seeks will trump the narrower interests of Rational Economic CFO. And I don’t see lots of CIOs taking huge risks and kicking off expensive five-year transition plans to improve profitability by 0.4%.
We’ve seen this sort of dynamic before by the way, albeit with considerably different particulars. One example is the push for the Linux desktop back in the 2000s. It could save money and it could get organizations out of Microsoft lock-in. But ten years later, Microsoft to Linux (on the desktop specifically—servers are a whole different matter) hasn’t happened in a broad way and, at this point, isn’t a very relevant or important battlefield anyway. However, the savings and other benefits just weren’t all that important in the grand scheme of things to most organizations compared to uncertainties, risks, and the general distraction of a large scale user-facing migration. The same might be said of any number of other client technologies such as VDI.
None of this is to say that using public clouds for some workloads isn’t often valuable. Or even that some organizations (especially those below some threshold of size) won’t take the public cloud plunge all the way. But wholesale change requires truly compelling benefit at the level of the organization as a whole. And that’s mostly beyond what a full public cloud migration can deliver.
This situation just further highlights why hybrid clouds are today’s reality as has been shown in both numerous surveys and our daily interactions with customers at Red Hat. And it also highlights why hybrid cloud management platforms and portable operating systems are such a big deal.
- GigaOm shuts down: Why did Om Malik's tech blog run out of money? - "What we do know is that the tech blogosphere has lost another of its original nodes. This one, unfortunately, happened to be a beacon for those who believed in a model that prioritizes editorial judgment over virality and substance over flair. Perhaps that’s a coincidence. But it probably isn’t."
- Vapor IO and The IoT Cloud - The New Stack - RT @heathercfitz: Vapor IO and the IoT cloud via @thenewstack - congrats on the launch @coleinthecloud
- 30 Trips to Take This Year: Outside Best of Travel 2015 | Travel Awards | OutsideOnline.com
- Instagram - RT @RedHatJobs: Newest group of Red Hatters just got their fedoras at orientation in #Raleigh. Welcome to #RedHat!
- Public vs. private cloud: Price isn’t enough - O'Reilly Radar - Interesting piece by @jstogdill on @radar about public vs. private clouds
- Worldwide Server Market Revenues Increase 1.9% in the Fourth Quarter as Demand in China Once Again Drives the Market Forward, According to IDC - prUS25461815 - RT @matteastwood: This @IDC data shows ODM's are making mark on server and storage market. #OCPSummit2015
- Traditional Year-End Purchasing and Continued Expansion of Hyperscale Datacenters Drives Fourth Quarter Spending on Enterprise Storage Systems Up 7.2%, According to IDC - prUS25451215 - RT @matteastwood: This @IDC data shows ODM's are making mark on server and storage market. #OCPSummit2015
- How to Travel Like a Neurotic Pro
- How telecommuting killed the snow day - Prismatic - RT @evankirstel: "How telecommuting killed the snow day" << True for me but overstates case.
- OpenShift v3 Internal networking details - RT @pythondj: OpenShift v3 Internals: Networking Details #docker #openshift via @enakai00 < Nice Work!
- Welcome to the World, Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host | Red Hat Enterprise Linux Blog - Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host now generally available Optimized for container-based apps.
- US House Judiciary Committee on abusive patent litigation | Opensource.com - RT @MarkBoTech: Has the Supreme Court made patent reform legislation unnecessary? No. Here's why. #fixpatents
- Open Source or Open Core: Why Should You Care? - Good piece on why open source trumps open core by @asheshbadani
Monday, March 02, 2015
Nice customer story about OpenShift Enterprise at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS).
A few points worth highlighting.
They were trying to get away from the “yak shaving” that often goes on when you’re constantly setting up and tearing down development environments. "Throughout their time at the university, software engineering students work in teams to develop the full life cycle of an application, from development and testing to project management andarchitecture. Students spent a great deal of time manually configuring applications to work withnetworks and infrastructure, which distracted them from completing the actual course content.” A Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) like OpenShift is perfect for reducing this sort of unproductive activity. For example, setting up a database is a matter of clicking a button rather than go through a many step manual configuration process.
A PaaS also enables the sort of separation of concerns between admins and users/developers that I wrote about previously in “Why PaaS is such a useful abstraction.”
The PaaS pilot also helped some UTS professors, who may wish to set up applications depending on specific requirements for the courses they teach. The OpenShift environment allows instructors to manage their own applications, while the UTS IT team can provide customization, security patches,and upgrades without the day-to-day management responsibilities they had previously.
UTS can also preconfigure chosen applications with plugins that automatically integrate into the existing infrastructure. This lets engineers and developers spend more time on innovation, while instructors and students can start their projects sooner.
Finally, OpenShift’s broad language and tools support was important as well.
“OpenShift supports a wide breadth of languages without the need for customization, which is ideal in the learning environment,” said [Manager of Systems and Application Services James] Lucas. “OpenShift also supports database platforms within the environment, letting users deploy it as part of their code with just the click of a button.”
Check out the case study. It nicely illustrates what a PaaS generally and OpenShift in particular can do for you.
A post by Gartner’s Tom Bittman noting that a poll of attendees at the Gartner Datacenter conference last December found that "95% of the 140 respondents (who had private clouds in place) said something was wrong with their private cloud” has been making the rounds. Predictably some of the headlines have been a bit overly dramatic. (Gartner did not, in fact, find that 95 percent of private clouds “fail.”) Nonetheless, it’s true that—as with IT projects more broadly—a lot of private clouds aren’t as successful as they could or should be.
I encourage you to read Bittman’s post, as well as his Gartner research if you have access. One of the things you’ll see is that many of the reasons are more about organization and process than they are about technology. The same theme repeats in Andy Patrizio’s "Seven Reasons Your Cloud Deployment Might be Delayed” in which I’m quoted along with CA’s Andi Mann and Pund-IT’s Charles King. It’s also consistent with what we’ve seen at Red Hat. Below, I’ve expanded on some of the thoughts that I shared with Andy when he interviewed me for his story and noted a few of the ways that Red Hat can help you do better.
Enterprises often cite lack of in-house skills as an impediment to doing private cloud deployments. As a result, making use of training programs and/or partners who do possess the skills and real-word experience can significantly accelerate cloud deployments. This is a big part of why last year Red Hat acquired eNovance, which is focused on meeting growing demand for enterprise OpenStack consulting, design, and deployment. We also offer a variety of training and certification programs for OpenStack.
New infrastructure management approaches needed
Enterprises often approached their "Cloud 1.0" projects as if they were just an extension to their existing virtualization infrastructure. This is a mistake. While clouds often use virtualization, they require new approaches and new technologies. For example, in a recent InfoBrief and survey sponsored by Red Hat, IDC found that "74% expect to buy new management solutions to support open hybrid clouds and next-generation application architectures.” Requirements included unified application, middleware, and infrastructure automation; advanced analytics; full OpenStack support; and integration with existing systems and management tools. Red Hat has been active in the cloud management platform space with Red Hat CloudForms based on the upstream ManageIQ project.
DevOps and software-defined services cut across silos
Aligning the organization to cloud infrastructures and new processes such as DevOps--and instituting the right incentives in that organization--is as important as technology. Software-defined services cut across many different operational silos such as servers, storage, networking, and database administration while DevOps requires greater alignment of application development and system administration. Cloud technologies can actually help different groups within an organization work cooperatively but they need to want to do so.
Failure to account for bi-modal IT
Some cloud deployments fail to appreciate that there are two basic modes of applications and infrastructures in the typical enterprises and try to straddle the two without recognizing the essential differences. Cloud deployments should focus on new cloud-native workloads while bridging back to existing classic IT services, workflows, and datastores and providing unified management. They should not however try to be all things to all applications. As Bryan Che noted in a recent post: "VMware’s vision for One Cloud and OpenStack sounds appealing--one unified cloud for running both cloud-native and traditional applications--but it is fundamentally flawed in implementation because these two classes of workloads have quite different requirements for infrastructure. And, by attempting to mash these two worlds together, all One Cloud provides is one limited cloud that is not optimized to run any workload.” By contrast, Red Hat is taking an approach that recognizes the essential differences between “classic IT" workloads and cloud-native ones.
Friday, February 20, 2015
Previous container podcasts with Mark:
- Architecting for containers
- Containerized operating systems
- The layers of the containerization stack
- Docker, Kubernetes, and app packaging
Listen to OGG (0:16:52)
Friday, February 13, 2015
For my Cloudy Chat podcast series, I’ve been focusing lately on repeat guests drawn heavily from local Red Hat colleagues in Westford. I find it’s a great way to get interesting material out there without a whole lot of logistical overhead. Especially with all the activity going on with containers, docker, kubernetes, configuration management, and containerized operating systems like Project Atomic, there’s no shortage of things to cover without going too far afield.
I describe an earlier setup here. (See also how I use Google+ Hangouts for remote recording.) However, over time, I’ve experimented with some different setups for in-person recording to simplify the process while maintaining good quality. I’m pretty happy with where I’ve ended up—with the caveat that I’m always learning and tweaking things.
For recordings in the office:
In my earlier post, I describe recording using a laptop and a USB microphone. I’ve also done recordings using a Peavey PV6 USB Mixing Console and XLR dynamic microphones connected to a laptop. I still use the latter setup if there are more than two of us and/or I want to control the individual microphone levels. However, in the interests of simplicity, I now use a digital recorder connected to two dynamic microphones on desktop stands. Here’s the specific gear list:
- Tascam DR-40 digital recorder
- (2) Behringer Ultravoice XM1800S Dynamic Cardioid Vocal Microphones, XLR 3-pin cables, and desktop stands
You’ll probably also want a larger SD card (the recorder comes with a 2GB one), a mini-USB cable and power adaptor, and some spare AA batteries.
With this setup, you can just sit the recorder on the table, plug in the microphones, and sit one in front of yourself and one in front of your guest. I’m not going to go into every detail of the recorder but a few tips and tricks.
- You may want to plug the recorder into power (using its mini-USB) if possible. It’s fairly battery hungry and doesn’t give a lot of warning when it’s about to go.
- Make sure you have recording space left. (You may be noticing a theme here. It’s called personal experience.)
- The Tascam input can be set to auto-level. In my experience it’s only somewhat effective but I still find it better to use it than to not use it.
- The two external microphones will record into different stereo channels, which offers another opportunity to balance the recording with a bit of manipulation in Audacity or your audio processing software of choice. You can split the stereo channels into separate mono tracks, process them individually, and then recombine into a single stereo track.
For recordings on the road.
While the above setup is relatively compact, it’s more than I really want to travel with most of the time. Furthermore, it requires that you be able to find a table in a relatively quiet area which is often far easier said than done at the conferences I attend. You can’t really use the Tascam as a handheld recorder with its internal mics. They’re just too sensitive and pickup the noise of you handling the recorder.
Instead, I use my iPhone or iPad and plug in a handheld iRig microphone. There's a corresponding iOS application but there's no reason you couldn't use any other recording application; the microphone just plugs into a standard 3.5mm jack. One nice detail of the iRig is that it comes with a splitter built into the jack. This means that you can easily monitor the recording with headphones, which can be useful if you're dealing with intermittent background noise.
I then just hold the microphone and move it up close to whoever is speaking at the moment. This generally works quite well for the style of interview podcasts that I do. I then transfer the recording to my laptop using whatever mechanism the recording app provides—in the case of iRig, I send it up to a server with FTP, then download it. I then edit the recording using Audacity in the usual way.
The same company also makes a small microphone that plugs directly into the jack of an iPhone. I don’t find handling the iPhone like a microphone quite as natural as handling a cylindrical microphone—but this mic lives in my accessory bag so it’s always with me in case an opportunity to make a recording pops up.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Prior container podcasts with Mark:
- Containerized operating systems
- The layers of the containerization stack
- Docker, Kubernetes, and app packaging
Listen to MP3 (0:18:41)
Listen to OGG (0:18:41)