Monday, October 27, 2014

Why is lobster "market price"?

The price of lobster, like the price of anything else, is set in a market. But the market price you pay is fundamentally a price determined by the restaurant market, not the market for lobsters. And the issue is a basic one of capacity and competition.

Think back to the Fisherman’s Friend and its excellent location. Stonington is a great place to visit. But it’s also a very small town. There aren’t very many places to eat. And if it’s a certain kind of coastal Maine seafood dinner experience you’re after, there aren’t any other places in town to go. There’s a little reason to fear losing customers to the boil-at-home option as lobster prices fall but no reason to worry about a nearly identical competitor next door poaching your customers. Nor is there a nearly identical competitor next door whose customers you might hope to poach with a discount.

Cooking and eating lobster at the house in Maine

I’ve noticed this frequently in Maine. The lobster price (especially for small, soft shell lobsters—i.e. the most advertised price) is a very competitive market-driven thing. The same boiled lobsters at lobster pounds are too because they’re pretty hard to decouple from the live and kicking versions. But lots of ot

her forms of lobster including lobster rolls and even refrigerated lobster meat tend not to drop accordingly.

It’s also worth noting, per another conversation I had recently, that it’s not immediately obvious why so many restaurants list their lobster as “market price” given that the price of many of their fish and other expensive ingredients presumably vary by season as well. My cynical nature wonders if this isn’t primarily a ploy to just not publish the price and use that lack of transparency to wrest a few extra dollars for a perceived luxury item. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Review: Nixeus in-ear earphones/mic

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Given the amount of traveling that I’ve been doing over the past couple of years, I decided to kick off a series on this blog taking a look at some of the (often morphing but fairly compact) pile of gear with which I travel. This is the inaugural post on this theme.

I favor big over-the-ear headphones when I’m editing podcasts at home. For travel? Not so much. Small and lightweight is the name of the game whether I’m plugging into a conference call or just listening to some music.

The Nixeus in-ear earphones are a nice example of compact earphones that can be used for either phone calls or listening. Their MSRP is $39.95 but they’re available for about half that on Amazon as of this writing.

They come with three sets (S, M, and L) of roughly cylindrical foam earbuds that you can use to tailor their fit. Like other earphones of this general type, the idea is to fit them relatively snugly into your ear—both to better block ambient sound and to keep them from falling out. From a fit perspective, I think of this type of design as something intermediate between iPod-style earbuds which just sit loosely in the ear and the silicone-style ear tips which you press fairly tightly into your ear canal. 

One of the challenges with reviewing this type of product is that fit and comfort are ultimately very much a matter of preference and the geometry of your particular ear. For extended music listening, I still prefer the silicone ear tip design such as Klipsch uses for its (significantly more expensive) X4i. On the other hand, I know a fair number of folks who just don’t like what they describe as “jamming” said silicone ear tips into their ear. 

What I can say is that the Nixeus earphones have a much more solid fit than do standard ear buds and, in part for this reason, their audio quality is commensurately better as well. The sound quality (both for the earphones and the mic) is as good or better than other examples of the same general design which I’ve tried.

Really, for the price, if you’re still using basic earbuds, give these or something else like them a spin. You’ll be glad you did. With Christmas coming up, it’s also probably worth mentioning that the Nixeus packaging is sleek and modern (with a magnetic closure for the box) so it looks like something costing more than it actually does.  

[Disclaimer: These earphones were provided to me for review purposes. No other compensation was provided and the opinions in this review are mine alone.]

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Podcast: Private and hybrid storage sharing using ownCloud

ownCloud CTO and co-founder Frank Karlitschek sat down at CloudOpen in Dusseldorf to talk about how ownCloud lets companies offer their employees a "DropBox-like" experience while retaining control of where data is stored and how it is accessed. It's a hybrid approach to cloud storage that's can be important in a world where jurisdictional concerns can be a major CIO headache.

How ownCloud works in concert with Red Hat Storage Server
ownCloud whitepapers

Listen to MP3 (0:15:20)
Listen to OGG (0:15:20)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Links for 10-15-2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

What do people mean by cloud security?

Security continues to top the charts when IT folks are asked what thing most gives them pause about using a cloud—especially a multi-tenant public one. This invites the retort: “Do they think you know how to better secure systems against attackers than Amazon?” Probably not. But “security” in this case often means something quite different than just keeping the bad guys out.

A general observation that isn’t particularly original. Back in 2011, I was writing about how cloud governance was about more than security. More recently, I’ve given many presentations delving into how cloud security was a much broader topic than just security classic.

But the extent to which cloud “security” goes beyond just security classic *most classic concerns still matter as well) was reinforced during a couple of sessions at 451 Research’s Hosting + Cloud Transformation Summit held in Las Vegas last week. And they provided some color about what people mean by that “security” word as well.

In his keynote, Research VP William Fellows reiterated that security—perceived and real—continues to come up regularly in cloud discussions. However, he went on to say that it’s actually jurisdiction which is the number one question. Perhaps not surprising really given the headlines of that the last year but it reinforces that when people voice concerns about security, they are often talking about matters quite different from the traditional Infosec headaches. (Attorney Deborah Salons sat down to do a podcast with me early last year on data governance issues. The link includes a transcript for those who prefer reading.)


Michelle Bailey, VP of Datacenter Initiatives and Digital Infrastructure, fleshed out these security concerns in more detail during her session. The question she was answering was a bit different: “What are the top three things that providers can do about security?” Presumably certain types of security concerns (e.g. malware in a company’s POS systems) aren’t something a provider could be expected to do a lot about. Nonetheless, I expect there’s a high correlation between someone being concerned with some aspect of security and valuing providers who can mitigate that risk.

Data locality comes up here too. This is a hot topic among cloud providers and one of the reasons, besides sheer volume, for their rush to build new data centers. In other words, people want to be able to choose, say, an Amazon region that is sufficiently constrained geographically from the perspective of judicial orders or other authority. It’s about knowing the laws to which they may be subject.

But broadly, I’d characterize the top wants as being fundamentally about visibility and control. Transparency, auditability, verifiable encryption, control over encryption. And indeed pretty much the whole rest of the list is either related characteristics or various standards and documentation to help ensure that cloud providers do the things they promise to do.

Conspicuously lacking is pretty much anything in the vein of physical security or DDOS mitigation or firewall configurations. That’s because, while important, they’re largely viewed as solved problems from the perspective of the cloud provider.

Mind you, given the shared responsibility model that comes into play when you use a cloud provider, you share responsibility for the workloads that you’re running on the cloud provider. You’re still running and patching the operating system running in the cloud. But you know how to do that; you basically do the same thing you do on-premise. (Obligatory plug for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and our Certified Cloud Provider Program here. I should have a new whitepaper out soon.) 

For these and other reasons, Michele concluded that “ the end game isn’t public cloud, it’s hybrid cloud. And you can bet on that for the next 5 years.” And that security, among other factors, will lead to hosting providers remaining a  "very long tail market” in which  messaging, targeting, and matching strengths with customer requirements will continue to offer many opportunities for differentiation. 

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Topsfield Fair

I went over to the Topsfield Fair on a drizzly Saturday. I'd never been to this one and hadn't been to the Bolton Fair (which is actually held in my town of Lancaster) for a few years. It is so New England-y!

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Links for 10-02-2014