DoubleCloud » What Lessons You Can Learn from Google on Building Infrastructure

I’m going to add this site to my blogroll. The author is one of VMWare’s R&D honchos.

Interesting tid-bit on how to DOS Google if you’re so inclined.

Some of the search queries can cause huge IO. One example Jeff gave is “circle of life” as one phase enclosed in double quotation marks. It could incur 30GB I/O before. As I just searched on Google, the phrase is now a song name. I bet it’s now in Google’s cache server.

When there are so many servers to manage, something unique happened. Jeff mentioned an interesting phenomenon called “query of death.” If a query can causes a server to crash, then it can crash all other servers because the software stack is the same. To avoid large scale of crashes, they used canary request which is first sent to one machine. If it’s good, then send it to the rest of machines; otherwise reject the request after failing several times. It of course adds a little delay but far better than large scale system crash. Of course, you need to log down the query and found out why it crashed software as a process of continuous improvement. Jeff didn’t mention this, but I bet Google did that.

via DoubleCloud » What Lessons You Can Learn from Google on Building Infrastructure.

So, I wonder what the I/O load is on google if I did a search on:

“Ubuntu Private Cloud Prince William Engagement” or “MySQL Replication Senator McConnell Earmark ban”
Pick any two other totally different subject and combine them into a single query.

Virtual Appliances

VMWare ESXi 4.1 looks incredibaly interesting. It has better monitoring functions, better authentication integration and other cool features. I need to upgrade.

Sadly, the CPU in my current VMWare host doesn’t support the Intel vt extensions so it won’t run 64bit VMs, and it won’t support ESXi 4.1. So I’m looking at having to drop at least a grand to get a new server capable of running the latest VMWare. My Media Center PC could do it, but sadly, the Shuttle PC I was going to make my Media Center PC has a dead power supply, and Shuttle doesn’t carry accessories anymore.

Anyway, once the iTV ships, I can retire the Media PC and convert it to an ESXi host. Once I do that, here are a list of Virtual Appliances I want to play with:

So you bricked your iPad

When I decided to un-jailbreak my iPad and remove Cydia, I did a “Erase all Content and Settings” via the Apple Settings App. This however caused the iPad to no longer boot. Apparently it erased lots of data, but it did not restore some of the boot processes.

On a Cydia jailbroken iPad, there are two bars of pixled colors during the boot apple screen. These were present on the boot screen after I erased all the content. Eventually the iPad boot up sequence would time out and the iPad would reboot and fail again. I had effectivly bricked my iPad.

Digging around in google didn’t really provide much guidance. I did finally find a document provided  by apple which provides instructions on how to restore a backup from iTunes.

iPad: Unable to update or restore.

First thoughts on WordPress 3.0

When I saw the release announcement on WordPress 3.0 (Thelonious), I was excited to see that is was finally integrating in the WordPressMu project allowing one installation of wordpress to handle multiple blogs. I maintain several websites and blogs in wordpress, and have struggled with the operational best practices surrounding it.

I was quite excited to see the multisite support so I decided to deploy a VM at the house to test out migration of all my sites to a single install.

First off, multisite would end my ability to allow hosting customers direct access to their databases via the phpmyadmin plugin. Since multisite uses a single database, giving access to that database to one customer means that customer has access to all the sites hosted by that installation.

The next problem is that multisite is not (yet) designed to handle multiple top-level domains. There are tables inside the database that indicate they plan to go this route, but the admin interface isn’t ready for it.

Under the SuperAdmin menu, you can edit the Domain, SiteURL and Home fields to change the URL for the site, but then you can’t actually log into the wp-admin interface for that site.

This link provides an overview of how you can do it via editing the wp_sites table, however the Admin interface isn’t exactly setup to allow you to manage the site once you move it to a different domain.

Then there is the confusion over the wp_blogs table managing sites and the wp_site table managing domains.

WordPressMu had a plugin for Domain Mapping that has been updated (but not yet released, you’ll need to download from the author’s SVN trunk) to support WordPress 3.0. I’ve had better luck following this guide and using the Domain Mapping plugin.

However, with the Domain Mapping plugin, I’ve noticed some strange behavior with using multiple domains mapped to the master. I’m gonna chalk this up to running a non-released code.

In short, Multisite is not yet ready for primetime (based on my needs). I suspect it was more designed for a site like Redstate that allows users to host their own diaries, or the AJC where different reporters have their own blogs under the domain.

I’ve not yet played with the features of the new Twenty Ten theme, but the ability to use the WordPress interface to build out custom page menus looks to be kick ass.

Just before the 3.0 release I converted the PrimeHarbor website to a wordpress site. Since I’ve not yet cut that over to production, I think I’m going to take the time to build it out under 3.0. And since PrimeHarbor is the site hosting the other domains, it makes sense to make that my root site if and when I go to multisite.

Yet another reason not to trust “the cloud”

Courtesy of Intuit Works to Restore Online Access –

Intuit Inc. said it is trying to restore service to company websites affected by an outage that began Tuesday night, leaving consumers and small businesses without access to online versions of the company's accounting and tax software.

Intuit’s products include TurboTax, Quicken and the QuickBooks accounting program used by many small businesses. The online services associated with those products remained offline Wednesday afternoon.

A company spokeswoman said it hadn't yet identified the cause of the outage, but ruled out a cyber attack. Some Intuit websites were beginning to come back online late Wednesday afternoon, she added…..

While many small businesses have their own issues with disaster recovery, the fact that all your critical data is stuck on a server you have no access to should be a source of concern. I’ve not used their online products, but if you can’t export your data to a Quickbooks file for use on your PC, you’re just asking for trouble.

Wibiya toolbar for wordpress

Found this on Austin Scott’s website. It looks kinda neat. Maybe a candidate for the Gwinnett GOP’s site.

About Wibiya.

The iPad Will Be The Best Thing To Happen For Desktop Virtualization & VDI Adoption

More iPad tastiness – “The iPad Will Be The Best Thing To Happen For Desktop Virtualization & VDI Adoption” – Liberty Technology Blog.

Excellent read on the iPad as a desktop virtualization thin client. If you’ve seen any science fiction (StarTrek, Babylon 5, etc) they all use iPad/tablet like computers. The traditional laptop/desktop form factor requires you working at a desk. If you’re doing anything standing up, normal computers fail.

The problem I think Desktop Virtualization will have is:

1) The problem with keeping all your data in the cloud is you have to be able to get to the cloud. So, it only works where you have wifi or 3/4G, and its useless on planes or in rural areas.

2) All the desktop export protocols sucks. I’ve not used VDI, but VNC is teh suck, and RDP is only usable if you’ve got a good WAN connection. The iPad will work fine for carrying it to the conference room, but not for being able to get into your work PC at home to finish that memo your boss wants. (Speaking of protocol suckage, I’m seriously considering moving my primary PC to Win7 w/ VMWare Workstation so I can RDP into it when I need to. But thats another post about Command Center 3.0)

3) The iPads 1024×768 screen resolution is straight out of the late 1980s. Grabbing your desktop off your desk terminal (1680×1050) and moving it there will make all your windows difficult to use. At least windows lets you resize from all corners and not just the lower right like on the Mac.

Now this might make a computer game worth playing

The Problem with the Cloud

Is that you need to have ubiquitous Internet to make it work.

Google OS: the end of the hard drive? –

This looks like a neat device. But if none of my data is stored on the device, it is useless for reading email or working on documents. Wifi coverage is sporadic and expensive. Cellular coverage is even more expensive. WiMax (aka Clear) is only available in a few markets. Having to attach a dongle for Cellular/WiMax to the netbook destroys the form factor and fast start-up time.

Plus there is the DANGER of storing all your stuff in the cloud.

Quick thoughts on VMware Fusion 3

So about 20 days after I get my stuff (new HD, Snow Leopard, Fusion2) to upgrade my MacBook Pro (one of the first intel models) VMware goes and releases Fusion 3. I was just outside the free upgrade window. Bah!

I’d installed Fusion, created me an Ubuntu and XP Guest, and verified I had installed all the windows apps I might need in an emergency (ie VSphere 4 client). Fusion2 had some nice features. Unity mode, where I could have my windows apps running with my Mac apps using the same window manager was pretty nice. And being able to put windows apps in the OSX Dock was cool. It also had support for linking my iSight camera and bluetooth into my guest.

My problems were two fold. My old Mac was just slow and Fusion had a weird thing were I’d lose focus to my guest windows frequently. Fusion became something I ran when I needed Windows, not something I kept running all the time.

Well, after installing Fusion 3, the slowness and focus issues are gone. I’ve been working all day in my XP Firefox with no performance or other issues.

Fusion 3 has some nice enhancements too. My XP Task bar is now at the bottom of my second display. And if I turn off my XP taskbar, the system tray widgets appear in my OSX menu bar. The Fusion MenuBar menu tools is pretty nice too. From one easy to get to location I can launch new apps, connect/disconnect hardware devices, and do all the other guest setting changes.

The upgrade is definitely worth the $40. I only wish I’d waited. But I suppose if I had I’d not have seen what an improvement Fusion 3 is.

Eat Your Vegetables