If my blog seems slower lately there is a good reason. I migrated from a dedicated quad-core server to a free WordPress.com account and finally to BlueHost.com ($7/month). The following is a quick look at the pros and cons for people in the same boat.
Allows use of a custom domain (optional – $10 a year).
Allows post import from existing blogs using the import/export tool (see caveats below).
Very limited use of custom templates and plugins. If you have a real WordPress install you’ll need to make some sacrifices.
Import tool is slow and confirmation is delayed.
Slow at times, no tech support.
Hosted Shared Servers (BlueHost, DreamHost, etc.) list of more
Allows a full installation of WordPress and other blogs / content management systems.
Much better control of the server, typically with something like CPanel or Webmin.
Ability to create multiple databases.
Use of custom domain (myblog.com).
Mail account support (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cost $7-$10 a month. That’s well worth it in my opinion given the limitations of free solutions.
With BlueHost I experience occasional slow downs because I’m using a shared server.
Might be confusing if you’re not comfortable working with databases and WordPress config files
Do NOT rely on the export tool that comes with the default WordPress install. I backed up using the export tool as well as the WordPress Backup Plugin. It’s a good thing too because the export didn’t work right and I would have lost most of my blog if I didn’t have a backup of the backup.
BlueHost limits your ability to name databases. I ran into the problem where my wp_config file needed to be changed a little bit so WordPress could see my restored DB considering its new, BlueHost compatible, name.
I used the WP Backup Plugin tool but the import didn’t work. It dumps a big SQL file which you can import directly into a new DB using the tools provided in CPanel. You’ll then need to install WordPress after you’ve created a new DB and tweak the config to connect to the DB. At that point you’ll be up and running but you’ll need your WordPress API Key to get some of the plugins up and running again.
OpenID is basically an attempt at single sign on. In theory you’ll be able to go to any site and log in or comment without the need to remember 31 passwords and user names.
So far it’s working great. I have it setup so that I just have to type in my blog’s url unbeknownst.net, it remembers my password, and I can log in and comment at a growing number of sites. My next goal was to add my blog to said growing cadre of OpenID compatible sites.
The best option currently looks like the WP-OpenID plugin. It was a pretty straight forward install but for some reason it was giving me blank pages when I submitted a comment at first. Seems to be humming along now. Feel free to try it out with your OpenID if you dare. I’ll leave the first comment using my OpenID account.
I allow anonymous comments on this blog so it’s not a big deal but you do get to bypass the spam filter if you’re using OpenID (at least for now).
* Update: Delegation doesn’t work. On other sites I can use my blog URL to log in but this plugin won’t let me do that for some reason. I’m sure they’re going to fix this in an update one of these days.
On my way home from the garage I find myself looking at businesses and wondering: What the world would look like if we ran on batteries instead of food, didn’t get sick, and bought things that didn’t break? I’ve come to the conclusion that we would be left with flower shops and the UPS store, so you could send flowers to people.
The question is really about wealth. How do jobs, which exist only due to inefficiency, create wealth? If we removed that inefficiency we would be somehow more wealthy but the economy would collapse. I think it all gets back to labor and capital. We have brains and arms. If we’re able to successfully satisfy our basic needs then we have time to satisfy the needs of others. We’ve hunted down the sheep and now we’re bored.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs says something similar. We have some basic needs according to the Hierarchy. Ranked from fundamental to optional they are: Food, security, hot monkey love, self esteem, creativity. We’ve got food production down to a science. That frees up the potential assets between our ears to focus on using the crap we dig out of holes in the ground for the betterment of our quality of life. So the dentist does rely on the fact that teeth fall apart as we age but there appears to be no distinction between pain prevention and creativity. That’s what was having a hard time grasping. I think I get it now.
In other words, the dentist won’t care if he has to look for a new job if he knows his car will never break down again. The question posed by some union leaders is valid: If even knowledge economy jobs can get automated/outsourced then what comes next? This gets back to one of my theories: Economic inefficiency is the glue holding the middle class together. Maslow might call this the deficiency economy. Sounds terrible but the analogy works.
Some guesses as to what industries will continue to boom as the deficiency economy gasps for it’s last breath. Travel, news, food, arts/culture, sports.
Tired. I’m still having trouble converting the tangible to the real. How many kilos of rice is a trip to Disneyland worth? Wealth is subjective once needs are sated. To what extent are our wants derived from their ability to find a price? $300 jeans trendy because they cost $300. I need to think about this more.
Rent: Renters don’t care what you paid for your house, the rent must equal what they can afford + their ability to increase their debt. So what does that mean for a price floor on your bestuccoed asset? The assumption is that housing has some immutable, fundamental value attached to the land and construction. But the problem lies in the fact that houses fall apart. A house can be a liability if the maintenance is greater than the equivalent rent provided. If people start moving home with their parents or renting out spare rooms when times are tough the demand for housing will fall off a cliff just as supply(spare rooms) goes up. If you can only get $1100 a month in rent for a house it’s probably only worth $150,000, even if you paid $400,000 for it. Would you buy an investment house in Detroit for $5,000 if nobody wanted to rent it?
Also thinking about personalized democracy. And that it would never work because wealth transfer works across classes.
Next time, labor as wealth – “I like my job”. Money as a tangible abstraction of needs.
I love the irony that is Trader Joes. It’s a shining beacon of capitalism frequented by anti-capitalists. Sometimes, when debating the Left, I like to use their favorite grocer to make a point. The left wants socialized medicine because capitalism shouldn’t be trusted with something so important. When I debate people that don’t know me I like to take it further.
Me: “Yeah, I totally agree. Food is at least as precious to the nations health so we really should get rid of food stamps and socialize food as well. We could set up government run supermarkets and copy the policies and procedures used by the DMV to manage the operations and lines. Then, once we got the hang of it, we could get rid of private doctors.”
At this point they realize my logic is perfectly aligned with theirs but, in the back of their head, they’re imagining waiting in line for a half hour for a bottle of Two Buck Chuck that has been replaced with Schwarzenegger Vineyards. Which would require 40 tax payer dollars and 38 unionized workers to make it to the shelf. But hey, it’s free!
We can give food stamps to the poor and they can shop at Trader Joes so why can’t we do the same with health stamps instead of socialized medicine? The typical response to that question goes something like. “Well, that addresses the poor, but I wouldn’t be caught dead using food stamps.”
So I’ve been getting closer to the crux of the issue. The implication of the left’s stance is that they don’t want free healthcare in the form of stamps because the government is much better able to hide the wealth transfer. People would rather get crappy but “free” healthcare from a bureaucracy than swallow their pride and go knock on their rich neighbor’s door to get better healthcare.
In other words: Hiding the wealth transfer from the rich to the middle class (using a layer of bureaucracy) allows the belief that we can all be productive members of society to continue even when we’re getting handouts. The reason we have food stamps and not health stamps is because the middle class can afford food. I would predict that if the wealth divide got big enough people would shun food stamps and demand that the government take over Trader Joes and let politicians run the supermarkets. Because that’s apparently more dignified.
* Note: I don’t really like the terms upper and lower classes because it implies that the rich are somehow morally superior. Click the photos for their Flickr pages.
As Paul Graham pointed out, the cost of starting a web based business is approaching zero. As someone who’s starting up a .com I can say that the cost has definitely not reached zero yet but Mr. G’s point remains correct. The new barrier to entry is knowledge. Servers may be cheap but a lack of knowledge means you’ll need to bring in expensive consultants to setup your server and network. My goal here is to help the person with an idea and some basic coding skills to get a simple but fast server up and running.
I’m going to cut to the chase for those short on time (it’s a 2800 word post). In order of effectiveness, here are the tweaks I made to my setup to increase performance:
Index tables – easy to do, massive speedup
Try switching your tables from MyISAM to InnoDB. This is not a sure thing and there are tradeoffs but it really sped things up for me
Turn on Apache’s mod_deflate. My pages dropped in size from 100KB to roughly 17KB. Faster page loads, less bandwidth.
Tune your my.cnf file. Out of the box MySQL assumes you have a very slow server.
All said and done, without changing the software, I dropped page load times from .4 seconds to about .04 seconds. Making the thing run 10x faster using more hardware would have been rather moronic
If Web 2.0 is referred to as the Read/Write Web then Web 1.0 should be remembered as the Read Web. The implications for what type of server you’ll need are huge. You could get away with slow drives back then because your rarely changing data would probably be cached in RAM. If you look at a site like Digg it’s another story. Hundreds of people are writing comments, submitting stories, voting on stories, and engaging in various other activities that can be logged to improve the site.
(Updated thoughts: If the CPU again becomes the bottleneck then optimization will become arguably more important. You’ll just optimize for the CPU instead of IO. My application has a quality dial. I can scale back the quality of the results depending on the load on the server.)
There are lots of good bits of knowledge about the various steps involved in building a LAMP server scattered throughout the web but nothing I’ve found really compiles the information into a usable guide. This post is going to focus on server hardware and networking. If this post gets a decent response I’ll take my book of notes about software and turn it into a software HOWTO.
Just a little background. I’m not a the best software engineer nor a hardware expert. The site I’m launching, HoundWire.com, is really about journalism and geography (that’s ‘hyperlocal content aggregation’ if you’re a hipster). The fact that I was able to build a prototype without bringing in expensive consultants and expensive hardware probably didn’t hurt my cause when it came to getting funded.
I’m going to assume that you’re building a database driven web site using Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP. LAMP is a good place to start if you’re not a computer scientist and just want a working prototype.
8 Gigs of RAM now costs in the neighborhood of $300. Dual core processors are fast, cheap, and getting cheaper. Run of the mill PCs are equipped with stupendously fast server grade PCI-Express slots. For under a thousand dollars you can put together a seriously fast system with one major shortcoming. The storage system.
From chapter 6 of the MySQL high performance Book:
The fundamental battle in a database server is usually between the CPU(s) and available disk I/O performance; we’ll discuss memory momentarily. The CPU in an average server is orders of magnitude faster than the hard disks. If you can’t get data to the CPU fast enough, it must sit idle while the disks locate the data and transfer it to main memory…
This all means that the first bottleneck you’re likely to encounter is disk I/O. The disks are clearly the slowest part of the system. Like the CPU’s caches, MySQL’s various buffers and caches use main memory as a cache for data that’s sitting on disk. If your MySQL server has sufficient disk I/O capacity, and MySQL has been configured to use the available memory efficiently, you can better use the CPU’s power.
IOPS are a good measure of disk performance on databases. The average consumer grade drive can handle 100-150 IOPS. One 15,000 RPM Seagate Savvio is in the 300s. My Raptor RAID array can probably handle 400+. Now consider that a good CPU can handle nearly 100,000 IOPS. Super expensive RAM based drives are useful because they eliminate the drive bottleneck.
If your database rarely changes then disk IO is much less of an issue because most of your data will be cached in system memory anyway. But newish websites like Digg or Reddit have constantly updating discussions in their comments sections. If you want to harness the brain power of the masses you’re going to need a setup that can write that information to a disk at some point.
Desktop PCs were rarely used as servers in the past because they were limited by the PCI bus. Gigabit network cards and a RAID array could easily swamp the meager bus. Now we’re blessed with PCI-Express and the difference between a desktop and server has more to do with reliability than performance. Reliability is nice but you can save a ton of money if you don’t need it.
The bottleneck on your fledgling system probably isn’t going to be your quad core CPU. If you’re squeezing Apache and MySQL into the same box to keep costs low you’ll need to have a good storage setup. So that’s where I’ll begin.
Hard drives are like sports cars. If you take a 4000 horsepower funny car to the Nurburgring it’ll probably lap slower than a Mazda Miata. A drive that boots Vista in 9 seconds may not be very good at randomly writing to a database, which is what you’re probably going to be doing. Drives that specialize in high load database activity, like the much heralded Seagate Savvio, can be had for around $350. That will only get you 36 Gigabytes but you have to ask yourself; is your web app really going to need a Terrabyte of storage? You can argue that more RAM will solve any problem but at some point user input has to be written to the database.
Most consumer grade PCs do not have SAS connectors but you can get a PCI-Express SAS adapter for under $200. So for under $600 you can turn your funky desktop PC with a PCI Express slot into a pretty darned powerful database server. You can add a drive and turn it into a RAID 0 array (72GB) for around a grand. SAS drives are designed for enterprise use and so are much more reliable than a re-purposed desktop drives under heavy load. In other words your RAID 0 array will last a longer.
I went the cheap route and put two WD Raptors (SATA instead of SAS) in a RAID 0 array using a 3Ware RAID card. Ill know within a few months whether or not my idea is going to take off so I’m more concerned with speed and cost than reliability. Whatever you do, don’t plug a SAS drive into a SATA port. I tried once with an adapter cable and fried the southbridge. You can plug a SATA drive into a SAS port though.
It could be argued that your RAID card should be the most expensive component in your server.
(Random anecdote) I once setup two 15K RPM SAS drives in RAID 0 for a mass ghosting operation and we easily saturated the gigabit switch. The photo of that very drive (3.5”) is still used in the Wikipedia SAS article.
Back up frequently and if a drive goes you can just reinstall on the 2nd drive. Doubling the number of drives to make it RAID 10 may be a bit pricey especially considering you won’t see a performance increase. Compared to RAID 0, RAID 5 will slow you down and cost more but you lose the single point of failure.
I bought an ASUS based barebones kit. I’m happy that it can boot from the PCI-Express slot, not happy that it doesn’t support all of my RAM. The ASUS P3-P5G33 might be a better bet if you want support for more than 3Gigabytes of RAM. I’m not saying this is the best option but it works and it’s fairly inexpensive.
Un-interruptible Power Supply
Get a UPS, you’ll sleep better. Power surges aren’t the real issue. We have a big AC unit that kicks in and dims the lights. Mini brownouts ala Sim City. You don’t want that stress on your server. Also, get a Kill-A-Watt or something similar so you can see the power draw and don’t accidentally exceed the rated battery capacity of the UPS.
Cost – On a budget
Barebones PC – $200
4Gigs of RAM – $170
CPU – $230
UPS – $100
SAS/SATA RAID card for the PCI-Express Slot – $300
Two Raptors or one Seagate Savvio – $350
Cost – Expensive, bang for buck
SAS/SATA RAID card for the PCI-Express Slot – $300
2 x Hyperdrive4s = $8,800 (32GB and 77,000? IOPS)
* RAM based SSD drives are going to get more popular as people realize that IOPS are more important than drive capacity or peak read performance in web servers.
*Someone will eventually release a RAM Based storage system with SATA-2 support that doesn’t require ECC memory. At that point, for under $2,000, you’ll be able to build a 32GB RAM drive with something like 80,000 IOPS and transfer rates of more than 220 MB/s, without the need for a RAID card.
* People will stop complaining about how slow Vista is. Maybe Microsoft should release this hypothetical device so bloatware truly no longer matters.
*Once that happens hard drives will find a niche as mass storage devices.
Flash based SSDs will remain hugely popular in mobile devices and laptops due to low power consumption.
* Power supplies will start coming with built in batteries which can power your volatile memory if the power shuts off.
* As performance becomes nearly free reliability will become a more important factor when buying a server.
* LAMP setups will become more proactive in tuning themselves. This will remain application dependent but a my.cnf generator based on your system specs will probably emerge. The bottleneck will become application design.
* Caching systems will vanish due to their complexity as drives cease to be the bottleneck (except maybe in very large systems).
* As performance ceases to be an issue we’ll see all sorts of interesting new applications. If Web 2.0 is/was about harnessing the knowledge of the masses and your database server chokes when it’s trying to write to the DB.
*Database performance consulting will become unnecessary because even sloppy code will run quickly. If your page loads in .004 seconds instead of .02 seconds nobody will care.
*I get the feeling Canonical(Ubuntu people) will eventually sell prebuilt LAMP servers. Fonality used to give away Trixbox as a Linux distribution but they recently started selling a pre-built phone “appliance” in addition to support.
* Future hard drives will be large PCI-Express cards populated with bunches of 4GB memory modules running at the speed of the PCI-Express bus. Current RAID cards have upgradeable memory modules for caching purposes. What if you had a virtual hard drive the same size as the RAM cache on the card? (ed. I was close on this one. Check out the video)
Some Random Thoughts:
*The Gigabyte RAM disk was pretty popular and insanely fast but no follow up was ever released in spite of consumer demand. Possibly because you could build an insanely fast storage system with a few of them in RAID which would completely devastate the enterprise hard drive market in a few short months. Yeah that sounds like a conspiracy theory but whenever I write about the HyperDrive4 I get a bunch of blog visitors from web mail accounts.
If Houndwire.com gets some traffic I’m going to push for some help for adding new features and a maybe a HyperDrive.
Connectivity – T1s cost about $400 a month but you get 1.5 megabits upstream. Downstream isn’t great but you want to send out web pages not download mp3s right? Use someone else to host your images if you have a lot of them. No sense clogging up you T1 with big jpegs. You can host from a residential internet connection while you’re prototyping. Just be prepared to update DNS and configure port forwarding (and violate TOS). I used DD-WRT on a spare Buffalo to create a wireless bridge and hosted my little LAMP Laptop at home for a while unbeknownst to the guy who’s name is on the bill.
Use solid 10/100 switches instead of fast but potentially flaky gigabit switches, especially for DMZ switches where you’re not going to exceed a few Mb/s anyway. Don’t make your own cables unless you’re a masochist. You can get a multitude of colors cheap from NewEgg.com, or TigerDirect to stay organized. Have a couple crossover cables handy for computer to computer connections (IPCOP -> Server).
Firewall – I’m using IPCop because we had a spare PC lying around. IPCOP is like DD-WRT on crack without the wireless settings. Smoothwall is a cousin of IPCOP and a little easier to get going for the beginner but I prefer IPCop(you don’t have to register to read the manual). If you’ve had a big fancy corporate firewall before IPCOP will disappoint you. My problem was putting the web server on the DMZ with a real IP address. IPCop’s ORANGE zone can NOT handle using an IP on the same subnet as the RED. There are ways to hack it by putting the DMZ IPs in the RED zone and port forwarding to ORANGE but even then you’re only addressing the one IP problem. I’m going to look into DevilLinux which is apparently better suited to non residential configurations with multiple real IPs. The alternative is paying $700 for a 3 port SonicWall. DIY may not be worth your time, especially if you don’t have a spare PC to cannibalize.
Ideally you’d find an old laptop and put a cheap solid state drive in it for reliability. Old ToughBooks are great if you can find one. I once bought a flash to IDE converter and installed IPCOP on a camera sized memory chip. No moving parts means it’s cooler and less likely to fail. It’s still running as far as I know.
For the sake of simplicity get Ubuntu Server Edition. It has a LAMP option when you’re installing which saves a lot of time. Get the 64bit version unless you’re not sure if your CPU is too old.
Don’t be afraid to break stuff in the short run. If you have to reinstall your LAMP stack a few times it’s just practice for down the line when your overheating Raptor RAID 0 array bites you.
MySQL Performance Tuning
Add the code for benchmarking.
Stuff I’m running:
64 bit v. 2.6 Linux kernel
Here’s a video of an overcaffeinated guy with an equally hype dog explaining the basics.
The linux top command is your friend. You can watch MySQL CPU gobble up less and less CPU time as you optimize things.
If Ubuntu Server edition comes with all of that stuff installed in addition to a functional LAMP stack they’ll have a winner. Sell support to fledgeling startups using RedHat’s model.
Config Files and performance tuning:
You can spend days tweaking my.cnf but the big gains early on come from making sure you’re indexing tables properly. If you’re running a query like “SELECT names FROM people WHERE age > 40″ make sure you have an index on the age column.
Radiohead’s new free album is killing the environment.
The Federal Reserve hasn’t hidden their absolute terror of a deflationary spiral. Bernanke is a student of the Great Depression and has vowed to never let it happen again. Greenspan and now Bernanke slash rates at the first sign of trouble because they can simply gloss over inflation with a questionable CPI. People are less forgiving when they suddenly lose their job when compared to paying more for eggs. And the foundation of this whole crazy debt laden financial system relies on constant inflation.
If the new Radiohead album does well the music industry as it currently exists is pretty much toast. Music is the first to go only because songs can more easily be squashed into small files. Movies will go the same route eventually. The deflationary forces of technology are no doubt freaking out the Federal Reserve. In fact, Ray Kurzweil’s new AI book has an entire chapter on deflation. At least in the ’30s entire industries weren’t forever vanishing, people just bought less for a while. If music goes free there will be no CD revival in five years.
So here’s my justification for the thesis. The Fed is watching the deflationary forces of technology bring down massive industries. They’re also watching the end of the housing bubble. The trillions of dollars recently created flowed to housing prices instead of food, energy, etc. Housing prices aren’t used when calculating inflation. The end of the housing bubble means a couple of things. One is the need for a new asset bubble which can hide inflation, the other is the risk of deflation due to the tsunami of foreclosures we’re witnessing.
The powers that be are currently worried or they wouldn’t have cut rates 50 basis points. Environmental regulations are only going to put downward pressure on the economy regardless of their potential long term benefits. If the Fed cared about the long term they wouldn’t have nearly completely devalued the dollar. As technology kills off gigantic industries you can bet the people at the Fed are telling the powers that be not to do anything that will destabilize this already battered ship.
Not so many posts lately but it’s not due entirely to laziness. I’ve been busting my butt getting my site ready for public consumption. I built a server by hand which was fun, it was sort of like putting a Ferrari engine in a Peugeot. I bought a few extra fans so it should last long enough for a launch and a few looks from investors. We have a venture capitalist stopping by in a week or so to have a look, fingers crossed.
I had a long, interesting conversation with a postdoc “wet” neuroscientist yesterday. Interesting guy, he has a similar vision but wants to apply it to the mess that is scientific publishing. Wet means he actually pokes and prods mice brains. We’re going to meet up with another guy at Caltech in a week or so to discuss collaboration potential.
I left work today exhausted but really happy. I really like my co-workers. I’m more productive than I’ve ever been, and I’ve been afforded the opportunity to build my idea.
I stumbled across an article today: 13 predictions from PC Magazine that are “guaranteed to change the world between now and 2020.” Some are factually incorrect and others appear to be designed simply to make you shop for unnecessary gadgets.
So here they are, followed by corrections. I wish I could post more predictions about the future but I’d probably get sued by the people funding me (I did sign an NDA after all), so this will have to do for now…
1> The Real Quad-Core. AMD releases the first single-chip quad-core CPU. Code-named Barcelona, it promises 20 to 50 percent better performance than the competing multichip design from you-know-who.
This is akin to saying the future of food is a 45 horsepower Cuisinart. Talk to me about food(software) not high tech utensils. I do pretty nasty data crunching for my project, tens of millions of calculations at a time, and while a top shelf CPU would be nice, it would be a luxury not a necessity for me as someone who actually pushes equipment.
2> Hello, OLED Sony introduces the first OLED (organic light-emitting diode) television. It’s too small and too expensive for mass consumption, but early adopters love its 3mm profile and 1,000,000-to-1 contrast ratio.
Because my Plasma TV is worthless at 4cm thick. But this is going to “change the world” apparently.
3> Like Wi-Fi—but Everywhere Carriers launch the first WiMAX services in the U.S., giving major metro areas wireless access that rivals the speeds of Wi-Fi. The difference? No more hot spots. It’s everywhere you go.
No complaints on this one. WiMAX could be a huge improvement over EVDO, etc.
4> Eight-Core and More Intel unveils an eight-core processor and completely revamps its Core architecture, moving the memory controller and graphics circuitry from distinct chipsets onto the CPU itself.
See point one. The only benefit I see is that manufacturing costs would drop for these systems on a chip. Which would be great for the developing world.
5> So Long, Laser Printer The first Memjet ink-based printers hit the market, delivering 60 pages per minute at a reasonable cost per page. The trick: multiple print heads that span the entire width of the paper you’re printing on.
My funky $150 Laserjet has never needed a toner refill and does 20 ppm. But I guess your average consumer is going to need an 8 core CPU and the ability to print 3600 pages per hour in the near future for some reason.
6> The High-Def DVR Seagate releases a 3.5-inch hard drive that stores 3 terabytes of data. That’s 3,000 gigabytes. We’re talking about a digital video recorder that records nothing but high-def video.
OK, this one really has me baffled. I have a high def DVR in my living room right now with more than enough storage – a full 3 years before they predict this innovation will launch. So I’ll be able to record 89,000 hours of HD video, who cares?
7> Can You Say 4G? Fourth-generation cellular networks debut in the United States. The LTE (Long Term Evolution) standard doubles the throughput of 3G networks, offering 3 to 4 Mbps to real-world users.
If we’re all using the technology they mention in prediction three (VOIP+WiMAX) then there would be no need for any more legacy technology. Give me an open source phone like the Neo/OpenMoko and Skype. Cell networks are the horse drawn carriages of the digital age.
Here’s a prediction. With T-Mobile I get free minutes when my cell phone connects to my wifi hotspot instead of their cell towers. Someone will reverse engineer this tech and program an open source phone to use a mobile broadband network (EVDO/WiMAX, etc) to get free minutes all the time for the cost of a basic data plan. After that, asterisk will come standard as part of the open source phone stack and phone numbers will succumb to services like Skype-In followed by IPV6 static IPs for all mobile hand-held devices.
8> Chips Go Optical IBM perfects a chip for mainframes and other high-end machines that uses optical connections instead of copper. Moving photons instead of electrons improves data transfer speeds eightfold.
Unless you’re simulating a mouse brain in real time why on earth would your average consumer need this much power. Show me a killer app or we’ll be hunting rabbits with bazookas. Servers are turning into commodity items but I suppose this would be useful outside of the consumer space.
9> A Cure for Jersey Drivers The first cars equipped with Motorola’s MotoDrive technology roll off the assembly line. Able to calculate their speed and position relative to other vehicles, these cars can automatically avoid accidents.
One out of 34 million will malfunction leading to a lawsuit and this will never see the light of day again. This is similar to the air travel business, even though computers don’t get drunk or tired people would prefer to have a human at the helm.
10> HDTV Is Obsolete Ultra High Definition Television (UHDTV) debuts with a resolution of 7,680-by-4,320 and 22 speakers of surround sound, dwarfing today’s HDTVs, which top out at 1,920-by-1,080.
Yes, because everybody will have HDTVs at this point and manufacturers will need to push a new round of gadgets. The problem is most people can’t tell the difference between 1080p and 720p as it stands now. The only way people might see a big difference is by installing wall sized TVs. And 22 speakers? Manufacturers already tried getting everybody to upgrade their stuff by introducing 7.1 speaker standards, and they were laughed at by people who know that 5.1 is sufficient for the majority of home theaters.
11> Power Off, Memory On Manufacturers use carbon nanotubes to offer NRAM (nonvolatile random-access memory). Unlike today’s SDRAM and flash memory technologies, it can hold information even when you lose power.
This one is simply factually incorrect. Flash memory is the stuff in your digital camera. Your photos don’t vanish when you turn off your camera. This is just sloppy writing. Flash is getting more reliable and faster. The big story in storage is the emergence of solid state drives TODAY. Read my article “The State of Solid State” for more info.
12> Wash ‘N’ Wear iPods Flexible, washable OLED screens hit the market. That means laptops that roll up like place mats—not to mention smartphone and music-player displays built right into your clothing.
If I hear one more prediction about wearable computing I’m going to chug this jug of Tide sitting next to me until I feel clean again. Pockets. Pockets were probably invented centuries ago by some smart guy who was tired of carrying a man bag. I don’t want to go to the tailor if I need to change the batteries on my GPS device. I will never wear iShorts, High-Def Haggars, or WiMAX mittens, even if Steve Jobs says they’re revolutionary.
Optimists underestimate the strength of the economy outside housing, according to Richard Berner, chief U.S. economist at Morgan Stanley in New York, the world’s second- largest securities firm by market value behind Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
I was reading my old blog and it looks like I’ve been worried about housing since 2004. The magnitude of the problem surrounding crazy loans, hedge funds, CDOs, etc. had me convinced of some imminent disaster. That the economy is hanging on even as we spend billions of dollars a month on war while mortgage equity withdrawl has dried up didn’t make a lot of sense to me.
The unemployment numbers are near record lows even as 70% of the country thinks we’re headed in the wrong direction. My brain was stuck with this unhappy conundrum until I assembled the following theory:
PCs saw a 10 year lag before people figured out to do with them and squeezed out productivity in the 90s. Now that we’ve figured out PCs we’re smack in the middle of another, probably bigger, revolution as people figure out what to do with their PCs on the Internet. Farmers probably weren’t happy about losing their jobs to the steam engine but they moved to cities and eventually their quality of life improved. Realtors and those displaced by automation are probably looking at the same fate. As soon as they lose their jobs they find plenty more waiting to be occupied.
So people fear change but change is ultimately good for the economy and therefore people. The only question is whether more productivity leads to a growing wealth divide which could tragically lead to Lou Dobbs micro-managing the economy from Washington.
Or maybe I’m just impatient and that’s leaking economic engine oil the bear is looking at.
I had to replace my old LAMP web server due to a hard drive failure so I decided to give Ubuntu Feisty Fawn server edition a whirl. So far I’m pleasantly surprised. I had some requirements going in:
LAMP Stack – Needs to be an up to date, Apahce/PHP/MySQL based web server
Webmin – Because I feel emasculated when I plug a mouse into a server but the command line slows me down sometimes
PHPMyAdmin – It just makes life easier
SSH – Though the server is on a laptop with an LCD, etc., I prefer to config from other machinees
SAMBA – I develop with Notepad++, which I can’t get running in Linux/WINE, so I wanted to map a network drive, though BlueFish looks interesting
PEAR – Why reinvent the wheel if you’re developing PHP web apps?
Setup was a piece of cake for the most part. If I ever find time I’ll put together a howto combining all of the steps involved in building this thing. Webmin, PHPMyAdmin, SSH, SAMBA and PEAR should all be options in the installer tool at some point to make our lives easier.
As for the desktop version, it’s a huge improvement, at least on my Dell Latitude D600 Laptop. My resolution was correctly set without intervention (thank god – Xorg.conf is evil) and flash for Firefox was a piece of cake.
Wireless networking was the only thing that didn’t work. Because I’m a bit of a nerd I figured out how to get it working but it took some research. In case you’re curious, plug in a regular LAN cable to get online. Go to System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager and click Search. Type in fwcutter and install the tool it finds. Then check Fetch and extract firmware and click Forward. Reboot and voilà, works for many of the Broadcom Truemobile cards.
This ease of installation is really remarkable considering the headache of an XP or Vista fresh install. I had one minor hurdle and now I’m one step closer to an entirely open source existence. Not that I’m opposed to proprietary but I prefer not to spend money if at all possible. Oh and whatever you do, do NOT turn on the desktop effects if you’re using a laptop with a ATI Mobility Radeon 9000.