Welcome to Random Short Take #76. Summer’s almost here. Let’s get random.
The nice folks at StorPool have announced StorPool Storage v20. I was lucky enough to catch up with Boyan and the team recently, and they told me about their work on supporting NVMe/TCP, StorPool on Amazon AWS, and NFS File Storage. It’s great stuff and worth checking out.
Long term retention – all the kids are doing it, but there are some things you need to think about. Preston has posted a great article on it here.
In home theatre news, this article on XLR vs RCA – which cable is better? makes for good reading, particularly if you’re starting to convince yourself that you need to take things in a certain direction.
It’s a good thing I was only ever a storage consultant, and not in charge of choosing the products, because I would totally buy hardware based on looks. Well, mostly. Check out these Blackmagic Design Cloud Store devices.
I switched to Google WiFi at home a few years ago. Generally speaking, it’s been good, although mesh networks are a special kind of hell at the best of times. But I experienced this issue recently, and I found it tremendously frustrating because it was one of those problems that wasn’t a problem, but somehow was. I was thinking of replacing the Google WiFi stuff, but to be honest I was hoping to get a bit more than 3 years out of it.
USB-C? Thunderbolt? Whatever it’s called, getting stuff to connect properly to your shiny computers with very few useful ports built-in can be a problem. This article had me giggling and crying at the same time.
Backblaze has come through with the goods again, with this article titled “How to Talk to Your Family About Backups“. I talk to my family all the time about backups (and recovery), and it drives them nuts.
I loved this article from Preston on death in the digital age. It’s a thorough exploration not only of what happens to your data when you shuffle off, but also some of the challenges associated with keeping your digital footprint around after you go.
Finally, if you’re looking at all-flash as an option for your backup infrastructure, it’s worth checking out Chris’s article here. The performance benefits (particularly with recovery) are hard to argue with, but at scale the economics may still be problematic.
It seems silly to be writing about a device that went end of life over a decade ago, but I recently came across a 1st Generation Apple TV for less than a price of a carton of domestic beer and had an itch that needed scratching. You can read about the Apple TV family of devices here. There’s also an Apple TV (1st Generation) overview here. I think I bought my first one in 2009 or 2010 – not long before the end of its usefulness, if I recall correctly. At the time (and to this day), I was fascinated by the idea of being able to stream content to a television from my computer. I’d messed about with cheap hard drive based streaming devices, and even have a Pixel Magic HD MediaBox sitting in one of my cupboards. This was my first foray into Apple-based media handling (beyond plugging my iMac into the TV). The 1st Generation device was cool in that it was able to store data locally on its hard drive that was synced from iTunes. Unfortunately, the hardware was a little underpowered for what you paid for it, and you were locked in to the Apple ecosystem when it came to content selection. By that time I’d already invested in iTunes for music, but the video side of the equation was still a ways away from the relatively seamless experience that it is today.
Enter The FireCore
It took about 5 minutes to realise that only being able to watch Apple content was going to be a pain, so I paid for an app (aTV Flash) from FireCore that effectively enabled the Apple TV to load software like nitoTV and XBMC. You booted off a USB stick, loaded some code, and then you could run the FireCore apps and the Apple TV code at the same time. I thought it was pretty neat, although it again highlighted how the Apple TV wasn’t that great a performer when it came to watching any real variety of media formats. That said, it handled music videos pretty well, and I remember it playing standard definition DivX without too much trouble. FireCore Support is still up on the website, and I was even able to login to my account again and download the files I needed to get up and running with this new box.
High Definition, Or More Than Standard Definition?
I harp on a bit about the specs of the Apple TV, but it really wasn’t all that bad. If you wanted support for 1080p content, however, you really needed to install a third-party card: the Broadcom Crystal HD card (model BCM70015). FireCore support for the card is outlined here. You can view an installation guide here. There were a few different options for accessing the capabilities of the Crystal HD card, including using FireCore. I think I booted a USB stick running Crystalbuntu. There’s also an article on playing non-iTunes video that’s worth looking at.
Once you’ve done that, you can login to the box and have a poke around. The username is frontrow. The password isn’t hard to guess.
Also, if you’re having trouble with the Smart Installer for nitoTV, you’ll need to track down a copy of MacOSXUpdCombo10.4.9Intel.dmg and ftp it to ~/Documents. You should then be able to run the installer.
I get what I need from my Apple TV (4th Generation) box nowadays via Plex and various streaming services, but my fascination with these little boxes that can connect you to various media sources remains a drain on my disposable income. Just as my Boxee box is no longer anything more than a fancy paperweight, so too has the utility of my various, older generation Apple TV devices waned over time. It’s not just an interesting lesson in the useful lifecycle of technology devices (“How dare I expect something to be functional after ten years”), but also an interesting reminder of how little control we have over the content we continue to pay the big studios for. I’m sure I’ve opined over the years about the number of times I’ve purchased Enter The Dragon and various Star Wars episodes on a plethora of different formats and resolutions, never really owning a “license” to consume the movie across various resolutions and devices. But the Apple TV (1st Generation) really brings home the fact that, even when I’ve purchased a copy of media from Apple, when and how I watch that piece of media is somewhat out of my control.
Still on VMware Cloud on AWS. So you need some help with HCX? My colleague Greg put together this excellent guide a little while ago – highly recommended. This margarita recipe is also highly recommended, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Welcome to Random Short take #64. It’s the start of the last month of the year. We’re almost there.
Want to read an article that’s both funny and informative? Look no further than this beginner’s guide to subnetting. I did Elizabethan literature at uni, so it was good to get a reminder on Shakespeare’s involvement in IP addressing.
On a more serious note, data hoarding is a problem (I know this because I’ve been guilty of it), and this article from Preston outlines some of the reasons why it can be a bad thing for business.
Still on data protection, Howard Oakley looks at checking the integrity of Time Machine backups in this post. I’ve probably mentioned this a few times previously, but if you find macOS behaviour baffling at times, Howard likely has an article that can explain why you’re seeing what you’re seeing.
Zerto recently announced Zerto In-Cloud for AWS – you read more about that here. Zerto is really starting to put together a comprehensive suite of DR solutions. Worth checking out.
Finally, this article over at Blocks and Files on what constitutes a startup made for some interesting reading. Some companies truly are Peter Pans at this point, whilst others are holding on to the idea that they’re still in startup mode.
VMworld is on this week. I still find the virtual format (and timezones) challenging, and I miss the hallway track and the jet lag. There’s nonetheless some good news coming out of the event. One thing that was announced prior to the event was Tanzu Community Edition. William Lam talks more about that here.
Speaking of VMworld news, Viktor provided a great summary on the various “projects” being announced. You can read more here.
I’ve been a Mac user for a long time, and there’s stuff I’m learning every week via Howard Oakley’s blog. Check out this article covering the Recovery Partition. While I’m at it, this presentation he did on Time Machine is also pretty ace.
Facebook had a little problem this week, and the Cloudflare folks have provided a decent overview of what happened. As someone who works for a service provider, this kind of stuff makes me twitchy.
Fibre Channel? Cloud? Chalk and cheese? Maybe. Read Chin-Fah’s article for some more insights. Personally, I miss working with FC, but I don’t miss the arguing I had to do with systems and networks people when it came to the correct feeding and watering of FC environments.
Remote working has been a challenge for many organisations, with some managers not understanding that their workers weren’t just watching streaming video all day, but actually being more productive. Not everything needs to be a video call, however, and this post / presentation has a lot of great tips on what does and doesn’t work with distributed teams.
I’ve had to ask this question before. And Jase has apparently had to answer it too, so he’s posted an article on vSAN and external storage here.
This is the best response to a trio of questions I’ve read in some time.