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Indulgent Accordion Solo

February 2011 Previous month Next month
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This caught my eye this morning, skimming the headlines. Mashable reports that a Google glitch disabled 150,000 email accounts - and by "disabled" they mean completely wiped clean. No emails, no attachments, no archives. Nada.


Google's damage control quickly cited that this is less than .08% of all gmail accounts in use, which is not likely comforting to a single one of the 150,000 affected. My gmail account archives my email from as far back as 2006 or 2007, and is the only record I have - no offline backups here. I guess I naiively assumed it was "in the cloud" with a mega-corporation - what could go wrong?


Evidently, quite a bit. The good news? Google will "make good." Latest reports indicate engineers anticipate a full recovery of the 150,000 accounts. But the bigger question here is what if they couldn't?


I'm no engineer, but with an ITIL certification under my belt, a slew of industry knowledge from my years at BMC, and a few trillion hours building my own PC's, trying to synch things to other things, and generally dorking out with computers and networks, a few precautions come to mind that I'd love perspective on from Dr. Cloud, The Cloud Curmudgeon, or any of our other resident experts on all things cloudy (not to mention our user community):


- Public cloud services are not immune to failure. If you source storage or capacity from a third party, have a backup plan.

- Manage cloud resources in line with the rest of your data center. Being able to quickly identify points of failure - and better yet, automatically react to resolve them - means little or no "downtime" to your business services. If cloud storage fails, a redundant local backup kicks in. A home user might not know until they log in to a service that something has failed, and that's fine. But a large enterprise can't afford to find out something is wrong well after the fact.


I've embraced quite a few cloud services in my personal life. I use Dropbox religiously, and a number of apps for my ipad that synch to my dropbox have really increased its market share on my home network. Gmail is a staple, and still will be (albeit with my own backups moving forward). I've been experimenting with soundcloud lately. I understand today that backing up to third party cloud services is one point of redundancy, but not the end of the story for my personal critical data.

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The new line of Macbook Pro's hit the streets last week, and the specs and benchmarks I've seen look good. I'm conjuring up a business case for why corporate marketing writers need Apple computers - to my knowledge, the only BMC-ers using Macs are graphic designers and I am sure there are a few hanging around development labs, etc. 


I know Bob Beauchamp is an Apple fan, and has definitely been a strong advocate for bringing the iphone to BMC employees (thanks, Bob and the entire IT team for making it happen!) We have ipad support internally, as well, which is really cool. Now about the new MacBook Pro's. . .


When my current laptop takes a dump and Steve Jobs personally hand-builds me a replacement, I'll definitely want a new bag to carry it in.  Here are a few that have made my short list. Just because we work in data centers - or stuffy offices, or in the basement with our favorite stapler - doesn't mean we have to look like it, right?


At the top of my list are these handmade bags stitched from vintage suit jackets by Etsy seller SewMuchStyle. They're all one-of-a-kind, made to order, and handmade in the USA.


Recycled Suit Coat Laptop Bag

by SewMuchStyle, on








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Let's have some fun, if that's allowed. For the rest of the week, I'm accepting your suggestions and votes on a song topic. It can be about anything - tech topics are obvious choices, since this is a software forum (and who doesn't love a jolly tune about underprovisioned onsite storage?) - but since my blog is about anything and everything, you don't have to stay focused on tech.


I'll take the winning idea as of Monday, February 21st at 12:00 a.m. and write and record a full song about it - working in an indulgent accordion solo, of course, and publish the completed song as a free MP3 download for your enjoyment / repulsion / massacre sometime next week. Stay tuned to my blog or follow me on Twitter @accordionsolo to hear what idea wins and get notified when the MP3 is live. 


Anything goes, as long as it is safe for work - and while my definition is slightly more lenient than others, I will delete any and all suggestions that are profane or blatantly offensive.


Suggest and vote here, and please tweet / share on facebook so we can get a really diverse group of suggestions to vote on.

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Not sure if she still does it, but as recently as a year ago my mom was still opening every email she received, printing it, and reading it offline. I don't recall seeing her use different colored markers to flag each printout for reply, archiving, or deletion, but I'll pass the idea on to her next time I see her. Sorry mom, love ya' :-)


Or I'll pass the idea to HP, while I am at it, since recent commercials for their tablet are touting a wireless print feature as a major selling point. I have no personal beef with HP; if I ever decide to print something again in this lifetime I might pick up a gently used HP printer on Craigslist for 15 or 20 bucks. John Paczkowski reports via his article for All Things Digital that even Morgan Stanley thinks printing is on its way out, citing a "projected decline of up to two percent in printer supplies revenue in 2011 and a two percent to five percent decline in 2012."


Here are the things I most frequently sent to the printer in the last decade:


Boarding passes

Term papers


The first two are now covered by my phone. I haven't been in college recently, but I imagine most professors born after the Fillmore administration are now accepting papers via email for the sake of convenience, time stamping, and environmentalism.


With electronic data transfer so easy and widespread - synching and sending and push this and pull that - sending anything to the printer does feel a bit like pulling the lever on a cigarette vending machine, or putting a 5.25 floppy in the drive and thumbing down the drive-closure lever, or manually scoring your own bowling game with a pencil and scorecard.


Separately, anyone else a bit perplexed that it took a solid 12-months for a competitor to come to market with a device to compete against the iPad? I've been using and loving mine (32GB, Wi-Fi only model) for 10-months now and am eagerly anticipating an upgrade to the second generation, assuming the specs are worth it and the resale value of my 1st-gen is as high as my other Apple products have historically gone for. I sold an iPhone 3GS straight out of the washing machine with a broken proximity sensor for $220 a few months back, and my 8-core Mac Pro desktop I use for home audio recording is still worth 65-70% of what I paid for it, refurbished, 18 months ago.

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Yesterday evening, I went to my first gathering of a cool meet-up group here in Austin, TX called “Sit Down, Shut Up, and Write.” The premise is exactly what the name suggests. Members meet at a local coffee shop, and the first 30 minutes is time to grab a drink and chat, etc. The next hour you are expected to literally sit down, shut up, and write. It’s not a group for critiquing each other’s work or collaborating. It’s basically meant for writers that need a rare block of uninterrupted time to work.


I’m working on a short story about a man that collects rope, with a surprise ending that is such a surprise that I haven’t even made it up yet. I’ll probably still be working on it a year from now, but maybe not, if I keep going to these meet-ups.


I find that the discipline of putting myself in a situation where I am expected to write (and subsequently feel accountable to the other group members) is a great way to be more productive on my personal creative projects.


Plus, I like caffeine and circus freaks, both of which are available in droves at Austin coffee shops.


Anyone else join any cool meetups - in Austin or otherwise - that are worth sharing?

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Mashable reports that more than 56,000 schools are bringing Facebook competitor Everloop into the classrooms.


The social networking site allegedly requires parental permission for a child ages 8 -13 to join, and a variety of parental notifications are in place to keep parents up to speed on their childrens actions.


Many kids in the "tween" demographic are already Tweeting and Facebook-ing to their little hearts content, passing the age verification required at signup with the age-old practice of flat out lying about their birthdays, the same way I do to stay in the Baskin Robbins birthday club 20 years after my eligibility expires. Free cone, woot!


Parents: What do you think? What benefits does social networking have in our public school system? Will it prep our kids with tools to enter the next-generation workforce, or is it an unncessary distraction?


Comment away, I'm curious about your take!

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That first sip of wine – the one where the waiter stands over you and watches you swirl and sniff and sip and swallow – kind of creeps me out, I’m not going to lie. Last night at dinner I was elected “taster” (and subsequently repeatedly referred to as a gentleman) by my friends at dinner, which was a huge mistake on both counts. Here’s why:


My knowledge of the subtleties of wine can be summarized in a few short proverbs:

  1. Cooking sherry isn't a good shooter. In an act of desperation as a teen, I took a swig and can still conjure up flavor that I can only describe as salt-meat-expiration-date-has-passed. Tasting notes like “smoked wild game with hints of lingonberry and warm toffee” make my internal BS meter spike a bit. Yes, wines can be complex. No, I do not care for a glass of anything described as tobacco and beef-bullion.
  2. Of most employees at BMC, not to mention managers, I am easily the most likely to say a potty word at dinner, or post a blog entry with the word “potty” in it, as I am hereby doing. Yes, I hold the door for women and children and the elderly and infirm. No, I should not be referred to as a gentleman.


I’ve never sent a single bottle of wine back, though one time in my dorm room I learned the hard way that you should never re-cork a bottle of red and pop it back open a couple weeks later to finish the job. Last night I asked our waiter if bottles are ever sent back, and he said they are on occasion, when they have gotten “corky.” From there forward, I just wanted to watch reruns of Life Goes On. (Chris Burke is actually an amazing guy and a true inspiration. In addition to being the first major television character with Down’s Syndrome, he has lately taken to touring the country in a folk band. Incredible.)


I have, however, sent hundreds of sodas back. No carbonation, no syrup, I asked for diet and they brought me regular, I asked for Sprite and they brought me vodka, I asked for sweet tea and they brought me what could only be hummingbird nectar; more often than not, when I order a drink that costs less than $8 a glass, something is wrong. I'm now an advocate for waiters looming around for me to take the first sip of Coca-Cola and gesture that it meets my high standards.


All that said, I have no complaints about the high prices of wine. If it were cheaper, we would have had five bottles instead of three, and that would have been two more awkward moments where the server watched me drink, waiting for me to nod my head in approval – perhaps laughing at me inside, knowing he had switched the good wine out for Franzia from the second glass on.


Oh, and welcome to my blog. I write about software all day every day (excepting most Saturdays and Sundays) for BMC Software, so I may occassionally throw a nod to something remotely related to data centers and IT efficiency. But probably not.