Resistance is (was) futile

December 4, 2008

Twitter

I tried and tried to resist for so long, but I finally succumbed to time wasting that is twittering my tit-bits away.

Actually, it’s kinda good for me at the moment.  I’m far too busy to even contemplate blog posts at the moment (how do people find the time?) so for the time being I’ll mainly be twittering.   

Come and follow me at http://twitter.com/youdodan

Adios Amigos.

I’m a busy, busy Beetil

October 18, 2008

Beetil

When we first set up YouDo (vote for us here as a top 10 startup), our long term goal was building successful products, as opposed to just focussing solely upon services.  

Having managed some pretty critical IT systems in my previous life, I could never find an effective tool that helped me manage across the whole IT service management lifecycle.   We had evaluated numerous products out there, but they were either too simple, too complex, too expensive, too unusable, or just downright rubbish.   A lot of other people I know find this.   And a lot of people end up building their own – but that just gets too expensive and unmaintainable in the long term.

We were unsatisfied.

So we did something about it.

So I’m pleased to announce that we’re not too far away off of opening up a beta of our first product:

Beetil – service management without the pain.

We’ve got quite a few alpha users on the site at the moment, and pretty much “they can’t live without it”.  We’re using it to manage our own services.  And we love it.   If you’re interested in taking part in the alpha programme please feel free to give us a yell.

It’s a fun time.

Gmail Outage Outrage

August 14, 2008

Wow! There’s been plenty of coverage of the recent massive (yeah, right) 2 hour GMail outage. The end of cloud computing? Erm… I don’t think so.

A couple of observations that immediately sprang to my mind:

One. Do the Maths.

Go figure how much all this would cost you: email server, email software, o/s licenses, backup software, hosting, ongoing management and maintenance, staff costs, etc… Yes. This all adds up. Compare the costs against GMail…. Erm.. That’s a no-brainer.

Hey – ask yourself this as well. For those in corporate environments, how many times is your email service down? Probably more than GMail I would say.

Two. Is email *that* important?

Have you ever heard about GTD (I’m quite fond of it myself). In today’s world of a gazillion emails they’re now recommending that you check your email only at certain intervals. I know countless people that say they only check email three times a day!! So it’s obviously not that big a deal.

Wooo! Then there’s this amazing technological invention known as the telephone. Or this marvel called face-to-face. Yes – we can actually talk to people. That’s a good thing.

No email equals no interruptions. I remember my days as a CIO, when we had a four hour unplanned email server outage. Outrage! “Burn him!”, they cried. Four hours and a good lashing later, people came up to me and said that was the most productive four hours they’ve had for years!

Email ain’t everything. Get over it.

A two hour email outage is not the end of the world, nor for cloud computing.

(and if you even bothered to check IMAP was working fine – sigh!)

Snapper. Loving It.

July 24, 2008

Loving It

Loving It

I tell ya.  You’ve gotta be loving this Snapper business.  At last Wellington is brought into the twenty first century!

What you’ve got to love even more is that the first bus that I got on to pay with with my Snapper card didn’t have it’s Snapper readers activated.   “No problems”, said the driver.  “Just hop on!”.   Free.  Zippo.

Excellent!  100% discount!

Check out this gem of an email that I received the other morning from a high profile, and well funded, US based startup to whom’s software as a service I subscribe to:

Yesterday morning we had a major server outage affecting our 1.0 customers. We completely lost one of our database servers. The day was spent rebuilding and restoring everything we possibly could.

There were a handful of accounts that the restore completely failed on. Yours was one of those accounts. We have exhausted all available avenues for restoring the account data with no positive results.

Quite simply, I find this astounding! I would have thought that should have had a mirrored/clustered database server, and at the very least held an offline backup of my information. Obviously not.

In my previous life prior to YouDo, I spent countless hours with auditors going over BCP and DR plans, and countless hours making sure we’d avoid this kind of screw up ever happening to us. I used to hate it. Really hate it.

But now I’ve been on the receiving end of what seems like an inadequate disaster recovery plan, and can relate to the pain that our customers could feel – it’s going back near the top of my agenda.

Films now on iTunes!

June 5, 2008

iTUnes films!

Wow!  Imagine my excitement this morning when I opened my inbox and Apple told me I could now download films from iTunes.

Kiwis – don’t get too excited.  This was for my iTunes UK account.   Bah!

First impressions?   Well, there’s plenty of films in there to download, but they are priced pretty much the same as DVDs.   Add in the size of the downloads and the cost per GB for traffic on our fantastic broadband, and it weighs in slightly more expensive!  So why would you?   You can even rent movies too, but that again equates to a similar cost as popping down to your local Blockbuster

The saving grace is that there’s a good selection of TV shows, most of which you can download particular episodes.  And kind of like iTunes music, it’s great being able to pick and choose the odd gem you’re after without having to buy the whole boxset/album.

I’ll be buying the odd classic show and maybe the odd series you simply can’t get here.   But for other mainstream stuff I’ll just rent or buy it from the DVD store.

Call me an old fart, but if I like a movie or an album, I’ll go and buy it.  I like something I can touch and feel.  I like the cover.  I can rip it.  It’s not DRMed, and it’s automatically backed up.

PS3

I’ve been maxing out the credit card recently, so was pleasantly surprised when I found out that I had accrued enough hotpoints for a brand spanking new Playstation 3!

I’d been itching to get an AppleTV, but when I found out about the media capabilities of the PS3 I was sold.  I’m a keen, but amazingly crap, gamer too!

Here’s my first thoughts.

Getting Physical

The packaging ain’t gonna be Apple, but I was up and running in no time at all.  The PS3 is pretty heavy, much more so than I expected.  And it also felt a little fragile.   It’s certainly not like the original PS1 and PS2s – which have undergone “one hell of beating”.

The SimAxis controller is great though, and whilst it feels no different to the original PS2 controllers, there’s actually some motion sensors inside!

Starting Out

Ok – so you turn the box on in eager anticipation!   You get a nice string quartet playing the startup jingle!  Lovely.   But then it says “you need to update your system”.   Gah!!!   SIXTY minutes later – it finally did it.  Yes folks, you buy a PS3, and needs to go off for an hour or so to update the firmware.   You can, of course, opt out of this, but it was a disappointing start.

Gaming

I’d held off the PS3 deliberately until some solid titles started appearing.    But then GT Prologue, Pro Evolution Soccer 2008, and Grand Theft Auto IV (out tomorrow) are now on the scene.   I can’t speak for the last one, but the quality of the games are incredible.

I gave the online gaming a shot (which again frustrating involved downloading updates to games – another sixty plus minutes).  OK, but not brilliant.  Not sure if it’s the internet connection or not.   Plus, compared to the whizzkids out there I’m crap – so I get hammered every time.

Media

So, I have an iMac at home with a 500GB hard drive attached.  Lots of photos, lots of music, lots of movies and UK television!

I tried installing a couple of different media servers:

First up was TwonkyVision.   I found this good enough for pictures and music, but awful for video.

Next up was EyeConnect.  Good for video and pictures, but not for music.

Interestingly, I only appear to be able to stream avi formats.   The mp4 format most of my movies and tv are in streams, but stutters every 3-4 seconds.   Aaarrrgghh!   Help would be much appreciated.

PSP Remote Play

Here’s a cool wee feature.   You can hook up your PSP to access content remotely (from anywhere in the world) over your PSP.

I was accessing content from my PSP, which was being served via my PS3, that was sourced from my iMac!!  Photos, videos, music – the lot.   And apparently there are some games coming out that are PS3 and PSP compatible.   Pretty amazing stuff.

Only issue here is that the streaming was a bit slow so the videos weren’t great.

In Summary

In summary, once those bloody downloads were out of the way, the PS3 has been a good experience.  Not great.  But good.   I now have a home media server that is almost exactly what I needed – I just need to nail the mp4 streaming.

Only thing now is that I need a nice big HDTV.

Which means the missus will want a nice new sideboard to put it on….

Sigh.  Technolust is never ending.