* Posts by Richard Cottrill

17 publicly visible posts • joined 5 Jul 2008

Coders howl over Google's App Engine price hike (natch)

Richard Cottrill

Option B

Ok, I'll do it. I'll run AppScale on Amazon, and keep the prices honest. Right after I fix the dog kennel, but before dinner.


Internet use ‘rampant’: ASIO boss

Richard Cottrill

@Graham Wilson - I think you've got ASIO backwards.

I think it's not citizens talking about changing the government democratically that bothers Mr Irvine; but people who wish to act in a manner which is not democratic (especially involving violence). Before 9/11, and similar, ASIO used to spend a lot of their time running after skinheads - the end of the Cold War limited their opportunities to find other political organisations with tendencies towards violence - ASIO's brief.

Instead of assuming that ASIO are after people whingeing about their local MP, it's safer to assume ASIO are hunting people who would install a totalitarian regime.

I accept there's a certain irony in a secretive government organisation spying on its citizens, to uphold democracy.

Richard Cottrill
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I agree entirely. I doubt that Mr Irvine had those views in mind though.

Richard Cottrill

Internally Inconsistent

Really? To say on one hand that the security agencies see the world differently, and then to pronounce something they've said something seems odd, leaves me at a loss for words.

The Internet has allowed a balkanisation of opinion that propagates a degree of extremism that is the stuff of nightmares. People with extreme views have historically found themselves isolated within their communities; without a community to help them elaborate their views. The internet has allowed an almost unlimited range of views to prosper.

As this article points out, we (humans) have tended to take advantage of communication capabilities. Historically, our communications been limited by geography, but the Internet is the first *democratised* medium that effectively removes geography as an impediment to communication.

For the first time in history, a huge swathe of the global population has the *potential* to be heard globally, no matter how silly, frightening, unique, or banal, their views are.

Complexity killed the IT quality of service ...

Richard Cottrill

And so on, through the whole infrastructure

This stuff isn't "that" hard. Collect the data as below, push into "something" (Splunk, Nagios, a spreadsheet, a piece of paper, etc.), and have "something else" (email, IM, pager, dullard co-worker, etc.) let you know when it looks "weird" (abnormal, outside SLA, missing, etc.).

The process:

1. Pick a common *business* process which touches many points in the infrastructure.

2. Figure out how far through the process the initial correlation data (transaction ID, etc.) will be carried.

3. Time entry and exit of the correlation data from outside the system (any scripting language can be used for this, or a stopwatch for the technically incompetent).

4. Repeat through the business process.

5. Pick another business process that touches (generally) different infrastructure.

6. Goto 2.

Nintendo: no DVD, BD playback for Wii U

Richard Cottrill

They don't need a lot of presses

Or whatever it is you make a disk with these days. I guess Nintendo need a few factories(owned by Nintendo) churning out the disks for the various publishers, and then they're done. The cost of the custom-made presses is amortized over the life of the whole WiiU platform, and every disk ever made...

There are lots of ways to encode data to disks, and the only reason that the Blu-Ray and DVD standards can be charged for is because they're ubiquitous - the patents, etc. wouldn't worth a cent if we never moved off CDs.

Also, if Nintendo uses a proprietary disk, they can make huge inroads into stifling piracy of disks (they own all the presses, and can control access). Eventually, someone will figure out how to forge the disk; but until then they'll be secure. Pirated downloads, etc. are clearly a different story.

Richard Cottrill
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The King's Dead! Long live the King!

Apple has always pushed it's users to abandon "old" media formats, and interconnects.

This is no bad thing; dropping floppy disks and serial ports was smart with the original iMac; and I look forward to the death of USB2 (and a little more sadly, eSATA).

Some industry trends are just there to see, and physically shifting disks is heading the way of the Australian book store. Nintendo may need /some/ disk for /some/ markets, but "using Blu-Ray for delivering movies to the loungerooms of the developed world" is not among them.

Soon enough, most media will come to us through The Internet - wired, wireless, etc. The real question is how Nintendo expects to work in an increasingly complex home network - how they'll integrate DRM, multiple personal media libraries, and many media capable devices /per person/.

What's their mobile phone angle?

Five amazing computers for under £100

Richard Cottrill

Updated NSLU2 = Plug computer

As an owner of an NSLU2, it pains me to point out that its best days are behind it. The plug computers are, in every way, their worthy successor (including their price point).

Telstra stirs NBN pot with 4G/LTE deployment announcement

Richard Cottrill
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On the right track

I like where you're going with this; mobile telcos and NBN are complimentary, but I think the responses don't need to extinguish the mobile telco tower investments (as public ownership would do, at cost to the tax payer).

A more elegant solution might be to mandate "reasonable" inter-telco roaming - a policy that any "local roaming" (ie: using a tower that is operated by a telco, in Australia, to which the user is not a subscriber) charges are borne by the subscriber's telco (thus preventing the disasters that are cell networks in the USA, India, etc.).

A response from the mobile telcos in Australia, without sufficient backhaul of their own, would be to buy bandwidth from the NBN - that is why it's being built.

The effect is likely to be that Telstra's investment in extensive fibre networks would offer a competitive advantage, eroded as the NBN comes online (great result); and the incentives for building unessesary mobile towers would be reduced (another great result).

Simplest Ethernet storage validated

Richard Cottrill

Ok, it's a total puff piece. AoE is still nifty.

Really, AoE is worth a look The specification is impressively brief.

If I were to pick on something awkward, I would wonder what happens when the ethernet switch became saturated. Everyone knows ethernet is fast and cheap under ideal conditions; when it's not too busy. When it's stressed, well...

Some light reading was coughed up by the development of the LHC:


Pity they didn't (couldn't?) name the switches.

A paper on FC behaviour when similarly stressed? Anyone?

Aussie parties trade blows over fast broadband

Richard Cottrill

infrastructure is for the future

As you alluded to, the NBN infrastructure isn't about 'now'.

The only thing that requires a lot of bandwidth right now is movies; but there are other things on the horizon. Conroy (spit!) is fond of the tele-presence services like medicine, and so on; but the truth is that there's much more mundane things to use 100Mbit networks for; like file servers, off-site backups, phone calls, client-server applications (REALLY Rich Internet Applications); distributed offices, etc.

Movies are this year's bandwidth hogs, because they're one of the few services that fits ADSL2 asymmetry/bandwidth. I tend to think that there are new uses to be had for all that bandwidth. Whether Australian start-ups can be found/funded to exploit it is something I have less faith in.

MS and Oracle's big dev tools - who needs 'em?

Richard Cottrill

I'd like to agree

I'm glad to see an honest "I like these tools..." approach to IT. It's not that I agree totally with everything said, but it's your approach to the problem that's refreshing: solve the problem, worry about the tools when it's an issue.

All I'd ask for is a stronger emphasis on the importance of tool-building. The importance of having an experienced builder of tools (or two) on a project/programme cannot be overstated. Tools tailored to a project/programme can be a massive boost that's hard to over-state.

Closing the gap between development and operations

Richard Cottrill

Big companies are the worst

I tend to think that development-side people are cowboys, and operations-side people are librarians. Their various neuroses are absolutely vital to a big IT organisation.

My 2c is that every architect (<spit!>) I've met has come exclusively through development, and so they're usually the biggest cowboys of all. In this case everyone suffers.

Mine's a drizabone with pockets stuffed with index cards.

The madness of 'king cores

Richard Cottrill

Lots of single-threaded applications, all at once? Almost like an operating system...

I think you may have described an operating system. Allowing lots of processes to share processing resources efficiently? Wow, not! That is hardly revolutionary, or new, or even thoughtful. Opinion? Not even close.

Solaris and Linux already allow a variety of ways to slice a given machine, (from virtual memory/processes, through complete virtualisation). BSD has a few options (like jails, and more I'm sure) , and Windows even has more than one (in the works).

An opinion piece on this might be a case for whether virtualisation interfaces are best defined by hardware or software vendors (although I believe some independant standard is best of all, and some work has been done there already).

Drizzle plans to wash away DBMS past

Richard Cottrill

Back to the future

"Specifically, Drizzle does not have stored procedures, views, triggers, query cache and prepared statements." - Sounds like the MySQL v3.22 that I cut my teeth on.

Back when men were men; a LAMP was a thing in the corner of the room; Wired was sage; Napster was naughty; 56Kb Internet connections were considered "quick"; and Java was not yet boated (but didn't exactly zip along either).

Back when I started reading El Reg...

The PSP: what's its future?

Richard Cottrill

PSP limp

I think we can all agree the PSP format is limping along (as much as anyone who puts on in their trouser pocket). There's a few reasons why:

- it's big and heavy. For what it offers, it's a brick.

- constrained input options. The lack of any of a touch screen, keyboard, microphone, or camera means it's very strictly a gaming device. It had better be an AWESOME gaming device.

- it's not an awesome gaming device. Simply, it isn't that awesome. The Nintendo DS is at least as capable of carrying a game, and has lots of innovative games to prove the point.

- The UMD. It's fragile, and slow, and basically awful. What's to like? The biggest benefit of cracking the firmware on my PSP is carrying 4-5 games on a MemoryStick and removing UMDs from my life entirely.

So fix these issues, and we're done. I think it would be a lot like an iPhone 3G, with some extra buttons. No exactly rocket science, eh?

Mine's the one with an odd bulge on the left; smelling faintly of sea salt. What?

PC World pips Asus to UK Atom sub-laptop premier

Richard Cottrill
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When people ask me for advice, I always mention Advent.

Advent branded computers hold a special place for me. They are the only brand of computer where my experiences (or those of the owners) has been universally awful. As I write, I see my partner's ex-laptop and the various USB and Firewire ports that all failed one by one. I see the enormous air vent, that would spew hot air at a rate and temperature that could weld battleship armour. I recall the realisation that this laptop is a frankenstein disaster of desktop and laptop parts, badly thrown together.

Mostly, I recall the experience of trying to track down drivers for the beast. Any sense of after sales support is wholly absent for this, and every other Advent machine I've come across.

For these reasons, I never fail to mention Advent machines when people ask me about what machine to buy.