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Comment Made it Through Pretty Much Unscathed (Score 5, Informative) 147

Totally concur with others pointing out Amazon offers redundancy if you choose to use it.

We had webservers, database (master/slave,) and other services split across usa-east and usa-west.

When usa-east started showing problems, we:
*) Took the usa-east webservers out of round robin DNS (ttl 1hr)
*) Verified the slave (in usa-west) was up to date, shut down the master (usa-east,) and converted the slave to master.
*) Updated all webservers to point to the new master.
*) Cranked up new usa-west webservers / updated round robin DNS

I believe Amazon offers mechanisms to do this automatically or we could just always write our own failover scripts, but this is the tradeoff me made. We were willing to trade some service degradation by switching over manually in exchange for avoiding the pitfalls of false-positive detection. Very much an application specific tradeoff, not for everyone, but it worked for what we are doing.

The key was to avoid putting all eggs in the usa-east basket and splitting up across usa-west, even though we incur additional bandwidth fees, ie master/slave replication transfer is full fee between regions.

We were never concerned about cascading failures effecting multiple availability zones in a give region nor did it matter for us - our redundancy requirement was geographical diversity, not partitions within a datacenter. We were thinking natural disaster, but the architecture covered us in this case as well.

The coolest thing to me is just how quickly we were able to shuffle around these resources to avoid a problem area - a couple of hours. There's no way we could have done it so quickly with what we had before - a combination of our own colocated servers and VPS.

Comment Re:Better standards breed better products (Score 1) 417

He couldn't be more dead-on regarding the Japanese. When I worked for a telecom vendor, we had a major project to adapt our software and hardware for NTT (Nippon Telephone & Telegraph.)

Two things I remember most:

*) The call we got about our 'defective' hardware. Turns out our own specifications called for 4 mounting screws to be included for a given circuit pack. We shipped 5. The call, after much cultural posturing, boiled down to "You mean you think our installers are imcompetent? You think so little of us?"

*) We had another circuit pack that had a severe overheating problem - when it hit this failure mode the heatsinks* would drop off into the bottom of the shelf. One of our executives told them "This is by design. It shortens the time to total failure, which reduces the overall fire risk." He was fired the next day.

[*the card had 3 DSPs, each with a heatsink that wasn't physically mounted, but stuck on with some kind of conductive glue.]

Comment Wait, what? (Score 1) 117

Ok, it allows third-party downloadable apps (their own app store?,) but "media-server functions have been omitted."

Can I pull media from my linux fileserver or not?

If the omitted functions just means it doesn't have local storage, then fine. I'm just hoping they don't cripple or disallow apps that can remotely fetch media.

If I could get that plus Netflix on a ~$100 box, I'd be all over it.

Comment Formal Methods vs Time (Score 1) 517

I had a professor in college, along with several colleagues and students, working on a formal proof for nuclear power plant control software. They had been been working for 5 years and, at the time, were about 10% complete.

Obviously, at that rate, the time to complete the formal proof is probably longer than the lifetime of the particular control system they were targeting.

Hopefully Formal Methods have come a long way since I last studied them 10 years ago. In any case, congratulations to this team of researchers at NICTA.

Submission + - Intel Buys Wind River

SlashDotDotDot writes: The New York Times reports that Intel will purchase embedded OS and software vendor Wind River Systems for $884 million. From the article:

Wind River makes operating systems for platforms as diverse as autos and mobile phones, serving customers like Sony and Boeing. Intel, whose processors run about 80 percent of the world's personal computers, is expanding into new markets, including chips for televisions and mobile devices. Wind River's software and customer list will pave the way for Intel to win more chip contracts.


Submission + - Cell Phone Test Environment on the Cheap? 1

ShipIt writes: I'm interested in developing cell phone applications for a wide variety of platforms including the iPhone, Android, and perhaps Windows CE/Mobile. Preferably, my test setup would consist of several of the most popular phones for each platform, however, I don't want to pay service plans for each phone, and in any case, coverage in my area is extremely limited. Ideally, I'd like to have a sort of mini cell base station and antenna in my home that could communicate with the test phones, gateway the voice to a local Asterisk box, and push the data out over my broadband connection. I've read some about femtocell technology, which seems to be what I want in terms of hardware, but the current offerings all seem to be tied to specific service providers along with monthly fees.

As someone just getting started in cell phone app development, I'd love to hear how others have solved this problem.

Comment Re:You can't manage what you don't know. (Score 1) 252

You can't criticize what you don't know either.

You should take your own words to heart, my friend.

This gentlemen lacks the academic credentials, actual work experience in a nuts-and-bolts IT role, and the track record of success in such a role to be an effective leader in this appointment. Bachelor of Arts? Masters in Public Policy? Please.

The idea that managers in one field (ie healthcare) can be interchanged into another (ie IT) is a myth. It's a bush-league mistake and one that is very costly and damaging.

Submission + - BSA Bully Over Small Businesses, Becomes RIAA-2 ( 2

Tech.Luver writes: "Michael Gaertner worried he could lose his company. A group called the Business Software Alliance was claiming that his 10-person architectural firm was using unlicensed software._______________ The alliance demanded $67,000 — most of one year's profit — or else it would seek more in court. "It just scared the hell out of me," Gaertner said._______________ Targeting small businesses is lucrative for the Business Software Alliance, the main copyright-enforcement watchdog for such companies as Microsoft Corp., Adobe Systems Inc. and Symantec Corp._______________ Of the $13 million that the BSA reaped in software violation settlements with North American companies last year, almost 90 percent came from small businesses._______________ Gaertner, who worried his BSA encounter would crush his business, wants to rid himself of the Autodesk, Microsoft and Adobe software involved in the case."It's not like they have really good software. It's just that it's widespread and it's commonly used," he said. "It's going to be a while, but eventually, we plan to get completely disengaged from those software vendors that participate in the BSA."_______________ ( )"
United States

Submission + - FCC Head Supports Ala Carte Cable

MikeyTheK writes: PC Magazine Reports that Kevin Martin, chairman of the FCC, supports ala carte cable.

In a letter to several minority groups on Wednesday, Martin said "While I believe all consumers would benefit from channels being sold in a more a la carte manner, minority consumers, especially those living in Spanish speaking homes, might benefit most of all,". He goes on to argue "Cable companies act as gatekeepers into the programming allowed by the expanded basic cable package, preventing independent content producers from reaching viewers,", citing the example of Black Family Television, which was forced to go online-only because cable operators refused to carry it, even after it reached 16 million homes.

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