Wanted: Virtualization Engineer, Referee Exp. Pref.

The virtualization of systems allows for efficient use of server resources and is clearly a trend that many enterprises are embracing. Systems engineers see virtualization as the next generation of tools that can help scale their servers, while network engineers see the virtualization trend headed in their direction as well. Unfortunately, it seems that server virtualization also helps foster trench warfare between the two.

I found myself witness to one small skirmish in this battle today, when I met with a startup looking for funding. The startup is building enterprise services, and for its next generation plans to make heavy use of XenSource’s XenMotion functionality to manage virtual machines on about 50 physical servers. This functionality, which is similar to that of VMware’s VMotion, promises to seamlessly move a virtual machine from one physical server to another. The startup’s service product could be running in one virtual machine on a server and if the server receives too much load or has a failure, the XenMotion functionality could move the virtual machine to another server without resulting in any downtime. For an enterprise services startup, avoiding downtime is a good idea.

Read More about Wanted: Virtualization Engineer, Referee Exp. Pref.

Relax, Let Verizon Do the Cable Canceling

Verizon knows that breaking up with your cable operator can be tough, so the company has asked the FCC for permission to do it for you. The FiOS TV provider is petitioning the commission to make switching your TV service similar to switching phone companies. Presumably this is because you are too lazy and weak when faced with the siren song of customer service reps, who will tempt you to stay with your existing cable by offering you four new HBO channels PLUS six months of Encore.

Instead, leave it to the cold-blooded Verizon reps, who, with Anton Chigurh-like ruthlessness, will cut that cord. Naturally, once you’re rid of that scourge, you’ll run to Verizon’s warm fiber-optic embrace. Om doesn’t buy Verizon’s arguments for such a move, and reminds you of the company’s past sins.

My only question: Will Verizon also come to my house, detach and return my cable box?

MacBook Air: The World’s Thinnest Notebook

MacBook Air

The rumors were true. Today Apple released the MacBook Air, “The World’s Thinnest Notebook”.

The competition specs in the “thin notebook” world are around 3 pounds, 1 inch thick, miniature keyboards, and slow processors.
The new MacBook Air is 0.16″ to 0.76″ at its thickest part and has a 13.3″ widescreen display.
A few features:

  • LED backlit display
  • Built-in iSight
  • Ambient light sensor for keyboard
  • Multi-touch trackpad – Move a window by double-tap and move. Rotate a photo by pivoting your index finger around your thumb
  • 80GB drive as standard, 64GB SSD as an option
  • 1.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo as standard, 1.8 GHz as an upgrade
  • 45w MagSafe
  • 1 USB 2.0 port
  • Micro-DVI
  • 802.11n and Bluetooth 2.1/EDR
  • 5 hour battery life
  • 2GB memory as standard

The processor on this thing is unreal. Intel shrunk the Core 2 Duo by 60%. It’s the thickness of a nickel and the width of a dime.
Something worth noting here is that the MacBook Air does not have an optical drive. Jobs says we’re moving towards an age of not needing one. You can get movies via iTunes purchase or rental, use Time Capsule for backups, and install things from CD/DVD via their new “Remote Disc” feature that lets you “borrow” the drive from a nearby machine.
Base price for the MacBook Air is $1799. They are taking pre-orders today and it will be shipping in two weeks.

Vuze (Azureus) Raises $20 Million

P2P platform Vuze, nee Azureus, has raised $20 million in a round led by New Enterprise Associates, which was joined by existing investors Redpoint Ventures, Greycroft Partners, BV Capital and Jarl Mohn. As well, NEA venture partner Mike Ramsay, the co-founder and former CEO of TiVo, has joined Vuze’s board.

Like BitTorrent, Vuze is based on peer-to-peer software that became highly popular for less-than-legitimate purposes before it turned the corner and built a business. And the company is on an upswing: it’s had 15 million client downloads since relaunching at the beginning of this year. Though requiring a download is an impediment to acquiring new users, it allows Vuze to differentiate from web video sites through delivering higher-quality content, in fact it’s offered HD video since it came online. The company says it now has some 100 premium content relationships.

Vuze CEO Gilles BianRosa participated in the peer-to-peer networking lunch at our NewTeeVee Live conference. He recently petitioned the FCC to stop ISPs like Comcast from interfering with BitTorrent traffic. We’ve also written about Vuze’s efforts to bring independent content creators onto its platform.

Vuze announced just about a year ago that it had raised $12 million in second-round funding. BitTorrent has at least $35 million in funding, Veoh has more than $40 million, and Joost has $45 million, among many well-capitalized companies in the space.

Bluetooth keypad combines RAZR keys with credit card

SlimFreedom claims this to be the knockout product of Christmas 2007. I’m not going to disagree, but if they want to be right, they better hurry up on the pricing and availability. The Freedom Slim Keypad takes a RAZR-like approach to the Bluetooth keyboard market. At 4 x 2.25 x .625 inches, the wireless keypad isn’t much bigger than a credit card. With the etched-look keys it actually looks like one too, which comes in handy when you slip it in a pocket. Just don’t confuse it with your AMEX at the register or you might have some ‘splaining to do.The internal battery gets recharged via mini-USB and you’ll get 4 hours of pecking or 100 hours of standby on a charge. The blue backlight function can be switched off to save some juice and really, do you have to tap out those SMS messages in the dark? BlackBerry, Palm, Windows Mobile and Symbian are all supported, so you’re in good shape if you switch devices a bunch.

Have Income and a Life, Not a Job

A job is that thing where you go to work in the morning, work in somebody’s office, report to a boss, leave by the end of the day, and get a regular paycheck. It’s that thing we’re supposed to get when we grow up, when we’re done with school.
It’s also becoming more and more irrelevant.
Some of you web workers are already getting along fine without a job: you work from home, or can work from anyone (you bedouin, you!). But for those of you who aren’t there yet, and are either looking for a job or have one, consider not having one.
There are so many other options out there right now, with the rise of the web worker, the entrepreneur, the telecommuter, the freelancer, the blogger, the consultant, and more.
Read More about Have Income and a Life, Not a Job

Fighting Repetitive Stress Injury

The Problem

About a month ago my right shoulder started feeling really sore. But I kept blogging, typing, programming away. And that night the pain was so bad I couldn’t sleep. My doctor diagnosed bursitis (Dictionary: “Bursitis: inflammation of a bursa, typically one in the knee, elbow or shoulder.”) (Dictionary; “Bursa: a fluid-filled sac or saclike cavity, esp. one countering friction at a joint.”) She gave me some exercises to do, a prescription, a mandated 4 day vacation from the computer, and strongly suggested a new office chair and mouse.

The Solution

New office chair, no problem, my old one was slowly falling apart. My entire desktop though was something else. I have piles of paper stacked on nearly every flat surface near the computer, books to read, manuals to help me, and lots of cables hooked to my Powerbook (power, speaker cable to my monitor, monitor cable, ethernet, firewire 800 cable to my hard drive, USB cable to my keyboard, then the mouse cable from my keyboard, iPod charger on firewire). So long term, I’m looking at getting a bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Maybe I’ll use Airport on my next computer if 802.11n is fast enough. That removes some clutter.

The Gear

I bought a Fujitsu ScanSnap S500M scanner. I’ve now scanned literally thousands of sheets of paper, and a huge part of the clutter on my desk, and kitchen table, and file cabinets, is gone.

I tried the Apple Mighty Mouse, and I hated it. I figured a trackball might be better anyway, so I ended up getting a Logitech Marble Mouse. The Marble Mouse is ok, definitely less strain on my wrist and arm. But I really miss the scroll wheel on my mouse. The scroll up and down buttons on the sides of the Marble Mouse are in a horrible position, so I think I am moving the mouse more to get to the scroll buttons on the top and bottom of the right scroll bar.

I also installed a cool little program called AntiRSI. AntiRSI simply keeps a countdown timer, and every 4 minutes, you have to take a 13 second pause. During the pause you can’t type or move the mouse. If you type or mouse, the pause timer resets. During those few seconds, I shake out my hands and wrists, or stand up and stretch. And then every 50 minutes, an 8 minute break is forced, although you can postpone the break if you must finish the thought you are working on. All of the times are configurable, so explore to see what works best for you. Sometimes the pauses or breaks are annoying, but it was much more annoying paying for medicine, X-rays, and not being able to use a computer for a few days.

For more on RSI, this Google notebook on Repetitive Stress Injury is useful.

Times Select going free? Is Times Reader content next?

Times_reader

Rumors by the New York Post indicate that the New York Times is about to let their premium web content go free: instead of paying $7.95 a month for access to archives, Op-Ed pieces and more, the Times Select information would be freely available. High-five if it happens, I say: I can’t stand clicking a link to the NYT (or WSJ, for that matter) only be blocked by a nicely worded "you have to pay to play" message.

This got me thinking about the Times Reader application which the NYT collaborated on with Microsoft last year. It’s such an enjoyable mobile reading experience across several of my devices, that I’m hoping it follows in the footsteps and goes free. Currently, you either pay $14.95 a month for the content or get it free as part of your NYT home subscription. Web content is by and large ad-supported, so here’s hoping the NYT frees up the Times Reader and offsets costs through the ads that are dynamically resized in the software. Either that, or offer an ad-free version for a monthly fee.

Yo Yahoo! Coming soon ain’t prime time

Yahoo is making some noise this morning, and it has got nothing to do with Terry Semel, Jerry Yang, Rupert Murdoch, and Sue Decker. Yahoo says that their Yahoo! Go 2.0 software, that allows you to access various Yahoo services on your mobile phones is ready for primetime. (Press Release is here.)

The new version of Yahoo! Go 2.0 launches on Friday and will be available for more than 200 different mobile phones in the US by the end of July, expanding to more than 400 by end of year. It will also be pre-loaded on new devices from Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, LG and HTC that begin rolling out later this year.

Read More about Yo Yahoo! Coming soon ain’t prime time