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Hot technologies I care about – Sep '08

September 17, 2008 30 comments
Iron Worker by ikegami

photo by: ikegami

I’ve been too busy to blog lately, and for that I apologize.  But here’s a quicky detailing the technologies (internet related and not) I’m excited about right now:

  • Drizzle.  For years now, I’ve felt that MySQL has been doing in a direction in opposition to my use case.  Stored procedures, views, etc etc have added bloat and complexity without offering me anything useful.  Turns out I’m not alone – and thus Drizzle was born.  To say I’m *super* excited about this is a serious understatement.
  • Google & Percona’s MySQL patches.  While I wait for Drizzle, I’m stuck dealing with terrible concurrency issues in MySQL/InnoDB that force us to partition data way before we really should have to, making our system more complex.  It’s crazy having a server keel over when it shouldn’t be either CPU-bound *or* IO-bound but that’s life with MySQL and InnoDB these days – or at least, it was until Google and Percona fixed what I couldn’t get MySQL to fix with our Platinum Enterprise subscriptions.  Open source rules!
  • Flash storage.  I really wish I could talk about this some more (pesky NDAs), but there are datacenter changes coming that are more dramatic than anything I’ve seen in 14 years of working on them. I hope I’ve talked to everyone in the space (and from the companies I’ve talked to, one of them seems to be the *very* clear winner for this upcoming round), but if you’re a storage vendor working on flash appliances and I haven’t talked to you, ping me.  We’re a bleeding edge customer and we’ll put your stuff in production faster than you can deliver it to us.  🙂
  • ZFS.  Regardless of flash storage, ZFS is the filesystem of choice – head and shoulders over everything we’ve used or heard of.  The advent of flash just makes this even more compelling.  The downside?  It’s not on Linux.  😦
  • OpenSolaris.  ZFS is so incredible, my hand has been forced, and we’re about to put our first OpenSolaris system into production.  OpenSolaris is, in theory, the Solaris kernel (think ZFS, DTrace, SMF, high concurrency, etc) with the GNU-like userland (think Linux-like).  In practice, it’s still extremely painful for a Linux expert and Solaris n00b like me to use – even on a single-purpose machine like a MySQL server.  Only ZFS makes the pain worth it.  For development, it’s basically unusable for Linuxers (it’s probaby fabulous for Solaris guys – lucky ducks).
  • Nexenta.  Unlike OpenSolaris, Nexenta *is* the Solaris kernel plus GNU userland.  Unfortunately, it’s not backed by Sun or anyone else I have any relationship with.  Sun has been absolutely the very best technology vendor we’ve ever dealt with in terms of support, technical knowledge, and just plain listening to us, so that’s a big issue.  I wish Sun had taken Nexenta’s approach (or would just buy them or offer support or something).  If OpenSolaris continues to be painful, we may fall back on Nexenta instead – remember, ZFS is the driving factor here.
  • Amazon Web Services competitors.  They’ve been promising they’d be coming out for years now and I’m shocked they’ve given Amazon this much runway.  But I believe a few more are getting very close (can’t say more, again, pesky NDAs).  Now, we’re extremely happy with Amazon, so we have no plans to switch, but competition is good for everyone – and Amazon is a fierce competitor.  Plus there are still gaps in Amazon’s strategy, and if I can mix & match to plug some of those gaps, awesome – sign me up.
  • Memcached.  This one’s been on my list for years, and it’s still way up there.  Binary protocol on the verge of shipping, nice patch to resolve some networking issues we’ve seen, and talk about scabability.  If you’re building web apps and this isn’t a core part of your infrastructure, you’re doing it wrong.
  • Big RAM.  4GB DIMMs are dirt cheap, so if you’re not loading your DB and Memcached boxes to the gills, you’re missing the boat.  Cheap 2-socket 64GB (and relatively cheap 128GB at 4-sockets) are here.
  • Sun Fire X4140 and X4440.  The best 1U (2-socket) and 2U (4-socket) servers on earth.  Despite being late to the game with quad-core, Opteron RAM performance kills Xeon, so these are the servers we’re buying.  You can load them to the gills with 4GB DIMMs, enjoy the dual-power supplies (yes, in the 1U box too), and crank out some great stuff.
  • OpenSocial, Y!OS, etc.  The big boys are finally getting real about getting open and cross-pollinating data and I think we’re finally nearing an inflection point.  We’re hiring a Sorcerer to do nothing but think and build in this space.  I’m sure magic will ensue.
  • Nikon D90 and Canon 5D MkII.  Nikon’s taken the photography world by storm with amazing high-ISO performance, and Canon just announced a DSLR that shoots full 1080p video.  Both look amazing and both are game-changers.
  • Onkyo TX-SR806.  I’m an A/V junkie and this thing is amazing.  5 HDMI inputs (need more?), THX Ultra2 Plus (the low-volume enhancements are *awesome* with young kids sleeping at home), automatic room EQ, decodes every modern audio encoding, etc.  I don’t even use the amplifier section (I have separates), but it’s turning out to be the best Pre/Pro I’ve ever owned.  Sounds fabulous on my gear.
  • iPhone App Store.  That thing is a game changer, and we’re barely seeing the tip of the iceberg.  All the other players have to respond – which is great for you and I.  And talk about a platform that’s a dream to develop on!
So there you have it.  Those are the most important pieces of tech I’m watching these days.  I’ll *definitely* be writing up our ZFS experiments as they come along and I have interesting data to share.  Stay tuned.  
 
Oh, and if you’re curious about what I *wish* was on the list, there’s really only one thing:  iTunes syncing.  I have two desktops (one at my office, one at home) and two laptops, plus my wife has accounts on my computers.  Keeping those all in sync so that when I update a playlist at the office, the update is waiting for me at home, is a nightmare.  I’d pay lots of money if someone could solve that – seems like iTunes + AWS + a smart coder = solved, no?  Wish I had some time….

SmugShot for iPhone – Shoot, geotag, and upload.

July 10, 2008 24 comments
SmugVault

Man, to say I’m excited about this would be a major understatement. We’re huge Apple fanboys over here, so when we got accepted to the first wave of SDK developers at Apple, we were stoked. Shizam went to town almost immediately and after a few months of hard work, SmugShot was born. (And as I’m writing this, we’re #1 in “What’s Hot” on both iTunes and the iPhone interface!)

So what is it? Well, we knew early on we wanted something very simple and elegant that did only one thing – but did it extremely well. We didn’t want a kitchen-sink photo-sharing / -browsing / -taking application. We already have a fantastic iPhone application on Safari, so the obvious thing to tackle first was actually taking the photos on your iPhone and getting them up to SmugMug.

SmugVault

SmugShot makes it incredibly simple to simply whip your phone out at a moment’s notice and take as many snapshots as you’d like. The photos will be automagically geotagged with your location, should you wish it, and you can quickly and easily enter a caption and some keywords – or not. Your call. We’ll queue them up and send them along to the SmugMug gallery of your choice – over EDGE, WiFi, or 3G.

And that’s basically it. Simple, elegant, clean – just the way we like it. If you’re new to SmugMug, you can create a free trial account right from SmugShot. You can set up a default Caption and some default Keywords to make entering them a breeze. And you can even upload photos that are already in your Photo Library, rather than from your camera (and you iPod Touch users can do this, too). One big Apple bug with that, though – the SDK only give us access to 640×480 versions of photos in your Library. I’m hoping they’ll fix that soon.

SmugVault

The really wild thing is how much I actually use the app. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to things like cameras and lenses, and lets face it – the iPhone’s lens can’t compare to some fabulous Canon glass. But as the app has spread throughout the office, everyone’s learned the same lesson I have: There’s an awful lot of value in convenience.

SmugShot is so shockingly convenient and easy to use, it trumps the limited image quality for almost all of my normal everyday shots.

So go grab it from iTunes, read more about it, or even get some answers. Definitely let us know if you like it and what we can improve on – we already have our own list but would love to hear yours!

Available on the iPhone App Store
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