Writing at cruising altitude

I decided to try out Lufthansa’s in-flight internet access at a cost of €17/24 hours. This was good as I got to write emails, do some work, etc while on a pretty long HND-FRA-EZE flight (yes, it works on connections too).

The connectivity isn’t that reliable. Yes, your VPN barely works. Sure they say you shouldn’t make voice calls (but use of the in-flight phone is fine – so it’s not to prevent annoying passengers, it’s to protect a revenue stream). FaceTime (audio & video work). Streaming Netflix doesn’t.

Many times the connectivity would drop, sometimes for hours on end.

But the ability to be able to Whatsapp, iMessage, or FaceTime (with headphones) your loved ones from mid-air? Priceless.

(Written on an iPad, using Lufthansa FlyNet, pretty close to South America as I hit publish)

Don’t ever buy a 16GB iPhone in 2014

I switched to the iPhone 4. Then the iPhone 5s. My logic was always to buy the smallest size available because I would probably change it up every year or two.

Let’s just say the attachment to the iPhone 4 “just working” made me afraid to change to anything new.

With the iPhone 5s, 16GB is just not enough space. Everyone I know whom has a small sized iPhone 5 or 5s complains. It’s truly surprising it’s still on the lineup for the iPhone 6/6+.

With retina apps, better quality photos & videos, media and just larger apps with bigger caches, 16GB is just too little to even enjoy a year of usage.

These devices should likely last 2 years in your pocket, and even with pushing media to the cloud (via Dropbox, etc) and deleting, to get the best experience get the 64GB unit to start with.

We are coming to an age when iPhones are like 1st gen MacBook Air’s. Storage size matters. Especially when you don’t have the option to expand via an SD card!

iPhone 6 Plus

I have been conflicted as to which iPhone to buy recently – the iPhone 6 or the iPhone 6 Plus.

I’m in Hong Kong with a bunch of friends as we prepare to attend a wedding of a friend. With many people, plans tend to change even with the weather :) I now find myself stuck in a mall, while Sara & the rest shop. I wished I brought my iPad mini (retina).

This pretty much seals the deal for me. I’m getting a 64GB iPhone 6 Plus. Why not 128GB? Because of rumored problems.

Sure with the iPhone 5s I can send emails, which I’ve been quite successful in doing. I can read the FT & WSJ. But I could do with a bigger screen that is always on my person – something the iPad mini is too big for. Presumably that will still be my primary reading device, but it’s clear a bigger phone that is always on me has advantages for those moments in life that take you by surprise.

Now all I have to do is wait for my whirlwind trip to end, so I can migrate phones with ease. I’m always weary of upgrading, software even, while on the road.

osquery is neat

Facebook recently made opensource, osquery. It gives you operating system data via SQL queries! Its very neat, and you can test this even on MacOSX (it works on that platform & Linux). It is by far the project with the most advanced functionality, linked here in this post.

I noticed that rather quickly, there was a PostgreSQL project, called pgosquery, based on Foreign Data Wrappers with a similar idea. (apparently it was written in less than 15 minutes; so a much lower learning curve than the regular MySQL storage engine interface)

I immediately thought about an older MySQL project, by Chip Turner (then at Google, now at Facebook), called mysql-filesystem-engine. This idea was kicking around in 2008. I was intrigued by hearing about this at a talk (probably at the MySQL Conference & Expo); it’s a pity no one took this further.

On a similar tangent, did you also know that there is the option to use MySQL as storage via FUSE (see: mysqlfs)? An article by Ben Martin shows some practical examples.

At its heyday, MySQL had many storage engines (maybe around 50). Wikipedia has an incomplete list. I see some engines on that list, and think that some of these folk are also creating MongoDB backends — competition. At MariaDB we are probably shipping the most storage engines of any MySQL-based distribution, however I think we could be doing an even better job at working with upstream vendors, and figuring out how to support & augment business around it.

Taxi prefers Square over regular credit card terminal

As I was getting from the airport to my hotel in Columbus, Ohio, I took a taxi. Upon disembarking, it was time to pay and I noticed a credit card device hanging at the back of the passenger seat (this seems to be more common in the USA these days thankfully). 

However, the driver told me not to swipe it there. He’d prefer to use Square as he would save on fees. So he plugged the Square dongle into his phone, swiped my card, I gave him his tip via the app, signed virtually, and the receipt automatically arrived via email.

A much better workflow for me (since I don’t have to deal with a paper receipt). But it got me thinking. Square charges a 2.75% fee up-front. This is by no means cheap. However it does guarantee the money in your bank account within a day or two.

I’m willing to bet that the device tethered to his cab might charge less (or close to equivalent?), but pay-out over a longer period of time. For whomever installed that device, they’re going to presume that no one uses the credit card terminal. This is the bonus of competition — the consumer isn’t affected (arguably, the consumer experience improved — it wasn’t too long ago that all taxis were cash-only affairs) and the driver wins.

Market share

What is the market share of BMW? Maybe 1 or 1.5%. But when one drives by, you either have one, or you wish you had one. Build products that people lust after; if you can do that, you don’t have to worry about market share. 

Paraphrasing Steve Jobs, via an episode of This Week in Startups.