Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Goodbye box at a data centre

August 1 2017 marks the day I stop colocating a box at a data centre.

[byte@hogwarts ~]$ uptime

22:07:55 up 522 days, 19:40, 1 user, load average: 0.02, 0.01, 0.00

This particular box has been in the data centre from 2008. It survived one data centre bankruptcy (Jaring), moved along to another, and now I feel the box is to be replaced by a few instances at Linode, Digital Ocean, and also DreamHost.

This marks my last CentOS 5 box. This marks the last time I will deal with MySQL 5.0.95.

The box wasn’t too bad either (though woefully out of warranty). It was a Dell 1U box. Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU X3210 @ 2.13GHz, 4 cores. Paltry 4GB of RAM. Did mail, web, DNS, and a few other bits, quite well. 2 spinning disks, RAID setup, 500GB storage. Its still healthy ([UU] in /proc/mdstat).

As soon as I get it back, I’ll spin it up at the office, pop on some newer version of Linux and see how long it continues serving!

New Year’s Note 2017

PhotoThis year we are spending New Year’s Eve in Lisbon, Portugal, and I’m glad to report its much warmer than Vienna last year.

TripIt says I did 25 trips, 252 days on the road, 463,491km travelled, 47 cities, and 20 countries in 2016. So less travel in terms of distance than 2015 (528,151km) but more than 2014 (435,271km). As for travelling overall, only 252 days spent overseas (with this current trip not being counted), compared to 281 days in 2015, and 264 days in 2014 (so this overall trend suggests more time at home!). Or it was just a “down year”, since I did spend 223 days on the road in 2013.

Anyway, back to enjoying Lisbon. I say I’ll write here more, but that just doesn’t seem to pan out as well as I’d like it to. I do write a “log” in a Hobonichi Techo, and still very much enjoy long form writing with pen and paper…

Happy New Year, remember Gandhi’s quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” and let’s enjoy 2017 (we know it’s going to be interesting from a geopolitical standpoint).

Generation Gap: Venmo

Last week I was having dinner in NYC. We were a table of four, and the table next to us, in cramped eating conditions in Koreatown, were two girls whom were in their twenties.

When it was time to get the cheque, we split the bill using cash and card. When it was time for the table next to us to pay the bill? One paid it, and the other said “OK, how much do I have to Venmo you now?”

Generation gap! I don’t even have Venmo. It was also timely to read this New Yorker piece, The Venmo Request: A New Wrinkle In Modern Dating, which apparently suggests that this is also becoming prevalent when it comes to dating! Choice quote: “A guy who seeks recourse through Venmo the morning after is a guy who doesn’t think he got his money’s worth the night before.”

I’m all for going cashless and splitting bills using something like Venmo. That was in effect the promise of the PayPal mobile app. My friends and I still end up using cash, and if its a bigger road trip, bank transfers. It seems that Venmo is currently USA only, but considering Braintree acquired Venmo in 2012, and PayPal got Braintree in 2013, its kind of a shame that its 2016 and they’ve not branched out of the USA.

Austin ridesharing reminds me of Chinese protectionism

Its no secret that a lot of the Internet economy in China is fuelled by protectionism. A reddit user managed to post some service equivalents.

In May 2016, I landed in Austin to see that there were no more pickups in Austin. I took exactly two cabs during my stay (to/from the airport), and walked everywhere I needed to go. It wasn’t a great experience as the weather was pretty bad as well, and Paul Graham also chimed in. Apparently there are hacks to get around to using Uber in Austin, but I’ve never bothered to use them (that article also talks about the requirements beyond just background checks BTW).

People get creative naturally – they started a Facebook group, so much so the police have started to crackdown.

But I’m starting to see all these other services crop up that presumably abide by whatever Austin asks for:

  • at the airport, ads at the baggage carousel for FARE (some news about their launch)
  • at the hotel I saw a brochure for Wingz which promises pre-booking, flat rates, surge-free and around town you pay a minimum of $20, and to get to/from the airport its a $25 minimum.
  • at the hotel again, I saw a brochure for Fasten with a $20 off my first ride promo code as well (their font initially made me look for “faston” instead of “fasten”).
  • Get me via an email from the hotel informing me that I wouldn’t be able to use Uber/Lyft in Austin.
  • zTrip was also in said similar email as above.

So its not that Austin doesn’t like ridesharing. And with time, presumably enough people will complain so we will see Lyft and Uber make their way back. This week I’m walking around Austin as well (its 38C, but thats better than rain I guess). But it sure feels very protectionist.

Evolution of Bitcoin

As videos go, I enjoyed the short and sweet Panel on The Evolution of Bitcoin held at Goldman Sachs.

Bitcoin selling points by Balaji Srinivasan, CEO of 21 Inc and Board Partner at a16z:

  • packet based money
  • protocol
  • unified way of transferring value
  • every entity can have a bitcoin wallet
  • four-sided network: miners, developers, merchants, users

I highly recommend watching the video.

Evernote significantly increases prices – has the product improved?

I have been an Evernote user since February 2009, and I believe I found it extremely valuable and useful that I have dutifully paid $45/year for probably that long. Sara practically lives in the application on her Mac, iPad and iPhone. As of this writing, I have 18,198 notes.

Today they have announced changes to their pricing plans. For what I’m using, it would be $69.99/year, which is nearly a 56% markup!

I’m going to continue paying, but I fear many will be thinking about alternatives. The real discussions are at the forum which I encourage you to read. There are more alternatives these days — Microsoft’s OneNote (has an importer), Apple Notes is getting better, and so on.

There are still deficiencies with Evernote. Try exporting your scanned business cards as a CSV? Try two people editing the same document – you’ll notice locking. We’ve seen premium users go from “unlimited” to 10GB storage per month (not that I use all of that space). They’ve killed apps like Hello, Food. They’ve arguably made Skitch worse. They’ve once even lost data from Sara’s iPad – drawings from Penultimate disappeared. There was no resolution beyond the PNGs and JPGs I managed to extract.

If you ended up purchasing merchandise, like the Fujitsu iX500 ScanSnap Evernote edition or a Moleskine Evernote Smart Notebook you would have received points in your Evernote account. 10 points buys you a month, 120 points buys you a year – its unclear if this will change (it probably will), but I just spent 160 points to extend my Evernote account.

Phil Libin once talked about how Evernote would be a 100-year old startup. He also talked about how you turn loyal users into paid customers. He’s a big fan of Stewart Brand’s book, The Clock of the Long Now. Alas, he’s now a VC and there’s a hired CEO at the helm. Maybe we’ll get a Steve Jobs/Apple return moment at some stage. Till then, here’s to Evernote’s longevity.