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!

Evernote + Instapaper search tip

I use Evernote a lot. And I also love the read-it-later service Instapaper. When I power through my Instapaper queue, I occasionally like articles (though I mostly archive articles). When I like articles, they get saved to Evernote automatically, in full-text, parsed via Instapaper (so its pretty text and images, no junk ads, etc.).

What do you do with all the notes that accumulate in your Evernote inbox? Run the search: You'll find everything relevant, and you can move it to another notebook.

If for some reason it doesn't work, try running and saving this search on the web interface, and then sync, to execute locally on the Mac client.

When your Mac’s display out stops working

I landed in San Francisco at around 10pm, hit the hotel in Santa Clara by 11.30pm, crashed, and woke up to give my tutorial at 9am. By 8.45am, I couldn’t get my 12″ MacBook to display out via HDMI or VGA to the projector, so I ran back to the room to get my 15″ rMBP instead.

Later on, I ran the Apple Hardware Test. Or what it’s called now, Apple Diagnostics. Everything came back just fine, which seemed odd.

The best fix seemed to then be resetting the NVRAM. That didn’t improve things, so I had to reset the System Management Controller (SMC), and voila! everything seemed to work thereafter.

In the years of using Apple hardware, I have to think this is the first time I’ve had to do this. I guess the presentation pro-tip here is always carry a backup presentation device (I might going forward get the relevant dongles for the iPad to run a presentation too).

CFP for Percona Live Europe Dublin 2017 closes July 17 2017!

I’ve always enjoyed the Percona Live Europe events, because I consider them to be a lot more intimate than the event in Santa Clara. It started in London, had a smashing success last year in Amsterdam (conference sold out), and by design the travelling conference is now in Dublin from September 25-27 2017.

So what are you waiting for when it comes to submitting to Percona Live Europe Dublin 2017? Call for presentations close on July 17 2017, the conference has a pretty diverse topic structure (MySQL [and its diverse ecosystem including MariaDB Server naturally], MongoDB and other open source databases including PostgreSQL, time series stores, and more).

And I think we also have a pretty diverse conference committee in terms of expertise. You can also register now. Early bird registration ends August 8 2017.

I look forward to seeing you in Dublin, so we can share a pint of Guinness. Sláinte.

The mytaxi experience

I believe in competition, and when in London, Dublin and Spain, I don’t only rely on the Uber app, but also the Hailo app. A while back I migrated to mytaxi because Hailo got consumed by them.

mytaxi may be Europe’s largest taxi app, but it sure is weird compared to Uber or Grab. Setting it up was “interesting” as pretty much all credit cards would be declined (or my issuing banks clearly worry about fraud too much?). So the fix is to use PayPal. That “just works”.

They have partnered with Lufthansa Miles & More to give you miles for all kinds of money you spend with the app.

When you order, presumably you use WiFi, and you’ll find a cab in no time. But when its time to pay with the app, you’ll need a mobile data connection or have the driver turn on a wifi hotspot, because you’ll have to authorise the payment either via a password (?!?!), or Touch ID (better to configure this). But the whole “confirming” you’re making a payment is clearly added friction in the entire process.

I find it funny that you’re also allowed to provide a tip to the driver. In Europe, this is quite unheard of. Then its the usual rating.

Frictionless experiences, that’s what I’m after. I can’t imagine people use mytaxi and enjoy such an experience at the moment.

The Touch Bar can wow you over!

In the tech space, sometimes people can be notorious for bemoaning new technology. Case in point? The Touch Bar on the new retina MacBook Pro’s.

I’ve been using a 15″ retina MacBook Pro with Touch Bar for about six months now. I am a vim user when I SSH to servers so I do use the Escape key (and maybe find it a tad annoying that I don’t get any feedback that I’ve hit the Esc key). Otherwise, I use BBEdit. I’ve used the function keys to control screen brightness, adjust volume, and play music. I don’t find Siri useful. I’ve wondered why when I use Keynote I can see little slides appear on my Touch Bar (not like I can read the text, right?). Safari has always been odd with switching tabs via a keyboard (unlike Chrome’s shortcuts), but now you can also switch tabs using the Touch Bar (alas, I’m not really a Safari user). PDFpenPro has selection tools that I can now access via the Touch Bar, so its a bit of a productivity improvement.

So all in, I’m more or less indifferent to the Touch Bar. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it. Oh wait, I can’t forget the killer feature: unlocking my MacBook Pro with my fingerprints! Touch ID is a killer feature especially since I use 1Password which also supports it. I think this feature alone has improved my productivity tremendously, and saved lots of time re-entering my password.

However, Sara saw my keyboard the other day and she was amazed that it could also display emoji. And this made her really like the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar (she’s a 13″ MacBook Air user). So Apple can wow users!

Touch Bar with emojis

I presume she will find other uses for it as she’s a creative user of the Mac. I’m just a boring text/code wrangler.

How would the Touch Bar be improved? It needs to be offered across the board on Macs (even for keyboards that iMac and Mac Mini users will use). It probably needs to have haptic feedback; this I suspect will improve the touch typing experience. However even as I write this, I think to myself that when I type on my iPhone or iPad, I don’t get haptic feedback and I intuitively know where everything is…