Friday, April 22, 2011

Amazon Glitch Hobbles Websites

Haven't blogged for a while. Thought this might be worth it...

Technical problems at an Amazon.com Inc. data center caused several websites and Internet services like Foursquare and Reddit to crash or have limited availablity on Thursday.

Amazon, which rents Web servers and storage to companies, said it was experiencing "instance connectivity, latency and error rates" with a data center in northern Virginia that handles operations for the U.S. East Coast. The company said was working to correct the problem.

I've long predicted that if cloud technologies can take off they will go a long way toward putting Microsoft out of business (a positive outcome from my point of view). Even if Microsoft could be one of the cloud players (and no doubt they will try) the profit margins are *much* lower than they are used to making selling fiat certificates to use their products which were largely finalized in the 90s.

Apple will have this problem too. A big deal is made of their iTunes business, but they make most of their profits selling gadgets that fit into a narrow range... servers gone, desktops declining, iPods declining. In other words the company (and a very successful one) is now built on laptops and cell phones.

But the big cloud players now Google and Amazon to name two, are going to have to learn that not only are margins low, but risk is high.

Think about it... how many computers running Windows have lost or corrupted vital information? Countless. Yet Microsoft bears no responsibility, they make that clear in their TOS which essentially says "If our product turns out to be a piece of sh*t, don't come crying to us!"

The remarkable thing is that they have gotten millions of people to agree to this, including large corporations, government agencies. Who has bucked the trend? Banks, military, and intelligence agencies all of whom know they can't risk certain sensitive data and tasks to a half-assed *toy* operating system (that's pretty much what mainframers used to call windows and I think the implications are accurate).

Oh, lest you think I am a fanboi though, I am not satisfied that twenty years of lackadaisical attitudes about security have lulled even cloud proponents into a false sense of "who cares?"

I got an e-mail message from Google today telling me that some of the files (MP3s I guess) I've uploaded to Google Docs "might" be lost or to quote directly: "Your uploaded audio files should be fully restored at this time."

"Should be"? Well, are they or are they not? What am I supposed to do at this point, take an inventory? Listen to all 200 hours of them to make sure they are OK? Download them and do comparisons with my originals? Or just wait until some point in the future when I am totally dependent on them being all there and all correct only to find out that that is not the case?

I like the idea that my data in the Google cloud is "backed up" by being on multiple machines at any given time (is it two, or three or nine, they never say?) But is missing with todays cloud architectures, and what is probably not possible in the same way we did on mainframes (multi-generation back-up tapes going back months and years) is an "oooops" prevention system. Our existing cloud systems do nicely in handling the situation when a particular "cheap" server goes down. We've all read about that and it is marvelous.

But what about when a Google or Amazon employee slips up and runs a program that deletes all my files, and that deletion propagates to all the copies of all the files everywhere. Is that situation covered? What about when a lot of e-mail went missing a while back? Is that really acceptable? Yes, it's probably better than the aggregate e-mail lost from millions of Windows computers hundreds of thousands of which are probably in some state of brokenness at any given time, but remember, Microsoft has been saying "f*ck you" to users for years and getting away with it. They likely won't be so tolerant of Google or Amazon or even Microsoft saying the same thing when it comes to a *new* service which is highly touted as better in every way.

We've read in the past where the "bigtable" file system and other now generic components of cloud services can produce slightly imprecise results but results which satisfy the needs of search engines quite well. But do all these base components suit the needs of other cloud services which need solid uptime, perfect repeatability, perfect security and multi-level redundancy, to name a few?

The Cr-48 incorporates a "disposable" aspect to the hardware under our fingertips which I think has been missing since the mainframe days (IBM engineers could replace every component of a floor standing disk drive and recover every byte of data on the old drive in and hour or two, and a long repair might involve flying a part on a chartered airplane from the other side of the country). Users today, including as I mentioned many institutional users, are no longer used to that level of service. I hope the cloud, as it matures, and hopefully soon, spoils us once again.

Friday, December 03, 2010

RIP Euro



Blogging as I don't know how to do a Buzz embed.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Still Blogging (theoretically)

I'm still blogging, in theory anyway.

Reserving this space for long-form original content (rather than link-commentary).

Soon as I think of anything like that it will be here.

Maaybe.

In the mean time for regular updates:

http://www.google.com/profiles/macbeach#buzz

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Mo. voters reject key provision of health care law

"JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a key provision of President Barack Obama's health care law, sending a clear message of discontent to Washington and Democrats less than 100 days before the midterm elections.

With about 90 percent of the vote counted late Tuesday, nearly three-quarters of voters backed a ballot measure, Proposition C, that would prohibit the government from requiring people to have health insurance or from penalizing them for not having it.

The Missouri law would conflict with a federal requirement that most people have health insurance or face penalties starting in 2014."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Year and a Half of President Obama - Deroy Murdock - National Review Online

As the Obama administration marks 18 months in power today, no one should be terribly surprised that it is the hardest-Left U.S. government since that of FDR. For those who paid attention, Obama’s hyperliberal U.S. Senate record pierced like a dive light through the squid ink of Hope and Change that Obama squirted at anyone who demanded programmatic specifics. (At 95.5 percent in 2007, according to the National Journal, Obama was the Senate’s No. 1 Left-liberal.)

However, after Obama’s nearly flawless campaign (rattled by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s racist rants, but little else), the big surprise one and a half years after Obama’s momentous and truly moving inauguration is the staggering incompetence of his government. Like some Americans, I expected a nanny-state, socialist agenda from Obama & Co. However, I thought that at least they would manage things smoothly and professionally, in somewhat refreshing contrast to the general ineptitude of the detached, tongue-tied Bush-Rove years. Instead, what America and the world have witnessed is an extravaganza of frequent gaffes, blunders, and catastrophes...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Russian Spies and Strategic Intelligence | STRATFOR

Good summary of how Russian spying works for anyone puzzled by recent headlines.

http://bit.ly/cTtg0u

Friday, July 02, 2010

Paul H. Rubin: Why Is the Gulf Cleanup So Slow? - WSJ.com

First, the Environmental Protection Agency can relax restrictions on the amount of oil in discharged water, currently limited to 15 parts per million. In normal times, this rule sensibly controls the amount of pollution that can be added to relatively clean ocean water. But this is not a normal time.

Various skimmers and tankers (some of them very large) are available that could eliminate most of the oil from seawater, discharging the mostly clean water while storing the oil onboard. While this would clean vast amounts of water efficiently, the EPA is unwilling to grant a temporary waiver of its regulations.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Spy vs Spy

Monday, June 28, 2010

Buzz by Mac Beach from Google Reader

I spent 20 minutes doing a pretty good blog post as a Google Reader post. Rather than just repeat the whole thing here I'll point to it (click title) for posterior posterity. They say they keep Buzz and GReader stuff forever, but who knows. At least I can export my blog.

Related link

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Test Posting with GoogleCL

This is a test 1 2 3

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

State Department Anxious About Possible Leak of Cables to Wikileaks | Threat Level | Wired.com

The State Department and personnel at U.S. embassies around the world are reportedly waiting anxiously to find out if an Army intelligence analyst was telling the truth when he boasted that he had supplied 260,000 classified State Department diplomatic cables to the whistleblower site Wikileaks.

If Wikileaks has the secret documents and publishes them, the leak could not only expose damaging information about U.S. foreign policy and national security issues, but also expose embarrassing information about backroom diplomatic deals and U.S. attitudes toward foreign leaders — such as the opinions of U.S. ambassadors about the honesty, integrity, and strength and longevity of those leaders.

Apple's Worst Security Breach: 114,000 iPad Owners Exposed

Apple has suffered another embarrassment. A security breach has exposed iPad owners including dozens of CEOs, military officials, and top politicians. They—and every other buyer of the wireless-enabled tablet—could be vulnerable to spam marketing and malicious hacking.

The breach, which comes just weeks after an Apple employee lost an iPhone prototype in a bar, exposed the most exclusive email list on the planet, a collection of early-adopter iPad 3G subscribers that includes thousands of A-listers in finance, politics and media, from New York Times Co. CEO Janet Robinson to Diane Sawyer of ABC News to film mogul Harvey Weinstein to Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It even appears that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's information was compromised.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Sayonara, iPhone: Why I'm Switching to Android - Newsweek

Yes, Apple still has a larger installed base. I was a little shocked recently when an Apple spokesbot responded to the news of Android's outselling iPhone OS by reciting the old chestnut about Apple's having more phones out there.

I was shocked because it's a familiar line, one that I've heard countless times in my 20-plus years covering technology. But I've only ever heard it from companies that are doomed and in total denial about it.

Monday, May 31, 2010

FT.com / Technology - Google ditches Windows on security concerns

FT.com / Technology - Google ditches Windows on security concerns:
"Google is phasing out the internal use of Microsoft’s ubiquitous Windows operating system because of security concerns, according to several Google employees.

The directive to move to other operating systems began in earnest in January, after Google’s Chinese operations were hacked, and could effectively end the use of Windows at Google, which employs more than 10,000 workers internationally."

I, Cringely » Blog Archive » Let’s Get Small - Cringely on technology

I, Cringely » Blog Archive » Let’s Get Small - Cringely on technology

Cringely bets Facebook will ultimately fail. He has some interesting reasons too.