The Datacenter is the Computer

Using containers I can easily ship applications between machines and start to think of my cluster as a single computer. Each machine acts as additional CPU cores with the ability to execute my applications and run an operating system, but the goal is not to interact with the locally installed OS directly. Instead we want to treat the local OS as firmware for the underlying hardware resources.

Now we just need a good scheduler.

The Linux kernel does a wonderful job of scheduling applications on a single host system. Chances are if we run multiple applications on a single system the kernel will attempt to use as many CPU cores as possible to ensure that our various applications run in parallel.

When it comes to a cluster of machines the job of scheduling applications becomes an exercise for the operations team. Today for many organizations scheduling is handled by the fine folks running that team. Yet, unfortunately the use of a human scheduler requires humans to keep track of where applications are running. Sometimes this means using complicated error-prone spreadsheets or a configuration management tool with Puppet. Either way these tools don’t really offer the robust scheduling that is necessary to react to these real time events. This is where Kubernetes fits in.

If you think of the datacenter in this way then Kubernetes would be it’s datacenter operating system.

Kubernetes on MesosTry It Now

The inspiration for this post came from Kelsey Hightower (@kelseyhightower).

Make your web site faster

Google’s mod_pagespeed speeds up your site and reduces page load time. This open-source Apache HTTP server module automatically applies web performance best practices to pages, and associated assets (CSS, JavaScript, images) without requiring that you modify your existing content or workflow.

Features
  • Automatic website and asset optimization
  • Latest web optimization techniques
  • 40+ configurable optimization filters
  • Free, open-source, and frequently updated
  • Deployed by individual sites, hosting providers, CDN’s

How does mod_pagespeed speed up web-sites?

mod_pagespeed improves web page latency and bandwidth usage by changing the resources on that web page to implement web performance best practices. Each optimization is implemented as a custom filter in mod_pagespeed, which are executed when the Apache HTTP server serves the website assets. Some filters simply alter the HTML content, and other filters change references to CSS, JavaScript, or images to point to more optimized versions.

mod_pagespeed implements custom optimization strategies for each type of asset referenced by the website, to make them smaller, reduce the loading time, and extend the cache lifetime of each asset. These optimizations include combining and minifying JavaScript and CSS files, inlining small resources, and others. mod_pagespeed also dynamically optimizes images by removing unused meta-data from each file, resizing the images to specified dimensions, and re-encoding images to be served in the most efficient format available to the user.

mod_pagespeed ships with a set of core filters designed to safely optimize the content of your site without affecting the look or behavior of your site. In addition, it provides a number of more advanced filters which can be turned on by the site owner to gain higher performance improvements.

mod_pagespeed can be deployed and customized for individual web sites, as well as being used by large hosting providers and CDN’s to help their users improve performance of their sites, lower the latency of their pages, and decrease bandwidth usage.

Installing mod_pagespeed

Supported platforms

  • CentOS/Fedora (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Debian/Ubuntu (32-bit and 64-bit)

To install the packages, on Debian/Ubuntu, please run (as root) the following command:

dpkg -i mod-pagespeed-*.deb
apt-get -f install

For CentOS/Fedora, please execute (also as root):

yum install at  # if you do not already have 'at' installed
rpm -U mod-pagespeed-*.rpm

Installing mod_pagespeed will add the Google repository so your system will automatically keep mod_pagespeed up to date. If you don’t want Google’s repository, do sudo touch /etc/default/mod-pagespeed before installing the package.

You can also download a number of system tests. These are the same tests available onModPageSpeed.com.

What is installed

  • The mod_pagespeed packages install two versions of the mod_pagespeed code itself, mod_pagespeed.so for Apache 2.2 andmod_pagespeed_ap24.so for Apache 2.4.
  • Configuration files: pagespeed.confpagespeed_libraries.conf, and (on Debian) pagespeed.load. If you modify one of these configuration files, that file will not be upgraded automatically in the future.
  • A standalone JavaScript minifier pagespeed_js_minify based on the one used in mod_pagespeed, that can both minify JavaScript and generate metadata for library canonicalization.

Google Glass, Augmented Reality Spells Data Headaches

Google seems determined to press forward with Google Glass technology, filinga patent for a Google Glass wristwatch. As pointed out by CNET, the timepiece includes a camera and a touch screen that, once flipped up, acts as a secondary display. In the patent, Google refers to the device as a ‘smart-watch. Whether or not a Google Glass wristwatch ever appears on the marketplace — just because a tech titan patents a particular invention doesn’t mean it’s bound for store shelves anytime soon — the appearance of augmented-reality accessories brings up a handful of interesting issues for everyone from app developers to those tasked with handling massive amounts of corporate data.For app developers, augmented-reality devices raise the prospect of broader ecosystems and spiraling complexity. It’s one thing to build an app for smartphones and tablets — but what if that app also needs to handle streams of data ported from a pair of tricked-out sunglasses or a wristwatch, or send information in a concise and timely way to a tiny screen an inch in front of someone’s left eye?

QR Code Reader for iPhone

So, what’s a QR Code matrix code you ask? Well, wait no further — just look, at the square image on the right… side of this post!

Patrick Reilly's Blog

Patrick Reilly’s Blog — QR Code

Well, that there my friend is a QR Code. (The “QR” is derived from “Quick Response”) it is a two-dimensional bar code developed by Denso-Wave way back in a magical time know as 1994.

Originally, the standard bar code replacements were designed for tracking parts in manufacturing situations, but the use of QR codes has gained popularity in consumer space in recent years as a way to encode meta-data like; various URLs, contact information, mobile numbers, etc. This act of linking from physical world objects, is typically known as a hardlink or physical world hyperlinks… Unlike, the standard basic bar code of yesteryear, which I’m sure you’re totally familiar with if you have ever been shopping at a retail establishment in your life, QR Codes contain information in both the horizontal and vertical axis. This fact contributes to its capability of storing much larger amounts of raw data in both numeric and alphanumeric, as well as binary form(s).  If you’re interested in learning a bit more, feel free to check out the QR Code site provided by Denso-Wave for additional details and implementation techniques.

So, to honor this posts title don’t forget to download, “Barcodes” from the iTunes Store don’t worry my cost conscience friend it is, “Free”.  Also, for the true geeks in the room here is the link to the SVN repository that holds the source to the iPhone Xcode project, definitely worth a peek.

Dodgeball founder pegs Google in the face with Foursquare

Each year, around the time of the SXSW festival people start wondering out loud what the “next Twitter” will be. You see, the quickly spreading micro-messaging service really got its start at the Austin,Texas-based festival two years ago, and has been growing ever since. Of course, last year’s Twitter was, well, Twitter. But this year there may be another service that catches on — if it can get approval in Apple’s App Store.

The service, called Foursquare, may be very familiar to you if you used the service Dodgeball in the past. Dodgeball, was an early location-based social service made popular among the tech elite in the San Francisco Bay Area, that Google bought in 2005. By 2007, its founders became fed up with Google’s neglect of the service they had created and left the company with middle-fingers wagging.

Now, one of those founders, Dennis Crowley, is back with Foursquare. I’ve been testing it out in closed beta for the past week, and I’m happy to report that it’s solid, and has the potential to be addicting.

As I said, it’s very similar to Dodgeball, but with a few key differences. The first is that it has a nice web UI. Dodgeball was mainly used via text-messaging — remember, it was made before smartphones with nice graphics — and so, the web interface didn’t matter much for the service. But now, the mobile web has changed, and so has Crowley’s apparent approach towards it. Not only does the site look nice on a desktop or notebook web browser, its mobile web page looks pretty nice as well.

That said, text messaging is still the preferred means to interact with the service. If you’ve used Dodgeball in the past, you’ll know the syntax, but for Twitter users is may be a little complicated. You see, to “check-in” at a location, you use an “@” symbol, then a space, then the name of the location. If you want to leave a message, after the name of the place, you put in a “!” symbol, followed by a space, then your message.

The “@” is not used to reply to someone as it is on Twitter. And Twitter never intended that to become the standard — the users came up with that — because really it makes no sense. You’re not “at” someone, you’re “at” a place, which is how Dodgeball/Foursquare use it.

The second big difference-maker for Foursquare will be an iPhone application. That’s why I noted that this service could be a surprise hit at SXSW if the app is approved in time. The app is currently waiting for approval, and that could happen “literally any minute,” Crowley tells me. Of course, it has already been rejected by Apple once, because it apparently contained something that Apple didn’t like. Crowley has since corrected and re-submitted.

(As we all know by now, Apple can be pretty picky when it comes to App Store approvals.)

A third difference involves the feature side of the service. While both Foursquare and Dodgeball are about checking in places, Foursquare adds a bit more of a social element by incorporating two features called “Top 12″ and “To Do.” Basically, Top 12 allows each users to list their 12 favorite things to do at various places around their home city. To Do allows users to save items from other users’ Top 12 lists to make sure they do them later. When you do them, you can check them off on the site.

Foursquare keeps track of all of this information, and gives you awards based on doing tasks like completing To Do items, and checking in places. That element is what could lead to this service being a viral hit. And the fact that it’s not trying to displace Twitter, but rather utilize it to help you spread the word about what you’re doing, should definitely help as well.

The reason why this service could be big at SXSW is that first of all, all of the tech early adopters will be there. Many of them used and loved Dodgeball up until Google officially killed it last week. Another reason is that like Dodgeball, Foursquare is based around cities, and yes, Austin is one of them (as is San Francisco, New York and other hot spots).

Let’s say I go somewhere in Austin next week and I want to see who else is at the same place. Sure, I could do a Twitter search, but Foursquare can be set up to automatically ping you when a person you are following checks in somewhere. And with the iPhone app (again, if approved), it will be even easier to see which of your friends are around you and to check in places with the use of GPS.

With the moves Google is attempting to make in becoming more social — especially its recent emphasis on location-based social aspects with services like Latitude — it was never really clear why Google bought Dodgeball only to let it die. You’d think it could have been a great centerpiece of Android, instead, it became yet another neglected Google acquisition.

Crowley asked that I not use any screenshots of the service until the iPhone app goes live, and it officially launches. As I said, this should be any second now depending on how picky Apple is going to be.

I hope to see some of you in Austin on Foursquare.

UpdateThe Foursquare iPhone app just became available tonight. I have been using it a bit, seems very solid.

Google integrates Dodgeball, but you still have say where you are

Google has started asking users of its mobile social networking site, Dodgeball, to start using a Google account sign-on, Web designer Chris Messina noticed.

Dodgeball, you’ll recall, is the company that lets you send friends a text message telling them which bar or restaurant you are crashing, so you can meet up if they are close.

However, that’s a lot of hassle — to message Google with your whereabouts every time you move, only to have Google make your presence known to your friends. And then when those friends move, you get blasted with yet another SMS (and knowing Google, it’ll probably be filled with ads soon).

This is what Dodgeball’s homepage tells you, below:

But why not let your friends know where you are automatically, without having to email Google? Indeed, that’s what Palo Alto start-up Loopt lets you do. Granted, you have to sign up with Sprint/Nextel’s Boost provider, but that carrier relationship gives Loopt your location automatically — so that it can show your friends where you are with a simple pin on a map — without you going through the hassle of letting them know. And if you want to hide from them, it lets you do that too. And if your friends move to another bar, you don’t get spammed every time.

Indeed, Loopt has a nice little answer to Dodgeball, on its Web site.

Chris sounded a little miffed about the Dodgeball password change, suggesting he was being shanghaied into Google’s universe of other services. At least there are alternatives.

Google Talk Available

They say talk is cheap. Google thinks it should be free. Google Talk enables you to call or send instant messages to your friends for free–anytime, anywhere in the world.

Google’s new IM service is already live. All you need is a Jabber-compatible Instant Messaging client (such as Apple’s iChat, or gaim), and a GMail address.

Server: talk.google.com
Username: youremail@gmail.com
Password: yourpassword

Note: If you can’t login, try to turn off ‘Secure Messaging’ or ‘Encryption’… etc.

Google’s offical client has been released, as expected. Download here for Window only.

Am on Google IM now, patrick.reilly@gmail.com

Please only request to be added if we have IMed, talked in person or emailed each other in the past.