Monthly Archives: May 2013

My latest technical paper on Cloud Architecture is here on developerWorks #geekish

The paper, Select the correct cloud adoption pattern, was co-written with a very talented IBMer, Tina Abdollah.

As cloud architectures get more complex, patterns can help cloud architects communicate what is needed. If you are looking to develop more complex cloud architectures, take a look at the paper and see if it helps. Thanks.




My favourite movie trailers

Most movie trailers are mostly advertisements for a film, and while they are well edited, they are often just teasers composed of alot of short clips. Some trailers, though, are small films in themselves. Two such trailers are this one, for the movie, Comedian.

And this one, for the film, Somewhere.

Both of these can easily stand alone as things that can be watched in themselves.

You can find them here (Comedian Movie Trailer – YouTube) and here (Somewhere Movie Trailer Official (HD) – YouTube).

My favourite IBMer is the Cookie Monster

From the technologizer blog is the story of how Jim Henson made quite a few short films with some familiar faces before he went on to make Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. They were made between 1966 and 1976, and include such classics as this:

(Note the teeth: a feature dropped later on.)

For more videos and more on this story, check out the blog.

(Video: Cookie Monster for IBM – YouTube)

Wednesday Night Music: Stamp, The Rural Alberta Advantage

It came out in 2011, but it’s still fresh and perfect for midweek.

The Rural Alberta Advantage – Stamp – YouTube

Friday Night Music: Madeleine Peyroux – You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go

Technically it’s Bob Dylan’s, but Peyroux’s is great too.

I was in a bookstore today at lunch and this came on just as a was walking by the poetry section. I looked over and there was a copy of Rimbaud’s poetry.


Madeleine Peyroux – You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go. –



A better way to change the size of your instance on Amazon EC2. #geekish

Let’s say you have a micro instance on Amazon and you want to make it bigger, either because it is too slow or you don’t have enough memory. You want to change it from a micro instance to a small instance.

One way to do this is to stop the instance and then right click on it and select the action: change instance type. If you see the new size you want, you can select it and then start the server.

However, that won’t work for all instance types. (For example, if you want to go from an m1.medium to an m1.large). In those cases, try the following approach. First, create the small instance. Make sure it is in the same zone as the micro instance. Indeed, try to keep as much the same as possible, including using the same AMI ID, security groups, key pair names, etc.

Second, once it is up and available, write down the instance and the instance ID and the volume IDs of all the volumes attached to the old (micro) instance and the new (small) instance. Also note how each volume is attached to the instance.
Third, stop both instances
Fourth, detach all the volumes from the small and the micro instance.
Fifth, attach the micro volumes to the small instance and the small volumes to the micro instance. In effect, you are swapping the volumes of two instances. Make sure you attach them properly.
Sixth, start the small instance and the login to the instance to make sure all the volume are attached properly and operational. Start up any processes or software you need on the new small instance and make sure it is working properly.
Seventh, if things are not working, stop the instance and swap the volumes back. If things are working, after a period of time, you can delete the old instance. Make sure the volume associated with it is gone too.

Finally, the other way to do this is create a small instance and then set it up the way you did the micro instance.

How gear shifts (and other analog mechanisms like the Wankel rotary engine) work

This post, World Of Technology: Complicated Mechanisms Explained in simple animations, has some great animated gifs of things like this:


For those technically inclined and curious, it’s a fascinating look at how some analog technology works.

You should read Maria Bustillos on the new Internet Skeptics. Here’s why.

Maria Bustillos captures Evgeny Morozov nicely in this Awl piece and pins him up so all can see the flaws in his thinking (U MAD??? Evgeny Morozov, The Internet, And The Failure Of Invective | The Awl). Anyone impressed by Morozov’s skepticism and negativity owe it to themselves to read this. While the Internet and technology in general needs more skeptics, they deserve better skepticism than Morozov’s.

She also covers Jaron Lanier, and while she takes a few good swipes in his direction, he manages to escape the fate of Morozov. Earlier I recommended not bothering with Lanier’s book (Jaron Lanier is wrong again | Smart People I Know). Based on her review, you could argue that you would find some value in reading Lanier. I still believe it’s not worth your while, but Bustillos is a sharp reader and if you has found value in his work, then you may, too.

I’d like to see her take on Nicolas Carr at some point. He’s another one that seems to get a pass when it comes to making pronouncements on the negative effects of the Internet.



Do you worry about work?

Then you should read this article: Worry Isn’t Work – Dan Pallotta – Harvard Business Review.   Key quote:

Worry isn’t work. Being stressed out isn’t work. Anxiety isn’t work. Entertaining a sense of impending doom isn’t work. Incessant internal verbal punishment isn’t work. Indulging the great unknown fear in your own mind isn’t work. Hating yourself isn’t work.

Work is the manifestation of value, and anyone who tells you that a person whose mind is 50% occupied with anxiety is more likely to manifest value is a person who isn’t manifesting much.

The part I highlighted is most important. Your goal at work should be creating value for your customers, your employer, and yourself. It’s the best way to maximize all three. If you are worrying all the time, you are never going to maximize them. You are never going to do the best job you could be doing.

Read the article. Think about what you are worrying over. Leverage the notion of achieving more value to help you reduce and eliminate the worry.

Inspiration for starting on Meatless Mondays

If you feel like you want to start eating less meat, then you may want to start doing it on Mondays and join the Meatless Monday crowd. If you feel it is a daunting prospect, here’s some inspiration for you to get started: Meatless Mondays: Even Mario Batali’s Doing It.

Jaron Lanier is wrong again

Jaron Lanier has a new book out called “Who Owns the Future?” and like his last book, “You are Not a Gadget”, he is out promoting it. (Jaron Lanier: The Internet destroyed the middle class – In this Salon article, you find this:

“Here’s a current example of the challenge we face,” he writes in the book’s prelude: “At the height of its power, the photography company Kodak employed more than 14,000 people and was worth $28 billion. They even invented the first digital camera. But today Kodak is bankrupt, and the new face of digital photography has become Instagram. When Instagram was sold to Facebook for a billion dollars in 2012, it employed only 13 people. Where did all those jobs disappear? And what happened to the wealth that all those middle-class jobs created?”

When I read this, my first impression is: wow! Instagram in combination with other forces destroyed Kodak and all those jobs. Impressions are deceiving. In fact, what destroyed Kodak was Kodak management. As early as 1997, Kodak was under fire from Fuji and doing poorly (WHAT’S AILING KODAK? FUJI WHILE THE U.S. GIANT WAS SLEEPING, THE JAPANESE FILM COMPANY CUT PRICES, MARKETED AGGRESSIVELY, AND NOW IS STEALING MARKET SHARE. – October 27, 1997). Indeed, while Kodak has gone down, Fuji continues to do well, as I point out here: In considering Kodak’s demise, it’s important to remember that Fuji is still going strong | Smart People I Know.

The problem with Kodak was Kodak. It couldn’t deal with Fuji or the Internet. But Fuji was smart enough to do so, and if Kodak was as smart, they’d still be a going concern and alot of Kodak jobs would still exist.  If Lanier hasn’t done enough research to see that, I don’t know how much value you will find in his book. Maybe he gets alot more right and this is just a bad example, but I doubt it. Indeed, I blogged about him when he wrote his last book and how I thought that that book was troublesome: Jaron Lanier needs someone else to promote his new book, “You are Not A Gadget” | Smart People I Know. I’d expect more of the same from this book.

I don’t know what motivates him to write these books. He seems to get a pass when he does write them and the people who interview him seem to be impressed with his credentials and his appearance. To add to that, he is a well spoken individual, and I think there is even something in what he says. But I also think his writing is lazy and uninformed, and if you do wish to read authors critical of technology, I recommend you look elsewhere.

Why didn’t Stephen Harper use this to track what his MPs are saying?

Whether or not you are the Canadian Prime Minister, I highly recommend In particular, I  really like how if you type in your postal code, it will show you the MP that represents you and also give a run down of what they are doing in and out of Parliament. So, not just their voting record, but their twitter log! Brilliant stuff. Well worth a look.

How to read political news: a primer

People who love reading political news may want to skip this article, but for those of you who are skeptical of what you are reading and feel it is manipulative, puffy,  or overall a waste of time, I recommend this: What if political scientists covered the news? from Slate Magazine.

Some things to think about in between one work week and the next

If you find that you are feeling overwhelmed with work or the people at work, then you might find either one of these articles from the zenhabits blog to be useful: 13 small things to simplify your workday and 10 Ways to Deal With the Non-Simplifying Others in Your Life. If you read them now and then go on with your weekend activities, you may find that you have a plan to deal with these difficulties, come Monday. At the very least, knowing you have options can help you have a more relaxing weekend.

Good luck! Bon courage!

No time to workout? Got 10 minutes? Good, you only need around 7 minutes to complete this workout.

Need a good workout? You need this: The Scientific 7-Minute Workout – Do these 12 exercise, 30 seconds per exercise with 10 seconds in between, and in 7 minutes you have worked out all your major muscle groups.

If you take 10 seconds between each exercise, it adds up to 8 minutes. If you take no time between exercises, it 6 minutes. Either way, in less than 10 minutes and you are done.
If you want the details on how effective this is, the paper on it is here: HIGH-INTENSITY CIRCUIT TRAINING USING BODY WEIGHT: Maximum R… : ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal.

Want to get run faster? Use fartleks

Yes, it’s a funny sounding name, but of all the ways I use to get faster,  I find fartlek training the most effective. Regardless of whether or not you have ever heard of it, I recommend this article, The Art Of The Fartlek – It has a good description on it, who used it and how, as well as some good examples.


This altered thrift store art is brilliant

I want to hit some garage sales this weekend in the hopes of finding some bad landscape art that I can paint over. In the meantime, check
this out from the MAKE web site.

Apparently this is Banksy, but who can say?

The kids are alright and leaving established social media

So says this Buzzfeed article, Teens Abandoning Social Networks, Study Says. Where are they going?

What do these sites have in common? According to the article

The sites that are either ascendant, holding steady, or holding relatively strong are feed-heavy and profile-light; the sites that seem to be hit hardest are those that have a more traditional, MySpace-y structure, centered around a detailed profile. (Tumblr is the odd exception here.)

After all that fretting about teens giving up their privacy, they seem to have decided to go to sites that provide more of that. Smart. (Or lazy, but I am going with smart. 🙂 )


How terrible is Niall Ferguson?

Really terrible. Besides his homophobic comments, he has a terrible record on economic prediction, as this article in Business Insider illustrates.

There’s been such a pile on these days, it is pretty easy to find posts and articles discrediting him. If you haven’t seen any, start with the one linked here.

How Google Glass will be useful

Google Glass has come in for a pile of negative press lately. I can understand this, but I still think they will be useful, and I thought that when I saw this:

This is taken from this article, This Is What the World Looks Like Through Google Glass. What I think is useful about this is how a heads up display can reduce complexity and increase your perspective.With such a display, you can get an enhanced view of what you are looking at, which in this case is a streetscape. It tells you where to go to get to your destination and how long it will take to get there. For people doing alot of commuting, that alone is valuable. Not that it has to be limited to directions. It could be a visual representation of where your friends or coworkers or clients are. It could notify you of an book or some other purchase you wanted is available in a nearby shop. Or it could warn you of a dangerous neighborhood in a city that you just arrived in. There are lots of examples when such a display would be useful.

Of course you could look at your mobile device and get that too. I don’t think it is an either/or situation. Some people will like the display, others will have a watch or other wearable device, and still others will use their phone.