Tiny Deathstars of Foulness

Merry Christmas ya’ll!

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me one 32 gig iPad

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two bash one-liners

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me three Red Hat servers

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four email blasts

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me five retweets

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me six regular expressions

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me seven lines of perl

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me eight app store apps

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me nine AWS instances

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ten Active Directory forests

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me 11 crappy python scripts

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me 12 craft brews


December 25th, 2014

Posted In: iPhone, Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server, Mac Security, Mass Deployment

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When I was in college, at the end of each semester we’d go to the book store (you know, that place that fleeced us with $100 used books) and we’d sell back those books for about one tenth to one quarter what we bought them from. We’d then use that money to help fund one of our books for the next semester (or beer). Well, Amazon is doing something similar now. Although it has to do more with when new editions of the book are released. Each edition of a book allows you to trade the book in for new editions.

Take Practical C++ Programming, from O’Reilly. Apparently I bought the chipmunk book at some point. In fact, considering the fact I can see it on my shelf from where I’m sitting I am certain of it (unless I am hallucinatin’ again – in which case I would really hope for something better than a freakin’ tech book). When I go to the page for that book on Amazon, they know I bought it (they sold it to me after all) and they’re kind enough to offer to buy it off me for about a buck and a half (about 1 / 20th what I bought it for) and sell me the new edition for about $25.30 (or $6.53 used).

I know I’m poking at this just a little bit, but that’s just because it makes me think of college. I honestly think it’s a really great feature. There are so many options for things like books and this is just another that will keep me going back to Amazon!

April 14th, 2012

Posted In: Articles and Books, Business

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Back in November of 2008 I did an article awhile back on a way to use Amazon’s S3 to hook into Final Cut Server. At the time though, S3 had a pretty big limitation in that it wasn’t really suitable for backing up large video files as an archive device for Final Cut Server. But today, Amazon announced that S3 now supports files of up to 5 terabytes using multipart upload (previously the maximum file size was 5 gigabytes).

This finally means that files do not have to be broken up at the file system layer in order to back up to Amazon’s cloud. However, this does not mean that traditional disk-to-disk backup solutions can be leveraged to provide a good target for backups and archives as backups need to be performed using the multipart upload. The ability to now use S3 for large files allows us to finally use Amazon S3 in a way that is much simpler that it was to do so previously, although it is still not as transparent as using a file system or URI path.

Overall, this represents a great step for Amazon and I hope to see even more of this in the future!

December 10th, 2010

Posted In: cloud, Final Cut Server

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As my most recent information seems to now be on Amazon I have wrapped that into an easy link with links back to this site. It can be found at

February 20th, 2010

Posted In: Business

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Updated the Amazon Author Central page with some new information. This includes a little video, a little Bio, a little rss integration and a schedule of speaking events. Also, it includes what appears to be another book… Hope you enjoy!

January 22nd, 2010

Posted In: Articles and Books


I now have an Author Page at Amazon. Not sure why I’m just now getting around to setting this up:

January 14th, 2010

Posted In: Articles and Books

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The books page had been pulled down for a little while due to some issues I was having embedding images. So I went back to the drawing board and found a way to get a carousel of images. So the page with the books I’ve done is back up and online. Hope you like (and yes, I know they spin too fast, it’s still a little bit of a work in progress).
My Books

December 24th, 2009

Posted In: Articles and Books, Mac OS X Server, Mac Security, Mass Deployment

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You remember in the The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when Riff Raff and his sister do that weird elbow sex thing? The word “Cyber” conjures up an image of two people on either side of a network connection doing just that with their computer monitor. One looking like Riff (the girl) and the other looking like Magenta (the guy). 4.3 million shoppers a minute visited sites on “Cyber Monday”, elbow sexing their way into the American dream, with one-click shopping and buying 10% more crap on Monday than they did on Black Friday.

In most cities “rush hour” doesn’t really refer to a single hour. Maybe it’s half an hour some days and 4 hours others (ever driven from Santa Monica to Pasadena at 6:05pm?!?!). Cyber Monday seems to be pretty similar, having started some time around Thursday for a number of sites and seemingly still going “while supplies last.” But not all supplies last. I saw that deal Amazon was running for an 8GB iPod for $40 less than what you can get the same thing on for. Talk about getting a little pre-elbow sex wax on the monitor, just thinkin’ about that deal! Too bad that supplies didn’t last. Although oddly, they still have plenty of them, now they just want more for the iPod touch 8 GB ($20 less than Apple still). So did supplies last (btw, still cheaper than on!?!. I guess you can have a Kindle instead, which Amazon claims is their most popular product this year. Of course they’d say that though, it’s their product; I’m sure Barnes and Noble is going to claim the Nook is selling like hotcakes even if they only sell 3 of them. One of which will be bought by Zack, who needs to buy one of every electronic item ever made and carry them all with him on flights (hmmm, he must have a Bag of Holding +4 to keep it in, BTW).

And practically every site had free shipping. Of course, having said that, I don’t think I’ve paid for shipping when purchasing something online from any site other than eBay in a long, long time, and I even shop for my frickin’ groceries online – w00t Gopher Grocery or Lund’s if I’m fealin’ all high falutin’ (btw, they word bombastic actually appears in the definition of falutin). But back to Manic Monday, you see it actually was a lower total volume of sales day than in previous years, even sporting a massive 33% gain on traffic. Now, that could be because times are a little tight (over 10% unemployment rate not including Santa Claus’ – aka Mr. Pig Flu Carrier to all the kiddies), it could be because the average online consumer is way more uber-smart about their shopping habits (Hot Patootie, Bless My Soul, I doubt that) or it could be that it’s just because the deals (other than the ones that are meant to get you hooked in) just weren’t that great. Oh Brad, I’m so glad that there’s still a month of shopping to go. And if all else fails. There’s always iTunes Gift Cards (which by the way costs $12 but is worth $15, meaning that at least 3 songs you buy with it will suck).

December 1st, 2009

Posted In: Business, personal

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VPN-Cubed was a solution that Amazon listed for some time, allowing users of EC2 or S3 cloud services to VPN their resources in Amazon’s cloud to their own offices. But Amazon recently went a step further with their own offering and now provide the Amazon Virtual Private Cloud. Pricing is based on a per-VPN connection, running at a nickel per hour that the VPN Connection is alive. Data transfer over the VPN is charged at a dime per gig into the cloud and between 10 and 17 cents per gig out of the cloud.

There have been a number of concerns about security with regards to cloud services. The ability to build a dynamic tunnel between your AWS assets and your organization is now here. It’s interesting to see the price of security so simply laid out like that. Now how to factor risk versus just using otherwise encrypted protocols to communicate back to the office? Calculating risk with regards to data security is a pretty complicated task to those of us without CISSP+RMPhD (CISSPs and PhDs in Risk Management)…

September 3rd, 2009

Posted In: Network Infrastructure, sites, Unix, VMware

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Render farms, cluster nodes and other types of distributed computing often require using a lot of machines that don’t have a lot of stuff running on them and are only needed during certain times.  Such is the life of a compute cluster, which is what EC2 is there for.  Because cluster nodes are so homogenous by nature you can deploy them en masse.  Picking up where I left off with deploying EC2 via the command line we’re going to look at spinning up let’s say 100 virtual machines with the large designation, from a pricing standpoint.

As with the previous example, we’re going to use ami-767676 (although you’ll more than likely want to choose an image of your own using the ec2-describe-images command) as the AMI name and use a predefined key called my-keypair to access these hosts. The command would then be:
ec2-run-instances -n 100 -t m1.large -k my-keypair ami-767676

The -n flag told ec2-run-instances how many instances to fire up and the -t flag told it what type of images. We can go a step further and start to automate the setup of software on these instances. When you use the ec2-run-instances you can specify a file to be copied to the instance. For example, -f would copy a zipped script to the instances. You can also prebuild security groups and then use the -g flag to assign all of the instances you create to a security group that provides you with SSH access.

Once you have a key, a local script and SSH access to the hosts it is straight forward to loop through the instances initiating the script. When you run the ec2-run-instance you will get a line similar to the following:
INSTANCE i-767676 ami-767676 pending

The second position here (i-767676 for the example) is the name of the instance, which can be obtained using >awk ‘{printf $2}’with the output, grabbing only the names. For some of mine I use a script stored within the cluster and not made available outside and have the script update itself using a method I described last week. There are tons of other ways of doing that kind of thing as well.

Overall, the ability to provision servers for compute power has never been easier. No wait times for massive quantities of iron to roll in on pallets and then having the n00b rack mount it all. Now, just pay Amazon Web Services by the hour if/when you need a little firepower. Finally, it is worth noting that if you have a need where Amazon has provided an existing API to hook into EC2 (eg – SOAP), then that’s often a far more elegant (and therefore efficient) use of resources. Before you begin provisioning en masse, make sure it’s the right use for the right situation!

May 4th, 2009

Posted In: Business, Mass Deployment, Network Infrastructure, Unix, VMware

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