January 17, 2018 brianradio2016

Hardware virtualization was a great step forward in application hosting compared to the days of bare metal. Hypervisors allowed us to isolate multiple applications within one hardware platform, freeing us to use hardware resources more efficiently by hosting heterogeneous workloads on the same infrastructure. Still, virtual machines have massive overhead in terms of resource consumption, because each VM runs a fully dedicated operating system.

Containerization advances the benefits of virtualization much further by allowing containers to share the OS kernel, networking stack, file system, and other system resources of the host machine, all while using less memory and CPU overhead.

If your organization is wary about making the transition from VMs to containers, consider the following advantages of containers:

  • Far more efficient resource utilization than with VMs.
  • Easier scaling—resizing container limits can be achieved on the fly, without a reboot.
  • Faster provisioning and start times for containers compared to VMs.
  • More granular resource provisioning, and the ability to share resources among containers on the same host.
  • Publicly available container templates based on the Docker packaging standard make it is easy to create new images for specific projects.

virtual machines vs containersJelastic

Jelastic is a PaaS provider that offers managed containerized application environments for a wide variety of programming languages including Java, PHP, Ruby, Node.js, Python, and .Net. The platform was initially built on Virtuozzo containers, so when Docker’s container technology arrived, we already had strong expertise in containerization and quickly added support for the Docker standard. Because we support multi-cloud options (allowing the Jelastic PaaS to be used on various IaaS platforms), our clients can maximize container portability benefits by mixing and matching different cloud services and managing them through the same UI and API.

January 17, 2018 brianradio2016

Containers provide a lightweight way to take application workloads portable, like a virtual machine but without the overhead and bulk typically associated with VMs. With containers, apps and services can be packaged up and moved freely between physical, virtual, or cloud environments.

Docker, a container creation and management system created by Docker, Inc., takes the native container functionality found in Linux and makes it available to end-users through a command-line interface and a set of APIs.

Many common application components are now available as prepackaged Docker containers, making it easy to deploy stacks of software as decoupled components (the “microservices” model). That said, it helps to know how the pieces fit together from the inside out.

Thus, in this guide, we’ll install the Apache web server in a Docker container and investigate how Docker operates along the way.

January 17, 2018 brianradio2016

Mobile is making itself felt in retail in obvious and not-so-obvious ways. But Visa and Kroger are dealing with mobile in very different ways, with Visa — perhaps a decade too late, but late is better than never — conceding that the authentication of mobile payments makes signing for a purchase no longer necessary. Meanwhile, Kroger is pushing mobile checkout but still wants shoppers to wait in line to pay.

Let’s start with Visa. In a very significant — and long overdue — move, Visa last week (Jan. 12) joined fellow card brands MasterCard, American Express and Discover in signaling an end to the payment signature, as of April in Visa’s case. Technically, the brands merely said that signatures are no longer required, but given that retailers have begged for the end of signature for years, as a practical matter, it will be gone in the U.S. before the summer arrives.

A lot of factors are behind this decision (EMV, in-store video cameras tracking purchases, the lack of meaningful signature analysis at the POS, etc.), but what pushed signature over the cliff was mobile.

We noted the lunacy back in May 2016, when EMV started kicking in. Until then, shoppers could make mobile payments authenticated with a finger scan (and today, slowly, facial recognition) and be on their way. But as we noted back then, the EMV change forced shoppers to be called back to the POS to sign for their purchase.

January 17, 2018 brianradio2016

Prices of bitcoin and other digital currencies skidded Tuesday after South Korea’s top financial policymaker said a crackdown on trading of cryptocurrencies was still possible, the AP reports. Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said in an interview with local radio station TBS that banning trading in digital currencies was “a live…

January 16, 2018 brianradio2016

Apple CEO Tim Cook visiting supplier Foxconn. (Image: file photo)

Catcher Technology, a Taiwan-based factory making casings for Apple’s iPhone and Mac, violated 14 of Apple’s supplier-responsibility standards, according to China Labor Watch and Bloomberg reports on Tuesday.

From October 2017 to January 2018, CLW conducted an investigation at a Catcher factory based in Suqian. Major issues found at Catcher included occupational health and safety, pollution, and work schedule, the report said.

Catcher is a previous violator of work rights. CLW found in 2014 rights violations including discriminatory hiring policies, lack of safety training, long work hours, and low wages.

In its recent report on Catcher, CLW detailed a work schedule that saw workers losing overtime pay:

The Catcher factory schedules Saturdays as overtime with workers being paid double time, and Sundays as days off. However, the factory has now adopted a “seven shifts, six rotations” work schedule. From Monday to Friday, workers take turns in having a day off; which means that workers have their day off earlier in the week but then make up that day of work later on. Saturdays are used to make up and is therefore not paid double time, and Sundays are still counted as regular workdays. Workers affected by this schedule lose around 500 RMB ($76.57 USD) every month in overtime pay.

CLW found that on the morning of May 25, 2017 there was a toxic gas poisoning incident at Catcher’s A6 workshop. The incident resulted in the hospitalization of 90 workers, with five admitted to intensive care, the report said.

CLW investigators also found wastewater at the factory had an excess of white foam, dispensed directly into the public waste system.

Bloomberg reported that when a journalist visited the plant in January, about eight workers shared a cramped dorm room of roughly four bunk beds. Dorms lack hot water and showers, and in interviews with Bloomberg, factory workers described long, harsh work hours and concerns about safety issues.

An Apple spokesperson told Bloomberg it sent additional team members to audit the factory upon hearing of the CLW’s impending report. The Apple spokesperson said after interviewing 150 people, the Apple team didn’t find evidence of violation of its standards.

“We know our work is never done and we investigate each and every allegation that’s made. We remain dedicated to doing all we can to protect the workers in our supply chain,” the Apple spokeswoman added to Bloomberg.

The Catcher factory also supplies parts for Samsung, HP, Lenovo, and LG. Catcher told Bloomberg it investigated the claims, but like Apple, found no evidence.

In 2016, Apple issued a code of conduct for its suppliers to adhere to. It assess suppliers in three main categories: labor and human rights, environmental responsibility, and health and safety. On its website, Apple says it conducted 705 supplier assessments in 2016, up from 574 in 2015. Numbers for 2017 haven’t been published yet by the company.

Apple’s supplier code says its partners should “identify, evaluate, and manage occupational health and safety hazards through a prioritized process of hazard elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls, and/or personal protective equipment.”

January 16, 2018 brianradio2016

With hundreds of business-oriented laptops to choose from — everything from sleek ultralight tablets to huge portable workstations — picking the right ones to outfit your company’s workforce can make finding a needle in a haystack seem easy. We’re here to help with a buyer’s guide that breaks the options into categories and provides pros and cons of each.

Let’s begin with the basics. Unlike consumer systems, business laptops are not meant for gaming, movies or idle web surfing — unless that’s your business. First and foremost, these systems are serious tools to help people do their jobs. In addition to sporting less garish color schemes than many consumer models, they focus on reliability and durability. Manufacturers typically sell business models for close to two years to accommodate long enterprise deployments; many promise replacement parts for five years.

Turned off by the price tags of business systems? Unlike consumer purchases, they are generally the starting point for a negotiation over cost. Most vendors offer volume discounts or the option to lease, which turns a large capital cost into a predictable monthly expense, usually at no cost premium over its life. Plus, at the end of the lease, you don’t have to worry about hardware disposal.

And with an expected three- to four-year usable lifetime, many mid- and upper-price-range business notebooks go beyond the standard single-year warranty with three years of coverage. This is often worth several hundred dollars compared to systems aimed at home users.

[ Further reading: 15 video conferencing products that are enterprise-ready ]

Based on what most large companies use, this guide concentrates on Windows systems, but in an age of workplace diversity, Apple devices are also represented. Chromebooks are also gaining traction among companies outfitting employees who don’t need peak performance: See “A new business tool: Chromebooks.”

What to look for in a business laptop

With all the hacking horror stories, security is critical in today’s business. Companies that use Windows PCs should look for systems with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) and some sort of biometric authentication method, such as a fingerprint reader or a camera capable of Windows Hello facial recognition for password-free log-ins. Business-oriented Windows laptops should also support serious manageability features, such as the ability to tap into Intel vPro processor extensions so IT departments can remotely diagnose and service a system.

January 16, 2018 brianradio2016


Razer Project Linda

Razer isn’t afraid to float some interesting product ideas around CES each year. Over the past few years, the gaming hardware company has offered up such concepts as Project Christine, a modular desktop PC, and Project Fiona, a Windows 8 gaming tablet.

everything CES 2018

This year is no exception, though 2018’s moonshot seems a little more practical. Project Linda actually takes an idea that’s been previously developed — pairing a smartphone with a shell of a laptop to serve essentially as a dock — by companies big (from Motorola back in 2011 to HP last year) and small (crowdfunded campaigns like the Superbook and the Mirabook), though it gives it the flair that Razer is known for.

Like HP’s Elite x3, Project Linda has more style than just a laptop shell. For instance, the aluminum-clad chassis features a 13.3-inch “Quad HD” (2560 x 1440) display compared to the Elite x3’s 12.5-inch 1,920×1,080 screen. It would also come with 200GB of built-in storage to supplement smartphone storage, which other phone docks usually don’t include.

Something else that other docks don’t provide that Project Linda does is a docking area carved out of the space where a touchpad typically goes. That’s because it’s specifically designed to work with the recently released Razer Phone, the company’s high-end Android smartphone that can either serve as a touchpad or an auxiliary screen when connected to the dock.

The dock has the ability to charge the Razer Phone while it’s connected, and the keyboard has Android-specific keys for loading apps and navigating the OS. As you might expect, Razer is touting Project Linda’s ability to enhance the Android gaming experience with the larger playing screen and the ability to use a mouse to control games, though the result probably wouldn’t be as immersive as the company’s more powerful and Windows-based Razer Blade family of gaming laptops.

As with its other projects, Razer is seeking community feedback on Project Linda before it decides whether to bring the product to actual fruition. So while there’s obviously no pricing or release date for the docking system, this concept may have a better chance of coming to market as it supports an existing device in the Razer Phone and probably won’t be extravagantly expensive since it doesn’t have an expensive processor and graphics card inside. Stay tuned and we’ll report if Project Linda ever sees the light of day.

January 16, 2018 brianradio2016

Maersk and IBM today announced a joint venture to deploy a blockchain-based  electronic shipping system that will digitize supply chains and track international cargo in real time.

The new platform could save the global shipping industry billions of dollars a year by replacing the current EDI- and paper-based system, which can leave containers in receiving yards for weeks, according to the companies.

Blockchain will enable a single view via a virtual dashboard of all goods and shipping information for all parties involved, from manufacturers and shippers to port authorities and government agencies.

As an immutable, distributed ledger, blockchain technology will also improve security, according to Michael White, former president of Maersk Line in North America and CEO of the new company.

January 16, 2018 brianradio2016

The Windows emergency security updates issued by Microsoft earlier this month came with an unprecedented prerequisite – a new key stored in the operating system’s registry – that antivirus vendors were told to generate after they’d guaranteed their code wouldn’t trigger dreaded Blue Screens of Death (BSoD) when users apply the patches.

The demands confused customers, and fueled a flood of support documents and an avalanche of web content. Those who heard about the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities struggled to figure out whether their PCs were protected, and if not, why not. Millions more, not having gotten wind of the potential threat, carried on without realizing that their PCs might be barred from receiving several months’ worth of security updates.

Here are the steps Windows users can take to insure their PCs continue to receive security updates.

Check antivirus status, update antivirus

While Microsoft hasn’t told customers which antivirus (AV) vendors have broken rules and made unauthorized calls to the kernel – the reason why the company’s patches, which modify the kernel, may provoke BSoDs when certain AV software is loaded into memory – or even tracked the progress AV vendors made toward compliance, someone has.