November 15, 2016 brianradio2016

For as long as I can remember, CIOs have obsessed about getting a seat at the executive table, treated as colleagues on corporate strategy, and not merely operations guys whose only reason to talk to the board is to be reminded that IT budgets are too high and need to be shaved every year.

That obsession over getting a seat at the table doesn’t seem to have changed much in reality—most CIOs are still made to focus on continually reducing costs even as they are asked to support more and more technologies. They’ve tried learning the language of business, embedding IT pros into business teams, bringing business expertise into IT, and other forms of “business-IT alignment.” But little has changed.

But now, maybe something can change, and not only at those idiosyncratic companies where an individual CIO has figured out the secret sauce for his or her organization.

Four years ago, a consortium of enterprises was formed, called the TBM Council. (TBM stands for “technology business management.”) It formed around a vendor called Apptio that provided a financial tool for CIOs to understand and manage IT spend, creating what Apptio CEO Sunny Gupta calls a subledger for IT.

November 10, 2016 brianradio2016

As most of us in the developer and IT ops communities know by now, Docker is good. Docker and containers have brought production operations closer to development, given us more freedom in our technology choices, and ushered in microservices as the backbone of a more flexible and aggressive approach to building software, especially in cloud environments.

But as organizations adopt Docker and containerization, life can get complicated. Operationalizing Docker, more often than not, means increased complexity, an abundance of infrastructure and application data, and a commensurate need for additional monitoring and alerting on the production environment.

As Docker and containers make the leap from development into production in your organization, there are three factors to keep in mind when it comes to monitoring a containerized environment. First, monitoring Docker is not a solution unto itself. Second, you need to know which container metrics you should care about. Third, there are multiple options for collecting application metrics. Let’s dive in.

What’s important?

As operations, IT, and engineering organizations coalesce around the value and importance of containers, they often ask the seemingly logical question: “How do I monitor Docker in my production environment?” As it turns out, this question has it backward. Monitoring the Docker daemon, the Kubernetes master, or the Mesos scheduler isn’t especially complicated, and there are, in fact, solutions for each of these.

November 8, 2016 brianradio2016


Google updates Gmail for iOS with “undo” feature to recall mistakenly sent email.

Image: Google

Google has overhauled the look and feel of the Gmail app for iOS, aligning it more closely with the Gmail app for Android.

The new Gmail for iOS offers a cleaner, more colorful look that’s consistent with Google’s Android app — and should be faster to use, thanks to new swipe-to-delete actions, and improved search.

Visually, the update introduces a new red bar at the top of the screen, contact profile images, and Google’s floating action button to initiate a new email. iOS users may recognize some common elements with the Inbox by Gmail app, minus smart suggestions and reminders.

Gmail users on iOS can now recall a mistakenly sent email. The feature previously was only available on Gmail for the desktop and in the Inbox by Gmail app. Gmail will hold off sending an email for a few seconds, in which time users have a chance to hit an ‘undo’ button that appears in a dark grey box at the bottom of the screen. A similar undo option is available when archiving messages in the Gmail app.

Improvements to search include instant results, predictions, and spelling suggestions, aligning it with the faster experience of Google’s web search on mobile.

Google released the new app for iPhone and iPad on Monday as version 5.0.3 of Gmail for iOS. According to Google, it’s the biggest overhaul to the app since 2012.

While it is a major update, the app still remains squarely aimed at Gmail users as opposed to a general email client. For example, the app only supports multiple Google accounts, compared to Microsoft’s popular Outlook for iOS app. Also, the swipe action only supports archiving or deleting, which can be adjusted in settings within the app, whereas Outlook and Apple’s Mail app offer additional features such as reminders.

Google also updated its Calendar app for iOS, which now includes a month view and week view in landscape. It also integrates with Apple’s Spotlight search, meaning that people can use the iPhone’s built-in search to find events, reminders, and goals in Google Calendar.

Read more about Gmail

November 3, 2016 brianradio2016

Internet of things (IoT) data promises to unlock unique and unprecedented business insights, but only if enterprises can successfully manage the data flowing into their organizations from IoT sources. One problem enterprises will encounter as they try to elicit value from their IoT initiatives is data drift: changes to the structure, content, and meaning of data that result from frequent and unpredictable changes to source devices and data processing infrastructure.

Whether processed in stream or batch form, data typically moves from source to final storage locations through a variety of tools. Changes anywhere along this chain — be they schema changes to source systems, shifts in the meaning of coded field values, or an upgrade or addition to the software components involved in data production — can result in incomplete, inaccurate, or inconsistent data in downstream systems.

The effects of this data drift can be especially pernicious because they often go undetected for long periods of times, polluting data stores and subsequent analyses with low-fidelity data. Until detected, the use of this problematic data can lead to false findings and poor business decisions. When the problem is finally detected, it is usually fixed through manual data cleanup and preparation by data scientists, which adds hard costs, opportunity costs, and delays to the analysis.

StreamSets Data Collector

Using StreamSets Data Collector to build and manage big data ingest pipelines will help mitigate the effects of data drift while vastly reducing the amount of time spent cleansing data. In this article, we will walk through a typical use case of real-time data ingest of IoT sensor data into HDFS for analysis and visualization using Impala or Hive.

November 1, 2016 brianradio2016

Apple’s new MacBook Pros have both excited and angered Mac users, but whatever you think of them, you may need to get one to replace an aging MacBook. The new MacBook Pros abandon all the familiar ports in favor of a combined USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port.

That means your Thunderbolt drives, MiniDisplayPort monitors, Ethernet cable, spare power supply, USB drives, and every other USB peripheral (external keyboards, mice, hubs, iPhone, iPad, and so on) can’t plug in to your new MacBook Pro. Very few USB-C peripherals exist — not even Apple has USB-C versions of its own peripherals. Yikes!

Apple has dongles for old ports, such as Thunderbolt 2, USB-A, and Ethernet, but most are quite expensive. Not only do they ruin Apple’s simple aesthetic, you’ll likely need several if you work from more than one location. And Apple doesn’t offer docks that would act as a simpler bridge between new Macs and existing peripherals.

Oh, and the notion that Apple is prodding us to ditch wires completely? Apple isn’t ponying up to make it happen:

October 27, 2016 brianradio2016

We’ve entered a parallel universe where Microsoft announces cool PC products for creative types and Apple focuses on obvious performance upgrades (lighter! thinner! faster! updated ports! choice of colors!) and obscure technologies like application-reprogrammable function keys for its aging Mac line.

Do we need really yet another contextual menu? Plus, like many people (especially creative users), I use my MacBook with a big monitor most of the time, so the reprogrammable-keys Touch Bar is inaccessible behind my closed laptop lid. Maybe no one at Apple uses external monitors, keyboards, and mice any more. More likely, Apple will offer a pricey new external keyboard with the Touch Bar (not that it said so today).

And, yes, the inclusion of Touch ID is quite welcome, but adding Touch ID was an obvious update three years ago when the technology came to the iPhone 5s. Still, there’s nothing in the new Macs that really moves the needles that matter. Again, too bad the MacBook lid has to be open to use it.

The Apple community has been increasingly unhappy with Apple’s apparent abandonment of the creative users who once powered the company’s sales and product differentiation. If you worked in graphics, video, or sounds, there was no question that you used a Mac, thanks to its superior hardware and software. Now, Macs have no advantages in either hardware or software; former Mac-only apps have equally capable ports on Windows, and Windows itself has become much easier in managing the peripherals for creative users. You may still want a Mac, but you no longer need one.

October 27, 2016 brianradio2016

Apache Ignite is an in-memory computing platform that can be inserted seamlessly between a user’s application layer and data layer. Apache Ignite loads data from the existing disk-based storage layer into RAM, improving performance by as much as six orders of magnitude (1 million-fold).

The in-memory data capacity can be easily scaled to handle petabytes of data simply by adding more nodes to the cluster. Further, both ACID transactions and SQL queries are supported. Ignite delivers performance, scale, and comprehensive capabilities far above and beyond what traditional in-memory databases, in-memory data grids, and other in-memory-based point solutions can offer by themselves.

Apache Ignite does not require users to rip and replace their existing databases. It works with RDBMS, NoSQL, and Hadoop data stores. Apache Ignite enables high-performance transactions, real-time streaming, and fast analytics in a single, comprehensive data access and processing layer. It uses a distributed, massively parallel architecture on affordable, commodity hardware to power existing or new applications. Apache Ignite can run on premises, on cloud platforms such as AWS and Microsoft Azure, or in a hybrid environment.

apache ignite architecture

The Apache Ignite unified API supports SQL, C++, .Net, Java, Scala, Groovy, PHP, and Node.js. The unified API connects cloud-scale applications with multiple data stores containing structured, semistructured, and unstructured data. It offers a high-performance data environment that allows companies to process full ACID transactions and generate valuable insights from real-time, interactive, and batch queries.

October 20, 2016 brianradio2016

Ever since the commercial web went live, we’ve been trying to accelerate performance. There’s been a lot of investment in the sticky problem of speed and reliability, from optimizing the front end to caching and load balancing at the back end. As far as the web goes, the user experience from tethered or Wi-Fi-connected laptops is pretty good, though “your mileage will vary” is still the operative phrase. That’s not at all the case when it comes to mobile networks.

Mobile networks and mobile apps are an entirely different world when it comes to sending and receiving data. Because cellular and Wi-Fi networks rely on radio transmission, they have inherent challenges that technology originally designed for web data networking — technology such as CDNs and DNS — never anticipated.

It’s well known that CDNs depend on DNS to map HTTP requests to the supposed nearest replica of the content. They have done so since the 1990s when Netscape was the dominant browser and few people were using Wi-Fi, let alone mobile networks to access the web.

As a brief reminder, the method CDNs use to accelerate content is as follows:

October 20, 2016 brianradio2016

At the Gartner ITExpo this week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella faced tough questions on how Cortana and LinkedIn together could spy deeply on our work lives. (Microsoft is purchasing LinkedIn.) At the SoTech conference I attended this past weekend, an IBM Watson engineer faced similar questions about the data that Watson would gather to feed IBM’s vision of Watson as an adviser to people in all sorts of work.

But privacy is not the only issue, and not necessarily the most important one. All of these artificial intelligent systems — Watson, Cortana, Google’s DeepMind and intelligent assistants, Facebook, and Apple’s Siri — are being proposed as all-knowing, objective advisers to people, companies, and governments. The AI will tell you who’s a good job candidate, what’s the best medical treatment, what car you should buy, where  you should live, what gas station you should frequent, and what you should eat.

That’s supposed to be a good development because it’s based on analysis of information that individuals don’t have access to and couldn’t process if they did — plus, the AI has no inherent bias in the calculations it bases its recommendation on. Thus, AI systems using algorithms and data from who knows where, with who knows what degree of accuracy and who knows what degree of encoded biases, will make these decisions on the fundamental aspects of our lives.


October 18, 2016 brianradio2016

The Macintosh faithful are getting really antsy. There’ve been no new models (I’m not counting minor CPU speed bumps or additional RAM capacity) of the mainstay MacBook Pro since 2012, the iMac since 2013 (2015 if you count the Retina model — I don’t), the MacBook Air since 2012, the Mac Mini since 2011, and the Mac Pro since 2013.

Some Macs, especially the once-highest-end Mac Pro, have specs that make Mac enthusiasts embarrassed when they see the specs on the newest Windows PCs. Thus the rumor mill is working overtime again in hopes of an October surprise of revolutionary new Mac models

But maybe we don’t really need new Macs. After all, the PC market is on a years-long slide, as people keep their PCs (and Macs) for extended lengths, spending their tech dollars on smartphones and tablets. And the usual reasons to need a new PC (or Mac) — rather than simply want a new model — don’t really exist.

What drives PC upgrades are games, and gaming has never been big on the Mac. The need for the latest CPU, graphics processor, storage bus, RAM, or memory bus isn’t there for Mac users — no pressure there.