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June 2009 Archives

Netflix has announced their streaming service is now accessible over IPv6.  This means that their CDN provider, Limelight, is now the first CDN to provide IPv6 service.  Netflix says it took two months of engineering (from initial idea to completion) and Limelight says they only had to allocate two engineers to the project.  IPv6 is easy.  Forget all your old misconceptions.

At my house we have Comcast for our internet access.  Now I just need them to provide it and I'm ready!  If Comcast needs a beta tester, please reach me!  tal at everything sysadmin dot com, folks! has this to say about
Stack Overflow, the uber-popular software developers' Q&A site created by Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood in 2008, now has a sister site called Server Fault. This new site, designed with the needs of system administrators in mind, uses the same engine that Stack Overflow does for voting, editing, and tagging.

We heard about Spolsky and Atwood's plan to launch an I.T.- themed site back in January of this year, but it wasn't until the end of May - only days ago - that the site actually went live for the public to use.

Already, the site has engaged some well-known members of the I.T. Professional community, including Thomas A. Limoncelli, the author of several system administration books including April Fools' Day RFCs.

My question for you, dear readers, is whether or not you think this this is a cheap ploy to get me to mention it on my blog? Post your answer in the comments!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli

(Note: this post is not about you.  I swear.)

Someone once asked me what improvements they could make to their Linux Users Group (LUG).  New people came but never returned.

Two things I observed.

1.  New people didn't feel welcome.  Suggestion: Go out of your way to make new people feel welcome.  Have a designated person show up early and just say "hi" to everyone that walks in. (If you are the leader, don't do this yourself.  Delegate. Look around, find the person with the biggest smile, and ask them to do it.  Not all geeks are... how do you say... "camera friendly".)  Most of us are introverts and would be turned off by someone that tries to make small-talk, but just hearing someone say "hi" is great.  Have good signs on the doors so people know where to go.  Nothing makes new people feel unwanted like a lack of being told where your meeting is.  I once went to a meeting (not a LUG, but the issue is the same) only to discover that the web site listed the address, but not the specific room... or which building.  There were no signs telling me where to go.  Ugh.

2.  If you have a Q&A session, the moderator should never answer the questions.  People come to share and everyone wants their turn to show off.  A big mistake I see is that the moderator will answer each question then look around and say, "Does anyone else have anything to add?"  Nobody answers.  Gee, I wonder why.  Well, the moderator just expressed their dominance and anything else would be an affront to the leader.  Folks, this is an open source movement.  We all have power and knowledge and good stuff to day.  If you are the moderator, be the last person to speak. Sure you know the perfect answer, in fact I bet you have 5 points you'd like to make.  However, so do other people in the audience.  Get them to say the answer.  Let a couple people speak.  After 3-4 people speak it is likely that 4 of the 5 points you wanted to make have been made already.  Now you can chime in with your 5th point.  Everyone else got their chance to shine and your 5 points were made.  You'll still look brilliant for having a 5th point that nobody else thought of, but you won't look overbearing.

Those are the top 2 problems I've seen.

The #3 issue is "Where to advertise?"    Please post a comment if you have suggestions.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Community

Fixed bug in comments

Comments were working on this blog but I wasn't getting email notifying me that they had been posted.  If I didn't respond to a comment you left, please drop me a note or post another comment.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in System News

People often ask for my opinion about which smart phone is the best.  I don't know what is best for you, but I can give you this advice.

No smart phone is perfect.  The designers have to make compromises or the device would cost too much and it wouldn't sell.  Successful products that do many things really do one thing extremely well, a few things ok, and the rest just barely enough so the company doesn't get sued.  The 7-in-one printer I have at home is really just a good printer.  The scanner is pretty good but a real scanner would turn pages for me. The fax capability is minimal.  I can't remember what the other 4 functions are.  In fact, I could swear that this kind of device used to be called a 5-in-one printer but then someone started claiming that the power button is two features (can you name both?).

Generally a smart phone has some combination of these features: phone, music player, web browsing, time management (PDA) features, and some would say that the ability to run apps counts as another feature.  Some phones do one or two of those well and fake it through the rest.

If X represents the set of features that were the focus and Y is the set of features that were not the focus, you can easily summarize a product's focus by saying, "it's an X that happens to do Y".  For example, "it's a PDA that happens to make phone calls and surf the web."  If you want to imply more disdain, add "in a pinch" to the end.

Think long and hard about what you want the most.  To me the most important features are the PDA tools: todo list and calendar. To someone else it might be the ability to surf the web.

Here's my opinion of the utility of the most popular smart phones:

  • Palm Treo: A PDA that happens to make phone calls and will surf the web in a pinch. (Actually, the web browser is excellent in a few respects:  You can cache pages [important to me since I ride subways a lot] and it strips the pages down to text so they load fast.  Really fast. doesn't look like the front page of the newspaper, but I get all my articles just fine.)
  • iPhone: An iPod music player and web browser that runs apps that happens to make phone calls and is a PDA in a pinch.  Actually it isn't a PDA at all, but the web browser lets you access on-line time management tools.  This is good if you always have connectivity, which is not true for me; thus this violates one of my fundamental principles of time management: tools must always be available and fast to access.
  • Android/T-Mobile G1: A phone that surfs the web that happens to play music. The music player is weak especially lacking in areas important to podcast listeners. The apps are getting much better over time.
  • Palm Pre: I haven't used one but it seems to be focused on web browsing and PDA features.  I'd love to get my hands on one. Sadly all I've done so far is watch someone unbox one for the first time.
In summary: Treo=PDA, iPhone=iPod/Web, Android=Phone/Web, Pre=PDA/Web.  Obviously these products are getting better in all areas with each release.

So what do I use?

Interestingly enough, I'm an example of the serendipity that only accidents can bring. I was very happy with my Palm Treo.  I wanted a PDA that happened to have other phone and web features and it was perfect (especially after enhancing the PDA functions with DateBk 6 from Pimlico Software). Then my Treo phone was damaged beyond repair and I had an opportunity to get an iPhone. How bad could the PDA features be?  Oh, they are non-existant?  Ugh.  I started muddling through using web-based todo systems like Google Tasks. What I discovered, however, was that the one feature I didn't plan on using became my favorite feature: the music/video player!  I have a large music collection but I never have time to listen to it. There are many podcasts I'd like to listen to but I never have time to hear them. I didn't expect to use the iPod features of my iPhone but now I listen to about 20 hours of podcasts and music each week.  I'm listening to music that I've owned for more than a decade that I've hadn't heard in years. I'm getting a huge education through videos and keeping up with the world through NPR and IT Conversations Network podcasts.

So much for following my own advice!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Time Management