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Trevor Rose has written a nice piece on VC’s, Inventors & the business issues faced when taking an idea or invention into a product.

The timing on this article is surreal since I myself am facing what I’d call ‘inventive hurdles’ whereby I have to try and figure out the business/financial distribution of something I just want to get to a releasable product. In the most part I agree with Rose perhaps a little bit too boisterous for my liking but hey, that’s what makes it such a snappy article so maybe that was the point.

I think we’re switching to MobileMe

I’m not a Apple fan boi by any stretch of the imagination and have day-to-day experience with running in multiple email environments (including Exchange, Courier-IMAP and Zarafa) but for personal mail at least MobileMe looks like a serious contender.

For ~$200/yr both Sal and I can get integration with our iphones, synchronised appointments & contacts as well as iphoto integration for our files. For a long time now I’ve been running a dedicated mailserver installation for her and I beginning with an old dovecot->courier-imap setup then a community Zarafa install and most recently a licensed one (on a trial anyways). With all these setups I’ve had issues with integration, courier-imap lacked central calendar/contacts, community Zarafa severely limited my ability to do regular backups while licensed Zarafa provided this functionality it remained clunky and still didn’t give Sal access to full calendaring support on her Mac. Sure, Exchange integration IS good on the iphone but having completed a test Exchange deployment it was costing me more time then a solution for personal reasons made sense for (mainly because I’m a Linux/Unix guy! :)).

Sal had been bugging me about MobileMe for a while and finally I thought ‘umm, I do this every day at work, why am I producing undue time usage [when I could spend it with her :P]?’ so I signed her up. 😉 Sure, I could have gone to gmail or yahoo but as far as I’m aware that didn’t provide appointment booking support (and sync back) from the iphones themselves.

Nasty bits had to deal with:
– Pulling contacts & calendars out of zarafa’s cold hands was damn near impossible
For Sal at least I could forward all her contacts as VCF’s (MANUALLY i might add from the iphone) and back fill her calendar appointments. For anyone with an active calendar that’s ‘working’ (which I guess was the main reason I made such a drastic decision) this could be particularly painful. I couldn’t find an appstore app that allowed mass attach and send (only commercial looking ones for everything BUT MobileMe).

– Apple doesn’t appear to have too many migration tools
Our previous data on Zarafa (via IMAP) is still there. I don’t think there’s any sanctioned Apple mail sucking tools available there so I’m going to have to look at imapsync. That could be interesting since with all my mail in the Zarafa install it flogs the hell out of the mysqld zarafa stores everything in.

– MobileMe doesn’t seem to allow hard setting of From address

Dear Apple Inc,

Yes, we like &, we might even use them but we also have personal domains too which we prefer as primary contact points. Please, I beg you, allow us to at least set Reply To on our mail account.

– MobileMe timezone seems a bit warped

Booking appointment on the iphone is the only way to get it to look like the right time. Yes, we set the Timezone setting but it’s still broken. Think that’s probably worthy of a support ticket.

Fixed: Every calendar has it’s own Preferences for applying timezone support otherwise it uses Cupertino time. Not sure why this is separated from the main Account Preferences.

That’s it so far with more to come if I do take the plunge of migrating my rather huge (nearly 10 years) mail archive to MobileMe. :-\

Done for now. 🙂


WHT-US Exploited


They’ve taken it down again now but has been hacked.

I have obtained a publically posted copy of the WHT-US user database and verified the content in it is authentic.

ANY Password used by WHT-US members is now ‘in the open’.

Change everything quickly, good luck to


Storage Musings

Someone asked on WHTAU about SAN stuff and I figured, well, I’ll post it here too.

Ok, talking about SANs this is an area I don’t know much about it… If you grab yourself a fiber channel SAN hock it up to a few of your servers which have the required cards, than the servers are running completely off the SAN and not the internal drives? If that’s the case what sort of options are available to backup the entire first SAN to a second SAN for fail over if the primary SAN dies?

Hmm, SAN discussion.. Yum.

Fibre channel SAN’s typically ship with 2 fibre channel uplink ports (you can get some which have more). There’s a few ways about integrating with your new found space & speed freedom.

In the situation where you don’t buy a set of switches but you do get a set of redundant SANs you generally look at getting 2 servers in failover and direct attaching things in there then sharing the space as required from those host nodes. There’s a number of distributions specifically for this but for performance I’ve always leaned towards Solaris. Nexenta do a Solaris derivation specifically targeted at this market and they allow you to do nfs/smb/iscsi from there. When it comes to CPanel I guess you’d go the iscsi option here and either:

a) Get a iscsi initiator card in there and initiate to your storage pair.
b) Put a bootstrap startup on the hardware itself which then does an iscsi initiation and starts your real OS.

Guess I should also state that iscsi support from Solaris & Linux has shown to be far more stable then iscsi support direct from the storage kit itself. That’s mainly cause the storage kit usually has a crappy CPU and the ‘i’ part of iscsi makes it relatively costly.

Now, the other method (the ‘Enterprise’ way) is if you DO get a pair of fibre channel switches. These cost around 10K each which relative to your SAN purchase isn’t THAT much. You setup your SAN’s so that their connections are redundantly split across your two FC switches (or ‘Fabrics’ as the storage people like to say). Now you’ve got 2 SAN’s connected via diverse paths to two switches.

From there you take your actual hardware and install a dual port FC card (~$700 each) in each host. You set that up to terminate one to each switch (diverse paths to both SAN’s via both fabrics).

For both the iscsi and FC option basically any decent card will offer a BIOS booting option. That’s where your hard drives onbox become irrelevent (except maybe for swap) and the BIOS treats the SAN/FC volumes like a normal hard drive.

Replication wise, as usual, you have the costly and cheap option. The costly option is to get SAN’s with replication capabilities out of the box. They take care of each other and you never have to think about it again (hopefully). Vendors used to charge a lot for this but the new series stuff (Hitachi & Equalogic for instance) have this shipping as standard. If you’re going down this path you want to look for a SAN which has the capability to make ‘virtual fabrics’ seamlessly migrating between the two on failure. Otherwise your boxes are going to need a reboot or reconfiguration if your backend fails.

The cheaper option is to export two independent LUN’s (1 from each SAN) then use whatever replication you want on box. On Linux this is software raid or mirrored LVM, on Solaris this is ZFS (and it’s awesome :)). Then if you have a SAN failure the idea is that all your boxes will register a ‘dead disk’ and recovering involves getting the SAN back to normal and resyncing from the good disk.

Hopefully that answers a few of your questions. There’s some more tidbits in a Cluster 101 doc I did.

And now..

I’ve upgraded WordPress to the most recent version, ditched the broken template and loaded this one.

Cleaned up dead users, cleaned up crap comments.

Hopefully things are much nicer now.

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