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NFS Client in Windows 7 Pro

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I realise this is a little late to the game, but I find Microsoft’s attitude towards end users offensive.  Take for example the statement “NFS Client isn’t something we usually support here” because the “Microsoft Answers website since Answers is directed towards consumers” is offensive.  Consumers are increasingly operating in heterogeneous environments thanks in no small part to Microsoft’s steadfast insistence on not actually listening to its customer base.  For better or worse, Mac desktops and notebooks are seeing a dramatic rise, especially within the North America.  Microsoft knows this.

This has a direct effect on the topic at hand in that consumer level devices are now increasingly being shipped not only supporting NFS, but with NFS as the default protocol.  NFS (and similar heterogeneous cohabitation technologies) quite simply are consumer-level technologies today.  Attempting to proclaim it otherwise because it doesn’t meet with the party line on the topic does nothing but further alienate the customer base.

Not that the arbitrary stratification of versioning that leaves those of us with “Windows 7 Professional” operating systems out in the cold hasn’t done that already.

That rant over and done with, let’s get around to actually helping people here!  Some NFS client information of relevance to real people, in the real world:

1) A Google Code project that brings NFS v2/3 support to Windows/ NFS 4.1 support is under active development, but not yet supported: nekodrive.  Quite frankly, this isn’t quite ready for prime time, unless you are willing to be a little nerdy about it.  It is okay for one-off work, but doesn’t operate nearly as seamlessly as a proper client.

2) The University of Michigan NFS v 4.1 client. This is the exact same client for NFS 4.1 that Microsoft included in Windows 8.  (Indeed, Microsoft funded its development.)  It is located here.  However, it does take a little bit of knowledge to install.  I have found it easily scriptable for installs on a mass scale, and certainly not a problem for installs on my home machine.

The project maintains a code regular code drop, and the binaries can be accessed here.  Alongside the install instructions above, any novice computing enthusiast who has actually typed “start, run, CMD” before will be perfectly able to get a top notch NFS 4.1 client up and running on Windows 7 Professional.

I can’t recommend the this 4.1 client enough.  If you have NAS devices supporting NFS 4 (for example, a Synology with the latest DSM), this client is great a bridging the gap between Windows and Mac.

3) There was a company called Labtam that once made a relevant product.  The website is still up, however all indications are that they ceased to exist towards he end of 2009.  It may be worth further investigation to see if they have sold the tech on to someone, as the internets claims it was reasonably reliable for NFS v3.  At $40, it’s significantly cheaper than an “anytime upgrade,” and has the additional bonus of neither condoning nor encouraging Microsoft’s arbitrary product segregation.

Will Windows 8 – presuming you can stomach Metro – be more of the same?  Or will the reduced edition count lead to an unprecedented breakout of sanity?  Somehow, I doubt it.

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  • Published: Jun 20th, 2010
  • Category: Rants
  • Comments: Comments Off on Does a love of evolution make me a softie?

Does a love of evolution make me a softie?

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I took the weekend off to go to the lake. Now, I don’t get to do this often, perhaps once every two or three weekends. In an effort to spruce the place up a tad, I bought some solar LED deck lights at the beginning of the season. They seem to work fine, and emit no heat that I can detect.

Having not been out for a few weekends, upon arrival at my lake lot, I found insects of various strips had taken up residence wherever they could find a niche. I took some time to get rid of a pair of wasp’s nests, and removed spider’s webs from my doorway. I did the cleaning and the yard work…but then I ran across something I just couldn’t get rid of.

Upon each of my deck lights was a complex lattice of spider’s webs. Very full spider’s webs. You can’t really appreciate it until nightfall, but these spiders were using the night time glow of the lights to lure bugs into their webs. They had discovered these light sources didn’t emit heat, and thus wouldn’t harm them. Instead, they spun their deadly traps, and used the mating instincts of other insects against them.

I was, and remain, deeply impressed. I could not clean these webs, could not unhome these intelligent arachnids. They have earned their place: they deserve to survive, to mate, and to propagate their line.

I felt a little touched; as though I was watching evolution in action. Somehow these spiders possessed a mutation denied their eight-legged brethren. Despite their fantastically small brains, they were able to take advantage of this “cold light,” something that should give them an edge over their cousins in the eternal game of genetic dominance.

I simply couldn’t intervene. I would love to see if a few generations of selective pressure end with more of the little blighters doing this on other “cold light” sources, or if the adaptation dies out.

I hope it doesn’t, I think it’s brilliant. Does that make me a softie?

  • Author:
  • Published: Jun 20th, 2010
  • Category: Ideas
  • Comments: Comments Off on The Data Park: A Hutterite inspired communal datacenter

The Data Park: A Hutterite inspired communal datacenter

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On my way home from the lake today, I noticed that my favourite location to obtain food, (the Morinville Hutterite colony) was finally open for the season. (Supper = Saskatoon-Cherry-Rhubarb pie. Huzzah!) I of course had to stop in to fill my fridge with excellent fresh veggies and various baked goods, and I spend the remainder of my trip home pondering the economics of being a Hutterite. More specifically, how these economics could be used to enhance business opportunities in the IT sector.

For you to understand my ponderings, you have to understand a little about Hutterites. Hutterites are a very religious group of extreme pacifists who live in a patriarchal communal society. Putting aside religious prejudice, and concerns about the dubious ethics of a strict patriarchy, the “communal society” bit is exceptionally interesting.

When most people think of Hutterites, they pretty much simply impose every negative Amish stereotype they can think of and then dismiss them from any further consideration. Nothing could be further from the truth. To start with; Hutteries most emphatically do not reject modern technology. It is true that depending on the variant of theirs, Hutterites may abstain from what they consider “intrusive use” of modern communications or entertainment technology, but their farming and manufacturing equipment has never been anything but absolutely top notch.

Huterites aren’t about “returning to a simpler way of life,” they simply are communal. They want to live in a big group and believe what they believe. What this gives them is the advantage of economies of scale. Hutterite colonies are multi-million-dollar enterprises. They generally own absolutely enormous tracts of land. More than an order of magnitude beyond that which any single family of farmers could possibly hope to manage. They buy lots and lots of the best farming equipment, which they can afford because they are running the equivalent of ten, twenty or even thirty farms off of this one set.

Larger, wealthier colonies get into manufacturing. The Morinville colony custom manufactures exceptionally high-quality garden sheds, among other things. We’re not talking just about the little shed you put in your back yard to house your lawn mower, but industrial scale sheds for other farmers to house their equipment and store their crops. We’re not talking about a few people knocking together some wood and tin; they are known to be among the best in the province at producing these units. Their work is in high demand and commands a premium price. In an agricultural province, that should say something.

So to recap, this one colony of perhaps two dozen families farms an area rivalled only by the largest North American commercial farms, has the spare labour to manufacture some of the best garden and equipment sheds in the province, and further still taps it’s labour pool to sell me vegetables, bread and pies from a little highway-side store.

In other words, even though they have only a dozen or two families, their communal lifestyle enables them to take serious advantage of economies of scale.

The closest analogue I can think of in the business world is a research park. An individual example could be a condo association. There are corporate collectives, most often count in the states, but these are entities where a worker’s collective owns the company. I am thinking here more along the lines of a group of companies undertaking a mutually beneficial sharing of resources in order to achieve economies of scale they couldn’t enjoy separately.

The example that floats to my mind is actually that of the modern datacenter. To get any real economies of scale from a datacenter, you have to be playing the game north of one thousand racks of equipment. Very few companies can do this on their own. You’re talking here about the Googles, Apples or Microsofts of the world. Amazon perhaps, or Yahoo!.

The company I work for has three racks of equipment that contain centralised hardware. (The non site-specific stuff.) If we were to eat sixty percent of the entire North American market for our industry, we might, (might!) require ten.

Currently, we house our centralised (head office) equipment in a merged datacenter with one of our sites, allowing us to put six racks of equipment into a single mini-datacenter. The costs of cooling, powering, maintenance, rent, etc. for this equipment is stupendously high. It’s about on par with taking it to a commercial datacenter and having it hosted for us.

How many other companies are in the same boat? Stuck either running inefficient and costly datacenter operations locally, or hosting their equipment in someone else’s for-profit datacenter? What I want is something akin to a datacenter research park. (Data park?) A group of companies get together and determine the number of racks worth of equipment they require. They start a private company in which each company owns a percentage based on the percentage of equipment capacity they require from the datacenter. They communally fund it according their number of shares, and build, maintain and operate this centralised facility. In this way, with enough companies, you could take advantage of economies of scale, reducing the cost per rack far below that of hosting it locally, or of hosting it in a for-profit datacenter.

Companies do this all the time by paying for certain communal services such as grounds keeping or janitorial when they reside in a business park or skyscraper. Why shouldn’t collectives of small to medium enterprises pool their resources to create data parks?

It’s something worth thinking on, and I would be interested in hearing from anyone who knows of any extant data parks.

  • Author:
  • Published: Jun 17th, 2010
  • Category: Rants
  • Comments: Comments Off on We am the hive mind

We am the hive mind

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Though the nearness of the words “facepalm” and “Facebook” is entirely coincidental, I have recently begun to mentally replace one with the other at all instances. If I read an article about Facebook, invariably it is some privacy hiccough, or someone who has done something unbelievably odd, antisocial or just plain stupid in full view of the digital public.

On the flip side of that particular coin, it has become a valid communications tool, with half a Billion individuals using it. Nearly half the population of my country uses it. Certainly more than half of the literate public in Canada is using it.

I am thusly terrified when I start to notice trends in people’s behavior that indicate a growing social meme whereby “if it is not on Facebook, it’s not true.” Much as I despair of the idea that Wikipedia is a valid source of primary information, I am consistently reminded of the tragic reality that there exist people who honestly believe that no bit of information about an individual is “true” unless they have posted it to Facebook.

My canonical example of this, (and the one that inspired this post,) is that of my impending nuptials. The hardest part about this change in status is the slow process of informing all of your friends. It is not new information by any means; in fact I am often startled when someone has not already heard. The issue apparently is that I have relied on more traditional mediums for the dissemination of information about my life.

I communicate with my friends primarily through voice communications, or secondarily through instant messaging. I prefer to have real-time conversation with individuals, and I see services such as Facebook as little more than a terrible combination between an egocentric blog and voicemail. (For those curious, getting a Facebook profile was not my idea. For all intents and purposes, I lost a bet.)

That some people would look at me in askance upon being informed of the changes in my life and exclaim, “but that’s not what your Facebook says” causes bitter poison to spread tendrils through my soul. My Facebook page contains little if any information at all. There is no relationship status, age, birthday…I’m not even 100% sure I filled out the box for “gender.”

I purposefully left Facebook as near to a blank slate as was reasonable because I believe that if you care enough about me to truly care what is new in my life, then you care enough to communicate with me in real time. (Phones, Instant messaging or even email all being perfectly acceptable forms of communication to me.) How the fact that a page with almost no information at all translates into “I have trouble crediting what you are telling me face to face” I simply cannot parse.

And thus the meat of my rant: a philosophical question. Are we, as a society, turning too much of our thinking processes over to these sorts of “social networking” sites? Perhaps to “the Internet” in general? The entire issue seems as though it may be related to my similar fears that the general public has lost the ability to differentiate between “rewritten press releases” and “actual news.”

When did we start believing what was presented to us without critical thinking?

When did we stop believing anything else?

And are these not overarching social trends worth being deeply, deeply worried about?

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  • Published: Jun 1st, 2010
  • Category: Rants
  • Comments: Comments Off on A Mac Rant

A Mac Rant

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This is a comment I left on an article on El Reg…but I felt that is bears repeating, and so I am reposting it here.

Anti-malware for Macs.

It exists.  For the love of $deity, USE IT.  (I am getting so sick of cleaning Macs…)

Welcome to the big time boys; after years of slogging in obscurity, Microsoft ****ed the pooch and gave Mac an opening.  Because Jobs is no one’s fool he took advantage of this and the end result is that as a platform, Mac is finally relevant.  Relevancy bears a cost; and that cost is being a valid target.

For systems administrators, it is now that the really hard work begins; convincing all those Mac users that their nice period of obscurity is over, and it’s time to start learning some basic desktop security principals just like all the Windows users have to.

If I get one more worm-ridden Mac in from some user who smugly states “that’s impossible; Macs don’t get viruses” I think I might just compress into a microsingularity and evaporate

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  • Published: May 17th, 2009
  • Category: Rants
  • Comments: Comments Off on EU fines Intel: The sky is falling!

EU fines Intel: The sky is falling!

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The internet is imploding. Aparently, the world is ending, and it’s all the EU’s fault.  Oh, if only they hadn’t fined Intel.  I mean, eveyrone wants to buy Intel, right? BAD EU.

*sigh*

This isn’t about AMD or Intel’s current technology, or pace of technology, or the current price/performance or anything like that.  What this is is very simple:

Intel, being in a monopoly position has the ability to lean on customers, spread FUD, hand out “incentives” and “samples,” and generally do things that are considered as “good business practices” when you are not a monopoly.  (I.E. they are a well accepted and understood pack of business practises designed to promote your organisation, and screw your competition.)  These practices are VERY common in IT, as the ball swings between those who have something cool and innovative, and those who are selling yesterdays crap.

Now, and I know this is where you all get lost, these business practices are illegal if you are a monopoly.  Why? Because capitalism is (supposed to be) something that provides the best possible advantages to everyone via the magic fairy dust of competition.  If, as the 800lb gorilla amongst the mice, and you use your position to step on as many mice as you can, you’re generally regarded as stifling rather than encouraging competition.  You may not like it, you may disagree with it, but that is the law as it stands today.

Intel did this; full stop.  When AMD finally had a good product, rather than answering with a good product, they stepped on AMD over and over again until they could bring the great machine of their company into play and truly answer them technologically.  In a competitive environment, (and without Hector Ruiz,) AMD should have been able to make huge inroads into market share.  They should have been able to buy/build more fabs, ramp up production, sink loads of cash into R&D and actually meet Intel toe to toe for decades to come.  Yes fanbois, regardless of how much you love Intel, that was how far ahead AMD was at the time all these various anti-trust investigations started.

In the meantime and betweentime, Intel shart all over AMD, which caused them to devote an abnormal amount of their resources just to getting places like Dell to buy their chips.  Not an objective soul can honestly say Dell was all Intel because there was no demand.  HP ran roughshod over them for years because they didn’t shift AMD kit.  Customers screamed up and at them to sell them AMD kit of all flavours.  Dell (amongst, I have to admit, quite a few others,) only did so when Intel said “okay, we’ve finally got a price/performance answer to AMD, sell whatever you want.”  (The fact that various lawsuits were now out against Intel, investigating this very thing might also have played into this.)

Add in the “freebies” and “promotional items” which meant that ON THE WHOLE, company X got Y units for below the cost of production.  (Thus undercutting AMD severly, who didn’t have the resources to use loss leaders like that.)

So, in short, the point is that a way back when, the 800lb Intel gorilla stepped on the AMD mouse. In doing so, they prevented AMD from capitalising on the excellent work they had done in advancing technology, and thus hampering their ability to truly pump more money into R&D, thus really cutting into their ability to be competitive in the medium and long term.  This then meant that Intel had ensured that as soon as they finally caught up to AMD there would be no possible way AMD could pull ahead again.

That ladies and gentlemen, is how the consumer was hurt by this business. The EU fines are about the harm done to the CONSUMER.  Not to AMD, VIA, or other companies.  They are about what Intel did wrong to you, me, and the computer buyer down the street.  Intel used tactics that are illegal to use as a monopoly to directly harm AMD’s long term chances of being able to pump adequate money into R&D.  Thusly harming it’s ability to be a medium or long term competitor.  Does Nehalem walk all over Shanghai? Yes.  Why? Because Intel spend billions making sure that it would.  That means that for the forseeable future, Intel can rest on it’s laurels, not innovating nearly as much as it would have to if AMD were biting at it’s heels.  It also means that Intel sets the price, because AMD doesn’t have the resources to produce enough volume to drive the price down.

On a personal note, I would not honestly be shocked if Intel spent more money per year stepping on AMD than AMD actually had in REVENUE.  You honestly have to bear in mind the difference in size of these companies.  AMD is not the slightly smaller plucky underdog.  AMD is vastly, VASTLY smaller than Intel, and exist only because Intel lets them continue to do so. You can bet that every year at Intel, there is a meeting between people much more intelligent and worldly than I where the question is asked: “do we make more money by allowing AMD to continue to exist, or do we wipe them out for good, and just eat the anti-trust lawsuits?”

So please try to expand your minds beyond “AMD chips are not as good as Intel’s, thus this is all bollocks because who would buy AMD?!?!?!?!?oneoneone!!111!1oneone.”  Think about WHY AMD is so far behind, when they were, not that long ago, dramatically ahead.

Thank you, and good night.

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