Sunday, December 15, 2019

Stop/Start Killer

Different manufacturers have different terms for this technology. In summary what it does is kill the engine when you stop while still in gear, e.g. at a stoplight. Then when you release the brake the engine will restart. Let's just say that this is not a very popular feature in newer vehicles.

I had wrestled with this new-fangled technology when I was shopping for an SUV in late 2017. I actually bought a lower model SUV to avoid this technology.

3 years later my daughter bought a 2019 Chevrolet Traverse. Needless to say it had this Stop/Start feature. While it irritated her she tolerated it.


She had an aftermarket DVD system installed. When the engine restarted as she released the brake the DVD system sensed the voltage drop and powered down. This didn't sit well with her 3-year old.

The organization that had installed the DVD system performed all the tricks that they had with no resolution.

I acquired SmartStopStart from The method of installation was to install the device inline with the sensor for the hood. It worked by tricking the ECU into thinking that the hood was open when the engine started. This succeeded in defeating the Stop/Start and the engine keep running. However, the remote start capability no longer worked. The vendor worked closely with me but couldn't overcome the loss of remote start. I returned the device.

Then I came across the Start/Stop Disabler from Range Technologies. The method of installation was even easier that SmartStopStart. It simply plugs into the OBD2 port under the dash.

And it works perfectly.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

32,766, 32,767, 32,768, BANG

That's the sound of your data becoming permanently unreadable.

Calm down. Unless you have a RAID system populated with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Serial-Attached SCSI solid-state drives.
HP Enterprise (HPE) recently confirmed that some SAS interface SSD has a serious BUG, will be the total power-up time accumulated to 32768 hours (3 years, 270 days 8 hours) after hanging up directly, the result is that the disk storage content is all disappeared, and can not be recovered. - from small tech news
While this almost certainly doesn't affect consumer systems, the risk for enterprise customers is very real.

And think through this. If an enterprise had populated a RAID system with these drives and turned them on at the same time (as would be normal), ALL of the drives in the RAID system would fail simultaneously. There goes your data.

Bad news.

Worse, these drives were made by an unnamed supplier. The same problem could manifest in other brands of drives.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

A Fool and His Data Are Soon Parted

Azure just keeps having problems. And a recent incident happened while their CEO was speaking at a conference in Sydney "focused on showing off how Microsoft's cloud technology can have a transformative impact on businesses."

While it's easy to pile on with Azure, the situation is endemic to the cloud environment. Not withstanding my recent post, cloud implementations still carry significant risks. The article states:
While cloud technology can have a massive impact on the way businesses run, as we are currently witnessing, it can also create new headaches when things don’t work how they’re supposed to.
And this was the second Microsoft cloud outage in 24 hours.

Really worrisome to me is that the Microsoft Office portal wasn't responsive.

As usual the comments are the most interesting. Clearly some are trolls but some are really to the point.
captain goodvibes
Anyone who trusts cloud technology to store data risks it disappearing into thin air. The only way to safely store data is on a hard drive. To paraphrase an old adage, a fool and his data are soon parted.
The problem is for a lot of organisations is that they are too small to safely and economically run their ICT. Large vendors can provide resilience, security, and responsive services easier. And no, I don’t work for Microsoft, but I have worked in outsourcing :-) so I know the numbers
If your business model is a monopoly, make sure your cr*p works.
I spent most of my career in IT, I just do not understand why anyone would trust another company to manage all of their business critical data off site....
Yeah, worry about your business critical data.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

But Can You Do Better Than This

If you've been reading this blog, you know that I worry about cloud availability.

However, most of the time the big cloud providers have more availability and redundancy capability than almost any enterprise can provide.

For an example, Microsoft recently had an outage of its Multifactor Authentication (MFA) for Azure and Office 365 users in North America,

There's a report on it here. And here's Microsoft's Root Cause Analysis.

Go read the Next Steps. Here's #1:
  1. Fine-grained fault domain isolation work has been accelerated. This work builds on the previous fault domain isolation work which limited this incident to North American tenants. This includes:
  • Additional physical partitioning within each Azure region.
  • Logical partitioning between authentication types.
  • Improved partitioning between service tiers.
Do you think your enterprise could add "Additional physical partitioning," "Logical partitioning between authentication types," and "Improved partitioning between service tiers?"

If you could, you must be in the Fortune 100. And that's just the first bullet of actions.

These outages from the cloud providers get a lot of publicity but unless you're a mega-scale enterprise any of them are way more capable than you'll ever hope to be.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

The Cloud is Full

Recently ZDNet's  All About Microsoft reported that Microsoft Azure customers had reported hitting virtual machine limits in U.S. East regions.
This is scary.

There were a small number of comments (7) that related that they had had the same experience. Here is a typical comment.
Happened to me. I tried to deploy a new SQL database in eastus2 2 weeks ago only to be greeted by an error. Opened a tickets and was basically told there was nothing they could do. Escalated the issue with our TAM which also could not get approval for 1 database to deploy. I was asking for the smallest database they offer (s0) and was told we couldn't have it. No communication before, no warning emails, no blog posts, nothing in the service dashboards, even our account team didn't know anything about it. Completely blindsided me and delayed development on an app for a week while i could move resources to another region. Unacceptable and definitely does not live up to promises made!
There's a reddit thread on this here.
We've faced this issue in North Europe, East US and West US 2. This has just started happening over the last couple of weeks and what's even more frustrating is, we already have sufficient quota allocated to us, but, our users haven't been able to deploy their machines even when within this quota.
This issue hasn't blown up so either it has been resolved or customers were able to work around it as GetNrDone did.

Regardless this is another consideration for using anyone's cloud services. I'd even suggest trying to putting a clause in your contract that guaranteed x% of available capacity on the vendor's part. I'd bet that none of the vendors would accept that but that would at least make the vendor play their cards.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Cloud Management Skills

Recently McAfee published a report on cloud adoption and risk. The Register did a review of the McAfee study.

The Register concluded:
The ongoing rash of data leaks caused by misconfigured clouds is the result of companies having virtually no visibility into how their cloud instances are configured, and very little ability to audit and manage them.
That's really scary. But it supports my concerns that moving workload to the cloud doesn't eliminate work/effort, i.e. manpower, but rather changes the skills required.

An organization should thoroughly understand the skills change that moving to the cloud brings.

These changes may be addressed with training but may require changing personnel to acquire the appropriate skills. These changes and the change management time and effort should be incorporated in the project timeline and budget for cloud implementation.

McAfee observed:
It’s possible the speed of cloud adoption is putting some practitioners behind.
The number 1 cause of cloud security issues noted by McAfee was "Lack of staff with the skills to secure cloud infrastructure."

That entire list is a good reference when considering moving workload to the cloud.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Nebo Professional Note-Taking

I had promised more about my new iPad so here it is.

One of my primary objectives for any tablet is to be able to take handwritten notes on it. I even tried that on my Asus Transformer Mini. I used MyScript's Nebo on it but it's a Windows tablet and you know how that is.

So the new iPad supports the Apple pencil technology. Of course I wouldn't buy an Apple pencil. That'd be too easy and expensive.

I ended up with a Adonit Note stylus for half the price of the Apple pencil..

Then I needed a handwriting app. My search kept coming back to MyScript's Nebo. While I wasn't wild about the $10 price I knew from my own experience that it would work well.

And it does.

The following slide show walks through a couple of the help screens. Then you can see my handwriting and the real-time conversion to text. Then I exported it to OneDrive in .docx format.

It all works really well. There are a lot of formatting tricks that you can do but I just want to capture the text.