Sunday, February 24, 2013

When Clouds Go Thump

Almost a year ago Microsoft's Azure product had a global service failure.

It's happened again.

On the evening of February 22, 2013 Microsoft's Azure Service Dashboard had the following notice:
Storage is currently experiencing a worldwide outage impacting HTTPS operations (SSL traffic) due to an expired certificate. HTTP traffic is not impacted. We are validating the recovery options before implementing them. Further updates will be published to keep you apprised of the situation. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes our customers.
The color is Microsoft's.

Most of the time when I went to the Azure Service Dashboard this is what I got.

Here's what triggered it.

Source: Windows Azure Forum on MSDN

MJFara, one of the posters (identified as a "Partner"), hit the nail on the head.

This is unacceptable, I'm supposed to release an enterprise app on this platform?
Imagine how many phone calls I would have gotten by now from very angry customers.
The Register's summary:
It is the opinion of The Register that to have a core service fail in every data center across the world simultaneously is an extremely bad thing to happen to a cloud provider.
From my posting last year:
What I want to highlight is that cloud providers are not immune from service failures. They are likely capable of providing more redundant and resilient services than many organizations can provide.
Unfortunately this failure demonstrates that Microsoft doesn't seem to be "capable of providing more redundant and resilient services."

Go back and reread MJFara's comments. Think about it.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Powerline Ethernet Adapter II

Recently I mentioned that I was looking to upgrade my Powerline Ethernet Adapter from the Netgear XET1001 to something faster.

BestBuy had the Actiontec PWR500 for $50 so I bought 2 sets.

My installation experience was the same as with the Netgear. Just plug them in and they work. I didn't even have to do anything to the TiVo or router. And the one at the TiVo end is plugged into a power strip.

All 3 lights went instantly green. The Actiontec FAQ says that the "LK" light indicates the transmission speed. Green means "100Mbps+". Nice.


The second set I bought was to replace the TiVo - Wireless-N Network Adapter used on the other TiVo.

In this location the "LK" light is orange. This indicates the network speed is "50-99Mbps". This is noticeably faster than the TiVo wireless adapter and very acceptable for streaming HD content within the house.

To be fair, I tried a Netgear XET1001 in this same location. I wouldn't even connect.

I also want to share the relative size of the Netgear and the Actiontec.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Transcode Contest

After my discovery of Pavtube's HD Video Converter I wanted to compare the transcoding of HD Video Converter and Handbrake.

I took a ripped DVD and transcoded it to iPhone 4.

ProductTimeFile SizeFormatResolution
HD Video Converter9 mins.624,569KBmpeg4640x480
Handbrake46 min.689,317KBH.264720x480

There are a couple of other differences. Handbrake would use the ISO file as input. For HD Video Converter I had to mount the ISO (using Microsoft's Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel) and then navigate to the VIDEO_TS folder and select the VOB files.

Here's what the HD Video Converter output file looked like:

And here's what the Handbrake output file looked like:

Sunday, February 03, 2013

TV Wiring Diagram

I just realized that I hadn't documented my TV wiring in over 5 years.

I've become a big fan of TiVos. They really simplify my TV wiring. Now the cable input goes direct to the TiVo. HDMI means that I can avoid the clutter of S-video and audio cables. I use HDMI connections to the TiVo and the DVD (I still haven't jumped to Blu-Ray).

As discussed earlier I'm using a 85 Mbps Powerline ethernet adapter. It's still working fine but I am watching for a set of the 500 Mbps models.

After Christmas I picked up a 1 TB Western Digital My DVR Expander to add storage to the TiVo.

I've also put a TiVo in the master bedroom. Without a DVD the wiring is even simpler.

For network connectivity I use the TiVo Wireless N Adapter. That does fine for the TiVo electronic program guide but really doesn't have enough bandwidth for streaming to the den TiVo. As a work around I transfer programs and watch them when the transfer is done. A third 500 Mbps Powerline ethernet adapter will go here.