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As part of setting up a home office for my work for Solinea, I needed a large display.

My go-to display has been Apple’s Thunderbolt Display. It’s got Thunderbolt integration, (somewhat dated) Apple design esthetics, and the right pixel count. But other aspects of this three and one-half year old display aren’t so good. It’s $1K, heavier and bulkier than other (newer) displays, and the dated panels and electronics have some attributes (like response time, meh color saturation, visual reflections, and an immobile stand) that compare unfavorably to new monitors.

I looked around, and the tl;dr is that I selected a Dell U2751H 27″ monitor. Dell sells a boatload of monitors with different specs, and if you need superb color accuracy for graphics work, or a gaming display, or a 4K display, it’ll cost ya.  For run of the mill coding, this monitor is just what the doctor ordered!

A crisp display, swivel base, great ports (five USB 3.0, two HDMI, DisplayPorts, Mini DisplayPort, and no space wasted for VGA!). Its specs are great, with crisp 2560 x 1440 at 60Hz resolution. The price? $600 list. I bought it new for $555 from B & H Foto.

This is a better monitor than the Thunderbolt Display for 45% less cost.

Some fine print:

It took two weeks to arrive, vs. the four days it would have taken the Thunderbolt Display to arrive.

The packaging was OK, but not as slick as Apple’s packaging. Nobody does packaging like Apple.

The installation instructions weren’t as painless as those of the Thunderbolt Display. But they were OK.

It puts a DELL logo front and center. But this is easily fixed by a strip of black electrical tape. :-)

Buy this display!


My spouse traveled to Canada for a few days. She just went a few miles over the border into Vancouver, BC.

She neglected to add an international data plan to her mobile number before she left. Because of this, she racked up $300 of data charges in 24 hours.

Every wireless carrier has at least one, and you have to add it to your account before you travel outside the country, and then delete it when you return home. But, why? My carrier knows when I’m out of the country! In fact, multiple systems between my cellphone and my account know it!

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We had more fun with a vendor today.

We license a vendor’s services for corporate information, like annual revenue and office locations. Their name shall be kept confidential. I’ve written about them before.

About two weeks ago, we noticed a slowdown in our API calls into their system.

We asked them about it, and they replied that they would take a look. A bit later, they said they had found the problem and were working on a solution.

Today, after working on new code, I ran my unit tests. A few tests make calls to this vendor. (Yeah, I could have mocked out the calls. But there are good reasons to not mock out calls in unit tests.) I was surprised to see those tests now fail.

Curiously, they failed because the API calls returned the response, “Customer Disabled”.

Eh…. Wut?

I immediately switched to a browser window and tried a part of our product that used their API. I found that our product now failed with the same error. Uh oh.

I e-mailed the vendor and asked what’s up. Their answer:

We found that our service was being slowed down by your API calls. So we disabled your API key.

I am not kidding. Continue reading after you’ve caught your breath.
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At IP Street, most of our technology stack is open-source. Something happened last week that threw our components’ different design philosophies into stark relief.

We use Solr (with Zookeeper) for many of our search and pivot tasks, and Redis as a Swiss Army Knife. They do different things and have different consistency requirements. You can easily critique any juxtaposition as comparing apples to oranges. I think it’s instructive, because Solr and Redis are both high-performance, production-quality, and powerful tools.

Working on them within the same day, I experienced exact terminal opposites in configuration philosophy!

Let’s meet contestant number 1

Solr is a powerful search engine. Their Cloud feature lets you shard and scale your index, and Solr will do the internal shard and node routing. Or you can direct your queries to the appropriate node for a small performance win. Being short-handed understaffed frugal with our peons worker bees people, we let Solr do the routing. “Here’s a document, store it.” “I want this document.” “Here’s a pivot within a search, do it and assemble the results for me, pronto.” Etc.

Solr nodes are peers, though internally there are leaders and replicas. Solr uses Zookeeper, an Apache technology for distributed persistent configuration. Nodes do the right thing when other nodes come and go.
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I’m migrating my files and apps to my new MacBook Pro. A highly anticipated improvement was connecting my Drobo S to a USB 3.0 interface, instead of my previous laptop’s USB 2.0 bus.

During my migration, the Drobo Dashboard advised me that a Drobo firmware update was available. I did the update, which -boom- bricked my Drobo.

After trying rebooting, power-cycling the Drobo, and plugging it into the other USB socket, I’m at a point where Drobo Dashboard says the Drobo is healthy. But OS X won’t mount it. Disk Utility says:

Unable to bootstrap transaction group 6000: cksum mismatch
No valid commit checkpoint found
The volume xxxxxxx was found corrupt and needs to be repaired.
Problems were found with the partition map which may prevent booting
Error: This disk needs to be repaired. Click Repair Disk.

I then run Repair Disk, and it tells me the same thing! So Repair Disk can’t repair the disk!

I bought DiskWarrior (for $109, I’ll have you know) but it can’t repair a disk that isn’t mounted. They’ll ship me a physical CD-ROM of my purchase, so I can try booting from it. Oh, but wait, my MacBook Pro/Retina doesn’t have a CD-ROM drive!

I am not a happy camper.

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