Tag Archives: technology

I’m playing more with Noteshelf and thinking about how I use a whiteboard. And I’m noticing aspects of my sketching for the first time…

My drawings mutate a lot as I create them:

  • I’ll start out leaving space for objects (e.g., server boxes, database symbols), and then decide the objects need more space. (For practical or esthetic reasons.)
  • I’ll assign colors to different entities, and later change the color assignments.
  • I’ll start recording attributes A, B, and C for state transitions, and then decide to drop B and add attributes D and E.
  • It’s very rare that nothing has to change. But even then, I’ll wish I could move the whole diagram on the whiteboard or page in toto, because it’s grown in a direction or to an extent that I didn’t anticipate.

I often wish I could do a diagram twice — once as a dry run, once “for real.”

These alterations happen more often to my drawings than they do for others. At least, it seems that way to me.

I often need to diagram things at work. It’s usually something like a system block diagram, a gnarly code problem, or client-server interactions. Sometimes it’s just a list of things I’m comparing.

Whatever the diagram is, I need to the keep it around for a while. And refer to it, scribble on it, and update it. And sometimes share it.

Since “back in the day,” I’ve used a whiteboard for this. Or sometimes pages from a pad of graph paper. I’ll noodle around, sketch things out, and leave it up.

For sharing, I’ve resorted to snapping a photograph of the whiteboard with my iPhone. (Or a couple of photographs, which I then stitch together with AutoStitch.) If the photo’s not adequately square, I straighten it out with Genius Scan. And then e-mail it. The mail message can get pretty large, so this can be a nuisance.

Eventually the whiteboard needs to be erased, or is accidentally erased. Or I lose the graphing paper doodles, or decide to throw out the diagrams.

In December, I received an iPad 2 as a gift. And I’ve gotten around to thinking, why not step up my game and use the iPad for this? (Yeah, I’m being dramatic and rhetorical. Sorry. I’ll re-phrase: “I’ve decided to use the iPad for diagrams and simple drawings.”)

I haven’t completely figured out how I’ll do this. I’ll write about my experience here as I go down the learning curve, mistakes and all.
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I’ve got an odd problem. I create a 4 GB VM in the Rackspace Cloud with an Ubuntu 11.04 server image. After it’s created, I can’t ssh to it, and ping returns zero bytes.

I can get to it from the Rackspace dashboard console. But it’s not on the network. Creating a VM without a network is kind of useless.

I first alerted Rackspace to this over a week ago. It’s still present in our VMs, and now impacts our company in a very serious way. Rackspace says their Operations team has to check the host machine to fix this. You’d think this would be easy to isolate and resolve, but….nope.

Does anybody else have this problem?


Update: Rackspace confirmed this is a system-wide problem! Until it’s fixed, after I rebuild a VM I have to ask their customer support to goose the underlying host machine before it’ll respond to the network. Yikes.

Updated at 7/6/2011 1425: Whatdeyaknow, Ubuntu 11.04 just showed up on Rackspace’s server list.


Ubuntu released 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) back in April.

It’s now July, and 11.04 is still not available as a server image at Rackspace Cloud.

I’ve repeatedly asked Rackspace about 11.04′s availability. I always get the same answer back, which is, paraphrasing: “We need to do something to ensure it’s reliable in a VM environment. Please be patient.”

Fine. But, c’mon, it’s been a quarter of a year now.

Does anyone know if Rackspace dropped Ubuntu as a supported operating system, and hopes nobody will notice?

I tried AT&T tethering during my bus trip to PyCon 2011. My bus stayed on the highways, for the most part. The results:

  • It was trivial to set up
  • When it worked, it worked well
  • Through most of Washington State, all of Idaho, 95% of Montana — in fact, through most of all the way from Seattle to Milwaukee — I didn’t have a 3G signal at all. I had Edge, GPRS, or no signal
  • Tethering on 3G was fine. Tethering on Edge was slower, of course, but fine. I didn’t try tethering on GPRS


I filed a complaint about CLEAR with the WA Attorney General’s office.

Yesterday, about two weeks after I filed the complaint, someone from CLEAR calls me and is very apologetic. “We want to see if you’re having any more speed issues.”

We talk. He says let’s do another speed test. I say OK. He says we’ll do it whenever it’s convenient for you, any time, any day. I say OK, how about tomorrow at 7 am my time? He says OK, great, I’m very sorry for this Mr. DeRosa, I apologize for the inconvenience, etc. I say fine, shall I call you at the number I called just now? He says great, yes. Tomorrow at 7am.

Today at 7am I called his number.

Our technical support department is currently closed. Technical support is open from 9am to 10 pm, 7 days a week.

I tried calling three more times, until 7:20. Then it’s time to leave for work. Thanks, CLEAR.

(Read parts I, II, and III.)

Yesterday, I did another speed test with CLEAR‘s level 1 tech support. (I.e., the reps you get by dialing 1-888-888-3113.)

CLEAR’s support rep said they had done no work on my ticket, but they wanted to do another speed test anyway. Hrm. No work at all? None.

The results: My bandwidth is now about 5Mbit down, 1Mbit up. I no longer have a basis for a complaint, so I asked them to close my problem ticket.

Why is it now 5Mb/1MB, when three weeks ago it was 1/10th that? There’s no explanation. CLEAR claims they did no repairs that would have affected my connection. And I didn’t do anything here to affect it. Yet it’s much faster. It’s a mystery of God’s creation.

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