Archive for the ‘tech’ category

White House website

January 20th, 2009

Shortly after the inauguration of President Barack Obama I visited the official White House website.  It sure didn’t take long for them to transition here…

Whitehouse.gov 1pm central today

CNN and Facebook Inauguration Webcast

January 20th, 2009

Watching a Presidential inauguration is always a fascinating experience for me. Watching a usually somber outgoing President and then looking with hope to the new President always makes me wonder what those individuals are thinking in that moment. 

 I like the pomp and circumstance, the protocol, the orchestrations of an inauguration. It really is remarkable to witness such a peaceful and orderly governmental transition. I watching it on a shaky internet feed from CNN.com through Facebook. Clearly CNN was not prepared to scale their feed to serve the likely millions of simulaneous web viewers. The Facebook side of the event seemed more stable and frankly pretty intrguing in watching my “friends” update their statuses in realtime, mimicing a chat. The CNN video feed was choppy at best, frozen and contanstanly buffering in spite of my T1 connection. The audience for this webcast was probably off the charts; unprecedented, so perhaps they did ok.  But in no way was it a smooth video experience.

Web Hosting Review

October 6th, 2008

My work in the IT industry exposes me to many different technology areas. The company I work for is primarily a Network Systems Integrator, serving small/medium sized business in greater Chicagoland. Our system engineers work in the field installing, maintaining and trouble-shooting server-based network systems. We offer limited web services but do not consider web hosting a core competency. That said, I’ve come to learn a lot about the “plumbing” of web techologies over my career.

When I decided to launch this blog and some other hobby sites, I researched carefully the myraid options available for web hosting – including do it for “free” on my company’s servers. After researching many providers, I recalled seeing a big ad for 1 and 1 Internet Services in Business Week, a small/medium business focused magazine. They claimed to be the World’s Largest Web Hosting Company, but I really had not heard of them before. I learned they are actually based in Germany and technically are Europe’s largest web host, but with a growing presence in America.

I signed up with them almost a year ago and have launched a number of sites and blogs – including CubHub.net and this site. Their pricing structure is astonishingly affordable, the tools and options inluded with even thier most basic hosting packages are excellent, and unlike many hosting companies, 1&1 offers telephone based technical support.  Being able to get someone on the phone for technical or account questions is a huge benefit for even technically savvy people like me. No one has all the answers, and being able to access live support has been great.  I’ve called in on 3 or 4 issues related to enhancements and tools they provide and once with an account question.  Each encounter has been quickly responded to and resolved.  I can’t say enough about how good my support experience with 1&1 has been.

Today I see an article in Information Week on 1&1’s new Data Center near Kansas City. It features capacity for 40,000 rackmounted servers, redundant multi-Gigabit fibre links, and a backup power generator that can run for a week with the fuel on hand.  This is a serious facility. 

If you are in the market for your own blog or to host a website, you can’t go wrong with 1 and 1 Internet. (note: If you click through from my 1&1 link, I get a credit toward my bill – that’s all good!)

1&1’s new data center   1&1’s new data center   1&1’s backup power generator

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Marketing and Social Media

July 30th, 2008

For much of this year I have been learning the ins & outs of this whole Web 2.0 social media thing. I have blogs, accounts with Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn, and for years have been a podcast enthusiast. The attraction for me is being an active participant as well as an interested observer of how communication is evolving.

Fascinating how text-oriented people have become in how they communicate. From phone-based texting, to reading and writing blogs, to the little snippet updates on Facebook or Twitter, text is becoming an overwhelmingly popular way to communicate. For me, I find myself having to be very selective of what I choose to read because there is just so much out there. Information overload is a constant battle for me – a guy who has an enormous appetite for information. No wonder the older set pushes back so vehemently on technology. My parents read the paper every day and watched the evening news and that was about it.  Now data is coming at us in a constant stream and finding ways to sift through it seems to be where the magic is.  This brings me to web search…

Google is the dominant player in Search (~60% market share compared to Yahoo at ~25% and Microsoft at ~15%).  They have some very interesting initiatives going on that from a sociological perspective is fascinating. Things like offering free 411 directory assistance inquiries so they can document both who people want to call and to record their voice with accent and dialect to build a database for future voice recognition use. Their idea is to simply offer the free 411 instead of paying for access to someone else’s data.  Google wanting to build their own body of data and not even paying for it is genius.

So I am paying close attention to the trendsetters like Google and like Facebook to try and glimpse the genesis of this social mediarevolution as its unfolding before our very eyes. Marketing has always intrigued me but within the past year or so the entire landscape has been changing rapidly. Web users accepting the ubiquitous sponsorship/advertisements that seem to tag every part of every page (some much more than others) as a necessary component. 

On the web you really don’t get something for nothing as videos are either wrapped in an advertisement or perhaps even begin with a 15 second commercial that can’t be skipped. Links are usually sponsored so click-throughs are measured and counted so someone in the sky pays and gets paid. This is all now universally accepted as par for the course, meanwhile people using their DVR/TiVo setups at home usually skip commercial breaks rendering that method of promotion nearly obsolete.  Very interesting indeed to see all this play out. For me, I prefer ride-along ads over obtrusive, older methods. It’s less inconvenient and frankly more clever.

Blue Screen over Paris

February 14th, 2008

We’ve all likely experienced it at some point. It famously happened to Bill Gates at the gala launch of Windows 98.  And now the marquee at Paris Las Vegas resort crashes with the dreaded Windows BSoD (Blue Screen of Death):

Windows Crashes Las Vegas Hotel Sign