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All posts by jzb

Lo & Behold: It Just Works (with the Right Adapter…)

09 March 2014 by jzb

A while back, I bought a 4K monitor and set it up with a tower workstation because I had no luck getting it going with my main laptop, a ThinkPad T530.

I was not optimistic about the odds of getting the 4K monitor working with this laptop at all, especially not without the proprietary drivers. But, I had noticed some discussion about an “active” Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter working where others hadn’t. I had to pick a few things up at MicroCenter today, and managed to find one such adapter that was about $25. (The rest were about $10.)

Logged out of the desktop, unplugged the Cinema Display, and plugged in the 4K display. And, to borrow a phrase, “it just worked.”

Nice. Very, very nice. The adapter brand is Accell, by the way, if anybody else is looking to get a similar setup going.

Leave a comment | Categories: Fedora, Linux | Tags: , , ,

Your GNOME Tips, Tricks, and Such: Tell Me Them

09 March 2014 by jzb

GNOME Logo Decided to mix things up a bit and start using GNOME on Fedora 20 as my main desktop, at least until such time I get bored with it, annoyed with it, or something else catches my attention.

Had been using KDE as my desktop, and that was working just fine: I just decided to change things up a bit when I reconfigured my system recently. (Added a second SSD so I’d have room for a CentOS partition.)

First thing I did was install GNOME Tweak Tools, because… no minimize button makes me crazy. Whether it’s “better” to have a minimize button or not, I’ll leave to UX/UI folks to debate. What I know is I’ve been using window managers of some type or another for more than 20 years that have a minimize button, and while this old dog isn’t too old to learn new tricks, I’m choosy about which tricks I’m willing to spend the time learning.

Added Guake because a drop-down terminal is a nice thing to have. Added Pidgin because I prefer that to Empathy.

I will note, I’m using GNOME on my work-issued ThinkPad T530 with a 27″ Cinema Display connected (when I’m home). (Nice of the Lenovo folks to have a Mini DisplayPort connector on these…) If I recall correctly, GNOME got dinged for poor multi-monitor support some releases ago. If that was actually a problem, it seems to be handled by now. Everything is working quite well in that regard.

What GNOME extensions would you recommend? Any tips, tricks, or hidden gems might I find in current GNOME that are worth looking for?

12 comments | Categories: Fedora, Linux | Tags: ,

Looking Forward to ApacheCon, CentOS Dojo Denver, and CloudStack Collaboration Conference in April

06 March 2014 by jzb

In just a bit more than a month, the mile-high city is going to play host to a triple-feature of open source IT goodness:

Starting April 7th and running through the 11th, you’ll have a chance to connect with folks developing and deploying some of the most used infrastructure in the world. Apache Web server? Check. Apache Hadoop? Check. Lucene, Solr, Libcloud, Kafka, Cordova…? Check, check… well you get the idea. Also CentOS and Apache CloudStack.

The schedule for each of these events is outstanding. Oh, and I managed to sneak in a few talks as well. I’ll be doing a talk at each:

You really, really don’t want to miss this year’s ApacheCon, and stay for the Dojo and CloudStack Collab because they’re also going to be chock full of goodness. You can register for ApacheCon here, and register for the CentOS Dojo for just $50 through March 20 and add the CCC registration there as well. Or just register for the CentOS Dojo on April 10th separately if you can only make one day.

Have questions about any of the events? Drop me a note by email or hit me up on Twitter, happy to try to help or find the right person.  Hope to see you in Denver!

Leave a comment | Categories: Apache, DevOps, Fedora | Tags: , , , , , ,

Why PR Spam Makes Me Crazy…

18 February 2014 by jzb

It’s been nearly two years since I stopped working as press, yet I still get pitches almost daily from “pray and spray” PR folks – almost always about things that I wouldn’t have covered even if I was still doing my old beats.

One of the reasons this makes me crazy is obvious: I don’t need more email to sort through. I get plenty of email to sort through as it is, I don’t need spam from PR folks who can’t be bothered to keep a decent list of press. What makes it worse is that they often will do the “just making sure you saw this” follow-up w/in 24 hours if I just hit delete. (Few things strike me as more entitled than PR folks who think they’re owed a response from a person they’ve never corresponded with before and they haven’t done their homework enough to know that you’re not even in their target demographic.)

Aside from that, though, it makes me crazy because it’s a reminder just how lousy tech press has become in general. There’s no attempt to build relationships with tech press these days for the most part, because there’s damn little real journalism going on. The bulk of stories are reactionary – Acme Corp did Y today, so we’ll put up a 600-word post about it that only skims the surface and never revisit the topic again, unless it’s an outrage post of some sort that has a lifetime of a few days.

It also makes me crazy because people get paid ridiculous amounts of money to… spam journalists. I’ve seen the rates offered by third-party firms that spam me, and they’re ridiculous when you take into account what they actually do. Companies should be paying PR people who have contacts in the industry, who know and understand the products they’re pitching, and know the publications.

If you’re doing tech PR and you can’t name the current masthead of publications that are important to your client you have no business in the industry. If a person has left a publication and you still don’t know about it months later, you have no business being in the industry. Seriously, how can you be responsible for relationships with, say, ReadWriteWeb and not notice that someone’s posting frequency has gone from three times a day to zero for months? You’re clearly not paying attention to what they’re writing about, how can you possibly be effective in pitching them?

Finally, it makes me crazy because one of the reasons the tech press sucks so much these days is there’s damn little money to pay people to do good coverage. And one of the reasons there’s damn little money is because it’s been diverted from advertising to ineffective social media and PR campaigns from over-priced firms that aren’t doing their damn job! So tech companies are basically shooting themselves in the foot, paying huge retainers to PR folks and skimping on supporting the publications that … they’re paying the ineffective PR firms to get coverage in. Then they’re surprised when they don’t seem to be getting good coverage. Sigh.

Leave a comment | Categories: Random | Tags: ,

Brief Review: Seiki 4K 39″ TV/Monitor

25 January 2014 by jzb

Just a bit ago, I blogged about getting a 4K monitor working on Fedora 20. Now that I’ve had a bit of time with the monitor, I wanted to comment on the experience a little.

Reviews on various sites really bagged on this monitor’s color/clarity compared to traditional computer monitors. While I don’t doubt discerning users might find flaws in this monitor, it’s just fine for my use case. That is, I spend the day using IRC, a few terminals, Web browser, PDF reader, mail client, and maybe LibreOffice.

If I’m using any sort of image editing/photo editing software, it’s strictly for cropping and re-sizing. So, honestly, it doesn’t matter to me if things are perfectly color-calibrated or if it’s good for gaming.

Compared to my 27″ Apple Cinema Display, I’d give it a B- or C+ for picture quality. But a small sacrifice of picture quality is well worth the extra desktop space.

Daily Use

The productivity increase I got from the 4K monitor was so great, I finish my work in half the time and have been promoted twice in the last week.

Uh, OK… not really. But we geeks are always chasing that tiny productivity boost, or searching to zap annoyances in our work day – and I’m happy to say there has indeed been a productivity boost and some zapped annoyances.

You can’t really quantify the improvement you get from a new setup like this, but if I had to… I’d say it’s 10%, maybe 15% more productive. I find myself spending less times tabbing through things, I can actually have four to six things open at the same time for a task without any need to tab through windows and find something. Example: Planning the Infrastructure.Next events, I can have a few emails or Web browsers open that have speakers’ abstracts, the Lanyrd page for Infrastructure.Next @ SCALE and Infrastructure.Next @ Ghent, a terminal for using middleman to update Red Hat’s Open Source Community blog, and still keep an eye on IRC/IM.

Ergonomics

The 39″ monitor is the same distance as the 27″ monitor, which admittedly is not the best layout ergonomically. The top and far right/left of the monitor are just high/far enough away that it’s slightly uncomfortable. I’d like to push the monitor back about another six to eight inches, but there’s not room on my desk.

Annoyances

A few annoyances with the setup so far.

First, the power management and Fedora don’t seem to get along. I had to turn off power management in KDE, because either Fedora was crashing, or the monitor wasn’t waking up again or taking a signal after KDE put the display to sleep.

The monitor has a sleep feature that kicks in at a regular interval, and the option to turn it off is greyed out in its menu. So, every few hours I get a overlay display on the monitor telling me it’s going to sleep in 60 seconds. So I grab the remote, mash a button, and it stays awake. (Or if I’m not at the computer, I have to power it on again when I get back to the desk.)

Not a huge deal, but also a bit annoying.

It has a PC input for sound, but I haven’t found a way to select that input while also using HDMI, which is annoying.

The only workable input to get the 4K resolution is HDMI. I’d like to use DisplayPort, but that’s not an option for this display. I’ve read a bit about “active” DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapters that might let me use the laptop DisplayPort successfully, and I’m going to try that soon.

tl;dr

For my use, the positives outweigh the negatives, though I debate whether I should have waited for the Dell 4K monitors. Higher cost, but probably better quality and easier to set up.

But, you get what you pay for. The Seiki is cheap and available now. It works well enough that I’m sure I’ll get quite a bit of use out of it. Worst case scenario, I could always use it as a TV if 4K ever really becomes a thing for Blu Ray/streaming video and replace it with a Dell or another proper 4K monitor when they become more available.

If you spend all day at the computer, I’d strongly recommend checking it out.

Leave a comment | Categories: DevOps, Fedora | Tags: , , , , , ,

Venue Change for London Cloud Summit

21 January 2014 by jzb

Just a bit over a week before the London Cloud Summit for 29 January, and we have a great line-up of speakers for the event.  One small housekeeping note, we’ve had a venue change from Shoreditchworks to The Bakery, which is here:


View Larger Map

If you haven’t signed up yet, there are a few seats left, so grab your ticket today:

Full schedule on Lanyrd.

Leave a comment | Categories: Fedora, Gluster

The 4K Desktop on Fedora

16 January 2014 by jzb

Seiki 4K on Fedora

Seiki 4K on Fedora

Like a lot of folks, I caught the “4K is for Programmers” post off Hacker News a few days ago (it’s here, but the link seems to be borked at the moment) and got to thinking about more desktop space. Much more.

My current setup, when not traveling, involves a 27″ 2560×1440 display – usually connected to my laptop. Even with that, I found myself tabbing through windows too often balancing terminal windows, browser windows, and mail.

Eventually I decided it was worth a shot, and ordered the Seiki 4K 39″ (SE39UY04) off Amazon. Unfortunately, didn’t seem to have much luck getting it going with my existing video card in the workstation or my laptop, so I wound up ordering a EVGA GeForce GTX760, and slapped that into the workstation.

It takes a few steps to get it going at its full resolution on Fedora 20, at least with my setup:

  1. Install the nVidia drivers as explained in this F19 nVidia install/un-install guide.
  2. As shown in this forum post, add a line to /etc/X11/xorg.conf in the Device section with several options that are needed to pass the right resolution:Option "ModeValidation" "AllowNon60hzmodesDFPModes, NoEDIDDFPMaxSizeCheck, NoVertRefreshCheck, NoHorizSyncCheck, NoDFPNativeResolutionCheck, NoMaxSizeCheck, NoMaxPClkCheck, AllowNonEdidModes, NoEdidMaxPClkCheck"
  3. Add the file /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/10-monitor.conf, with this content:
    Section "Monitor"
      Identifier "Monitor0"
      Modeline "3840x2160" 307.00 3840 4016 4104 4400 2160 2168 2178 2250 +hsync +vsync
    EndSection
    Section "Screen"
      Identifier "Screen0"
      Device "HDMI-0"
      Option "ModeValidation" "AllowNon60hzmodesDFPModes, NoEDIDDFPMaxSizeCheck, NoVertRefreshCheck, NoHorizSyncCheck, NoDFPNativeResolutionCheck, NoMaxSizeCheck, NoMaxPClkCheck, AllowNonEdidModes, NoEdidMaxPClkCheck"
      Monitor "Monitor0"
      DefaultDepth 24
      SubSection "Display"
        Depth 24
        Modes "3840x2160" "1920x1080"
      EndSubSection
    EndSection

And that’s really it. Once I logged out and back in, it automagically detected the highest resolution and set the monitor to it.

Is the picture as nice as the 27″ Cinema Display? No. But it works fine, and after some tweaking (turn the Sharpness to 0, use the User preset) it’s a respectable picture.

I also tested plugging in the 27″ display and the 39″ display at the same time… yep, they both work. So if I can clear enough space on the desk, I’ll have waaay too much desktop space to play with. It has four outputs: HDMI, DisplayPort, and two DVI. I may see if it can drive all four just for grins, though I can’t imagine using that setup all day.. or having space for it on my desktop.

Given that the 4K post seemed to spark a lot of conversation, I do hope we’ll start seeing some focus on higher resolution monitors in the near future. We’ve been stuck for a few years with stagnant pricing on higher resolution displays (e.g. 2560×1440 displays) and not many options. Looking forward to working with the new biggie-sized desktop.

5 comments | Categories: Fedora, Gluster, Linux | Tags: , , ,

4K and Fedora?

12 January 2014 by jzb

Decided that mere 2560×1440 resolution was just not cutting it on the desktop, so I ordered a 39″ Seiki 4K monitor on Amazon. Should be arriving tomorrow. Wondering if anyone else in Fedoraland has set one of these puppies up, and if so – what video card and drivers you’re using?

I have a Dell dual-Xeon workstation with a nVidia Quadro NVS 295. A bit of googling suggests that it might have trouble driving something with a resolution higher than 2560×1600. Any experience with this video card and Fedora would also be welcome!

2 comments | Categories: Fedora, Linux | Tags: , , , ,

FOSDEM Distributions Developer Room: Call for Participation

03 December 2013 by jzb

FOSDEM LogoOnce again, FOSDEM will have a cross-distribution miniconference on 1 & 2 February 2014. We’d like to invite submissions of talks, Birds of a Feather (BoF) sessions, or round-table discussions from any interested representatives of Linux distributions or individuals who have a topic of interest related to Linux distributions.

Proposals should be submitted through the FOSDEM proposal system (Pentabarf) here:

https://penta.fosdem.org/submission/FOSDEM14

You’ll add your session title, speaker bio, and abstract for the talk. If you’ve presented or submitted at FOSDEM previously, you should have an account in Pentabarf. If you haven’t created an account, but have presented at FOSDEM previously please contact me before creating an account – the odds are you have an account that was created previously by the FOSDEM organizers.

Deadline for submissions is 22 December 2013. Since we’re on a tight timeline, this is unlikely to be extended.

In addition to speakers, we also need one moderator for each day, and a video volunteer for each day. The moderator will introduce the speaker, keep time, and pass the microphone around for questions. The video volunteer will handle recording of sessions with provided equipment. (Don’t worry, we’ll also provide training as well.)

The call for participation is going out a bit late, so please do speak up quickly if you’re interested in participating! Also, please do help spread the word so we can ensure the best possible program for this year’s FOSDEM.

1 comment | Categories: Apache, Fedora, Linux | Tags: , , , ,

First Impressions at AWS re:Invent

14 November 2013 by jzb

Last year I attended AWS re:Invent, kinda, sorta. We were in Las Vegas to put on the first Apache CloudStack conference and most of my time and brainpower were consumed with last-minute planning for that event. I did spend time in the developer area, on exhibit floor, and some of the after-parties – but it wasn’t a usual conference for me.

This year, I’m actually not consumed with pre-conference planning (though the CloudStack Collaboration Conference is happening next week in Amsterdam, and I’m sad I won’t be able to attend), so I’ve been paying attention to re:Invent.

Generally, I tend to attend more community/FOSS and techie shows than big vendor blow-outs like AWS re:Invent. The very scale of the event is really impressive, and I have to give Amazon kudos for the slickness of the presentations and how smoothly the event is running. The registration, for instance, was totally slammed on day one – yet they kept the lines moving really well and even had a DJ (!) playing tunes in the corner to make the wait a little better.

The content on the other hand… well, it’s a bit generic and the keynote yesterday was definitely not what I was hoping for or expecting. First, I was surprised and disappointed at the amount of time Amazon spent calling out competitors (IBM, for an admittedly silly marketing stunt) and dissing private cloud. Does Amazon offer a solution that’s really appealing for certain applications or certain types of companies? Yup. Is public cloud ever going to be the majority of the compute market? I’m not convinced.

The keynote yesterday felt like a plea to enterprise, and way too much preaching to the converted and marketing fluff that we already knew anyway. Yeah, we get it: AWS is big, lots of customers (oooh, pretty NASCAR slides) and so forth. At least they did announce a few new services during the keynote, so attendees got a little excitement.

For me, the biggest part of any event is the “hallway track.” On one hand, it’s pretty good here because there’s about 9,000 people – you can easily find interesting people who are doing fun stuff with AWS and other tech, so that’s been good.

The bad, really bad, is the conference scheduling site is terrible and there’s no attendee directory whatsoever. I was doubly disappointed when I looked on Lanyrd and found only about 40 people signed up. It would have been great if I could have searched a directory (opt-in, of course) to try to connect with people ahead of time to meet and talk about their cloud usage.

Maybe next year. Overall, I think re:Invent is worth the time, money, and trip if you’re using AWS or are trying to disrupt AWS – but there are a number of things Amazon could do to make the conference more friendly for attendees and partners.

Leave a comment | Categories: Apache, Fedora, Gluster, Linux | Tags: , ,

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