Monday
Apr142008

iTunes FUD

I can't believe the sheer amount of misinformation floating around out there concerning iTunes. Yet again I'm showing off OS X to someone who is curious about how I use it and how it works. When the conversation turns to the iPhone, there's an immediate negative reaction regarding the necessity of using iTunes.

There are still people out there who believe that iTunes encodes everything it touches into some proprietary iTunes only format and doesn't read mp3's. Sigh.

Official announcement: iTunes can play back mp3 files.

iTunes depends on Quicktime for encoding and decoding of audio and video files. There's built-in support for a whole slew of standard formats. For a list of natively supported formats and when they were integrated into Quicktime at http://www.simnet.is/klipklap/quicktime/. On top of this list you can install Perian which adds a series of codecs to Quicktime to gives iTunes support for the following additional formats:

  • AVI, FLV, and MKV file formats
  • MS-MPEG4 v1 & v2, DivX, 3ivX, H.264, FLV1, FSV1, VP6, H263I, VP3, HuffYUV, FFVHuff, MPEG1 & MPEG2 Video, Fraps, Windows Media Audio v1 & v2, Flash ADPCM, Xiph Vorbis (in Matroska), MPEG Layer II Audio
  • AVI support for: AAC, AC3 Audio, H.264, MPEG4, and VBR MP3

If you're using iTunes to encode or rip your CD collection, you have the following choices:

  • AAC
  • AIFF
  • Apple Lossless
  • MP3
  • WAV

The only incompatibilities that you might run into are when you are dealing with DRM protected files purchased from the iTunes Store. It's worth noting that there a portion of the music sold on the iTunes store is available without DRM and as such is completely portable. But even with iTunes DRM protected music, you have the right to burn a copy to CD which you can play in any regular CD player, or re-import into your iTunes (or other) library in the format that you prefer.

Thursday
Apr102008

ESXi 3.5

Just in the middle of a VMware presentation where someone has finally explained clearly where it fits in the grand scheme of things.

I understood that in larger environments, the ability to drop-in new hardware resources without requiring your technicians to deploy the OS on local disks (although that is pretty easy to automate) was supposed to be the primary appeal. Going against it is the lack of Service Console for larger enterprises who have fairly well evolved supervision and management toolkits that install in the Service Console.

Until today, nobody was able to explain exactly what you actually got with ESXi. I was completely lost with the questions of price and licencing and now I think I get it. The option for having ESXi 3.5 included with your new server will come either free or for a nominal cost. Start thinking about ESXi as the free replacement for VMware Server or Virtual Server. You get rid of the OS and for free (or close to it) you can do server consolidation on local storage. It remains to be seen if there are technical locks that block you from using remote storage or if that's done on the honor system. You manage the server directly using the VIClient, which is a big step up from the web interfaces for the current generation of free servers.

Each ESXi server in this mode is an autonomous server, but you can take advantage of all the really cool bits of the VI3 toolkit by buying Virtual Center and the associated ESX licences based on what you plan to use it for. So get a real free hypervisor (which is intended to push back the idea of Xen as a free solution) and a clearly defined upgrade path.

Side note - I like the new naming conventions. It's a lot clearer that Server denotes applications installed on a host OS, ESX includes the Service Console and ESXi is embedded. Although wouldn't "ESXe" have made more sense?

Monday
Apr072008

Virtualizing Citrix?! » Yellow Bricks

Virtualizing Citrix?! » :

"This is also something that’s new to me, VMware is also doing intra-VM page sharing besides inter-VM page sharing"

(Via Yellow Bricks .)

Whoa! Now that is something that is obvious in hindsight, but absolutely astounding when you think about it. Lots of clients ask about the viability of virtualising Citrix servers on an ESX platform and there are a number of reasons why this can be useful like being able to easily clone servers to increase capacity and ensure that you get the exact configuration with all of the little tuning tweaks, avoiding some of the internal bottlenecks of Windows etc. However, this particular idea flew by under my radar. While inter-VM page sharing can result in some significant memory savings, a Citrix server has a whole lot of similar pages due to the fact that it's hosting a number of practically identical logon sessions. In hindsight it's obvious that ESX shouldn't care about the source of a give memory page when it does the shared memory consolidation. The net result is that you can run significantly more user sessions with the same amount of physical memory with Citrix running on ESX.
Saturday
Apr052008

Brazen Careerist obviously never worked as a developer

Via The Lone Sysadmin. :

Writing without typos is totally outdated » Brazen Careerist by Penelope Trunk Interesting rant. Personally, typos bother me a lot. Having them in your document distracts me from your point. Enough of them and I stop reading. Many other people are like me. Do you want to run the risk of me being the guy you submit your resume to?
I have to agree with Bob Plankers here - I admit that when I'm in a hurry typos can slip through but that I do work at trying to stamp them out. I think that those of us that have done any development understand that compilers do not forgive typos, and that the language parser in the heads of your readers is based on a certain rule-set and that when you break those rules, the parser is going to give you different (unpredictable) results. Every language has it's rules and ignoring them leads to failures of communication. While mistakes will happen it is worth spending a moment to proof-read your own work, and if you're high profile enough, an editor is not out of the question. My favorite typo in the article was from the paragraph :
I am extremely knowledgeable about grammar. I can parse any sentence. I can sign the preposition song in my sleep. So I feel fine telling you that there are great writers who don’t know grammar.

My first thought was "you're the author of the preposition song and are signing copies?" which then went to "oh, you're signing the preposition song for the deaf" to "Ooooohhhh - 'sing' the preposition song - that makes a lot more sense".

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