January 2012 - HighTechDad

January 2012

Post image for A Cloud For All Seasons – Picking the Right Cloud

Cloud computing can be very confusing. It can be abstractly discussed but also detailed to intricate levels. A few years ago, part of the reason why people weren’t adopting cloud computing was because they simply didn’t understand it and what it could do for them. And, a few years ago, the technology and services were relatively new and not as built-out and established as they are now.


In my previous posts of this series, I talked about what I thought would come in 2012 for cloud computing, I debunked a few common misstatements about the cloud and, I listed out some ways to make cloud computing work better for people. With this article, I’m going to break down some of the different types of clouds and explain how they might be used.

Because the cloud is relatively new to many businesses and individuals, I typically describe and explain it more as a generalist than a technologist. If you get into the weeds too quickly, you can frequently lose your audience. That is not my goal in this article. If you want to get into the geek speak about which hypervisor you should look for (hint: it doesn’t really matter), what type of I/O performance should you be achieving or how to configure a Cassandra DB cluster that spans multiple data centers with real-time replication, you aren’t going to find that here. I like to keep things moderately simple so that more people can understand and hopefully gain insights into why cloud computing might be the right choice for them.

This list is not complete, but should provide you with some of the most prevalent clouds out there. You, of course, have the daunting task of trying to decide which one works best for your business or personal needs. [click to continue…]


Post image for iOS 5 Tip: Using Siri As A Spell Checker and Spelling Assistant – Spelling Test Results!

For a few months now, I have been using the iPhone 4S and enjoying the wonders of Siri. There have been literally thousands of posts on tips and tricks that you can do with Siri (and I’m sure the one that I’m about to mention has been covered in some form or another). For those of you hiding under an anti-technology rock, Siri is a voice activated assistant that can help you find all sorts of information as well as act on a variety of voice commands.


So, I have been scratching my head on trying to find something “different” to use Siri for and I believe that I came up with something interesting and helpful – a spelling assistant.

I’m an absolute horrible speeler – sorry speller (groan). I am so lucky that spell check is built into just about every device around (computers & smart phones specifically). I’m more about simply getting the words down digitally and then fixing the errors after the content has flowed from my brain and to my fingers. Heck, I even type much faster than I can write (I hate hand-writing anything!). So, while it is nice that most words will be caught using a spell checker, sometimes you ARE actually hand writing something, or you know how a word sounds but for the life of you, can’t remember how it is spelled.

One time, after living a few months in Spain and speaking/thinking in Spanish, I actually forgot how to spell “of”. I had hand written “uv”. Wow! More recently, when I was typing out an article, I couldn’t remember how to spell “manure”. Whatever I typed, simply didn’t look right and when I tried to look it up in a Dictionary app, since I was so far off (e.g., “maneuare”) the Dictionary didn’t provide me any help.

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Post image for A Solid, Tech-Filled, All-Around Performer – 2011 Ford Explorer Test Drive

A few months ago, Sony and Ford Motors invited the Cast of Dads out to the East Coast to participate in a variety of events, one of them was driving a 2011 Ford Explorer (note, link is for the 2012 model) from Boston to NYC. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the event, and boy was I jealous. Part of my envy came from the fact that I couldn’t drive the Ford Explorer (you can read more about the excursion over at the Cast of Dads). Luckily, over the 2011 holidays, I did have the pleasure of getting behind the wheel of the 2011 Ford Explorer for a road trip to and from Los Angeles from the San Francisco Bay Area.


I’m pretty familiar with Ford and their push to enable technology behind the wheel. I have test driven the Ford Flex and the Lincoln MKX (which is essentially quite similar to the Ford Edge). But being able to experience the Explorer first hand was pretty important to me since it has been a long running model for Ford since 1990.


Image source: Wikipedia.com

Well, we are already in 2012 now, so how does the 2011 Ford Explorer stack up? Pretty darn well. It has plenty of technology to make a gadget-drooling dad happy as I barreled down the super boring stretch of the I-5. (If you haven’t driving the I-5 ever, you definitely aren’t in for any type of treat. It’s really boring and at times your auto is filled with the lovely stench of cow manure as you pass the cattle farms – you can also almost take a nap without turning the wheel as the I-5 seems to stretch on indefinitely.)

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Post image for 5 Ways To Make the Cloud Work for You

So you have heard about cloud computing but are not really sure what you can do with it. Or maybe, your only exposure to the cloud is what you have seen in ads or heard in the media. Let me tell you, what you see on TV is only a fraction of the cloud’s true power. I’m obviously a bit biased, as I work for a cloud infrastructure provider. But that also gives me the ability to really focus in on use cases that seem to be popular this day and age.

As I wrote in my previous article, there are some things that the cloud definitely is not. And, I would like to add that it is definitely not some sort of magical concoction that deploys and repairs itself. Cloud computing, just like traditional hosting, can have issues or outages if not approached and worked with properly. Think of it this way, if you were a football coach, you wouldn’t use your playbook at a baseball game, right? Obviously not. When working with the cloud, you need to design and build specifically for the cloud in order to take advantages of its capabilities and strengths.

With this article, I want to provide some ideas on ways to make cloud computing work for you. That is to say, some best practice suggestions and implementation ideas that can get you down the road toward success. The most important thing to remember when embarking on a cloud adventure is to know that no two cloud are the same. So if someone is trying to sell one a “one size fits all” type of solution, you might want to consider a different vendors.

1) Choose the Right Cloud Layer – In my previous article, I briefly outlined the distinct layers of cloud computing: Application, Platform and Infrastructure. When you are thinking about adopting a cloud strategy, you need to be sure that you select the right layer for your architecture as they can be dramatically different. Even within the same layers there are nuances that can change the direction of your IT rollout. Without completely rehashing the previous article, you need to decide what your business needs. Is it merely that you want to have a shared network drive for backups, document storage, remote access and disaster recovery – a cloud storage, if you will? You are most likely looking at a cloud application like Dropbox or Box.net. On the other extreme is the infrastructure side where you can essentially build that cloud storage example above yourself as a business model or for your enterprise, using a variety of infrastructure components like load balancers, servers, firewalls, storage and other appliances. The infrastructure side provide flexibility and a higher degree of control while on the application side, you get a “pre-packaged” solution that, most likely, will not be tailored exactly to your needs. And right in between these two is the platform layer, where you get more flexibility than the application side, but less than the infrastructure side and you only have access to a framework like .NET or Ruby, for example. But, the underlying infrastructure (e.g., patching, distribution of compute, etc.) is managed for you. So figure out what you really need and how you will use it.

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Video: How To Wrap a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro MagSafe Power Adapter the NEW Way

January 10, 2012
Thumbnail image for Video: How To Wrap a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro MagSafe Power Adapter the NEW Way

I have been in search of a really good way to wrap up my MagSafe power adapter for both my MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. The reason being, if you simply wrap them up the “conventional” way, you run the risk of fraying the connections which increases the risks of electrical shocks or shorting out […]

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I’m an Ultrabook Fan – the Speed, Weight, Performance & Design Convinced Me (An #UltrabookDads Video Production)

January 9, 2012
Thumbnail image for I’m an Ultrabook Fan – the Speed, Weight, Performance & Design Convinced Me (An #UltrabookDads Video Production)

Remember when netbooks were the “next big thing”? A few years ago, everyone wanted one of these small, compact and seemingly essential computers. But after a few years, the fog lifted from people’s eyes as they realized that the small form factor wasn’t the only thing that people needed. They wanted the best of all […]

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Custom Cases for Gadgets like Kindle Touch or Macbook Air, Hand-Crafted by Rickshaw Bagworks

January 5, 2012
Thumbnail image for Custom Cases for Gadgets like Kindle Touch or Macbook Air, Hand-Crafted by Rickshaw Bagworks

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting a local San Francisco business to see their craft in action. The company is Rickshaw Bagworks and they built, based on my choice of color and material, one of the best blogger backpacks that I have owned. My full review from back in 2009 goes […]

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5 Cloud Myths Debunked – Understanding the Primary Layers of Cloud Computing

January 4, 2012
Thumbnail image for 5 Cloud Myths Debunked – Understanding the Primary Layers of Cloud Computing

A few weeks ago, I laid out my predictions for 2012, casting seeds into the wind to see where clouds and businesses may crop up. But there are still skeptics out there, people who believe that cloud computing is just a passing phase or that it really isn’t that much different than traditional infrastructure. Having […]

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