From the mailbox: GAN Chargers

I wrote about my Travel Setup a bit back and it already changed. Thanks to my amazement and obsession over the GAN chargers (well batteries and chargers in general) and Andrew being a generous chap I now own Anker PowerPort Atom PD1 first which is a 30 Watt single port USB-C PD charger.

I think I obsessed in an early installment of Angelesen about the new technology that allows to drastically minify charging circuits.

As one port can get a bit crowded I looked further and found the PowerPort Atom III Slim which comes with 1 USBC (45W) and 3 USB Ports (20W). Which solves most of my charging needs.

The Nano is tiny enough to just toss it into a bag and have a charger handy at all times. The multi-port charger currently takes the front seat in my current travel setup. It’s a bit smaller compared to the Satechi charger but I rarely need the full 60W of output.

Thanks again Andrew!

On Virtual Events

With the current situation carrying on for most likely another while and conferences not happening in person one of my main reasons for travel falls away. It is also interesting to see how a few conferences deal with the new reality.

There are many variations of it but I see a few reoccurring themes:

Postponed to next year

This is mainly due to contractual obligations – as sponsors might already have spoken their grants to events that’s a tricky one. Postponing makes sense as most of the contracts aren’t breached and also cancelling would land many organizing teams in hot waters when they don’t have a legal basis to do so. In short: you would lose a lot of money.

Cancelling and moving fully online

Kubecon and DrupalCon Global, for example, do exactly this. They moved their event completely online which is a great move. But more on that later. I find it hard to take a day off work to attend an online conference. As for now, everything revolves around the work from home situation it’s even harder to make a distinct cut from working to attending a conference. Also, I very much feel that I have less attention span on online conferences as everything is recorded and can be watched later. From my past few online conferences, I attended I’m usually just watching the recordings as there’s little added value in seeing an online-only live talk in most conference setups.

Drag along and facing the facts later

The most dangerous approach, in my opinion, is just dragging along and continuing efforts. This will most likely lead to slow ticket sales (if at all) because people won’t just fall back to the old norm. This is the best case leads to an event that might work out but also could lead to quite some headache if you need to cancel on short notice.

General Implications

In general, seeing events moving online made me think quite a bit. As it changes the entire dynamic of events. For a conference, I wanted to attend this means that the ticket price drops from 1500$ to just around 100$ for the attendance fee. I’d be hugely surprised if the sponsors will still chip in the normal amount of money as the event would have been an on-location event. As an online event is relatively cheap to create and there are tons of new tools that made an appearance which makes it interesting to start something your own.

What does this mean for me as a speaker?

I always questioned the high profile conferences where tickets go for high prices and usually stick to community-driven efforts. Most of the conferences already published most of their talks so there all the venue, food and activities around the conference made it worth. Now with that falling away, it gets tricky also for the speakers. Rerunning talks gets even harder as the recordings are now the core of everything.

I have sat through a few live conferences where the speaker performs his talk live – This comes at the interesting fact that there are so many things that can go wrong – It’s basically like you don’t have a professional stage crew that takes care. Having run several big events this sounds stressful to me from a tech perspective. I think recording talks before and streaming them on the day of the conference is the best compromise. There are many takes you can do and pick the best one and hone into the best end product. It also gives much more time for Q/A and speaker availability. As the speaker can answer questions during the talk – which helps to get the missing hallway track back 🙂

So. Much. Content.

Currently, there are so many online conferences you can spend your day’s binge-watching online conferences. The current abundance of content makes me wonder – What happens to the Ticket Prices. As there’s an oversupply of great content and most of it will be released online there’s not much of a point paying a lot of money to “live” attend.

Where’s the hallway track

When it comes to conferences it’s usually the hallway track that sparks the most interesting discussions. With an online-only setting, this falls away. I saw a few ideas evolving around Slack-Channels and online rooms to chat – but still, it feels kind of weird to me. I’ll give it time and observe what creative ideas conferenciers come up with.

Your Email address is now your most wanted info

There’s nothing like a free lunch – I ran into that trap on my first online conference. It was free and I paid the price. Giving the email address without adding a +conferencename filter was a huge mistake – I think I finally managed to get unsubscribed from all newsletters but there were at least 20-30 emails in the week after the online happening haunting my mailbox. I will stick to using a filter tag now, this was pretty unpleasant.

Attention span

I joked last week that I can also go to an online conference and only see 1 talk in full. While some of my conferences are hinted by a lot of talking and the occasional booth duty it’s interesting to see that my attention span is very short, to say the least. Now that I’m working from the same place as I’m attending the conference leads to me missing a lot of talks and sometimes it’s just a pain to navigate through tons of schedules to find the nice talks. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one having this issue and conference teams will need to plan for this fact

This got way longer than first anticipated but these are my current observations in the conference space. Looking forward to what may come 🙂

Angelesen #68

This week I read into a few very good pieces – There was an interesting attack on twitter which can be read from both perspectives, some good blog posts about post-mortems from Slack and you might want to dust off your YAST skills as Suse just bought Rancher Labs. Plus you might want to think about the future and if you want to force people back into offices or support Work from Home (WFH) indefinitely (if your organisation can do WFH).

Hackers Tell the Story of the Twitter Attack From the Inside (www-nytimes-com.cdn.ampproject.org)

Twiter Hack 1

Mr. O’Connor said other hackers had informed him that Kirk got access to the Twitter credentials when he found a way into Twitter’s internal Slack messaging channel and saw them posted there, along with a service that gave him access to the company’s servers. People investigating the case said that was consistent with what they had learned so far. A Twitter spokesman declined to comment, citing the active investigation.

An update on our security incident (blog.twitter.com)

The attackers successfully manipulated a small number of employees and used their credentials to access Twitter’s internal systems, including getting through our two-factor protections

Twitter Hack 2: Massively owned but it’s great to read a first pass on the post mortem.

WebGazer.js: Democratizing Webcam Eye Tracking on the Browser (webgazer.cs.brown.edu)

WebGazer.js is an eye tracking library that uses common webcams to infer the eye-gaze locations of web visitors on a page in real time. The eye tracking model it contains self-calibrates by watching web visitors interact with the web page and trains a mapping between the features of the eye and positions on the screen. WebGazer.js is written entirely in JavaScript and with only a few lines of code can be integrated in any website that wishes to better understand their visitors and transform their user experience. WebGazer.js runs entirely in the client browser, so no video data needs to be sent to a server, and it requires the user’s consent to access their webcam.

Played around with it a bit. It’s insanely accurate after a first calibration pass… and it’s written in JavaScript!

Huawei 5G kit must be removed from UK by 2027 (bbc.com)

Mr Dowden added that the cumulative cost of the moves when coupled with earlier restrictions announced against Huawei would be up to £2bn, and a total delay to 5G rollout of "two to three years".

Something you can do, but probably not solving the problem you wanted to solve.

WindowSwap (window-swap.com)

Let’s face it. We are all stuck indoors. And it’s going to be a while till we travel again. Window Swap is here to fill that deep void in our wanderlust hearts by allowing us to look through someone else’s window, somewhere in the world, for a while. A place on the internet where all we travel hungry fools share our ‘window views’ to help each other feel a little bit better till we can (responsibly) explore our beautiful planet again.

It’s brilliant!

The Future Of Workspaces Will Be Unrecognizable (forbes.com)

Many startups, ours included, have operated in an exclusively remote capacity from the start. Yet many organizations hadn’t embraced a work-from-home culture, due in part to the cost associated with establishing the infrastructure to make it work, as well as the cultural shift that running a remote team requires.

Covid-19 instantly changed that, and because the novel coronavirus has no known cure or vaccine at this time, the path back to “normal” will likely be a long one. When it does finally come time to return to the office, it likely won’t resemble anything we would recognize from before. Here’s why.

Normal is a long way away if it ever comes back. Change is the only steady thing after all. I’d be not hugely surprised of there will be 2 camps going forward: Companies that evolve and support WFH entirely and companies that seek to go back to "what always worked in the past" and force their people back into their office for better or for worse. I’m happy to work with a completely remote team 🙂

A Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day at Slack (slack.engineering)

The broken monitoring hadn’t been noticed partly because this system ‘just worked’ for a long time, and didn’t require any change.

I don’t laugh about others downtime – Today it’s theirs tomorrow we’re in the rotation of something spinning out of control. Slack published 2 very good articles – This one is the technical one and a good read on the whole situation.

All Hands on Deck. What does Slack do when Slack goes… (slack.engineering)

4:51PM One of the responders declares, “we’re about to go offline, we just lost all main_wwws in the webapp pool”. This is the moment where you feel the blood drain from your face. What does Slack do when Slack goes down? In such unfortunate situations where we aren’t able to rely on Slack, we have prescribed alternative methods of communication. Following incident runbooks, we quickly moved to the incident Zoom and elevated the response to a Sev-1, our highest severity level. Executives were paged, per the runbook. A company-wide email was sent out, with links to department specific runbooks for full site outages. Our real-time client instrumentation, which sends telemetry to an isolated endpoint, showed that success rate on the clients had dipped to abysmal levels. It was all hands on deck at this point.

Post Mortems are an art form. Slack shows so many great details in this overview on handling this outage. Must-Read for Ops people.

Department of Health website saw 760% rise in traffic at peak of COVID-19 (themandarin.com.au)

The Services Australia website experienced a 650% rise in traffic. The agency worked closely with the GovCMS team to increase database capacity so the website could handle heavy traffic, according to Services Australia general manager Susie Smith. […] Meanwhile, health.gov.au experienced a 760% increase in traffic, with up to 6 million visits a day during the busiest times.

Do good and talk about it: Most of those sites run on our Platform 🎉

SUSE to Acquire Rancher Labs (rancher.com)

SUSE, the world’s largest independent open source company, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Rancher Labs. Based in Cupertino, Calif., Rancher is a privately held open source company, providing a market leading Kubernetes Management platform.

Ok didn’t see Suse sneaking up and buying Rancher. That’s a surprise. Guess I need to get my YAST skills back in shape.

13 lessons learned from taking 8 AWS certification tests in 4 weeks (medium.com)

Some good bits if you are taking a AWS certificate soon 🙂

Angelesen #67

The avid reader of my not so weekly blogposts might have realized that sometimes a German article finds it’s ways into the list – I start to mark them now with 🇩🇪

I saw that Marcel also started his blog series named Crossreading – enjoy!

1000 OSCILLATOR MEGA DRONE PART 3, Testing 500 Oscillators on this massive analog synthesizer (youtube.com)

Oddly Satisfying 🙂 I know how fun to build the Dronelab

🇩🇪 ÅSKSTORM USB-Ladegerät 40W (ikea.com)

Wenn ich Ikea höre, denke ich nicht zuerst an Ladegeräte, jedoch hat Ikea seit längerer Zeit ziemlich solide USB Netzteile im Angebot nun auch mit bis zu 30 Watt Power Delivery. Dazu gibt es auch das passende USBC – USBC Kabel 🎉

🇩🇪 Mit Lincoln gegen Trump (desktop.12app.ch)

Das ist alles recht plump – und zwar mit Absicht. Die Idee dahinter hat George Conway in einem Podcast der Website The Daily Beast so beschrieben: «Wahlkampfspots sollten zum Ziel haben, Trump zu ärgern.» Weil der Präsident so dünnhäutig sei, lasse er sich leicht aus der Bahn werfen, was sich wiederum auf seinen Wahlkampf auswirke – zu seinen Ungunsten.

Raspberry Pi 4 PCI-Express Bridge “Chip” (blog.zakkemble.net)

So, here’s a PCIe bridge “chip” that simply replaces the VL805 USB 3.0 controller chip on the Pi, giving access to the PCI-Express bus on a USB 3.0 port

PCI-Express on a RaspberryPi 4 – YESPLEASE!

🇩🇪 Der große Nestlé-Report (zdf.de)

Nesquik, Vittel und Maggi – alles Produkte von Nestlé, dem weltgrößten Nahrungsmittelkonzern. Die Doku zeigt, wie es um Fairness, Verantwortung und Produktqualität bei dem Giganten steht.

Sehenswerte Doku!

  • Wasserausbeutung in Vittel (Wieso im Jahre 2020 Flaschenwasser in weiten Teilen von Europa nach wie vor ein Verkaufsprodukt ist ist mir schleierhaft)
  • Viel Zucker und wenig Inhaltsstoffe
  • Preisdruck / Werksschliessungen

ae4d6809912f8171b23f6aa43c6a4e8e627de784 – chromium/src (chromium.googlesource.com)

Enforce publicly trusted TLS server certificates have a lifetime of 398 days or less, if they are issued on or after 2020-09-01.

Yay – More reasons to go straight to Let’s Encrpyt! I’m pushing our customers usually to LE Certificates – As the CA signed certificates might get more work-instensive to roll over that might also play a role into moving to LE more and more (hopefully)

Our AWS bill is ~ 2% of revenue. Here’s how we did it (sankalpjonna.com)

  • Use lightsail instances (20$ per instance) instead of EC2 instances (37$ per instance)
  • Use a lightsail database (60$ per DB) instead of RDS (200$ per DB)
  • Use a self hosted redis server on a compute instance (40$) instead of ElastiCache (112$)
  • If feasible, use a free CDN (cost savings depends on traffic size)
  • Use a self hosted NGINX server (20$ fixed cost) instead of ELB (cost depends on traffic and usage)

Not factoring in the Engineering Hours to build it on Lightsail instances… But at least it’s mentioned in the closing notes:

I would like to put emphasis on the fact that we are a micro-SaaS product that solves a small and specific use case and therefore this kind of AWS setup worked for us. This may not work for big organisations or products where the traffic is erratic. This setup will also not work for folks who have a ton of stuff to do already and would prefer to use managed services and not take the additional headache of monitoring, maintaining and provisioning hardware resources on a regular basis because this has a time cost to it. We are a team of 2 people with a product that is not computation heavy and has cloud requirements that are quite straightforward. We have been running this product for a little over 1 year with this AWS setup and so far we have not encountered any problems.

If you can run simple setups – do so – go ahead and use the most boring (and stable) stack out there. But It also means that scaling might be much harder in the mid-term

Angelesen #66

This week a few ARM discussions around the new announcement Apple made (apparently ARM is all the rage these days), the new CERN super-collider (yes 100km circumference!), assessments on the US power-grid and a K8s upgrade good read.

maxgoedjen/secretive: Store SSH keys in the Secure Enclave (github.com)

Secretive is an app for storing and managing SSH keys in the Secure Enclave. It is inspired by the sekey project, but rewritten in Swift with no external dependencies and with a handy native management app.

Interesting approach to save the SSH keys in the secure enclave of the Mac

‘My Little Pony’ Fans Confront Their Nazi Problem (theatlantic.com)

As illustrated by the massive revolt on Reddit earlier this month, Black Lives Matter has led to a rethinking of what online communities are for and whom they serve on a very basic level. That the conversation has managed to penetrate one of the most head-in-the-sand groups on the whole internet speaks to how far the movement has already gone in challenging people where they are—in their imaginary worlds, in their anonymous message threads, and in all of the places where there have long been no rules.

“The fandom has to recognize that it doesn’t exist purely within the vacuum of an online fantasy,” Acesential said. “It exists in a world where these problems are still here.”

Good Read/Listen

Why America’s police look like soldiers (youtube.com)

The gadgets Late Night with Seth Meyers uses to keep the show running from home (theverge.com)

Recording Meyers’ audio was also dependent on consumer tech. Since the show couldn’t look like it’s in a TV studio, Vietmeier wanted to make sure it at least sounded more like it was. The producers quickly realized that viewers were more critical of audio quality than video quality, a common complaint on YouTube.

Great article on how Late Night shows get recorded from home. Pretty interesting what can be pulled of with a few 100$ consumer grade equipment.

CERN approves plans for a $23 billion, 62-mile long super-collider (engadget.com)

CERN has approved plans to build a $23 billion super-collider 100 km in circumference (62 miles) that would make the current 27 km 16 teraelectron volt (TeV) Large Hadron Collider (LHC) look tiny in comparison. The so-called Future Circular Collider (FCC) would smash particles together with over 100 TeV of energy to create many more of the elusive Higgs bosons first detected by CERN in 2012. This “Higgs factory” would be key to helping physicists learn more about dark matter and other mysteries of the Standard Model of physics.

Whoop – I remember the discussions about the super-colider and the size a few years ago. Glad to see this will be a real thing soon 🙂

Apple is switching Macs to its own processors starting later this year (theverge.com)

Apple is officially moving to its own silicon chips for some of its Mac hardware. Calling it a “historic day for the Mac,” Apple CEO Tim Cook detailed the transitions to PowerPC, Mac OS X, and the move to Intel chips before unveiling its plans to use Apple’s own ARM-powered silicon in Macs in the future. It’s a big move that means macOS will support native iOS apps and macOS apps side by side on these new machines in the future.

Apple will release the first Mac with Apple silicon at the end of this year, and it expects the transition to take two years. New Intel-powered Macs are still in the pipeline, so Apple isn’t moving exclusively to ARM-based Macs just yet. Still, this is a big shift for Apple to move away from Intel-based silicon in Macs.

Did i mention that RISC based CPUs were the past but are also the future 😉

Kubernetes node pool upgrades with Pipeline (banzaicloud.com)

A good best-practice on K8s pool upgrades – Banzaicloud is a good thought leader on many K8s topics

An assessment of threats to the American power grid (energsustainsoc.biomedcentral.com)

Originally read this blogpost about the paper – Highly interesting – I wasn’t aware that the lead times for HV transformers is between 12 to 24 months under normal demand conditions.

I wonder how the Electrical Grinds across Europe would handle such a situation.

whytheplatypus/switchboard: Simple mDNS based reverse proxy for personal infrastructure. (github.com)

Simple mDNS-based reverse proxy for personal infrastructure.

The server will check for mDNS broadcasts regularly and update its configuration. TLS is supported through Let’s Encrypt.

That looks like an interesting piece of technology for my raspberry pi services 😀