E14 News: Time of the Hardware Startup

Has anyone else noticed that there are more and more hardware startups being formed, and becoming successful? I’ve seen a significant change in the focus at many of the events I’ve attended in 2013 and am excited for what is on the way! My recent Element14 article shares exactly what I mean:

…..Given all of the challenges above, why the migration from hardware aversion to hardware appreciation, especially among sources of capital such as VC firms?  First, the feedback loop is getting shorter and shorter. Falling prices of decent rapid prototyping tools like 3D printing, PCB fab and assembly, and the rise of hardware development boards like those sold by chip manufacturers, adafruit, and sparkfun a startup can get a prototype working at very little cost.  Early prototypes can be designed for hackability, making hardware revisions a simple use of common tools such as wire, soldering irons, a drills, and a hobby knife.  Further speeding hardware development is the significant growth in digital hardware such as microcontrollers and FPGAs.  As digital chips swallow up more hardware functions, the development is shifted to into the realm of being able to change a design with a firmware update.  Finally, the uncertainty of market demand when preparing for manufacturing can be mitigated with preorders enabled by crowdfunding.  Fast following customers will still have to wait for the second production run, but manufacturing planning for early adopters gain the benefit of matching supply to demand on the first run……

Read The Full Article Here!

E14 Post: Learn The Art Of Giving An Interview

When people think of interviews, they often think of searching for a job.  But for every interview there are two sides of the table.  Giving an interview is one of the best things a young employee can do to learn more valuable skills, understand their company, and reflect on themselves.  My most recent Element14 article extolls why it’s such a great experience for everyone involved!

….Why is interviewing such an important skill to gain for one to attain early?  Simply put, those who will join your team will likely have daily interactions with you and can make or break your time at work.  After all, these are the people that will be next to you during the late nights that ensue as project deadlines approach.  Do you really want to put in extra hours for a month straight with a person that isn’t very good at their job or doesn’t get along with the team?  Interviewing others is also a great way to meditate on your own growth.  We recognize ourselves in others, so judging a fellow engineer on their resume, experience, and interview can be quite telling.  Do you exhibit the same strengths that you admire in the candidate?  Are you currently making the same mistakes that are now biting the candidate in their job search?  What did others say about the candidate that could also be said about you?….

Read The Full Article Here!

OpenStack Installation Scripts

There are a few OpenStack installation guides available on the internet. One of the guides I’ve seen used the most is mseknibilel’s guide, which is available here. I followed this guide and it took me about 8 hours to get my setup up and running. I found that too much time was spent on troubleshooting issues due to entering everything by hand. Because of this I have created a set of scripts that can be used to setup a multi-node OpenStack test environment. This can be used as a basis for a small production setup. However it does not setup SSL encryption for any of the communication traffic. I plan to write a script in the future that will add SSL to a base install. There is also no support for High Availability. If you are looking to deploy a medium to large scale cluster then I suggest looking into a bare metal provisioning tool such as crowbar.

The scripts are currently split into five sections, which are detailed on the github page. It is setup with three different network architectures in mind:

  • 1NIC – A single network that everything is run through
  • 2NIC – One network for public network access and one for management and data
  • 3NIC – One network for public network access, one for management, and one for data

You should also be able to have anything from a single machine running everything to separate machines running as a controller, quantum server, glance server, cinder server, and compute nodes. It took me less than two hours to get my 4 node cluster up and running.

You can find the scripts here: https://github.com/soleblaze/openstack

The Fall of the Apple Empire…It’s the Little Things

Apple’s new Macbook magsafe power connector and it’s new commercials:  The beginning of the end.

Simple stuff.  The first is the new Magsafe connector for Macbooks.  Here’s a quote from the Apple forums on The Verge website:

“The new MagSafe 2 connector sucks. Apple blew it. It’s hard to argue that they changed the adapter for the sake of room when the MBA accommodates it fine. This new adapter is quick to pop out when you are using the notebook on a couch, plush chair or somewhere where it can get forced up while in use.”

This is a common complaint.  So what does this tell you?  It tells me Apple is getting sloppy, already.  Do you think Steve Jobs would have allowed something that was badly designed to ever leave the lab to be proto-typed let alone ship?  I think not.

I know this is a small thing, but it’s the culmination of the small things that made Apple products great.  It will be the culmination of small things that destroys the ‘magic’ so many Apple enthusiasts wax poetic about.  The tiny details that are so well thought out and that people notice, sometimes only after months of use, or when they use a non-Apple product.  It’s subtle, but it’s very very important.

Next up are the new Apple Genius ads.

Take 2 minutes and compare the Nexus 7 (Googles new 7″ table) add with Apple’s Olympic ad(s):

Nexus 7:

Apple Genius:

Even Ad Age agrees that Google’s advertising is better than Apples.

“Google’s Nexus 7 TV Spot Tops Apple’s ‘Genius’ Ads in Effectiveness”

Think about that:  Google’s TV ads are better than Apple’s TV ads.  This is just flat out heresy in the marketing world.  Apple, since Jobs return to the company, has consistantly created the best marketing and advertising compaigns, for any product, on the planet.  Now, here we are, months after Steve Job’s dies, and Google, a company not known for making brilliant (or even interesting) TV ads, is beating Apple at it’s own game.

Do you really think Steve Jobs would have let those genius ads anywhere near a production studio after seeing the pitch for them?  I know that when I first saw them I thought “Apple ad?  Really?  WTF happened?”.

So this is how it begins.  The many little things that add up to a really big thing.  The inevitable fall is starting sooner than I thought it would.