dell buys emc

So I missed predicting anything like this one.

If you’ve been under a rock, like apparently I was last week, you’ve missed out on hearing Dell is purchasing EMC. For $67 billion. With a “B”.

This seems to be taking lots of people by surprise, but it makes perfect sense: Dell is already a huge supplier of servers into not only the SMB market, but also enterprise and cloud providers. EMC needs to find ways to keep their expensive storage relevant, especially in an era of storage proliferation, do-it-yourself options that are more than merely good enough, and less and less need for “dedicated” storage (though you still need flash in the underlying arrays, contrary to what Todd Mace thinks).

Thin provisioning, on-demand storage expansion and contraction (ok, ok – so the “contraction” part is not common), separation of duties via *aaS architectures, and more has been pushing EMC not so much to a bit or bench player, but into a corner of making it harder and harder to justify their pricing.

Silver Lake & Michael Dell obviously see the benefit of doing what some have claimed as the biggest merger in tech history (the Compaq-HP debacle was ~$25 billion back in 2001; AOL-TimeWarner was ~$106 billion, but not a pure tech merger). But the benefit is not the synergy of storage and servers.

Nor is it the management software, services groups, great corporate management, or anything of the kind.

The benefit will be in having a completely vertically-integrated and holistic offering because EMC is the majority owner of VMware.

That is why Dell et al wanted EMC. And why they’re willing to pay $67 billion in cash, stock, debt, etc to get it.

This move perfectly pivots Dell, already maneuvering away from “just” servers into a major competitor in the cloud space – especially the enterprise cloud space.

HP and IBM have their own storage and server offerings (IBM’s x86 offerings are all Lenovo now since they sold them off, but whatever) – but they don’t have the virtualization platform to bring it about in a soup-to-nuts way. Of course, HP and IBM will happily put VMware onto servers they sell you (IBM will also happily sell you non-x86 gear with their pSeries and zSeries stuff, but those are discussions for another day).

HP Helion and IBM Bluemix are interesting. But not as interesting, in my opinion, as Amazon’s AWS, OpenStack, and other offerings from !HP and !IBM.

Oracle is really the only main competition to the hybrid Dell-EMC company which will emerge, via their acquisition of Sun a few years ago (which is also a whole other conversation).

It’ll be interesting to see how the future HPE will try to compete against future Dell.


Wired Magazine recently had an article on the rise of “plogging“.

By their definition, “plogging” is “PLatform blOGGING” – or blogging as part of a network/site/service (DZone, LinkedIn, Medium, Facebook, etc) instead of running your own blog somewhere (, Blogger, self-hosted WordPress, etc).

This seems to be a modern representation of what newspapers, magazines, etc used to be (and still are, to some extent) – a place where you can find your favorite authors all in one place.

There certainly are benefits to this model – but there is also a loss of a sense of personal connection in such a model. As I wrote before, the facebookification of society has some pros and cons. One of those cons is that companies increasingly (and now, apparently, writers) are branding on the platform/network instead of via their own site and service.

The instant network aspect of “plogging” has appeal – otherwise why would Sett exist? Or Stumbleupon? Or any of myriad other networking sites and services.

Heck, remember back in the Good Ole Days when you had link sharing and webrings?

This also plays into the walled garden effect that AOL had 20 years ago: as I wrote yesterday, Facebook is merely the new AOL. Writing in an established (or establishing) network makes a great deal of sense – an “instant” audience, the “rising tide” effect, etc.

But it also means you are bound, for better or worse, to the rules and regulations, guidelines and gaffes of the site/service you decide to write on and with. Community building is hard. Administering built communities is hard. And it doesn’t get any easier by deciding to go all-in with a “platform”. (It may not be any harder, either – but it’s not quantitatively eased by any stretch.)

Forum tools have been around since the dawn of time. And every one has had its rules. From the Areopagus to Stack Overflow, synagogues to the Supreme Court, every community has its rules. Rules which you may either choose to abide by, petition to change, or ignore (to your “detriment”, at least in the context of continuing to participate in said community).

I guess it’s like they say, “what’s new is old again”.

facebook is aol

Facebook is AOL.

Yes, that AOL.

America Online.

The one that advertised 20 years ago in conjunction with companies things like, “search AOL keyword ‘ford'”.

That’s what Facebook is now. It’s AOL – but without the ISP aspect.

Check that – Facebook is (or “has”) an ISP: just look at

So we’ve come full circle.

The ISP that millions of Americans used to get online, send email, chat, read news, keep up with friends, follow/participate in chat rooms, and see “the web” (through an extremely walled garden, mind you) has been replaced wth a website that hundreds of millions of people around the world use to send messages, chat, read news, keep up with friends, participate in groups, and, apparently, get online (if you’re in a part of the world Facebook is targeting with its ISP, of course).

subaru isn’t groveling

Subaru released a new vehicle in the Japanese market recently called the Levorg (I saw it on Samurai Wheels on NHK World). It stands for LEgacy reVOlution touRinG.

It also spells “grovel” backwards.

From the review Samurai Wheels gave it, it certainly doesn’t grovel.

But it also purports to do something relatively difficult. Subaru has introduced EyeSight in this vehicle which uses cameras to offer assistive driving (automatic braking, automatic following, etc).

The interesting thing about this (and they are cameras), is that video processing is difficult. It is far easier to use something like FLIR, LIDAR, or ultrasonic sonar or another technique than it is to use object tracking in a video stream.

Which makes me wonder if Subaru is doing pure video object tracking, or if it’s combined with something else to make it work as well as it seemed to in the review I watched recently.

show only most recent facebook news feed

(Note: I did this in Chrome – it’ll be a little different in other browsers)

I have several complaints about the book of the face – not least of which is that it likes to reset your News Feed from “Most Recent” (aka most useful) to “Top Stories” (aka whatever Facebook wants you to see).

I also like to avoid the fluff off the other columns (ads, games, groups, pages, chat, etc) when all I want is the most recent stream. So, after some searching, fiddling, and tweaking, I now have my news feed (and only my news feed) appear on the side of my screen in chronological order.

How to do what I did:

  • install the Auto Refresh extension for Chrome (only if you want the news feed to automatically update)
  • go to (this is the mobile Facebook view sorted by chronological order) in a new window (not new tab)
  • right-click on the tab holding the mobile Facebook feed, and select Pin Tab
  • click the Auto Refresh extension button and select how often you want your feed to refresh, and click Start
  • resize the window to a comfortable reading width (mine is about 15% of my screen, or about 3″)
  • slide it all the way to one side of your screen or another
  • enjoy

There are some other ways to accomplish more-or-less the same thing:

  • bookmark the mobile news feed URL
  • set the mobile news feed URL as your home page
  • sign-in to your Facebook account in more than one browser (instead of having two windows in one browser), and load the mobile edition therein

Hope this helps you like it’s helped me.

“like” problems: social ‘voting’ is a bad idea

The news story making the rounds about Facebook the past few days indicates they’re working on a kind of “dislike” button.

The problem with the Facebook “like” button is the same problem Google has with Google+ and their “+1” button: it doesn’t tell you anything meaningful.

Voting on Reddit doesn’t really convey much meaning, either.

Stack Overflow tries to address this with its up/down voting and being able to see the gestalt votes as a ratio (if your rep is high enough (an admittedly low bar, but till a bar, and an aspect of the gamification of Stack Oveflow)). But that doesn’t really cut it, either.

The problem with online “voting” (or “liking”, or “plussing”, etc) is that it is a dimensionless data point.

Does getting 300 “likes” on a post make it “good”? Does it reflect on its quality in any way? How about getting nearly 400 upvotes (and only a handful of downvotes) on a question about MySQL (along with 100+ “favorites”) mean the question is good? Does it show something is popular? Are people clicking the vote mechanism out of peer pressure, because they actually agree, or because they think it needs more visibility?

Dimensionless data that gets used as if it has meaning is a problem – one of many problems of social media and web sites in general.

Of course, you will object, quality is a potentially-subjective term – what does “quality” mean, exactly, when talking about a post, website, question, etc? Is it how well-written it is? Is it how long? How funny? How sad?

Take this question I asked on Stack Overflow, “CSS – how to trim text output?” It’s clearly-written, was answered excellently in 2 minutes, and is a “real” problem I had. Yet in the 4.5 years since asking, it’s only gotten 2 votes total (both “up”, but still only two).

Reddit has upvotes and downvotes – and your comment/post score is merely the sum of the ups and downs; below a certain [relative] threshold, you won’t see content unless you ask for it.

One of the biggest problems with all of these systems is that the “score” doesn’t actually tell you anything. An atheist subreddit, for example, will tend to downvote-into-oblivion comments that are theistic in nature (especially from Christians). Quora‘s voting system is highly untransparent – downvotes don’t really seem to mean much, and upvotes are pretty much just for show.

This derives from the fact that these sites use dimensionless data and try to give it a value or meaning outside of what it really is – a number.

What should be shown is the total number of “votes” a given post has gotten – positive negative, reshare, etc – but never combined. A ratio could be displayed, but the sum of the votes is a poor plan.

Facebook, Google+, and others should offer various voting options – “up”, “down”, “disagree”, “agree”, “share”, and possibly others – some of which may be mutually-exclusive (you cannot upvote and downvote the same thing), but you might downvote something you agree with (or upvote something you disagree with) just because of how it is written/presented, etc.

And the total of each type of click should be shown – show me 10,000 people disagreed with what I said, 15,000 agreed; 20,000 upvoted, and 30,000 downvoted; 12,000 reshared it (with, or without, comment).

Using voting as a means of hiding things (and trying to prevent others from seeing them) can be somewhat akin to online bullying – revenge voting has its problems; as does blindly upvoting anything a particular person says/does. Which is why assigning (and then displaying) dimensionless data anything more than a count is dangerous.

system-wide proxying with os x (yosemite)

Perhaps you’re at a coffee shop, and want to ensure your communication is secure.

Or maybe you are out of the country, and need access to something like

What’s a body to do?

If you have a Mac, set up a system-wide proxy setting for a new Location, of course!

This is a very simple thing to do, but does require you have access to an SSH server somewhere.


  • Create a new Location in your Network Preferences (name it something ‘obvious’ like “Proxy” or “Untrusted”Locations
  • Remove services you don’t need (most likely you only need WiFi) Services
  • Go to Advanced -> Proxies
  • Enable SOCKS Proxy and set server to ‘localhost’ with ‘9999’ as the port proxies
  • Start a port-forwarded SSH session in Terminal :: ssh -D 9999 user@remotehost
  • Click OK in the Proxies setting window
  • Click Apply in the Network preferences panel

That’s it. You do need to remember to create the port-forwarded SSH connection, or your web browsers and such will fail to connect properly.

You can change Location easily via ->Location.

Tested on OS X Yosemite. It should work elsewhere, but I only have a 10.10 machine to work with.

half year update: how are my predictions so far?

Back in Feb, I published a list of tech-related predictions for 2015.

How’m I doing?

Let’s see ones that have happened (or are very close to have happened):

  • Itanium OEL’d
  • HP spinning-off business units – sorta, they’re splitting in half
  • IBM is losing value … but not as much as I predicted (yet)
  • cloud is still “a thing” – but it’s gradually becoming less of “a thing”
  • cloud hosting providers are in a price war – so I’ll count this as “kinda”
  • iPad 5 – it’s the iPad Pro, but has the expected resolution (5.6 megapixels)
  • I’m counting the iPad Pro, in conjunction with the keyboard accessory, the MacBook Flex – it’s not x86 (ARM A9X) .. but still iOS, not OS X – so I’m half right
  • Tesla has the Model S in a non-millionaire price point ($57k at the bottom end) .. but it’s not down to the Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf yet :: then again, the Tesla gets substantially further on its charge than does the Volt or Leaf
  • more cities are entering the “gigacity” club – Salisbury NC just opened the 10-gigabit club