AWS GovCloud and CloudFormation

Be careful when you’re working with CloudFormation in the AWS GovCloud region. Almost every code snippet available on the Internet refers to the public regions of AWS. If you’re making resources in GovCloud with a Cloudformation templates, there are subtle differences.

For instance, referring to an S3 bucket in a code snippet is:

“Resource”: { “Fn::Join” : [“”, [“arn:aws:s3:::”, { “Ref” : “myExampleBucket” } , “/*” ]]},

But if your bucket is in GovCloud, your arn is different:

“Resource”: { “Fn::Join” : [“”, [“arn:aws-us-gov:s3:::”, { “Ref” : “myExampleBucket” } , “/*” ]]},

Subtle things like that can make CloudFormation development a real hoot. Be careful.

Unpopular Opinion Post: Microsoft Azure is toast (as a public service)

I really think Microsoft Azure is screwed.

It’ll still be around to power Microsoft’s backend services, but as a public offering to compete against AWS… it’s toast.

Also… OneDrive… seriously, wtf?

The Tone of the WWDC Keynote

One thing I wanted to mention in my post about WWDC last night… did anyone feel that the tone of the overall keynote was different? It felt a little more relaxed and fun. It seems like Tim Cook has encouraged his staff to be more relaxed and at ease with what they are doing. There was more humor and more open honesty.

I think Tim is trying to strike a keen balance between old school Apple secrecy and a new humane approach to the work they are doing. I think he’s listening to the consumers about how things should be (iCloud Drive is a likely example of that).

I like Tim Cook. I like where he’s taking the company. All of you who keep crying about Apple’s lack of innovation need to look back at Microsoft’s record the past 20 years. Give Apple some time and they will surprise you. They like to lay a lot of foundation work before they spring a surprise on anyone. This WWDC was foundational. I expect a lot of interesting things this fall.

OS X 10.10 and iOS 8 Thoughts

I should be at WWDC 2014 this year, but I’m not. I work for a Microsoft-centric shoppe right now and they just don’t see the value in it. Nevertheless, I put my name in for the lottery and I didn’t win anyway.

I watched most of the keynote from afar and parts of the State of the Union address. All of it is ultra exciting. If they get Continuity, iCloud Drive (FINALLY OMG) and Messages right, this will be a killer OS combo with iPhones, iPads and Macs.

There’s a plethora of articles out there explaining what’s up. I highly recommend Anandtech write-ups in almost every scenario.

Also, I’m really interested in Swift – this new programming language. It seems quite daft. Too bad I’m not as proficient with Obj-C as I wanna be yet. When they announced the new language, my first thought was all the people who are groaning about the iOS and Mac programming courses that they have to remake… or, more likely, how excited they are that they can make another round of these things and a windfall of cash.

There’s great things to come in the world of Apple. I’m looking forward to seeing where the home automation stuff goes too.

Who cares about an iWatch and TV? Whatever.

Microsoft (and Paul Thurrott) says Windows 8 sucks

Last week, Hell froze over in one of the deepest freezes in the history of the United States.

This week, Paul Thurrott finally speaks the truth about Windows 8/8.1. It’s not pretty.

“Threshold” to be Called Windows 9, Ship in April 2015 | Windows 8 content from Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows

It’s going to be a very interesting 2014 in the tech world.

Speaking of which, I hope you’re having a fantastic start to this new year. I need to get back to blogging and updating my websites.

Could a Bug be Deliberately Coded into an Open Source Project for Financial Gain?

For some bizarre reason, the thought at the top of my head last night at bedtime was… “I wonder if sometimes… open source developers deliberately code bugs or withhold fixes for financial gain?”

If you don’t follow what I mean, here’s where I was: often times, large corporations or benefactors will offer a code fix bounty or developmental funding for an open source project they have come to rely upon.  What if an open source developer were to deliberately code a bug into an open source project or withhold a fix so they might extract some financial support with this method?

I brought it up in #morphix to Gandalfar, one of my trusted open source advisors.  We debated it shortly and he brought up several good points.  While this may happen, the scheme is likely to fall apart quickly.  The community is the resolver of situations like this.  If the community finds a bug and offers a fix for the problem, then the developer will find themselves in a political combat situation.  They would likely try to stifle the fix with some ridiculous excuses and/or start to censor discussion of the subject over mailing lists or on forums.  Speculation could be raised about the issue and ultimately, people could start to fork the project elsewhere, unless the license of the project disallows that.  In the long run, the community would resolve the situation by simply offering a new solution.

So while it could theoretically be achieved for short-term gain, in the long run the community makes the approach unsustainable.

Why do I bring this up?  Well, I think we all know that closed source entities often engage in this practice.  I could point out several examples that I have absolute knowledge of this happening, but I don’t think I have to.  I’m not completely absolving open source from this either – look at what “official distributions” do in some situations… Red Hat Enterprise Linux or Novell (SUSE) for example.  But in those situations, if you didn’t want to pay to upgrade the operating system and still resolve your situation, we all know that with the right application of effort and skill you could overcome it.

All in all, this whole thought process ends up with a positive note about open source.  If it’s broken, you can fix it yourself or work with others to make it happen.  The community – that incredibly large, global groupthink – keeps it all honest.

Or, you can put all your money and eggs into a closed source basket and find out you’re getting screwed when it’s too late.

It’s all about choice, right?

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iPhone to be allowed on other carriers?

I really can’t believe this hasn’t been pointed out before… so I guess I’ll do the dirty work and try to fan the flames of rumor.

This started when I read Paul Thurrott’s latest blog post, with which I could not agree more.

Then, I decided it’s time to blog about this and see if anyone had noticed:

iphone_tech_specs.jpg

(Click image for larger view)

Why would you have a SIM ejector tool in the 3G box if they didn’t intend you to use it? The EDGE model has a SIM ejector hole, but there’s no included tool that I can recall…

Can I start a rumor? We’ll see.

The iPhone Earthquake

Once again, the iPhone rules the press with a heavy dollop of enticing news.

There’s a lot here on the surface and a lot below the surface. Let’s scratch the surface first.

The announcements about Apple licensing ActiveSync are interesting. There was lots of speculation in this regard and greetz to those who called it. I myself lost a bet. I was thinking that Apple might actually thumb their nose at ActiveSync and employ webdav for Exchange 2003 (much like Entourage) or web services for Exchange 2007. Of course, that would not be a quick route to policy controls on the device itself (i.e. remote kill), so ActiveSync makes the most business sense both in time and money. It’s a good investment. I was just hoping they wouldn’t just… well, because.

But they did. Let’s analyze what this brings:

– Sync with email (effectively push email, but it’s not TRULY push email… ActiveSync, even on Windows Mobile, IS NOT PUSH EMAIL. It just appears that way).

– Sync with contacts

– Sync with calendars

– NOTICEABLY ABSENT: sync with tasks

– Policy control over device. The You Had Me At EHLO blog states that this is about at the Exchange 2003 SP2 level of device control, which means it’s not as feature rich as the Blackberry, but a good starting point.

Other items of note for enterprises:

– Cisco IPSEC and VPN clients

– Two-factor authentication

What’s missing? Well, you saw me point out that task syncing is missing… Merlin Mann is likely pissing himself right about now over that. But I noticed today that there were no federal government folks present and… here’s the bad news for those federal workers… Jobs never mentioned encryption of data at rest. Thanks to an OMB directive, encryption of data at rest is a requirement for a mobile device on a federal government network. Guess what device is the only one to meet that requirement?

If you’re thinking of a berry in the color of night, you’d be right.

You’d also be right if you’re thinking of the next version of Windows Mobile… 6.1, I believe they call it. Last I remember, that also had encryption of data at rest.

So unfortunately, this may leave the iPhone out of the federal government networks for a little while longer. Perhaps it’s an oversight that it wasn’t mentioned – but I’m betting that it was left out deliberately.

All in all, I wasn’t crazy about the iPhone before but I certainly am now. The fact that they’ve really turned it into a platform with an ecosystem makes this very, very exciting. One of the challenges of the OS X platform was the lack of an ecosystem. Now with OS X advances, the freely-available Xcode and now the freely-available iPhone SDK, Apple stands to really rock the world with an ecosystem that could quickly rival Microsoft.

To make sure they’re shaking things up, there’s that iFund thing. What a fantastic idea. Folks, when was the last time Microsoft paid you to develop applications for their platform? If you want to get into the Microsoft developmental mafia, you’re likely looking at an MSDN subscription ($2500 or so the first year, $1500 each year afterwards… PER SEAT!)… you’re looking at heavy software licensing costs and hell, they don’t even distribute the application or updates for you.

Apple is not only making the price of entry into their ecosystem dirt cheap ($99), the development software is free and they will distribute your applications/updates. Folks, this is a hell of a deal and I’m betting there are small businesses and garage developers everywhere getting excited about this.

I really, really think Microsoft is in trouble on many fronts. It’s going to be hard to stop this kind of excitement. I don’t even intend to develop apps for the iPhone or the Mac and I’m excited.

Truly, there was an earthquake today in California. It may have been a subtle earthquake for some, but I felt it quite strong here on the other side of the states. I’m excited about computing again – and that’s something to cheer about.

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Leap Day Befuddles Postfix

I meant to post about this over the weekend, but… well, I forgot. I didn’t see much chatter about this over the leap day, but here it is.

On a system that uses Postfix 2.2.9 on SLES 10, Postfix started acting quite wonky on February 29th, 2008. In a standard Postfix+Amavis+ClamAv setup, you actually have two Postfix daemons – one listening on port 25 (duh), the other listening on port 10025 waiting to get mail handed off from amavis+clamav.

Well, it appears that the second daemon gets quite confused about the date on Leap Day and logs everything with March 1st plus four hours. While this seems benign enough, if you use some statistics generator like pflogsumm.pl to generate some numbers for management, your hourly totals quit working.

We had not one byte of statistic data for February 29th as a result. That’s a shame, but it was one of many odd tech-related things that happened that day that I won’t soon forget.

Our power even went out that day.

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Security Scorecard out for July 2007 (Jeff Jones)

Jeff Jones Security Blog : July 2007 – Operating System Vulnerability Scorecard

Jeff Jones, who makes a living for himself as a security consultant, has released a scorecard for operating systems as they stood around July 2007.

Not surprisingly, the charts are fodder for everyone to bolster their arguments about which OS is better, which therefore just doesn’t prove much at all… except perhaps the definition of the word “futility.”

A wise man in a poopy-brown robe with a coffee-colored tunic and a glowing blue line all around his silhouette once said, “…you’ll find that many things depend on your point of view.”

Oh yeah, that guy carried a big, glowing sword that slices through flesh like butter.