Thursday, August 28, 2014

Moving my blog posts on LinkedIn

I am moving my blog posts on linkedin, you can continue reading me at :

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Asus EEE PadFone

They did it.

If you remember "My IT wishlist for 2012 (part 2 - Webtop/SmartTop)", it looks like engineers at Asus heard me and are now proposing a SmartTop which they called the PadFone :

Nice one guys... make it a 1080p device and you'll be all good :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

[IT] My IT wishlist for 2012 (part 4 - CPL-enabled server PSUs)

Imagine a connection between your favorite server's BMC and the PSUs inside that server...

Now imagine the BMC communicates (if asked to do so) the Serial of the server and the ID of the PSU to the PDU through CPL...

Now you get the idea, automated server inventory from the PDU so that you can simply shutdown or reset a server, router, load-balancer or whatever from the PDU (you know when things go really bad and IPMI or console is not an option or simply not working)...

Of course the PDU would be filtering the CPL so that you are not pushing bad harmonics back to the power grid (which is something you will be billed for).

This is the last step for a "content-aware datacenter" :
- network : CDP or LLDP
- hardware : IPMI + more recently... agentless hardware monitoring
- power : intelligent PSU with CPL communication to the PDU (let's call it iPSU)

You could imagine a lot of other things going through iPSU, like being able to control or meter more power-related things in the server.

Now that would be a smart datacenter...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

[MISC] New Car

I love it...

Friday, December 30, 2011

[IT] My IT wishlist for 2012 (part 3 - Virtualize the backplane)

My IT wishlist for 2012 (part 3 - Virtualize the backplane)

A few weeks ago I had a demo of Cisco UCS blade hardware and I find it pretty nice.

What's really nice is that the "Service Profile" technology of the UCS allows to move a complete configuration (BIOS settings/all firmwares/boot settings/MAC-address/etc) from one server (blade) to another. Now while this is really perfect for virtualization with a FCoE/iSCSI storage systems, I feel that the solution hasn't been really thought for those who would like to use local storage... these systems are mainly designed for those who only want 2 disks in their blades (again, when using local disks).

So my guess is that the next thing that needs to be virtualized is the backplane. This way you could have 8 blades, 16 blades or even 32 blades systems connected through multi-lane SAS to a huge "storage chassis" which would actually be only a big SAS endpoint which would allow to attribute bandwidth (SAS lanes) to servers (ie: give a web server 1x SAS 6G and a sql server 4x SAS 6G). Obviously, you would also be able to dedicate some disks to these servers, this way the blades would be almost diskless but still you would be able to add storage to your servers without the need for FCoE or iSCSI systems which both need you to learn and test much more things than what is usually used on simple web platform.

The idea here is to create almost ready-to-deploy racks full of servers and storage...
Why would you want to deploy iSCSI or FCoE, if you have a nearline SAS solution that answers your needs ans simplifies your infrastructure ?

Here is how it would look in a rack :

Obviously there would be a link between the DAS systems and the UCS switch/manager (UCS 6120) so that you would be able to manage the storage boxes with the same GUI/scripts as the rest of the rack.

Now that's "all-in-one" :)

[IT] My IT wishlist for 2012 (part 2 - Webtop/SmartTop)

My IT wishlist for 2012 (part 2 - Webtop/SmartTop)

Motorola all started it with the Atrix (and the upcoming Atrix2) but for me this is clearly where personal and enterprise computing should go...

This is how Motorola thought about it :

I think the future will be made of SmartTop's, you'll have a decent CPU in your mobile + RAM + Disk + a PCIe bus...

When you plug it to the "docking station PC", you would get :
- Super-HD graphics thanks to a PCIe card inside the station
- Maybe more processing power thanks to a FPU-like unit (back to the good old days) which might be integrated to the graphic card anyway (GPGPU-style)
- A big screen, at least 13"
- Two other disk drives :
- One which will automatically (differentially) replicate what's inside your mobile when you connect it;
- A big 1TB+ drive for storing whatever you need to store only on the lesser-mobile device.

Also, I think Motorola's design is flawed, you don't want your mobile device at the back of the SmartTop, you want it as the trackpad (in purple on the picture below) !

[IT] My IT wishlist for 2012 (part 1 - SSD Tiering)

My IT wishlist for 2012 (part 1 - SSD Tiering) :

Hybrid-Storage in servers

I've been a big fan of SSD technology from the very beginning, I've run or tested :
- Samsung's Hybrid HDD (a failure)
- HyperDrive's 4 and 5 (RAM-based SSD) with battery and CompactFlash backup => works fine
- Gigabyte i-Ram (RAM-based SSD) battery-backed => works fine but limited capacity
- Intel X25-E and HP Gen1 SSDs => works fine, but many failure with database workloads even though they are SLC
- Fusion-IOs PCIe => perfect, but expensive
- Pliant (now SanDisk) SSDs => perfect too, less expensive than the Fusion-IOs
- various consumer-class SSDs (Crucial, RunCore, Intel)

As SSD prices go down and need for fast and big data processing, it's more and more relevant to use tiered-storage (also called hybrid-storage or Tier-0 storage) :

This technology is coming from high-end SAN systems like Pillar Data system's and others...

The idea is pretty simple, while your favorite RAID controller's max RAM cache did increase over time, from 128MB (2000's) to 256MB and now 512MB (LSI) and 1GB (HP) or even 4GB (Areca). This amount of cache helps but can't cope with today's need for ultra-fast and extra-large cache in front of your favorite SAS or SATA drives... This is where the Hybrid cache comes and efficiently caches a good part of the most used data you are using. You then have 3 layers of cache in front of the "slow" drives : OS caching (mostly read), RAID Ctrl RAM cache (often 75% write, 25% read), SSD cache (read and write).

A bit of reading on this topic (all from LSI) :

Now imagine a server like the Dell PowerEdge C1100 with 2 x 200G SLC SSDs and 8 x 900G SAS drives, that's a nice database server in 1U...

Dell also announced that they will be able to provide SSD 2.5" drives which will be directly connected as PCIe cards in their next-gen servers (a kind of hot-plug Fusion-IO). That's nice but for some reasons (probably lack of space inside the 1U server) they won't allow 2 x PCIe-SSD + 8 x SAS HDD, only 2 SSD + 4 SAS HDD...

Anyway, this is clearly our future !

While on the consumer market there has been many failure to do this, probably mainly because they were trying to fit everything inside the HDD itself, there seems to be new approaches to the issue which will probably be more successful :
- Hybrid drive with "Tiering controller" + SSD + HDD on a PCIe-card : OCZ RevoDrive Hybrid PCI Express
- Software-based Tiering as seen on OCZ Synapse Cache which is basically a classic SSD Drive + Nvelo's Dataplex software (

Saturday, May 7, 2011

[Home Automation] Turning ON/OFF your Cambridge Audio Azur 840A (Version 2)

So you have a Cambridge Audio Amplifier (or any other product with a serial port) and a null-modem cable and want to be able to control your amplifier from a Linux PC (a web page or CLI). Here's a quick HOW TO...

Say you've connected it to /dev/ttyS0.

Step 1 - allowing anonymous/apache/everyone to write to /dev/ttyS0
echo "/bin/chmod 666 /dev/ttyS0" >> /etc/rc.local

Step 2 - PHP function to start/stop the amplifier
function cambridge_pstate($w) {
if($w=="ON") fputs($fp,"#1,11,1\r\n");
if($w=="OFF") fputs($fp,"#1,11,0\r\n");
while($line=fgets($fp,16)) if($line!="") break;
if(substr($line,0,2)=="#4") return true;
else return false;

Step 3 - Use the fonction in a PHP page
if(cambridge_pstate("ON")) echo "Starting the amplifier...";
else echo "Could not start the amplifier...";

... and obviously, the opposite :
if(cambridge_pstate("OFF")) echo "Stopping the amplifier...";
else echo "Could not start the amplifier...";

Sunday, May 1, 2011

So much for "intelligent" ads :)

Nice one...

CTR must have been quite low on these ads :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Rootzmap as seen on...

There's been quite some buzz around the rootzmap's pictures recently.

They've been featured on BBC4 and BBC Mundo websites and TV shows.

They also have been shown at the German Museum of Technology during an exhibition celebrating computer pioneer Konrad Zuse's 100th Birthday.

And finally in this book about Science.

...and at various small exhibitions in the UK and US.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Crawler starting to look High-Tech

Monday, December 28, 2009

Atom motherboard

Here is the board and its case.
The 1 GB CF is a bit too small, I'll get a bigger one soon.
Also, the holes for the 2.5" disk do not match my 44 pin cable length, so I'll create new holes for it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Robotic Crawler Video

Olivier made a video of his HSP Crawler first run, which I edited and put on dailymotion, so here it is :

Don't know how it will handle the 1kg Atom motherboard on top (we might break the weakest parts...), but looks promising...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Unmanned Vehicle Project

With Philippe we have the project, since a very long time, to build an mobile camera, well, let's say a robot !
There's a lot of robot projects around the net, but one of the main identified problem is their lack of "agility".
That's why, for our first tests, we have prefered to choose a well proven basis instead of an "university project", the HSP Crawler :
Here in it's original configuration as i have received it :

Saturday, July 18, 2009

JPEG and PNG thumbnailing

In need for a fast and good looking thumbnailing solution for PNG and JPEG bitmaps, I came across this interesting article about Python's PIL and its rivals (Epeg and Imagemagick), so I decided to bench these solutions myself (even more since the various possible resizing methods were not tested).

For my bench, the thumbnail size is 320x200, which is quite a big thumbnail, but why not... (time is in seconds)

I'm no Python fanboy, but it looks like Python Image Library (in Bicubic mode) offers the best ratio speed/quality when you need to create thumbnails from jpeg and png.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cable goes HD

Now I have access to HD channels (720p)... and still a good connectivity.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

[Netlantis] New Server

I've just finished building a new server for Netlantis.

It has the following specs :
1 x Intel e8500 CPU
4 x 2 GB RAM PC6400 CL4
2 x Gigabyte iRAM 4 GB (in RAID 0)
2 x Seagate 250 GB HDD (in RAID 1)
1 x Seagate 250 GB spare HDD

Because of the size of the iRAM (and the bad design of this ASUS P5Q-Premium motherboard) I had to build some custom pieces (which was actually fun) and to use a 13 cm flexible PCI riser (bought on LinITX).

Here's what the server looks like :

If I were to build such a system now (I have my iRAM since 1 year now), I would choose an HyperDrive5 16GB drive... read more here. It has a disk (actually a compact flash) for backups (which is to me a better idea than a battery), has a better architecture, and is less expensive.

[Thoughts] Snow in Paris

Such a nice sunny morning in Paris, with a bit of snow...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

[Thoughts] New controller for my X10 setup

While I was getting a special PCI riser for the new Netlantis server, I've decided to get a 8" LCD Touchscreen (from Linitx).
This product is really nice and easy to setup under Linux.

The idea for this screen is to replace my current X10 control, which only allows me to power on or off everything.

I created an image and a very simple script which calls heyu...

Here's the image.

And the screen, once installed and running.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

[Thoughts] The stradivarius of Headphones

Notice the capital H to Headphones here, we're talking about high quality (and price) audio.

The Beyerdynamic DT 770 ed. 2005 is not just another headphone, to me it's an experience (wow, that sounds like crappy oldschool marketing). Let me clarify...
With this headphones, even the worst piece of 128k MP3 sounds like your getting a personal visit from the artist and his band. An experience you can only experience with very expensive loudspeakers, like these :

Sonus Faber Stradivari Homage :

Monitor Audio Platinum PL300 :