Skip to content

Feed aggregator

Eat your food like Darth Vader with lightsaber cutlery

The Wisdom of Clouds - James Urquhart - Wed, 09/30/2015 - 21:09
Even if you aren't a Sith Lord, you can still dine like one with Star Wars lightsaber cutlery sets and graters from Underground Toys. Bantha steaks not included.

Categories: Blogs

TiVo Bolt lets you skip commercials and speed-watch TV

The Wisdom of Clouds - James Urquhart - Wed, 09/30/2015 - 21:06
TiVo hopes you'll pay more for TV with its time-saving tricks. Also, Tesla Model X spreads its wings, and Samsung's Gear S2 smartwatch hits stores Friday.

Categories: Blogs

Portobello mushrooms could power your future phone

The Wisdom of Clouds - James Urquhart - Wed, 09/30/2015 - 20:58
Engineers at the University of California at Riverside explore how batteries made with mushrooms could be cheaper to make and less prone to degrading over time.

Categories: Blogs

Amazon EMR Release 4.1.0 – Spark 1.5.0, Hue 3.7.1, HDFS Encryption, Presto, Oozie, Zeppelin, Improved Resizing

Amazon Web Services Blog - Wed, 09/30/2015 - 20:51

My colleagues Jon Fritz and Abhishek Sinha are both Senior Product Managers on the EMR team. They wrote the guest post below to introduce you to the newest release of EMR and to tell you about new EMR cluster resizing functionality.


Amazon EMR is a managed service that simplifies running and managing distributed data processing frameworks, such as Apache Hadoop and Apache Spark.

Today we are announcing Amazon EMR release 4.1.0, which includes support for Spark 1.5.0, Hue 3.7.1 and HDFS transparent encryption with Hadoop KMS. We are also introducing an intelligent resize feature that allows you to reduce the number of nodes in your cluster with minimal impact to running jobs. Finally, we are also announcing the availability of Presto 0.119, Zeppelin 0.6 (Snapshot) and Oozie 4.0.1 as Sandbox Applications. The EMR Sandbox gives you early access to applications which are still in development for a full General Availability (GA) release.

EMR release 4.1.0 is our first follow-up release to 4.0.0, which brought many new platform improvements around configuration of applications, a new packaging system, standard ports and paths for Hadoop ecosystem applications, and a Quick Create option for clusters in the AWS Management Console.

New Applications and Components in the 4.x Release Series
Amazon EMR provides an easy way to install and configure distributed big data applications in the Hadoop and Spark ecosystems on your cluster when creating clusters from the EMR console, AWS CLI, or using a SDK with the EMR API. In release 4.1.0, we have added support for several new applications:

  • Spark 1.5.0 – We included Spark 1.4.1 on EMR release 4.0.0, and we have upgraded the version of Spark to 1.5.0 in this EMR release. Spark 1.5.0 includes a variety of new features and bug fixes, including additional functions for Spark SQL/Dataframes, new algorithms in MLlib, improvements in the Python API for Spark Streaming, support for Parquet 1.7, and preferred locations for dynamically allocated executors. To learn more about Spark in Amazon EMR, click here.
  • HUE 3.7.1 – Hadoop User Experience (HUE) is an open source user interface which allows users to more easily develop and run queries and workflows for Hadoop ecosystem applications, view tables in the Hive Metastore, and browse files in Amazon S3 and on-cluster HDFS. Multiple users can login to HUE on an Amazon EMR cluster to query data in Amazon S3 or HDFS using Apache Hive and Pig, create workflows using Oozie, develop and save queries for later use, and visualize query results in the UI. For more information about how to connect to the HUE UI on your cluster, click here.
  • Hadoop KMS for HDFS Transparent Encryption – The Hadoop Key Management Server (KMS) can supply keys for HDFS Transparent Encryption, and it is installed on the master node of your EMR cluster with HDFS. You can also use a key vendor external to your EMR cluster which utilizes the Hadoop KeyProvider API. Encryption in HDFS is transparent to applications reading from and writing to HDFS, and data is encrypted in in-transit in HDFS because encryption and decryption activities are carried out in the client. Amazon EMR has also included an easy configuration option to programmatically create encrypted HDFS directories when launching clusters. To learn more about using Hadoop KMS with HDFS Transparent Encryption, click here.

Introducing the EMR Sandbox
With the EMR Sandbox, you now have early access to new software for your EMR cluster while those applications are still in development for a full General Availability (GA) release. Previously, bootstrap actions were the only mechanism to install applications not fully supported on EMR. However, you would need to specify a bootstrap action script, the installation was not tightly coupled to an EMR release, and configuration settings were harder to maintain. Instead, applications in the EMR Sandbox are certified to install correctly, configured using a configuration object, and specified directly from the EMR console, CLI, or EMR API using the application name (ApplicationName-Sandbox). Release 4.1.0 has three EMR Sandbox applications:

  • Presto 0.119 – Presto is an open-source, distributed SQL query engine designed to query large data sets in one or more heterogeneous data sources, including Amazon S3. Presto is optimized for ad-hoc analysis at interactive speed and supports standard ANSI SQL, including complex queries, aggregations, joins, and window functions. Presto does not use Hadoop MapReduce; instead, it uses a query execution mechanism that processes data in memory and pipelines it across the network between stages. You can interact with Presto using the on-cluster Presto CLI or connect with a supported UI like Airpal, a web-based query execution tool which was open sourced by Airbnb. Airpal has several interesting features such as syntax highlighting, results exported to a CSV for download, query history, saved queries, table finder to search for appropriate tables, and a table explorer to visualize schema of a table and sample the first 1000 rows. To learn more about using Airpal with Presto on Amazon EMR, read the new post, Analyze Data with Presto and Airpal on Amazon EMR on the AWS Big Data Blog. To learn more about Presto on EMR, click here.
  • Zeppelin 0.6 (Snapshot) – Zeppelin is an open source GUI which creates interactive and collaborative notebooks for data exploration using Spark. You can use Scala, Python, SQL (using Spark SQL), or HiveQL to manipulate data and quickly visualize results. Zeppelin notebooks can be shared among several users, and visualizations can be published to external dashboards. When executing code or queries in a notebook, you can enable dynamic allocation of Spark executors to programmatically assign resources or change Spark configuration settings (and restart the interpreter) in the Interpreter menu.
  • Oozie 4.0.1 – Oozie is a workflow scheduler for Hadoop, where you can create Directed Acyclic Graphs (DAGs) of actions. Also, you can easily trigger your Hadoop workflows by actions or time.

Example Customer Use Cases for Presto on Amazon EMR
Even before Presto was supported as a Sandbox Application, many AWS customers have been using Presto on Amazon EMR, especially for interactive ad hoc queries on large scale data sets in Amazon S3. Here are a few examples:

  • Cogo Labs, a startup incubator, operates a platform for marketing analytics and business intelligence. Presto running on Amazon EMR allows any of their 100+ developers and analysts to run SQL queries on over 500 TB of data stored in Amazon S3 for data-exploration, ad-hoc analysis, and reporting.
  • Netflix has chosen Presto as their interactive, ANSI-SQL compliant query engine for big data, as Presto scales well, is open source, and integrates with the Hive Metastore and Amazon S3 (the backbone of Netflix’s Big Data Warehouse environment.) Netflix runs Presto on persistent EMR clusters to quickly and flexibly query across their ~25PB S3 data store. Netflix is an active contributor to Presto, and Amazon EMR provides Netflix with the flexibility to run their own build of Presto on Amazon EMR clusters. On average, Netflix runs ~3500 queries per day on their Presto clusters. Learn more about Netflix’s Presto deployment.
  • Jampp is a mobile application marketing platform, and they use advertising retargeting techniques to drive engaged users to new applications. Jampp currently uses Presto on EMR to process 40 TB of data each day.
  • Kanmu is Japanese startup in the financial services industry and provides offers based on consumers’ credit card usage. Kanmu migrated from Hive to using Presto on Amazon EMR because of Presto’s ability to run exploratory and iterative analytics at interactive speeds, good performance with Amazon S3, and scalability to query large data sets.
  • OpenSpan provides automation and intelligence solutions that help bridge people, processes and technology to gain insight into employee productivity, simplify transactions, and engage employees and customers. OpenSpan migrated from HBase to Presto on Amazon EMR with Amazon S3 as a data layer. OpenSpan chose Presto because of its ANSI SQL interface and ability to query data in real-time directly from Amazon S3, which allows them to quickly explore vast amounts of data and rapidly iterate on upcoming data products.

Intelligent Resize Feature Set
In release 4.1.0, we have added an Intelligent Resize feature set so you can now shrink your EMR cluster with minimal impact to running jobs. Additionally, when adding instances to your cluster, EMR can now start utilizing provisioned capacity as soon it becomes available. Previously, EMR would need the entire requested capacity to become available before allowing YARN to send tasks to those nodes. Also, you can now issue a resize request to EMR while a current resize request is being executed (to change the target size of your cluster), or stop a resize operation.

When decreasing the size of your cluster, EMR will programmatically select instances which are not running tasks, or if all instances in the cluster are being utilized, EMR will wait for tasks to complete on a given instance before removing it from the cluster. The default wait time is 1 hour, and this value can be changed. You can also specify a timeout value in seconds by changing the yarn.resourcemanager.decommissioning parameter in /home/hadoop/conf/yarn-site.xml or /etc/hadoop/conf/yarn-site.xml file. EMR will dynamically update the new setting and a resource manager restart is not required. You can set this to arbitrarily large number to ensure that no tasks are killed while shrinking the cluster.

Additionally, Amazon EMR now has support for removing instances in the core group, which store data as a part of HDFS along with running YARN components. When shrinking the number of instances in a cluster’s core group, EMR will gracefully decommission HDFS daemons on the instances. During the decommissioning process, HDFS replicates the blocks on that instance to other active instances to reach the desired replication factor in the cluster (EMR sets the default replication factor to 1 for 1-3 core nodes, the value to 2 for 4-9 core nodes, and the value to 3 for 10+ core nodes). To avoid data loss, EMR will not allow shrinking your core group below the storage required by HDFS to store data on the cluster, and will ensure that the cluster has enough free capacity to successfully replicate blocks from the decommissioned instance to the remaining instances. If the requested instance count is too low to fit existing HDFS data, only a partial number of instances will be decommissioned.

We recommend minimizing HDFS heavy writes before removing nodes from your core group. HDFS replication can slow down due to under-construction blocks and inconsistent replica blocks, which will decrease the performance of the overall resize operation. To learn more about resizing your EMR clusters, click here.

Launch an Amazon EMR Cluster With 4.1.0 Today
To create an EMR cluster with 4.1.0, select release 4.1.0 on the Create Cluster page in the AWS Management Console, or use the release label “emr-4.1.0” when creating your cluster from the AWS CLI or using a SDK with the EMR API.

Jon Fritz and Abhishek Sinha

Categories: Companies

Microsoft accidentally posts upcoming Lumia 950, 950 XL specs online

The Wisdom of Clouds - James Urquhart - Wed, 09/30/2015 - 20:38
Specs for Microsoft's anticipated pair of flagship handsets, the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, were accidentally posted online by the company itself.

Categories: Blogs

Live Blog: Testing for Summer Snowstorms to Avoid Winter Woes


Look for a series of live blogs from Skytap while we attend STARWEST this week in Anaheim, California!

It takes more than guts to hold a late addition “bonus” session at 7:15 in the morning; it also takes having an outstanding story to tell so you’re not telling it to an empty room while everyone else catches up on their sleep.


Parasoft and Alaska Airlines had both this morning, and they were rewarded with a standing room-only crowd that was hardly ready to leave when it was over. “Service Virtualization in Action: How Alaska Airlines tests for snowstorms in July” was a huge hit.

We’ve actually covered this story before as Parasoft and Alaska Airlines teamed up for a similar webinar earlier this summer, but the impressive crowd size proved that there are still loads of people in every industry imaginable that are still trying to figure out how to remove the constraints and timeboxes around software testing, and what exactly service virtualization really is.

Making sure the audience knew that this very different from server virtualization, Parasoft Chief Strategy Officer Wayne Ariola defined service virtualization as “delivering simulated test environments to enable earlier, faster, and more complete testing”.

Ariola credits this shift toward testing continuously throughout the software delivery lifecycle to testers moving away from asking the question, “Are we done testing?” to the far more quality-focused, “Does the release candidate have an acceptable level of risk.”

Alaska Airlines test automation engineer Ryan Papineau then took over the session and detailed how service virtualization helps his team test incredibly complex flight operations software that is loaded with dependencies around passengers, cargo, fuel, staff, check-in/boarding times and more. The challenge of maintaining a high level of quality in a system this complex is incredibly difficult, and Ryan broke down the three areas that caused the biggest headaches for his team before adopting service virtualization. Those areas were around:

  1. Environments continuously changing and having to be shared between dev/test teams
  2. Integrated data that was often inconsistent or unavailable to test
  3. Impactful events that do not exist at the time of testing, and a lack of resources to make them happen

While the airline industry certainly has unique dependencies to test against, constraints around a lack of environments, and test data and resources are all too common in all industries. By virtualizing complete dev/test environments, and the services, resources, and events that testers need access to early and throughout the software lifecycle, enterprises like Alaska Airlines are able to ensure that consistently maintaining an “acceptable” level of risk is much easier than it used to be.

Combining Skytap’s Environments-as-a-Service and Parasoft service virtualization enables continuous testing by eliminating the constraints around provisioning dev/test environments, and granting earlier access to third party services and events. Learn more in our data sheet and white paper about we’ve partnered to help our customers deliver better software faster!


The post Live Blog: Testing for Summer Snowstorms to Avoid Winter Woes appeared first on Skytap.

Categories: Companies

Apple's Mac OS X El Capitan now available for download

The Wisdom of Clouds - James Urquhart - Wed, 09/30/2015 - 20:17
The computer software makes common actions easier, such as letting users view two open windows at once with a split-view screen.

Categories: Blogs

New AWS Security Courses (Fundamentals & Operations)

Amazon Web Services Blog - Wed, 09/30/2015 - 20:14

It’s probably no surprise that information security is one of today’s most sought after IT specialties. It’s also deeply important to our customers and any company considering moving to the cloud.

So, today we’re launching a new AWS Training curriculum focused on security. The curriculum’s two new classes are designed to help you meet your cloud security objectives under the AWS Shared Responsibility Model, by showing you how to create more secure AWS architectures and solutions and address key compliance requirements.

Here’s a closer look at what’s new:

  • AWS Security Fundamentals – This free 3-hour online class is designed to introduce fundamental cloud computing and AWS security concepts, including AWS access control and management, governance, logging, and encryption methods. The class, aimed primarily at security professionals with little or no working knowledge of AWS, also addresses security-related compliance protocols, risk management strategies, and procedures for auditing AWS security infrastructure.
  • Security Operations on AWS – A 3-day technical deep dive on how to stay secure and compliant in the AWS cloud. This classroom-based course covers security features of key AWS services and AWS best practices for securing data and systems. You’ll learn about regulatory compliance standards and use cases for running regulated workloads on AWS. Hands-on practice with AWS security products and features will help you take your security operations to the next level.

Visit AWS Training to learn more about the new security courses and find an instructor-led class near you.

— Jeff;

Categories: Companies

The con is on: Talking 'Con Man', 'Firefly' and Star Wars with Alan Tudyk

The Wisdom of Clouds - James Urquhart - Wed, 09/30/2015 - 19:55
The creator and star of a new Web series making fun of the sci-fi convention experience tells us how his moment of panic led him to create "Con Man".

Categories: Blogs

Cast of 'The Martian' asks ISS astronauts about space travel

The Wisdom of Clouds - James Urquhart - Wed, 09/30/2015 - 19:44
Stars of the new sci-fi film "The Martian" held a video Q&A with NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren, and things got funny when Kelly revealed his most important task on a shuttle mission.

Categories: Blogs

Stephen Hawking says nomadic aliens might crush us

The Wisdom of Clouds - James Urquhart - Wed, 09/30/2015 - 19:42
Technically Incorrect: The famed physicist says that simple math makes him believe there are aliens out there.

Categories: Blogs

Uber facing more roadblocks in cities around the world

The Wisdom of Clouds - James Urquhart - Wed, 09/30/2015 - 19:14
The ride-sharing service has been banned in Rio de Janeiro while proposed regulations in London could curtail its operations in the UK.

Categories: Blogs

Jelastic Partner Ecosystem is Expanded with MIRhosting High Expertise

We are happy to announce that from today Jelastic has a new strategic partner, Innovation IT Solutions Corporation, that launches under MIRhosting brand. Innovation IT Solutions Corporation is a group of companies, headquartered in the Netherlands. Currently, MIRhosting starts to provide highly available Jelastic PaaS in Eastern Europe with plans...

The post Jelastic Partner Ecosystem is Expanded with MIRhosting High Expertise appeared first on Jelastic Blog.

Categories: Companies

'Con Man' is out today, so you can watch 'Firefly' stars take on sci-fi fans

The Wisdom of Clouds - James Urquhart - Wed, 09/30/2015 - 19:12
Former "Firefly" stars Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion crowdfunded more than $3 million to back the new Web series.

Categories: Blogs

This gorgeous-looking sci-fi series is shot entirely with drones

The Wisdom of Clouds - James Urquhart - Wed, 09/30/2015 - 19:05
Drone maker 3DR is putting out a dystopian sci-fi series shot with drones and GoPro cameras. The results look promising, as you can see in the newly released trailer.

Categories: Blogs

Garth Brooks loses six months worth of songs to 'fried' phone

The Wisdom of Clouds - James Urquhart - Wed, 09/30/2015 - 18:39
Fans may have to wait a bit longer for new music from country superstar Garth Brooks. He lost half-a-year's worth of song ideas to a technology fail.

Categories: Blogs

Microsoft to open flagship store in New York on October 26

The Wisdom of Clouds - James Urquhart - Wed, 09/30/2015 - 18:12
In addition to its new five-floor location in Manhattan, Microsoft says it will open its first international flagship store in Sydney on November 12.

Categories: Blogs

Facebook refines profiles with temporary photos and videos for mobile

The Wisdom of Clouds - James Urquhart - Wed, 09/30/2015 - 18:06
The world's largest social network is changing the way profiles are shown on mobile devices by incorporating videos and photos that are displayed for a limited time.

Categories: Blogs

Our September Bitnami Power User: Bob Stolzberg

BitNami's Blog - Wed, 09/30/2015 - 17:50

We sat down with Bob Stolzberg of CenturyLink, a Principal Engineer (and avid fan of Bitnami's JBoss and Tomcat Blueprints) whom we worked with closely during our Bitnami Blueprints launch on the CenturyLink Cloud. After learning about our ‘Power Users’ monthly feature he contacted our COO directly to express how much he loves Bitnami resources. Naturally, we jumped at the chance to offer Bob our September Power User spot!

Bob is the ultimate evangelist. If there is ever a chance to utilize our web apps and stacks on a daily basis around the CenturyLink office he is the first one to recommend us. Check out a helpful blog post he recently authored, “Spinning Up Servers and Performance Monitoring in Minutes.”

He kindly got on the phone to walk our team through CenturyLink’s amazingly optimized Cloud Platform where our Bitnami Blueprints live. It’s incredibly easy for CenturyLink fans to navigate and deploy Bitnami Blueprints on their cloud platform, which made them a natural fit for a Bitnami partnership. The Bitnami Team is stoked to present Bob’s Power User Q&A. Read on and learn more about one of our favorite CenturyLink engineers, Bob Stolzberg:

What is your occupation? 

Principal Engineer at CenturyLink

What are your hobbies? 

In my spare time I enjoy hunting, fishing, metal detecting and spending time with my family.

Why did you start using Bitnami, and for what purposes? 

I started using Bitnami to automate the installation and configuration of a stack through Blueprints on the CenturyLink Cloud. A developer can rapidly ‘spin-up’ a LAMP stack (for example) in a low-cost environment, craft a blueprint that calls the Bitnami Blueprint as a base (everything is scalable and interactive), and have their customer information automatically configured every time. It’s very apparent that, much like CenturyLink, Bitnami is focused on speed and productivity.

What projects are you currently working on? 

Lots. :) Recently, I was involved in the task of helping to integrate Bitnami Blueprints with the CenturyLink Cloud. The magic of [CenturyLink’s] control panel is that you can easily/quickly configure and download Blueprints in under 1 minute. It was a fun project to work on as I’m a personal fan of both.

Do you have any favorite stacks/apps in the Bitnami Library? 

LAMP, MEAN, WAMP, Magento, Piwik, WordPress. Most recently I deployed Piwik to share project updates with a small team of developers and contractors inside CenturyLink.

How do you evangelize the Bitnami brand to peers/friends? 

I tell all of my friends and coworkers about Bitnami whenever I’m provided the opportunity. Just makes life simple and incredibly easy to install software.

We love to hear hear from our users, and we would love to hear about your personal experience with Bitnami as well. Feel free to reach out to us, and you might just be the next Bitnami Power User!
Categories: Companies

Ancient amber-entombed flea may hold bubonic plague secrets

The Wisdom of Clouds - James Urquhart - Wed, 09/30/2015 - 17:45
Fossilized bacteria trapped with a flea from millions of years ago could have something to tell us about the history of the much-feared Black Death.

Categories: Blogs