Wednesday 15 May 2019

UK Spectrum Scale User Group Meeting - 2019

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The UK/World Wide 2019 Spectrum Scale User Group took place on the 8th and 9th May at the IBM’s South Bank Client Centre. I had the pleasure of attending this meeting alongside two colleagues from our office. The first day  hosted talks from the Spectrum Scale CTO who presented an interesting history of GPFS from its inception to the current status.

The key benefit that I personally got from attending the user group meeting was the networking. We are looking into a implementing Spectrum Archive solution and getting into contact with people who have practical experience with this offering was key. I was able to have a good discussion with Khanh Ngo, who the the IBM STSM responsible for Archive. He gave me his contact details and allowed me direct access to contact him whenever I want something pertaining the his product offering. He presented his product on the second day of the conference, and his presentation was top-level but concise. We discuss about my rough design sketch and we ended with him offering to drop by our office the next time he is returning to Europe, and that around Aug when he is coming to Amsterdam.

The next person I was pleased to meet was Dan Foster, who happen to be my predecessor. Dan has done some dev implementations of both TSM-HSM and LTFS-HSM, so he quite knowledgeable on these product offerings. The key issues with Archive, that Dan pointed out to me are the Reclamation and Reconciliation. While the Archive had baseline functions to perform these tasks, an admin with need to know, in a verifiable way, the actual tapes that/files that will be involved in these processes. This requires some scripting on top of the base functions provided by Archive, is automation has to be implemented. Dan himself has a product that provides this functionality and more, offered by his organisation.

The other key person I got in contact with, wrt to the above project, was Patrick Dekkers, who is a Storage Specialist at Amsterdam UMC Locactie VUmc. Patrick has implemented the Archive for his organisation. His is a Stretched-Cluster configuration and he gave a presentation of his overall storage infrastructure, which was helpful to understand how they are using Spectrum Scale and Archive. It would be a good think to keep in contact with Patrick to exchange notes on our experiences, and probably a working visit to his facility to catch-up and see stuff in action.

Other observations
Two technical presentations by the Spectrum Scale developers were quite interesting for me. The first was titled "Deep-dive on Spectrum Scale Reliability, Availability and Serviceability improvements". The talk centred on network reliability, outlining cases, causes and troubleshooting of network related issued in Spectrum Scale. Key was the improvements in v5.0.2 that make log messages more clearer. Having implemented Spectrum Scale Object Storage a few weeks ago, I was quite happy to see the commands I have gotten accustomed to, accompanied by easy to read messaged, and enhanced context as provided by the developer on the day.

The other presentation that I found interesting was the "Overview: Spectrum Scale support for NFS and SMB
Spectrum Scale Best Practices for Snapshots" The bit about Snapshot best practices was interesting. I realised that there is actually a careful consideration that has to be taken designed processes for snapshotting and backup. My hunch was that most of the time people use badly designed processes, which just work mainly because the systems are not performance constrained, or end applications (and or users) are tolerant of the effects caused by bad practices. One key think I was reminded is that even with Fileset Snapshot, the cluster run a filesystem-wide quiesce which means taking and deleting of a large number of filesystems can result in a big impact even without end-user I/O. The choice and time for deleting snapshot has to be carefully considered.

Lighter notes
Overall I enjoyed my 2 days in London with a first day rendezvous at the Jazz Cafe were Hypnotic Monkeys produced a superb performance. I especially like their Afro-Jazz sounds garnished by Rap lyrics. Also the days coincided with UEFA semifinals which we enjoyed in the local pub which were often full to the hilt.
Being my first ever user group meeting, I was thorough impressed with the level of organisation and attendance. Meeting the developers, most of whom I had seen their names in user group forums/mailing lists, that was refreshing to put faces to names.

Saturday 2 March 2019

Huawei Mate20 Pro - A great spec'ed flagship!

I received this product as part of a review program in return for an unbiased review
The Huawei Mate20 Pro smartphone is essentially, according to me, a phablet if we are to go by the screen size. But let's face it, size really matters! I do not want to squint my eyes when i am watching videos on Youtube and Video Hub or other “tubes” and “hubs”. Screen real-estate is a critical factor, as the trends have proved. The Mate20 Pro’s screen is "Yuuuuge" at 6.39 inches, whilst the phone weighs only 189 grams and is 8.6mm thin. This is probably the best screen size to weight ratio I have seen. Moreso, the phone fits snuggly into one's' hand allowing one hand operation without any problem, thanks to the much reduced width of only 72.6mm, slimmer than even the P20 Pro. The key feature here is the edge-to-edge screen, which monopolises the phone's real estate. You will probably instantly notice the "top notch" (pun or no pun, you decide). The notch can be turned off if one doesn't fancy it.

There is no home button on the front, like on the P20 Pro, instead, the fingerprint scanner comes embedded into the screen. Like most modern smartphones the Mate20 Pro ditches the home button so as to dedicate the front, to the screen. Other interface features of note are the screen recording, which allows one to record all screen interactions, and the split screen, which allows two applications to be run on separate screens simultaneously. This seems to be a standard feature for most Huawei phones now
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The battery on the Mate20 Pro is a humongous 4200mAh, thats 200mAh more than the already juice-saving record breaking P20 Pro. This means the Mate20 Pro will be able to keep things ticking for 2 days easy-peasy, after a full charge. I managed a whole 3 days uptime despite my intensive use of the camera as I was testing various modes and scenarios during the same period. Couple this with the quick-charge feature, you realise that you soon forget about the yesteryear wores of cellphone charging.

Like its predecessor, this phone is all about the camera. The phone has got 3 rear Leica cameras which work together to provide appropriate lighting, depth, focus and colour performance. Indeed the power of AI is summoned on this phone to aid in object auto detection, auto camera mode sand settings accordingly, making this behemoth, a perfect point and shoot buddy.

The Mate20 Pro has all other bells and whistles that one would expect from Huawei’s flagship. It's all IP68, IR sensor is versus, NFC etc etc. but this phone has its shortcomings like all things “many-made” and man-made. The in-display fingerprint sensor is sometimes inconsistent, failing to recognise my fingerprint, meaning i have to use other authentication modes. Also if one uses a tempered glass screen protector, this problem can be made worse. This technology could be in its early stages and one hopes this will improve with time.

However, the Mate20 Pro comes with all PIN, Fingerprint and 3D face recognition mechanisms, this allows one to choose the methods they feel is most effective considering their circumstances.