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The Hardware Hacker (Book Review)

The Hardware HackerThe Hardware Hacker
Adventures in Making & Breaking Hardware
Andrew “bunnie” Huang
$29.95 List. $18.43 Amazon (Prime)

I was excited to hear about this book and receive a copy of it but my feathers fell when I saw a quote by Edward Snowden on the dust jacket. The publisher also place Edward Snowden’s review at the top of the others in the pre-release reviewer’s list. This is not a book about Edward Snowden nor was he a hardware hacker, so I’m not sure what his “endorsement” does for the book except diminish its overall value to me. In fact, even if this book were a 10/10, which it isn’t, this inclusion decreases that review by at least two points right off the top. I was very disappointed to see any mention of Snowden in this book.

The Hardware Hacker is basically a reprint of Andrew Huang’s blog. Most of the information in the book is long outdated and is basically a memoir of stuff he’s done. If you’re looking for this book to actually teach you something, save your money. It’s basically one man’s adventure into various aspects of “hacking” and building things.

At the end of the book, there’s a lot of info about DNA, which totally doesn’t fit with the rest of the book. As one Amazon.com reviewer put it, it’s navel-gazing.

I’m sure there’s an audience for this book and it’s decently written, but it’s not a reference book by any stretch. If I had to categorize it, I’d call it technology historical nonfiction.

<rant>Edward Snowden is a fake hacker and a non-security professional. He’s not an authority on anything, especially security. His resume and history are sketchy at best and his claim to “fame” is that he stole documents and revealed them to a journalist, who of course, ran with them. He’s not to be trusted or held up as a hero. He’s a total zero who deserves prison time for treason. He should never be quoted, unless it’s ironically, for any book.</rant>

I guess if you’re interested in “how one guy did it”, then this is a good book. Otherwise, save your money and wait until it’s on the penny list or bargain bin at used book stores. I’m not actually sure why No Starch wanted to publish this book and I’m hoping that they didn’t invest a lot of money in its production. It seems more like something that should have been self-published and sold on Huang’s blog site as an ebook for his followers.

Originally, I was going to create a video review of this book but I just don’t see enough value in it to go to that much trouble. I am not really sure who the audience for this book is supposed to be. If you know who Andrew Huang is, then you’ve already seen this material, except perhaps for the weird DNA-related material. And if you’re like me and never heard of Andrew Huang, then this book is not likely to make you a fan.

I’ve seen some laudatory reviews on Amazon and other sites but I don’t think they’re to be believed. Honest ones like the three-star Amazon review I referred to earlier is more realistic.

I don’t mean any offense to No Starch Press because they have many great books available and generally speaking, I highly recommend them. I also don’t mean any offense to Andrew Huang, who I’m sure is a perfectly nice guy. I’m not sure who’s responsible for the inclusion of the Edward Snowden review and quote on the dust jacket, but that was a poor decision.

Rating: 5/10

Recommendation: If you like historical nonfiction and want to read about how someone else did it, read Huang’s blog and save your money.

Micron and Crucial Introduce Next-Generation SSD for Personal Storage, Media and Entertainment Markets

2014/03/19 Comments off

M550New M550 SSD Offers Faster Performance, Longer Battery Life and High-Capacity Storage with Advanced Feature Set 

Key Messages:

  • Reaches 20 times higher performance[i] than conventional hard drives for lightning fast boot, file and application load times
  • Stretches battery life through dramatically better power efficiency, consuming as little as 6 percent as much power versus a traditional hard drive on comparable workloads[ii]
  • Offers an advanced feature set that includes hardware-based encryption, data protection against unexpected power loss and an advanced adaptive thermal monitoring system
  • Available in 2.5-inch, mSATA and M.2 form factors with capacities up to 1TB

 Multimedia Elements:

1.      Media Kit

2.      How We Make Our SSDs (video)

3.      The Benefits of Upgrading to an SSD (video)

4.      Installing an SSD Is Easier Than You Think (video)

Boise, ID, March 18, 2014 – Micron Technology, Inc. today announced a new personal storage class, solid state drive (SSD), continuing a legacy of developing foundational memory technology into reliable, high-performance storage solutions. The M550 SSD is designed to meet the increasingly demanding needs of high-performance computing, ultrathin, and media/video applications. It is available today to consumers, businesses and system builders under the Crucial® brand and to OEM customers under the Micron® brand.

Faster Storage Performance

The M550 SSD offers 20 times higher performance1 than a traditional hard drive, while consuming significantly less power. It enables quick boot-up, speedy file and program access, near instant wake from sleep, as well as ultra-efficient power management for increased battery life. In fact, the M550 draws as little as 0.15 watts during normal operation1.

The M550 design tightly integrates Micron NAND and firmware to deliver up to 95,000 input/output operations per second (IOPS). The drive’s sequential speeds reach up to 550 MB/s for reads and 500 MB/s writes, which maxes out the capabilities of the SATA 6 Gb/s interface.[iii] To understand the benefits of upgrading to an SSD and see the dramatic performance gains compared to traditional hard drives, watch our video.

Advanced Feature Set

The M550 SSD incorporates a host of advanced features to provide users with a powerful computing experience:

  • Best-in-Class Hardware Encryption: Keeps personal files and sensitive information secure in the event of device theft or loss.
  • Device Sleep Low-Power Mode: Enables the drive to draw practically no power while in sleep mode and respond instantly when the laptop is opened.
  • Data Protection: Employs onboard power-loss protection and advanced error recovery techniques to protect the integrity of stored data.
  • Adaptive Thermal Management: Dynamically adjusts power consumption based on system temperature for ultra-small, thermally constrained systems.
  • Reliability: Our proprietary RAIN technology provides built-in fail-over protection at the NAND level.

Micron Quality You Can Trust

The M550 SSD is built start-to-finish by Micron, providing the comprehensive quality control that only a NAND Flash memory manufacturer can supply. With more than 35 years of technology leadership, Micron is one of the world’s largest and most trusted Flash storage manufacturers. The new drive utilizes Micron’s proven 20-nanometer (nm) multilevel cell (MLC) NAND Flash to achieve terabyte capacity on the 2.5-inch form factor. Watch this behind-the-scenes video to see how Micron designs and builds SSDs.

“Built on our years of storage expertise, the M550 SSD combines leading-edge performance with an advanced feature set to create a powerful computing experience,” said Darren Thomas, vice president of Micron’s storage business unit. “For consumers, the Crucial M550 SSD offers a reliable storage solution from a trustworthy brand. For OEM customers, the Micron M550 SSD offers a slim, lightweight form factor for ultrathin designs, and advanced features for media and video applications.”

Micron’s advanced NAND Flash technology provides more storage in a smaller footprint, making it possible to pack half a terabyte of storage onto an SSD module the size of a stick of gum (80mm x 22mm). This M.2 form factor, along with the mSATA form factor, are key designs for current and next-generation ultrathin computers, including Ultrabook™ devices, tablets and convertible PCs. Visit micron.com/ultrathin to see how Micron SSDs transform the ultrathin experience to meet the needs of the mobile computing market.

High-Performance Storage for Video Applications

The M550 has also been chosen as the preferred storage solution for AJA, a leading manufacturer of high-quality digital video interface, conversion and desktop solutions for professional broadcast and post-production. “Our customers demand high reliability for capturing the very high data rates of HD and 4k video. Whether it’s a motion picture or a Major League Baseball broadcast, data degradation is unacceptable,” said John Abt, CEO of AJA. “The Micron M550 easily meets AJA’s performance requirements.”

The M550 also leverages controller technology from the industry leaders at Marvell. “Marvell is excited to collaborate with Micron to bring a new generation of cutting-edge SSDs to the video market,” said Rajan Pai, General Manager and Vice President of the Data Storage Business Unit at Marvell. “The combination of Micron’s leadership in NAND flash memory coupled with Marvell’s industry-leading 88SS9189 SSD controller creates a powerful solution that fuels exceptional delivery of digital entertainment and video content to meet the next wave of consumer demand.”

Compatibility and Availability

The Crucial M550 2.5-inch SSD is offered in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB capacities, and it is available for immediate purchase through select global channel partners or direct through www.crucial.com. The smaller M.2 and mSATA form factors will be available through Crucial later this year, in capacities up to 512GB. The drive is backed by a three-year limited warranty[iv] and is compatible with both PC and Mac® systems.

The Micron M550 SSD is also available in a 64GB capacity; all configurations are available for immediate sampling and are sold direct to OEMs and via the company’s distribution network.

[i] Performance level based on averaged PCMark Vantage HDD test scores of five leading hard drives compared to the M550 SSD. Actual performance level may vary based on benchmark used and individual system configuration. Test setup: 256GB M550 SSD (firmware MU03), 2TB Western Digital® WD20EURS 7200RPM hard drive, 2TB Seagate® ST2000DM001 7200 RPM hard drive, 1TB Western Digital WD10EZEX 7200RPM hard drive, 750GB Seagate ST3750640AS 7200RPM hard drive, and 500GB Western Digital WD5000AVDS 7200RPM hard drive, all tested on an Intel® DZ87KLT-75K motherboard, Intel i7-4770K 3.50GHz processor, BIOS Rev. 0446, and Windows® 8 Pro 64-bit operating system using PCMark Vantage HDD test suite.

[ii] Power calculations are based on published specs for the 500GB Seagate® Momentus® 7200 rpm internal laptop hard drive, one of the most popular hard drives according to NPD data published in September 2013. The Momentus uses 2.5 watts of power on an average workload, compared to 0.15 watts on the M550 SSD. In everyday terms, this means significantly more battery life and substantial savings on power costs.

[iii] Quoted performance figures are based on 256GB, 512GB and 1TB capacities.

[iv] Micron-branded and Crucial-branded M550 SSD warranty terms may vary. Contact your Micron or Crucial sales representative for complete warranty terms.

Storage Trends and the Future of Storage

2013/10/01 Comments off

IBM Storage Infographic

Do you see the Infographic to the right? You only see part of it. How much information can you use from what you see now? Not much, right? It’s the same with your storage–you’re only getting part of the story because you’re only seeing part of the picture. Only seeing part of the picture is disturbing enough here but think about what you’re not seeing from your current storage tools.

What do you know about the storage in your company or organization? One thing you do know for sure, without much investigation on your part, is that a lot of the storage you’ve paid for is wasted. Your money’s wasted. Your capacity’s wasted. And all the while, your technology staff’s begging for more storage because they’re running out of space–or at least they think they are running out of it.

Some of it isn’t your staff’s fault. They too, are only seeing part of the picture. It’s your storage management tools, your storage management strategy, and your storage technology that’s causing most of your space waste problems.

But waste is also only part of the picture. How will you manage the rapidly growing volume of data with which you must contend? How efficiently can you retrieve it? Are you still relying on tape and traditional data recovery technologies?

And how about disaster recovery? How many tapes and restore points will you have to manage in case of a major outage? Have you estimated your mean time to restore (MTTR)?

There’s a way to manage your storage environment efficiently, with less waste, with lower power consumption, and with less sprawl. Check out the full The Top Trends in Storage Infographic from IBM to see the solution and get the whole story.

IBM offers a range of Storwize products from Entry to Enterprise.

Five of the many outstanding features of the Storwize family of products are:

  • Flash Copy – Make up to 2,040 copies of your data.
  • Remote Mirror Function – Copy data to a remote location for disaster recovery.
  • Data Volume Management – Real-time compression takes place on data as it is written to disk.
  • Visual enhancements – You can easily view your storage capacity, how much you’re using, how much is free, and how much space is saved by compression.
  • Lower costs – Easy to manage storage that is space, time, and cost efficient.

The Storwize product line is part of IBM’s Smarter Storage for Smarter Computing solution.
IBM for Midsize Business

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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IBM Flex-es its computing muscle again by going ‘Beyond Blades’

2013/08/07 Comments off

systems_pureflex_maininfographic_620x360_v2This week IBM announced exciting news about new offerings within the Flex System. These offerings will help the system fully evolve into a high-performance, reliable, secure and cloud-based system that can be tailored to meet every SMB’s unique IT needs. Users will enjoy integrated computing, storage, networking resources that are both easy to use and adaptable to dynamic external conditions.

IBM’s new Flex systems go beyond blades to bring you truly integrated compute, storage, networking, and management into a modular and flexible system. It’s also the industry’s first 40GB bandwidths and integrated SAN.

What this means for SMBs is flexible, scalable, and customizable systems that can grow with business needs. The new modular Flex System is perfect for SMBs who are budget conscious in that this new Flex System provides more compute power per dollar than any comparable hardware on the market.

And IBM is going beyond blades in another way by designing its systems as ‘compute nodes’ and giving you the capability to support the equivalent of 28 compute nodes per  IBM Flex System Enterprise Chassis.

“With a broad range of x86 and IBM POWER compute nodes, the Flex System V7000 storage node, enhanced networking capabilities and sophisticated system management capabilities, you can upgrade your existing blade server infrastructure and make your IT simpler, more flexible, more open, and more efficient.”

To learn more about IBM’s Flex System technology, watch the IBM Flex System video or connect to IBM’s Flex System page describing the technology and the new game changing improvements in detail.

IBM for Midsize Business

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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IBM’s SmartCloud Entry 3.1 Launch (Podcast)

2013/05/14 Comments off

smartcloudentryToday, IBM launches its new SmartCloud Entry version 3.1 that adds support for Hyper-V to VMware, PowerVM, and KVM that will be available to the public mid-June 2013. The podcast includes IBM Program Director for Cloud Computing Systems and Technology Group, Jeff Borek, Product Line Manager for Virtualization and Cloud Solutions, IBM Systems Software Team, Ian Robinson, and Alan Dickinson,  IBM Program Director for Cloud Computing in Mid-sized Businesses.

Length: 32:05 minutes, MP3 format, Rated G for all audiences.

In the podcast, the IBM team and I cover the general features and aspects of SmartCloud Entry. Plus, I ask the team some tough questions about affordability, maintenance, ease of deployment of new resources and more.

Why it’s frugal: IBM’s SmartCloud Entry is frugal because it enables businesses to provision cloud resources with a few simple mouse clicks, it’s inexpensive compared to other cloud solutions, it’s easy for businesses to create a private cloud without having to purchase additional hardware or without having to replace what they already have. SmartCloud Entry is multi-vendor compatible and multi-platform capable.

If you don’t get all of your questions answered from the podcast, you can contact an IBM partner and connect to IBM’s Cloud Computing site for more information. The site provides you with several videos, features lists, links to products and services, and much more including a community site where you can read blogs, watch videos, and participate in cloud forums.

For more information on private cloud click here to download a free ebook on private cloud from the Aberdeen Group.

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IBM for Midsize Business

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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