Apple’s Mapocalypse continues: Google Maps on iOS

Last night, late, just before Midnight EST, Apple graciously allowed Google’s Maps application through the firewall to the general App store consuming public.

One key addition of course is the turn-by-turn voice guided directions which is very similar to Apple’s own maps, with 3D buildings, 2D/3D views (though not *the same* as Apple’s built-in maps), public transit, street view, and even more features honestly. Of course one of the nice things in this maps app, if the fact it’s here isn’t enough for you, is that you also have access to all those awesome search capabilities that Google just brings by default.

Lastly, Google Maps for iOS also provides one thing not seen before and that is synchronization between devices which is something that Apple has yet to provide regarding maps specifically. Overall, I think this is a massive thumbs up and I can’t tell you how much nicer it is down in manhattan than Apple Maps. No really, I can’t, I haven’t tried it in-person yet, but I can tell you addresses in Manhattan at least show exactly where things should be correctly. That feature, as any Australian will tell you is indeed priceless.

One final note on the Apple Maps subject, I still like Apple Maps for some very good reasons, One being it integrates directly with Siri and I happen to love using Siri for many things. I also like their 3d version much better than Google Maps, but when it comes to being accurate, sometimes, it’s really really important to get it right the first time. I think the gauntlet has been thrown and answered reluctantly, now to see if both Google and Apple are up to the challenge of cooperating.

Get your Google Maps in the iTunes Store.

Also, others have written cool stories, here’s one that I’m sure a lot of you will like from “Life Hacker.”


Implement Virtualization for Application High-Availability

Alone, the term ‘high availability‘ does not mean your application never goes down, that would be ‘always on‘, but highly available applications require some simple things you might already have within your infrastructure. If you run a virtual environment, then achieving application high availability is just a few clicks or scripts away, if you choose to roll-your-own, but there are also products that one can purchase to do similar things such as Symantec’s Application HA package, a scaled down version of Veritas Cluster Server. But if what you need is “protection right now, today” then you can get started by using built-in technologies for a given hypervisor.

HA Process

Regardless of type of hypervisor you can enable guest failover, moving, takeover, replication, etc and can be done through a series of different steps and mostly involves mild scripting.

For all VM hosts there is some kind of scripting hook that can be used to achieve the following series of steps:

  1. Verify whether or not the Guest VM is on-line and booted
  2. Verify VM related settings and store/export them if needed
  3. Control the VM (quiesce, freeze, power-off, shutdown, etc) to prepare for movement
  4. Backup or copy the VM to new storage or a new host
  5. Restore VM related settings/import them if needed
  6. Spin up the VM
  7. Verify whether or not the Guest VM is on-line, booted, and active on the new host or location

These are the basic steps that can be achieved through scripting either by utilizing APIs for each hypervisor or manually performing each and every step through the use of standard OS level scripting automation. (logging in as a user, executing a power off or other set of commands to prepare the VM and logging in after the VM has been powered on again to validate it is up and running properly and start applications)

Developing this type of capability can be pretty easy but does take some time so be aware of any tools you might need but simply because the VMs exist in containers able to be moved pretty much anywhere on the same network segment or route, that is all that is required so long as the guest VM can run on the target platform. You of course may need to integrate your host monitoring software in order to execute the scripts automatically, but if you don’t have that level of monitoring in your environment you can script that too and all with assets you already own. The main investment is time and testing to ensure the environment is sound after a move/failover.

Express your thoughts and leave a comment!


2012 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud / IaaS

Gartner recently released their new Magic Quadrant for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
You can find it here: Gartner 2012 Quadrant for IaaS

As always you should take some of this with a grain of salt, especially that it came from but Gartner’s research is typically well thought out so you can be good to your blood pressure and have less sodium with this read.

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Changes

Microsoft’s recent release of Windows Server has cutting edge changes to Hyper-V which will finally give Microsoft more confidence about espousing the virtues of Hyper-V and provide sales fodder for making a case against virtualizing with VMware. Microsoft Hyper-V has been completely rewritten in this new version of Windows Server and allows for things like simplified Live Migration, templating, multi-tenancy and deduplication technology just to name a few. Evidence of this first came out when Microsoft started publishing comparison documents showing these vast improvements between it’s own Windows Server 2008 R2 (at the time a huge improvement in Hyper-V in its own right) and the yet to be released upgrade Windows Server 2012.  This document, Windows Server Comparison, is a great example of how seriously Microsoft took its renewed fervor.

From the PDF for example:

Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 PDF Clip


As many therapists tell you when you’re looking to change something, look at what you need to fix first, then start working on competing. If you read the linked document you’ll see how serious Microsoft is. Additionally there is now a lot of competitive positioning coming from VMware directly against Microsoft if for no other reason, than because Microsoft is taking itself seriously unlike it did in the past with regard to Hyper-V. Microsoft has vastly improved, simplified, and consolidated the plethora of old Hyper-V related documentation into a much simpler, approachable and digestible form that is actually more than useful and understandable. It’s meaningful. Microsoft has sent a warning shot across the bow of all competitor virtualization platforms (in the x86/commodity space anyway) and is sending a beacon to all those in the current Windows Server customer base that they really need to warrant this new effort with some alacrity for the future of Windows Server and built-in virtualization.

The jury is still out since there is a lot of testing in the enterprise space yet to do from an administrative and operational perspective, but if their follow through on product is anything like their preparation has led us to believe, then technologies like VMware, Citrix, Xen, RedHat and others will indeed have something to worry about.

The only gap left to jump will be the concept of putting all your eggs into the Microsoft basket, but Microsoft is working on that too.

Apple’s MapGate: Fallout

The person in charge at Apple for their latest iteration of Maps has been let go as per This Story, but there is still a long way to go until “Maps” is ready in my opinion. Here is my first-hand account of using maps, when compared to many others, of which I’ll be posing a comparative later this week or early next week about several mapping apps.

First, folks complained about [Apple Maps] 3D version being all screwed up, and I mean yeah, those kinds of things suck, but I’ve had a lot of problems where I expect maps to be able to tell me and it hasn’t been working. In the field, like in Manhattan, there are *tons* of problems (Penn Plaza anyone?) and in NJ while looking for a gas station, or something like it, has been a huge pain. i.e. BP is a gas station, and a business. Looking for corporate headquarters told me it was a gas station, while the gas station was in-fact the headquarters. Trying to meet someone for a meeting when time is tight has caused me some hair-raising moments with regard to timeliness.

Simple, stupid, blatant issues like these, of which there are tens of thousands at least, (look how long google has been at it and there are still mistakes), not to mention in NYC you no longer have the subway schedules, in NJ no more NJT schedules(sometimes, depends on the day 😉 ), poor directions for walking versus driving, lack of efficiencies (telling you to drive up 3 miles to find someplace to turn around to come back almost 3 miles to the “correct side of the highway” so you can go the right way when you could’ve gone .1 mile south and done the same thing.)

I’ve been giving it a fair shot and driving on major roads has been fine, but it’s going to all those places not on the main strip that tends to suck and when you sold however many *million* phones, you have that many users with a potentially crappy situation where maps is concerned. At the very least a huge embarrassment for Apple, at the worst lost mind share for the quality they hold dear resulting in lost customers or revenue streams from partners.

When you look at the immediate impact they have by rolling out a sub-standard maps application like they did there are very real business implications from reputation to valuation and that is why Williamson was let go, not just that “maps sucked too bad.”

It’s because of these issues I still have 3 other mapping tools on my iphone and 4 if you count google maps web link!

FaceTime on unlimited

FaceTime over cellular has long been a sticking point for many of us on AT&T but as of the last few days there appears to be some sort of lift on the ban they had previously held. Reports have been coming in from several sources around the Internet. Here is one example, a tweet by @macrumors:

@MacRumors: AT&T Seems to Be Extending FaceTime-Over-Cellular to All Customers

I myself have tested this on my iPhone 5 on AT&T and it works after a reboot and you must be on ios6.0.1 or higher!

Update: while this was working yesterday, this feature is again restricted today. That’s either really stupid or just sad. Anyone else see it work and disapear?

Thanksgiving Day Activity this week

With this week being Thanks Giving time in the US once again, it comes time to figure out what to do during this holiday time.  Converse with family members, compare notes, find something to do and eventually make some kind of plan. This year has been different on many fronts from years past and this Thanks Giving seems to be shaping up to be different as well. I’m going to the Macy’s Parade with the family! Now I know what you’re thinking, how is that going to be really awesome or anything given how cold, crowded, and noisy it’s going to be? Well, if I were outside watching it I would agree, but instead I’ll be at Ebay’s office on 34th St in Manhattan watching it form the third floor. Otherwise known as Balloon level! Totally exciting and I hope it’s worth it. I’ll post pics after!

What are you all doing for the holiday? Post a comment and let me know!