Dev Centric Culture - Breaking Down The Walls

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

We have been doing Continuous Delivery and DevOps at Wix for several years now and as part of that, I have been training my team at the methodology of DevOps and changing the company’s culture. Last week I was trying to explain to some colleagues how we work at Wix and about our dev culture. While doing it I realized that we are doing much more than just DevOps. What we actually do is something I call “developer centric culture” or in short “Dev Centric” culture.

What is Dev Centric culture?

Dev Centric culture is about putting the developer in the center and create a support circle around him to enable the developer to create the product you need and operate it successfully.

Dev Centric Circle

Before I’ll go into details about Dev Centric culture and why is it good let’s look on the problems we have, what we are trying to solve and why it is more than just DevOps.

DevOps is about breaking the walls between developers and operations but after few years of doing DevOps and continuous delivery we realized that DevOps is not enough. The wall between the developers and the operation is just one wall out of many. If you really want to be agile (and we do) we need to break down ALL the walls.

Let’s take a look at a traditional development pipeline.

  • Product that “tells” engineering what they need to do.
  • Software architect designs the system and “tells” the developer how to build it.
  • Developers write the code (and tests in case the work in TDD)
  • QA checks the developer’s product and cover it with more test
  • Operations deploy the artifact to production

So what we have here is a series of walls. A wall between the product and engineering, a wall between engineering and QA and of course a wall between engineering and operation. (Sometimes there is even a wall between architecture team and developers)


New Video Search Engine For Video Sharing Sites

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Have you ever looked for a video clip but didn’t know if the clip is on YouTube, MetaCafe, Google video or other video sharing site?

VidLookup.com comes to solve exactly this problem. VidLookup.com is a customized Google search engine that searches for video clips on many video sharing sites, thus help you find quickly the video you are looking for without you having to go and search on each site.

Right now the site searches about 30 video sharing web sites from around the web, so if you can’t find your favorite site you can suggest that site to be included in the search engine.

So next time that you want to find which site has the latest Paris Hilton clip just use VidLookup and it will search all of them.


Tip: Reduce Firefox Memory Usage

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Many Firefox users notice that the open source browser can take a lot of memory, sometimes several hundreds of mega bytes. Fortunately Firefox lets you control to some extent how much memory it will consume.

To set the configurations you’ll need to edit Firefox settings. To do that you’ll need to type about:config in the address bar and edit the keys we’ll discuss in this article.

Cached Pages
When a page is loaded, it can be cached so it doesn’t need to be rerendered to be redisplayed. As a default Firefox will set the amount of cache memory according to the total amount of RAM your system got. The problem with that is that these values are per tab, so the more tabs you’ve got opened the more memory Firefox cache takes.

The config parameter is browser.cache.memory.capacity and you can set it to the number of KB you want let Firefox use for cache. Value of 0 will tell Firefox not to use any memory for cache. Note that the parameter browser.cache.memory.enable has to be true

The default value is -1 where Firefox will set the memory usage according to the following values

Physical RAM Memory Cache (in KB)
32 MB 2048
64 MB 4096
128 MB 8192
256 MB 14336
512 MB 22528
1 GB 32768
2 GB 45056

4 GB 59392

In Firefox 2 these defaults will change to the following:

Physical RAM Memory Cache (in KB)
32 MB 2048
64 MB 4096
128 MB 6144
256 MB 10240
512 MB 14336
1 GB 18432

2 GB 24576
4 GB 30720

To view current memory cache usage, type about:cache?device=memory in the address bar

Pages Stored In Memory

Pages that are visited are stored in memory in such a way that they don’t have to be re-parsed. Although it sounds like cache this is different from the cache. This setting improves performance of Firefox when pressing Back and Forward buttons.

The setting key to control this behavior is: browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers. The default value is -1 where Firefox use the following settings based on the amount of memory your system has.

RAM Pages
32MB 0
64MB 1
128MB 2
256MB 3
512MB 5
1GB 8
2GB 8

4GB 8

This preference limits the maximum number of pages stored in memory. Setting the value to 0 do not store any pages in memory.

Let Windows claim back memory
On Windows operating systems, when a program is minimized and left for a period of time, Windows will reclaim the memory the program used in anticipation that other programs might need it. Because of the way Mozilla applications are stored in memory, Windows is much more aggressive in reclaiming the memory they use, which can cause a delay when the program is restored. This preference determines whether to allow Windows to reclaim memory from a minimized Mozilla application.

Firefox’s default setting prevents Windows from reclaiming memory when the program is minimized.

To change this settings you’ll need to change or create the key config.trim_on_minimize and set it to true or false. True - allows Windows to reclaim back the memory and false (default) prevents Windows from doing that.

Note: Changing Firefox’s settings may not be enough to stop it from taking too much memory, plugins can also be a big factor in memory consumption.


Vista’s Backup Is A Ghost Buster

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

With the soon to be released Windows Vista, the new operating system overhauled a very important and usually overlooked feature, the backup.

Windows Vista provides a backup experience that is more comprehensive and even easier to use than the basic backup utility included in Windows XP. The new backup utility works in the background so you can use a simple wizard to schedule when and where you want it backed up. You can back up to CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, an external hard disk, another hard disk on your PC, or to another PC or server connected to your network.

Like commercial backup software such as Symantec Ghost, Vista backup can take a complete image of your hard drive, track changes and continue to backup only those changes, and of course backup individual files, specific file types and folders.

Just like Ghost, Vista backup lets you restore a complete hard drive from an image, which is most useful for corporations, that create a drive image which is then gets duplicated on many computers.

Maybe the most significant new feature Microsot introduced with Vista backup is the Previous Versions feature.
Have you ever accidentally saved over a file you were working on? Accidental file deletion or modification is a common cause of data loss. This feature automatically creates point-in-time copies of files as you work, so you can quickly and easily retrieve versions of a document you may have accidentally deleted, even after you emptied your recycle bin.

Vista Backup Previous Versions


What Vista Brings To The Table

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

As Windows Vista release is getting closer, Microsoft releases more details on the ways Vista will work, here are some details on the fetures Vista brings to consumers.

For home users

Digital Photos - With Windows Vista operating system, consumers will have a simpler yet richer digital memories experience, with greater ability to enjoy, find, and share personal photos and video.

  • Built-in support for the most common photo-editing tasks helps consumers produce great looking prints and videos.
  • Easier backup tools and next-generation storage products will help them keep their memories safe.
  • With Windows Vista Home Premium, consumers can view and show photos on their TVs and around their homes when their PCs are connected to the TV through a wireless router or Media Center Extender.

With the Windows Vista operating system, consumers can use their PCs to make the most of their digital music collections.

  • With Windows Media Player 11, it’s easier to find and organize music content on a PC, a portable device, or even from an online service, with rich, contextual browsing and instant search.
  • Windows Vista offers better playback with improved codecs for clearer sound quality.
  • Users can utilize Windows Media Player or the Windows Vista Sync Center to synchronize their music with their portable music devices or portable media centers for maximum enjoyment on the go.
  • Safeguarding content with Windows Backup is simple and automatic, with easier CD and DVD archival, and support for archiving to PCs and networked devices.

TV & Movies
With Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Ultimate, users will find it’s easier than ever before to find, watch, record, and save all of their favorite TV shows and movies on their PCs. Users can engage and view their content throughout their homes from Windows Vista Home Premium, on their TVs, through other Windows Media Center Extender devices, or on the go with a mobile PC.

  • Users can watch live TV content or video-on-demand content through the Windows Media Center Online Spotlight.
  • Users can view their favorite content on Windows Vista Home Premium, on a mobile device with synced content, or streamed through a Windows Media Center Extender device to their TVs or another PC anywhere in their homes.
  • Users can easily back up content on recordable DVDs or on mass storage devices, protecting precious home movies, beloved TV shows, or whatever content they wish to keep safe.

New features in the Windows Vista operating system, when coupled with partner offerings, will enrich the overall gaming experience.

  • Locate all their games in one easy location.
  • Link to game sites as well as other gamers.
  • Exercise control over which games their children choose to play.

With new and improved communications tools and platforms, the Windows Vista operating system lets consumers enjoy services to share with each other more easily and securely, whether at home or on the go.

  • Windows Internet Explorer 7 lets users keep tabs on information from a variety of sources, with improved browsing, searching from multiple Internet search providers, and really simple syndication (RSS) subscriptions to their favorite Web sites.
  • Windows Vista enables centralized syncing and storage across a wider range of devices and external hard drives, while simplifying the process of setting up a home network over a wireless router with Easy Networking.
  • With Windows Defender and Windows Internet Explorer 7, users can confidently browse the Web while enjoying the multiple levels of security enhancements within Windows Vista, including spyware and malware protection; identity, data, and computer protection; and anti-phishing support.

The Windows Vista operating system offers additional ways for users to be more productive, providing them with simple tools to organize their information and perform common tasks.

  • Users are able to conduct quick, extensive, contextual searches right from the Start Menu with Instant Search.
  • Contacts make it easier for consumers to manage their personal connections, tasks, and appointments.
  • Windows Vista features improved Web browsing and easily integrates with any online search provider, putting all the information users want at their fingertips.
  • Windows Vista provides family safety settings that protect children from inappropriate Web sites and games and help prevent security breaches that result from computer misuse.


Microsoft Is Taking WGA To The Next Level

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Since the Windows Genuine Advantage debut as a pilot on 9/2004 Microsoft is slowly making the program more annoying and intrusive.

In the beginning the WGA was an opt-in feature, and then slowly it became mandatory. Users who choose not to validate their copy of Windows can not download updates from Windows update (they still can download critical security updates via automatic update feature in Windows).

On Tuesday Microsoft will make WGA more intrusive and will use scare tactics to make users validate and purchase a legal copy. On 4/25/06 Microsoft will start WGA Notification in the US, UK, Australia, NZ and Malaysia. The WGA notification has been running as a pilot in several countries such as Norway, Taiwan, Sweden, Israel, Denmark, Poland and other countries.

The new WGA notification campaign will have a new logo for OEM and system builders, as seen here exclusively for the first time.

WGA Logo
The new Windows Genuine Advantage Logo



The New Office 2007 File Formats

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Office 2007 is due to be released sometimes on 2007. Office 2007 will have two major changes to the office file format. For the first time Microsoft will have file extensions with more than 3 characters, but more importantly it will move from the well know .doc, .xls and .ppt file extensions for the popular Office documents.


Search Engines Don’t Know What They Are

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Today I’ve decided to conduct a simple experiment. I wanted to know if search engines know what they are. This is not a scientific experiment but the results I got where very interesting.

To find if search engines know what they are I simply typed the phrase “search engine? in the leading search engines, which maintain their own index and running their own web crawler (No Meta search engines where tested). I expected that they will list the leading search engines on the first result page, but the results where surprising.

Starting with the leading search engine Google: the query “search engine? resulted with searchenginewatch.com as the first result follows by AltaVista, DogPile, Lycos, WebCrawler, Excite and other meta search engines, but no where on the first page I could find the leading search engines like Google itself, MSN, Yahoo and ASK. These leading search engine where only on the second page.


Secure And Anonymous File Sharing Applications

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

In the wake of recent activities by the RIAA and MPAA, many P2P users are trying to find a more secure P2P application.

Just yesterday two of the oldest P2P vendors closed down due to legal threats from the RIAA lawyers.

After the fall of Napster P2P developers saw that it is very easy to shut down a network that is based on centralized server, so the next logical step was decentralized network pioneered by Kazaa.

Now when decentralized networks are not enough the next phase in the war to get free content is anonymous and secure networks.

Although currently there are many small networks that are trying to grab attention, they did not swap many followers (mostly because of their small size and lack of content). But that is going to change as more and more users are being sued.

To those of you who are looking for an anonymous and encrypted P2P network I’ve listed below some of the better known networks.

  • FileTopia (Recommended)– One of the oldest encrypted file sharing networks around (not full anonymity)
  • Freenet - Encrypted network that allows anything from building web sites to running file sharing application
  • MUTE - Open source peer-to-peer network that provides easy search-and-download functionality while also protecting your privacy
  • ANts P2P (Recommended) - ANts P2P Open source java based third generation P2P net.
    It protects your privacy while you are connected and makes you not trackable, hiding your identity (ip) and crypting everything you are sending/receiving from others.
  • Kdrive - Secure global virtual hard drive
  • ProxyShare P2P - Using internet proxy servers to hide your IP
  • WASTE - WASTE is a software product and protocol that enables secure distributed communication for small (on the order of 10-50 nodes) trusted groups of users.

Note: These networks are relatively small, compare to other non encrypted networks so do not expect to find large amounts of files there. But they are growing every day and probably one of them will reach the critical mass and will be the next file sharing king.

If you know of other good anonymous file sharing networks please write a comment to let other know.


Social Bookmarking A Threat To Privacy

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Social bookmarking websites such as Digg.com and del.icio.us are growing rapidly in popularity and with it also the privacy concern of these sites users.

Social bookmarking sites are sites in which users submit links to pages they found around the web, and other users are voting in one way or another for the popularity of that link. The more votes a link gets the more popular and interesting the page is.

Better than spyware:
One of the most prominent reasons for the existence of spyware is the ability to spy on user surfing habits and to compile a user profile. Using this profile advertisers can display ads that are in close relevance to the user’s interests.

In the case of social bookmarking web sites, the users themselves unknowingly creating their own profile. By voting for a site or news item, the users saying “This is of interest to me?. Having enough votes one can build a user profile, knowing what is interesting for that user.

The voting history (diggs) is already publicly available in most sites. Going to any user profile, you can see all the stories that user voted for. From there you can assume what interests that user.

Some of these sites have privacy policy noting they will not sell private information, but on others there is no privacy policy and they are free to do whatever they want with this valuable information.

Large search engines and big portals that can collect this kind of personal information are under heavy public scrutiny regarding the safe guard of this kind of data, but social bookmarking sites stayed under the radar.

Collecting this valuable information, which by the way can be associated with the user’s IP address, is done automatically by the servers. Having access to this kind of information is very useful to advertisers, which can run targeted ads according to the user’s profile. If the sites owners will not sell this info I will not be surprised if some black hat hackers will try to obtain and sell this information to the highest bidder. Thus social bookmarks sites have to to be very careful about securing their database and also to provide a clear privacy policy in order for the users to know what information is being collected and sold to third parties.

So until you see a clear privacy policy, stating that the site will not sell your personal data, and the security measures the site employs, be very careful of what you digg. One more advice: If you value your privacy, use an anonymous proxy when using these sites, so you can not be associated with an IP address.


Why Microsoft Introduced WGA Now

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

In the past weeks Microsoft introduced Windows Genuine Advantage, which checks user’s computers for illegal copies of the popular operating system. One can wonder why WGA and why now? Why not starting WGA together with the future release of Windows Vista?

Although Microsoft incorporated product activation in many of its products, such as Windows XP, it did not stop hackers from cracking the activation process, and illegal copies of Windows were soon circulating around the net, and especially in P2P networks.

Users who are found to have pirated copies of Windows are encouraged to buy a legal copy at a discounted rate. In addition Microsoft cut Windows prices around the world and selling the operating system at deep discount.

These steppes by Microsoft made me think why Microsoft lowering prices, creating cheap trimmed down versions of Windows XP and fighting piracy with new tools other than product activation. Well the conclusion I could come with is Microsoft is making a clearance sale before the release of Windows Vista.


802.11n (MIMO) Will Revolutionize Wireless Networking

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Wireless technology is becoming main stream in recent years. When home users considering building a home network a lot of them, if not most of them end up choosing Wi-Fi network, i.e. 802.11b or the latest 802.11g, since wireless networks have become fast and easy to install especially with the help of Windows zero configuration feature.

Wireless networks are also taking a major step in to business with a growing number of companies deploying hotspots across corporate offices.

With current Wi-Fi technology, wireless networks are limited to connecting to the Internet or to the local network using computers. Multimedia devices that use wireless technology to stream video and audio are not very popular, mostly due to the limited range and bandwidth of 802.11b. Even 802.11g is not fast enough to fulfill the high bandwidth requirements of video streaming.

A new emerging technology promises to overcome the limitation of current wireless standards. The new technology, called 802.11n or MIMO (pronounced My-moh), which stands for Multiple Input – Multiple Output. IEEE has not yet set the standard specs, which are expected to be finalized sometimes next year, but that is not stopping companies to come out with 802.11n products based on the draft proposal submitted to IEEE.
Today’s Wi-Fi radios use 20-MHz of analog baseband bandwidth to transmit information across the two frequencies used by 802.11b/g, and 802.11a. Moving to 802.11n will require approximately 100 MHz of bandwidth.

The IEEE 802.11n standard is currently deadlocked between the TGN Sync proposal, which Intel supports, and the competing WWiSE proposal. TGn Sync has proposed using 40-MHz channels in the 5-GHz spectrum band used by 802.11a, while WWiSE’s proposal involves using 20-MHz channels in the 2.4-GHz band used by 802.11b/g radios.

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