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Oh Ye MacBook Pro Of Little Memory :-(

March 25th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in General, IdM Infrastructure, Tools

I’ve been a Mac user ever since 1993 and have always been extremely pleased with the platform in so many ways. Recently, Apple seems to have finally been realized in the consumer market as superior — I see Macs everywhere I go. And in the developer/power user arena, Macintosh and Mac OS X is the absolute “cat’s meow,” especially if one is a JEE developer. I couldn’t do what I do in Identity Management for Qubera without my 15″ MacBook Pro. It just does what I want it to do — no PC fuss or muss.

Apple’s Poor Memory Roadmap (IMO)

I’ve been disappointed however recently with one piece of the architecture: Apple’s maximum memory limits and their roadmap as it relates to upper memory limits on their non-Retina line of MacBook Pros. I feel it’s short sighted. (Even the new Retina MacBook Pros should max out at 32gb, not 16gb. Their memory footprints are just running behind the PCs at this point.) When I bought my MacBook Pro in early 2011, I laid out a lot of cash for this thing, and I instantly max’d the memory out at a {sarcasm}whopping{/sarcasm} 8gb, knowing I needed to run a lot of VMs, which Qubera uses for testing and support of customers.

Even more recently, after upgrading to Mountain Lion, I’ve pretty much bumped into the limit. I run a lot of stuff to do what I do in Identity Management, and I need it all open at once; Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Excel, Google Chrome, Eclipse, emacs, Evernote, VMware Fusion and a Windows 7 VM (mainly for Visio, but also PC testing), Tomcat 6, MySQL, terminal windows galore, RDP sessions galore, calendaring, you name it. In recent weeks, I was beginning to despair a little bit. According to Apple, I had already max’d out my memory. 8gb just isn’t/wasn’t enough. What to do?!

Where Has All My Memory Gone?

I began trying to manage my memory better. I used Activity Monitor to monitor my memory, and I learned a lot about what was eating up memory. I didn’t realize I needed to treat just about every browser tab as it’s own application — there’s so much going on behind the scenes of every tab. I usually have a million tabs open too. But I need all this stuff opened. I can’t be closing it down, loosing context in my work.

I really needed a better solution. I began doing some research and in the end, I reached out to my good friends at The Chip Merchant for help. What I discovered was incredibly good news. Good enough news to document this in a blog entry.

8gb For i7-Based Macbook Pros Is NOT “The Max”!!

I’ve been using the guys at The Chip Merchant (in San Diego, CA) for over a decade. When it comes to memory, I know of no one better. These guys really know their stuff. I had a hunch that someone, somewhere HAD to be making an 8gb SODIMM that would fit the MacBook Pro. It turns out, after turning to The Chip Merchant, I was right.

If you go on Amazon and look for these memory SODIMMs, you’ll see they are available, but people are having mixed results with them per the reviews. I found out from The Chip Merchant that these are probably people running the i5-based MacBook Pro rather than the i7-based MacBook Pro, which is what I have. Crucial Memory makes an 8gb SODIMM that is stable and doesn’t over-heat in the i7-based MacBook Pros. For less than $150 to max my memory out at 16gb, it was a no brainer.

(The Chip Merchant really gave Crucial Memory the props as well — they said if Crucial Memory says it, you can book it. Something to remember when it comes to memory in the future.)

Ordering Information

So, there you have it. Despite what Apple indicates or recommends or states as the max for your i7-based MacBook Pro, Crucial Memory makes an 8gb SODIMM that fits and works — so 2x equals 16gb max. My life has been saved.

If you’re looking to upgrade your i7-based MacBook Pro to 16gb, give my friends over at The Chip Merchant a call. These 8gb SODIMMs are NOT in their online store at present, but they do have them and can get their hands on them. Worth every penny. Here is the item number from The Chip Merchant:

MEMCRL20413338G
CRUCIAL SODIMM DDR3 1333MHZ [8GB] 204P

Account rep. Devin Charters helped me with this. What a life-saver. :-) This probably extended the life of my MacBook Pro for another 3 years at least. Thanks The Chip Merchant!! Hope this helps someone else out there who is despairing as I was.

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Rules of a Creator’s Life

October 24th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in General

Found this in my inbox this AM:

I gotta work on #5 a bit more. :-)

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Properly Leveraging Endorsements on LinkedIn

October 5th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in Career Management, General

As you may have noticed, LinkedIn has introduced a new feature called “Endorsements.” This allows any one of your connections to endorse the skills in the Skills section of your LinkedIn profile through a one-click endorsement wizard. Needless to say, this makes having the skills section of your profile filled out and relevant all the more important. Here are some quick tips on skills and endorsements that I hope will help you gain the most from this new feature:

1. Use ‘Em All!

There is room in your profile for up to 50 skills. If you can, you should use them all. Don’t forget there are a number of “soft skills” you can add to your skills section that can be just as valuable as a technical skill. If you are good at “Contract Negotiations” or “Vendor Management” and you don’t have all 50 skills used at present, by all means… add ’em.

2. Make ‘Em Relevant

So maybe you’re really good at Classic ASP for instance. You view Classic ASP with a sense of nostalgia and so you include it in your skills section. Don’t. :-) Classic ASP is dead. Instead, use that slot in the 50 you have allotted for some thing else. Even if you have to fill that slot with a soft skill such as “Client Engagement” or something similar. “Client Engagement” skills are much more valuable than “Classic ASP” skills, even if you really are good at Classic ASP. You only have 50 slots so make every one of them count.

3. Make Sure They “Match”

If you haven’t already noticed, behind the scenes LinkedIn maintains a database of skill keywords. You can see these as you update your skills. Skills that are suggested are officially maintained skill keywords. While you can “create” skills by typing in and saving a skill title that isn’t in one of the suggestions, it won’t do you much good. Recruiters and potential employers using LinkedIn search based on the pre-defined skill keywords LinkedIn maintains. If your skill doesn’t match a suggested skill, you probably won’t be found. If you are a freelancer, this can be absolutely critical.

4. Make Sure They Are Up-To-Date

From what I can tell, new skills are periodically being added to LinkedIn‘s skills database. Early adopters of the skills section in their profiles likely did make up some skills that weren’t originally suggested from LinkedIn‘s skill database. I know I did. Periodically, it makes sense to go back through every skill and make sure it’s a suggested skill (eg. agrees with LinkedIn‘s internal skills database).

5. Make Sure You Can Defend It

The days where you “did a few sample exercises” in .Net and now claim it as a skill are probably over. It’s likely better to only maintain technical skills that you can defend in a technical interview. Again, far better to list a soft skill such as “SLDC” or “Project Management” than to list “.Net” and have someone endorse you for .Net and you know in a technical interview, you wouldn’t be able to pass muster. Which leads me to…

6. Don’t Do Anyone Any Favors… :-)

When endorsing someone, make absolutely certain you are endorsing him or her because you have firsthand knowledge and experience of his or her prowess in that skill. Don’t do any of your connections any “favors.” Ultimately you could be doing your friend a disservice to endorse him or her for something they really aren’t that good at doing. So when you are going through the skills wizard, it’s probably not a good idea to think “Oh Sally… I didn’t know she was skilled in ___________” and then endorse Sally in __________. Only endorse an individual for skills you can verifiably testify that person has. Provide references and not “favors.”

Hope this helps you shore up and gain the most from the new Endorsements feature of LinkedIn Now, to schedule some time to follow my own advice. :-)

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My Macbook: Takes a BEATING And Keeps On Ticking

September 7th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in General

Well, I’m overdue for a blog post anyway, and this was something fairly notable.

For a number of years now, both from the standpoint of pure development as well as on the creative side, nothing beats an Apple computer. It’s a developer’s dream box with a rock-solid, commercial frontend UI (eg. Cocoa) and backend, under-the-covers BSD-like OS… MacOS X is simply the cat’s meow. Especially if you are a Java/JEE developer. (If you are a .Net developer, I’ll give you a free “pass” on using Windoze, and even then… running Windows on VMware Fusion is still better than a real Windoze machine!)

So the “truly notable” was today, after two client trips to Boston, a client trip to Montreal, and untold code written and apps running later — every application you can think of under the sun (eg. Word, Excel, emacs, Eclipse Indigo, Evernote, LibreOffice, Oracle SQL Developer, MySQL Workbench, MySQL database, Chrome, Firefox, Calendar, VMware running a 4gb Windows 7 Pro machine, CoRD, VNC, Cisco VPN, Dropbox, eight terminal sessions, Tomcat running SailPoint IIQ, blah, blah, blah — notice any Microsoft “pig apps” in that list??!!) — after 43 days straight… my MacBook Pro gave hints (only hints!) it was maybe time to reboot. :-)

Try that on a Windows machine sometime. :-) Uh-uh… Ain’t happenin’… :-)

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Troubles w/Kindle And “Consumer Security”

May 6th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in General, IT Industry, Moble, Networking, Security

I just wanted to provide the results of an two-hourlong trouble-shooting session on a new Kindle brought into my household yesterday.  Not only was it a bit frustrating, but in light of a number of things, quite astonishing as well.  Astonishing that Amazon, Google and even Apple to some extent view and address the consumer market the way that they do.  As a consumer, I have to say it’s frustrating.  As a security professional, I have to say it’s disappointing to say the least.

First the problem: You’d think these days it would be a simple thing to go down, buy a wireless device and throw it on your network in no time flat.  That was exactly what I attempted to do yesterday.  I went down to buy a cheap Kindle for one of my children, throw it on the network and be done.  Two hours and an even exchange later, I finally figured out what the problem was.

For most devices, the act of associating with your wireless network and then using your network are two different things.  So we always get a device onto the network first, then worry about how it’s going to connect to outside services later.  Because, yes, admittedly, I’m not running normal equipment here at home.  We don’t allow full blown access to the outside, polluted internet for a number of reasons.  We have a combination web-filter/proxy server appliance (in the cloud, actually), a commercial grade firewall, a caching DNS server and a few other things sitting inbetween devices on the soft, chewy inside network and the hardened outer shell.

But again, in the past, this was not a problem.  We knew, once devices got on the network, some equipment might have to be visited and settings slightly tweaked into order to get a device to work.

Here Is Why Amazon States Kindles Don’t Work In Enterprise Settings

The thing with Kindle that is different however is… when you are attempting to connect to your wireless network, Amazon, in the name of let-me-hold-your-hand-consumerism (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing — Amazon lives and breathes based on the consumer’s point of view, or tries to anyway), does a little bit more.  The Kindle first tries to connect to your wireless network, utilizing the base amount of information you’ve provided it.  Once successfully connected however, the Kindle doesn’t immediately tell you this.  It tries to connect to a backend somewhere at Amazon first.  If you have a firewall blocking that access, the Kindle doesn’t indicate this is the problem, it merely punts and reports back that… it can’t connect to your wireless network. Which isn’t entirely the case, but that is what is reported.

Now again, as I stated parenthetically above, I understand why Amazon goes through the invisible two-step process, but… what is reported back is not the case and extremely misleading.  It took me some time to discover, after digging through numerous forums, to find that Kindle (Amazon) is going through this transparent, behind-the-scenes two-step process.  Once that was known, I was able to work around it, albeit by taking drastic measures I wouldn’t normally expect to take, but, I was able to register the device.

Which brings me to a major frustration as a consumer and disappointment as a security professional.  If Amazon truly lives and breathes from the consumer’s point of view, I hope they as well as Google and Apple — three of the world’s most major internet “impactors” (at present) — take the following into serious consideration:

Amazon, Apple and Google Seem To Be Ignoring The Obvious

I can’t go off on a complete diatribe right now, but… Amazon and Google and to some extent even Apple don’t seem to realize that the internet they have helped develop has, as a result of their efforts, gotten just a tad bit more sophisticated lately.  With that sophistication, some complexity has necessarily had to be driven down to the consumer level.  It’s not just corporations which utilize firewalls and proxies and other security devices and approaches any longer.  You can go down to Best Buy or buy right off the Amazon “shelves” ironically, any number of mainstream wireless access points and routers and nearly all of them come with a feature set that allows a more sophisticated consumer (shall we say) any number of options for securing their home networks.  Not just from people getting in, but controlling somewhat how people on the inside get out.

Yet, I can’t for the life of me understand why Amazon and Google (and again Apple to some extent) “act like” these kinds of features don’t exist and continue to act like we are still in 2005 when most people simply didn’t or didn’t know how to apply simple WEP, WPA or WPA2 security to their wireless devices or utilize any other security approach.  They act like every WiFi network you attach to has completely 100% free unhindered access to the internet and maybe a couple of devices hooked up to it.

Beyond that even, they seem to be pushing for this to be the normative setup in a day in age where security has to be taken into consideration even down to the consumer level. These devices weren’t designed with that in mind and in fact the companies seem to thumb their noses a little at any consumer who has taken security a little bit more seriously than most. And that is disappointing and annoying. (That is, their explanations read between the lines as “Yeah, we know that, but we don’t care; our devices were purposefully designed to only work on wide-open wireless networks — deal with it.”)
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IdM Demand In 4th Quarter Kills Blogging (and everything else)!

What kind of blogger would I be if there weren’t blatantly long periods of time where I’m not blogging?! There are a lot of people, especially in IT, who commit to blogging who, get off to a good start, and then taper off to nothing. I’m in danger of being such a person, but I’m aiming to change that here soon.

It’s just been the busiest 4th quarter (and especially December) I’ve ever had in my entire 20+ year career. Business and demand in the Identity Management space is just booming, and there have been more concurrent end-of-year projects (of any sort) than I can ever remember. Qubera gigs at a major software house, a major US investment firm and a leading California educational institution have had me absolutely hopping. 2012 is quite frankly looking ominous and scary. Identity Management is in high demand and with new, innovative products like Sailpoint IIQ v5.5 out in the 4th quarter and more IdM product movement in the magic quadrant, the demand is high in the industry right now.

That being said, here’s what’s coming up, and not necessarily in this order:

  • Branding Your SailPoint IIQ Site – If you’ve got your eyes on Sailpoint IIQ or already have it in house and want/need to rebrand your site for internal L&F purposes, I’ll lead you through how to do it. It’s quite simple actually.
  • It’s Time To Change Travel Regulations around electronics – Recently I’ve read a number of articles on just how far behind the FAA is on the (non-existant) “dangers of electronic devices on airplanes.” As a consultant who does a fair amount of travel (not a ton, but enough), I have some thoughts on this. It’s definitely time for some changes.
  • Managing Your Vendor Relationships – I recently read a great article from Gigaom on some of the big-time vendors which happen to operate (most of them) in the Identity Management space. The article brought up some great points and as a Solutions Architect and Technical Engagement Manager who has to advise clients on these relationships, I had a few insights and comments to make which may be helpful.
  • iPhone versus Android Comparison – I recently had the opportunity, thanks to purchasing a new iPhone 4S for a family member, to side by side compare the iPhone with an upper-end Android device, the HTC EVO 4G which I carry. Hint: There is no comparison. I was truly blown away. I’ll let you know which device wins as I throw my lot into the “smart phone wars.”

I’m going to whip out that FAA airline article now, but stay tuned for more.

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