Category Archives: Technology and Gadgets

Instagram: $1 Billion Built on Open Source and Cloud


And this isn’t even about Red Hat.

Tools and technologies that Instagram uses:

Ubuntu 11.04
Amazon’s Route53 for DNS.
25+ Django app servers on high CPU Xtra-Large EC2 instances.
Gunicorn as their WSGI server.
Fabric to deploy in parallel to all machines.
3 12 PostgreSQL-server clusters on Xtra-Large memory instances.
EBS as a software RAID configuration.
Apache Solr for geo-search API.
6 memcached instances for caching.
Gearman task queue.


Harry Potter eBooks Have No DRM

Harry Potter eBooks have No DRM

The Harry Potter ebooks aren’t going to have any DRM. From a gigaom article:

But by far the biggest break with tradition for Pottermore is that all the books will be sold without DRM restrictions…the Potter books will be personalized or watermarked.”

Am I the only who thinks a custom watermark with a buyer name or graphic would be pretty cool? Upsell opportunity. Essentially, buyers pay to “DRM” their own copy.



How to Fail

How To Fail

Sooo…say you are trying out a new online newsletter app.

You assume that you can prune the list of email addresses once they are uploaded.

You upload a boat load of contacts.

App decides to automatically email everyone immediately with a confirmation message.


My apologies to anyone or any mailing list that got an email about subscribing to a newsletter from me. None of you are subscribed to anything.

image credit

How Facebook made it possible to geo-tag everything

How Facebook Made It Possible to Geo Tag Everything

Building the logic for aggregating pins on the map was another interesting challenge because we wanted to choose an optimal algorithm for aggregation while ensuring that we show as many distinct pins as possible. One of our first, more optimistic options was to aggregate any two points that overlapped, but this would distort the order of the pins. Another option we explored was to always aggregate the pins that are closest to each other to make the solution deterministic, but this turned out to be too slow. Instead, an engineer on our team, Jon McCord, wrote an algorithm to deterministically draw these pins. At any point in time, two pins were aggregated only if they were each other’s closest neighbor. This was compared with all other pins to find another pin that satisfied this property. If found, the two pins were aggregated into a single pin. This process was followed until no overlapping pins remained.

So, you mean its more complicated than building an app that records locations on photos? LOL.

Found at gigaom.

Apps, Gadgets, and Services I Use

Apps, Tools, and Stuff I Use

Just for the sake of fun, I’m trying to catalog all the apps, gadgets, and services I use on a regular basis.

Yeah, look at me up there, being all Mr. Hackerish. Not really. Think the two right monitors were hooked up to one machine running Ubuntu, the laptop had XP (still does), and I’m not sure what the remaining one had on it. Kinda dig the wallpaper on the big screen, wish I still had it somewhere.

Hardware / Gadgets

  • Lexmark E 350DN printer – has done ok over the years, but haven’t used it that much.
  • Linksys WRT54G router – with the Tomato firmware, it rocks.
  • iPhone 16GB 3GS (and I don’t plan on upgrading anytime soon)
  • Kodak Zi8 camcorder
  • Western Digital TV Live Hub – probably the most used gadget because of Netflix
  • Mac Mini (circa 2005) – bought off Ebay for sole purpose of streaming to the WD Live Hub.


  • Dell Inspiron 6000 (circa 2005) – it splits its time between the latest version of Ubuntu and XP. It has no real purpose anymore, just whatever I feel like testing on it.
  • Macbook, Aluminum (circa 2008) – doesn’t get used much anymore because of…
  • iPad (2010) – I do pretty much everything on this, short of anything with code. Now, it may not technically be a computer, but it serves my day to day needs well.
  • Workstation (2006ish) – Don’t even know what exactly is in it besides an early quad-core processor, 512MB video card, and 8GB RAM. Its my daily work machine.


  • Vim – can’t count the number of times vim has saved my life.
  • Tweetbot – only way to do Twitter.
  • Instagram – my guilty pleasure
  • Chrome – switched over to it when Firefox become a memory hog.
  • Visual Studio 2010 – I’m not a big fan of Microsoft applications, but VS is nify.
  • SQL Server 2008 R2 – I spend way too much time looking at stored procedures.
  • Reeder – by far the best native newsreader on all iOS devices.
  • Flipboard – best way to catch up memes.
  • OpenSSH – quite possibly the single best tool ever.
  • Tunnelier – pretty good ssh and sftp tool for Windows.
  • Notepad++ – for quick editing of files on Windows.
  • VLC – there might be better media players now, but its what I’ve always used. Works perfectly fine.


  • Basecamp – project management, but I’ve never been wild about the interface.
  • Google Apps (multiple)
  • Freshbooks – invoicing clients
  • Rackspace Cloud – cloud servers for dev and production clients
  • Amazon EC2 – fire up an instance to try something out quickly
  • Amazon S3 – used in conjunction with Jungle Disk and easy to upload massive files quickly.
  • Dropbox
  • WP Engine – hate the constant need for WordPress to be upgraded. These guys take care of it and backups.
  • Comcast home and business – can’t complain about them, rarely have any any downtime.