Paradox of (a computer) Choice

FullSizeRenderHow many boots can you count?

    “choose less and feel better.”
    ― Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less

Yes, Dr. Schwartz could’vent said better. On his book, “The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less”, Dr. Schwartz dissects the minutia behind the decision making machine, our brain, and the challenges that we face today, in a time and age cluttered with information, options and choices. Making a decision has never been so difficult.

What is the Paradox of Choice? According to the definition on the Cambridge English Dictionary:

    a ​statement or ​situation that may be ​true but ​seems ​impossible or ​difficult to ​understand because it ​contains two ​opposite ​facts or characteristics

Following an example:

    It’s a ​curious paradox that ​drinking a lot of ​water can often make you ​feel ​thirsty.

Going back to the Paradox of Choice, the idea is that the fact that one has so many options actually makes the exercise of choosing (anything really) a burden, a difficult tasks, leading to a cognitive fatigue due to the information overload and anxiety. All undesirable symptoms well described by Barry Schwartz.

I’ve recently went to a famous boot store in Austin, Texas and saw this myself (the boots from picture above). I thought about getting something for my wife, a nice boot perhaps. Well, with a lot of options, various colors, shapes, ornaments, and sizes this ins’t an easy task, and here we are only talking about boots. Now imagine how things can easily get complicated when we are talking about computers. By the way, I ended up leaving the store empty handed overwhelmed by the number of possibilities.

This is actually surprisingly easy to observe and you can verify this first hand during the holidays. Working in IT means that we are usually consulted for (a) when all-things-computers break or (b) when someone needs to buy/upgrade their electronics (you should be flattered buy this, because in between the lines, people are saying that they trust your judgement and that you’re serving as a consultant for them.).

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Cloud Infra, SysAdmin, Uncategorized


Have you ever been in a situation where you had to go down to your home lab datacenter to reset a stubborn system? I bet you did and that’s not cool (at all). Luckily, many servers have a way to help you out with this. For me, salvation came in the form and shape of the Intel RMM (Remote Management Module) board.

According to Intel here are the key features:

  • Full remote access keyboard, video and mouse (KVM)
  • USB media redirection
  • Remote power actions
  • Proactive system health monitoring
  • Secure, embedded web server
  • Dedicated network connection

Which translates into pretty much the same experience as one would have by sitting in front of the machine (BIOS access and such). This also means that one could install an operating system remotely and even reboot/shutdown/poweron a server (again, remotely).

The access to this board is usually done through ssh. After you login you will be prompted into some form of shell (a bit more crude), specified by the Systems Management Architecture for Server Hardware Command-Line Protocol (aka SMASH CLP), specified bt the DTMF.

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Using GNU Screen (when there’s no tmux)

TLDR: using screen when tmux is not available. This isn’t a tmux vs screen post but rather how to use the tools that you have to get the job done.

It’s hard to imagine a day spent on a shell without the use of a terminal multiplexer. My favourite tool for the job is tmux, which comes handy when I’m working on or from an OpenBSD machine. tmux is installed by default on OpenBSD for quite a few releases now (circa 2009), you can see the commit log here.

It is easy to get used to something good 😉 However, IT being IT, this wouldn’t be so easy. One reason that I see, is that a lot of servers out there running some sort of Unix-like OS (mainly, Linux) do not have tmux installed. Now the interesting side of this is that I often find the GNU screen installed.

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Resuming …

After a long time without blogging, I’ve decided that it was time to come back to it. During my “offline” period, I had the opportunity to work with different technologies, meet new people and travel to distant places. The interesting side of all of this for me is to experience at first hand how some technologies will fade and how some will come around.

It’s 2015 (almost 2016) and I see myself going back to some of the technologies that I enjoyed learning during college (yes, 10+ years ago).

I’m excited of what’s coming up next, I think that for anyone working in IT, these are very interesting times, with major new developments happening.

Stay tuned for more.


Ipsec VPN using E71 and OpenBSD

Yes, you’ve read it right! Thanks to a post from one of my readers, betabug, who manage to setup this very wanted feature you can now setup an Ipsec VPN between your E71 and OpenBSD! This is the missing piece of the puzzle into turning this workhorse phone into a definitive road warrior device! betabug tested against OpenBSD 4.6-stable and recently on my tests I’ve done it agains 4.7-beta so you should be fine.

Without further do please enjoy betabug’s instructions here.

As a side note I would like to add that you Putty is available to many S60 devices, I’ve being using this a lot.

Again, thanks betabug for this!


Secure Communications with OpenBSD and Asterisk


Since I first stat writing this article down many things changed at the telephony world inside of OpenBSD, so in order to follow it I updated this article to match these changes.

– Asterisk was updated from version to, this meand a LOT of changes*
– app_conference is gone now. Introducing appkonference.
– chan_unistim has being integrated into asterisk

These are great news!

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Hold on, save some popcorn for later!

So it looks like AT&T wasnt expecting the entire user madness on video and audio streaming as stated on this article. From an end-user point of view this could be frustrating, as people are now used to download stuff out of the Internet without much of a hassle, but also, dont forget about the fact that nowadays Apple’s Iphone 3GS has the ability to push videos from the mobile device right into YouTube.

Now from the carrier side what can you do?  From the article it looks like some calls are being dropped down due to the humongous amount of data being pushed by these devices which according to AT&Ts head of consumer services, Ralph de la Vega:

major problems are concentrated in New York and San Francisco, which are packed with smart phone users. AT&T is the exclusive U.S. carrier for Apple’s iPhone.

Will the endless user download festival comes to an end now? In fact with Android 2.0 devices showing up more often now, will this situation get worse or are we looking for some ‘1984’ style of network management? Stay tuned.


Santa Claus goes High Tech!

I was browsing NPR online when I spotted this funny titled: Author: Santa Claus Relies On Robots, Gadgetry. Sounds interesting hum? Well what if your high-tech child asked you about Santa Claus? Not too many kids buy the ‘he is a magical character’ these days, so Gregory Mone came up with this book which seems quite fun (and smart). Gregory was able to put up some cutting edge science and technology magic into his book.

The NPR story you can find out here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121247367

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Truth-about-Santa-Wormholes-Christmas/dp/1596916184


Acer’s Black Screen of Death hitted mini-me!

Do you own an Acer Aspire One computer? If so have you ever heard of the ‘the black screen of death’ ? Well I own one (mini-me) and until today I haven’t heard about it, let me tell you what happened I how I pulled my self out of it.

During this afternoon I was playing with OpenBSD on my little Aspire One and things were looking pretty normal. However, after a reboot the little netbook just didnt came back not even turning on its screen! After some frustration and few small troubleshooting (first blaming the battery and so on) I was getting into a point of taking the poor thing to repair with no hope at all that it would come back. Well, let me tell you, it all changed after I saw a post here. Thanks Eric Chromick for it! I wont re-post it here and his instructions are pretty straight forward and indeed brought mini-me back from the dead!

So if you are an Acer Aspire owner, dont get desperate! Just follow his instructions and you should be fine1 Now as for Acer, why the HECK is this happening?

Note: After this close-to-death experience little brave mini-me was renamed mini-me-redux!