Marware CEO Hybrid iPad cover

So one thing that annoys me about iPad covers is that I manage to go through heaps of them. I've had my iPad2 for a while - but in that same time I've gone through 3 different covers. I've tried ones made out of the wetsuit type material, rubber, and plastic - and all have had the same flaws.

1) The seams are usually stitch / glue and start splitting within a few months of general usage. 2) The fit on the iPad is usually slack and allows the iPad to move around inside the case.

After lots of comparison of cases, I was about to give up and not bother with any cover at all - when I came across the Marware CEO Hybrid cover. It's made of carbon fibre and is built to fit the iPad 2 / 3 / 4.

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I picked one up from MobileZap after browsing the available cases. Delivery was fast - Ordered on Friday, was at my doorstep on Monday!

Interestingly, the first thing I noticed was how solid the case is. The majority of cases I have tried so far have been a bit of plastic encased in whatever material was used - but this thing is SOLID. It was also satisfying to hear a solid "CLICK" as the case clipped around the iPad - something I had never seen with other cases.

The seems in the case seem to be stitched together well with no sign of glue like in the cheaper cases. Looking at the construction, I don't believe these will split in a month like every other case I've tried.

There is one down side I see so far - that is that the clips that hold the iPad cover closed are quite difficult to open / close. I inspected them quite closely - and I think at the moment this is only happening because the case is brand new - I have a feeling that these will loosen a little as it gets used making it much easier to open and close. The same goes for the clips that need to be undone to use the case as a stand.

All in all, I'm very happy with this case. It certainly eclipses the others I have tried for build quality, presentation and functionality.

Web Central - You used to be cool.

Back in the day when I used to work for Connect (which then became AAPT), we used to supply WebCentral with their connectivity out of Brisbane. Back then, WebCentral was the be all and end all of web hosting providers. They used to host Whirlpool and the service was second to none.

Fast forward several years and what the hell happened?

I've been trying to deal with WebCentral for a client over the last few months and to say the service is terrible is an understatement. I've had jobs lodged in their ticketing system for missing DNS records (MX records? Meh! Who needs em!) for well over a week with no reply. Calling the support line gets a "I'll lodge a job for you to look into that" - which I may as well done myself. Oh, and the fatal flaw with their support line - all calls going in get terminated after 1 hour. So if you're on hold for 40+ minutes (which I have been several times), then you have 20 minutes or less to get your issue resolved or the phone system will hang up on you. That means go to the back of the queue and start again.

For anyone out there that still remembers WebCentral from the glory days - beware - they certainly aren't the same company anymore!

The economics of Open Source development

I've been keeping an eye on the stats of the distribution of my Xen and Kernel-Xen packages now for around 12 months. I find it interesting that they just keep getting more and more popular. First, some stats:

Est New Installs
November 2012
December 2012
Janurary 2013
February 2013
March 2013

How did I get these stats? Thats a little more complex. This is the count of requests for the file kernel-xen-release-6-4.noarch.rpm from a single mirror. This package is only installed once - and not redownloaded after initial installation. The mirror is referenced in most of the install guides that are found around the internet. What it doesn't take into account is the other five mirror sites, local copies etc etc. I think this figure may well be accurate, however there is a good possibility that it is greatly underestimating the real number of servers out there referencing my repos.

Number of releases
10 (v4.2), 2 (v4.1)

This consists of approx 22 security vulnerabilities of Xen across the now non-maintained v4.1 branch as well as the current 4.2 branch. I have not counted kernel vulnerabilities as these are fixed normally within the standard release cycle - and not as seperate patches.

So how does this turn into finances?

Well, I've asked for donations for a while to help offset the costs in producing and developing these packages. Since starting in 2011, I have received exactly $80AUD in donations. This means that given the number of hours working on these packages, I effectively work for about $0.12c per hour. This also excludes any expenses in hosting, equipment or server expenses.

How does this affect the projects?

This is easy. If a server dies, I can't replace it. If I suffer a hardware failure, I can't replace it. If hosting costs increase, I can't pay them.

So - this makes me wonder... How do people survive doing open source development? Sure there are companies like Citrix, RedHat etc that employ people to contribute to FOSS - however what about everyone else? Comments welcome below!

Additional packages for EL6 / CentOS 6 / Scientific Linux 6

For those of you who chat to me on IRC ( / #slforum), the majority would know about the extra packages I end up building for EL6. I figured as not everyone gets on IRC, I'd publish them here as well:

1) Repository for LibreOffice 4 - Download the .repo file into /etc/yum.repos.d/ then install using something like yum install LibreOffice*.

2) Misc packages - This currently contains:

  1. dovecot - newer version, managesieve + pigeonhole for server side mail filtering
  2. e2fsprogs - v1.42.7 as of today. Includes the e4defrag program to defragment ext4 filesystems
  3. powertop - used to measure power usage on laptops as well as give hints on decreasing power usage. Much newer version that stock.

Both get updated quite frequently.

I provide support for Xen

I figured that I should probably let people know that I am available to assist people with Xen installations / troubleshooting and support.

My rates are currently $85AUD per hour with a minimum of 2 hours per support event. This can be paid using either PayPal or credit card.

I support the packages I build, as well as their operation on RHEL6, CentOS 6 or Scientific Linux 6 (preferred).

I also provide support contracts over a set timeframe - however these are negotiated per contract according to complexity.

For further information, feel free to contact me via email:

Catchup Post

Well, its been quite a while since my last post. Quite a lot has happened - but I'll break it down in a nutshell.

1) I finally got my Commercial Pilots License. The down side is that I had to do it through another training organisation. My flight school (National Aerospace Training) closed their doors and didn't provide me with the training they should have. This means I had to pay out of pocket (again) for 10 hours in a C172RG and then pay for my CPL test/flight. This also means that I'll never get my multi-engine endorsement or my instrument rating - which had already been paid for. End result, I'm down ~$35,000AUD in total - and will have to pay out of pocket again for any further training. Urgh.

2) I've still been working on my Xen packages for EL6. I'm currently building a new Xen version to fix a few security issues that have just been made public 11 hours ago.

3) I've stepped back down to Vice President of Pegasus Endurance now. We are still running an FEI event in a few weeks time, and trying to convince the state body (VERA) to endorse a national level competition as well. Endurance Riding really does seem to be a dying sport - but its not for lack of trying or enthusiasm - just a lack of events. I've also been busy helping out with 3 x fundraising BBQs to help finance some of the events planned throughout the year.

4) Out of a pure chance encounter, I've started doing some work on a 737-800 based flight sim in Niddre. Jet Flight Simulator Melbourne has opened their doors as of January. This sim is great fun - and good for practising instrument flying. I think its probably as close as you can get without jumping in a real aircraft. Pic for goodness: A quick photo of the cockpit of the 737-800 based simulator A quick photo of the cockpit of the 737-800 based simulator

So all in all, a lot has been going on - and sadly, its meant I haven't posted here that often. Lets see if I can try to update my blog more often, eh? :)

Its official. MSN Messenger is closing.

The BBC is reporting that Microsoft is killing off Live Messenger (formally MSN Messenger) in favour of pushing the Skype client. This is slated to happen before March 2013.

As such, I'm trying to port across my contacts to Google Talk - or at least those who already have a Google Talk account.

For those who hate Skype (like me!), this might be your chance to convince your contacts to move to Google Talk. The client is much more lightweight and free of bloat than I believe Skype will ever be. Go Google.