Hardware, Musings

Apples invading the home!

So Apple #10 is invading the study (Nano, iPhone 3GS x 2, iPhone 4 x 2, iPad x 2, iPad x 1, MacBook Pro).

Apple MBA Update: Shipment Delivered: Singapore

This time thanks to Decide.com and bit of patience (not something I do well when it comes to gadgets), I’ve made the purchase of a MacBook Air which will come really useful on the work trips. Lighter bag (my rationale) and really nice specs (i7, 256GB SSD!, 4GB RAM, Intel Graphics that doesn’t SUCK too much).

The same day the new Mac Air launched, Lion also got released. Since I was stuck in a hotel room, the 3.9 GB download was out of the question. When I got back, the MacBook Pro 13 (nickname’d Atron) got the upgrade. So far, nothing much has changed other than some rather awkward trackpad gestures… How the heck do I go back and forth in Safari/Chrome now?

Don’t be mistaken though, 10 apples in the house doesn’t mean I’m giving up on Windows. Windows 8 looks really neat and I hope to get it running on the main PC soon enough. For gaming and programming, the triple 24″ workstation still works pretty well. I do wonder how 3 x 27″ Apple Thunderbolt Display’s would look like though 😉


Thoughts from WebCamp 七

Finally attended WebCamp KL‘s seventh event . I found out about this after the Red Dot Ruby Conf in April when I got to talking with the KL Rubyists (@Anonymouscow and @bryanritchie).

1st WebCamp KL. Thanks @anonymouscow n @bryanritchie for the invite some time back

Lucky Chin was able to make it for the event else I would prob get lost in KL’s public transport.

We got in a little late and they were just announcing that the first few minutes would be an ice breaker session. The photo probably doesn’t show it too well but there was a LOT of people. Managed to catch up with a few interesting folks (UX, mobile, etc). Definitely not a .Net crowd 😉

The sessions today was a new format for the guys (something I saw after Red Dot Ruby which is a Pencha Kucha presentation format (20×20 : 20 slides , 20 seconds each). It’s for the brave souls who can really cut straight to the point.

  • Chern Shue had a talk on Symbology and specifically on QR codes and his project qnack.com
  • Ruben Tan @roguejs shared more about the benefits of Git Workflow which I enjoyed the most since we’re constantly looking to improve the deployment process. 40 square’s Git workflow.
  • @jerng followed the 20×20 slide format and gave us a rather interesting look at the state of the web and comparing to some interesting real world subjects
  • Wu Han @Ngeow also shared some insights from a recent diving trip and some app ideas. I quite liked the mechanic app.
  • Bazil from lgda.org.my did a quick intro to the gaming industry in Malaysia which I found illuminating (recent drama in EVE online has me digging into gaming industry and thinking more about the parallels to portals)

They also experimented with Slideshow Karaoke .. which you really need to have the guts to stand in front of an audience and have zero idea what slides you need to present and just go with the flow. Awesome effort by the first speaker who had transformed the “art of powerpoint presentation” to “dating”. The Top 20 indian movies and lastly a M$ Enterprise Product slidedesk was pretty ironic considering the crowd.

All in all, a pretty good session. Something regular and not what I’ve seen much in Singapore (for such a large crowd). Looking forward to the next session!





Development, Musings

Challenges of being a remote Scrum Master

It’s not easy when one is a Scrum Master remote from the entire team! I’ve heard a few times now that it’s rare and a real challenge to work with.

So why do I do it?

  1. Business Unit requires a tech guy. There’s no technical folks in the local office!
  2. Dev team requires a tech interface for the business unit.
  3. Someone thinks its necessary and hired me for the job.
  4. I like the challenge!

Challenges faced

  1. A lot of non-verbal cues get lost in communications and sprint planning.
  2. Missing out on building the team culture and practices.
  3. It’s not easy to help solve a problem with external factors via Skype/Phone.

Does Scrum help?

  1. The practices recommended (Daily Scrum, Sprint Retrospectives) aim to shorten the feedback loop for delivery of features (user stories). It’s really useful when your entire team is not in the same country.
  2. Daily Scrum is done via Skype and everyone’s on a common Skype channel throughout the day. This helps simulate being in the same room although there is a fair bit of communication gone missing in virtual setup.
  3. Sprint Planning is planned in such a way that both Product Owner and myself are with the team during this period with the team. This means a LOT of flying but it’s also helpful to reduce conflicts and ideally get better planning.
  4. Measuring metrics like Velocity, Operational Efficiency, Reliability, etc helps to let management have visibility into the team’s performance.

Finally! Fixed the sort order of the posts in WordPress

Had been puzzling over the sort order of the posts in WordPress since a recent upgrade. For no reason, it kept showing the earliest post first instead of latest.

Here’s the solution!

// GROUP BY auswerten
function plw123ngb_posts_groupby( $groupby ) {
if( preg_match( "/(|[ ,.])id(|[ ,])/i", $groupby ) ) {
// GROUP BY auf post_date setzen
$groupby = 'post_date';
return $groupby;

add_filter( 'posts_groupby', 'plw123ngb_posts_groupby' );


Hardware, Musings

D-Link DGS-1005D shows compatible Non-IEEE 802.3ad (ALB) but not DGS-1008D!

Happily setup the DS1511+ and parity checking finally completed after 10 hours for 3 x 2TB hdd. Tried to setup network link aggregation (IEEE 802.3ad) since the 5 port variant showed compatible so my 8-port must work no? NOPE! Failed and had to just enable “Network fault tolerance only” mode which only kicks in if 1 NIC fails. I’m now looking at a 55 MB/s transfer rate and wondering how can I boost this?!

If you’re wondering, why do i need more speed? Well, when trying to transfer almost 3 TB worth of data, you want all the SPEED you can get! (DS1511+ has advertised 165.91 MB/sec Writing, 197.8 MB/sec Reading)

Did some research to understand bit more in depth and came across a post that asked the questions swirling in my head.


What exactly are the technical differences between the two Link Aggregation modes (“IEEE 802.3ad Dynamic Link Aggregation” and “non-IEEE 802.3ad Adaptive Load Balancing”) that are supported by Synology? Is “Adaptive Load Balancing” the same as “Static Link Aggregation”, for example? The help-text in the UI does not really clarify this.

The answer?

Feature: ‘IEEE 802.3ad Dynamic Link Aggregation’ vs. ‘Adaptive Load Balancing (ALB)’
Load Balancing: Tx/Rx vs. Tx only
Layer 3 Address Aggregation: yes vs. IP and IPX only
Layer 2 Address Aggregation: yes vs. no
Requires a switch that supports link aggregation: yes vs. no

Static Link Aggregation (SLA) is a form of IEEE 802.3ad, but is NOT supported by Synology. ALB is NOT a form of IEEE 802.3ad, but IS supported by Synology.

If you need to get even more info, read Intel’s explanation.

So now, should I go into overkill mode and bring back the Linksys SRW2024 (now rebranded under Cisco) from the DC? or go with a more sane 8-port Zyxel ES-2108-G?

Hardware, Musings

Time to stop flirting and get serious with a business-class NAS : Synology Diskstation DS1511+ with 5 bay hotswap

After a few years of attempting to build my own NAS with a self-assembled PC (RAID-5 using a FastTrak SX4000 ATA raid controller), a Linksys NAS200 (horrible buy) and trying to work with Microsoft’s Windows Home Server via the Acer EasyStor H340, I’m finally throwing in the towel and going for a proper NAS DS1511+ from Synology.

Synology Diskstation DS1511+

Synology Diskstation DS1511+

Microsoft’s next WHS doesn’t impress and frankly I’m more comfortable with Linux to run a 24/7 appliance.

Thinking back, I should have just gone for the quality product when it comes to data reliability. Many thanks to Alan Soon’s posts and reviews on the unit as well as the HDD test. Got 3 x Seagate Barracuda 2 TB LP (ST2000DL003) and will add 2 more WD 2 TB green hdd for 10TB of storage (less after raid config). This will hopefully let me have peace of mind when it comes to 11+ years worth of work and memories.



Development, Musings

Lot of time flying these days and more time to read

Past 3 months have gone by rather quickly. With a new opportunity and managing a new team in KL, lots of challenges are encountered with the remote meetings and daily scrums.

Attend Certified ScrumMaster conducted by Jesse Fewell in KL from 8th to 10th November. The great part? I’m now a Certified ScrumMaster! With one year or more of practice, I’ll be applying to be a Certified Scrum Professional.

Scrum is a relatively common sense approach to project management, I’ve enjoyed learning about the process and how it reacts to dynamic business needs. For teams who are new to process (as in my team), it’s definitely challenging as it requires a high level of transparency to daily work and significant openness to embrace change. There are many barriers to bring a team to such a level ranging from old attitudes and behavior and tendency for most people to be very reserved with their opinions.

Couple of books have helped open my mind to how a business can benefit from having a sense of urgency and not being complacent about their success.

Leading Change

A Sense of Urgency

Our Iceberg is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions

Managed to read this in an hour or so while waiting for RT to start. Good book to read after you’ve read the previous two. Found myself laughing at some parallels to real life. They may be penguins in the story but lots of people behave a lot like that.

Managing Virtual Teams: Getting the Most from Wikis, Blogs, and Other Collaborative Tools

Currently we’re using Pivotal Tracker (coincidently met JB Steadman from Pivotal Labs Singapore during a networking session) with Google Docs for most real-time collaboration of documents.

Skype has been tremendous in helping bridge communications but I think Mumble or Ventrilo might be better to maintain better comms. Video might also be necessary soon as a lot of times, facial cues are an important part to communication

The Art of Scalability: Scalable Web Architecture, Processes, and Organizations for the Modern Enterprise

There are a lot of interesting lessons to learn from this book, still 1/3 of the way through it but the topics on hiring, capacity planning and team dynamics is a good read.

Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition