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The Actuator – April 4th

Level 17

I hope everyone enjoyed a nice holiday weekend with friends and family. This week marks the 2nd anniversary for The Actuator. Every week, for two years, I've produced an odd assortment of links for you to enjoy. Thank you for taking the time to read them. Here's to the next two years.

As always, here are some links from the Intertubz that I hope will hold your interest. Enjoy!

Former Uber Backup Driver: 'We Saw This Coming'

Given Uber's track record in, well, just about everything, I guess we should have seen this coming. And I'm not talking about the accident. No, I mean the number of people looking to pile on Uber right now and remind everyone that Uber isn't the best-run company.

Microsoft starts rolling out Azure Availability Zones for datacenter failure protection

One of the differences between Azure and AWS data center architecture has to do with availability zones. Microsoft is closing that gap, fast. It won't be long before Azure and AWS are nearly identical in services.

Announcing the fastest, privacy-first consumer DNS service

Cloudflare is offering free DNS service. I applaud the effort, but I remain skeptical of any company that provides a service such as DNS for free. It's all about the data, folks. If you use the internet, someone is tracking your data, for one reason or another.

Using Machine Learning to Improve Streaming Quality at Netflix

Another brilliant piece from the Netflix blog, this time showing a practical use case for machine learning and network streaming quality. So, the next time someone wants to know about a practical use case for machine learning, I'm going to show them this.

Machine Learning for kids

And since I'm talking about machine learning, here's a great website to help kids (or anyone) get started. You might want to take some data from your favorite monitoring tool and use it in one of the projects here. Who knows, you may be able to build a model that can predict the next time Brad is about to drop a production database... again.

Georgia Passes Anti-Infosec Legislation

From the state where the capital city government allowed itself to be attacked by ransomware virus that was two years old, you are now forbidden to test websites for security flaws. Suddenly I understand why Atlanta was held for ransom.

It's April and snowing so I need to remind everyone that spring is just around the corner:


Level 14

Now THATs a bad joke.  Take a bow.

Level 12

I had a waist high snow drift on my sidewalk between my house and garage this morning that I had to wade through. And that was after Winter Storm Dan murdered my snow blower leaving it for dead in a snowbank, having to resort to shoveling last night.

My pants were completely soaked up to the knees coming into work. They are finally dried off, my socks and shoes have a bit to go yet because they took the worst of it. Ugh.

At least I don't have to deal with earthquakes or hurricanes........

Uber:  How sad that we are so numerous, so jaded, so gullible, so technology-loving, and so profit-driven, that this was allowed to proceed.

Do you ever get the feeling that the more people there are, the less they are valued by others, and the more value money seems to have?

It's like the law of supply and demand--in general, the more there is of something, the less value it has.   This breaks down on a personal level--I love my family and friends, no matter how large the world's population may become.  But my family and friends seem to be reduced to mere statistics to others in search of profit through Uber or self-driving-cars or anything else.

Cloud-based "Availability Zones?"  Oh dear, me--no.

I just experienced an APC management tool go out of control five days ago, and it DDOS'd my cloud-based Outlook with half-a-million alerts.  And I've been unsuccessful and cleaning them out and getting Outlook going again.

That's the beauty of the cloud, right?  If my resources are unavailable to me from the cloud resource in Iowa, they're also unavailable in Paris.

Cloudflare and  NOT a good solution for Cisco WLC users, since Cisco configured that range as their default address range for managing wireless controllers.

Folks with WLC's are presented with a few options:

  • Do without this newest / fastest DNS solution since it caused loss of access to wireless controller management interfaces
  • Change all WLC management addresses
  • Do without managing WLC's

Certainly the root problem lies with Cisco for not owning the range they put into their WLC's.

But how unfortunate it is that many organizations will have built static routes keeping this destination range "inside" their organization, reserved for the use of their wireless controllers.

We all laughed and joked about CloudFlare's latency ( compared to Google DNS (


We asked each other "Who put a CloudFlare DNS server within fifty miles of our home office in Duluth, Minnesota?"  And "Did YOU let CloudFlare into our data center?"  Or  "How do they get such low latency to us out here in the boondocks?"

Netflix using machine learning to improve streaming seems reasonable customer care--something that could put them above the competition.

Netflix using machine learning to predict when I'm going to do something, and to manipulate what I do, when I do it, and how I do it . . . well, that would just be evil.  I hope that never happens from ANY company.

Machine learning for kids:     Wouldn't it be creepy--even disturbing--if someone used this technology to manipulate young minds and steer them into socially unacceptable paths?  Is that even possible?  Will it be possible tomorrow?

Or, will it all be good, done with great ethics, done without care for profits or power?

I suspect we know the answer to that one . . .

Poor Georgia.  All caught up in knee-jerk reactions, unable to understand the cause of the root problem.

By their logic, Sheriff Matt Dillon would have had to put himself behind bars everytime he made the night rounds in Dodge City, due to rattling the door knobs, as part of his job, to confirm storekeepers remembered to lock their doors before going home.



location location location

Level 16

It's snowing here as well... yuck! Happy 2nd anniversary sqlrockstar and thanks for your posts. Always something interesting and fun to learn

Level 16

Good luck prosecuting anyone.... that lives outside of Georgia... or in the rest of the world for that matter.

I do like the Sheriff's pink shirt though.

We're used to slow Internet performance on virtually everything, due to our location.  It's nice that you have 2 ms latency to Google DNS.

The latency is one part of the recipe for disappointed O365 customers here.

Level 12

truly awesome pun there sqlrockstar​! have you ever read Callahan's Crosstime Saloon by Spider Robinson? if you like a good (bad?!?) pun, give it a look.

that's what's often the disappointment here in Germany as well. There are huge industrial parks where you can get max 10MBit/s lines. This is no place for an internet driven company with 100+ employees.

and then there is a small Datacenter close to 53°35'22.7"N 10°47'18.2"E - in the middle of nowhere northern Germany ... 2ms latency to Google, up to 40GBit/s connection to the world

So the poorly-written APC management tool had ZERO part in the process, right?

Level 13

Now that is what I call a Uber Driver

Image result for uber photo

Level 12

Its all about perspective though. From googles point of view, and their sales pitch, they have a regional data-center with massive gigabit connections to the web near you! Granted no one else but google can get anything over 10Mb/s, but you know those are minor details that don't need to be worried about

That was a great series, as were the other two associated with it.

Level 12

I agree. I wish he would have written more.

Level 13

Good Articles - Bad Joke


Great article sqlrockstar

Level 14

Politicians (and management).  Unable to understand something so turn to advisers who won't admit to not understanding anything and just end up doing what they think will get them most votes instead of doing their jobs and doing the right thing for the people. 

Level 20

No snow here in Phoenix/Scottsdale area!  It's going to be high of around 95 today!  Georgia is going to get what it deserves.

Level 12

Happy anniversary!  Two years is a long time.  We have luckily not gotten much snow in the last few days in the St. Louis area, but we have gotten tons of wind, rain, and hail.  I'm ready to be done with all that!

Level 14

I work at an University.  We've got engineering, design and IT departments.  We'll probably invent a toaster with a killer app that allows you to see when your toast is ready ().

I can't wait for killer robots.  We've already got Skynet (UK military satellite network)

I've had a good life.  It would be fun going out in a blaze of glory fighting with impossible odds against killer robots (got to be better than the zombies walking around London faces stuck in their mobile phones).

Level 17

Yeah, looks like Cloudflare is seeing lots of issues with their choice of, as that was an IP used as a default by many devices.

Level 17

I always assumed people came here for bacon and bad jokes, was that wrong?


Machine learning - not sure if it's cool or scary.

I can't find the meme of the pigs in the barn loving that the room & board are free with the saying, "If you aren't being charged then you are the product not the customer."

   The same applies to "free" DNS.

For anyone to locally use other then a RFC 1918 address on a system is confusing to me.  If is being used by WiFi manufactures and others, the bad is on them and not CloudFlare.



Absolutely it was at fault.

However, since the cloud-based HA DR solution discussed would be expected to replicate all files and access, this particular service would cost me money, but not protect me against idiot devices and ignorant or careless folks.

I'm just reacting to paying more money for yet another service that wouldn't have protected me in my latest debacle.

Twenty years ago I was working with companies and government units and schools to improve / install basic fiber services across a large region.  It didn't work out where I was due to too many people worrying about how much they'd spend, compared to how little others would spend, and how much everyone would benefit from someone's sacrifice.

Entities that needed or wanted to be involved:

  • City government (including multiple police stations, jails fire departments, libraries, bus garages, city maintenance garages, etc.)
  • State institutions (colleges and universities, federal court houses, prisons, nursing homes, etc.)
  • Private colleges
  • Private trade schools
  • Cable TV companies
  • Telephone service providers
  • ISP's
  • County service buildings, including court houses, garages, depots, etc.
  • Satellite TV companies
  • Public schools

The goal was to have everyone come to the table and admit they all had a stake in the game, and that they all had some kind of resources (equipment, materials, office space, I.T. Staff, rights-of-way, trenching equipment, massive spools of fiber, etc.), that they all needed for their work, for their customers, for their business.  And they would all contribute resources, skills, materials, etc., to the best of their ability, with the ultimate intent of creating a new network that everyone of them could use and sell to new and existing customers.

The express agreement was that none would get reimbursed for their work or materials, but that all would have equal access to the new fiber, and could leverage it and resell it as needed to recoup their time and material investments.

It didn't work out where I live now, but it did work out in another community I lived in back then. 

By 2000 they had the infrastructure in place.

  • Government entities provided free right-of-way access through all ditches along roads, and expedited services and permits for the project.
  • Schools and colleges and universities provided technical expertise and funding  to others. 
  • The local public school system provided staff to manage the entire technical side of the new fiber net, and a building to house the staff and all the network gear.
  • Cable and Telephone companies provided trenchers and fiber to bury, and trucks and staff to make it happen.

The only entity that didn't contribute or play well with the others was the railroad, who charged a flat $25,000.00 for every time fiber crossed beneath their tracks or over them.

When the year 2000 arrived, that city was on the short list for many companies to move to and grow in, and they easily received their investments back in months, not years. 

That story has been duplicated many times in MInnesota, where I live, by forward-thinking communities--especially in small towns that have less population density, and therefore are less likely to be targets for cable and fiber upgrades by cable or telephone companies, when compared to larger cities where the ROI is more and faster.


The series preceding Callahan's was even better, if that could be imagined.

<Conspiracy Theory Voice>Machine Learning leads to Skynet</Conspiracy Theory Voice>

A similar thing is happening here. There are very small rural areas where they used to have at most 500Kbit/s ADSL-light connections. Over the time more and more bio-energy plants were being set up in those rural areas. Also more and more private households and small companies were being connected to the bioenergy heating network. Some genious was thinking a bit further and asked a ISP if they wanted to co-use the fibre-lines they were putting into the ground to have some form of remote control over the heating systems. Now many small villages have fibre to the home whereas larger cities still have to rely on VDSL vectoring over copper-wires.

Thinking of trying cloudflare's DNS service. Thanks for the reminder.

Sometimes I wonder if it is my fear of a future that I am in control of is what bothers me most. When I was in my 20's I was tuned in... Voracious for knowledge and breakthroughs. I am not that way so much anymore.

Level 21

I think this ship may have already sailed, but instead of Skynet they named it Facebook! 

About the Author
Thomas LaRock is a Head Geek at SolarWinds and a Microsoft® Certified Master, SQL Server® MVP, VMware® vExpert, and a Microsoft Certified Trainer. He has over 20 years experience in the IT industry in roles including programmer, developer, analyst, and database administrator.