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The Actuator – August 15th

Level 17

Back from the beach and back in the saddle bringing you this week’s Actuator. I’m also gearing up for VMworld, which is coming up fast! If you are attending, let me know, as I’ll be there to work the booth and deliver a session titled "Performance Deep Dive for Demanding Virtual Database Servers​."

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

The Defense Department has produced the first tools for catching deepfakes

Deliberate misinformation has been around since humans learned to communicate. For more than a thousand years, we have tried to discover what information is real, and what is fake. This “arms race” isn’t new, it’s as old as human civilization.

#1 Microsoft Widens Lead Over #2 Amazon In Cloud Revenue

I love that Azure can make a case for being a leader over AWS in some areas of cloud computing. What I love even more is that after years of telling you that there are only two cloud providers (AWS and Azure), everyone else is finally starting to see that truth as well.

Apple hangs onto its historic $1 trillion market cap

The reason this is so amazing is the fact that Apple is a company with essentially one product, the iPhone. But with this leverage, they could buy Alphabet, and then create a third player in the Cloud Wars.

While Music Streaming Sales Surge, Singers Still Get Paid a Song

Something tells me that artists have been getting less than their fair share for a long, long time.

Blue Apron shares sink as customers ditch its meal-kits

We tried Blue Apron a while back and were underwhelmed by the service. Now that grocery stores have upped their game, companies like Blue Apron need to bring something else to the table otherwise they won’t be invited for dinner much longer.

A collection of dataviz caveats

Brilliant summary of things not to do with data visualizations. If you read this, and still use a pie chart as a default, shame on you.

Blockchain, Once Seen as a Corporate Cure-All, Suffers Slowdown

Blockchain is at best a very slow distributed database, a glorified linked list. But here’s what Blockchain is not: a security protocol. While Blockchain will provide the ability to verify the authenticity of a transaction, the fact is you could be conducting a transaction with Satan. As companies start to figure this out, the hype pushing the Blockchain Train seems to be losing steam.

I could get used to life at the beach:


Level 20

Woohoo nice beach scene!

Level 13

Good one about the deep fakes.

Level 17

Thanks! The tide rolled in just as the sun was setting, forming that pond. The lack of foot traffic kept the water still enough to create the mirror-like effect. In short, it was a beautiful moment from a wonderful week of sun and surf.

Level 12

Perhaps it's my lack of understanding of something fundamental to millennial culture, but how in the world could meal-kit services ever expect to succeed in the long run?  From my (admittedly somewhat narrow) perspective, the choices are simple.  If you don't want to cook, you eat at a restaurant or get takeout/delivery.  If you want to cook, you get the ingredients and you cook.  If you care at all about what goes into your food, you're probably pretty selective at the grocery store.  If you really care, you grow the food yourself.  How could you ever settle for letting someone else pick out your vittles, box it up, and ship it from who knows where?  Sorry, I'm just not a fan of the meal-kit model.  If I want to eat a meal-kit that badly, the MRE has a lot longer track record and shelf life.

The plan remains:  Just say "NO!" to blockchain.


Apple certainly knows how to make money.

I had to support their computers in public school settings throughout the 90's and 2000's, and it was never as pretty or glorious or simple or cost-efficient as they asked us to believe.

Similarly, their cell phone technology is no cost-winner:  Since the 90's I've paid $25/month for land line services at home, and as much as $225 per month for cell / data services.  And Apples wants me to throw in another $1000 per cell phone? 

No thank you, Apple.

Convenience affects perception, and perception becomes reality.

It's convenient and easy to steal music via the Internet, therefore it MUST be legal.

But musicians get paid nothing for stolen downloads, and most musicians make very little on an hourly rate as the result of folks' lack of appreciation of musicians' skills.  I'm not talking Bruno Mars or other big-name acts, but the folks who do a great job playing for weddings and dances.  They can't live on the wages they're offered.

Don't be surprised if new music deteriorates as people without musical knowledge begin creating and publishing alternate forms of music for free.  Heaven forbid the masses should begin to enjoy music without musical lines, performances without melody that's pleasing to the ear, all due to talented-but-untrained composers and performers being the only ones who'll write or play tunes in the future.

I've been performing since I was about five, and while I've made enough money to sometimes pay for gas and the meals to/from a gig, and have received awards and accolades, I've never made a living wage at it, despite giving it my love and enthusiasm and devotion and hours and hours of practice.

I can't imagine how musicians feel when their personal work is stolen and used indiscriminately.


How sad deep fakes are "a thing" at all.  Where are the ethics and morals that prevent people from going down the path of fakery that will be used in the future to fool the masses even more?

Once again, just because someone has an idea or determines that something CAN be done, does not mean the idea should be followed through on, or the thing should occur.

How will the public be able to trust video in the future?  Will anyone be able to claim "that video wasn't of me, it was deep fakery!", and get away with something bad?  Or worse, be falsely accused with made-up evidence?

I had a lovely conversation with a group of Millennials last week, while on a fishing trip to remote parts of northern Ontario.  They determined theirs is the Generation of Skepticism, in great part to fake news and false "facts" being thrown at them.  I tried to show them that this is nothing new--that Timothy Leery advocated mistrust in the 1960's, that governments and organized groups have been misleading the public for centuries or millennia.  The young folks in my group felt that didn't matter; they're better educated, have more access to too many conflicting resources, and their sole takeaway is NOT "Trust, but verify."  It's "Do NOT Trust.  EVER!".

Because of false "facts" and deep fakery.

I LOVED the Data Viz Caveats article!  I've mistakenly fallen victim to several of the problems mentioned, and have seen too many presentations that abuse the concepts demonstrated in the web page.  This is one I'll be sharing with presenters!

Too bad for Blue Apron.  I've seen several local competitors to it come and go, to the dismay of my family and our dinner options.  It's apparent that few food services have a profitable long-term strategy.  Perhaps it's understandable, given the variables and the scope in which they can change (gasoline prices for transportation/harvest/fuel, economics with recessions or unplanned spikes and bubbles, pesticides, disease, fertilizer issues, GMO's and bad publicity, actual weather versus changing climate expectations etc.).

One cloud vendor is seeing 11% greater use than another?  I don't think MS has this market cornered, and I don't think AWS is going to be limited to the same markets as MS.

In high school I took guitar lessons (thanks mom and dad) and learned some chords and scales for about 9 months.  Forty years later, I'm still playing.

Like rschroeder I never made much money doing it but I had fun.  One of my best music gigs was as a DJ at a country bar for three months followed by a two year run as a sound technician for a country band in my area.  One night I even mixed audio for Joe Stampley Joe Stampley - Wikipedia  YeeHaw!

Of course I listen normally listen to Rock....all kinds of rock old and new!

Looking back I wish I had taken more pictures.   



Cool article

Level 20

Is that you on the keyboard there Rick?

Yes, that's me on keys.  I play four different saxophones, flute, clarinet, keyboards, and electric bass.  I had a gig just last night, and really had a great time!  Music's been a big part of my life for the last 53 years (somehow I'm reminded of that phrase "Older than Moses' toeses, and twice as corny).

Level 13

Amazon vs Microsoft is an interesting one. Off of shear figures sure Microsoft appears to come out on top; however with SaaS offerings (365 springs to mind) I'm willing to bet a sizeable chunk of its revenue is from its SaaS offerings.

So if one was to directly compare only the markets both compete in IE IaaS, PaaS then I'm sure Amazon would come out miles ahead. However from my knowledge AWS started around 2006 and Microsoft was 2010? But I might be wrong. If it is true, then Amazon got a 4 year head start. Meaning Microsoft has done well to over take in total revenue  in all area's with a 4 year deficit.

Truth be told any business would be terrified if Amazon announced it was joining a sector they compete in and rightly so imo. So Microsoft should hope they don't ever get into the SaaS game. From a consumer point more choice is always good surely?

My lifelong goal is to live down at the beach. Living in between Balt & DC I am bearing witness to the eventuality of the two cities becoming one. Too much development, too much congestion, too much paving over, too many people.

I'll take waking up to the sunrise over the ocean every morning,,,


Interesting as usual.

I'm curious where all of this will go with "fake." At what point is it fake vs. opinion or belief? Who determines? What are the penalties? Who determines? Who receives the recompense from those penalties? All of this can be very scary when you take it beyond the surface.

Level 15

The Data-to-Viz article was great.  I forwarded to some our of educators to enlighten their presentations.


Nice beach    

Level 13

O look at the water... sand between the toes.

Level 11

Thanks for the articles!

Level 14

Microsoft surpassing Amazon cloud revenue is not what I would've bet my money on.

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.