January 30, 2012

11 Essentials for the Modern Man

Every man loves gadgets, tools, toys and gifts. I scour catalogs and websites looking for the next cool thing. Occasionally, I find items that become truly essential. Items I use daily and can’t leave the house without. Some of these items are pricy, but there are also several that are less than $10. All of them are top quality and built to last a lifetime. Ladies, with Valentine’s day fast approaching and Father’s day a few months later, look no further than this list to make your man happy.

Saddleback Leather WalletSaddleback Leather Wallet – A man’s wallet is his life. Look in a typical guy’s wallet and you’ll see cash, credit cards, pictures of loved ones, business cards from someone he met in a bar 3 years ago, old fortune cookie fortunes, shopping lists from last Christmas, and receipts from everything he has ever bought. His wallet becomes a part of body, molding to his shape over time. When you have that kind of relationship with an item, you want it to last. There are no better wallets on earth than the wallets made by Saddleback leather. They are beautiful, built to last, and come with a 100 year warranty. That’s right, they are guaranteed to last 100 years. Saddleback also makes the finest briefcases, ipad cases, and luggage around. My iPad case is guaranteed to last 97 years past the useful life of the iPad! I have many of their pieces and will never go back to cheap store-bought leather goods. Buy one of these and you’ll thank me for years to come. (read more…)

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January 23, 2012

10 Questions To Ask Your Next Data Center

Choosing a data center is a big decision for most companies. Your IT infrastructure represents a critical asset for your company, and unless you are an uber-dot com company like Google or Facebook (which spread their gear around the country in tens of locations), you probably only have one or two data centers. Changing data centers is expensive and time consuming, so choosing the right data center partner is incredibly important.

Unfortunately, data centers don’t make it easy on you to differentiate between them. Everyone says they are “secure,” “highly available,” and “high density.” They all show you their generator farms, their battery rooms, and their security vestibules with bullet proof glass. Tour any three data centers and you’ll be left scratching your head trying to figure out what the difference is. As a result, many people end up using price and proximity as the primary decision points. Or even worse, they look at non-material amenities like free sodas and xboxes in the break room as the deciding factor.

There are critical differences, however, between data centers. Failing to recognize them can cost you more in the long run than any savings you might glean by choosing the low-cost provider. Having purchased services from a multitude of data centers over the last two decades, and having dealt with even more as an IT consultant, I’ve learned to recognize some of the hard to spot differences that can make or break a long term data center relationship. For simplicity (so you can copy/paste into your next RFP), I’ve listed the 10 questions you should ask your next data center below. A detailed explanation of each question follows, so you know what you should look for. I hope you find this list informative.


10 questions to ask your next data center provider

  1. Which components of the data center facility are both fault tolerant and concurrently maintainable?
  2. How are cooling zones provisioned to maintain operating temperatures during maintenance or failures of CRAC/CRAH units?
  3. What are the average and maximum power densities of the facility on a watts/sq’ and watts/cabinet basis?
  4. How often does the data center load test its generators?
  5. What are the highest risk natural disasters for the area, and what has the data center done to mitigate their impact?
  6. What are the minimum skill sets of the remote hands and eyes staff?
  7. Does the data center maintain multiple redundant sources of fuel and water?
  8. What certifications has the data center earned, and do they undergo annual audits to maintain them?
  9. How does the data center track SLA compliance, and what is their historical track record? Can they provide their last 5 failure reports?
  10. What is the profile of their top 5 clients, and what percentage of total revenue for the facility do they represent? (read more…)
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January 7, 2012

Chicken and Andouille Cassoulet

CassouletCassoulet is one of those great comfort foods that is wonderful anytime, but absolutely perfect on a cold winter evening. It’s meant to be warm and rustic, can you can pretty much throw whatever you have into the pot and it will come out tasting good.

I made this recipe up tonight on the fly, but it was so good I had to share it. Try it yourself and let me know what you think.

Ingredients

  • 4 strips bacon
  • 1 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast – cubed
  • 3 -4 links andouille sausage – diced (I prefer Aidells’ but any will do
  • 3 cans cannellini beans (white kidney) – drained and rinsed
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 2 carrots peeled and chopped
  • 4 roma tomatoes diced
  • 10 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 cups dry white wine
  • 2 – 3 cups chicken stock
  • salt, pepper, italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, and Emiril’s essence to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Fry the bacon in a large stock pot until crispy. Remove and set aside. In a separate pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Sauté the onions in the bacon fat for 5 – 7 minutes until translucent. Add the sausage and cook another 10 minutes, scraping the bottom with a metal spatula. Add white wine and garlic, and simmer for 2 minutes. Season chicken with emeril’s essence. Add chicken, tomatoes, carrots, beans, crumbled bacon, and other spices and stir. Add boiling chicken stock. The chicken stock should not quite cover the other ingredients, unless you want your cassoulet a little soupy. Cover the pot and put into oven. Bake at 350 for 75 – 90 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes. Leave pot uncovered for the last 20 minutes to help evaporate off some of the excess liquid. Serve it in bowls with lots of crusty bread (or just eat it plain if you’re on a low-carb diet like me). Enjoy! As always, if you try this recipe, please let me know.

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