FM receivers in smartphones

The makers of the NextRadio app recently announced that Samsung will be enabling the FM receiver chip on future smartphones. The phones already have the receiver, but they are generally not enabled. Enabling FM receivers on phones is great news.

As someone who has used a smartphone’s FM receiver, I want to be clear that it’s not a great experience. Headphone wires work as antennas, but not very well.

The main benefit is in emergency situations. In a widespread disaster, cellular service may be down or overwhelmed. Receiving FM broadcasts is a low-power way of receiving important information from officials. Indeed, I’d like to see the manufacturers go one step further and include receivers that receive All-Hazards Radio in addition to the commercial FM band.

Now, it’s possible that I’d use an FM receiver outside of emergency situations. I sometimes listen to Purdue sports on the radio if I’m doing yard work or otherwise unable to sit down and watch TV. The Purdue Sports Radio Network streams over TuneIn, which works pretty well. But there’s a delay, and if I’m moving in and out of Wi-Fi range, it becomes unreliable.

I guess I’ll see which models Samsung starts with before I figure out my phone upgrade plans. I don’t expect Apple to follow suit any time soon. Their embrace of wireless headphones means iPhones will have no antenna.

Other writing in December 2017

What am I writing when I’m not writing here?

What I wrote

What I curated


  • Inspect gives insight – My annual SysAdvent article edit covers a tool for testing system configuration.

Other writing: November 2017

Ha! You didn’t think I wrote other places any more. But you’re wrong!

Stuff I wrote


  • Join Microsoft at Supercomputing 17 – If you didn’t read it before the conference, it’s too late now. Well you can still read it, but you’ll have missed all the fun.

Stuff I curated


Book review: The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding

As I move from tactical marketing work into more strategic work, my former CEO recommended several books. The first one I read is The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding by Al Ries and Laura Ries. This 2002 update of the original by Al Ries and Jack Trout includes The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding.

I immediately liked the book for its easy readability and the fact that I agreed with what it said. But it’s a little bit dated. The world was different in 2002, particularly when it comes to the brands that dominate their fields. That doesn’t change the messages. After all, it’s the laws that are immutable, not the brand.

The passage of fifteen years is more evident and meaningful in the Internet section. The authors spend most of a chapter decrying the “vanity” of Jeff Bezos. Amazon, they say, should stick to books. Branching out into other markets will damage the brand in the long term. Yeah, about that…

Now the rule may be generally correct and Amazon is just a lucky exception. Certainly many other brands have outreached their grasps. But in a later chapter, they rail against the notion of convergence. Nobody would want a combination of a phone, camera, and music player. Strike two.

The future is hard to predict, so I don’t hold it against them for missing the mark. But if you repeatedly insist with great authority, you need to be proven right. The authors failed pretty miserably in that regard. This forces the skeptical reader to wonder if the rest of the authoritative statements are similarly wrong.

I’m inclined to think that the bulk of the advice is correct, but I would certainly caution the reader to not accept everything blindly.

This book is definitely focused on building a brand, not maintaining one. But if that’s what you’re after, I’d give The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding a read.

Other writing in August 2017

What am I writing when I’m not writing here?

How I back up my data

I talk about backups a lot (seriously, have them!), but I don’t really explain what I do. The answer is pretty simple, but I need some blog filler.

In short, I use CrashPlan. I have it write to a local USB drive and upload to their cloud service. The unlimited hosted backups cost $65 a year and mostly just work for me. I keep all of my important stuff on my main server. When I’m using another computer (e.g. my laptop), I use your typical remote access tools (e.g. NFS). I assume that anything on my laptop is subject to going poof at any moment.

I also use SpiderOak to synchronize and backup a few small things: my podcast downloads, a few application configs, etc.

In the old days, I had an rsync script that copied only particular directories to my USB drive. It would also copy to an external drive I kept at my office. This worked well when most of what I cared about was on one of two mountpoints. Now I use LVM to carve up a filesystem for broad categories, which would necessarily complicate the script. Frankly, I’d rather just let someone else’s software handle it.

One thing I don’t do that I really want to is setting up configuration management. While that’s not backup, it’s a shortcut to “get this machine back to where I want it to be”. Data is one thing, configuration is another. I could get back most of my configuration from the CrashPlan backup, but having configuration management would get my system functional quickly while I wait for the restore process to complete. Someday.

I have a new employer

If you haven’t already heard the news, my employer was acquired by Microsoft this week. Now if this had happened 10 or maybe even 5 years ago, I probably would have noped on out of there. But the Microsoft of today is, at least from outward indications, not at all the Microsoft of yore.

I am legitimately excited about this. The company started out as an $8,000 credit card bill 12 years ago and we’ve made it through on revenue ever since. It says a lot for our team, our product, and our customers that we’ve been able to grow and be successful.

At the same time, it’s been hard not having a big cushion to fall back on. When you’re bootstrapped, everything depends on deals closing and checks being sent on time. At Microsoft, we’ll have more latitude to make strategic investments.

Along those lines, I won’t just be marketing CycleCloud anymore. I’ll be working on marketing for the entire cloud HPC ecosystem. This is a daunting challenge, but one I’m really looking forward to. If I can do it well, my next step will be whatever I want it to be. If I do it poorly, I will have learned a lot along the way.

I can’t wait to see what happens.

Other writing in July 2017

What have I been writing when I haven’t been writing here?

Other writing in June 2017

Where have I been writing when I haven’t been writing here?

Curated articles

Cycle Computing

Other writing in May 2017

Where have I been writing when I haven’t been writing here (which is more often than I’d like)? Well, of course, I’ve been sending out my newsletter every week. But also…

The site set a page view record in May with 1,142,839 views. Here’s what I contributed:

Cycle Computing