Verify AWS free tier

Starting from November 1st, Amazon offers a free usage tier for new AWS customers. After finishing the horrible signup process, I was left wondering wether the free usage tier was activated for my account.

To find out, just start an EC2 micro instance*. Don’t forget to stop it. After some time, go to the account activity page and click on “expand all services”. You should see something like this:

* This will cost you a few cents if you don’t have a free usage tier.

And the Nobel Peace Prize goes to: Teh Internetz

It made the news that the Internet has been nominated for this year’s Nobe Prize.

The Internet? Seriously? Just think about all the flame wars the Internet caused. I think some people have to check there calendar, it’s not April 1st yet. What were they thinking?

– “Ok, last year we gave it to Obama, because was so popular. That didn’t really make everyone happy. We need someone more popular.”
– “How about the Internet?! Everyone likes the Internet!”

This just ridiculous. Why not nominate swords? After all, you can hammer them into plowshares.

"Let Us Beat Our Swords into Ploughshares" by United Nations Photo - CC by-nc-nd

Why I decided to spam you on Twitter

Like almost everybody I know I despise the useless updates by apps like Foursquare and Farmville that clutter Twitter and Facebook with useless information.

But if you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed that I myself allowed the Hundred Pushups iPhone app to post updates to my Twitter feed. Why this change of mind?

Doing a pushup (not me)First, let me explain what the app does. The goal of the Hundred Pushups iPhone app is, who would have guessed, to enable you to do 100 consecutive pushups. It offers a six week training program* and allows you to log your workouts. It’s definitely not the greatest app ever and has lots of room for improvement but it gets the job done: when I started training with the app on the 25th of January, I could do 37 consecutive pushups. Today, about 6 weeks and 15 workouts later, this number has more than doubled to 77.

That’s all well and good, you might intervene, but why boast with these numbers on Twitter?

Guess how I heard about the 100 pushups app for the first time? A status update on my Twitter feed caught my interest, I googled, found the site, bought the app and started training. I don’t remember who posted that update, but I’m really glad that person decided to do so. While the mere fact that you can do 100 pushups buys you nothing, a strong upper body definitely has its benefits.

At first, I was reluctant to allow the app to post on Twitter, because I didn’t want to annoy my followers with useless updates. But after seeing good progress, I decided that posting my progress to Twitter might be actually of value to somebody.

If my tweets motivate only one of my 197 followers to complete this training program, it is well worth pissing of the other 196.

* 100 pushups in six weeks sounds to good to be true? Well, calling it a six week program is a bit, let’s say, optimistic. It would be more accurate to call it a six level training program. The levels, which are named week 1 to 6, get more and more difficult and at some point, your progress will stagnate. I was able to keep up with the first three weeks, but I’m struggling to complete week 4. Still, a 100% increase in 6 weeks isn’t to bad and I’m confident that I’ll achieve the 100 in the not so far future.

Image adapted from  “I Knew Pushups Would Pay Off Someday” by reid.gilman, licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC

Asus EEE PC 901 with RunCore Pro IV SSD

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about upgrading the SSD of my EEE PC 901 and the mixed results I got. I decided to return it and wait until a faster SSD by RunCore becomes available. Today, I received my brand new RunCore Pro IV SATA 70mm Mini PCIe SSD 32 GB (what a name!).

As I already wrote in my earlier post, swapping the SSD is really easy.

  1. Backup your data. If you want to reuse your current installation, use some imaging software. I booted from an Ubuntu Live CD and used dd.
  2. Turn off your EEE, remove AC and battery.
  3. Loosen the two screws of the lid on the bottom and remove the lid. You might have to apply a little bit of force with a flat screw driver.
  4. Loosen the two screws that hold the SSD in place. Make sure the don’t fall into the case. If the do, you absolutely must find them before you plug in AC or the battery, otherwise you risk a short-circuit.
  5. Replace the old SSD with the new one.
  6. Fix the SSD, put on the lid, restore your image. Done!

If anyone asks nicely, I can take some pictures of the process, but it is really simple. The only special tool you need is a very small Philips screwdriver. There was one in the box with the SSD, but it wasn’t small enough.

After swapping the drive and restoring the image, I booted the device for the first time. The EEE detected the drive without problem and I noticed immediately that the system was snappier. Then I ran the benchmark:
Benchmark Runcore Pro IV SSD

The sequential and 512k read performance is on par with the Super Talent SSD, but the write performance is miles ahead. To be honest I expected even faster write speeds, but I’m far from disappointed. The benchmark result is 7.5 times faster than the Super Talent SSD and a ridiculous 93x better than the stock SSD. Way to go, RunCore!

Older benchmark results:

Benchmark of Super Talent SSD

Benchmark of Super Talent SSD

Benchmark of EEE PC 901 onboard SSD

Benchmark of EEE PC 901 onboard SSD

Disclaimer: I’m not affliated with any of the companies mentioned, I’m just excited that my little EEE PC might be usable again. If you think about dumping it for a new device, consider upgrading the SSD.

Asus EEE PC 901 SSD Upgrade

Update: Upgrade instructions and benchmark of the EEE 901 with an even faster SSD.

Recently, I upgraded the harddisk of my EEE PC. It comes with a 4 GB onboard SSD which in quite slow, and a 8 GB SSD which is even slower. A benchmark shows just how slow it is.

Benchmark onboard SSD

After reading the test of the RunCore Pro IV SSD on jkkmobile, I decided it was time to upgrade. Unfortunately, the RunCore SSDs are hard to come by in Germany, so I bought a 32 GB Super Talent PCIe SSD (FPM32GLSE) for about 100 €, expecting similar performance.

I made an image of the old drives and upgraded the BIOS to the newest version. To my surprise, installing the drive was as simple as swapping the RAM module.

After restoring the images to the new drive, I ran the benchmark again.

Benchmark Super Talent SSD

Overall, the Super Talent SSD outperforms the onboard SSD. Sequential writing is a bit slower, but sequential reading is more than 3x faster. 4k writing is about 12x faster, but the absolute value of 0.7 MB/s is still quite low. A RunCore Pro IV should get about 16 MB/s which is 20x more.

Harald Schmidt dankt ab!

Das war mein erster Gedanke als ich das Schlusslicht des heutigen Tagesschau-Newsletters gelesen habe:

Auf Platzhirsch machen, machomäßig rumtönen – viel mehr braucht es heute nicht, um in  deutschen Medien Karriere zu machen. Allerdings kann es passieren, dass einem ein Olli zur Seite gestellt wird, sollte man einmal schwächeln. Und das kann dann schnell tödlich werden.

Aber wie sich im dazugehörigen Artikel herausstellt, war “Platzhirsch” durchaus wörtlich gemeint.