The issues between DevOps and General Enterprise Technology

In the Facebook outage, it reminded people that you can’t trust a company which thinks they have only a few million users, when they don’t accept they work for a trillion dollar enterprise. This meaning that Facebook’s servers and services are more consumer-class than enterprise class or worse the braintrust is very weak.

It’s important to note, that even though the Internet Protocol is in itself a software stack (think of this as an “extension” or “driver”), but software engineering, web apps, etc., is in itself a different skillset. People who have used Microsoft’s Windows Server solutions really do not know much about IP networking. For many years, the Server editions came with a DHCP server, how many of the Microsoft certified admins know more about DHCP other than it gives IP address at the local level to get out onto “the Internet? I have suspected about VOIP deployments in the past, where NT admins didn’t understand “DHCP options” and alike because you know it’s more important to manage an Active Directory.

Look at Microsoft’s own VOIP systems, it fell shorter beyond Cisco’s Unified Call Manager, and obviously the Avaya, Nortel, Mitel or Shortels of the world. It’s sad when a Cisco can do better. This has a lot to do with Microsoft’s DNA of everything being software and talking to Microsoft’s own blueprint. Anything that routes outside a data center of an in house, on prem Microsoft solution is something Microsoft doesn’t get, and their software shows it. If it has to hit a Cisco, or needs to interact with a Cisco IOS, well good luck to that.

The Session Initiation Protocol part of Voice over IP was yet another rip-off from the traditional telephony, and was created by application people, since SIP was based off the Web standards or HTTP technically speaking if it’s a device talking to another machine. In a lot of ways SIP was designed almost like cell phones because a telephone number is basically a URL, and when you hear the “dial tone” it’s a fake noise to assure the user to replicate it’s a phone. Because the people who developed SIP didn’t understand enterprise voice systems, its basically like a landline with all the 19 potential features you could add on to your home hardwired or broadband phone service, because the people who likely created it looked at their POTS phone and assumed the same.

What a bunch of assholes to make an ass out of themselves.

Understanding software and an imaginary world is the worst thing to have in DevOps, of which is the new IT department fusing move-fast-and-break things punky coders, and wife beating sysadmins who hate change, but preach it to their “end users” or “lusers”. It’s kinda ironic that either type of man typically lacks software of another sorts, people. Understanding people. The IT world needs to be reformed to really not be the evil world to their fellow employees, and they need to stop jacking off to the C-suite, to help them save money by cutting jobs to their own people. This kinda goes full circle of the way money and influence is killing society with Facebook and their technical approach. If you are building a social network, that isn’t based on empathy, you are certainly going to cause rift amongst the people who are using your service.

On Facebook’s Outage…

I am not going to be the asshole tech pundit who trashes others for not knowing things like Border Gateway Protocol, or what have you.

I mean seriously, who at the Facebook’s technical staff even know what BGP stands for? Or any server administration period.

I am talking about the Facebook outage that occurred on Monday morning – the morning after the whistle blower appeared on 60 Minutes. There was little clarity whether it was a Distributed Denial of Service attacks (or DDOS – yes I capitalize the “O” because I find mixed capitals in initials to be tacky) or just a simple routing issue. It turns out, according to their blog post in response to the outage

“Our engineering teams have learned that configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers caused issues that interrupted this communication. This disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way our data centers communicate, bringing our services to a halt.” From Facebook’s engineering blog

Where is the PR to help gel out vague languages such as a “configuration change”… that even though I am not technical, I would certainly test things before applying (but that would violate the Move Fast and Break Things ethos.)

I’ve had a theory that coders were very narrowminded groups of people who don’t know much about networking, much like how networking guys took a literal backwards view on telephony.

Or that coders have basic views of networking, that is no different than a gamer or a YouTube influencer.

This is sad if a large trillion dollar enterprise is acting like a bro startup at a scrappy office building. It’s been confirmed that Facebook’s corporate hierarchy is “flat” according to the whistle blower speaking to Congress this week. It’s not a surprise and coders see the world as flat (maybe they are flat-earthers!)

Facebook’s own computing (of which they do, and not use Google or Microsoft or Amazon), is not just their own farm, but they had built their own bare computers, without standard rack hardware, just sitting out in the open, using open source software along with their wacky hardware designs. Facebook’s software however, should be concerning if the underlying code is basic Linux code, and if Linux servers are acting as routers, they typically are not intended to be built to handle billions of users.

This is really, really bad, if Facebook’s routing is as shallow as a home gamer with consumer grade equipment or consumer grade networking settings. This consumer mindset should alarm enterprises of any size because IP networking and routing is more than just from going in and out.

If you want to be the next Facebook, it’s likely logical you should consider Software Defined Networking, just make sure it’s built for scale and built for serious environments. Facebook’s very casual and reckless approach for managing their systems should also be a wake up call for aspiring web disrupters.

A Telephone Number is NOT A URL!

A couple years ago, I had clashed with a crude and disrespectful DSP; who was there for a quick buck but should’ve worked in another field instead. The individual was significantly younger than me; and involved the really grey matter of what is considered to be a private, one on one conversation in a congregated group that isn’t strangers. I’ve had people say it’s wrong to abut into conversations in open environments, and some seeing what I saw.

The person I won’t identify avoided a local restaurant because the joint didn’t have an app to order on a smartphone, and actually left to go to another place that did. I said

“you couldn’t use your phone by calling?”

She responded (again a DSP, who should hold higher standards said in a crudely sarcastic matter”)

“I don’t need your sass”

While I was being generally light-hearted.

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The View on Non Linear Editing Systems, part four

The Future

Non Linear Editing is younger than me by a couple of years. The technology got confusing as editing got more democratized. I am not trying to sound snooty, but there are some major pitfalls that plagues content creators

  • The language is technical and vague
  • The vendors are not clear of compatibility
  • Obviously no final cuts are mastered onto video tape, and since the advent of File based workflows, it’s not been very clear. QuickTime by traditional file format has been apparently depcriated by Apple, but yet when I shoot a video on my iPhone it saves as a .mov file, but no one says it’s a so-called “wrapper” to queue up QuickTime by default, even if by reality it’s really an MP4 video. Or maybe I am mistaken?
  • When everything went to file based a decade ago, there was no linear equivalents like in Betacam for an example, a big Beta tape for master, and the small 30 minute for the field, or SP had better picture and SX was digital; likewise in S/VHS, you had EP to use more tape, at a lower quality, and SP, for best quality needed a lot of magnetic film.
  • PAL, SECAM and ATSC is all blurred in the world of digital
  • You have film and video at a head-on crash, with the casualties of electronic videographers, and filmmakers have taken over the digital world.

The future of edit suites?

If COVID 19 had done anything, it brought editors to edit at home now. Except for Avid’s solutions, a multi screen option is becoming less and less of an option, and I don’t like that. I think it’s great to have dual screens to split your workspace, but not in that complex fashion that is of Avid’s.

I also find the future content creators making more crap videos with 5 second cutaways (that when I was younger, I thought the signal on my TV as screwy)… this  because the kids aren’t being taught A/V. You wonder why the American Public School system sucks? They aren’t teaching A/V enough,

We should teach our children to Broadcast Themselves . Not in a tacky way, but put the highest quality possible in the content. There’s more to content than just “filming”. If Susan W. has tried to whitewash the ol Broadcast Yourself from YouTube, not everyone has forgotten.

A Return to a Virtual Tape Deck?

I would love to edit video from my camera, in the same fashion you sometimes see a P2 “laptop” deck. I’d love to assemble edit my stuff then fix it up on an NLE app.

I hope in the next few years post production can be more diverse and give the customers an option instead of the vendors treating “the end users” as “average”, meaning low level people, assuming they want simple stuff because the Avids and Adobes “have more than I ever need”. That sets an alarming trend away from the democratization of the NLEs in the first place 2 decades ago.

The View on Non Linear Editing Systems, part three

This feature focuses on two other guys, the ones I know the least.

Adobe’s Premiere

Premiere dates as far back in the early 1990s, as the GUI train was at this point accelerating with no stoppage. Premiere developed by SuperMac in 1991, and was acquired by Adobe (the Not Invented or Not Innovated Here is Adobe’s informal tagline.) Trigger warning, I am no fan of Adobe, I find them to be extremely complex, shoplifting the competition and not getting properly accounted in the legal sense (look at the whole brohaha of Photoshop vs. Quantel’s Paintbox in the 90s.) . It’s not to say I use some of their products, because there really isn’t that many other choices. I am not a Creative Cloud customer either.

They made the version for the Mac first, then the PC by 1993. Unlike Avid’s platform which needed a customer to buy the Mac with the Avid hardware and software, the customer for Adobe could find a Mac or PC compatible to the specifications. (This predates the time before the Power PC or the Core Duo, of which basically needed other hardware to do the processing of video, if you use Apple’s FCP as the baseline of simplicity of video processing.

The original Premiere code ended by a decade later, when Adobe introduced Premiere Pro and by 2013, just 22 years after the original marketing of Premiere, Adobe was migrating customers into the cloud with Adobe’s Creative Cloud platform.

From my observation, Adobe is between Avid and whatever operating system Premiere runs on. Dual displays are optional, but not required, and later versions in the CC era, is a clusterfudge of a user interface.

Edius

Currently marketed by the same company that developed the CVG600, that same Grass Valley, markets one my favorite NLEs in a post FCP7 world. However there’s a catch. It runs on Windows only. Edius has a large install at least of the 3 of the 4 Network O&O groups, Fox ABC and NBC, and other major affiliate chains, while all the network news divisions are still using Avid’s Windows-based NewsCutter that is a UI designed for news gathering operations, since the last year Avid has pulled the plug. on the “Media Composer with NewsCutter Option”

Edius was built originally by the Japanese based Canopus in 2003, with GV acquiring them two years later, while Grass Valley themselves have gone through many different owners, with most recently being spun off by the hard-wiring conglomerate Belden in 2018.

What may make Edius be good sell, is that it supported file based media formats, the solid state storage devices like Sony’s XDCAM, Panasonic’s signature P2 and your consumer grade SD cards early on as early as 2006! While for most video pros, file based workflows are common now, at the time Edius was the one of the few that could do it without much hardware or plugins. Thanks to Avid for bringing the world the lovely “plugins” (sarcasm.)

Edius’ media management application that has the resemblance of Apple’s iPhoto. While version 10 (or “X”) came out just last fall, with anything that is “X” I am taking with a grain of salt. The cool thing is the pricing is more competitive, and it does a whole lot of cool things if video is your medium. The Title functionality is in par to a Chyron, Deko or even an Xpression with the UI mimicking a Character Generator.

If graphics is another way you express yourself (and I like to do newsgathering, so this why I am speaking about this with high regards) it’s worth giving Grass Valley your email to try to for 30 days. For my ThinkPad W520 using Windows 7 (shh… don’t tell legal and compliance!) to handle the editing is another sign that you do not need the latest and greatest; since it’s dependent on the CPU,  and GPU. Since I have a NVIDIA and an i7, cutting 90 second package can take less than 10 minutes. Again in par with the legacy FCP.  I have not tried EDIUS on my Mac via BootCamp; as I am in a pivot point whether or not I should stay on the Macs as a creative pro or move to Windows.

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The View on Non Linear Editing Systems, part two

I am breaking this subject up in multiple posts to focus on each company, some I know more than others. This one is on Apple

Apple Computer (1999)

Apple Computer in 1999 introduced an application called Final Cut Pro. It was just ten years before Apple was working with Avid to help them build a non linear editing system that made the CVX600 from Grass Valley, that was basically just a terminal that told tape decks specifically what timecodes to cut up video tape metaphorically – extremely jealous. Well by this point Apple would make Avid not just jealous technically, but even on Avid’s own balance sheet and market share.

Final Cut Pro was initially  supported on the Power Mac G3, the PowerBook G3 (Pismo and Wall Street models)  and likely the iMac DV models that came to market in 2000. The reason being the non iMac/iBook models did not have a minimal graphics processor or video RAM to make it possible to edit beyond basic cutups in iMovie for an example.

FCP was mostly software based. This means the big ol SCSI hard drives or big ol Avid Adrenaline boxes were illrelevant.  That FireWire port that was on your Macintosh was all you needed. If you a DV tape deck, or a camera to ingest into video was the I/O bus.

This is where Avid dropped the ball.

Remember in 1999, the Mac OS 9 (that infamous fragile operating system that morphed from the 9″ black and white monitor with  128K RAM just 15 years before) was released, so FCP predates OS X by a version or two. While FCP had some restrictions compared to Avid or Adobe, this lowered the barrier to entry.

Apple was a pioneer of making non linear formats easy to understand especially with QuickTime vs. MPEG 4, vs. baking it back to tape. Avid to this day is still a bit confusing.

Its not an understatement to say that Final Cut was the editing system for the rest of us™. By the mid 00s, Apple was seriously encroaching Avid’s base which was nearly half of the post production houses, but at the same time, Apple would blow it by 2011 with the introduction of FCPX, but yet Apple didn’t skip a beat, just pissing off long time customers.

Apple in recent history

FCP’s legacy  UI was a bit quirky, but not as complex as Avid, and for most FCP users, they were using other guys or did other things like graphic design, animations, etc. The dual screen support enabled people to put whatever they wanted, wherever they wanted, and not those silly windows that magically disappears when you least expected. Likewise the GUI skillset was of those who know GUIs inside and out, and there was seperation of what was a keyboard function and what was a mouse.

Like OS X, the “X” was basically demarcing the line of what’s old code (FCP 7 was the last of it’s legacy dating back to 1999, virtually 10 years old.) FCP was basically a fancier iMovie and unfortunately lowed the barrier to entry to what was becoming a growing market of social media content creators who never dealt with video editing, never mind the idea these people didn’t grow up watching broadcast or contemporary cable prior to the mid 00s.

FCP X is really designed for a MacBook and if you have  a MacPro, you’re above the minimal specs, especially if you have a dual screen. The UI is all in one window, if you want to extend it – good luck! The customization is a joke in everything. Apple won’t have to worry about a saturated market.

Any rational Mac fanboy would say that Apple’s better days is behind them, but they have a trillion dollar balance sheet, so it will take a few more screwups to really hit them financially.

The View on Non Linear Editing Systems

This post is a mix on review, an overview and analysis of modern day non linear editing systems that’s after the infamous Grass Valley CVX600. I’m going to basically go one after another, where they came from, what they became and what’s the future and why people should be concerned. (The future isn’t bright afterall…)

Avid (Avid1/Media Composer/etc)

Short History

In the late 1980s, a company called Avid Technology was formed after the founder Bill Werner and his crew of people were developing a visual and graphically enhanced user interface. When he went to a Boston area editing house to make edits for his company Apollo (later to be sold out to HP) he thought he “computer editing” was a GUI computer with something people would expect today. While Werner didn’t tell an interviewer in 2010 specifically what “computer” it was, it was most likely he was inferring the CVX600. It had a terminal screen and editors would punch in time codes of the edits after viewing the edits before. Unlike what Werner et al would envison is a computer program that would show you the actual cut before committing it back to video tape as a master.

The original Avids were designed and were going to be based off Apollo workstations. At the 1988 SIGGRAPH show, the Avid team inspired the people at Apple, and a rep from Apple contacted the Avid people and when they returned back to the East Coast, there were a bunch of boxes blocking the entry of their offices with then-branded Federal Express packages.

What was ironic at the time, System Software 6 was on the horizon, mutitasking was a joke at the time, and multi-threaded protection was not available till OS X, more than a decade later. The Apple developers worked in lock step with Avid at this time writing code while Avid was writing drivers to make their system work on the Macs. According to Bill Werner, the tests that were actually performed, were the theoretical results, and the tests clearly resulted on the theoretical which never happens with any code then or now.  The tolerable tests were 15 frames per second, and write speeds under a megabyte (which was a for the time.)

Since Apple was never planning to get into the NLE business, they gave Avid any surplus Mac Apple had in their inventory and by 1990, the AVID/1 was marketed. It was marketed as turnkey solution by Avid, with modified Macintosh hardware (legit legally) as it was based off the Macintosh IIx, and later versions would be based on newer Macintosh hardware. By the mid 1990s, they would port their stuff over to PCs and would go through all the major changes by Apple. At one point they had half the editing suites in market share, but by 1999 Apple really disrupted the entire NLE ecosystem.

Avid today

Avid is still around, albeit a much nimbler company. They finally got into the software business, and by 2010 they relocated to southern Middlesex County, just a mile north of the Burlington Mall in a suburban office park.

Their current product is called Media Composer, and if you take out the branding of the versioning, it’s likely based on a 9th revision to the overall MC code; however there was another version of their editing systems that kinda conflicts with the modern day MC, and I am no Avid expert, and the original AVID/1 code probably has no connection to the code of the modern day systems.

The application is literally world of it’s own. It reminds me of Lotus Notes/Domino. I am not bashing Notes or Avid, but it’s closest metaphor I can describe. Avid’s platform never conformed into the GUI frameworks of both Windows or Macs, but that’s OK, because for an application like MC, you want to avoid the borders of the application.

The technical history of Avid I have heard from their salespeople (one I have known for over 14 plus years) was the application was designed around film, and yet the user interface is designed for people who have used personal computers, while Apple was designed solely for filmmakers who never used a PC.

My brain is complex, and often gets confused to what’s a clickable button, what is a keyboard function, and the Avid interface (this is MC version 2018, before the big UI redux introduced at the last NAB Show, the year before the pandemic.) There is two types of GUI users, one who mouses around, cheating their way through, and one knows the operating systems GUI inside and out.

Another confusing and mixed signals is since AVID/1, is the strongly suggested dual display setup, to move windows (such as Clips and Sequences); where it’s somewhat used, but not seldom or frequent.  Another quirk (or feature) is various windows that will appear upon request, one notorious example is the Effect Editor, if a user goes to the menu or hits a button, the Effect Editor will appear as long as you do not move the Timeline, but the moment you do it disappears! The way to move the timeline with keeping the Effect Editor pane, I should say, is to find a small timeline like element on the top of that pane, because it’s not a window in my standards.

Because Avid’s interface is an app of it’s own (going as far back as the original AVID1, unless the user is well trained in Avid’s GUI without certification, you’re kinda SOL. I am saying specifically, radio buttons, clickable buttons, what function can be a keyboard shortcut, etc. This is an extension to a written post recently defending a GUI even if you use the mouse half the time. Avid’s GUI is not explicit of where the line is drawn of what function is mouse mandatory vs. keyboard shortcut. 

With no offense, it’s easy to say that Werner was and is an engineer’s engineer. There is a lot of vagueness and yet there black and white. This why a lot of my edits had been really hap-hazard in quality before I had a dedicated direct support staff who worked in the business with decades of Avid experience.

Avid in the near future

Unless Avid can get their crap together, and migrate away from the stereotypical 2010 mindset of hardware, and trying to get influencers into a platform they may never heard of, which I think would be cool, it will be a long road for them to grow back to where they were in the height in the mid 00s. What makes Apple and Adobe successful is that they use all the hardware inside their supported versions of their software. Avid’s approach is publishing a recommended hardware list, and spec of third party components like specific NVIDIA boards is kinda not the approach now.

Avid should stand out from the crowd and continue to support multiple displays. In the beginning, Avid took advantage of Apple’s then defacto I/O platform called NuBus and made it virtually mandatory to have dual displays. Because everyone apparently carries MacBook Pros, the idea of having multiple displays from the two other A companies, must mean Avid should follow suit. I think that’s going too far. While I have not tried 2019 just yet, I think if Avid follows the average, it will be lousy.  I think fixing quirks would be a better option. I also think it should be easier to edit multiple effects per track. There’s instances where you may have an upside down clip, that also needs some other effect, and it shouldn’t be a complete complex situation to promote/demote, step in or out to basically flip an iPhone video and insert some color correction without taking out the rotation, etc.

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Techie No-Nos – On DNS…

For security purposes and ensuring you’re not clogging your own low voltage pipes, your “DNS address” should be local. If you use Google or your ISP’s DNS address any connection to your local devices can only be accessed by IP addresses because you have no way to have a DNS point to a name to a host with an numeric IP address.

Local IP addresses are kinda like the FRS radio bands, ones that ISPs are expected to not route for the purposes of having a local area networks routable.

Anything from:

  • 10.0.0.0 to 10.0.0.255
  • 172.16.0.0. 172.24.255.255
  • And 192.168.1.0 192.168.254.255

The local DNS address should point out to the firewall or wireless router. Many smaller end devices have the ability to basic DNS if you have a few devices where you want to connect them by domain-name.

With all these cyber attacks, it’s best to separate what’s exposed to the overall Internet, and what should be local. Computing devices should be connected with a local IP and DNS address and appliances that help route local devices to the overall Internet should be the ones with the most exposure like having the Google DNS address.

Just do the right thing, and keep your devices protected with a better structured local network

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The Quick and Dirty Reference to Cisco Call Manager Express

Printer Only Link

In seriousness, if you’re all wired at home, or you are interested in wiring up your home for multi line telephony or have the ability to answer calls from a number of phones or internally call people from within… I think given the consolidation and the access to them, the recommended path is to Cisco. As much as I can’t stand a lot of their technology, you do not need to need  to have everything running on Cisco to do Cisco telephony. Being frank. I have switches using Netgear, and I have some third party endpoints.

Click below for more, and jump to six different parts

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How to Implement Cisco Call Manager Express at Home, part five

Session Initiation Protocol

In 2020, as previously mentioned SIP is replacing most of the desktop phones. SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol.  H323 or SIP is neither better or worse of standards, it only differs how the phones connect and disconnect calls. Cisco’s SCCP uses H323 standard, even though the protocol itself is proprietary. Your routers IP address handles the configuration (buttons and lines, sometimes for the user like backdrops and ring tones), the time clock (the time of day and day of the year), the signaling (the tones), and the transmission (the human conversation). SIP could do any of the four things and could be separate devices on separate networks.

The basis of the SIP “stack”/protocol/extension supports

  • Video chats
  • Audio calls (err the traditional telephony)
  • Instant Messaging (known as “texting”, “messaging” or “chat” if someone has been born after 1994
  • The basic SIP telephony stack supports essentially all standard 19 Custom Calling Features that the phone company used to provide separately, that many broadband phone companies provide for free or is included at a much lower price rate.
  • The protocol literally revolves around Caller ID. “Display Name” and “SIP Alias” is equivalent to the “station-id name” and “station-id number” in the FXO ports respectively  in the IOS configuration if you wanted to do ethical caller ID spoofing.)

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