Friday, August 29, 2008

Carolina Connect 2008

This year, the Carolina Connect conference will be held at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville and if you an entrepreneur in Western North Carolina, you should attend.  Carolina Connect is the premier conference for fostering entrepreneurial growth of businesses of all sizes and stages in WNC.  I am excited to let you know that DigitalChalk will be there in several ways.  We will be participating in the sales and technology converstation tables of the conference.  I will also be talking some about the Creative Juice Competition and we will be annoucing the secret item there!  There was a story on Carolina Connect released by the Asheville Hub today that actually featured Infinity Learning Solutions.  You can read the article in the press release.  The champion behind the conference is Pam Lewis at Avantage West and she has also written a description of the conference posted at SwampFox.  The conference will be informative and worth your while to attend for such a steal of a registration fee of only $50.00.  I hope to see you there!  Come say hello to me when you get there.

Creative Juice Off to the Races!

With over 60 people registered already in Western North Carolina, the Creative Juice Competition is off to the races.  Who will be the team to claim the top prize in the reigon and will they have what it takes to go up against the rest of the regions for the grand prize trip to Google headquarters?  It is very exciting to see the schools in the region start to really think about what they will be doing.  I have recieved emails almost everyday this week from contestants and potential contestants about the competition and there have been several news articles and postings about it already.  Check out the article in the Asheville Citizen-Times that ran today at :  I am anticipating even a couple of great business ideas to be born out of the competition.  With professors even going as far as making the competition a required project for some classes, I can only imagine that we will see some fantastic ideas.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Chase David Tolle

Chase was born this afternoon, August 25th 2008 at 2:59pm. I wanted to get up a couple of photos quickly so people could see him before I try to get a wink or two of sleep. Enjoy these:

This is Chase at 5 seconds old!

Ready to be weighed in
First Bath

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Amazon Web Services adds Elastic Block Store

We have known about it for months, but very few have been able to play with it until now. Several months ago Amazon started talking about "Persistant Storage" becoming available on their platform and today it is available to everyone. It is labeled as Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS). At DigitalChalk we have been looking forward to this for several reasons. The most immediate benefit that I see getting from this is the ability to have a block of storage that we can put the data store on for our databases. Right now we have very frequent and bandwidth intensive backup solutions in place that snapshot our data and put it into S3. With ESB we will be able to allocate a block of storage up to a TB in size and then simply attach that to any running EC2 instance, essentially making it a SAN in the clouds. Amazon states that "each storage volume is automatically replicated within the same availability zone" helping with the backup scenerios and reliability of data. It doesn't seem to have it across data centers, but this is at least going to help prevent failure due to a single piece of hardware. They have also included the ability to create a "point-in-time snapshot of volumes" which will be extremely useful for the movement of data and quickly standing up a duplicate instance for testing of any sort. This is also going to be helpful as we continue to consult and help companies move their infrastructure to the clouds. We are finding that many we help have a hard time mentally moving from the physical box where they can just add hard drive capacity and rely on a file system. This will allow us to gradually and easily move their applications "as is" to the clouds without having to introduce S3 from the start for reliable storage. I am looking forward to using this service to improve our process at DigitalChalk. The next on the list to come out of the private beta is SimpleDB for me. We have already architected some solutions for SimpleDB and and just itching for its release.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hyperic AppEngine CloudStatus

Apparently Hyperic is going to be launching Google AppEngine support very very soon. I received an email from Hyperic this evening that states
...we wanted you to be the first to know that we have expanded our CloudStatus service to include Google App Engine support this morning. Additionally, we have also created the first Cloud Service Plugin to include personalized application- and cloud-specific monitoring and management using Hyperic HQ. Finally, we have also provided a few key updates to the CloudStatus website and improved some of our Amazon Web Services monitoring reporting
I view this as great news that a monitoring tool vendor has taken the charge to provide "status" for multiple cloud platforms.  I can only hope that they continue to grow their base of infrastructures that they can monitor.
Just finishing up the Creative Juice Competition site on Googles AppEngine I am really interested in how monitoring could help me.  Having complete control of Amazon's EC2 instances has made monitoring with Hyperic very simple watching everything from AWS to CPU and memory.  It appears that CloudStatus for AppEngine will allow you to monitor the service itself as a whole, Datastore metrics, Memcache and URLFetch services. Hyperic is also releasing a plugin that will allow you to monitor your application inside and outside the cloud.  I will make use of this as soon as it becomes available for download and see what I think.  You can check it all out for yourself tomorrow morning at  Enjoy!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Creative Juice Competition

Creative Juice Competition

I know, shame on me. I haven't posted anything for a month now. But today, I do have something worth writing about. I have been busy in the ether of cloud computing this past month. Obviously working on DigitalChalk which resides on the AWS cloud but I have also been working many long nights with Google's AppEngine and have released a site today which runs almost exclsively on it. The site can be found at . Creative Juice is a competition that DigitalChalk is helping sponsor that challenges students to create "value" out of a throw-away object. The contest is designed to help foster imagination, creativity, team work and entreprenuership skills. There are 5 regions across the US competing and the throw away object for each region is secret and will be revealed on the launch date for the region. I am excited about seeing what these students can come up with as value. We are still furiously working out some final details and prizes which I will soon be blogging about. Trust me, there are some really really cool prizes we are working on!