Pivotal Web Services trial

Preconditions: Windows 7.

The Story:

Yesterday I received an invitation for a two-month free trial of the rising Pivotal Web Services. It’s kinda OpenShift, kinda Azure, etc. but with a bit of hipster style blended in. Just a bit.

Since the very first moment that I knew something about this service, I have been very intrigued by the promise that you can simply type something like

deploy just-this-war.war

in you terminal window and have your application up and running in the Internet. Something that I have been searching for since a looong time ago. I do not know why they sent me the invitation and I do not even remeber when I asked for it (It was probably a late drunk friday night) but here it is. Today I found some time to try the wordeful and valuable capabilities that Pivotal provides you with.

Sadly, the beginning has not been one of the most memorable. Or probably it has been, but in a not-so-positive sense. Just like OpenShift, Pivotal Web Services (PWS), require that you install some client side command line utilities to remotely manage your applications. Unlike OpenShift though, you do not have to go through an infinite sequence of installations. In this case you just have to install their little tiny lighweight client: cf.exe (cf stands for Cloud Foundry, I guess). Don’t get me wrong, it is a great improvement with respect to the paramount load of things that you have to install in order to manage your OpenShift instance. The only problem is that, once you’ve run the cf installer, no known command works anymore. “mvn package something“? No way: “mvn is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file“. What?! Even if you type “cmd” you get the same laconic answer. You could already figure out the problem: the cf installer completely erases the ‘path’ environment variable. If you have been working with your machine for almost two years, as I did, installing tons and tons of programs, tools and utilities, this puts you in a very uncomfortable situation.

Luckily I found a solution to this problem online. Thank you to the guy who answered and thank you Internet. This saved me a lot of troubles.

At this point I was a bit upset, as you might imagine. But!… When the cf command is set up and working properly, the steps to deploy a Java webapp are the following:

first, tell cf which API endpoint to use with the command

cf api api.run.pivotal.io

then, you have to log in with:

cf login

API endpoint: https://api.run.pivotal.io

Username> xxx.xxx@gmail.com

Password>
Authenticating...
OK

API endpoint: https://api.run.pivotal.io (API version: 2.2.0)
User: xxx.xxx@gmail.com
Org: xxx
Space: stubgen

and, finally, the real magic:

cf push stubgen -p <path-to-your-war-file>

and voilà, the application is deployed and works like a charm.

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Black screen of death

Problem:

When using the Chrome browser by Google, HTML5 videos show a black screen, audio is working normally.

System details:

AMD Radeon video card, Windows 7, Google Chrome version  33.0.1750.146 m

Solution:

The problem is caused by the hardware acceleration option (I am still not able to understand the details of the problem). As I read in a Google forum, you can partially resolve the problem by disabling the “use hardware acceleration” option. To do so, go to chrome://settings/, select “show advanced settings”, scroll to the bottom and deselect the use-hardware-acceleration option. The only problem is: once I have done this, the “full screen” mode does not work properly anymore. When you set a video to the full screen mode, it only takes a portion of the monitor on the left upper side of the screen. I suspected that the Catalyst software had something to do with this. Catalyst is a software by AMD that manages the drivers of your video card and set/reset the commutable graphic cards feature. So I started Catalyst, searched for Chrome in the “commutable graphic cards” view and set it to “energy saving” value. I am sorry if you cannot find the name of this options in your Catalyst interface: I’m trying to translate them from Italian to English and I am not sure about it (Unluckily I have an Italian version of Windows 7 and, sometimes, it stupidly install Italian localized software even if I do not want it). After that, everything returned to normality.

The story:

I struggled with this problem for quite some times. probably months. I got away with it because the vast majority of the videos on the Web (and on Youtube in particular) was embedded with the flash plugin, that continued to work fine. Once in a while I could stumble on a black-screen video and  momentarily switch to Firefox to watch it. It was no big deal. But now it seems that Google decided to shift an awful lot of video from Flash to HTML5 (a good thing, in principle) and that made my Youtube experience unbearable. Then the usual syndrome kicked in: are you really trying to keep me away from HTML5 videos, Chrome? no way. this could well be the last thing that I do, but I will see that fucking cat video inside Chrome, in full screen mode.