The node pole: inside Facebook’s Swedish hub near the Arctic Circle


From the outside, it looks like an enormous grey warehouse. Inside, there is a hint of the movie Bladerunner: long cavernous corridors, spinning computer servers with flashing blue lights and the hum of giant fans. There is also a long perimeter fence. Is its job to thwart corporate spies? No – it keeps out the moose.

Welcome to the Node Pole, a hi-tech hub in Luleå, northern Sweden, and the site of Facebook’s first datacentre outside the US. The warehouse opened in 2013 and is set amid a green pine forest, lakes and an archipelago. The Arctic Circle is just down the road. A second centre next door is due to be completed later this year.

Source: The node pole: inside Facebook’s Swedish hub near the Arctic Circle | Technology | The Guardian


Remote IE

Development, OSX

A couple of years ago, Microsoft launched and started offering virtual machines for Windows, Mac or Linux for developer who need Internet Explorer for testing or support. You can even download a VM for each version of IE on each OS (Windows 7, 8, 8.1 etc). I have a couple of these machine on my work machine and their a super easy way to quickly test something in IE.

But on my 2012 Macbook Air at home, I didn’t want to keep those machines around since it’s only got 128GB of disk space. Not to mention that it’s quite slow to run a VM on that machine. So no fast & easy way to test stuff in IE. Or is there? Enter

Use Azure RemoteApp to test your site on IE on Windows 10 Technical Preview from anywhere

You’ll be prompted to install Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Client for your Mac. Click the “Azure RemoteApp” icon, sign in and you’ll be prompted with a list of apps, IE Technical Preview being one of them (or the only one). Double click that and you’ll get a new window where, after the user’s logged in, a full-screen IE window will be displayed. When you’re done, just close the window.

Learn to stop using new shiny things

Development, Technology

  • Don’t be the biggest. If you’re the biggest user of a technology, your challenges will be greatly amplified.
  • Keep it simple. No matter what technology you’re using, it will fail.

An interesting read from the Pinterest Engineering blog on why it’s worthwile to stick with proven technologies.

Keys to go

Mobile, Technology

I’ve been caring around an iPad (a first generation Mini) with me ever since it was released almost every day. Over that time, my use of it has stayed largely the same: reading (Instapaper, RSS), email, Twitter and some occasional gaming. The frequency with which I use it however has dwingled off and off over the months. I simply couldn’t find a way to fit it into my Workflow.

And that kind of makes me sad because this little table it perfectly sized and can do lots of the tasks that me do on my Mac at my desk every day. Over the last couple of weeks, several unrelated people in my Twitter stream have been posting about the Logitech Keys-To-Go keyoard. I had a give voucher laying around from Chistmas so I decided to pick one up and see if it would get me to use to iPad more and in other places. 

So, as an experiment, I’m going to stop taking my Mac with me everywhere I go and see if I can get by doing email and other writing things on the go with just the iPad and this little keyboard.

Jason Snell reviews the new Kindle Voyage

Reading, Technology, Uncategorized

But the real reason I enjoy reading on these devices is that they’re distraction free. They don’t make noise, they don’t display pop-up notifications, and they don’t offer email and Twitter apps that are just a couple of taps away. The static black-and-white calm of words on a page evokes the best things about reading in print.

Jason reviews the new Kindle Voyage and captures exactly why I love these types of devices. I’ve owned a 4th generation Kindle since 2011 and I absolutely love.

The local setup (to rule them all)

Apple, Web development

At work I have to jump between different web (PHP) projects all the time. So having an environment that allows me to easily add something new, switch to another site and do all of that fast and with as little steps as possible is crucial for my job (and my sanity).

Before today I used a “native” setup for this: install Apache, PHP and MySQL on OS X, add a new vhost with VirtualHostX and add the new site to the /etc/hosts file. That setup ran smoothly for many months and many projects, and hardly gave me any trouble.

With Mac OS 10.10 Yosemite getting released last week, I decided to give my work machine (which is a 15″ retina MacBook Pro) a fresh start. I ran an (extra) back-up, made bootable disk and was off to the races. A formatted disk and 30 minutes later, I had a fresh Yosemite install, ready to be configured.

I decided to use Vagrant this time, because I want to separate my development environment from my operating system as much as possible. That makes it portable and share-able (but that’s a topic for a whole other post). I’ll quote here:

If you’re a developer, Vagrant will isolate dependencies and their configuration within a single disposable, consistent environment, without sacrificing any of the tools you’re used to working with (editors, browsers, debuggers, etc.).

That sounds pretty good right? Here we go:

  1. Download & install VirtualBox
  2. Download & install Vagrant
  3. Using I configure a VM running Ubuntu with the usual: Apache, PHP 5.6, MySQL, Mailcatcher.
  4. Make a “Sites” folder in your user profile (/Users/$username/Sites) and add the puphpet file to it
  5. Open a terminal window, go to the Sites folder and run vagrant up to download the vm and run through the install scripts

So now that we have our virtual machine up and running, we have to figure out 2 things: 1) how to direct local traffic to the VM, 2) a fast and easy way to add new virtual hosts.

Having to edit your hosts file for every new project I need to set up is a bit inconvenient (even though apps like GasMask make it super easy). Ideally I’d be able to set a wildcard for a subdomain and all that traffic would just go to the VM, where Apache figures out where to send it. This is where I introduce you to Dnsmasq. Dnsmasq provides network infrastructure for small networks – but what does that mean for this setup? I’m going to use the DNS server in Dnsmasq to route all traffic for a certain subdomain to my VM. Here’s how that’s done:

  1. I’m going asume you have HomeBrew installed
  2. run brew up to make sure everything is up to date.
  3. run brew install dnsmasq
  4. follow the instructions brew gives you at end of the installation (copying the default config files and adding dnsmasq to LaunchDaemons)
  5. find the /usr/local/etc/dnsmasq.conf file and add the follwing:
    In this example we’re pointing all traffic from domains with top level .dev to

For my work setup I added the following:
Note the extra dot in from of the url: that is the wildcard, which is crucial to our setup. The IP address is address of our Vagrant VM.
Lastly, we stop and start Dnsmaq:
sudo launchctl stop homebrew.mxcl.dnsmasq
sudo launchctl start homebrew.mxcl.dnsmasq

  1. Next up, we have to get OS X use Dnsmasq for any requests going to Most UNIX-like systems use the file /etc/resolve.conf to control where DNS querries go. OS X allows us to configure extra resolvers in the /etc/resolver/ directory.
    We’ll start by creating that folder: sudo mkdir -p /etc/resolver.
    Then we create run sudo vim to create that file (with same name as the domain we want to “redirect”) in that folder. In that file, we simply add “nameserver” to indicate that DNS querries for local. company.tld should be routed to the DNS server at (which is where Dnsmasq runs).

  2. Lastly, we’re going to test our DNS. We’ll use a simple ping command to check if our domain names are still resolving correctly.


Now we have wildcard domain pointing to our Vagrant machine, so,, etc all automatically go to our VM. As a last step, we’ll look at a script to automate the creation of a new VirtualHost for Apache.

I started from this and forked it to fit my needs:

  • By default we run our sites with public/ as DocumentRoot
  • In older projects there might be /www or /html as DocumentRoot
  • Or the site can run completely in the DocumentRoot


You can find my version of the script here (I’ll try to keep it updated with the changes I make as I use it more). The script also imports a template it uses for the vhost file, that can be found (and forked) here.

Here are some example of what the script can do for you:

  • facebook will give you a vhost called, which /var/www/facebook/public for its webroot and a facebook folder in /var/www (which maps to ~/Sites/facebook on your mac)
  • -www facebook will do the same thing, expect the webroot will be www instead of public
  • -root facebook will make a vhost called facebook with /var/www/facebook as its webroot.
  • -l will list all vhosts available on the system
  • -rm facebook will remove the vhost called facebook from your Apache config.

I’ve been running this configuration for about a week now and I’m quite happy with it. It’s stable, fast and easy to add new projects.

If you have your own setup for PHP development or have suggestions for how I can improve this configuration further, feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Happy coding 🙂

Creating a bootable 10.10 Yosemite volume

Apple, Tools

With the release of Mac OS 10.10 Yosemite earlier this week, I wanted to share a fast and easy way to create a bootable volume from which you can install Yosemite (that can be a harddrive or a usb key).

  1. Download Yosemite from the Mac App Store.
  2. Plug in your external disk/volume and make sure it’s either empty or can be formatted in the next step.
  3. Open and enter the following command:
    sudo /Applications/Install OS X --volume /Volumes/*your volume here*/ --applicationpath /Applications/Install OS X

    This will convert your volume install a bootable installer based on the application path you provided, which is the Yosemite “app” in this case

  4. Enter your administrator password,
  5. You’ll be prompted to confirm that the volume can be erase, press ‘y’,
  6. And done.


Now connect the drive to machine you want to upgrade/reinstall, boot it up while holding the ‘c’ key and select the “Install 10.10. Yosemite” volume.

Sony Xperia Z2 tablet

Android, Gear, Technology

By courtesy of the wonderful folks over at Sony Belgium, I’ve had the chance to try out their latest tablet: the Xperia Z2. I’ve had a couple of tablets in the past but those were all of the Apple flavour, no Androids before. And as I’m currently in the market for a new tablet, this was the perfect opportunity to see what’s going on on the other side of the fence.

The Z2 has a 10″ high resolution screen, is very thin and very light. It’s also the first (?) waterproof tablet. But really waterproof, according to Sony’s website:

Xperia Tablet Z’s revolutionary water resistant design stands up to moisture–even complete submersion in up to 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes at a time

I didn’t try this with the demo model Sony sent me 🙂

One thing I don’t like about the Z2 hardware-wise is the giant black bezel around the screen. It seems overly big for no reason. The back is plastic but feels solid enough and it doesn’t creak or bend when you hold it.

On the software side, it’s vert snappy and responsive. Granted, the only thing I use a tablet for is reading and writing. The reading is done in Pocket (ex Read It Later) and the Amazon Kindle app. And I write/take notes with Evernote. Aside from those, I install the usual bunch of apps: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Dropbox, … and those all ran smoothly.

Would I consider buying the Z2? The 16GB version come down at €499. I tend to automatically compare prices with the other side of the fence. For the same price Apple has a 16GB iPad Air. But then again, I’d probably be looking something smaller than 10″ anyway. I’m not sure whether that means I’ll be getting an iPad Mini soon, or may a smaller sided Android tablet. This experience with the Z2 has certainly brought Android back to my attention.

★ Merlin Mann

Internet, Reading, Technology

Merlin mann tgd

Merlin is best known as the creator of, a popular website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and raised on Florida’s humid coast, Merlin was awarded a B.A. from New College of Florida.

I got introduced to Merlin Mann through Back to Work, a podcast that he does with Dan Benjamin on I have a vivid memory of listening to the first couple episodes: it was January 2011, I was training for the Stockholm marathon and following a strict 4 days/week running schedule. But we had lots of snow and ice that winter so I took a 3 month membership at a nearby gym so I could do my runs on a treadmill there. As you may have guessed, running 2Okm is boring as fuck. That was to the time I got back into listening to podcasts. So I was the gym when I listened to the first episode of Back 2 Work. At first I thought it was weird (dito for this Merlin dude), but after episode 2 I got into it and i started listening to the show (and would continue to do so day the next 18 months).

After reading this interview I went back and listened to those first 3/4 episodes again and I strongly recommend them, there’s some great advice in there. Be sure to check them out. (you really should)