Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Is Amazon Glacier Really As Cheap As It Seems? The Math Might Be Surprising

I was very excited to read the announcement of Amazon Glacier earlier today and signed up when I had a few minutes last night.

At first, it seems perfect. $0.01 US per GB / month seems crazy cheap. I love the idea of only paying for what you use, look at that table for potential storage costs.
How could you really go wrong at 100 GB for $1.00?
First thing that went wrong was I didn't know was there is no client! The only way to get data into Glacier is via API calls. I'm sure that existing clients that support S3 will adapt to include Glacier support as well, it's early days.
I thought about rolling my own, but Amazon has Glacier SDKs for Java and .NET, so no quick OS X app could be cobbled together to get my data in. I mean I work with REST APIs all day long, and Glacier has that too, but I wasn't looking of that kind of work last night.
While doing a last ditch search for a client that already supported Glacier, I stumbled on the Hacker News post Beware that retrieval fee! I hadn't paid much attention to the retrieval fees when I activated my account. I'm thinking of Glacier as an emergency, the house burned down, kind of retrieval situation. So how much would that scenario cost?
That's where things get…complicated. How can Amazon offer a storage service and not provide a calculator or spreadsheet that helps customers estimate their costs? Seems like Amazon is hiding the true retrieval costs because, well, look at the math I came up with.


If my math is right, those download costs sure add up quick. Calculating this stuff appears intentionally very tricky. The Paid Retrieval columns represent my best guess based on the information I found, but I could totally be wrong. I tried to use the Glacier FAQ Formulas to work it out, but its crazy complicated and written mostly as prose! After I did the formulas one way I thought could be right, I re-read all the discussion and theories on formulas on the Hacker News thread, then found this Wired article. In the Update section, Amazon lays out a completely other formula for the Billable Peak column if you're downloading your whole archive. I used that because it was easier and I think it fits the scenario I'm looking for better, which is immediate disaster recovery. If you've lost everything, you don't want to trickle download your archive to stay under the GBs / hour column.
If you want to play with the math yourself, you can use the spreadsheet I started with:

Amazon Glacier Pricing Math - Numbers
Amazon Glacier Pricing Math - Excel

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Watch: Keanu Reeves shares some insights on the digital vs film debate in Side By Side

How come Keanu Reeves sound so much smarter here than in anything else I've seen him in?

Own Your Words

Scott Hanselman says Your Words Are Wasted. If you don't have a blog, get one. If you do, start posting more. Figure out how to make posting on your blog as easy as posting on Twitter, then you win!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Of Course I Would Get Punished The One Time I Buy Music from Amazon

I hardly ever buy music from Amazon, I'm always afraid somethings going to go wrong because of course it's happened before.
I had some MP3 download credits through movie ticket purchases, so I finally decide to spend them and this:
Screen Shot 2012 08 09 at 10 55 06 PM

I was literally toggling back and forth between iTunes and Safari, thinking do I pull the trigger with Amazon or pay out of pocket with iTunes because I know it's going to work, there's just about no risk.
WTF do I do now? In no way do I want to contact f***ing customer service to buy an album.
Instead I find the link to Your Cloud Player under the Account menu, find the album, attempt a download, have to install the downloader, get told a download failed repeatedly for a song bought like a year ago, and finally the download for this purchase succeeds, but still says some imports failed for the old song. I have iTunes Match, so I then go into iTunes, wait for matching to complete, then delete all the songs and download from iCloud to get AAC files.