Monday Nov 20, 2006

Interviewing Brendan O'Neill

At CEC last month, Brendan O'Neill (BO'N) submitted his video record [.mov]of the conference and was one of the two prize winners. I (DL) have recently interviewed him about his time at CEC 2006 and how he produced the video.

DL: What do you do and where do you work live? BO'N: I am a Partner SSE with General Dymamics IT in the Northern Virginia area. I am currently assigned to the Sprint/Nextel account in Reston/Herndon, Va. I live in Reston, Va and have since Aug 2005. I relocated from Central New Jersey after GDIT found me and offered me the job.

DL: What got you into making videos, or was it the prize? BO'N: This is my first ever attempt at making a video. I headed out to CEC 2006, as a first timer, and got the bug after hearing about the prize and after hearing that the conference was "interactive". I am a Mac user and Mac's just make everything easy, so I thought "what the heck". The video "we" made was a last minute decision @ CEC. A co-worker from GDIT, Dave Moseke had the idea and pitched it to me, asked if I would use my Mac to help make a video. We exchanged some quick ideas and off we went...

DFL: What technology do you use? (Camera, Editing Software ,Platform?) BO'N: Like I said before I am a long time Mac user. I currently travel with a 14" iBookG4 running OS X (10.4.8) with a 1.2GHz PowerPC proc and 768MB DDR SDRAM. This is a great little set up, but maby not enough for video rendering if yer in a hurry. My background is in audio engineering. After college I ended up working with a few touring rock and roll bands doing production managing and live audio engineering all over the US, blending my love for audio manipulation and my ever growing love for computers and like technology I ended up getting my MCSE and jumping around a few jobs with small IT companies in the NY/NJ area. Retired form the audio world to pursue a newfound love for Unix. The video is honestly my first ever attempt at video editing, but with ProTools and Digital Performer (audio editing software) experience it was an easy go at it. The mini dv camera used was a JVC GRD271. Software used was iMovie HD 6.0.3 and the platform was Apple Macintosh OS X/iBook G4.

DFL: Have you tried using Solaris? BO'N For video editing? NO. I do use a Dell Latitude D610 for business/email use and dual boot that laptop with Windows XP Pro and Solaris 10. The Dell, running Solaris 10 is my main/daily device for interfacing with servers while working at Sprint/Nextel, and I do run an FTP server with music and videos for a bunch of friends on a Sun Blade 100 running Solaris 8 (may upgrade to 10 soon). I also have some older hardware (ultra 5 and sparc station) running Solaris 6 and 8 more for playing around with than anything else.


Thursday Oct 05, 2006

Jennifer Government

NationStates by Max BarryOn the flight home, for once, I left the movies alone and finished Jennifer Government by Max Barry. This was recommended to me by my elder son. Barry states that he "....pretended to sell high end computer systems for Hewlett Packard while secretly writing his first novel". As it says on the backcover, in this book, set in the near future, the world is run by giant American companies, the UK & Australia are part of the USA. Everyone is so happy, tax-free and rich that they'll change their name to that of their company. A VP of Marketing decides to kill his customers to stimulate demand, and Jennifer Government after failing to stop him, vows to bring him to trial. This is a very funny book.

Barry wrote and published the online nations simulation game as part of his marketing campaign of the book, where he continues to be very funny, even in the FAQ.


Wednesday Oct 04, 2006

What Laptop OS?

Dinner with some friends and the conversation turned to the operating system of choice on a laptop. I have a laptop with triple build Solaris 11, Linux and Windows, but I generally use windows for my personal productivity applications, firefox, thunderbird and star office. During the conference, I was unable to use windows; the damn thing crashed every time I invoked the wifi connection, but only in the Moscone Centre, so I used Solaris to get my connection when at last sufficient connections addressess became available. Most of my friends are either confirmed Solaris users or Mac users so I got very little sympathy.

Bruce Porter, a long time champion of Solaris on x86 (and now x64) based systems suggested that I might explore Nexenta, an Open Solaris project which combines the Ubuntu utilities with a Solaris UNIX implementation. That should look really great, combining the best of both worlds.

It's getting harder to defend, although backing up the phone now I use a Sony should be a bit tricky. Power management (suspend/resume), applications availiability and Plug & Play have always been my reasons, that and the fact that the last time I tried to use a UNIX desktop it was Linux which wouldn't run on my Fuji and then crashed twice destroying the file system in a six month period on my Dell. The other windows application that I find too useful to stop using is Hot Metal. However, this is getting a bit long in the tooth and BlueFish (an acceptable alternative) is now part for the opensolaris companion project.

I think I'll look at Nexenta.


Video Diaries at CEC

As CEC 2006 approaches its finale, I have posted the video competition winners, Brendan O'Neill and Didier Heck's entries are on the Sun mediacaster, here... & here...


Hello Jonathan

In Jonathan's Blog today, he welcomes us all at CEC.


Tuesday Oct 03, 2006

A night off...

I like many attended the CEC last night event. A number of entertainers were working, a number of which appear on Brendan's Video and at the cec 2006 technorati photo page, although you may have to page back a couple of pages. I was rather impressed with the Hula-hoop lady.


The Hula-Hoop Lady


This picture was taken by Lou Springer and is (CC) at-nc, and is a hyperlink to the published version at

tags: General

Monday Oct 02, 2006

My morning at CEC

I spent the morning working in the back stage area. I and some colleagues were running the multi-media interactivity and I was also checking out the blog festival. [ Sun Newssun | technorati ]. While listening to the presentations was very difficult, seeing trends that were previously invisible, because we got to see all the replies, was really good. It ensured that questions that concern everyone were presented in the Q&A sessions. Basically we invited those in the hall to text, IM or mail their comments to the backstage crew who aggregated and forwarded them to the MC. We also used these technologies and processes to invite questions to the speakers and speakers asked questions of the audience.


Setting it up


Taken by Kris Buggenhout/bittenbytes, hosted at Flickr (cc) with personal permission, therefore this picture is (C), copyright 2006.

It was like the proverbial swimming duck, it looked really smooth but under the water the feet are flapping madly.

Our american colleagues are into AIM in a way that seems to preceed my contempories in the UK and europe. While I got an AIM login when Netscape launched Netscape Online, one of my longest known friends only just got themselves an IM account last month when his son moved to Reading for University. AIM was not exactly ubiquitous, but a number of us used our IM accounts to keep in touch during the morning.


Customer Engineering Conference

Welcome to CEC! 3000 of Sun's field engineering force are gathering in San Francisco for a techfest and training event. Those of you who can't get there, can virtually attend by checking out Sun Newsour CEC RSS Feed. This is periodically updated allowing you to subscribe using your favourite RSS browser, or you can pick up the news at tiour technorati page.

Dan Berg, one of the conveners, posted his greeting here.... Have fun! We'll be in touch.


Saturday Sep 30, 2006

Listening to customers, proving value

Marc Hamilton (blogs here...) currently runs the "Systems Practice" solutions teams, of which we have three and spoke to us on thursday, and not only as in introduction to his team, who lead the "Data Centre Optimisation, HPC and Web Tier Infrastructure teams. These are led by Raj Dosaj, Simon See, & Steve Staso, who spoke to us on Friday. Marc introduced us to the way he wanted the global headquarters teams to work with the field and demonstrated the change in communication and collaboration tools. His team (and mine) are moving from Vignette to Media Wiki - from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0. Some of my colleagues were interested in how to develop solutions capable of supporting COM & .net applications. Marc's reply repeated what John Fowler said earlier in the week, that deals based on Micorsoft's hegemony are not long term good business for Sun and should be pursued with only with channel partners. He talked about CDW, an american reseller, who use call centres to sell computers and drive the sales out of the strock control system. The sales staff are on daily targets/bonus and if they don't close, or can't ship, they don't get credited with the sale. This is what true volume sales is! Basically good business for Sun only occurs when customers need our unique technology or expertise. A fine example was provided by Dr Simon See, who spoke about the High Performance computing team and a pursuit that was in the last days and he had high hopes of success. (You'll have to subcribe to Sun NewsSun News and wait for the press release). Simon is another Principal Engineer and his undoubted expertise and enthusiasm makes him to my mind someone you'll hear more of. This is an area where Sun's experts and technology can help customers make a difference.

Jonathan blogged about Simon's deal today, 4 Oct 2006, and referenced this press release...

tags: ""

Friday Sep 29, 2006

Residual Values

Phil Harman has just turned up and after we exchange traditional greetings of scorn, he shows off his Acer Ferrari Laptop. I'm not bitter that I won a Cobalt Qube last year, when several colleagues were bought these laptops, no no, I am not bitter - but when Phil told me that he sold his Qube on Ebay for 300 quid, which is more than I got for my Alfa 155, I was a bit taken aback.


Thursday Sep 28, 2006

Hatsoff to UNIX

Chris Ratcliffe spoke today and stated that Red Hat are about to drop enterprise server R3, and this is an opportunity for their users. I didn't know Solaris 10 supports more hardware and more applications than Red Hat and that the transition from R3 to R4 is not necessarily easy, and that adopting Solaris may be as easy. Sun has more to say about this on it's web site.


Wednesday Sep 27, 2006

Music and CD storage

I've just opened a login at and came across this article which allows you to create CD covers inserts using a web site.


Tuesday Sep 26, 2006

Am I Dense?

This morning at the pre-CEC meeting, we were addressed Andy Bechtolsheim & Shane Sigler about the planned AMD based systems Sun are will be launching. These systems are very dense, but will run very hot.

In their 2003 paper, "Power & Heat in the Modern Data Center", Gartner argued that the average power & cooling supply for data centre space was too low, and that the common planning assumption for new space would also be too low. Even their predictions seem low three years later given the ultra-dense systems being produced by Sun and its competitors, although Gartner predicted that the system vendors would continue to compete in this way by designing and building ultra dense systems.

Improving density is partly the outcome of Moore's Law which works at about 100% improvement every two years. One obvious answer of course is to drive up utilisation; less computers will be needed. However, the centre of this problem is that the facilities managers who buy the air conditioning and pay the ground rent and electricty bills do not buy the computers. Ignorant Data Center managers just pass the problem on to the facilities team. Smarter Data Centre managers are using space and the power/cooling per rack constraints as budgets. Typically, they use more than the mimium amount of space to host these new hot systems; its the best TCO solution. There are very few computer rooms in the UK that can take these systems. This is equally true of our competitor's systems as well.

This was written after the presentation and has been backdated to roughly the time of occurence.


Monday Sep 25, 2006

Virutalising Computer Systems

The rest of the day we considered virtualisation technology. What we have to offer has not changed much since the last conference, (blogged here...), but it seems we have a lot more experience in using many of the currently available tools. Basically we're late to market with some of the competitively defensive technologies and the problem is being defined by Windows and the answer by VMware. Sun's broader range of technologies and the sophistication of the combining these tools into an appropriate new answers are inhibitor's to adoption. To my mind the simple answer is not enough, the data centre manager needs an architecture that supports both his or her applications portfolio, the businesses' change velocity and the technology platforms needed to support these, I don't think VMware does this, but I'm not convinced our story is yet sufficiently aligned. We have more work to do.


Buying Alignment, Business Confidence

John Fowler, who has taken over as the EVP for Sun's Systems business unit spoke to us today. This is only the second time I've heard him speak and its good to see his humour come through. He also showed during the Q&A his single minded approach in investing for growth and leveraging the opportunities that IT's massive appetite for innovation create.

He told us a story about a visit of his to Poland, where one of the salesmen told him that "customers marry software, they only date hardware". (He told it well though) - and we always need to bear in mind why customers do things. While large customers will often have misalignments within their processes as they fail to align individual and team goals with corporate needs plans and strategies.





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