Monday Mar 16, 2009

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Circular cloud We had a bad experience with a pickpocket during a Dublin St. Patrick's festival a few years ago. So in recent years we've decided to celebrate in some of the villages of county Meath. Dublin events can be O.K. for families but the parade isn't terribly impressive for anyone less than 12 feet tall, unless you bring a ladder taller than everyone else's. For anyone with young children I highly recommend smaller parades in places such as Skerries, Trim, Baltimore Md. and Denver (free beer and gloriously warm weather during the one St. Pat's day I was in Denver!)

Wednesday Sep 24, 2008

What lies beyond the archaic 8 char FAT filesystem limit?

I took my family out to the Donegal this weekend. By coincidence my Pentax digital camera "rolled over" from IMGP9999.PEF to IMGP0001.PEF just before I took this picture:
Muckrosssun
So now I must move all new files to a new folder or change the names before I rsync to my photo backup space to avoid overwriting old files. Whoever decided 10,000 photos was a sufficient limit for a digital SLR never had kids or lived in such a beautiful country. I'm still amazed at how many modern standards (e.g. ISO-9660, DCIM, DICOM) still bow to the 8.3 limitations of Microsoft's old FAT filesystem. As far as I know, DOS and RT-11 were the only popular operating systems made after 1970 with such a SHRTFLNM.LMT. Solaris, AmigaDOS, VMS, Gem, Geos, even the Vic-20 and Commodore 64 filenames exceeded this limit! Yes, it's possible to work around this limit with CLVRABRV.NMS or DIRECTRY STRUCTRS, but it seems that of all of the Digital camera manufacturers, only Casio, HP and Kodak have reasonably long term naming conventions, but none of them is as forward thinking as ZFS would allow them to be.

We really enjoyed our stay at the friendly family run Ocean Spray Bed and Breakfast on Muckross head, just east of the Slieve League cliffs in Donegal. The fact that there were no nearby restaurants or other late season tourists contributed to that "edge of the earth" feel of Donegal.

Tuesday Sep 09, 2008

Kitesurfing Bull Island Dublin

Bull Island Kitesurfing
A couple of weekends ago we saw more than 20 kites and kitesurfers packed onto a stretch of beach on Bull island, a short distance north of Sun Ireland. I don't know how they avoid getting their kites tangled. Twenty years of windsurfing has biased me towards what seems a gentler, safer, easier sport, especially with the big old floaty boards and the Aquaglide Multisport inflatable sailboat windsurfer I picked up last summer:
Aquaglide Multisport

The sail is tiny and it isn't terribly fast, but we get plenty of wind here and it goes upwind about as well as a small catamaran. I like that it folds down into something the size of a golf bag that I can carry home.

Note: The sky looks threatening in this photo and the next day a rare lightning storm and heavy rain flooded this part of Ireland, but this was about the nearest thing we had to summer in 2008.

Monday Aug 18, 2008

August 16, 2008 Lunar Eclipse from Malahide Ireland

Lunar Eclipse, Malahide Aug 16, 2008
We had about three minute long cloud break during Saturday's lunar eclipse. The photo shows the moon rising in partial earth shadow. Malahide's St. Sylvester church is in the foreground. Moments later the clouds closed in and the mosquitoes descended upon us. It was time to go home.

Friday Jun 20, 2008

My OpenSolaris for Developers talk at the Irish Opensource Technology Conference

I should thank the sponsors and organizers of the Irish OpenSource Technology Conference (IOTC) for giving me the opportunity to present OpenSolaris as an Open Source Developer Tool to some of Ireland's brightest and most energetic open source developers. There were quire a few university attendees and Barry was able to bring in people from small and midsized Irish companies such as openApp and hosting365 as well as multinationals such as Microsoft, IBM, RedHat, Sun and AIB (more about this later!)

My talk seemed to be well understood by the audience and I managed to empty out a heavy backpack full of ¨Free as in Free" OpenSolaris 2008.05 CDs afterwards. I didn't have enough time to talk about SMF or PKG(5) in detail, but I did spend some time on ZFS and Dtrace; both of which I'm certain would be useful to any Open Source developer. Even if your pointy-haired boss demands that you must code your application in VisualBasic and deploy on Redhat 3.5 via Wine, you can sneak OpenSolaris onto one of your QA department's test boxes and run your software in a zone where you can dtrace it. Or you could set up an OpenSolaris file server with ZFS snapshots as frequently as necessary (perhaps every keystroke for some UIDs?) I won't tell anyone... honest ;-)

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Friday May 23, 2008

HDR Images with Qtpfsgui

Blossoms near estuary Malahide Castle woods photo

I've been experimenting with tone mapping RAW images with the Qtpfsgui OpenSource tool. It's always difficult to get the sky and foreground things (like spring tree leaves or cherry blossoms) to be simultaneously exposed properly. In the chemical photography days, you'd have to dodge and burn in tiny areas of the photo to properly compress reality's tonal range onto the limited dynamic range of paper prints. I'd like to build Qtpfsgui for OpenSolaris, but it looked like the GNU/Linux versions depended on a particular development environment. Now I see that some versions seem to have been built with cmake which is portable to OpenSolaris. I'll let you know if I figure out how to build it.

Thursday Mar 20, 2008

7 years in Ireland, 7 years at Sun.

Today marks my 7 year anniversary of arriving in Ireland and working for Sun. I should thank my wife for talking me into it, my kids for making it a fun, wonderful adventure. I should thank my Sun friends for helping make it work. And finally I should thank the Irish immigration department and my other Irish friends for tolerating my reverse emigration even thought they may think it's a totally daft idea altogether.

Wednesday Mar 07, 2007

OpenIreland's Open Source Briefing

I attended OpenIreland's Open Source Software Intelligence Briefing last Friday. (The linked brochure document is a PDF which became an open standard in January 2007. If you aren't able to open this document with Adobe's proprietary acroread product, try open source evince.)

Rishab Ghosh gave some interesting highlights from the FlossImpact report released for the E.C. last autumn. I understood his explanation that Sun's contribution to opensource may be overstated because some OpenOffice.org code was developed outside Sun and retains a Sun copyright. But since these statistics were gathered, 10 million lines of OpenSolaris and I don't know how many millions of lines of Java were open sourced. I think it's a safe bet that Sun still comes out as the leading contributer to the free and open source software movement.

If Douglas Heintzman faithfully represented IBM's philosophy towards open source in his "The Reality" talk, we are very close to the same wavelength. Who can argue with the fact that very few are making money selling packaged software? I believe those few profitable shrink-wrap software companies represent monopolies in their particular market. Who can argue with the fact that software was free long before "open source" became a popular buzzword and long before the Linux kernel was a gleam in Linus's eye? Who can argue with the fact that encoding important Government documents to a proprietary format controlled by a single company is an issue of sovereignty? Shortly before this conference I trolled E.U. and Irish government websites for documents in proprietary Microsoft formats. It's scary how much is locked to one company, especially when the goal is to have these documents viewable 100 years from now.

Who can argue with the fact that too many standards is a bad thing, which is why I hope neither Microsoft nor IBM take advantage of open sourced Java and create their own incompatible releases. I was aware of enormous opportunities for document indexing and display technologies now that we aren't tied to a closed binary format that lives and dies at the whim of one company, but I wasn't aware how far remote collaborative editing and role-based access to portions of an ODF document has progressed. This would fit in well with Sun's role-based access control and trusted JDS desktop. (Which if you think security is a good thing, could be the most under-marketed Sun product since Sun Ray.) I was happy to hear that Mr. Heintzman was impressed with Sun's accessibility demonstration in Germany. Imagine if the important content of business and government documents could be viewed regardless of whether you are a sighted person on a Linux, Microsoft or OpenSolaris desktop or a blind executive viewing the document on a Nokia phone.

I also spoke with employees from OpenApp who were doing really cool things with open source geographic database software but who understandably wondered why Ireland, which has become an IT powerhouse, is so slow to accept the open source paradigm. I also spoke with some very good people from the Blackrock education center. OpenApp and Blackrock worked together to develop the first European Computer Driver's License (ECDL) training material for OpenOffice.org. I gave them copies of Solaris Express Developer Edition. If open source continues to gain acceptance in the E.U., training companies such as Blackrock will play a crucial role in helping people learn new ways of increasing workplace productivity.

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