Wednesday Oct 21, 2009

Pun for the day: Truculent

    Truculent (n) - A borrowed vehicle, normally from a neighbor or family member.

    Usage: I've returned that truculent me last week.

Tuesday Oct 20, 2009

Pun for the day: Biathlon

    Biathlon (v) - Choosing an AMD motherboard over Intel for your next home computer project.

Monday Oct 19, 2009

Pun for the day: Iconoclast

    Iconoclast (n) - Your most recent Twitter profile picture.

Saturday Oct 17, 2009

Pun for the day: Latency

    Latency (adv) - A warning, generally issued to teenagers.

    Usage: You can go to the movies with your friends, but come home latency that you will be grounded for the next two weeks.

Friday Oct 16, 2009

Pun for the day: IO Channel

    IO Channel (n) - A new cable TV network dedicated to actors who made careers out of playing peripheral characters.

Thursday Oct 15, 2009

Pun for the day: Hypervisor

    hypervisor (n) - the type of boss that wants regular status reports. Hourly.

Wednesday Oct 14, 2009

Pun for the day: Paravirtualization

    paravirtualization (n) - what happens when you run both VMware and VirtualBox in your environment.

Wednesday Sep 30, 2009

Oracle reduces licensing multiplier for UltraSPARC T2+ systems

Taking a look at the Oracle Processor Core Factor Table, I noticed that on September 24 our friends at Oracle have reduced the per core licensing factor on UltraSPARC T2+ systems. This includes the Sun SPARC Enterprise T5140, T5240, T5440 and T6340 (blade). If you will permit the pun, this is very cool news indeed.

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Monday Sep 28, 2009

George Carlin, John Ritter and Twitter ?

What do George Carlin, John Ritter and Twitter have in common ?

OK, not all that much. But I am a big fan of analogies and identity linkages, especially ones that relate to popular culture. Perhaps that is because I'm so un-pop as my daughter frequently reminds me. She does have a point though - a random person would recognize less than 1% of what's on my iPod and probable less than half of my DVD collection. That's what makes these types of connections so fascinating. I have to work at them.

For background, and a bit more un-pop admission, social media tools like Twitter and Facebook leave me scratching my head from time to time. Yes, I'm old school and would much rather grab a brew and some chicken wings with my buddies at the corner beverage consumption establishment than type at a web browser or squint at my iPhone. At the same time I've managed to find an great bunch of folks on Twitter (#stlcards) following the St. Louis Cardinals quest for their 11th World Series title (that's baseball for those of you in parts of the world that have other national sporting games). In an attempt to understand the full Twitter experience (#musicmonday, #followfriday, #battl), I've found that you can collect followers at an alarming rate. Without really trying.

The Six Words you can't say in a Tweet

George Carlin taught us the seven words you can't say on television and I think there should be a similar list for Twitter. Here is my list of the six words you should never use in a tweet.
  1. Insurance - This one comes up frequently in a close baseball game. Someone would tweet "We could sure use a couple of insurance runs here" and wham, you get followed by a dozen twitterbots all wanting to save you on home/car/health/whatever insurance. OK, the Geico gecko is sort of charming, but these insurance bots are annoying.
  2. iPhone - No thanks, I already have an iPhone. I don't need iPhone News either. I don't need to purchase a slightly used unlocked iPhone. And I don't want to sell my iPhone. I should have said Blackberry from a different account.
  3. Beatles - Didn't quite expect this one. I once replied that I grew up in the anti-Beatles era and I got swamped by a bunch of followers offering me everything from Beatles bootlegs to a great deal on Rock Band Beatles. And those are the ones I can repeat in public. No thanks.
  4. Money - This one should have been obvious. Ask how much money the Red Sox are contributing to the John Smoltz contract for the remainder of year ? All of a sudden I feel like I'm the only carbohydrate in a South Beach Diet celebration party.
  5. Tooth, teeth, dentist - Teeth whitening ? They chase you all over the web. And apparently they will follow you throughout the twitterverse. I thought all of our virtual selves had perfectly straight shiny white teeth. I guess not.
  6. Any word that can be used in an adult context - This is getting harder and harder as more of the vocabulary gets hijacked. I once tweeted about a great photo of a North American Cougar and I'll let your imagination guess what happened next. Apparently I need to keep up with the adult oriented jargon a bit more closely.

8 Simple Rules for Getting Blocked on Twitter

As for the John Ritter connection, the late actor last entertained us with the situational comedy 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter and that seemed oddly appropriate as I scanned my follower list. So here are my 8 Simple Rules for Getting Blocked on Twitter.
  1. You post from ABI. To borrow from one of the most memorable movie quotes (John Hurt as John Merrick in The Elephant Man), I am not a web browser, I am a human being. And as such I expect all of my followers to be in kind.
  2. The bio in your Twitter profile includes the phrase "making money off the internet", "social media", or "network marketing". You may be here to make money, but that's not why I'm here. So shoo and leave me alone.
  3. Your profile picture causes me to blush. Or maybe more specifically, if I quickly reach for the back or close button on my browser when I first see your profile picture, you will be blocked. I'm sure there are many out there that would appreciate your attention, so please go find one of them and leave me alone.
  4. The website listed in your Twitter profile is from a URL redirector such as This is the most basic phishing scam, and today I think I'd rather have the chicken. Bzzzz - you are the weakest follower, goodbye.
  5. Shelley Ryan. If you have been unfortunate enough to have been noticed by Shelley Ryan, you will understand why this gets a rule of its own. It actually passes all of the earlier tests for being blocked, but since this happens so often, it gets a special rule all by itself. Even the most dreadful of contagious diseases often have periods of remission or hibernation. Not so with Shelley Ryan. To be fair, I don't think there is a Shelley Ryan, but if you see your follower count increase suddenly and then feel an itching somewhere - it's probably a Shelley Ryan infestation. The cure is to hit the block button twice and check back in the morning. Repeat as needed.
  6. You tweet about teeth whitening. As has already been established, comments about teeth and dentistry invite all sorts of pesky marketing bots onto your followers list. If that happens, reach for the block button.
  7. You are following more people than I have CDs in my music library. I know there are all sorts of reasons that people use Twitter. If you are following 1,000 people then you aren't following anybody - understand ? Said differently, I'm not going to keep up with the cacophony of 1,000 people on a regular basis. If you are one of my followers then I would expect that I would want to follow you. Those dots should be relatively easy to connect. There are other tools where I can talk at you. I'm trying to use Twitter to talk with you.
  8. Would I want to follow you ? The final part of the social contract. I take a look at your tweets and ask if I would want to be associated with that dialog. With my friends following the St. Louis Cardinals, the answer is absolutely. And also with a slightly larger group of connected folks found through #followfriday. But it is still a rather small and relatively intimate community. And you still have to pass the spouse and daughter test. If my spouse or daughter were to pick up my iPhone and launch my Twitter application (Twitterific at present), would I be embarrassed or feel the need to explain. This is a good test for any sort of Internet activity, and certainly one that my daughter has to follow. Twitter is no exception.
Now, I've shared some of my Twitter blocking rules. Please feel free to share some of yours.

Friday Sep 11, 2009

Facts about Albert Pujols

As the 2009 Major League Baseball season enters its final month, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols looks to win his second National League Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. St. Louis Cardinals Twitter Nation (#stlcards) member Ray Kern (@Southside_Ray) thought it would be a good idea to share some of what we have learned about the Cardinal slugger. So in the spirit of Facts about Chuck Norris, here are some .....

    Facts about Albert Pujols

  1. Albert Pujols doesn't hit baseballs. Baseballs see Albert and fly out of the park on their own.
  2. An Albert Pujols home run can cause the tides to change.
  3. Albert Pujols bats third because if he hit in any other spot it would cause the world to collapse.
  4. If Albert Pujols were to play for any other team, that team would instantaneously transform into the St. Louis Cardinals.
  5. Albert Pujols could play every position. He just thinks other players deserve a chance too.
  6. While playing a home game for the Springfield Cardinals (AA farm team of the St. Louis Cardinals), Albert Pujols once hit a ball so far it was credited as a home run in both Springfield and St. Louis.
  7. An Albert Pujols home run equals two home homes by any other player.
  8. Anybody who sees Albert Pujols hit a home suddenly becomes a St. Louis Cardinals fan (Cubs fans excluded, naturally)
  9. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved pitching to Albert Pujols as a homeopathic cure for constipation.
  10. When the player in front of Albert Pujols hits a home run it is because the pitcher is watching Albert taking his practice swings.
  11. When Albert Pujols is in your town the local air traffic control won't allow airplanes within 25 miles of the stadium.
  12. The reason former Cardinal pitchers give up home runs to Albert Pujols is because they're too distracted by his glowing red eyes.
  13. Tony LaRussa refuses to let Albert Pujols pitch because it would make teammate Chris Carpenter look bad.
  14. When Albert Pujols hits a home run the person catching the ball has great luck for a year. And a broken hand for the next six weeks ... So beware!
  15. When other Cardinal players try to touch Albert Pujols' bat after he hits a home run, it burns their hands.
  16. Albert Pujols can only hit 2 home runs in a game. Unless, of course, he wants to hit more.
  17. When dreaming, Albert Pujols hits all the time... Oh wait thats not a dream!
  18. Tony LaRussa asks Albert Pujols for managing advice.
  19. Albert Pujols once traveled back in time. You may know him as Babe Ruth.
  20. Albert Pujols went down to the crossroads to make a deal with the Devil. Once the Devil saw Albert hit, he just shook his head and gave Albert his soul instead.
  21. Albert Pujols was the first right handed batter to hit a home run into McCovey Cove (San Francisco). From San Diego.
  22. If Ted Williams hit in front of Albert Pujols in 1947, Williams would have lost the triple crown. But he would have hit .531.
  23. Tweets about Albert Pujols are the number one reason that Twitter goes over capacity.
  24. They will eventually name the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award the Albert Pujols Award.
  25. The reason that Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter are Cy Young candidates in 2009 is that neither of them have to pitch to Albert Pujols.
  26. Interstate 70 will be renamed The Albert Pujols Highway. Interstate 70 was also given to Albert has part of his most recent contract negotiation.
  27. Swine flu once got a case of Albert Pujols.
  28. The games the St. Louis Cardinals lose is because Albert Pujols wants the season to be more interesting.
  29. Albert Pujols could hit a home run in every game. But he doesn't want to appear too good.
  30. Albert Pujols doesn't inject himself with human growth hormones (HGH). He injects himself with hot lava.
  31. Albert Pujols was the only baseball player ever drafted at birth.
I'm sure this list will grow, as will the legend of Albert Pujols. If you have any facts about Albert, please send them to me and I will update this list.

A very special thanks to Ray Kern for getting this list started and contributing most of the content. And thanks to Cardinal Nation on Twitter (#stlcards). If you want to follow some of the best fans in sports, check out #stlcards on Twitter.

Monday Sep 07, 2009

Creating an iPhone Custom Ringtone

As a long time Palm user, the transition to the iPhone had more than it's share of difficulties. Thanks to some software updates (cut and paste) and VirtualBox, assimilation is complete and I have become a big fan of the little device. With that as a background, let's explore creating custom ringtones from items in your music library. And contrary to what iTunes tells you, it is possible to create custom ringtones from any DRM-free content in your music library - not just the items you purchased from the iTunes store.

1. Choosing the proper ringtone

Everybody in your contact list deserves their own distinctive ringtone - or at least the ones that actually call you. One word of warning though: make sure you choose an appropriate audio source and consider what happens if they accidently dial your phone while standing next to you.

True story: My first custom ringtone was for my spouse of 26 (and counting) years. We don't really have an "our song" so I opted for something instantly recognizable. In 5 notes or less. Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water is too obvious and pedestrian. What's the next best riff ? Think Ronnie Montrose.

As I am creating the ringtone, a buddy at work notices what I am doing and taps me on the shoulder. "Dude, are you like wanting to make her mad ? Are you nuts - do you only want to live with half of your stuff ?"

I guess my quizzical expression indicated that I needed further explanation.

"Frankenstein. Dude, you chose Frankenstein. ..... Frankenstein ???? Get it ?"

"Oh. OH!!!! I get it"

While Ronnie Montrose's opening riff from Edgar Winter's Frankenstein is one of the most recognizable in the rock catalog, it is clearly an inappropriate ringtone for a loved one. My bride has a great sense of humor, but I doubt that it would extend to this.

Please learn from my near fatal mistake - choose a good ringtone. In my example I will use Brainstorm from Hawkwind's third album, Doremi Fasol Latido. Another great opening riff. And no, I will not use this for my spouse, daughter, boss or any other person real or fictional.

2. Edit the source for your ringtone

A ringtone needs to be a short AAC encoded audio file. It should be at least 10 seconds in length and no longer than 30 seconds. If you are a computer wizard this is not a difficult task. Then again, if you are you wouldn't be reading this howto. Fortunately for the rest of us, iTunes can do this quite nicely.

After listening to Brainstorm, I have decided to use the first 25 seconds for my ringtone.

Right click the song you want to use for your ringtone - Brainstorm in this example.

Select Get Info and then click the Options tab.

Fill in the start and stop times in the boxes as I have on the left.

Note: The start and stop times do not have to be in whole seconds. Play with these numbers a bit of you want to cut out something like a voice or drum beat. A few tenths of a second can make a big difference.

Click OK and you will have an edited sound source that we will use to make our new ringtone.
Click image to enlarge 

Create an AAC encoded audio file

Right click your edited song and look for "Create AAC Version". If it is there skip over the next few steps.

If you see Create MP3 Version instead, don't panic. A lot of the other howtos that I found skipped this - and it's not exactly obvious what to do next.

The Create setting is based on your CD Import settings. The iTunes default is AAC which is correct for creating ringtones. It is also less than desirable if you want to get the most out of your iPod listening. Or (gasp) if you want to listen to your audio files with anything other than (another gasp) iTunes.

If you see Create MP3 Version as on the left all you need to do is change your CD Import preferences. Click Edit -> Preferences and while on the General tab click Import Settings.
Click image to enlarge 

Take note of your current settings. You will want to change them back when you are done.

Select AAC Encoder in the Import Using: drop box.

Since the internal speaker in the iPhone isn't exactly high fidelity, the encoding rate isn't important. Click OK and we are ready to make the audio file that will eventually become our ringtone.
Click image to enlarge 

Create an AAC encoded audio file - this time we mean it

Now, right click your edited audio souce and select Create AAC Version. You should see iTunes start the encoder and in a few seconds you will have another copy of your song. The length of the ringtone will be shown in the Time column.

Important: Before you forget, and you will - trust me, go back to the original song and clear out the start and stop times. Unless you really like listening to your ringtone in your iPod.

Select the original song, right click for the song menu, select Get Info, click the Options tab and uncheck Start Time and Stop Time.
Click image to enlarge 

What's in a name - quite a lot actually

The next step is to copy the new audio file to your Desktop where we will rename it. Click and drag the copy of the song you just created to your desktop. This should create a new icon, which is really a file in your Desktop directory. The filetype is .m4a which associates it with an iTunes song (audio file). What we need to do is rename it to something with a filetype of .m4r.

Before you forget, delete the audio file you created from your iTunes library. It is of no further use.

Now open up a command window. Click Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> Command Prompt or Start -> Run Program and enter cmd. Either way works.

In the command shell, change your directory down one level to Desktop and rename the audio file from a .m4a to .m4r The icon on your desktop should immediately change from an audio to ring.
Click image to enlarge 

If it is not clear from the above screenshot, the command shell dialog went something like this. My commands are in bold
Microsoft Windows XP [Version 5.1.2600]
(C) Copyright 1985-2001 Microsoft Corp.

C:\\Documents and Settings\\bob>cd Desktop

C:\\Documents and Settings\\bob\\Desktop>dir
 Volume in drive C has no label.
 Volume Serial Number is 2CBE-1F9C

 Directory of C:\\Documents and Settings\\bob\\Desktop

09/06/2009  02:07 PM    <DIR>        .
09/06/2009  02:07 PM    <DIR>        ..
09/06/2009  02:02 PM              1,072,142  01 Brainstorm.m4a
               1 File(s)           1,072,142 bytes
               2 Dir(s)       10,997,751,040 free

C:\\Documents and Settings\\bob\\Desktop>ren "01 Brainstorm.m4a" "Brainstorm.m4r"
C:\\Documents and Settings\\bob\\Desktop>exit

Copy your new ringtone into iTunes

Drag your newly renamed ringtone into iTunes. You should now see it in the Ringtones part of your library.

If you have set up your iTunes to copy all files into your library (which should be the default), you can delete the icon from your Desktop.

Click image to enlarge 
This procedure should work with any non-DRM audio file in your iTunes music library. Now everyone in your contact list can have their own custom ringtone.

Friday Sep 12, 2008

I Like Ike

No, it is not a flashback to the 1952 presidential election. It is in reference to the latest severe storm to hit the US gulf states, Hurricane Ike. But the story actually starts about a decade ago, when my daughter was 5 years old. On the way home from school, my daughter asked me if we would ever have a hurricane. Dallas is about 400 miles inland at the closest point, so it is very unlikely that would ever happen. But my daughter inherited my fascination with severe weather and she wasn't going to leave it at that.

So we got out a map of the Gulf of Mexico and I showed her what would have to happen for a hurricane to track that far inland and still pack a punch.
  • The storm would have to make landfall somewhere near Galveston, Tx so that it had the shortest path. Since hurricanes lose their power very quickly over land, it had to be the shortest path.
  • When it made landfall it would have to be at least a strong category 3 if not a category 4.
  • There cannot be a strong low pressure trough to the west that would cause the storm to take an early turn east.

Satisfied with that, she has patiently waited for nearly a decade for that confluence of events to occur. The closest we came was with Hurricane Rita in September 2005 (note that hurricanes that hit the Texas shoreline happen in odd years - that's odd). But a frontal boundary to the west pushed Rita just east of us. We got wind - lots of wind, but little else. It was impressive to see the western edge of the storm as it was still a hurricane.

Hurricane Gustav earlier this year came close but stayed well east of the Dallas area. In fact we fell in between the storm bands and received only a few tablespoons of rain. The low pressure center did bring down a northern air mass that cooled temperatures considerably. And was quite welcome.

So that brings us to Ike. We've been watching Ike for the last two weeks as it made its way through the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. It looks to make landfall near Galveston as a rather strong category 2, perhaps even category 3. For the residents in the gulf this distinction means little as the storm surge will present the greatest problem. There was a strong low pressure trough to the west that would send Ike east of Dallas, but that appears to be weakening and moving north as Ike approaches. So perhaps Becca will get her wish.

Tropical Storm Warnings have already gone up in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, so tomorrow will be a good day to read a book, watch a bit of NCAA football. While still a bit on the warm side (93 F - 98 THI) the winds have shifted around to the east and are starting to pick up. That's the first indicator of the counterclockwise rotation of the air mass.

The irony of this story is with the projected path of the storm. Since the trough has retreated to the north, the revised path projection takes Ike over Denison Texas. What is the irony in this ? Do a wikepedia search on Dwight David Eisenhower and you will find that Ike's birthplace is Denison Texas. And now you know the rest of the story.

Send out your prayers and good thoughts to those in the path of Hurricane Ike and especially to those brave souls that perform first responder duties. The first responders that put themselves in harms way to help others are true heroes.

[Edited note]: Ike passed by the Dallas/Ft. Worth area without any incident. Nothing more than we typically get from a rainy April day. Our thoughts do go out to the folks in east and southeast Texas who were not as fortunate.

Wednesday Sep 03, 2008

And now for something completely different

The summer is nearly over, the morning temperature was a beautiful 73 degrees (thanks to Gustav) and my daughter has returned to school. That means that it is time to return to work and carry on with the business of Solaris and OpenSolaris adoption. Along with my new Solaris adoption team members, I would like to thank Peter Ryan, Hal Stern and James Hollingshead for the speed in which they created these new positions and the way that we were all welcomed back into the company. Thank you gentlemen for your efforts and it is good to be back at Sun.

I hope that online information sources such as eWeek and ZDnet are as quick to report this type of story as they are ones about layoffs. Perhaps that is too much to ask, but one can hope.

Thanks to everyone that sent messages, publicly and privately. I really appreciate them, as do the other members of the Solaris Adoption Team. So we now return you to your regular programming, which will include some guides on ZFS as a root filesystem, Solaris as a Xen dom0, some updates to the Solaris Best Practices class materials, and anything else I can think of while on an airplane.

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Thursday Jul 10, 2008

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

Today is my last day at Sun Microsystems. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you that I have met over the years - conferences, user's groups, marketing events, customer calls, emails. Thanks to all of you that have read my blog and sent along comments, in public and private. And a huge thanks to those of you that have attended my training classes over the last couple of years. I hope you all have learned some useful things. I know that I have.

I look at my list of topics in the queue - so much to write about. Perhaps one day. Maybe I'll finish my SMF book. Perhaps I'll be back at Sun - who knows. Wish I could have done more.

But in the mean time, thank you for all of your support, enthusiasm, and friendship. I wish all of you the best - and we'll meet again. Look for me on Twitter (Throatwarbler) or over at blogspot ( and

Thursday Mar 13, 2008

Question of the Day - March 13, 2008

When a girl floats, why do they still call it buoyancy ?

Bob Netherton is a Principal Sales Consultant for the North American Commercial Hardware group, specializing in Solaris, Virtualization and Engineered Systems. Bob is also a contributing author of Solaris 10 Virtualization Essentials.

This blog will contain information about all three, but primarily focused on topics for Solaris system administrators.

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