Thursday Jan 28, 2010

The Oracle acquisition of Sun is complete - New Opportunities

I'm absolutely excited that Oracle has completed the acquisition of Sun Microsystems, Inc. No other enterprise software company is better suited to leverage the large suite of Sun technology than Oracle.

Acquisitions of this magnitude require changes as well as new beginnings.

I've concluded the timing is right for me and I will be leaving Oracle/Sun.

I will certainly miss the many talented people at both Sun and Oracle.

Just as in Major League Baseball; inevitably most players and coaches move among teams to compete and work for the betterment of the industry.

I wish the best of luck to the new Oracle and my many colleagues there.  My personal thanks to each and every team member of mine over the years at Sun.

I plan to continue with my blog which has been migrated in its entirety to http:\\\\bobporras.wordpress.com\\

You can also subscribe to my WordPress RSS blog feed by clicking on the orange icon to the left.

Click here to go to my WordPress blog page and sign up for email delivery (at the blog page scroll down and look to the right for EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION and follow the directions).

I can be contacted via LinkedIn, Facebook or bob.porras@gmail.com

Enjoy.

The views expressed on this [blog; Web site] are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle.

Thursday Jan 07, 2010

What Progress was Made at Copenhagen 15?

The fifteenth United Nations Climate Change Conference is over.  Copenhagen hosted this 12 day conference which gained worldwide attention for leaked speculative data on actual planet temperature data.  There are many opinions out there as to what are the scientific facts of the effects that humans contribute to global warming.   Developed countries have learned both the economic and human effects when dealing with hazardous waste.  Hopefully other countries will not be willing to sacrifice their people and ecosystems. 

However here is where a dilemma is created.  Developing nations may perceive pollution conformance as a means to slow down their economic growth, especially if developed countries are strong advocates.  Global climate change conformance puts a large financial burden on the countries that are out of compliance compared to the developed nations. 

I have been to developing countries where it hurts to take a breath... literally.  I also remember the days of leaded gasoline, asbestos and mercury thermometers in the U.S.  Do you think that developing nations feel that developed nations polluted their way to prosperity so why can't these countries do so as well?

There is a large amount of public data available on global warming.  Fossil fuels seem to have the largest target on them for producing greenhouse gases which contributes to global warming.  I recently finished reading SuperFreakonomics.  There is an interesting chapter called "What Do Al Gore and Mount Pinatubo Have In Common?"  It's a good first step into seeing a counterpoint to the global warming scientists data.  For example Lowell Wood, who studied under Edward Teller, thinks that the current climate prediction models are "enormously crude."  Another well known scientist Ken Caldeira, who was misquoted in the book, shares his thoughts as well.

As for my opinion, all nations need to be environment responsible, especially the largest emitters of pollution.  However I'm on the fence with the data.  I have a feeling that there are signs of an economic agenda... as always is the case.

Wednesday Nov 18, 2009

IT Infrastructure Products, Partnerships and Paraphernalia

Announcements have certainly accelerated lately with respect to integrated infrastructure technology.  Multiple vendors who provide infrastructure hardware for compute, storage and network are either partnering with each other or pursuing a "go alone" strategy.  Few will disagree that more tightly integrated solutions will benefit IT customers.

However an IT solution has always had the expectation and requirement to be integrated.  That is why the IT industry has developed over the years standards and protocols.  In other words, common industry accepted methods to move, process and protect business as well as consumer information.  Traditionally large complex IT solutions have been integrated by VARs, management consulting firms or consulting services for a given customer.  Is that beginning to change?  Also the IT solution is comprised of more than just tightly integrated hardware blocks. 

Let's not forget about the various applications that need to run on any given vendors hardware platform.  In addition to the applications, virtualization is becoming a standard requirement to maximize the utilization of any vendors integrated hardware platform.  Infrastructure providers will need to adjust to the fact that hypervisor technology may sell less hardware because utilization and efficiency will be largely improved.

Does this new focus on consolidation favor software stacks that are both heterogeneous and therefore ubiquitous?  The IT industry has become a mature business.  New ideas will always continue but IT will still be comprised of both hardware and software. 

A good analogy is the automobile industry...  Automobiles have had tremendous amounts of progress over the past 100 years.  For example there have been many optimizations and efficiencies with car manufacturing, car fuel efficiency, etc.  Over the past 20 years the automobile industry has highly leveraged the use of embedded electronics in cars.  But the basic components of a car (tires, engine, brakes, steering wheel, etc.) have (and for the foreseeable future) not changed.

Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/

Monday Sep 07, 2009

Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) = a bad day somewhere...

The worldwide economic downturn that accelerated in the year 2008 and 2009 certainly has caused problems for everyone.  The situation was caused by people and the remedy lies with people .  While the majority of people on Earth focus on the numerous everyday issues of our only known habitable planet, there are other people who think about problems beyond Earth.  Think beyond social, personal, government, economic, humanitarian, business and climate issues and try to solve the unknowns of the universe.

Astrophysicists think about problems that extend into the known universe.  I specifically say known universe because we do not fully know or understand what we don't know. Some questions may seem like nonsense, especially as applied to Earth. 

Imagine harnessing the energy of 1 single star over its lifetime.  How many stars are in the known universe? It's billions upon billions.  How many stars are within a single galaxy?  It's billions.  How many galaxys are in the known universe.  It's billions.  That's a huge amount of energy!  In fact the energy of 1 star is huge.  To comprehend what we know today about the universe can make the common persons head hurt.  To try to understand what we do not know or understand about the known universe makes all astrophysicists heads hurt every day.

Speaking of energy there is a distant binary star (WR104 - see video clip above) 8000 light years away that will eventually go supernova when the star cores collapse.  If events align right a gamma ray burst can result which is the known mother of all luminous electromagnetic events in the universe.  In addition it appears that one end of the gamma ray burst beam, which will exit from the polar ends of the rotating star could be pointing directly at Earth. 

Perfect alignment of two large objects 8000 light years away with a narrow beam of 12 degrees in an expanding universe is possible, but I feel that issues such as global warming are better near term problems to address.

Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/

Friday Jul 31, 2009

8 years and counting...

Another year and another milestone with my battle with cancer.  8 years cancer free.  I view it as having two birthdays: September 14th, when I came into this world and August 1st when I was given the chance to fight for 8 more years.  My life odometer is approaching 49 and it seems like yesterday that I noticed my blinking "check engine light."  I recently got my (now yearly) dose of needles, xrays and the seldom loved CT scan.  While I have had my urologist reset the engine light for another year, general health maintenance is always wise.  Not that I desire anymore needles since my second birthday, I was just treated to a cortisone injection into my left shoulder to help fight arthritis and shoulder stiffness.  The pain relief was instant but my eyes got wide with what looked like a pipe instead of a syringe.

Another year has passed and there are people who have lost the battle.  It remains difficult for me to hear of people in my local community who did not get that 2nd birthday as given to me.  Children who have lost the battle to cancer remains the most troubling for me.  While I have had the opportunity to grow into an adult, no child deserves to have their short life ended prematurely due to an illness.  Surviving over children who have lost the battle with cancer still causes me some guilt.  Knowing that I am a fighter brings some relief.  The majority of the relief comes from talking about the illness and promoting early detection via education.  Get yourself a yearly checkup no matter what is your current situation.  I'm living proof.  You are no different than an automobile when it comes to maintenance and early detection.  Continuing to drive with your check engine light on is basically denial which can prove costly for your automobile as well as yourself.

I admire Lance Armstrong for his cancer battle.  He inspired me and keeps me going with mine.  Farah Fawcett remains a remarkable woman for the documentary of her own battle with cancer that she ultimately lost.  Patrick Swayze is as courageous as anyone could be with his own battle with cancer.  With these type of people as inspirations (Randy Pausch included), I cannot stop fighting for those who have lost the battle with cancer. 

I'll keep fighting for you, one second birthday at a time...


Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/

Monday Jun 08, 2009

Renewable Energy - Get Educated, Involved and Excited

Have you made contributions toward a more ECO friendly environment?  Any and all efforts do make a difference when all added together.  While we have made progress in some areas, it is evident that we need to go faster and stronger.  Stop and think of your own personal carbon footprint.  In other words what are you doing that is causing the emission of greenhouse gasses.  When I look at the picture above it resonates 'clean' (it also indirectly infers Lord of the Rings - "The Eye").

Renewable energy is no longer a passion for environmentalists.  I've taken an interest in wind power.  While driving into Boston on Route 93 South you can see a large wind turbine located on your left by Exit #31.  It is situated in the back of a school which is located right in a neighborhood (look at the center of this Yahoo Map for the small white circle, this is where the turbine now resides) The city where this wind turbine is located is called Medford, the city where I grew up.  Being curious and an engineer, I had to get up close and check out this piece of technology.  First of all this wind turbine is HUGE up close!  Even more amazing was that the turbine was right in a schoolyard and neighborhood.  I could not believe how quiet this turbine was operating.  Given that city life is usually noisy with highways, airports and the close proximity of homes; I didn't think that a wind turbine would be acceptable right in a city.  The blades of the wind turbine look high tech.  They reminded me of the Cold War when submarine propeller technology was top secret.  In fact I believe today's submarines are looking at non propeller propulsion.  Why you ask?  Because a submarine that cannot be heard cannot be detected.  The quieter a propeller provides propulsion the harder it is to detect.  It looks like similar engineering went into the wind turbine blade design.  The wind turbine I was standing right under was relatively very quiet.  I assume the turbine's brain adjusts the blades pitch to accommodate the wind speed and weather conditions.  I believe it must have a wind speed ceiling as well as floor as it is not safe to be operating a wind turbine in a hurricane!

In addition to wind there are other natural renewable energy sources such as solar, geothermal and hydro energy generation. There are also biofuel alternatives such as ethanol from corn and sugarcane.  With all the advancements in clean energy and the opportunity to keep our planet safe it makes you just want to be green too.

Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/

Monday Apr 27, 2009

Have you been watching the TED spread?

A picture is worth a 1000 words and it certainly resonates with the economic global meltdown this past year.  A red flag indicator on the economy is the TED spread.  This metric is an indicator of perrceived credit risk in the economy.  The TED spread tracks the difference between interest rates of interbank loans and short term T-Bills (government debt).  The difference is measured in basis points (bps). Unlike the economic recessions of the past, this spread skyrocketed universally across the globe rather than in specific countries.  Historical averages are usually below 50 bps so when the TED spread went over 450 bps in the Fall of 2008 there was no surprise what was happening in the world stock markets.  Click here to see a TED spread quote from Bloomberg.

While the TED spread has dropped in the first part of 2009, there certainly needs to be additional closure of the spread in order to get back to historical averages. This will only happen, in my opinion, when credit flows normally once again.  There has been too many mixed messages on banks lending again (but to whom???) and being able to assign value on toxic assets that the banks are holding.  Until these two items can be cleared out, the one common solution for both is attracting private investors.

Consumer and private investor confidence is at an all time lowGovernment loans and stimulus packages globally all factor into where and what to invest.  Where have all the risk takers gone?  I certainly don't have the stomach to hedge in the current securites environment.  Even governments have retreated to purchasing safe, secure debt for investments so who can blame the private investors to be in a you lead and then I'll follow strategy.

Events got pretty scary last October when the TED spread peaked.  A money market fund defaulted, consumers were running on banks and many financial institution capitalizations were evaporating.  You could literally hear value being sucked out of the market and retreating to liquid assets.  Where did it all go?  It's like we had full balloons in a closed room and suddenly the balloons are all empty... but there is still the same amount of air in the room.  We just cannot find the air to blow the balloons back up again.  Reports have indicated that world banks have written off ~$900B (U.S. dollars) in toxic assets but there remains ~$3.1B still working its way through the system.  The TED spread will be watching...

This is where consumer confidence plays a huge factor. 


Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/

Wednesday Mar 18, 2009

Xbox 360 "RROD" it happended...

It took approximately 15 months for the event to occur, but as it has happened to so many others the RROD was not unexpected.  My son creates lots of computations on his 1 teraflop Xbox 360. Needless to say the gaming community is not very amused with Xbox 360 technical problems.  More about community in a future post.

The console in our house suffered from the lower right quadrant ring of red light, otherwise known as the "E74 System Error."  Microsoft has extended the 1-year warranty to 3 years for the RROD error, but the E74 System Error still only carries a 1 year warranty.  It is becoming obvious that the common hardware failures are interrelated (heat and cold solder joints) but go figure.

Next came the big decision.  Pack up the Xbox and ship it for a costly repair that will take 1 month or do it myself?  There is plenty of information out there in the cloud as to how one can fix the problems that statistically should occur at a much lower percentage.  My soon to be 15 year old son is contemplating a career in engineering so we said let's void the warranty that has already expired and see what happens...

To attempt a fix you need to disassemble the whole unit down to the bare motherboard.  This includes opening the clever injection molded plastic case that has no screws, the metal case that requires Torx screwdrivers, the control PCB that drives the (see picture above) on/off LED button, the CD drive, the air plenum, the heatsinks, the dual cooling fans, the drive power cable and the drive data cable. Next you need to unscrew the motherboard from the metal case in order to expose the back of the motherboard.  Here is where the infamous x-clamps reside. You need to remove the x-clamps that secure the heatsinks to the 2 custom ASICs. The 2 ASICs are pretty impressive. A custom multi threaded (2) multi-core (3) IBM PowerPC-based CPU and a custom ATI GPU. Polygon performance is 500 million triangles/sec and 48 billion shader operations/sec.  No wonder the HPC community is programming GPUs for their computational might.  512 MB of 700 MHz GDDR3 RAM feeds the GPU. Memory interface bandwidth comes in at 22.4GB/sec. Not bad at all but here lies the problem.  The Xbox is a screaming number cruncher which produces electrical resistance and as a result heat.  Thermal expansion (heat) and thermal contraction (cool) cause the motherboard to be bent by the x-clamps.  Repeated cycles of this causes cold soder joints. One bad connection on a signal and your Xbox is toast.  By the way server engineers have been dealing with this issue for years. The thermal problem can be solved, but it can and usually does as the result of adding cost to the product. In my opinion the issue for the Xbox is that it is an extremely high volume product and trading off added cost versus margin to a gaming console is a difficult balance.

The fix basically involves reflowing the solder balls in the CPU, GPU, RAM area with a heat gun. Assuming this is successful you have to put the whole game console back together.  But before you do this you replace the x-clamps with metric screws to attach the heat sinks.  You have to be very careful to clean the old heat paste completely from both ASICs before applying artic silver 5 thermal paste.  If you do not do this correctly your heatsinks will not work efficiently and your unit will overheat quickly.

We put the whole thing back together and powered it up around 10:30pm after spending about 6 hours working and 2 trips to the hardware store and RadioShack . It worked!  My son was happy as he was able to get to level 65 on Call of Duty 5.

I suggest that if you want to increase the odds of not getting RROD on your Xbox then mount your console in the tower position (standing on end) rather than flat like a laptop.  When the console is in the flat position the motherboard is on the bottom of the unit and cooling is more difficult.  When the console is mounted on it side (which is a valid position since it has skid pads on its side as well as bottom) the motherboard is cooled more efficiently. It's even better if you can can mount the Xbox on 4 small blocks so that more cool air can flow into the unit from all top, bottom and side intakes.

It was fun showing my son aspects of engineering in practice but even more enjoyable to actually have fixed the console for him.  On the downside-- given the data out there on these RROD problems, I know the unit will ultimately fail again...


Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/

Tuesday Jan 20, 2009

44th P.O.T.U.S. - Yes We Can

Today the 44th President of the Unites States of America is sworn into office. For me it signifies not only eliminated barriers but also the beginning of new horizons.  Horizons that parallel past frontiers that once seemed impossible to tame.  World wide economic woes have linked countries together.  It's ironic that this linkage also holds the solutions for the recession.  Some nations need to lead, but it will require more from the followers as well.  Don't expect one person to go about and fix it all.  "Yes we can" is about everybody, everywhere getting the inspiration to help change your nations situation as well as your own. 

As someone who is fond of history I'm currently reading the biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  His leadership and inspiration during the Great Depression was a catalyst.  FDR's personal ailments and struggles as a polio survivor were part of that catalyst.  While no nation's leader is ever lacking of critics, FDR included, he served during a very difficult period of time.  His New Deal programs and the struggles of that time have been told to me numerous times by my parents.  My parents watched my grandparents struggle through the Great Depression.  In some ways those stories have shaped me.  FDR's voice and words were his medium.  One did not see a man ravaged by polio in steel braces, but rather a leader who inspired many to solve problems. His famous quote, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" during his inauguration speech is so appropriate.

"Yes we can" is for all.



Monday Dec 22, 2008

Sometimes Nature Makes You Take a Pause

Another year (2008) will soon be in the past.  Technology has enabled most of our days throughout the world to be busy, productive and sometimes almost endless.  Las Vegas, Nevada is no longer the only city that never sleeps.  On December 11th am and 12th pm perfect conditions were present in Southern New Hampshire and just below in Northern Massachusetts. 

Those conditions enabled tress to get coated with ice mostly without the ice freezing on the ground.  The good news is that motor vehicles and people were not sliding all over the place.  The bad news is that those trees eventually began to explode and split apart from the sheer weight of ice glued to the trees.  Snow is much less dense than ice so snow covered trees are the norm here in New England U.S.A.  While the ice coated trees transformed into beautiful art by nature it wreaked havoc on man made items.   Simply put once the trees started to split apart and break they took down many power lines.  So many power lines were broken that approximately 1.5 million homes were without power

As the trees were breaking during the night you could hear them snapping and cracking.  When power lines were breaking you could hear power transformers blowing and sounding off like gunshots.  People in my town, 7 days after the storm, had no power.  When the power lines come down one at a time, the only way to fix the situation is one power line at a time.  However, before you fix the power line you have to be able to get access.  A perfect problem created by nature.

When nature forces you, especially over the weekend, to pause there is a lot to be thankful. With no electricity one is forced to modify their day.  Early to bed and early to rise.  In the Northeast of the U.S.A. this time of the year you need to keep the house warm (fireplace, wood stove, etc.).  For refrigeration you can use the temperature outside to keep food cold.  At night, if cold enough, the temperature will freeze anything solid.  Candles, oil lamps provide basic light at night.  Flashlights allow you to navigate around your house.  Reading by candle light is not as easy as I thought.  Boardgames and good old uninterrupted face to face conversation can certainly pass the time of sans electronic anything.  I paused for 2 full days in an electricity free environment before I caved in for the gas powered generator.

The year of 2008 has presented many challenges throughout the world.  Front and center has been the economy unwinding throughout the world.  Sometimes nature can help cure events created by people.  For example seeing new growth sprout from a brushfire created by a careless individual.  While the economy problems today are more like wildfires, nature still finds ways to recover.  I'm not sure nature can help fix the economy but it may have the ability to get people to pause and think.  After all people are the ultimate creators of the current economic problem.  Any problem creates opportunity and somehow there will be a catalyst to start the recovery.  Happy holidays and best wishes for the 2009 New Year.

Tuesday Nov 25, 2008

The World Economy is a Turtle...

One would have to be pretty insulated to be oblivious to all the economic troubles throughout the world.   In the last 2 months I have visited Brazil, China and India and the economic impact in each country is amazing.  A year ago in India I was amazed at the Bombay stock index surge and the feverish pace in Beijing preparing for the Olympics.  Who would have thought back then that in one year things would be completely the opposite.  The credit crunch has hit consumer confidence throughout the world.  Banks are not lending.  Even private equity is hard to come by and the terms are not very attractive.  Consumer spending has decreased significantly.  Have you noticed the price of oil as of late?  Some countries that were surging on oil profits are now unable to sustain their economy which was built up over the past few years.  Selling out oil futures for the next 12-18 months is not something that is usually done.  There is plenty of energy data out there.  In India and China you can read about government actions to start infrastructure projects in hopes of jump starting their economy once again.  Stock market reaction seems to be driven less on fundamentals and more on the factor of fear.  Fear that nobody knows where is the bottom of the decline.  What is going to cause a turnaround of the confidence of people to start spending once again?  I read that approximately 70% of most economies are driven by consumers.  Another major factor is the credit market for access to cash for businesses.  It's also true that consumers in some countries are addicted to being highly leveraged so they need access to credit to spend again.  The formula for fixing this appears to be pretty simple:

Mend = Lend + Spend

However getting the lend and spend to occur has been one of the hardest problems throughout the world.  Confidence is easy when things are going well, but confidence in difficult times really is something that doesn't come easy.  Private equity and the venture capitalists naturally will get more inflexible during economic contractions.  New funding rounds for startups are probably going to require new lead investors.  Banks throughout the world are not willing to release capital just yet.  Businesses and consumers all feel the contraction.

The world needs to extend it's arms, legs, tail and neck and start slowly walking forward again.  Staying in its shell means no progress regardless of where you may reside.  It really is a world issue to be solved. 


Wednesday Oct 15, 2008

Have you ever heard of Credit Default Swaps?

Have you had enough yet of all the discussions, opinions, suggestions, agendas and lunacy regarding the stock market?  I've been watching for a while what is the ultimate effect of credit default swaps (CDS).  It is rumored that there are approximately trillions (U.S. dollars) worth of these puppies lurking out there.  That is no typo, yes trillions not billions worth of these unregulated contracts between a buyer and seller.  Some estimates put CDS liability up to $60 trillion U.S. dollars.  Basically CDS are insurance contracts if a credit instrument (e.g. bonds) defaults.  They cannot technically be called insurance because they are unregulated.  Since they are unregulated there is no requirement to report or track these instruments.  That's sounds a little broken you would think.

A good example is Lehman Brothers.  Lehman's bonds recently have traded for less than $.20 (U.S. dollars).  That means the seller of CDS on these bonds are liable to payoff the other $.80 (U.S. dollars).  These payoffs are going to absolutely impact negatively the institutions that issued the CDS. Instruments such as the CDS have complex probability mathematics behind them.  Created by intellects who went to work on Wall Street. Definitely something I'd personally stay away.  The derivative market is clearly not for the faint of heart. Trouble has been brewing for a while as reporting has disclosed.  The cascading effect across the world was obvious.  I don't know how some could say that this was a U.S. economy only problem.  Markets and investors worldwide are ultimately linked as a result of technology.  Investment options are available to almost anyone, anywhere via the access of a computer.  In my opinion the complex automated trading algorithms of buy .vs sell in the market do not take into account the variable of human fear.  How does a computer program stop a run on the bank without human intervention? That is intervention coordinated with complaint on a global level.   Would love to know where money is flowing to and where it is flowing from...  I'd guess it is flowing to banks where governments are insuring deposits and from banks where there is none.    Have we thought through the long term effects yet?  Truly fascinating.


Friday Aug 01, 2008

7 years and counting...

Well today I hit another milestone with my battle with cancer. 7 years cancer free...  In fact my doctor informed me that I am finally on a  yearly checkup schedule.  I looked back and added up that it only took 102 procedures (surgeries, CT scans, xrays and blood tests) to get me here.  That is a lot of needles, pain and mental anguish but it was all worth it.  I continue to fight for my health and for those who were not so fortunate to keep life.  This past year, my son's basketball team had a player's Dad who lost the battle to brain cancer.  His Dad was buried on a Saturday morning and that very player was at the game Saturday afternoon.  Life goes on despite how difficult it may be to move on.  That is courage.  I also lost my Mother-in-Law this past year.  Complications of a broken hip and Parkinson's disease...  My wife turned to me in the car after the funeral and said "Life goes on."  That was courage despite being devastated by the loss of her Mom.  I find myself very fortunate to have beaten the odds and feel obligated to keep fighting for those who cannot.  Randy Pausch demonstrated courage and the fight in exemplary fashion.   Positive attitude is a powerful force if you need to do battle.  Taking on the fight one day at a time is the only way to deal with what appeared 7 years ago to be an unsurmountable obstacle.  Experiencing Morphine and Oxycodone was a disappointment.  The 36 CT scans all sucked because I had to have them with active contrast.  One has to drink 2 tall cannisters (see picture) worth of this ill tasting barium sulphate suspension.  It is hard to drink and you get to drink and extra cup of this slime right before the procedure. It is an important test because the contrast lights you up like a lamp on the CT scan with the iodine based IV they inject into your arm during the procedure.  The solution makes you taste metal in your mouth and feel queasy in your abdomen.  I can tell you I was scared 7 years ago.  So much so that I had to keep moving.  Staying still felt like death to me so I moved despite the pain.  I also needed a physical challenge.  I was instructed to be out of work for 1 week after my 1st surgery.  I went to work the day of the surgery, left in the morning, checked into the hospital, had the surgery and then went back to work the next day.  I had to because it was a challenge and I was moving.  1 week later I was back running my usual roadwork regiment despite still having stainless steel staples in me.  I tried to take them out because they were so uncomfortable but that is a story for another day.  So the thing for me was to keep moving and mentally distract myself from the long road going 60 months cancer free with no hotspots.  I don't know how I did it but I managed to miss 0 days of work for all of the procedures these past years.  If you take one thing away from reading this: get yourself checked regularly because cancer \*is\* curable.  I wouldn't be writing right now if it wasn't true.  Remember 7 years ago I was a dead man walking with a sentence but decided I was going to fight with all my might.  Others have done so as well.

Monday Apr 07, 2008

Randy Pausch Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

Randy Pausch is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Here is a clip from his last lecture.  Gut wrenching but at the same time some worthy advice.  Make it count...  I certainly do and can relate to him.  ABC News will be showing a program this Wed April 9th, 2008 @ 10pm/9 CST.  Here's to Randy.

Thursday Jan 03, 2008

Holiday Technology Woes... at Home

In anticipation of some Winter Holiday downtime and unplugging from the internet cloud-- I envisioned some history reading and some home projects that required tools from a Craftsman Toolbox.  On Dec 24th my home computer hardware decided to get real sick.  The system uses fast RDRAM memory but all 2GB became usless when a single memory address line failure corrupted my system disk.  I was able to invoke extended memory tests then managed to isolate the faulty DIMM module and once again had good memory.  My next step was to try and recover the system disk.  I ran chkdsk (its just like fsck), mucked with the boot partion, etc. but could not recover the disk.  Previously I was fortunate to recover the system disk two times prior on this machine but this time my luck ran out.  Since all my data is on a separate data disk that is incrementally backed up daily to a network drive, I still had the most important items intact... The DATA.  So I reformatted the system disk and reinstalled the OS, then all the numerous updates, patches and ALL the applications (including configuring them).  It took about a day but all is normal on the home computer once again.  My wife and I realized how dependent we are on this device for running our domestic endeavours (paying bills, kids activities, purchases, getting information, etc.)  While we have other computers running various OSes in our house, this specific one was the nerve center.  It really resonated with me that I had taken precautions to preserve the data and they payed off.  It felt similar to the car accident question.  "Are you all right?"  We can replace the car but not you (the data). Personal digital data that an individual generates is just as important as the digital data of corporations.  We live in a sea of digital data today.  With free email, picture sharing and archives that store massive amounts of data that increases every second, protecting the data grows in importance as well.

My son received a new gaming console as a holiday present and the initial experience was amazing.  The ability of the graphic processor (GPU) to generate and manipulate polygons is incredible.  The effects generated to create waterfalls, reflection, smoke, 3D, etc. is excellent.  The visual effect is most stunning when the game's HD visual output is displayed in 1080i mode on a HD display.  It is safe to say the gaming console is a powerful personal computer.  The ultimate gaming experience is when you plug into the network cloud and play online with others.  Forget for a moment the complexities of configuring your network router, wireless LAN and the correct settings of open not restricted NAT and UPnP.  To play online and communicate in real time via VoIP, while you visualize in HD, hear in surround sound and control the events of the game is an experience you could only previously get at Walt's Kingdom.  The online response was great... for a few days when suddenly response started to get slow.  I told my son that good old latency had arrived.  He said "What?"  I told him that if 10 kids in each city of the world just received a new game console for the holidays that would be a lot of new consoles.  By the time most of them connected online would be about now...  As a result there are servers somewhere that are hosting these online games that are probably getting strained/hot and can't keep up with all the requests.  In other words the computer infrastructure (lots of servers, storage, etc.) that is keeping all game consoles in harmony can't do it as effortlessly as before because there are now too many of you playing while on school vacation. Then it happened...  His online id on his console got corrupted.  He could not recover his id.  All his scores, points, you name it data and a lot of it was unreachable on his console.  I told him I think his hard drive on his console is corrupted.  So I reformatted his hard drive (deja vu) and went through a recovery procedure.  Fortunately we recovered his online id and all his data since those busy servers with loads of storage kept a copy of his data too.

These technology woes are opportunities for those who provide the infrastructure of the internet... which is one large data cloud growing and growing and growing. 

About

The blog of Bob Porras - Vice President, Data, Availability, Scalability & HPC for Sun Microsystems, Inc.

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