Sunday Jul 18, 2010

Team Salty Dawgs Did It!!!!!!

Wow! In one of the most amazing experiences of my life, I completed over 100 miles with my fabulous teammates in the American Lung Association's Breathe Easy Ride. I raised $4300 and the team raised $7656 (before any corporate matching) to help make lung disease walk the plank!

Since January, I had ridden over 1600 miles on my road bike, but still nothing could've prepared me for this. It was intense, exhilarating, heart breaking, exhausting, difficult and full of joy, laughter and unexpected camaraderie. My team was my pack. I could not have done it without their physical and emotional support, and the amazing support of all of you who donated to my ride and sent me inspiring letters.



A misfit team of current Oracle and former Sun employees, all with different abilities and skills, started leaving the parking lot at the Sonoma Mountain Village about 5:40AM on June 26th onto the foggy and desolate roads of Rhonert Park. I left first, as I am the slowest rider on the team, and found myself riding amazingly fast accompanied only by horses and cows, trying to get as many miles under my belt before my team caught up with me. The air was thick with fog and quite cool, and I quickly warmed up as I was maintaining speeds over 15 mph.

Mark, Richard & John caught up with me after nearly a half an hour, apparently wondering where I'd gotten off to as they were not expecting that sort of speed from me... and warned me not to spend all my energy too soon. :-) Mike & Bryn were the last group to leave the parking lot, and inadvertently followed some 66 mile riders and started off on the wrong path - bypassing the rest of the team completely...until later.

As per my plan, I spent only the minimal amount of time at the first two rest stops - just stuffing my face with potatoes (YUM! roasted with rosemary!) and fruit, reloading my Cytomax and topping up my water. At the third rest stop, we had a surprise: Mike! Poor Mike was getting over a bad cold and just couldn't keep Bryn's pace, but this was good for us as we now had 5 people in our pack!

The weather stayed on our side, remaining cool, foggy and overcast until about 10 AM when the Sun just started to peak through. The five of us maintained time trial positions (single file line, each rider right on the back wheel of the one in front), taking turns at the front. While I am used to drafting with one or two people, the formation with this group of 5 riders had us moving like the wind! At our 4th rest stop (55 miles in), we were still maintaining an average speed over 15mph, even with several moderate climbs past us. We were cool, fresh and all felt great!

Then came Coleman Road. As we started the climb, John & Mike got out ahead of us, missed a turn and went 5 miles out of the way before realizing their mistake. Richard, Mark and I slowly climbed up this steep and soul crushing road, when lo-and-behold, down came Bryn! Curious as to why he was going the wrong way, we stopped only to discover that when he finished his descent to the coast and reached HWY1, it was so impassible with fog, his only option was to turn around and climb back up Coleman Road.

Bryn regaled us with tales of rough road and cattle grates before continuing onto his own personal journey, but not even his warnings could prepare us for what lay ahead. I could've used my mountain bike, the roads were so rough and twisty (and why on earth were there so many cattle grates?!?! WHY!?!)... heck, I could've used a car. It was brutal, desolate, frightening and beautiful.

When we reached HWY1 about 70 miles in, it was foggy, but we had at least a quarter mile of visibility, so Mark, Richard and I persevered ahead - little did we know poor John was back on track and doing that terrible climb alone, even though he'd already done an extra 500 feet/10 miles on his detour. It was noon, and I foolishly thought that I could do 30 miles in just under 2 more hours....

The climb out of the coast and back to the valley was unbearable. My legs were tired. I was hungry & thirsty. Fortunately, Mark had been carrying around extra food & water all day - as there were more than 30 miles of intense climbing and scary descents between rest stops! Mark was happy to lose the extra weight, and Richard & I were happy to have food and water :-)

For those of you who are curious, we were following (in reverse) the Tour de California route - yes, serious climbs for professional riders. The pavement was graffiti'd with ALLEZ, ALLEZ, ALLEZ and various rider's names.

After finishing our descent into the valley, we found Mike, who had backtracked on the route in order to skip the Coleman climb (since he'd done that bonus 10 miles with John), yet still get 100 miles in.

When we arrived at the 5th rest stop at mile 82 a bedraggled mess, happily greeted by volunteers from the Salvation Army with warm roasted potatoes, nuts, and ice cold water. The sun was out by then and we were all getting tired. As the four of us pulled out of the rest stop, we spotted John pulling in. Knowing he'd catch up, we continued on. At this point, every little hill just killed me. I'd have to immediately drop into granny gear and just use every ounce of energy I had just to keep spinning my legs. My quadriceps were burning. My IT-bands were on fire. I could only think of all the support I had and I knew I had to finish. Mark, knowing how important this was to me, literally pushed me up the remaining hills, even though he was beyond exhausted himself.

Terrified of being removed by SAG for taking so long, as the ALA said would happen, I just kept spinning, making it to the 93 mile rest stop just as they were closing. They gave us some fig bars and cold water and we were on our way again - this time with John!

Somewhere on those last 10 miles, Mark, Richard and I got separated from the group when we had to wait an insanely long time to turn left at a T-intersection. As the three of us were on final approach, Richard ran over a small drill bit that managed to pierce the wheel and slide \*into\* the spoke. Mark & Richard weren't sure if they were going to get that drill bit out, so I pushed on ahead.... and missed a turn, getting lost with 103 miles completed.

In the end, I rode 105.5 miles, Average speed 13.2mph, 8 hours of riding, 10 hours total door-to-door, burned 4544 calories and climbed about 6500 feet.



The most difficult thing I've ever done. I'm still recovering. Thank you everyone! Thank you!

Wednesday Mar 10, 2010

Dan Roberts on OpenSolaris ... or Something Useful in our meeting!

As part of the existing OpenSolaris constitution, we (the OpenSolaris Governing Board) are required to hold an annual "meeting" before the election in order for the election to be valid.  While, generally, this involves a fetch a rock exercise of core contributors (aka "members") logging into the forum, announcing themselves, then logging off, we do occasionally have useful and interesting conversations here. (and before you comment how silly that requirement is, please note that we have a new proposed constitution at this year's election that removes the annual meeting requirement).

Peter Tribble invited Dan Roberts to our virtual meeting the day after it started, and he joined and was very forthcoming about Oracle and their thoughts on OpenSolaris and Solaris:

"Oracle is investing more in Solaris than Sun did prior to the acquisition, and will continue to contribute technologies to OpenSolaris, as Oracle already does for many other open source projects."

While not all questions could be answered at that time, I was very pleased to see the community being engaged and concerns listened to.

Tuesday Dec 22, 2009

Sun Carolers do it again!

The Sun Carolers did it again this year, touring the campus and delighting our fellow employees!  This year was different, though - it was caught on video!

The first, video by Bruce Kerr & audio by Jack SwartzThe 12 Bugs of Christmas!

These other two were recorded by Deirdre Straughan and feature "I'll Be Home For Christmas", "Merry Christmas, Happy New Year" (ala Hallelujah chorus), "Carol of the Bells", "Jingle Bells", "Hanukah, Oh, Hanukah" (partial), and "Let it Snow". Enjoy!


Monday Nov 23, 2009

Amazingly Compassionate Sun Employees!

Last month, tragedy struck a member of the Sun family, a woman who is a member of my building's custodial staff.  She lost her son in a tragic manner and suddenly found herself in a position that no mother should be in: she had to bury her own child. He was only 23 years old.

It turns out that a burial plot, services and a coffin are not all cheap in the SF Bay Area, and this mother had no idea how she was going to make sure the last thing she did for her son was the right thing.  Where was she going to come up with $8500 for a basic state funeral?

This is where the inspirational Patricia Hill came in. Pat is a director here at Sun and has many tasks on her plate, but she's always had time for a quick chat with any member of the Sun family and always has time to help. When she found out that one of the other custodians was collecting donations to help, she sent out an announcement to all the Sun employees on this campus.

Word got around to other offices in the Bay Area and soon the rest of the world, and Pat found herself inundated with donations coming from as far away as Europe. Pat said people came to her office and gave her literally every piece of paper money they had in their wallet. Others made a trip to the ATM. I went up to her office one day hoping to find Pat, and instead found a FedEx envelope overflowing with cash. I stuffed my cash in and walked away - knowing that the money was safe.

All told, Sun employees collected over $12,000 for this mother. Enough for her to pay for the funeral services and grief counseling.

Nothing will ever replace this woman's son, but the work that Pat did, along with hundreds of other employees of Sun Microsystems, at least meant she didn't have to start out the grieving process with mountains of debt.

Thank you, Pat, for helping us all to do the right thing!

Thursday Jun 25, 2009

Up to my eyeballs in tests

As a Change Request Team advocate, I am stringent about asking for test results and always very annoyed when an implementor complains about how complicated the tests are to run.

Now after having spent the last several days finding working test hardware from our pool of test machines, and fighting with test installations and executions... I'm still waiting for my baseline results. I haven't even run the full tests on my own bits yet.

Which is another story.... while my builds were successful and my changes to libelfsign seemed to be kosher, I found that after doing a bfu that my test machines wouldn't even boot.  No, I didn't change libc... so I was very surprised that such behaviour was seen. Yes, I knew things like kerberos and IPsec would not work correctly if libelfsign (a core component of the Cryptographic Framework) wasn't working - but inability to boot? I was shocked.  With some help from pwernau and meem, I finally got one of the systems up in single user mode to discover the linker was doing something... unusual.

Fortunately, a very responsive Rod Evans came and looked at my limping test system and figured out what the linker was doing wrong (and also something one of the libraries in my calling path was doing wrong), and now I've got systems I can play with.

Except when I forget to sync my x86 build workspace with my sparc workspace and I build archives without Rod's fix... and then wedge another test machine.

Hopefully the code will be up for review soon, when I will add another blog entry detailing what it is exactly I'm trying to do and why.


Sunday Jun 14, 2009

OpenSolaris Turns 4!

Wow, it's been four years now since Sun launched OpenSolaris.  We've come a long way since then - built up a budding community, taken lots of contributions from outside, and we're even turning out a pretty decent OS based on this now! It's on my desktop, laptop and home machine.  There's still a lot to do, but overall I'm very impressed.

It's been very cool doing code reviews openly and getting design feedback directly from the real world before any code is even written. This has greatly changed the way I do my job, for the better!


Thursday Dec 11, 2008

Here we come a caroling...

Okay, actually there we went.  Today was the annual Sun Caroling day.  We went from building to building in Menlo Park spreading holiday cheer, including a few lesser known Hanuka songs. Carol of the Bells, Psallite and 12 Bugs of Christmas seemed to be the favorites this year. I know I've been so busy rehearsing for Babes in Hollywood that I had a hard time keeping some of the harmonies for the classic holiday songs in my head. Too used to singing melody on those, I suppose.

Wednesday Dec 10, 2008

OpenSolaris 2008.11 officially released!

Seems like ages ago when I was testing the first release candidate on my laptop, but I guess it was really less than a month ago. I'm pleasantly surprised at how quickly we are turning around these releases and getting them out the door.  I am pleased that NWAM works so much better on 2008.11 than on 2008.05, it's good to know the team took all of the feedback they got from the previous release and incorporated a lot of good changes. For example, I now have the ability to bring up the NWAM GUI and request to change networks when the one I'm on is no longer desirable (or I've found that I chose poorly when given the initial selection).  I can't wait to try this out in a conference environment, where access points change every time you go into a different room.

I'm still running Nevada development bits on my desktop, though, as it's SPARC based and we don't have OpenSolaris for SPARC yet.  It's still the same base kernel & most of the same utilities and applications, so I am still doing valuable testing on the latest & greatest... but, let's face it, not nearly as cool. :-)


Tuesday Nov 11, 2008

Neil Young and the Linc Volt in Menlo Park!

Neil Young brought his Linc Volt, reconditioned classic 1959 Lincoln Continental Mk IV, to Sun's Menlo Park campus today to give employees a chance to see the car and the singer up close. The car is now a hybrid, powered by natural gas and lots of batteries. I was surprised at how well it was done - hiding the batteries where the convertible top normally folds down, the engine under the back seat and the generator in the front. Why did Neil drive it to Sun's campus today? Because the car uses Java to monitor performance. I'm not huge car nut, but do like Neil Young and appreciate cool technology so I definitely enjoyed myself.
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Valerie's former weblog. The new one can be found at http://bubbva.blogspot.com/

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