Monday Oct 04, 2010

A decade at Sun redux

I felt a mild flutter of excitement when I finally received my 10 year Sun/Oracle service award notification on Friday, two months after my actual anniversary, because Sun had some nice gifts you could choose from (I chose a telescope for my five year award!).

Assuming Oracle would be much the same, I hastily logged in to see what I fancied, only to discover out that there was only one option: a ballpoint pen. A $200 ballpoint pen, certainly, but a ballpoint pen nonetheless.

How many people in the IT industry, I wonder, have a use for a $200 ballpoint pen? I certainly wouldn't carry around a pen that expensive, as it's the sort of thing I'd inevitably lose. Even as UI designer who does a fair bit of sketching, I just tend to use whatever pen or pencil comes to hand. And if I did want my own fancy, personal pen, it would be a fountain pen, not a ballpoint. (But you have to rack up 20 years at Oracle to earn one of those—even 15 just gets you a 'rollerball'.)

Indeed, up until I left university, and for a while afterwards, I did carry around a fountain pen. But it wasn't an expensive one, and it was in the days when I still wrote a lot more than I typed. I doubt there are many people in our line of work who do that nowadays.

So if you're reading, corporate gift overlords, we minions do appreciate a choice. And if you're not going to give us a choice, could you please at least give us something we can either put to good use without fear of losing or breaking it, or something that looks nice on a shelf? Or, if in doubt, just stick an extra few quid in our pay packet that month, and let us buy whatever we like :)

Wednesday Mar 31, 2010

All my pictures seem to fade to black and white

Tonight we head into town for a few beers, to commemorate the untimely passing of Sun Microsystems Ireland Limited, some 17 years after Sun's operations began in Dublin, and a little less than ten years after I joined.

Tomorrow, at 10.30am sharp, and likely with a few sore heads, we become inducted as employees of Oracle Ireland. See you on the other side.

Wednesday Jan 27, 2010

They Think It's All Over...

"On Tuesday Sun delisted itself from the Nasdaq Stock Market, a sign that the (Oracle) takeover was nearly complete, though no formal announcement was made."

Guess it won't be long now...

Thursday Oct 22, 2009

Click maps

The guys are doing some interesting analysis as part of their Project Renaissance UI improvement project. This click map caught my eye this week (click to see the whole thing):

OpenOffice Impress toolbar click map

More information on what they're doing can be found over on the GullFOSS Blog.

Wednesday Apr 08, 2009

Compiz in a box

In VirtualBox 2.2.0, which was released today, that is. The new OpenGL acceleration for Linux and Solaris guests allows compiz to run very nicely in a virtual machine. (Click the thumbnail for a Theora video of compiz running in an OpenSolaris guest in OS X.)

Compiz running in VirtualBox

EDIT: I suppose I ought to add there's some other cool stuff in 2.2.0 as well, particularly the ability to import/export appliances in OVF format.


Wednesday Dec 17, 2008

VirtualBox 2.1.0

Sun released VirtualBox 2.1.0 today. In addition to bugfixes, new features include:

  • Support for hardware virtualization (VT-x and AMD-V) on Mac OS X hosts
  • Support for 64-bit guests on 32-bit host operating systems (experimental; see user manual, chapter 1.6, 64-bit guests, page 16)
  • Added support for Intel Nehalem virtualization enhancements (EPT and VPID; see user manual, chapter 1.2, Software vs. hardware virtualization (VT-x and AMD-V), page 10))
  • Experimental 3D acceleration via OpenGL (see user manual, chapter 4.8, Hardware 3D acceleration (OpenGL), page 66)
  • Experimental LsiLogic and BusLogic SCSI controllers (see user manual, chapter 5.1, Hard disk controllers: IDE, SATA (AHCI), SCSI, page 70)
  • Full VMDK/VHD support including snapshots (see user manual, chapter 5.2, Disk image files (VDI, VMDK, VHD), page 72)
  • New NAT engine with significantly better performance, reliability and ICMP echo (ping) support (bugs #1046, #2438, #2223, #1247)
  • New Host Interface Networking implementations for Windows and Linux hosts with easier setup (replaces TUN/TAP on Linux and manual bridging on Windows)

Downloads for Solaris, OpenSolaris, Linux, OS X and Windows are available here.

Friday Oct 10, 2008


Michael Meeks from Novell ponders the future of the project.

Thursday Sep 04, 2008

Virtual Box 2.0

Sun xVM VirtualBox 2.0.0 was released today, and is available for download from New features include 64-bit guest support, host interface networking on Solaris and OS X hosts, support for nested paging on modern AMD CPUs, and a native front end for the OS X client (and a move to Qt 4 for the others).

More detailed changelog here.

Saturday Jul 05, 2008

T-1 Day

Like many of you, I'm sorting myself out tonight to fly to what will be my seventh GUADEC in Istanbul tomorrow. (I'll actually be there for two weeks, as my wife is flying out after the conference to join me for a week's vacation.)

Pleased that there's a very healthy crowd of Sun desktop folks attending this year (18 at last count), and rumour has it we'll have some OpenSolaris 2008.05 LiveCDs to be giving away, so you can play along live with John Rice's talk :) Hopefully I'll also find a few interesting things to snap with the Lomo Fisheye camera I got for my birthday last month...

Thursday Aug 03, 2006

Sun and dusted

So, Sun's latest round of cost-cutting layoffs is out of the way at last, in Ireland at least (and probably the US by the time you read this, but still not everywhere). Relieved that our team was pretty much unaffected, but naturally disappointed that it had to happen at all, and that not everyone was so fortunate. The mood in the office is pretty sombre today, as it always is on these occasions, but I'm sure we'll all refocus soon enough.

Tuesday May 16, 2006

apt-get install java

From now on, that's pretty much all you'll need to do to install the latest JRE/JDK on your Linux box1... Sun have just changed the way they license Java binaries to Linux (and OpenSolaris) distros. Debian, Ubuntu and Gentoo are already taking advantage of this, along with NexentaOS, BeleniX, and SchilliX on the OpenSolaris front. Read the DLJ FAQ, or get more info at the jds-distros project website.

1 Ok, actually it's apt-get install sun-java5-[jre|jdk]

Sunday May 14, 2006

Function over form

Sadly, I'm inclined to agree with Fernando Cassia about the aesthetics of our latest workstations... luckily they work so much better than they look!

Thursday May 04, 2006

Sticky labels? Sticky problem.

Much gnashing of teeth chez nous tonight as we tried to persuade StarOffice 8 to create some address labels from a spreadsheet (one address per row), something which Julie apparently does quite regularly in MS Office.

From the online help, it seems there's a nice little wizard for creating them from a database, but from a spreadsheet? Nada.

Seriously, how many home users are going to learn how to set up a database just to print a few address labels? Anyone know if it's possible to do what we want?

Update: Julie figured out how to do it, pointed in the right direction by an email from John Corrigan... File->Wizards->Address Data Source->Other External Source, from which you can choose a spreadsheet as the data source. Thanks John!

Wednesday Apr 26, 2006

Different world...

Have to confess I always let out a slight pfft of derision when I read quotes from US folks (in this case, a fellow Sun employee, but it's nothing personal!) like:

If we get to over $4 a gallon [of petrol], I may be [working at] home full time.

I've been away from the UK for six years now, and a gallon of petrol there cost more than that before I left!

Thursday Apr 13, 2006

Real deal

It's been a long time coming, but Real Player 10 is now available as a free download for Solaris SPARC and x86.


I am a Principal UX Engineer in the Systems Experience Design team, working at Oracle (via Sun Microsystems) since the turn of the century. I currently work on sysadmin user experience projects for Solaris. Formerly I worked on open source Solaris desktop projects such as GNOME, NWAM and IPS.


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