Monday Sep 26, 2005

First IOSUG Meeting redux

A minor amendment to the location, if anyone's thinking of going along: it's now DIT Bolton St, Room 259. Time and date remains 18:30 on Tuesday 27th Sept.

Thursday Sep 22, 2005

First Irish OpenSolaris User Group Meeting

This just in from Fintan:

Thanks to Jamie O'Leary of DIT Netsoc we have a venue
available for the first Irish OpenSolaris meeting.

So, the time and venue

	DIT, Kevin St @ 6:30, Tuesday 27th Sept

Primary Speaker 

	Darren Moffat, Solaris Security Architect

and then a general discussion on what people would
like to get out of the UG.

Further details and directions for the exact location in
DIT will be sent out before the UG meeting.

Thursday Aug 18, 2005

Eat. Sleep. Blog.

Julie bought me one of these... look out for it around the Dublin office soon. It's very hard to miss...

Wednesday Aug 10, 2005

Wooden anniversary

I've been at Sun in Dublin for five years now (well, as of last week or so)... which is actually the longest I've worked for any one company. (My previous record was four years with Logica, now LogicaCMG, in Cambridge, but much of that time was spent full time on-site at Reuters in London, and then at the NATS air traffic management R&D centre near Bournemouth, so that felt more like two or three separate jobs anyway.)

When I joined, Sun shares were trading at over $50. Now it's an event in itself when they pop their head above $4. So what's kept me here? Well, it's certainly not the share options :)

Primarily it's the work. Open source software usability still brings a new challenge practically every day, and I've been doing it for five years now. I'd also like to think that, along with the rest of the GNOME usability folks, we've blazed a bit of a trail... albeit one that's wandered about a bit, and still isn't quite sure where it's headed.

Of course, you need smart and motivated people around and above you to achieve things anywhere, and Sun has more than its fair share of those. That's not to say there isn't as much politics, bureaucracy and (just occasionally) downright frustrating dithering as you'll find at any other company, large or small, but for such a globally-distributed company (the JDS team alone has engineers in Ireland, the USA, Canada, Germany, China, India and New Zealand), we cut through it pretty well. And right now the whole software organisation is pulling in the same direction more strongly than at any other time I can remember.

Dublin is still a decent enough place to live too, even though the locals will tell you that the Celtic Tiger has turned it into a soulless shell of its oul' self. And only in Ireland would they spend hundreds of millions of euro on a new tram system that has two lines that don't join up, and a sub-city tunnel to take trucks out of the city centre that isn't high enough to accommodate a lot of them. But that's all part of its charm, I guess.

Oh, and we get to choose our own five year service award from a decent enough list-- I've gone for one of these...

Wednesday Jul 27, 2005

Distributed donut day

Sun Ireland is having a donut day today, to mark yesterday's decent earnings results. There's a bit of a flaw, though... I work at home on Wednesdays, and we weren't given any warning that it would be today (although we knew one was coming). In fact, Sun positively encourages people to work at home as often as possible, so somehow, a donut day doesn't seem like a very inclusive reward scheme any more. If anyone has any better ideas, let me know and I'll pass them on to Scott :)

Thursday Jul 21, 2005

Two million and counting

Wow... apparently we reached two million Solaris 10 downloads this week! I think it's safe to say that's exceeded even the most optimistic expectations of anyone at Sun, so much so that we're having a doughnut day next week to celebrate :) What with that and the company almost literally buzzing with excitement about OpenSolaris, you can't help but feel we could be on to something big. Here's hoping.

We also had our 2006 financial year kick-off barbeque here today... despite the odd threatening cloud, the food was good, the beer was flowing, but as usual I didn't get a sniff of winning anything in the raffle. Almost unbelievable that nobody wanted to go into town afterwards and make a night of it, though... is this really the same company I joined five years ago (almost) to the day?! :/

Monday Jul 18, 2005

I say this every year, but...

Just in case any of my friends and family have been reading Jonathan's blog and wondering why I wasn't at home the first week in July, it's only Sun's US offices that shut down that week, not "everyone" :)

Desktop Community-- "Open" for Business

OpenSolaris now has a fledgling desktop community-- although there's nothing actually available on this page yet :). If you want to help with getting GNOME, KDE or any of your other favourite desktops or desktop apps building and running sweetly on OpenSolaris, leveraging the (already remarkable) amount of groundwork that other contributors have laid down, this mailing list is going to be the place to be.

From posts on the general OpenSolaris discussion list, KDE seems to be ahead of the game already, so come on GNOMEies, get stuck in! :)

Monday Jul 04, 2005

What fools these mortals be!

Rodrigo points out that this new movie was rendered on a bunch of Sun machines running... er, Debian. But hey, we're an open systems company, so it's still cool :)

Thursday Jun 16, 2005


Saw a few of the new SunRay 170s arriving in our office this week. With the paint barely dry on Sun's renewed branding, I was expecting something curvy to reflect the whole "S for sharing" mantra, and possibly even something in the same ultramariney-blue that adorns our website these days... but they basically look like two black bricks with rounded corners, stuck together. Stand more than a couple of feet away and you can't even make out a Sun logo on it... I guess we won't be raking in any product placement business on this one then...

That gripe apart, they actually \*work\* great... nice screen, USB ports a-plenty, and (I'm told) lower power consumption than ever. It's just a pity that something that works that well doesn't shout "Sun" at me, in the same way that a Powerbook shouts "Apple", or a BMW 3 series shouts "office rep" :)

Tuesday Apr 26, 2005

The Network is the Computer (but not everyone's)

Working at home a day or so a week has been a great convenience, but it looks like my days are numbered... at least if I want to keep using my Mac.

The current Cisco VPN client apparently doesn't work with OSX 10.4, so I won't be able to connect to the office from home that way if I decide to install my shiny new upgrade when it arrives next week-- and let's face it, it's going to be hard to resist :) Rumours abound too that the OSX version is about to be EOL'd anyway, so who knows how well it'll ever work post-Panther.

Normally I'm running Linux on my Mac when I'm working anyway, so no problem you'd think-- except there's no PowerPC version of the Cisco VPN client, and today we've been told that we're no longer allowed to use the open source vpnc client either, as a security audit has determined the current version to be too insecure.

Even if there was a way around those issues, Sun is taking SOX compliance rather seriously, and in the not too distant future, full remote access will be restricted to employees with centrally-managed workstations running Java Desktop System, with a Java card reader for authentication. If you think this sounds a lot like SunRay@Home, you'd probably be right :) The rest of us will be restricted to accessing so-called 'edge services' like mail and calendar from our evil non-JDS boxes.

While SunRay is one of the coolest technologies going, and being able to control who does what with your infrastructure is a must, I'm not convinced that everyone who currently works at home is going to be well-served by this one-size-fits-all approach, or that the world is going to be a safer place as a result. It's a perfect solution for VPs, managers and salesfolk, who have a SunRay on their desk whose session they can then tap into wherever they go. But I fear that engineers (and Sun does have the odd one or two, so I'm told) with their three or four standalone workstations per desk, and designers with the need for something a little more powerful than GIMP and StarOffice Draw, are going to find it a lot harder to get their job done in the comfort of their own home.

But there's a way to go before all that happens, and I live in hope... Sun prides itself on the number of its employees who have the opportunity to work remotely. If anyone can find a way to securely connect together a bunch of differently-flavoured \*nix machines1 across the internet without limiting their functionality to that of an internet café, you would think it might be us :)

1Ignoring the fact that some folk will probably want to connect Windows machines as well, but since they represent the largest part of the problem, I'd have no issue with them being banned from connecting remotely at all...

Thursday Apr 14, 2005

You've got mail... but only for 400 days

So, Sun are going to start making us archive any emails over 400 days old that we want to keep, and everything else will be automatically deleted. According to an Evolution vfolder I just set up for the job, I currently have 23,206 emails older than that, each of which I'll need to decide whether to archive or not. Think I'm going to have a fun few weekends :)

Friday Apr 08, 2005

Sun is world's 766th-largest company

Possibly not the most interesting (or meaningful) statistic you'll ever read, but it's interesting to see what sort of companies we rank alongside in the Forbes 2000... Sanyo, Nintendo and Amazon to name but three. And as a Scot, it's nice to see the Royal Bank of Scotland up in the top 20, four places ahead of IBM :)

Thursday Mar 10, 2005

It's not 'kay', m-kay?

Apparently, Scott McNealy pronounced my name 'Kay-lum' in his latest monthly intranet broadcast (as Americans are wont to do for some reason... especially those who live in Kay-lifornia).  I know this because everyone keeps coming up to me today and saying "Hello Kaylum".  It's really not that funny any more :)

Thursday Mar 03, 2005

Sam and Tom on JDS R3

Sam and Tom seemingly aren't too enamoured with the forthcoming release of JDS release 3 on Linux.  While they've given us a lot of support in the past, I'd have to take issue with some of their comments about the beta versions they were given access to (not least that I was under the impression that our beta participants were subject to an NDA and shouldn't be commenting on it publicly yet at all, but perhaps I'm wrong there).

They don't get any credit for their real contributions to very important open source projects because they don't have any people who actually understand or talk to individuals in the open source community," Hiser said. "They're not spending any time on the mailing lists."

Not quite sure which projects they're talking about here; Googling for addresses on the GNOME mailing lists alone turns up 65,000 hits, and that's without counting contributions to, Mozilla, Evolution, if they mean "we don't have many Linux kernel hackers" then no, we don't, any more than Red Hat or Novell have many Solaris kernel hackers, despite their offering products that are interoperable with (and in some cases run on) Solaris.

[But] the people they have now who rendered JDS release three have done a terrible job. I think they're going to find out that it's not going to do well at all.

What they're referring to here is the theme that shipped with JDS R3 on Solaris 10, which was also the default theme in our Linux beta release.  While I haven't heard many Solaris users complaining about it, there's no doubt that it wasn't to everyone's taste in the Linux beta.  Just for the record, since it's not mentioned in the interview, beta customers were given an update that reverted it to the JDS R2 look and feel while we refine the JDS R3 one to take account of their comments.

The Linux model is to give away the software and sell services," Adelstein added. "They're going to give away the software, but they don't have any services to sell.

I was under the impression that Sun was selling support-- a service that leads most enterprises to choose to buy their \*nix systems in the first place, rather than rolling their own.

Anyway... time will tell who's right and who's wrong.  Look out for the Linux version of JDS R3 in the next couple of months and make up your own mind :)


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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