Wednesday Oct 15, 2008

Chip Multi-Threading, Cooking and the Anatomy of a Viral Video

Here's a fun video about chip multi-threading, explained through cooking:

The Story

For those of you who don't speak German: Ingo, the hero of this movie, wants to cook German roulades. He uses his hands as registers, while his table serves as a level 1 cache. The instruction cache is his brain, where the recipe resides. Soon, he reaches the point at which it says: "Pour red wine into the pan". There's no red wine in the registers, no wine in the L1 cache, so he needs to ask his memory subsystem: "Hooooney, would you mind bringing me a bottle of Merlot from the basement, pleaaaase?"

While "honey", the memory subsystem, is busy bringing wine, Ingo explains that at this point, there's no difference whether he stirs the dish at 1.4 GHz, or at 4.5 GHz (this is the piece where his stirring gets frantic). Actually, he'd rather use his precious time to do other useful things with what he has in L1 cache already, for example cook dumplings, or prepare dessert. That would indeed help a lot in getting dinner ready sooner, even while waiting for "honey" to bring some wine.

And that is the whole point of chip multi-threading.

Now, imagine 8 Ingos, each with two hands (think pipelines) and doing 4 dishes per hand (read: threads). What a feast!

CMT Cooking Going Viral

I first saw Ingo giving this presentation in February, during Sun Germany's Partner University event. It was hilarious, the whole  room was laughing and we knew he needed to do it again. So, with the help of a few people, Ingo and Ulrike created this fun video.

They posted it on YouTube in July and we featured it on one episode of the HELDENFunk podcast for German system admins. Soon, Ingo reached a few hundred downloads and we thought: "Cool, we have a new fun video to share!"

Then, Alex Wunschel, aka the "Podpimp", one of the more well-known podcasters in Germany and a listener of the HELDENFunk podcast, twittered about Ingo's memory subsystem called "Schatz!" (the German equivalent of "honey"). That was even cooler.

Then, Thomas Knüwer saw Alex' Tweet, and blogged about it. On the "Handelsblatt" blog. Think something like "Fortune" Magazine in German. And he got 14 comments. Gulp. 

The result: Ingo's views skyrocketed, soon he was in the thousands, and last time I checked, he had more than 13,500 views, for a 3.5 minute video about chip multi-threading and a memory subsystem called "honey". Nice!

Today, Alec and I chatted about Ingo's video and apparently, he liked it very much. Well, I guess Ingo can start counting again. This time, english speaking viewers, too. Have fun!

Would you like Ingo to dub his video in English? Or do you prefer the German version? Just drop a comment below! 

Tuesday May 20, 2008

Geek Marketing

This morning, I listened to the "Blick über den Tellerrand" podcast, where Alex Wunschel gives us his thoughts and findings on the "Blogosphere, Podosphere, Web x.0 and User/Corporate-generated Knicknack". In one of his latest episodes, he interviewed Steve Rubel

Steve Rubel is a PR expert and author of one of the most read blogs called "Micropersuasion". In one of his articles, published through his employer Edelman Digital, he lists nine digital trends for the future. One of the trends that caught my attention is "Geek Marketing".

In a blog post, he further explains the concept: Technology is moving so fast, that marketing divisions are increasingly hiring geeks to help them understand developments in IT better. A geek marketer therefore is a link between technology and marketing people.

Cool. That's what I've been doing over the last year or so. I just didn't know there was a name for it! 

At Sun, we have a lot of geeks (they're mostly called "SEs" or "System Engineers") and we don't have much marketing (we'd rather spend the money on creating cool technology such as ZFS, UltraSPARC T2 or project Blackbox to name a few). But those few marketers we have, are really at the edge of the digital age. Starting from our long history of employee blogs, through our presence on Second Life to the Systemhelden.com portal (with the HELDENFunk podcast) - Our marketing people know what's hot and cool in the digital world, and how to engage the Sun geek communities to help them make cool stuff happen.

This fits very well with the book I'm currently reading: Dan Pink "A Whole New Mind". In this book, Pink argues that the virtues of the left half of the brain (typically associated with logical thinking) are not enough for today's global and networked world, in which left-brain work is increasingly outsourced to Asia and other emerging countries. In other words: If you want to keep your job, you better start thinking about your right half of your brain.

Right-brain work is quite interesting. Pink introduces six new aptitudes: Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, Meaning are senses that complement the Information Age worker's logical skills and help him be successful in the new "Conceptual Age".

So, without knowing, by participating in all this video, podcasting, blogging and Web 2.0 stuff, studying better ways of doing presentations and gaming on a Wii, DS or a Playstation, we're actually training the right half of our brains.

Who knew work could actually be that much fun?

Edit:

Added a link to the actual Tellerrand episode. Bummer!

P.S.: The photo shows me in front of a lot of technology. I find this quite fitting the geek theme. The technology is actually a nuclear fusion reactor in Garching. Yes, the kind of stuff you see in superhero movies right before someone gets a new superpower. Didn't seem to work on me, though. 

Thursday Aug 09, 2007

Get Simpsonized!

Constantin SimpsonYesterday evening, I was simpsonized! The result can be seen to the right.

A brilliant viral marketing plot by Burger King and the Simpsons Movie.

Actually, the process is quite sophisticated. It involves sending a photo of yourself with good contrast and answering some simple questions and you'll get a pretty good approximization of your inner Simpson. I wonder if they use Java Advanced Imaging?

You then get the chance to modify your Simpson character, I still need to work on my hair...

Get simpsonized here

Monday Aug 06, 2007

New Public Podcast: HELDENFunk (in German)

HELDENFunk IconYou might have heard of systemhelden.com in one of my other posts. This is a german community for system administrators and other heroes of IT that is fun to belong to and that is enjoying a nice growth in popularity.

Today, we added a podcast (sorry, it's in german) to this community called "HELDENFunk". This podcast features stories from the Systemhelden.com community, tech news and other fun stuff. In this first episode, we discuss how the Systemhelden.com website is hosted in a Solaris 10 container on a Sun Fire X4200 server at our ISP Cyberways in Augsburg, then Rolf discusses how you can calculate your CO2 footprint out of your server's wattage and he introduces the Sun EcoTour, which is a mobile blog written by a journalist that rides a bike across Germany. Wolfgang Stief is our special guest, he works at Best Systeme and is in the process of setting up Solaris 10 Zones on a Sun Fire T2000 server for GUUG, the German Unix User's Group. We interview another great podcast called POFACS, the podcast for alternative computer systems and we feature Sun's Magnum Switch and a funny video about blending an Apple iPhone in our news section.

Producing the podcast was great fun. We had great people in our studio (Read: conference room...) and quite a few laughs. Thanks to Marc Baumann, we had great microphones and a mixer to record with. My NI Audio Kontrol 1 audio interface, featured in an earlier blog post, proved to provide excellent recording quality. We used quite a complicated setup to conduct a phone interview over Skype but which turned to work quite well. And again, Marc edited and cut everything very nicely so everything now just sounds great.

We plan to publish a new episode each month, so feel free to let us know what you'd like us to cover and what suggestions you might have. Just write to kontakt at systemhelden dot com.

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