Wednesday Dec 05, 2007

OMG: "Hostile" Takeover of www.sun.de

A few hours ago, www.sun.de has been "taken over" by Systemhelden.com.

"Systemheld" in german translates to "system hero" and that's what this community portal is all about. Visitors of the German Sun home page are now being asked to "honor their sysadmin", because "without his unreached knowledge, his daily commitment to his job, his angel-like patience and a mind-expanding amount of coffee consumption, things would go dark pretty soon." (s/his/her/g where appropriate).

Having been a system administrator at my university's computer center in the mid nineties, I know what this means. I administered our university' proxy server in the beginning of the dot-com boom, and I've had my share of typical sysadmin-vs-luser stories :).

Speaking of which, check out the new series of comics that were produced for systemhelden.com. Even if you don't speak german, you'll understand what they mean...

Tomorrow we'll be recording a new episode of the HELDENFunk podcast and we have a couple of cool things lined up, so stay tuned.

Sunday Nov 04, 2007

Vote for supporting Java in Max OS X Leopard!


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Wednesday Sep 19, 2007

Say Hello to our new Web 2.0 Bunny

Nabomuk the Nabaztag"Hello, my name is Constantin and I have a cyber-bunny." This is probably something I'll say during the next "Geeks anonymous" meeting after my wife forces me to see a shrink or something...

Anyway, meet our new guest at the Gonzalez home: Nabomuk! As you can see, he is a rabbit-ish looking little plastic high-tech fella. I didn't find a carrot this evening but he seems to like bananas, too.

Nabomuk is a Nabaztag, a new breed of Web 2.0 rabbits that are currently multiplying all over the world. They're a clever new "connected object" idea by a n innovative french company called Violet. A Nabaztag tells the weather and stock market trends, it can receive messages (Meet me on Facebook to try it out) and read RSS feeds and there's an API to program your own stuff for. It performs Tai-Chi with it's ears multiple times per day (this is not a joke), tells the time and it comes with an RFID reader that it uses to "sniff" objects. What a fun little gadget!

Of course, most of the rabbit is happening at some datacenter somewhere in the world. According to the Nabaztag entry in Wikipedia, the Nabaztag Website experienced serious service disruption problems after being overwhelmed by the many Christmas 2006 NabazTransactions. See? We told you we developed UltraSPARC T2 and Solaris with a purpose in mind! So if you happen to know anybody at Nabaztag, or if someone from Nabaztag is reading this blog, we have just the right solution for your datacenter...

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

Wednesday Aug 08, 2007

A True Web 2.0 Chip

Yesterday was the big day in which we launched the UltraSPARC T2 chip, code-named Niagara 2.

Few people realize how significant this announcement really is. The UltraSPARC T1 chip already changed the game of providing a powerful web infrastructure: By providing 32 threads in parallel, the UltraSPARC T1 chip and the associated T2000 server can provide more than double the performance of today's regular chips, at half the power cost. Even now, 18 months after its introduction, this chip still remains ahead of the pack both in absolute web performance and in price/performance and in performance/watt.

UltraSPARC T2 is not just a better version of the T1 chip, it provides three significant improvements:

  • More parallelism: Instead of 32 concurrent threads, UltraSPARC T2 delivers 64 threads running in parallel. Moore's law gives us twice as many transistors to play with every 18 weeks and the best way to leverage that is to turn them into parallelism. UltraSPARC T1 and T2 are all about maximizing the return on Moore's Law. Check out the specs.
  • More networking: The UltraSPARC T2 features two 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports directly on the chip. Two. Ten GigaBit. On the chip. The NIC is included, there is no bus system between the NIC and the CPU, the CPU is the NIC is the CPU. Total embedded networking. For applications that live in the network, what more can they ask for in a server?
  • Built-in, free and fast encryption. In a world where the web becomes social, private data becomes more and more common, but also more and more important to secure. Making security a default feature of your web service is now available for free and it does not impact performance.

Of course, there are many more other improvements, such as 8 FP units, more memory etc., but the three points above alone make the UltraSPARC T2 the perfect chip for web 2.0 applications.

This guy needs UltraSPARC T2!For instance, check out this analysis of the Facebook platform by Marc Andreesen. If you don't want to read it all, here's a summary: Web 2.0 means explosive growth in server capacity, for any reasonably successful application. In the case of iLike, they are growing their user base at the rate of 300k a day! This kind of growth can be fatal for your company if you don't have the infrastructure to sustain it. Well, UltraSPARC T2 is just the kind of technology that was designed to do just that: Handle many, many, many concurrent users at once as efficiently and securely as possible.

So, all you Web 2.0 startups out there, get in touch with your nearest Sun rep or Sun SE and ask them about UltraSPARC T2, or better yet, get a free 60-day trial of UltraSPARC T1, do your favourite benchmark, double that number and forget about that crypto-card to see what UltraSPARC T2 can do for you real soon now. Then, sit back, relax and keep those 300k a day users coming!

Tuesday Aug 07, 2007

Consolidating Web 2.0 Services, anyone?

I have profiles on both LinkedIn and XING. And lately, I discovered Facebook, so I created a third profile there as well. And then there are half a dozen web forums here and there that I have a profile with as well.

Wouldn't it be nice to create and update a profile in one place, then have it available from whatever the Web 2.0 networking site du jour is? 

Each of these sites has their own messaging system. No, they don't forward me messages, they just send out notifications, since they want me to spend valuable online time with their websites, not anybody else's.

Wouldn't it be nice to have all Web 2.0 site's messaging systems aggregated as simple emails to my personal mailbox of choice?

I also like Plazes.com, and I update my whereabouts and what I do there once in a while. I can also tell Facebook what I'm doing right now. And now, surprise, a colleague tells me that this Twitter (sorry, I don't have a Twitter profile yet...) thing is real cool and I should use it to tell the world what I'm doing right now. That would be the third Web 2.0 service where I can type in what I do and let my friends know.

Wouldn't it be... You get the picture.

I think it would be real nice if Web 2.0 services could sit together at one table, agree on some open standards for Web 2.0 style profiles, messaging, microblogging, geo-tagging etc., and then connect with each other, so one change in one profile is reflected in the other as well, so one message sent to me from one forum reaches my conventional mail box and so one action I post to one microblogging site shows up on Plazes and Facebook as well.

I know I'm asking for a lot: After all, much of the business models of Web 2.0 companies actually rely on collecting all that data from their users and figure out how to monetize it. But on the other hand, as a user of such services, I'd like to have a nice user experience and updating three profiles is not fun if I were to do that seriously.

Therefore, I think one of the following will happen:

  • Web 2.0 companies will consolidate in the sense of being merged into very few, but global uber-companies that own all business profiles, all geo-tagging stuff, etc. This is probably why Google is buying some Web 2.0 company on a weekly basis. Maybe I should by XING stock and wait for them to be acquired by LinkedIn etc. but maybe I'm an investment sissy...
  • Web 2.0 Meta-Companies will emerge that leverage Web 2.0 APIs (or mimick users through traditional HTTP) and offer Meta-Services. I'd love to got to, say, a MetaProfiles.com, set up a real good and thorough profile of my life, then let it automatically export it to LinkedIn, XING and whatnot.com and I'd be a happy person. Let me know if you happen to know such a service.
    The closest thing to such a service is actually Facebook: Since it's not just a social website, but a real application platform, it has the potential to provide meta-services for any other Web 2.0 sites out there. I love being able to pull in data from Plazes, del.icio.us etc. into my Facebook profile and have it all in one place. I love the "My Profiles" app that lets me show off my dozen or so profiles, blogs, etc. in one single list.
  • Since both of the above are quite inevitable, eventually the losers remaining companies will sit down and start agreeing on unified and open standards for Web 2.0 centric data exchange. We've seen this with many other open standards, so why not the same for personal profiles, geodata etc.?

Meanwhile, I'll check out some of the APIs out there. Maybe I can put together a sync script or something similar to help me across the turbulences of Web 2.0 tryouts.

But first, I'll tryout Twitter. Since a couple of friends are using it already, I feel some social pressure 2.0 building up...

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.

Tuesday Jul 31, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

Yesterday, we've announced good financial results for the last fiscal year 07. Very good financial results. I like working for a profitable company, it makes so many things so much easier.

Tomorrow, I'm going to have a meeting with my managers to discuss what to do next. Since we're early in the new financial year 08, I'm thinking about what to do next. So, here are some new year's priorities for my FY08 at Sun:

  • Web 2.0: I've been talking to customers, partners and Sun people in Germany about Web 2.0 a number of times. Every time, the feedback has been very clear: We want More! So I'm going to do more Web 2.0 related stuff: More blogging, podcasting, perhaps a successor to the now famous ZFS movie, more participation in social networking sites, including del.icio.us, XING and Facebook, more evangelizing and of course more insight into where this journey is headed to.
  • Technology: Sun is all about technology. We create, apply and leverage technology to enable the participation age. (Did you know that we've proclaimed the participation age before Tim O'Reilly published his famous Web 2.0 article?)
    We've seen Niagara changing the rules of processor technology and building the backbone of the web, again, and we've already disclosed some information on Niagara 2. We've seen the Constellation System debut during ISC 2007. You may have noticed that the Sun Ultra 40 Workstation is the best workstation on the planet, and BTW, we're changing the economics of true Video-On-Demand Streaming as well, just to name a few favourite technologies on my list.
    The biggest problem to solve now is: Spreading the word. Let me explain. Whenever I participate in a Sun day (A customer meeting in which Sun people present on new Sun technologies), two effects consistently happen: First, more people than originally planned show up (I once had people join in over a video conference line). Second, the meeting takes much longer than originally anticipated, because customers want to hear so much more about our technologies.
    Since we don't have much money to spend on advertising, sponsoring or other forms of traditional awareness generation, we need to do a lot more of these Sun days, and talk to customers one by one. Is this more difficult and time-consuming? Yes. Does this have a more lasting effect than traditional marketing? You bet. Only by talking to the experts at our customers are we able to verify that what we do is right and make sure our technology meets the people that want/need/develop for/join/use/participate in it. In FY08, I'm going to participate in more Sun days and talk to as many customers about Sun technology as I can.
  • Solaris: This may be a sub-topic of "Technology", but it really is a topic of its own: I use Solaris at home, on my laptop, evangelize it to customers, and it feeds my need as a computer scientist to learn about interesting things every day. In FY08, I'm going to use more new Solaris features at home and at work, write more about it (German readers: Check out this ZFS whitepaper), participate more in the OpenSolaris communities and make sure OpenSolaris gets the attention with developers, customers and partners that it deserves.
All in all, I'm sure FY08 is going to be interesting and fun. FY07 has been the year of technology announcements, FY08 will be the year of seeing them all in action. A year of interesting times.

Monday Mar 05, 2007

Friday is Web 2.0 Day

I really should blog more often.

Every day, at least every week, I have one or more blogging ideas in my head. But for some reason, there's always a lot of work to do and then it's too late and the next idea comes up, while the old one becomes stale.

And then there are those other things that scream "update me" at you: Flickr photos, a LinkedIn or XING.com profile or some other cool Web 2.0 service that you think would deserve some more of your time.

Lately, I've been giving Web 2.0 presentations to partners and customers and my feeling is that it's not a hype. We're in the middle of a major new breakthrough in how society, culture and the business world is organizing itself. Web 2.0 is becoming a serious part of our corporate life and everybody's daily day at work.

So, I need some way of better organizing my work life in order to accommodate the right amount of attention to my Web 2.0 life. That's why im now officially declaring Friday to be "Web 2.0 day".

Friday is a good day for work-related housekeeping items: Writing expense reports, updating notes, etc. So it is a perfect match to officially dedicate some time to updating my XING contacts, write blog entries, update internal wiki pages, write something into our group blog, try out new Web 2.0 services (current favourites include Plazes and FON) and generally do something to become a better Web 2.0 citizen. It is kinda like casual friday but with a more productive, more modern twist.

Last Friday, I wrote an article about Web 2.0 for a Sun internal technology newsletter. Today, I finished it, which is why you see this entry being created on Monday and not Friday, so it's working already :)

Who knows what'll happen next Friday? Stay tuned.

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