Thursday Mar 16, 2006

Trouble Shooting

I was in the process of composing a blog entry about some of the things I've been up to so far this year (but infact I'll make it several later on) when a colleague pointed me at Chris G's entry on SGR SGR (Sun Global Resolution) Is Sun's internal development of the Kepner Tregoe Analytic Trouble Shooting Technique. The idea is to provide a consistent and reproduceable technique which will help solve problems. I have to be honest that when I first heard of it I was really sceptical. I fixed customer problems - how could they have a process for that? Well to be honest what it does is force you to not ignore the obvious, not to jump to conclusions and to write things down in a way that others who understand the process can understand and progress. Chris's Ephihany is a great example of this. In SGR language You have 4 processes. First of which is Situation Appraisal (Finding out what it is you need to work on) This leads in to one of three other processes, one of which is Problem Analysis (I'll talk about the others another time). To decide if you need to do some problem Analysis you ask yourself three questions 1) Is there a deviation: In this case is the system doing something it shouldn't? 2) Is the cause unknown? 3) Do I need to know the cause to take meaningful action (eg. if the Espresso machine in the cafe is broken I don't need to know why, I can walk the 50m to the cafe in the other building to get the coffee to wake me up tomorrow) So in Chris's case he is doing Situation Appraisal with a bit of Crashdump Analysis to find out what the concerns are. At which point there is probably a deviation but Chris knows the cause so stop trouble shooting. There is a forth process that is unofficially recognised by most ATS/SGR Programme leaders like myself. That is the JFDI process. Once you know what to do, just do it.

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Friday Dec 16, 2005

Neglecting my blog as usual

OK So I'm guilty of neglegting my blog. This time I was prompted by my friend Kimberley who has a much more interesting blog than mine. She bought a hourse farm out in New Hampshire recentley and it's snowing.... I've just got back from another business trip to India where I helped the group set it's priorities for the next year. This was important for me and the team as we're part of the support structure here at Sun and now we're not charging for software (just for service) we're the part of the software organisation that can most directley effect whether it's worth paying Sun for support. Believe me it is. Did you know that for supported Solaris customers you have 24x7 source code expertise down to the most obscure parts of Solaris. If we don't know the answer then we will know how to find it out PDQ. Any way, I always suffer with jetlag and with Christmas coming up I'm doubly snowed under. This weekend we have a family get together at my parents which will be fun, though it's a bit of a rush as Andrea has to cram in 3 different things over this weekend (due to me being away the previous two) Still mustn't grumble. I've just taken on a large backport of a project that's recentley gone in to Solaris, so that should keep me interested for a while. As I learn more about it I'll document what I find out. That should be a useful thing for a blog (and by the way - mileage this week was 20 very stiff road miles) Technorati Tag:
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Saturday Nov 19, 2005

Mileage this week: 20

OK So I am a couple of days late postin gthis so for the record I'm posting it back on Sunday even though today is really Tuesday Mileage this week = 20 Miles All of it off road 7 Miles with Andrea around Swinley Forest which was nice. She seems to be really getting in to the single track, 13 miles from the office on my own (apart from the army practicing blowing up bridges causing a 3 mile diversion) Wanted to get out over the weekend, but with Andrea running the Brighton 10k and being on call it just didn't happen. I can see this week being harder, though last weeks rides were cold and frosty it was sunny. Now were in damp weather and I never feel like going out in it. Ho Hum...

Monday Nov 14, 2005

Mileage this week: 0

Appaling week for cycling. Mostly because I haven't been around. I had a business trip to Prague to meet the new engineers we have and give some talks. A good week from that point of view, but as I didn't get back till very late on thursday night I didn't cycle then. And to cap it all I had my parents to stay for the weekend so cycling was off the agenda then. Oh well - must try harder

Sunday Nov 06, 2005

Mileage this week and bike theft

I'm trying to get out and ride more, so I'm going to try to write up what I've ridden each week. This week was really busy at work. Working late most evenings preparing for a very large code inspection (which I'll write up once the code has gone in to OpenSolaris) But I still managed to get out on my bike three times Tuesday: 5 miles off road in Swinley Forest. Met up with my wife at lunch time and introduced her to the fantastic singletrack there (which later she realised she enjoyed more than the road riding she's been doing lately :) Saturday: 11 miles road round playhatch over to Sonning Common and back (40 mins :() Felt really tough Sunday: 15 miles road. Similar route to yesterday but took my neighbour out and went a little further towards Stoke Row. Today it was wet. So wet infact there was standing water on the road. Still we both enjoyed it. Total: 31 miles The only down side was my neighbours bike got stolen as he went in to tell his wife he was back. Must have been very quick. He's only had it a few weeks. Scumbags. Technorati Tags: cycling

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Monday Oct 31, 2005

Back from Holiday and a new Blog tool

I have just had a weeks holiday. It was great to spend a week away from work with the family. We had a brief trip to Cornwall to play on the beach for a few days, and returned mid week. My sister and her family came to visit on thursday and spent the weekend. Cornwall was great. OK it's october so it rained a bit, but that doesn't matter when you're on the beach. The sunny day's were great. Boys on the beach wading in streams. When we got back my eldest son continued his emergence as the next Steve Peat by going to Swinley Forest and showing him a nice bit of twisty singletrack. He liked the down bit :) So the purpose of this post is really to test the new version of blogroller that was rolled out while I was away. Not much different from what I can see, just a bit prettier. I guess I'll have to read up on what it gives me. Technorati Tags:

Wednesday Jul 13, 2005

Road Riding with Tim

Well today was a little foolish. I've been chatting with Chris Gerhard and Tim Uglow over the last week or so, and they finally persuaded me to go for a road ride with them. Mostly by telling me that it would be an easy 10 miles trying to keep up 20mph apart from the hills. I could probably do that, I thought. I do normally Road Ride on my own. I live 17 miles from work and the thought of riding there and back still fills me with dread (let alone riding at lunchtime as well!) I packed up my road bike and drove to work (yes I know it's the cheat's way...). Tim planned the route (14 miles). Anyway Chris was tempted to come out, but the thought of wearing me out was not quite tempting enough for him to have an extra 14 miles on his regular 40. Did I mention it's about 30 centigrade out there. So we head out and it's fun, in a I don't normally start this fast kind of way. I don't think I'm holding Tim up that much. It's good to ride with someone more used to riding in traffic. I went everywhere on my bike till I could drive, then it was mountain biking about 10 years a go that re kindleld my cycling fire. I learnt a lot watching Tim handling the cars. Where I live I normally ride out in to the Chilterns. That means Up, Up, little down, Up, UP, big down, bigger up...etc... ie. not flat. Around work it's got some flat bits before big hills. I was pleased to see I could manage a good 20+ on the flat, which the local track club have as a pre-requisite. Not that track really appeals. Up hills I need more strength and actually I just need to be fitter. There was one really fantastic hill (the down any way - no I do enjoy the ups, but it was hot today) a 1 in 8 down 38mph :). Don't know what the up was. I'll plot it later on the map and work it out. It was definitely less than 38mph. In the end it was 15.6 miles but I know my computer reads long (so it's probably .5 a mile less). Just over 55 mins. All this in a lunch hour.

Monday Jun 27, 2005

Goodwood Festival of Speed

Just a quick non work related blog. On Saturday I went to Goodwood Festival of Speed. This is a fantastic event in which you get hundreds of cars doing the hill climb at Goodwood. I took the boys and they had (to quote the youngest, who is 4) "The bestest day I've ever had". So we got there just as some historic McLarens were going up the hill. To start with the youngest was scared of the noise till I put him on my shoulders and he could see them coming. We then walked around the F1 paddock (which is open to everyone) We were there as this years McLaren was being unloaded from its lorry and we following them to their paddock place. A McLaren Close UP We then saw the F1 cars do their thing up the hill. I have an xD card full of empty track but did manage to get a couple of shots of F1 cars. Nothing can prepare you for the noise. It's like having someone suddenly scream in your ear. A BAR on track We then looked around the stands with my cousin and headed up to the top of the hill to the top paddock. It was a really long walk, but the boys managed it. At the top they had a forest rally stage which was really cool A focus rallycross car ready to go We also got to see the F1 cars come in after their second run. We got the tractor ride back half way down then watched one of the last runs of the day from just above the flintwall. Fantastic view. Home then, which took a while as the roads out were not really designed for ~30000 people trying to leave at the same time, but well worth going. Tags:

Tuesday May 24, 2005

It's been a while. Thoughts on vast amounts of data

Now I'm back in the UK things are back to there usual hectic nature and I've neglected my embryo of a blog. So I'm going to make a conscious effort to try and blog before going home. So I was sent a very interesting paper today by Clay Shirky. It started me thinking about the nature of file systems. UFS now supports 16 TB of data in a single file system. OK there are limitations on the number of files, but that's still a heck of a lot of data that needs to be organised. The trouble is our file systems and email folders and many other things we do on our computers assume that the "thing" we're looking at can be easily categorised and infact many times they can't. The paper describes many examples, but the paper itself is as good as any. I wanted to provide a link to the paper in this blog entry, I remembered it have been emailed to me, but email folders tend to run rampant with things I think are going to be useful. I never remember where I've put something. I also remembered it had ontology in the title, and was sent to me by by Peter Harvey. These could be described as metadata for the paper. By searching for this meta data I found the link to the paper again. Where it was was irrelevant. The extension that Clay Shirky makes is that if you get a large number of people to add the meta data they think is important to a document (eg a URL) then you get, on average, a good classification of the document which can be used to find it. The beauty is that the quality of the cateforisation, and hence the ability to find the data increases with the number of people adding the meta data (refered to as a tag) From a technical point of view this could be done now using UFS extended attributes. What would be needed would be a simple tool to add the tags to the data and search the extended attributes for the documents. Sounds like an RFE for Nautilus. The only trouble is I guess one of scale. How would it work unless we have a large number of people adding their tags to the files. I need to give this more thought, but I the paper really got me thinking and I hope it does you too.

Saturday May 14, 2005

Weekend Stuff: Back home and some family time

Those that know me will know I've been in India for the last couple of weeks. We have a team of around 50 plus engineers there, so it is important that all the senior folks get to meet them and help set the tone for the coming year. I think we did that quite successfully, we have a very motivated team out there. While I enjoyed the trip and it was productive, I'm glad to be home. The flight home was long but pleasant. I flew via Dubai (Bangalore to Dubai, Dubai to Heathrow). The first leg was fine but a bit crowded (good breakfast mind). 3 hours in Dubai (fantastic duty free, must plan to do more shopping next time) and the 8 hours back from there. There was a moment when I looked at the sky map and saw the nearest town was Basra. It brought me up a bit short. So today was a quiet 18 mile bike ride, not too fast as I haven't done much for two weeks being away. I think I'll set up a Bikes or Rides section for that kind of thing. The my wife went for a 3 mile run. She's doing a 10K tomorrow, but it didn't go well today. Hopefully tomorrow will go better. This afternoon we went to Legoland with the kids. Good fun. Our youngest went to bed straight as soon as we got home, and our eldest bought a Harry Potter lego set, 1/2 price in the end of line stuff, and is working through the instructions. It's going to be strange being back in the office. I've been out for over 2 weeks.

Wednesday May 11, 2005

Finding a catchy name

Not being a peruser of of blogs until this recent foray, I've never really given them much thought, however it appears that to be successful, you either have to be a big name with something people want to here (eg, Jonathan Schwartz) Or have a cool name that peeks peoples interest (eg. The dot in ... --- ... , actually I know Chris the author of that one and I'd put him in the big name group as well) So given my random rambling's in my first post, I'm going to change the title of this blog to "Ghost Busting" Just to see if it gets any attention.

Tuesday May 10, 2005

Let me introduce myself

OK. I've been reluctant to start blogging. No real reason just I felt that it was less important than other things I was working on. However I have been persuaded that ultimately it's a good idea, so this is my first post. I'm Chris. I'm a Senior staff engineer in OPG, and I work mostly in the kernel though I do a fair bit in filesystems too. I work for the revenue product engineering group which sustains releases of Solaris that Sun's customer already run. It's the backstop of the support organisation. When no one else can help. Who you gonna call? Ghost Busters! Oh sorry wrong blog. Seriously though, we are often chasing downn what seem to be ghosts of problems. It's fun and challenging. you never know what you're going to be doing when you come in to work in the morning. I'm sure I'll add some more updates shortly.
About

Chris W Beal

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