Tuesday Jan 09, 2007

Bud and Bud make nice...

For you beer lovers out there, I am sure you are aware of the long running battle between Budějovický and Anheuser-Bush about the ownership of the Budweiser name. Well there is good news. It would seem that the two companies decided to hold a "kegger" and got intoxicated enough to make nice with each other. It was announced today that Anheuser-Bush will begin distributing Budvar from Budějovický.

They still have not solved the naming claim relative to Budweiser, but at least the rest of the world will find it easier to finally drink a decent "Budweiser".

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Monday Jan 08, 2007

A hard days hard drive...

I have to relay an experience I had recently. First there is really no value in telling this story except as therapy for me. The set up. I have a NAS based RAID system at home on which I store all of my digital video, music, pictures and such. This system is the central data hub for all digital content that is important for my family and I. One of the drives went bad last week and thus the file systems were no longer available. Not really that big of a deal, right? Well you would think it would be easy, I can pop down to the local computer store and purchase a new hard drive, replace the bad one and begin the RAID recovery. Well that is how I thought it would go. Here are the events that actually took place.

First I had to find a local computer store. It turns out that this is not an easy thing to do in Prague. Yes there are computer stores but apparently they only sell computers and not components, like a hard drive. After a bit of searching I was pointed at a web site that sold all kinds of computer stuff. Even better, the site is in Czech, English and German. Good so far. On a Saturday I placed an order for a 250Gb drive. They had exactly what I needed and it was in stock! I had my choices of delivery options and went with the 24 hour delivery option (vs the pick it up yourself). Being Saturday, I figured that the drive would show up on Monday. Wrong. It finally showed up on Wednesday. Better, the delivery guy called me to ask how to get to my location. I had to pass the phone over to Inka, my admin and favorite interpreter. It turns out the the delivery guy did not have a map. What would a delivery guy have a map?

I will cut it short at this point to say that after three days of messing around I could not get the drive to work. In the end, I figured out that the drive must be defective. The following week I decided to take Inka on a field trip to the Prague location of the computer parts "store". First there is not really one location for this place, rather picture a number of locations each potentially on opposite sides of a street separated by about 300 meters. I will call one side of the street "side A" and the other "side B". So we start off on side A and ask at the info desk where we should go to return the hard drive. Well off to side B to the service desk. Once on side B, down an alley and up a flight of stairs we find the service desk where we find a crowd of people and I swear a few small families camped out. Yes we had to wait in line, and some had been in line for ages. I didn't have time for this so I told Inka, "let's just go buy a new drive and I can return the bad one later". Surely this would not take this long, right? Wrong.

We then had to go back to side A. Waited in line to use a computer to go on the web and place an order for a new drive. Apparently the staff is just too shy to be able to talk to any customers. That took a bunch of time. Then we got an order number. Perfect, now all we had to do is wait in line at the pickup counter and we would have the drive in no time. Wrong.

Now we had to take the order number and go back to Side B to pay for the drive. So back across the street. Wait in another line to pay. We pay and then get another number that we can use to pick up the drive. But guess where pick up is? Yup, back across to side A. So across the street one more time to wait in line again to get the drive.

After over an hour of all of this I finally had the drive.

The net of this, is my lack of understanding as to why a city the size of Prague does not have a computer store. You know a store; where you can walk in, look around, pick something out and then go pay for it? Why? I just don't understand... Maybe my years in the US have just made me soft...

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Sunday Jun 04, 2006

Praha, Prague, Prag...

Wow. Two months gone quickly. Sorry for not updating the blog more frequently. I have been a bit busy over the past couple of months. The first big news is that I have moved to Prague in the Czech Republic. Yes, we packed up the whole family and moved from Colorado to Prague.

Why did I move? There are a number of reasons, outside of great beer and hockey. Sun is continuously working to leverage the diversity of its workforce and benefit from the vast array of cultures and ideas which are cultivated globally. To that end, we have recognized that our international technical leadership is not at the levels that we would like to see. Most of our Distinguished Engineers and Fellows are located within the United States. We would like to see a stronger representation of these technical leadership positions outside of the US.

So how are we going to fix this? Export an american, of course. No, that is not it. I view my move principally focused on two things. One, help communicate the technical leadership values, strategies and process with folks outside the US. Two, to listen. One is about building bridges of communication and creating visibility. Two is all about, you guessed it, listening. Just listening. About new ideas, new ways of working together globally, innovations, cultural perspectives, or just about anything in order to continue to better our innovative culture and R&D prowess.

I hope to provide technical leadership and serve as a liaison by collaborating with the local community and amplifying their innovation, best practices, and technical excellence. The expectation is that these efforts will expand the site charter as well as increase its visibility, both internally and externally.

I will also be working with Crawford Beveridge, EVP - Global Government Strategy, in expanding relationships and increasing Sun's visibility on issues such as software patents, open source, and open document formats. All of this on top of my day job as chief geek of Sun Services.

So back to my excuse for lack of blogging. Lots went on in the past couple of months. The big thing was the move. Lots of packing and unpacking. Then there was getting the infrastructure basics; banking, telephone, visa/work permit, etc. On top of all of that was getting connected to the Internet. Scott McNealy has said a lot lately, "just try to live a week or two without being connected". His point has to do with the opportunity that is afforded to us as members of the Internet community and those that lack this basic right/capability. I have to say, even going a month without internet access (just at home) has made me appreciate the value of something that is so easy to take for granted.

Along with the move I had our SMI R&D review, a few staff meetings, Sun's leadership conference and a couple of meeting in EMEA (UK, Brussels and Grenoble).

So now you know where I have been and where I now am.

Thursday Mar 16, 2006

Czech This Out...

The new office
Sun officially opened our new engineering center and offices in Prague. This is a new building (The Park) for Sun located in Prague 4 near the Chodov metro stop. We are here along with many other multinationals (GE, Sony, Accenture, BP, IBM, DHL, etc).

On Tuesday we had an all hands meeting in the new building. The room was packed. Pavel Suk (Site Director for the Prague Engineering Center) opened the meeting by reviewing the timeline, cramped offices and ever disappearing lab space that the Prague center has had to endure of the past year. Note Pavel's garb. It had something to do with his last visit to India... In any case, it got a few laughs. Also note the slide on the screen behind him. If anyone thought it is all work and no play in Prague, you are wrong (See the party photo for the event that followed that evening).

Jeff Jackson (VP - Java Enterprise Platforms & Developer Products), Linda Park (VP - Global Engineering Organization) and myself all had a chance to address the crowd. It was exciting to see so many people passionate about our engineering and the progress that has been made. Thanks to all for attending the meeting!

On Thursday we held a press conference about Sun's investment in Prague and the success we have had thus far. Some Sun notables who attended at the press conference included Crawford Beveridge (EVP & Chairman Sun Europe) who joined us from Brussels and Zdenek Pilz (Country Manager for the Czech Republic). We also had some very esteemed guests: Jiří Havel (Deputy Prime Minister for the Czech Republic), Dana Bérová (Minister of Informatics for the Czech Republic) and Mr. Tomas Hruda (CEO of CzechInvest). Meeting Mr. Havel and Ms. Bérová was great! (I hope it will make a difference the next time I get a speeding ticket in the Czech Republic ;-)

Overall the event went well. Over 30 local Czech press organizations joined the conference. Although most of the conference was in Czech I was able to pick out a joke that Pavel made about the Czech Republic and CNN. Let's just say it has something to do with the brains over at CNN thinking that the Czech Republic was a neighbor of Iraq.

After the press conference Mr. Havel made a few remarks for the official "ribbon cutting" ceremony. By ribbon cutting I mean smoke and lasers! Take a look at the picture...

After the conference we had a chance to mingle a bit with the press and talk about the developments in the Czech republic as well as the rest of Eastern Europe. A very bright future indeed!

Pavel Suk with his special outfit
Yours Truly
Linda presenting at the all hands
The Party!
The Press Conference
The Dedication


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