Wednesday Apr 16, 2008

Michigan -> Amsterdam -> Edinburgh -> Cluster Hacking -> return(home);

Last week I was on some travel for work that took my from my home around the world to Edinburgh, UK to work on a large cluster of Sun v20z nodes. This is an internal cluster that will further enhance what we can test and try out with our products. More on the cluster to come... now for the adventure.

My manager called and asked if I wanted to fly over to Scotland to setup Nessie... that is right, we have a corny nickname for the cluster that matches the region of the world in which it is located. Of course I said that I would travel the world to setup a massive cluster so that we could make Sun HPC ClusterTools a more rock solid product. I have a passion for playing with the hardware as well as the software and have not been able to do that for some time. After the right folks all signed off I was given the green light to pack the bags and book the travel. So off I went.

I left the United States late one evening and landed in Amsterdam, Netherlands the next day on my birthday. On the flight over I watched, The Simpsons Movie, and American Gangster. I had a 11 hour layover so I headed into the city to walk around a bit. My plan was to first find a nice little cafe to have a coffee at, notice I said cafe instead of coffeehouse there is a difference. I chatted a bit with the barista and got some good directions on where to head to just browse around the city. I was pointed down a small side street to reach the canals and which ones might be better to see. While walking around with the day pack, the earbuds in and a camera out... I am sure I stood out like a tourist. Now after some wondering around a bit along with the lack of sleep I think I was basically lost, well that would mean that I knew where I was to begin with. I was just about to ask for directions when I saw the train station. I stopped by a small pub close the train station for a birthday drink. After that I headed back to the airport for a nap. Late that day I arrived in Edinburgh and off to the hotel for a couple hours of sleep before I headed off to the Sun facility to get cranking on the cluster setup.

After arriving a little late for my first day of cluster hacking (man I needed even more sleep) I was hooked up with some of the local folks on sight, given the quick ESD overview and pointed to the lab. The cluster will consist of 1024 v20z nodes, each with two AMD procs. The nodes are broken down 32 to a rack and there will thus be 32 racks. By the time I left we had the SPs up on 576 and Solaris installed or ready to be installed on 480 of them... ran out of hardware to get the three other racks up with Solaris. The other 14 racks are waiting for a power issue in the lab to be resolved and then they can come up online. I don't take all the credit, the local folks all ready had the racks in place and power to them and I was joined by a colleague from the London area.

While spending the week in Edinburgh I did venture out for dinner each night and a little sight seeing. Note, that almost all of the shops close at 18:00, plan accordingly. I had some great food while out in the city including some local favorites... fish and chips, bangers and mash. I did not partake of traditional Scottish breakfast... I stuck to my americano and muffin from one of the cafes right by the hotel. The Edinburgh castle was amazing and all of the sites along the royal mile. A full collection of photos from the trip can be found over here.

The travel home was a little eventful, I was delayed leaving Edinburgh do to a security issue with baggage on the flight I was on. By the time it was resolved all the bags were removed from the plane, laid out on the tarmac, each person had to claim their bags, re-board the plane, the extra bag was identified, removed and the flight finally took off... two hours late and two connections in Amsterdam down the drain. I stand behind the pilots decision to ensure that the correct bags were accounted for and unknown bags were not onboard in this day and age of travel. All delays aside, KLM is my new favorite airline. Their level of customer service is second to none. I have not flown Southwest or Jet Blue but the KLM folks know how to do it right for their passengers in flight, the counter crew could be a little more friendly. On the flights home I watched The Bourne Ultimatum and The Kite Runner. I finally made it home 17 hours later than I was set to and a couple hours late for my little girls birthday party. No worries, I was here for the presents and the cake but missed the pinata.

All and all a great trip and a wonderful experience... I would head back anytime to work on the cluster and to help bring the over half up when the power issue is worked out.

Tuesday Feb 26, 2008

ink anyone?

I give this guy props for showing off commitment to the craft.

I sent my wife the link... and got the following back, "don't even think about it". If you have some ink that shows off your dedication to the career you are in post the links in the comments.

For what it's worth.

Wednesday Jan 02, 2008

My Little Barista

Based on a conversation the other day with my little girl I am now in search of a toy espresso machine. She was playing in her new kitchen and I was being served a slice of cake. I asked if I could have a cup of coffee, she informed me that she did not have an espresso machine so I was getting tea. Fair enough... that means that daddy needs to get her a espresso machine for practicing. She all ready crawls up on the counter when I am making drinks at home. She know the process: grind, dose, tamp, polish, lock it in, pull the shots, knock it out. That is my little barista.

For what it's worth.

Friday Oct 26, 2007

mini portafilter

portafilter keyring Today brings me one step closer in my coffee geek life, I have ordered a keyring that is a mini portafilter. Just working daily at increasing my geekness in all areas of my life, today is in coffee.

For what it's worth.

Thursday Oct 11, 2007


Well more in the coffee category for the week. This week my drink of choice is a personal take on big brand canned coffee drink. Since I really don't want issues with copyright, trademark, laywers ... I will call it the #2. Simple put, sweetened cream and espresso bliss.

Drink Up.

For what it's worth.

Wednesday Sep 26, 2007

domain recovery - third place cafe

I just helped a friend recover a domain that he has been trying to get back for a few years now. The previous domain holder let it lapse and we picked it up from a domain auction house... a little overpriced but worth getting it back.

I have my bids out for a couple other domains that some non-profit organizations I help are trying to get a hold of... I know everyones in it for a buck but come on...

For what it's worth.

Friday Sep 14, 2007

Art in different forms

So the current world barista champion posed a litte challenge. That is to pour some absurd latte art. I have to say that so far I think the boys from intelligentsia LA are winning. Check out these fliks.

For what it's worth.

Monday Aug 13, 2007

Drink Up

Ah, I was going to title this drink of the week but that places to much pressure on me to keep up... so for now there will be an occasional drink update on what I am currently enjoying as my "regular". As of now I am enjoying sipping on an iced americano made with some great beans.

Drink Up.

For what it's worth

Thursday Aug 09, 2007

Heather's USBC Blend

Shortly before the winner was announced at the World Barista Championship I had placed and order for a pound of Heather's blend that she used to win the USBC. If I was smart I should have waited a bit and ordered the blend she used at the WBC. But now to the point, it arrived today and as any good coffee geek I quickly ripped open the FedEx package and made sure the espresso machine was on and warmed up. Upon opening the bag I was met with a very pleasant aroma that just made the taste buds start watering. I measured out enough for a double espresso and tossed it in the grinder, pre-warmed my espresso cup, dosed, tamped and pulled a great double. The creama was amazing and the bouquet was great as I waited for the shot to pull. The shot has a nice citrus note and a very elegant berry note. Oh this is going to be a good pound of beans... I will have to try it in a cappuccino to see how it works with milk, which I am sure will be great as well.

For what it's worth.

Thursday Aug 02, 2007

James Hoffmann - 2007 World Barista Champion

A huge congratulations to James Hoffmann being awarded the 2007 World Barista Champion!  And another round off applause to ZacharyZachary for the awesome coverage of the WBC.

For what it's worth.

Monday Jul 30, 2007

Go Heather

Go Heather.  We are cheering for you at the WBC.

Heather's round one performance is posted below, all coverage was by ZacharyZachary.

For what it's worth

Thursday Oct 19, 2006

Smart Coffee

After a few times of listening to the Coffee Geek podcast I just had to try out some of the IntelligentsiA Black Cat Espresso Blend. So from that I ordered some up and introduced my wife to some awesome shots of espresso... far better than I have pulled in the past. This morning she is reversing the rolls on me, she is on travel and is going to go to one of their shops... I hope that she gets a great cup.

For what it's worth.

Thursday Oct 12, 2006

Aurelia Come To Me

Finally figured out the machine that we are going to be putting in the coffee house at the church I am a member of. We are going with a Aurelia. So when you are in the area, stop in and I will get you a cup and I might even make it for you. We have also finalized on the name and will be revealing it when the new portion of the facility opens... stay tuned.

For what it's worth.

Thursday Sep 28, 2006

Extra Shot Please

Whenever I am listening to the radio and a story that talks about coffee comes one I perk up and listen in closer. Today I was ablte to hear the story Coffee: A Little Really Does Go a Long Way on Your Health. For the full details take a few minutes and listen in. One of the points that they draw out is that a shot of espresso contains less caffeine than the standard cup of drip coffee. So for those that are getting the espresso based drinks, whatever your favorite is, you are getting a moderate dose of the good stuff without over doing it. The problem is for folks like me that order up their favorite espresso based drink with an extra shot of espresso... so for me that would generally be a 16 oz. latte with three shots of espresso... okay that might be pushing it but you decided for yourself.

For what it's worth.

Monday Sep 25, 2006

Espresso Sadness

While washing up my espresso cups... one slipped and now I am one less cup. The picture says it all.

For what it's worth.




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