On Blogs and Bloggers


I am gratified to learn that it isn't just me who is banging his head against the wall with the blogging infrastructure, Roller.

Phil Harman, who few would describe as a technical slouch, is also vexed. Ditto Richard McDougall. The concept of blogging is brilliant and the way it's been executed on in Sun is marvellous. The gripe is that Roller is a web application. Its a fine effort but it's simply not finished. A keen knowledge of HTML and CSS is required to make forward progress on any but the most minor formatting issues. To which I hear you reply "If you can't even master a trivial markup language and meta-language in order to create your glorified post-it notes, why on earth did they give you a job?" Quite right. Given that I've told my children they can only play computer games if they construct them with the editor and assembler I've supplied, this is hypocrisy of the worst sort.

Another observation is that when initialising a blogspace you get a number of links to other peoples' blogs "for free". These are, I'm told, the great and the good of the Roller project and so forth and I'm advised to retain them as a mark of respect. No. Nor will I link to Jonathan: Every one else does - he really doesn't need me. Instead I shall save my sycophancy for a select few (several of whom I've never physically met - the joys of iWork!). I will only entertain a few links to other bloggers and the criteria are

  • stringent.
  • completely subject to whim.
  • only discernible by reference to worked examples.

but broadly, they have to be people who have changed the way I think.

Dave Levy

  • Dave convinced me that if I did not blog, my career would never amount to a hill of beans. Amazingly, since I started, I have become as rich as Croesus and am besieged with offers to join fascinating projects. Due to his blogging, no-one ever confuses him with anyone in the Knesset anymore.
  • He makes me work very hard at being a better technologist. He fails because I fail to realise it involves being less "techie". But that's not the point; its good to work with people who stretch you intellectually and think you are worth bothering to argue with. Here is a picture of him taken in the basement of our building, looking on as his henchmen torture me until I confess the three meanings of the keyword static in C or something; I blacked out at that point. Smile not shown.
  • .

Richard McDougall

  • He's Australian and Australians make Brits seethe which is a good thing. These people not only make one of my favourite wines, they know how to have fun - because centuries ago the UK authorities deported anyone having more fun than they were and now the chickens have come home to roost and beat them at cricket. Their soap opera characters have clear skin and laugh off their improbable relationships: UK soap characters always look ill and spend all their time arguing and rueing their social ineptitude. [Soaps from both countries are content-free though: your time is better spent learning HTML and CSS, and only then, possibly, DTrace.]
  • He's a motivating force behind Filebench, more of which later.
  • He was kind enough to entertain (even encourage) the dozens and dozens of pages of fine grained critique of pre-release drafts of the book My wife characterised this "contribution" as "anal retentive carping criticism and hankering for a style of grammar and syntax dating back to Dickens". But as a result, I never had to read the book when it came out. Result!
  • A colleague described my banner graphic as "making me look like a gangster" but I was able to retort "If you think I look scary, take a peek at Richard..." I'm not saying this man is the Travis Bickell of the Operating Systems world but would you argue with him? Are you Luco Brazzi?
  • His car. What better evidence of certifiable insanity: Lots of Trouble; Usually Serious.

Jon Haslam

  • "There are no questions too stupid to ask; merely some too stupid to answer." This is my view. Fortunately it is not Jons' as he has to fend off a lot of these from me, most of which boil down to me being too lazy to re-read the segmap code on a daily basis (There, I've said it; now I'll never get into PAE).
  • Jon has triplets; small ones. I was blessed with children that arrived at evenly spaced intervals; the amount of sleep had in the Kay household far, far outstrips the Haslam quota. Somehow he not only manages to stay up later than me, but do creative stuff during that time as opposed to...eh...see Soap Operas (above). Whenever I feel like powering off the laptop and sloping off to my pit, I think of Jon.
  • I learned from Jon the importance of presentations as performance art. Dtrace is not in and of itself, a highly amusing subject. And yet....

Adrian Cockroft

  • Adrian and Jim, below, and Richard, above, used to write articles for a site called SunWebOnline, which I think has disappeared. At the time they were the only source of information on Solaris internals available to jobbing sysadmins like me. I liked them (and the whitepapers) so much I joined the company. Ironically, by the time I got there, Richard Pettit (co-author with Adrian of the SE Toolkit) had already left and Adrian subsequently departed, last seen for sale on eBay. His legacy is of course the Porshe Book and the Capacity Planning Blueprint
  • A shared interest in Performance and open source tools for measuring and modelling it.

Jim Mauro

  • For the reasons above: he wrote stuff that made my life before Sun more interesting. Had he not written it, I would not have used it and my employers at that time would not have been so wildly successful.
  • Co-author of the book.
  • He's the only person who has ever delivered a definition of "badabing" in an accent I could penetrate; i.e he wrote it down.

Phil Harman

  • His exactitude: (From an email thread, long discussion of direct I/O elided...)If an application were to decide NOT to turn on O_SYNC or O_DSYNC because it had asked of Direct I/O, it may assume that it is getting synchronous writes when it isn't if someone else turns off Direct I/O. That's all. It's very unlikely. But the question was about safety. I dreamt up the only scenario I could think of where safety was an issue. I can't imagine that Oracle would make this assumption, but I'm not the man with a business running on a 72 core system (I assume it's something bigger than an icecream parlour). And no, the customer involved was not Ben and Jerry.
  • Walking past my desk one day, he looked at what I was reading and then made me entirely rethink my methodology in only two words: "Hmm, Gunther. Quaint" with no further explanation. At all. The turmoil that resulted has filled a whole bookshelf at home. Bizzare - but in a good way.

    So thats it. No-one else. Not never. And I won't even link to these until the libel proceedings have subsided.


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