Sunday Feb 17, 2008

SF33 Live 3

    I forgot to mention who we are. There are four of us, including myself, my father, my friend Bill Page, and my friend Ken Porter. I've known Bill for 25+ years, and this is the first time I've gotten him to go. He has enjoyed the marathon, but reached his limit after WotW. Ken is still hanging on, but since he has to work today, he will likely leave after this one.

    Yup, Ken bailed to get some sleep before work. Which means he missed 'Black Sheep'. If you don't consider gratuitous gore ala Dawn of the Dead mixed with sheep jokes and fart jokes thrown in for good measure qualities of a family movie, then I would agree with you and point out that these are all essential elements of 'Black Sheep'. Needless to say it was a hit with this crowd. :-)

    Up next is 1984, which, surprisingly, I haven't seen. Then I can catch some Zs if I like during 'Journey to the 7th planet', which I have seen and which I therefore don't consider important. I'll still probably watch it though.

    Without going into all the details, our last movie, 'A Boy and His Dog' Restored is locked in a UPS warehouse. Garen is hoping to get it out in time, due to a wrong zip code having put it there in the first place. I haven't seen it since I was a teen, so it should be interesting. Later. \^_\^

SF33 Live 2

    'In the Shadow of the Moon' documentary still on as we arrive back from a dinner break. We left the marathon after 'The Last Mimzy', since the timing was good and we were OK with missing the Apollo documentary. We had a delicious meal at Diva's Indian Bistro here in Davis Square, Somerville, MA.

    When you are seeing some of these films in a theatre with a group of like minded people, you need to be prepared to miss some lines, as the crowd picks up on laughs et al that more mixed crowds don't. Although this documentary on the Apollo program has the theatre pretty quiet. I am absolutely a child of the moon missions, have a couple official space pens, like Tang and wish I could still get Space Food Sticks. Applause now for Neil Armstrong saying 'That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind'.

    One film we saw, 'King Dinosaur', was a hoot with this crowd. It was an old 50s era film that was so bad by today's standards, that it had a comic affect with this crowd. It wouldn't have been nearly as enjoyable elsewhere. Hopefully I'll have more later, but don't stay up. :-)

SF33 Live

Originally uploaded by Dr. Agonfly.

Yes, it's true. The 33rd annual Boston Science Fiction Marathon is well under way. Surprise 1st film - Cloverfield. They should've handed out barf bag (motion sickness inducing camera work).

Sunday Jan 27, 2008

Sun Blade 6000 firmware update

    The Sun Blade 6000 Modular Computing products have been out for several months now, and have been getting good press, like this Infoworld article. While they liked the Sun Blade 6000, one thing that was noted in this article is the lack of the browser-based user interface (BUI) to the ILOM, which the Sun Blade 8000 has. It was noted that the BUI feature was coming, and good news, it has arrived. Here is a link to the recently released Sun Blade 6000 chassis 1.1a firmware, which adds this functionality. So now you can use your choice of CLI (Command Line Interface) or BUI for managing and monitoring your Sun Blade 6000 chassis and blades, just like on the Sun Blade 8000.

    While you're updating firmware, make sure you check out what's available for the compute modules you have, at the Sun Blade 60000 & 8000 Modular Systems - Downloads page. There are downloads of firmware and supplemental software for the various compute modules available for the Sun Blade 6000, including a short description of what's new in each update. Not only will you find updates to BIOS, ILOM, ELOM, Diagnostic CDs, etc, but there is also the Sun Fire x64 Servers Management Pack 3.0 for Microsoft Operations Manager 2005, making it easier to manage your x64 systems from Sun using the Microsoft Operations Manager 2005. More on managing Sun's x64 systems in a future post, so stay tuned.

Saturday Jan 26, 2008

Goodbye manuals, welcome back memories

    I've been a pack rat since I was old enough to think something was mine. I also have what I call an overactive Boy Scout gland, i.e. I'm always trying to be prepared for even the most unlikely circumstances. One aspect of this tendency is my feeling like there is never enough time, so I want to be ready to do something productive if I suddenly find myself with a few extra moments. Most of my friends find it handy to have me around, because I usually have the item they need at hand. For me though, it can be frustrating to try to carry so much stuff, or other wise keep it at hand.

    Having been in the computer industry for 25+ years, and in my poorer days having lusted for more computer stuff, I've keep a lot of manuals, etc, in case I or someone else needed them. Even within the last few years, as I decided I didn't really need them, I felt someone out there might need them or want them. I still haven't found any reasonably easy way to find someone who wants them, and as most of them are for software, etc that is over 10 years old, it is unlikely that anyone wants them anyway. So, my collection of old BeyondMail, WinRules, Banyan Vines, Banyan Intelligent Messaging, Novel MHS, FTP Software TCP/IP, Lotus Notes, Microsoft Windows 3.1, MS DOS, old 68k Mac manuals, etc is finally going away. I'm recycling them in the paper recycling pickup here at home.

    It has taken a while to let go, and now I am comfortable saying goodbye to most of the old manuals. I may keep a memento or two, at least for a little while longer, but I'm feeling pretty good about shedding these pounds. If someone somewhere wanted them, keep hope, there may be another like me who still has old manuals. Actually, I'm quite impressed by how easy it has been lately to let go of stuff I've held onto for decades. It feels good, and I'm sure I won't miss them. I am taking a few pictures to remember my past neurosis'.

    In the process of cleaning up, which getting rid of the manuals has been part of, I have been reminded of some fond memories. Sun Microsystems has seen it's share of changes over the years, and I have made many friends at Sun over my 10 years. I started during the hey day of the dot com boom, and was part of a pretty close group of pre-sales engineers. We 'lived' in a section of cubicles we called Gomerville, and had many fun times. We also went through a cleaning, when the Boston area sales office moved from New England Executive Park to the then new Sun Campus.

    As part of that move, we took the opportunity to shed some pounds, including many old manuals. Some of them, like some of the ones I have been shedding now, had wire binders, which with a small amount of effort, you could pull out of the manual. This left you with a long wavy wire, and a lot of loose pages you could then put in the paper recycling. What to do with the wire was another question. I've been throwing mine away, but one of the creative lads at Sun during our move actually created a wire man. This objet d'art hung around his cube for several weeks until the final move, and was quite interesting. I might have considered doing something similarly artistic with my current wire, but I don't even want extra art hanging around. Besides, maybe when I'm ready for some wire art, I can find someone out there with manuals they want to get rid of. \^_\^

Friday Jan 25, 2008

Boston Science Fiction Marathon

    Boston is famous for many things, including tea parties, the USS Constitution, the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots. It's also famous for the Boston Marathon, a 26.2 mile jaunt through the burbs which I ran as a bandit in 1992. Don't ask me why, as I don't do things I like for 4.5 hours non-stop, so I still haven't figured out why I ran for that long, particularly after training by running around the freezing Charles River all winter. Perhaps working in Cambridge and living in Pawtucket, RI does strange things to you, or the commute gives your mind way too much time.

    I have much fonder memories of my participation in Boston's other marathon, the Boston Science Fiction Marathon, which is a 24-hour escape from reality in a movie theatre in Somerville, MA. Yup, 24-hours, from Noon Sunday to Noon Monday of President's day weekend, of science fiction movies both old and new. Interspersed between movies is some live entertainment, breaks for caffeine refills and bathroom trips, and socializing, such as it is, with other sci-fi fans. The list of movies for this year is starting to flesh out, and I'm getting psyched.

    I was first introduced to the BSFM by my brother-in-law many years ago. He had been going for several years, with many friends. He kept it up while he was local, and even came back to Boston from the midwest a time or two. I joined him for 3-4 years, but now that he has a son, and lives on the West coast, it's a tad difficult for him to attend. I also gave up the marathon once my oldest was born, or shortly there after, and am looking forward to it again. I got my best friend to finally commit to going with me, although I won't be too surprised if he bags it in the end. I'm hoping to entice other friends to join me, as I know quite a few folks who like sci-fi.

    I'll admit that it has been a while, well at least since my last BSFM, that I have pulled an all nighter and I'm not as young as I used to be. Funny how that works. The BSFM was at the Coolidge Corner theatre when I used to go, and it has since gone back to it's earlier location in Somerville, so I won't even be familiar with the neighborhood. Knowing Somerville, I'm sure there will be handy amenities nearby, although knowing the crowd any local WiFi will likely get swamped. Hmmm, maybe I could do live blogging from th BSFM. Let me know what you think about that idea. :-)

    If you live in the Boston area, or will be for the President's Day weekend, I highly recommend this event. This is the 33rd running of the event, and Garen Daly does a great job, so check out the website, order your tickets, and I'll see you there.

Thursday Jan 17, 2008

VMware User Group meeting

Originally uploaded by Dr. Agonfly.

This is where I spent my day. Got the pic before practice when security moved in to protect practice from roving eyes.

Saturday Jan 12, 2008

A new laptop for 2008

    I was pleasantly surprised by what I'm calling a Christmas present from work, when I came back from winter break. Sun always has the week between Christmas and New Years as paid time off called Winter Break, and since it doesn't come out of my vacation time, I find it rather handy. And this year, 3 days into the new year, I got a call from the mailroom saying I had a laptop come in. Cool. I was expecting one, as my Toshiba Tecra M2 was getting a bit long in the tooth, was older than the 3 year depreciation schedule, and was having a few problems. Mid December, my new boss let me know that our group had determined how they were going to handle laptop updates, and that I could choose between a Tecra M9 or a MacBook Pro.

    Easy decision for me, since I had been lusting after a MacBook Pro for most of the year, as there had been a rumor in the spring about a large lease plan of MacBooks for the group I was in then, and when that didn't pan out, there was talk of a buy-what-you-want-and-we'll-reimburse-you-some-of-the-cost program in the works, which kept me dreaming of going out and buying a MacBook. The BWYWAWRYSOTC plan did come to fruition before I changed roles, but I felt it put too much risk on the employee for my taste, even with the lure of choice in hardware and ownership of it. Having let my boss know I wanted the MacBook Pro, I tried to let it slip from my mind, as I expected it to take a while to actually get processed and materialize.

    When it arrived last week, I was a bit surprised by the timing, and chomping at the bit to play with my new toy. I've seen them in other people's hands, and checked them out at the Apple store in NYC, even got teased by one over Christmas that my father-in-law bought and asked me to help get the speech recognition working better. My recommendation for him, after sounding silly repeatedly asking the computer what time it was, is to get an external mic, as the internal one is on the left under the speaker grill, and in his setup, using a beautiful, big Apple Cinema screen, the internal mic is just in probably the worst position.

    After the obligatory 1st time configuration sequence, I was up and running quickly, and really didn't need much to be productive. Of course, I started to tailor it to my preferences, downloading apps, etc., but that's mostly because I'm a stubborn old yankee who doesn't change his ways easily. :-) I'm sure this will be the first of several blogs on my new MacBook, so I'll try to keep this from being too long a post. Some things that are different are well done and make you think they should be more broadly adopted, but do still take getting used to. For instance, I'm used to scroll bars in Windows and Linux having little arrows for adjusting the scroll bar, and the up arrow is at the top end of the scroll bar frame and the down arrow is at the bottom. Under Mac OS X, both button are at the button, making it much more efficient to adjust, as you don't have to keep moving from end to end. Of course I still start to go to the top to adjust a scroll bar up before I remember it is right next to the down button I was just using. Old dogs, eh.

    I'm still exploring, so I'm sure there is functionality I haven't fully discovered yet. I'm really liking the widget capability. This allows you to pop up over the screen an overlay of handy little apps for doing a wide variety of things, like a calculator, clock, weather, network status, reading book, sticky notes, periodic table, dictionary, games, etc. It pops up quickly, for handy access, and I've always liked this kind of functionality in every gadget I use. Ask me how many hacks and DAs I have on my Palm T3 sometime. :-)

    There is plenty of commentary on how easy it is to use OS X, and how things just work, but until you actually use it you don't fully realize how nice and relaxing that is. I'm a geek, and I'm used to having to push and prod things to work, and more pushing and prodding to get them to work well. My experience so far with OS X has been a breath of fresh air, with out the extra effort to get everything to 'just get along'. I had been unsure about the Dashboard, from my limited encounters with OS X previously, and while I'm not convinced yet that it is the greatest thing since sliced bread, it works well, is easy to understand, and doesn't get in the way.

    I've got all my connectivity set up, with IM, Twitter, IRC keeping me in touch with folks. It was pretty durned easy to get my RAZR V3xx working via bluetooth. It synced with the address book with no trouble at all, and once I dug up the dial up details, getting a bluetooth connection for Internet connectivity was sweet. I don't even have to take my RAZR out of it's belt case to connect to the net and surf. I can even browse the files on my RAZR via Bluetooth, pulling down pics or adding MP3s. I've got Bluetooth working with my Palm T3 as well, sending files over to the T3 easily, although I don't have sending files from the T3 to the MacBook working yet, but what I have working was easier and more than I had working with Windows. I've discovered that holding down the ctrl key when using the single mouse button on the MacBook gives me right-click functionality. And I accidently discovered that ctrl-applekey-powerbutton forces the MacBook to reboot. Oooops. Turns out there is an odd looking character used in the menu hot key sequences, and I wasn't sure what key it represented, so rather than RTFM, I went exploring. Serves me right.

    OK, this is getting long, so I'll wrap by saying I love my MacBook Pro. It is a beautiful machine, incredibly engineered, and extremely easy to use right from the start. I didn't really have any concerns with my old Tecra M2, but after using this MacBook for a few days, when I went back to the M2 to offload files, it suddenly seemed antiquated, like it was from a long ago SteamPunk era. It'll still make a workable backup and OK demo machine for those times when more than 1 machine is required. Next for my MacBook Pro is comparing Parallels and VMware Fusion for Windows and Solaris on my MacBook. But that will be another post.

Thursday Jan 10, 2008

JavaOne 2008 - cool gadgets possible?

    Well, it's that time of year again. Winter is in full force, plenty of time to code, and thoughts turn to .... JavaOne. OK, for some folks. I've never actually been, but being an employee of Sun, I pay attention to the notices. I also like to do my best to stay on top of what I think are important technologies, and even some technologies that other's think are important, even if I don't. I think Java is important, but it hasn't been a significant part of my job to get me a ticket to JavaOne.

    A close friend and fellow co-worker goes pretty regularly, and I have been jealous of him at times. Why, since it's not directly related to my job and I prefer to minimize travel, at least without my family? Because they usually have cool give-aways, and sometimes really cool ones. For example, several years back they had a super special price for a Sharp Zaurus Linux PDA. OK sure, now I've bought 1 or 2 on eBay for far less, but it was new and interesting then. If I recall correctly some years before that they gave away Palm Pilots. I have no idea what may be in store for this year, but I've got to remember to tell my friend to pick one up for me if he can. :-) For those who are interested, here are the details :

\*Registration Is Now Open for the 2008 JavaOne(SM) Conference!\*

Join us for the 13th annual JavaOne(SM) conference May 6 – 9, 2008, at The Moscone Center in San Francisco. You won’t want to miss this year’s expanded program. Register today and save $200. Use priority code J8ROIC

Visit for more information.

Cats on duty

    Some of my cats on active duty, trying to convince a mouse to come out from under the cabinet. Needless to say, they were not effective in their persuasion.

Sunday Dec 30, 2007

One Merry Christmas

    It's that time of year when so many people ask me what I want for Christmas. This isn't usually an easy question to answer for me. If I want something that's in a reasonable price range for a holiday gift, I tend to buy it myself, although I try to remember not to as the holidays approach. And if I haven't bought it for myself, that usually means it is too expensive to suggest for others to get me.

    This year it was easier. I've been downsizing as part of an effort to simplify my life and make moving into a smaller home next fall easier. The work is hard, but I'm looking forward to the pay off. One inspiration for this effort has been a change in my approach to life. I've finally gotten tired of all the things I've collected over the years, and the associated mess, as I'm not organized enough for this level of stuff. So this year when I'm asked what I want for Christmas, I truthfully say 'nothing'.

    Not everyone asks me, so I did get a few small things as part of the Christmas celebration at my father-in-law's on the 25th. But I think one of the best thing I got was a spontaneous walk through the snow filled woods with my oldest son. My boys and I put on all our snow clothes and stepped outside to play in the snow. It was a teasing snow, as it was sticky enough to hold a snow ball shape, but not enough to really hold up to snow man making or even much throwing. We had fun anyway, and after a while of the boys playing by themselves, I started to wander down a path to the woods. My boys tagged along and took over the lead.

    There are snowmobile trails through these woods, and as we approached one, my sister-in-law and her husband were returning from a walk. My youngest decided he was ready to go inside, so he went with my sister-in-law back to the house. My oldest led the way on down the snowmobile trail, and I followed. We found the yellow snow writing mentioned by my sister-in-law, which was quite well done. We observed many animal signs, including deer tracks, rabbit tracks, mice tunnels, and we spooked a pheasant on the way back. We also saw some footprints that looked like they belonged to a large bird. I was suspicious at first, as they were quite large and single file, but they were extensive enough to prove to me they were not man made. My current theory is they were turkey tracks.

    I eventually had to suggest we head back, as it was getting dark, and our total walk took just over an hour. It was relaxing, enjoyable, and our interactions were more as friends than as guardian and charge. We got exercise, discussed what we saw, and neither one of us whined. :-) As a former boss of mine would say when giving positive feedback, 'More of that'.

Thursday Dec 13, 2007

Slow traffic

Multimedia message
Originally uploaded by Dr. Agonfly.

Barely moving in stop & go snow traffic, and this sign has a helpful tip. It starts with 'Ice and Snow'. :-)

Snow pic for Thinguy

Originally uploaded by Dr. Agonfly.

Snow traffic pic for Thinguy.

Monday Dec 10, 2007

Hacking my T3

    I mentioned in a previous post that I had ordered a new higher capacity battery for My Palm T3 off eBay, but found I didn't immediately need it. Well, this weekend I finally succumbed to the thinking that I might as well benefit from the longer battery life now, rather than wait until my current original battery shows significant signs of decay. I had been gathering the battery and it's directions, which had wandered to different parts of the house, during the week, and took time to get started. Naturally, a full backup was in order. One of the reasons I had hesitated in the past is that for some reason, after a hard reset and restore, Diddlebug looses sync with the sound database, so anytime an alarm goes of, it crashes the T3. To resolve this, you have to go through the process of reselecting each alarm sound you have specified, and since I use Diddlebug for a variety of repeating alarms, mostly for chores, it takes a little extra effort. But the urge for a better T3 overcame that obstacle.

    The printed directions that came with the battery were really for Tungsten T, so once I was under way, I got a bit nervous and Googled T3 specific steps, finding a very nice writeup with pictures. A few deep breaths, and some careful prying later, I was in. Tada, here it is, in it's dissasembled glory:

    More careful prying, so I could re-use the double sided tape that holds the battery in place, and I had the new battery in place. Re-assembly was pretty straight forward, and the new battery had plenty of charge for me to verify everything was working OK. Start a restore, drop it in the charger cradle, and I'm back to where I was before I started, except with more power. Then, before Didlebug starts alarming me with crashes, I took the time to reset the sound pointers. 2 days later, and I'm pleased with the results. Next up in T3 work - rebuild from hard reset to figure out why Bluetooth to my RAZR has problems. Prior to the theft of my backup T3, I'm pretty sure I tested BT to RAZR with out any of my stuff on it, and it worked fine. So, something somewhere is amiss. While I have managed to do a lot more on my RAZR than I expected, I still miss some of the things my T3 could do accessing the Internet. :-(

Friday Dec 07, 2007


    It's been one of those weeks. I've been trying to get ready for the move of several labs I kinda oversee, and the move finally happened last Friday. But the Wednesday before, I get a call from someone in the company looking for some lab space and equipment to work with. Bad timing, but I try to do the SMI thing and accommodate them. Means I spent more time this week shuffling out heavy equipment I thought I was getting rid of, and trying to fit it into the new smaller spaces.

    Then there was the home front. As I've mentioned before, selling our house is something we are planning to do within the next year. So we decided to get the jump and get a Title 5 certification, which is a Massachusetts requirement for making sure your septic is AOK. Well, we passed fine when we bought the house, but the rules have changed, so we needed another manhole, and needed a new D-box. That means we ended up with a hole in the yard for a couple days, and the septic man stopping by for paperwork, etc.

    This while we have been dealing with a furnace issue, which turned out to be a bad pump. While they were at it, we had them clean up the rats nest of wiring, and add a relay so the furnace only goes on when there is a call for heat. Previously, it would go on regularly to keep the hot water hot, but now it only goes on when the hot water calls for heat. That took a couple days, including the day when our professional organizers were at the house for their regular visit. We decided we could use some help getting rid of stuff and organizing, in order to meet our moving deadline. If nothing else, it keeps us focussed on getting things done, so we don't look bad in front of the organizers. You know, 'quick, clean the house before the cleaning service gets here'. \^_\^

    So tonight I really enjoyed a peaceful moment. As I was walking to the door of my fathers apartment to pick up my young son, with the snow lightly falling, I heard the soft call of an owl. I told my son and we both went out quietly and listened, and were again rewarded with the owl song in the silent, peaceful night air. You can only capture moments like that in memory, technology just can't cut it. I hope my son remembers it as long as I do.

A place where Perley Mears sounds off on topics relevant to his work at Oracle.


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