Saturday May 30, 2009

Speaking at CommunityOne 2009

C1W_170x93_Speaking_v2-1.gifOver the past few weeks, Scott Mattoon, John Stanford and I have been documenting infrastructure patterns to help application developers architect for cloud computing environments as part of a larger program around enabling cloud computing for our customers. It's been an interesting project, as cloud computing is both very new, but based on some very old concepts.

On Monday, we will be presenting our work in progress at CommunityOne West in San Francisco's Moscone Center. Around the same time, we hope to move our work into the public view on for comments and contributions. I'll post something here as soon as it happens.

Our talk will highlight three sets of pattern domains: provisioning, monitoring and resource administration. You can expect to hear talk of motivations and implementations, with sequence diagrams, architecture pictures and code snippets for illustration.


If you are attending the conference (you can still sign up for free here), our presentations will be:

June 1, 2009 from 2:40 to 3:30pm PDT
Practical Cloud Computing Patterns
Gateway 104, Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA
If you can't be in San Francisco for the conference, I believe you can watch our presentation on a live webcast: Check here for details. We are "2:40 - 3:30 pm | Practical Cloud Computing Patterns (Gateway 104)" under the Cloud Platforms topic.

Tuesday May 26, 2009

The Open Group, Beijing Kickoff

I had a great opportunity to revisit China, part of my old region (and now part of my new global responsibility), as part of The Open Group's kickoff last week:
The Open Group, which recently established a franchise in China with Kingdee, is a vendor-neutral and technology-neutral consortium, which drives the creation of Boundaryless Information Flow™ that will enable access to integrated information within and between enterprises based on open standards and global interoperability.
That's Allen Brown, President and CEO of the Open Group, giving the open talk. I was there to speak about cloud computing, its challenges and opportunities to enterprise architects. Kingdee and TOG put on a great conference, which was well attended. Maybe I'll go back in October when they have their practitioners conference in Hong Kong. Learn more about the The Open Group Conference - Beijing at their website.

Thursday Nov 22, 2007

Creating Custom Rails Rake Tasks in NetBeans 6

I ran across this late yesterday night and thought I should share: If you are using NetBeans for your Ruby on Rails development and you are fond of creating custom rake tasks (as I am due to this awesome podcast), you need go around the NetBeans' GUI in this release. If you create the rakefile through the GUI, it will have a .rb extension (instead of the .rake extension) which Rails doesn't grok as a custom rake task. I get around it this way this way:
  1. open a terminal and cd into your Rails application directory.
  2. touch your custom rake file (with .rake extension) inside lib/tasks with something like:
    touch lib/tasks/example.rake
  3. edit your custom task in the NetBeans editor and create the actual rake task. Maybe something like this excellent db:seed task.
  4. use the Netbeans GUI to refresh your rake tasks (right-click the project and choose Run Rake Tasks > Refresh List
Hopefully, this will be added to the NetBeans 6.1 (per this bug request). Thanks to this entry at Quoted-Printable for the cool seed rakefile idea.

Saturday Sep 08, 2007

Web 2.0 Asia: Orkut Adds 5 Indian Languages

My friends in Bangalore have been telling me that Orkut is still alive and thriving in India, but I didn't really believe them:

"Orkut is now available in five new languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu.

This marks Orkut’s global efforts to create a local service, and offering these new Indian languages brings more personalization to more communities around the world. This is important as a large amount of Orkut users are of course in India.

These five languages selected cover about 80% of India, and may add more. You’ll need to go to your settings on Orkut in order to change your language preferences. Orkut worked with employees in the Google office in India to translate its social network for local use. Indian users are called to offer feedback for further tweaking." (Via Mashable!)

I may have to go make yet another profile.

Tuesday Sep 04, 2007

My Blog Client: Mars Edit

I saw Charles Beckham's entry on Mac blogging clients and felt I needed to send some love to my current blog editor of choice: Mars Edit. I used to be a Ecto fan, but the development on it has really slowed over the past two years (i.e. almost stopped). And while I really like the rich text WSYWIG mode, as often as not, it has some problem that makes me create my entry in HTML anyway. I have bought it, so I still hold out hope that the long awaited version 3 ships this year. Long story short, I've moved over to Mars Edit and use it extensively. Things I like about it include:
  • It's very mac-like in that follows most of the Apple human interface rules.
  • What is does, it does without surprise. This isn't always the case with visual editing in Ecto.
  • Supports a large number of blogs (although not Roller, except through the MetaWeb compatibility mode). I've posted most of my entries with Mars Edit.
  • It has very good image uploading tools. And now with Flickr integration.
  • Updates come pretty frequently. Version 2.0 just shipped yesterday.
Overall, Mars Edit just seems to flow better for me.
Picture 2.png
Hopefully, we'll see some movement on Ecto soon.

Monday Jul 09, 2007

Pownce Invites

Picture 1.png

Over the long July 4th weekend here in the States, an invite from new social website Pownce appeared in my Inbox. And since I am on every other web 2.0 social website, I scooted over to their site to signup and nab the client software.

For those of you on the twitter-train, Pownce extends the async IM broadcast beyond simple text to new data types like URLs, files and events. And instead of the normal all private or all public security stance, Pownce lets you send /IM|Tweets|WhateverKevinRoseDubsThem/ to all your friends, a specific friend or the public. It also includes client software, built on Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR, which was formerly Apollo).

While I was not dazzled like the folks at Mashable, I did think it is a credible beta effort at extending what Jaiku, Twitter and IM have started. I especially liked the default client (say what you like about Adobe's technologies, they do make some good interface tools), the baby steps of inclusion of structured data and the more structured broadcasting security. I have often wanted to be able to cast some of my twitters to specific groups without maintaining several twitter accounts. They have also built this on some interesting technologies.


This isn't to say that I was completely enamored by the service. I believe that their are some substantial gaps in the initial offering. Among them:

  • The client software is only Mac or Windows (due to AIR only have Mac and Windows runtimes). While Linux and Solaris aren't mainstream client OSes, they are early adopter environments.
  • There are no public APIs (yet). This makes the preceding problem even more of a problem. I think the Twitter folks would trace a large uptick in their traffic to Twitterrific's release. I'm not alone here.
  • So they make some "pownces" look like structured data .. . but they aren't. Why can't the events be in hCal (or even iCal) ? Yeah, I could send people the actual iCal file . . . but seriously.
  • Lack of mobile client and SMS gateway. Crucial. Major, major deficiency.

While this isn't everything, it certainly raises the bar for Twitter (the guys with the US community behind them) and Jaiku (which has a sizeable Euro following and richer features).

Anyhoo, if you've made it all the way through this post and still want to join Pownce, drop me an email or comment and I'll try to wing one of my TEN invites to you posthaste.

Sunday Jul 01, 2007

Five Things About Ken

I didn't have time to blog about this when I was first tagged by SeChang, but now that I have also been tagged by Giuseppe Russo, I figure I have no choice. So here are my five things about me:
  1. I have never lived in any one house/city/place for more than 4 years. Stops along the way include Tampa, Chicago, Omaha, Kansas City, Columbus, Lawrence, Los Gatos, Pacifica and El Dorado Hills. However, I've lived in my current abode 3 years and I have high hopes for a long future here.
  2. I am the less geeky Pepple brother. My brother Brian is the current chairperson for Fedora's Engineering Steering Committee.
  3. I am rapidly approaching million miler status on United Airlines. Little known fact about United's frequent flyer program: At 3 or 5 million flown miles, they name a plane after you.
  4. I have a huge, but not particularly hip, T-shirt collection. My current favorites are a Threadless design called Homework Evidence (because it looks a lot like my dog louie, who is not pictured at the right), my Crank Brothers speech bubble shirt (eggbeaters rule!) and the Guinesss t-shirt that commemorates the 1999 World Rugby Cup (I had to drink 10 Guiness pints to get it. Well worth it.)
  5. tshirt_small.jpg
  6. I am the only right-handed person in a family of southpaws (Well, mostly. I think my dad is ambidextrous). I steadfastly maintain that this took at least 10 MPH off my fastball and cost me any shot of playing Major League Baseball (Yes, I am sticking with that story).
Since most of the Asia Pacific Chief Technologist have been tagged, I will tag only tag our newest member: Leong Wey Gie from Asia South.

Sunday Jun 17, 2007

Bottom of the World

To take advantage of my last weekend in Melbourne, Chris Mann and I went to the southern most point of mainland Australia, Wilson's Promontory. Although cold at the top of the mountain, there was a fantastic view.


We saw a lot of wildlife, including my first wombat. However, my best photo came from a large emu in a clearing:


Thursday Jun 07, 2007

2007 BarCamp Sacramento Recap

I didn't get a chance to live blog during BarCamp Sacramento this weekend (too busy asking questions), but now that I am sitting in the back of a 747 bound for Melbourne, I thought I would take a few minutes to share some of the highlights:

Adam Kalsey started the morning with an alfresco coffee roasting demonstration. I can honestly say that I never knew that air popcorn makers were so versatile. The coffee was tasty.


Jinesh Varia spoke about Amazon Web Services. Amazon has created three web services to provide infrastructure to developers: S3, EC2 and Simple Queue Service.

  • Simple Storage Service (S3) is a shared storage service, available via REST and other protocols, were users can store arbitrary data for archive or sharing. Amazon charges users on a monthly basis for their total storage plus bandwidth fees (either up or down). SmugMug is already basing their photo storage service on it. He also showed firefox extension that allowed you to access your files.
  • Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is their elastic computing cloud service which allows people to run Xen images on Amazon's computing grid. The images can be controlled dynamically (that is, you can pop up or destroy images via web services) and you are charged per hour of use. This allows for some creative usage -- you can instantiate several new servers to handle your appearance on the front page of Digg, for example -- but will necissitate close monitoring because you pay by the clock hour (not CPU hour). Jinesh also showed us some of the Xen images (called AIM for Amazon IMages) that are being developed, similar to VMware's appliance marketplace.
  • Simple Queue Service (SQS) was just touched on. It provides a reliable queue for messages - something that would be useful for some of the distributed processing in many web applications these days.

Joseph Scott (Automattix -- the guys behind Wordpress and Askimet) spoke about his work in implementing WordPress' XML-RPC features (XML-RPC is one of the more popular protocols for posting blog entries). He also showed off Microsoft's LiveWriter beta, one of the first blogging tools to support the new API. A really good session about something that I use daily. However, after looking at his bio, I realised that I should have asked him about Melbourne, since he has spent some quality time there also.'s Terry Chay gave a discusson about his implementation of eCards while at Plaxo. Opinionated, pointed and profanity filled - exactly what a good presentation should include :> After his session, a group of us had an interesting discussion on PHP frameworks, large scale internet sites, rails and Zend framework.

Elise Bauer from Simply Recipes started off the second day by schooling us for two hours about what it is really like to run a large scale blog. While I couldn't type fast enough to scribe all the pearls of wisdom that she handed out, it was fascinating to see how people use the infrastructure that I spend most of my time building. Elise could have easily spoke all day.

Elise Bauer

Scott Hildebrandt finished out the second day with a presentation on his work on 3D audio. He demonstrated the research by showing us some models he created in Pure Data (PD). While the math was over my head, the possible application of it in video gaming was certainly interesting.


Oh yeah, I gave a short but highly opinionated presentation on Cyclocross.

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Thursday May 31, 2007

BarCamp Sacramento

I am off to BarCamp Sacramento this weekend. This BarCamp is being organised by Adam Kalsey, who just sold his startup FeedCrier to IMified a few weeks ago. Sacramento is the largest city near my home (at least until the Lake Tahoe BarCamp gets organised :> ). There is a pretty good startup / technology scene here in the NorCal highlands and I am anxious to see what gets presented.

I haven't figured out my presentation yet, but I think I might talk about Rails IDEs. Or maybe virtualisation technologies. Or maybe ordering coffee in foreign coffee shops.

If you are in the Greater Scaramento area this weekend, consider registering and dropping by.

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Tuesday May 08, 2007

Applying Virtualisation To Your Consolidation Project

I gave at talk at the Gartner Infrastructure, Operations & Data Centre Summit on data centre consolidation yesterday. My slot was only thirty minutes so I decided to focus on aligning virtualisation technologies to consolidation goals.

With the proliferation of products in this space, it has become increasingly important that IT architects understand both the technical and business merits of the technologies. While many of the products produce a similar high level results (usually more applications on a particular piece of hardware), how they achieve this may greatly impact the overall success of a consolidation project. For example, if you have outsourced your infrastructure and are paying on a per operating system instance basis, then applying hypervisor-based products that virtualise hardware will not help you achieve your goals (and might actually increase your costs due to a control instance). Likewise, virtualising at the operating system may unnecessarily limit your flexibility when you only need to raise system utilisation.

It was too bad that I only had thirty minutes as I have a lot of material on the topic. I really wanted to describe a decision tree for the process -- and some of the consequences -- but I barely got through what I had on the slides as it was. All together, I probably have almost enough for the virtualisation chapter of my book revision. When I get it into beta form, I'll post it here.

Thursday Apr 26, 2007


While I didn't capture any good pictures like Josh Simon, I also attended Greg Papadopoulos' Technology@Sun meeting in Santa Cruz this week. Unlike many technology conferences which are dominated by people talking at you for several hours at a time, the meeting was quite interactive with several opportunities to network with peers, most of whom I have never met in person. In fact, I actually got to meet not one but two of the Sun's most elusive species, Technology Directors. This was doubly exciting as I am also a Technology Director. Even better, we actually had a guest speaker I wanted to hear: Juan Enriquez. I had high hopes after reading both his books and wasn't disappointed. Can't wait until next year.

Sunday Nov 12, 2006


Where is Ken ? Down under. Way under. I am hanging out in my new home away from home, Melbourne, Australia. Just helping out on some data center activities for a few weeks while I am work my way into the my new role within the Asia Pacific Systems Engineering group. 

Downtown Melbourne, Aus

Sunday Oct 29, 2006

Efty Upgrade and Open Solaris

I made the leap to the newest Ubuntu (Edgy Eft aka 06.10) this weekend and it wasn't without issues. Although not as bad as many of these people's problems, the upgrade process deemed it necessary to rewrite my carefully crafted /etc/xorg.conf file and play a bit with my wireless settings. This led to an out of control [events/0] process as my video driver tried to use a naughty settings. Copying my old /etc/xorg.conf back into place pretty much fixed this and I was back to my old laptop with new Gnome 2.16 goodness.

Now many of you are probably wondering why I am upgrading Ubuntu rather than installing Solaris  on my laptop. The reason is quite simple: I need wireless (and wireless with WPA security) and I don't have a Solaris driver for the RT2500 WiFi chip in my Averatec. However, as I was stumbling through this week, something caught my eye: Does the Solaris OS run on your x86 system ? And although once I ran the Sun Device Detection Tool (which is quite nice and deploys using Java Web Start which I love) it confirmed that my wireless chip was unsupported, it did tell me that everything else was supported. Emboldened, I decided to poke around the Open Solaris site to see if there was anything new in the wireless project. Bingo! Not only is there a RT2500 driver (ported from the BSD source), there is some work on a WPA supplicant. Unfortuately, the WPA supplicant only works with Atheros driver. But still, thats progress. And I can probably hobble along with WEP for a while (most of my work is done with SSL encryption or VPN turned on).

Sun Device Detection Tool

My new project for the week is now to get Open Solaris running on my laptop.

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Wednesday Oct 25, 2006

Browsers Upgrades

It's been an exciting week on the browser front. Both Opera and Firefox have delivered new browser versions.

First, Opera finally released a Java ME (Micro Edition) of their Opera browser that runs on the Palm Treo. Dubbed "Opera Mini", it bring much of the goodness of Opera 9 to the Palm OS. Quite a bit faster than the default blazer web browser and much, much better rendering. Some small usability quirks (what is with the shortcuts?), but hey, it's free.

And, of course, Firefox 2 has been released. While it seems nice, the best Firefox upgrade of the week came from Lifehacker's excellent "Top Firefox 2 Config Tweaks." Finally a fix for my most hated Firefox mis-feature:
Turn off chrome tooltips
All versions
: I have an irritating Firefox problem on my Mac. When I try to drag a bookmark into one of my bookmark toolbar folders, the tool tip gets in the way and prevents the drop from working. Argh! Like you, I already know what all the buttons on my browser chrome do, so the tool tips aren't necessary. To turn them off, set the key value to false. Bonus is, it solved my Mac's bookmark drag and drop problem.
  • Key:
  • Modified Value: false
Wow, that makes a big difference.

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Ken Pepple is Chief Technologist for Sun Microsystem's Systems Line of Business


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