Tuesday Mar 07, 2006

Updated: Getting to know the SAN Stack

I've decided that this presentation link is going to be the one that I keep up to date as I work on the content. Case in point --- I had one of the graphics slightly incorrect, added a few new debugging pages, and some links to other resources.

Monday Jan 30, 2006

One way that HP plans to combat heat

Alan pointed me to this article earlier today. Assuming I've read this article correctly, the summary is this: in order to combat heat in the data centre, HP is going to sell a water-cooling system which will allow you to dump 30 kilowatts of heat out of a single rack. Is it just me, or does that seem a little short-sighted, treating a symptom rather than the cause.... If it was my money being poured into the data centre, I'd want the most space- and heat-efficient servers possible, like the Sun Fire T2000, rather than just spending more money on 32bit x86 architecture systems. Incidentally, I first heard of the CoolThreads architecture at an internal Sun conference in 2001. As I recall it, the tagline from the presentation was "all the power of an E10k, on a single chip." At the time I thought that this would be incredibly expensive to achieve and I did have my doubts. There are times when I love to be wrong; CoolThreads is one of those. Hmmmmmmm. I wonder whether I can convince my better half that I need one for home ..... :-D

Wednesday Jan 04, 2006

Testing "performancing" weblog editor plugin for firefox

I'm playing with a new (for me at least) blog editor called Performancing. Silly name I reckon, but it's a plugin for Firefox so it's relatively cross-platform. That's a good start in my book. It's got a few foibles (doesn't seem to save text when flipping tabs to the preview... doesn't let you know what state your account setup/login attempt is in... doesn't seem to load B.S.C or JRoller's categories .... a bit annoying) and it doesn't have out-of-the-box support for Roller which and JRoller are based on.

However it's got support for the Blogger API, so it's easy enough to configure:

B.S.C needs http://blogs.sun.com/xmlrpc whereas JRoller needs http://jroller.org/roller/xmlrpc.

Now let's see whether this post gets out when I hit 'publish'!

[this bit written in B.S.C]

Ok, so the post did show up, but in my 'recent entries' section, without a title! (I added this entry's title manually). And it also sent escaped text (the [ampersand lt/gt;] etc) rather than html so I had to edit everything above the line by hand inside B.S.C.

I guess there are some messages or there's a debug log I should look to.

Day 2, 3rd test, Australia vs South Africa

I had a lot of fun yesterday --- I went to day 2 of the 3rd Australia vs South Africatest at the SCG. I went with a bunch of friends who work for Honeywell (a link via a school-friend), and my mate R who flew in for the New Years Eve fireworks was able to join us too. Since he works in the same building as BMCI figure when R gets home they'll be able to watch some of BMC's cricket dvds. Building on the knowledge that Nathan enlightened me with on NYE, I played a bit with my camera :-) Here are some of the pictures I took: Before play started for the day: At lunch, the Milo kiddies cricket teams came and played: The second ball after lunch: South Africa declared at 9/451: For some reason, when Andre Nel came on, the crowd booed him. I noticed that when he'd finished his over and came to start fielding near us, he waited until it was clear the ball wasn't coming near him and then hurried to sign about 20 autographs --- seems like a good sport to me! We were all really happy to see Ricky Ponting score his 8000th test run. He's only the 3rd Australian to get to that total: The scoreboard lit up: All-in-all, a really nice day. Pity South Africa scored so slowly all day, and Australia lost 3 quick wickets in the last 45 minutes of play ...... Ah well, that's the way things go! There's more info on current matches at CricInfo.

Sunday Jan 01, 2006

New Years Eve 2005, Sydney

We parked ourselves on Henry Lawson Drive in McMahon's Point for Sydney's NY celebrations. A friend of mine from our Menlo Park office had come over with his wife <it>just for the fireworks</it> so we made sure we got a <a href="http://www.multimap.com.au/map/browse.cgi?client=public&X=16832000.3046603&Y=-3984500.43916125&width=500&height=300&gride=16831962.3046603&gridn=-3984303.43916125&srec=0&coordsys=mercator&db=AU&addr1=&addr2=&addr3=&pc=&advanced=&local=&localinfosel=&kw=&inmap=&table=&ovtype=&keepicon=true&zm=0&scale=5000&down.x=279&down.y=327">good spot <img src="http://mc.multimap.com/cs/psma042//M67/Y-1/M67328Y-15939S5W500H300.gif"></a>.

The downside of course was that since the <a href="http://www.northsydney.nsw.gov.au">local council</a> had road closures we had to be there before midday.

It was a loooong day!

Still, we had a good time, were there with friends (both local and international), and I also learnt something about my <a href="http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/specs/Nikon/nikon_cp5400.asp">Nikon Coolpix 5400</a> so after the 9pm fireworks my pictures improved dramatically. (Thankyou Nathan!)

Here are some of the photos I took:

<img src="http://blogs.sun.com/roller/resources/jmcp/nye_sydney_01.jpg">

<img src="http://blogs.sun.com/roller/resources/jmcp/nye_sydney_02.jpg">

<img src="http://blogs.sun.com/roller/resources/jmcp/nye_sydney_03.jpg">

<img src="http://blogs.sun.com/roller/resources/jmcp/nye_sydney_04.jpg">

<img src="http://blogs.sun.com/roller/resources/jmcp/nye_sydney_05.jpg">

That girl in the last photo ..... we politely asked her to sit down when the midnight fireworks started (there was also a 9pm set but she was canoodling for those)...all her friends asked her to sit down as well but she insisted that it was her right to stand up. I think she assumed that everybody was going to stand up as well --- a completely nuts idea actually, because everybody around us had been there for at least 9 hours (if not longer) by that time and we couldn't be bothered! There's also the wobbly camera shot issue to take into account.

Oh well, image cropping with <a href="http://www.gimp.org">The Gimp</a> will save my photos.

We had a great night. Our friends from the USA thought it was most definitely worth the 13.5 hour flight from San Francisco.

NYE 2005/06 rocked.

Hippy Moo Ear to everybody!

Wednesday Nov 16, 2005

Australia through to the Soccer World Cup!!

Australia vs Uruguay: 0-1 in Montevideo Australia vs Uruguay: 1-0 in Sydney No goals scored in extra time in Sydney Australia won in the penalty shootout 4-2 in front of a sellout crowd in the Olympic Stadium. There's a beautiful banner article at the Sydney Morning Herald website, and more at the ABC's news section. The Socceroos are off to Germany in 2006. This is the first Soccer World Cup appearance for Australia since 1974. W00TW00TW00T!!!!!!

Tuesday Nov 15, 2005

Oracle's back on Solaris and Sun

According to this article (which Jonathan's cryptic blog entry hinted at, Oracle is reversing their RedHat on x86 bias:
Oracle has chosen the Solaris 10 Operating System, Sun's multi-platform, open source OS, as its preferred development and deployment platform for most x64 architectures, including x64 AMD Opteron and Intel Xeon processor-based systems and Sun's UltraSPARC-based systems. The Solaris 10 OS will be used throughout Oracle's development organization. Oracle also plans to release and ship 64- bit versions of all Oracle products on the Solaris OS prior to or simultaneous with the release of its products on other operating systems.
Now Larry, when are you going to come to the party regarding pricing on CMT processors? IBM and MicroSoft already have, so what's taking you so long?

But wait, there's more!

Ok, it's not steak knives, but it's the next best thing: And I just noticed an email from SDLC about it which includes this beautiful line:
... New in this release - No License Serial Number required.
Ain't that nice to see? I never did like having to futz around with license keys or license management software...

Sun's compiler suite is free again

When I first started working on Sun kit it was in my final year of highschool --- courtesy of a mate whose dad worked at ANU. We had /usr/ucb/cc available to us on SunOS 4 --- and life was pretty sweet. Then at some point after the massive change which was also known as the "SunOS to Solaris migration" (also the last time we bumped the major number of the SunOS kernel), the compilers no longer came free with the OS. I remember bitching and moaning about this to my uni friends... back then, GCC wasn't nearly as good as it was today and on Sparc it was terrible! Well today we're going back to the future. If you want to get your hands on Sun Studio 11 then hit this link to go directly to the SDLC, sign in with the appropriate account (which you probably already have) and start pulling down the new Sun Studio 11 compiler suite. Free. (You still have to pay for your network access, but apart from that it's free. As in free). With it you'll get
  • Record-setting optimizing C,C++,Fortran compilers
  • Exploiting multicore (CMT) systems for maximum performance throughput
  • Providing Platform Choice: Solaris 8,9,10 (SPARC, x64, x86) and RHEL 4/SLES 9
  • did I mention the FREE, unrestricted license already?
So go on, grab the new compilers and have a really good day. I certainly will!

Friday Nov 11, 2005

The principle of least surprise

We recently got an email saying that builds of Firefox and Thunderbird v1.5 were available, so it was only natural to go and grab a copy. With one thing and another it hasn't been until tonight that I've had a chance to play with them properly. Here's my scenario: I use our Sun-On-Sun vpn (courtesy of Dan & co's ingenuity) to connect my laptop in to Sun. I then remote display everything that I need back to my workstation, which is not connected to Sun. (Yes, it's secure. I've set it up correctly :-D) So that way I can have my workstation connecting to the internet as my non-Sun persona, and my laptop being part of the reservation, as it were. Of course I have two profiles for Firefox and Thunderbird --- anything else would get way to messy. So when I booted my workstation (after installing build 27 and a nightly update), I started up Thunderbird v1.5 and then ssh'd across to the laptop and started up Thunderbird with my Sun profile. Blink! Up popped my non-Sun instance, which is, as you recall, running on my workstation. Sure, I've set my DISPLAY variable, but what's going on here? I tried again, to make sure I hadn't done something too stupid.... same thing. What about Firefox? Again, same deal. This is getting a bit much! Off to MozillaZine's Knowledge base where I quickly find this document which tells me that
You can launch multiple copies of Thunderbird if the environmental variable MOZ_NO_REMOTE=1 is set beforehand. This appears to be intended mainly for debugging, there is no indication it's meant for normal use. So use it at your own risk. Since Thunderbird's design assumes that only one instance of the program can access a profile you run the least risk if you use this feature to run multiple copies of Thunderbird accessing different profiles.
Wow, how amazing, I could have sworn that I was in fact trying to direct both firefox and thunderbird to use different profiles. What did they change between 1.0.6 and 1.5? I'll have to do some digging to find out. In the meantime, I mentioned The Principle of Least Surprise. Bill Sommerfeld mentioned it today in an architecture discussion and it kinda stuck in my head. What I expect firefox and thunderbird to do when I tell them "start up with this specific profile" is, funnily enough, to start themselves with that particular profile. And not to pop up whatever other instance I've got running instead. I think I'll have to log bugs against both of them or maybe against SeaMonkey: firstly that they're ignoring my command line argument to startup with a specific profile, and secondly that they're violating this principle. What fun that's going to be. Righto, back to the SAN coding ....

Monday Oct 31, 2005

One of the benefits of working from home

One of the benefits of working from home is coder cat: Charlie, the coder cat As you can see, she's making sure that my laptop is quite safe from unnecessary mechanical strain on the lid open/close mechanism. The only problem is when she's on my laptop is that when I go to use the numkeypad she thinks that my hand wants to play with her paw.....

Friday Oct 28, 2005

What's this at-spi-registryd?

I was browsing my process table using prstat(1M) and noticed this particular process using a lot of resources: PID USERNAME SIZE RSS STATE PRI NICE TIME CPU PROCESS/NLWP ... 119004 jmcp 41M 5500K sleep 59 0 0:12:49 0.3% at-spi-registry/1 What is this at-spi-registry? It turns out that it's the daemon associated with the GNOME Accessibility Project A quick Goooooooogle for "at-spi registry" turned up this link which told me
[020] - GNOME Assistive Tech Service Provider Interface 1.1.9 by Tushar Teredesai (http://freshmeat.net/users/tusharteredesai/) Wednesday, April 2nd 2003 13:57 About: at-spi is a part of the Gnome Accessibility Project. It provides a Service Provider Interface for the Assistive Technologies available on the GNOME platform, and a library against which applications can be linked. License: GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) URL: http://freshmeat.net/projects/at-spi/
Ok, seems fair enough. But why on earth do I need this daemon running on my system? I certainly don't want it running. And why is it using nearly 12Mb for its heap? $ pmap 119004 119004: /usr/lib/at-spi-registryd --oaf-activate-iid=OAFIID:Accessibility_Regi 08041000 28K rwx-- [ stack ] 08050000 36K r-x-- /usr/lib/at-spi-registryd 08068000 8K rwx-- /usr/lib/at-spi-registryd 0806A000 3672K rwx-- [ heap ] 08400000 8192K rwx-- [ heap ] Yes I know that memory is cheap these days, but if I don't have to have something running, I generally won't run. Not happy Gnome!

Thursday Oct 13, 2005

Leave your phone number if you're leaving a message!

I was woken this morning at about 0230 by a fellow from one of our offices in California calling my extension (which is redirected to a mobile so I can more easily work remote from an office). I got to the phone after the call diverted to voicemail, and figured I should listen to it. (I thought it could have been my mother calling regarding the state of my grandmother's ailing health). The caller did not clearly identify himself. He didn't leave a phone number to call him at, just referred to an email he said he'd sent me a few days ago which was now critical. He didn't really say what actually was critical though, so I was left with a meta-phone message. There I was, wide awake when I should be sleeping, and I had no way of finding out who it was who'd called me, or what he was referring to. Quite annoying! This morning I checked my inbox --- there was an RFE update relating to a utility I maintain. It's not "critical" it's merely an issue with the c-style used in the code. Fixing this RFE won't change any functionality, just the way that the code gets printed. Oh, and there was nothing from this bloke in my inbox apart from the RFE update. So much for it being a "critical" issue! So please, if you're going to leave a voicemail for somebody, make darned sure you say exactly who you are and how to get in contact with you. Otherwise you'll wind up not getting a phone call back.

Monday Aug 29, 2005

It's about the discussion, not the end result

Yesterday Alan started a thread on opensolaris-discuss (you can read it here if you want) in response to a blog comment he had received. The context --- that the commenter thought Sun's bugfix process was "unduly burdensome" --- was very interesting and I couldn't let it pass. Yeah, I've found it difficult at times to get the hang of the processes we use for ON bugfixes etc etc, but I really value them and wouldn't want to see Solaris without something similar. Anyway, there have been a number of followups (from myself and others), and the OP responded several times as well. The OP seems to have a feeling or impression that Sun's processes are unnecessarily bureacratic, and in fact hinder our Open Source efforts. I don't agree with that viewpoint, and a lot of other people both inside and outside of Sun don't agree with it either. You can read the thread for yourself to make up your own mind, I'm not going to rehash it here (at least, not any further). I would just like to say that it is exactly this sort of discussion which Sun and the OpenSolaris community needs to have. Even if you want OpenSolaris to fail (for whatever reason, it's not important) participating in the discussions helps you just as it helps "us" -- whoever "us" happens to be. So please, keep the discussion going. If you've got an issue with what we're doing with OpenSolaris then tell us. If you want it fixed, tell us. I know that we will all benefit. As Jonathan keeps reminding, this is the Participation Age. So go on and participate!

Saturday Aug 20, 2005

off ill for a week

Last Saturday J was in bed all week with a flu-like lurgy, which I promptly came down with on Sunday. Not very pleasant at all. And once that had worn off (it was a quick 24hour period of pain) I suddenly had the most massive sinus infection since 2000. I was unable to stop sneezing either, so I was worried that it might be hayfever too. I've never had hayfever before though, so I was quite confused. I managed to make it into the office for my review on Wednesday --- since my manager was in town from Singapore I figured I owed him the effort :) --- but then went straight home. It is a very very long time since I've had this much time off due to illness, so I'm really happy to say that the antibiotics (generic version of Amoxil) are working just fine, and I've also been taking Claramax and that seems to be making a lot of difference as well. I've had persistent allergic rhinitis for as long as I can remember and this stuff is the first that seems to actually be making a difference. Yay for advances in medical science. Anyway, there was one other thing that has been a real bummer about this past week: no daily walking. Sure it's been nice to not wake up earlyish and have to commute, but I miss the fresh air and the exercise. Really, I do. I'm not a very sporty person and I find it difficult to go to a gym or exercise class, so the daily 3km walk is a really good thing. It also has quite a low impact on my joints, which I appreciate. So I'm looking forward to going back to work tomorrow, and walking walking walking as much as I can.

I work at Oracle in the Solaris group. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own, and neither Oracle nor any other party necessarily agrees with them.


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