Friday Apr 03, 2009

A long week, this might help...

World, I'd like to introduce you to Goliath and Doogie. This should add a smile or two on a Friday. Goliath is a boxer/pit bull mix, a rescue dog that we were going to "keep until we found him a good home". That was 5 years ago. Doogie is a 140 lb (63.5 kg to my non-US friends) pile of pure stupid, formed into the shape of a yellow labrador retriever. Impossible you say? Labs are smart? This one took two years of daily "gotta chase the cows next door" running into the electric fence to learn (1) exactly \*what\* an electric fence is, and (2) running into it is a painful thing. Enjoy.


When good marketing goes bad...

Yeah. Goes bad... Like cottage cheese sitting in the back corner of your refrigerator for about a year until the power goes off for a few days while you are on vacation in the middle of summer. That bad.

I was looking through my drawer this morning for an old t-shirt to wear while welding some damage on my tractor's mower deck. Yeah, I live way out in the boondocks with a large yard for the kids to play in, and my tractor broke last fall.

I grab a random shirt from the pile, throw it on and head downstairs. All of a sudden, the message on the shirt hits me. It is an old Sun Education (AKA Sun Learning Services) shirt that says ".com your career". In 2000, that message was very cool, along with the "we are the dot in .com" on the sleeve. Unfortunately, the meaning of .com'ing has changed a bit. Back in the day, it meant taking your business online, exposing yourself to this new Internet connected world, and making Google money.

Oops. With the bursting of the .com bubble, to "dot com" something tends to mean something different these days. "Dot comming" your career would likely mean blowing it up, concentrating on fleeting opportunities, or other negative emotional responses. Especially if you lost some money on those high tech stocks in the past 8 years or so.

Oh well, the shirt keeps my winter-pale body covered, and I don't really mind if I get some dirt and crud on this one.


Wednesday Feb 25, 2009

A Mile High, and Enjoying Mexico...

We are in Mexico City this week for account reviews, customer visits, and other fun activities to make customers happy and revenue flow. The teams here are much more "mature", as Mexico has been a strong country for Sun and Sun PS for many years. The feeling of "teamwork" here is amazing, and the people work well together within Sun, as well as across the partners and with the customers.

Enough of the work stuff though, Mexico City is alot of fun, even if the gringo doesn't habla very much espanol. I speak border spanglish and Dora spanish thanks to my children watching Dora the Explorer and Go Diego Go non-stop. Above the Dora vocabulary, I know enough working spanglish to order beer, find a bathroom, and get home in a taxi.

A local cantina that provided a tasty lunch and liquid refreshment Monday. I have never seen a smashed up, 20 year old pickup truck with Jaguar "starfish" wheels before.

The food and drink have been great, and the local teams are very happy to share their experiences, both good and bad. I am definitely looking forward to working with the teams here on some projects in the near future. Huge bonus if that work requires that I be here, in the 80 degree sunny weather rather than home in the freezing cold and snow.

Here is something you don't see every day. Strolling downstairs to find an exit after the upstairs entrances were locked for the day, I stumbled upon this little gem. The first picture (bad picture, I know) is fairly easy to recognize, an ATM. The second picture puts this in context. The ATM is in the middle of a cube-farm inside the sun office. Safety for those in need during off-hours, and very convenient any time.

Oh well, home (finally) on Friday. Can't wait to sleep in my own bed, eat dinner with my kids, and get back to a somewhat normal life for a few weeks.


Friday Feb 20, 2009

Sao Paulo, Rio, and beyond...

The Emerging Markets PS team spent the past week in Brazil. A whirlwind tour of the key accounts and key opportunities in Sao Paulo and Rio. One week is definitely not enough time to spend in Brazil when you are in the office 12 hrs a day and hopping flights within the country to get from office to office.

Sao Paulo is the biggest little city I have ever seen. For a city of ~18M people, it feels like you are in a small neighborhood most of the time. There are no real "skyscraper" districts that make you feel closed in (like in New York), and no frantic hustle and bustle like Beijing or Los Angeles. The people are friendly, the account teams are eager and lively, and the work is exciting. What a cool town.

We also spent about 23 hours in Rio. Yeah. Rio definitely can not be consumed in less than one day. The atmosphere of the local office was upbeat, and the opportunities were exciting with lots of momentum. The city is amazing. The scenery (mostly from a cab) is gorgeous, with the mountains and hills, the ocean and bay, and 1930's and 1940's Spanish/Portuguese architecture. The view from the hotel at 5:30 AM as we were heading back to the airport was breathtaking, with the early morning water traffic and beach in the foreground and the hills and cityscape in the background.

Off to Mexico City Sunday. They have alot to live up to if they want to compare favorably with my Brazil experience. Down side is that Carnivale starts this weekend, and I will miss most of it flying out Sunday. I'll upload some pics when I get a chance to shuffle them off of my Fuze.


Monday Dec 22, 2008

Back from Beijing (and Shanghai)...

I just returned from a week long trip to our Beijing and Shanghai sales offices. I hadn't visited China since about 2001, and much has definitely changed. I suppose I should rewind a few weeks though for context.

Sun's new office in Beijing:

My blahg has been pretty much off-topic for a few months, as I have been transitioning into a new role. I am now the lead for Systems and Storage Professional Services for "Emerging Markets Region". EMR consists of China, Russia and the rest of CIS, India, Latin America, much of the middle east, and any country without a Sun office. :) Well, it seems that way. Tons of opportunities, tons of great people, tons of great customers.

Beijing's famous hub of "retail negotiations", the Silk Market:

This trip was awesome! The teams in Beijing and Shanghai are definitely on a roll. Lots of complex identity management work, portal integrations, and storage management projects underway. Huge thanks to Dowson for hosting us in both cities, Andy for helping to set everything up, Winston (and Jimmy via mobile phone) for helping with our social activities, Hammer, Jimmy, Arthur, and all the delivery architects for your time and for sharing the information.

Next comes Moscow and Brazil. For now, time to spend the holidays with family and friends. More to come later...


Friday Sep 19, 2008

What's in a name...

Yeah, we all get tons of SPAM in our Inbox folders. I, for one, and definitely numb to the constant offers for medical assistance with my naughty tingly parts, offers to refinance my mortgage, and work from home and make millions in my spare time. I definitely am convinced that apricots and magic herbs from the Brazilian rain forests hold the keys to stopping aging, fixing my sore and aching joints, and removing those laugh lines and wrinkles that are appearing as I age. Numerous bankers in foreign lands would love to have my help in extricating some funds orphaned in their troubled country by a western national's untimely demise with no apparent heirs. I am flypaper for all of this helpful information.

This one, however, made me laugh, and coffee squirted out of my nose. Someone should tell "scruffy", oops, Mr. William Gill that using a gmail account for the "Reply-to", and having a sender address of "" makes me doubt the value to me, as a consumer, of this offer from "Barclays Wealth Home". Perhaps someone should also suggest a spell checker and/or grammar checker. I think that "United Kingdom" is spelled with a capital "K".

I needed a good laugh today. Thanks Scruffy.


Saturday Jul 05, 2008

Happy 4th Everyone!!

Great to have a weekend off with the family.

Guess how we spent our time?


Friday Jun 27, 2008

Strawberry Fields Forever...

I took the family down to Delaplane, VA for the local "Strawberry Festival". It was actually held at the Sky Meadows State Park about 7 miles north of Delaplane. There were plenty of food vendors and kitschy craft stuff there to keep us emptying our wallets. One booth had a ton of tie-dye goodies including t-shirts, hats, handbags, diaper bags, and just about anything else that is made of cotton and can be tied and dipped. I got a couple cool shirts there.

Definitely a fun place for the kids, as they had hay rides, obstacle courses made of hay bales, and tons of crafts that the kids could do for a couple bucks. My kids all made sand art bottles with lots of neon colored sand. It was definitely a blast for them, and not too expensive. The food choices were plentiful, from fish and chips to hot dogs and italian sausage, to funnel cakes. There were even a couple ice cream vendors making hand dipped strawberry sundaes on shortcake, or a choice of dozens of flavors on a cone.

My personal favorite vendor brought back some fond memories of my past. I attended Penn State Mont Alto back in the mid 80's. A couple miles up the road was this really cool place called "Mr. Ed's" (more info on Mr Ed's here). Mr Ed's is a peanut lover's heaven, a candy lover's heaven, has great fudge, and tons of cool toys and stuffed animals for kids. Mr. Ed's had a stand at the festival and was roasting peanuts fresh on site. The smell brought back fond memories for me, and I had to buy a couple pounds of peanuts and some old-school candy for the kids. We even made a road trip to Mr Ed's store on US Rt 30 (Lincoln Highway) with the kids a couple weeks later.

Of course, any town fair, carnival, or rural strawberry festival isn't complete for my children until they get to ride a pony. This one was no exception. In addition to the 4-H sponsored petting zoo, they had pony rides for a couple bucks, with a bad Polaroid picture included.

Samantha the Princess:

Shelby the other Princess:

Mr Cole (AKA Monkey Boy):

My little monsters... :)


Friday Jun 20, 2008

Leaving on a JET plane...

Wow. I finally get to leave sunny and baking hot (108F today) Phoenix. The 60 day project has reached a finale. We are all taking some time for the July 4 holiday, and leaving the systems to "soak" for a couple weeks in test. I don't really know if my children will remember me at this point. I have been home for a grand total of 11 days in the past 2 months, and those days were mostly spent running around doing house maintenance, laundry, re-packing a suitcase, and mowing grass.

Phoenix is a great town, though I highly recommend avoiding the summer months. Great restaurants and tons of things to do. I highly recommend Flo's, Earl's, Jason's Deli (great salads), Mastro's and Fleming's for keeping the body nourished. Definitely take a drive east and check out the old gold mining town near Superstition Mountain (a neat thing to see if you are middle aged and watched old Disney films). Canyon Lake is alot of fun, worth spending a day if you are here for a weekend. Of course, Sedona, the Grand Canyon, the huge meteor crater, and lots of other tree-hugger and tourist shopper attractions can keep you entertained as well.

I got the chance to hop the border one weekend, and did some tourist wandering in Nogales Mexico. Fun place once you get past the "cheap perscriptions, MD on site" pharmacies and grungy border businesses. Lots of local crafts and shopping within walking distance of the border crossing (which was easy, painless, and not crowded at all).

Great working with you folks (Sun and non-Sun), travel safe! Thanks Mr. and Ms. customer, it was a fun project! Special thanks to Debbie for keeping us nourished with fresh backyard grapefruit, apple brownies, and homemade cookies, Tony for the good questions and challenges, and Chris and Ryan for the local knowledge and operational viewpoints. Tim and Steve, if this thing breaks after I'm gone, it will be all your fault!


Friday May 16, 2008

The world's coolest customer...

My project manager brings in homemade cookies and muffins several times a week. The customer buys lunch, pizza on Tuesdays, and Jason's Deli sandwiches on Thursdays. The whole team (about 30 people) are invited out for a happy hour once a week, including dinner at one of the local eateries. Very cool customer, very cool work. Oh yeah, I'm here doing work.

I'm doing a provisioning project, using Jumpstart and the JET toolkit to model and test the provisioning of dozens of the new T52x0 CMT servers, implemented and provisioned on-demand through the N1 Service Provisioning System. This is a tight schedule project, so ZFS, LDOMs, and some other new functionality and features are being left until the next update to the environment. We are using Solaris Containers and the N1 Service Provisioning System though. In fact, each server on the application side will have 36 full root zones running the Sun Glassfish Enterprise Server and Sun Java System Web Server.

There, enough links to make any shareholder happy.

This project has been full of interesting challenges. Try deploying around 100 servers along with the deployment architecture in 60 days. Of course, there were some standards and policies in place, but the customer wanted to streamline things, and increase efficiencies in patching and systems management. Now throw in 36 full root zones (containers) in each system, with 6 filesystems each, all running on the internal disk drives with no external storage. Hmmm... This is getting complicated (and very snug). Oh yeah, we need to implement Live Upgrade, and make sure that the whole project is well documented, easy to manage, flexible and modular so that the next revision of the provisioning and systems infrastructure can evolve in a simpler and more organized set of projects.

I'll post some of the more interesting challenges, issues, resolutions, and creative solutions as this project develops. Never a dull moment, or an end to the opportunities to be creative with this project!


Wednesday Apr 23, 2008

Through the revolving door...

Well, here I am again. After 18 months away from Sun, I decided to return to the fold. A lot has changed, and a lot has stayed the same. Lots of really cool people, lots of fun geeky products and technologies, some new faces, and really great customer challenges coming through the door to keep us on our toes.

So where was I for the past year and a half? The Mitre Corporation, a very cool non-profit company that runs three federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) for the US Government. Check them out, they do some very cool stuff (NORAD, AWACS, Whirlwind, and lots of other things in the past). Some very cool unmanned aviation work over there, along with whacky remote vehicle research and work managing airspace. My work was in the Center for Enterprise Modernization, where I did some fun consolidation, capacity, and performance work for civilian agencies. Learned alot, saved the American taxpayers some money, and definitely helped improve the service levels provided by the agencies back to the taxpayers.

So what am I doing now? I am working in the datacenter space, in Professional Services Delivery. I will be working on consolidation, virtualization, capacity management, and other eco-friendly and fiscally expedient projects for our customers, mostly within the US. This is definitely an exciting time in IT, with power costs soaring, the dot-com bubble long gone, and the economy plodding down in the sludge. There are enough changes in technology, priorities, and business drivers to really allow some great architectural and operational changes and innovation to drive success. Green-IT isn't just about saving trees and millions of tons of carbon footprint anymore. At $100+ a barrel for crude oil and KWHs of electricity doubling in price, being green can also mean saving lots of green (USD). More on that topic on another day...


Saturday Sep 23, 2006

Family fun...

Took the family to the town fair up in New Market, MD today. New Market is a quiet little historic town about 50 miles northwest of the DC beltway. My daughter Shelby got a nifty straw cowgirl hat, and got to ride a pony. Definitely the highpoint of her week! Sometimes I wish that adult life and happiness were this simple. :)


Wednesday Sep 20, 2006

New geek toy...

Just received this little goodie last week. I have been eyeing the XM Radio handheld units for a while, but none tickled my fancy enough to shell out hard earned greenbacks until now.

The Pioneer INNO records XM, by time or by song. It can either store a gig of XM, or a 50/50 split of XM and your own MP3s. The reception, even without the external antenna (little dock thing required) is decent around the yard at home, and even in my office. Very cool.

I was replacing a Roady XT in my Navigator, and the Inno car kit uses the same antenna and power connectors, so installation was a breeze (as was the original install). Definitely a "two thumbs up" geek toy in my book. Shop the prices with your favorite price comparison tool, and check out the prices (being very cautious as always) on eBay, you can find decent deals out there way below the $350 USD retail price.


Tuesday Sep 19, 2006

My very own celebrity sighting!

So I was actually in the office last friday, scrubbing laptop hard drives, getting a couple machines prepped to go back out into the field, doing the random meeting shuffle... You know, typical friday "I have to go into the office" drudgery. Oh yeah, and there was this little town hall meeting with Hal.

Near the back of the room, I spot none other than MaryMary, goddess of marketing. So when they swapped glasses for a blooging photo opportunity (a much better move for Mary than for Hal), I grabbed my camera phone and snapped a quick pic for my own amusement (and posting on this blahg). MaryMary and Hal even stopped by my humble abode of an office / toy store to grab one of my infamous t-shirts. I'm so proud, one of my little fashion statements will be adorning the marketing diva...


Saturday Sep 02, 2006

Wishing for Kablamo...

Wow. Now I'm really hoping for a "Kablamo" moment. These guys over at Turn Key Engine Supply make some very cool stuff. They have taken GM performance engines and crate motors from Corvettes and Hummers, and converted them to run in restoration and hotrod project cars. They even have a series of engines for sandrails and off-road use. I'd love to try out one of their LS1 or LS7 engines in the old Vette, or an LS2 for the Bricklin (oil sump on that one is "Ford style", in the front of the motor). Looking at prices, I might have to settle for the LQ series though. After all, in street driving, there is such a thing as too much torque and horsepower.





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