Wednesday Oct 03, 2007

Wanted: Sun Ray laptop modelled on the Intel Metro

Intel Metro concept laptopThe Intel Metro is old news now but it struck me today just how much I want a Sun Ray version of this.

Jim Grisanzio's recent blog on Sun Ray laptops in Japan shows that Sun Ray laptops do exist, check Accutech for an actual product.

Just think of the potential battery life (no disk, no fans), the simplicity of flipping the lid open to immediately resume access the same session you can access from any Sun Ray on the network - all wrapped up in a sleek, low-profile, lightweight piece of design elegance.

Please, please, please.

Thursday Sep 06, 2007

Sharing some thoughts on Seedcamp

I attended Seedcamp on Wednesday 5th September as a guest on one of the many panels they held - this one was around APIs.

Summary: Fascinating, a huge opportunity for Sun and the developers.

Seedcamp aims to bring together developers, venture capitalists, business mentors and technology partners to seed the next generation of network service businesses.

As someone who works for Sun I sometimes wonder more people don't take advantage of our great technology especially as most of it, such as OpenSolaris, is free. I suspect that (a) people don't know what we have, and/or (b) they can't find anyone to talk to about it.

Like UNIX, we have an powerful box of tools but I think we too often leave it up to the ingenuity of the user to make the most of it. The opportunity is getting people to realise we have some great stuff and also how it can help them.

As for my time there ... amazingly, "Web 2.0" wasn't mentioned once.

I sat on a panel with various people representing Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Mozilla and BT. They were all working in web services in some fashion:

  • Google (Google APIs)
  • Microsoft (Windows Live API)
  • Yahoo! (YUI)
  • Mozilla (Firefox extensions)
  • BT (Web21C)

The panel was all about start-ups finding the best way to spend their hard-won investment capital. Facebook app? Firefox extension? Using YUI, Windows Live or Google? Desktop or web service?

Given that I'm a Solaris engineer which essentially means I'm a systems programmer I was the odd one out on the panel. Clearly Java is something we'd very much like to promote but that wasn't the topic of conversation.

Where I think Sun can win is catching them as they grow by offering them scalability, DRAS and an open platform with all the tools they would expect from a UNIX-based OS. Renting a service from an ISP will take you so far but if you're hitting exponential growth you need to get some solid technology in there.

To do that we need to do more to get {Open}Solaris on start-ups' laptops and servers. The Mozilla guy (unprompted) advocated OpenSolaris as DTrace was such a powerful tool when it came to debugging, performance and scalability.

From a personal perspective I was amazed at the wild productivity of this group of people. Many were working on multiple projects at the same time and their personal networks were diverse meeting each other as they flitted from job to project to web community.

What struck me was that despite their focus being web based services they meet frequently in person. Foocamp, Barcamp, unconferences and just partying.

I was surprised that there was such a busy and diverse community of web developers in London and the UK. It's not just the Bay Area.

Following the panel session I had a wide-ranging corridor conversation with a few people including the Yahoo! guy and someone working on multiple projects including School of Everything. Thanks for your time guys.

Inspiring stuff.

Tuesday May 22, 2007

Checking the firmware version of your Sun Ray

UPDATE: ThinGuy pointed out a much better (and supported) way of doing this:

$ /opt/SUNWut/sbin/utfwload
 25.0 peteh  P8.00144f6f72ea    4.0_37_2007.
 25.1 peteh  P8.00144f668b01    4.0_37_2007.

See also:

utfwload (1m)   -M /opt/SUNWut/man
utquery (1m)    -M /opt/SUNWut/man
utdesktop (1m)  -M /opt/SUNWut/man

Original text follows

This is as much a reminder for me as a reference for anyone else, our excellent Sun Ray technology has some undocumented features, including this one for getting the firmware of your head(s):

$ /opt/SUNWut/bin/utwho
  5                          user1
  6                     peteh   
  7 OpenPlatform.bbbb                    user2
$ echo "status" | /opt/SUNWut/lib/utnetpipe localhost 7010 | egrep "firmware|terminalId="

That firmware is, AFAICT, similar to the recently released Sun Ray Software 4 Update 2 Open Beta. The integrated VPN means that it's even easier to use Sun Ray at home - no extra VPN box needed.

I use Sun Ray for almost all of my day to day work at Sun. The only reason I don't use Sun Ray at home is I'm yet to convince my other half that I need (a) a neat looking screen/keyboard/mouse in our study, and (b) an even easier way of working than using my laptop - ie Pete will spend even more time working!

I wonder if product marketing have picked up on that? Sun Ray is so good your other half won't let you have one at home as it makes working from home so much easier :-)

Thursday May 03, 2007

Open or Closed Discussions? Mail alias usage @ Sun - focus is the key

Chris recently blogged on Open or Closed Discussions? - his comments on how Sun people use mail aliases (massively) and in particular whether these discussions should be open (eg on OpenSolaris forums) or closed (internal aliases). Essentially I believe there are good reasons to use both - which was Chris's conclusion unless I'm very much mistaken.

I see mail aliases being effective communication devices when the participants:

  • Share a common interest
  • Share common goal(s)

As most mail aliases represent specific topics the former is usually satisfied but it's the latter that is often overlooked.

For example, if I'm trying to resolve a customer issue on a specific topic then I'm more likely to get a better technical discussion on an internal support alias than an external one. Why? Because, as we all work for Sun, we share common goals. In particular satisfying the customer and thus growing our service revenue.

Don't be mistaken - the OpenSolaris forums are an excellent technical resource and you might get a better answer there from both Sun and non-Sun contributors. I'm deeply impressed by the Sun/Solaris technical know-how of the OpenSolaris community that lies outside Sun. However, in the long run it's in Sun's interest to develop strong, internal, focussed technical communities as that's an important part of how we stay in business.

The key word is focus. When I work through my TODO list my priorities are more focussed on satisfying paying customers. I spend a greater portion of my mail alias time responding to internal requests than on OpenSolaris aliases. It's not to say I don't contribute to OpenSolaris aliases - it's just I don't spend as much time there.

Shared interest and common goals = focus.




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