It's Wednesday afternoon, so this \*must\* be Melbourne ...


Hmm. My first blog entry on the road; writing this in terminal 3 in Sydney airport with my battery running out. Let's see how well this works.

There are quite a number of Sun software engineers in Australia this week. We've been holding one of our TechDays developer conferences here in Sydney. If you get a chance to attend a TechDay in your city or within reach, I do recommend it: lots of information, lots of cool demos and giveaways, and real engineers presenting interesting talks about what they're passionate about. As an example, I heard George Wilson's excellent talk about the work going on in the opensolaris storage community for the first time today - and was intrigued by how interested the audience was in the ZFS-aware installer demo he showed. It's very clear that engineers all over the world are excited by ZFS.

I had a small part in the proceedings too - I did the community keynote on Wednesday morning, and talked about virtualization, Project Indiana, and the connections between them. Probably the largest audience I've ever spoken too; rather daunting; I hope it made some kind of sense to people. And this afternoon I did an opensolaris virtualization technologies talk. In between those events, I've been flying around Australia, visiting universities in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and (tomorrow) Brisbane. As you can tell from the title of this post, I'm a little dizzy. But as you'd probably expect, I just can't resist talking about Sun xVM, and VirtualBox and doing demos wherever I go. A few people at UTS had heard of VirtualBox, and were simply pleased to hear about the acquisition, the evolving roadmap, and our investment in this technology. Most of the others hadn't heard of it, but were definitely interested. At the conference, I started seeing it on everyone's desktop I caught sight of.

Don Kretsch, and Liang Chen are also visiting the Universities, talking about HPC and HPC Tools which has sparked a lot of interesting conversations. Josh Marinacci was also with us in Sydney, talking to the students about Dynamic Languages. He showed some fun JavaFX demos - you can find them on Josh's blog.

Though it's been tough to keep track of all the people I've met, it's been wonderful meeting students and faculty across the country. Really smart people who are interested in the technologies Sun is working on around Virtualization, HPC and Dynamic Languages. And we were there to listen to them talk about the technical and scientific problems they're working on - mostly around HPC, but also in other areas e.g. the challenges of scale and parallel programming presented by multicore architectures, complex real-time systems, and more.

As an engineer, it's always been important to me to build real things that other people find useful. That's the ultimate intellectual reward for me, and I think for most of the other engineers at Sun. It's not just about sharing and community in some remote, abstract sense, it's about making positive, real, engineering contributions to a community that can then use them. I think that's fundamentally what makes all engineers tick. So, this morning at ANU, I was surprised and pleased to hear of some work they've been doing, assessing the effectiveness of the MPO subsystem (memory placement optimizations, aka interfaces to describe NUMA machines) we built in OpenSolaris for Opteron-based systems. And in particular, they'd been using the lgroup abstraction, which I had a small hand in the architecture and initial design of a few years ago. So it was great to see the lgroup API being used, the implementation assessed against real needs, and found to be doing well; being used just how we hoped it would. And I'm looking forward to connecting these graduate students and their results with my colleagues Jonathan Chew and Bart Smaalders who put the hard work in designing and implementing the MPO code - I know they'll be interested in the results, and looking for ways to make MPO even better.

I think I'm completely smitten with Australia the country. It's my first visit here, and even though I haven't seen that much beyond CS department seminar rooms, the Darling Harbour Convention center, and the insides of various airports, hotels and taxis, I'm really drawn to the people I've met, and the comfortable feel of the culture. I need to come back again on a family vacation so we can sample the great outdoors too, and imbibe the history (and some of the wine). It's also looks to be a very beautiful place outside of the cities - even though I've only seen tantalizing glimpses on this trip.

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