Tuesday Feb 19, 2008

Shuttle Atlantis landed safely

Just watched the space shuttle Atlantis land - cool to see as always; nice safe landing. When I was a kid, I'd watch all the Apollo missions I was allowed to watch. It was fascinating to me. What happened to the space program? Where did it go? I rarely see anything about the space program on the news (other than literally the last minute of the landing).

I guess it's a bit like watching paint dry for most people - "look, there's no gravity here... I'm drinking gatorade that's floating around the capsule..."

Monday Feb 11, 2008

Work, other work, and "fun" work

How do you balance work at your job? I have the traditional work that is my job, then I have the "other work" that I do because we're swamped, then I have the "fun" work I do that's related to my regular work, but not quite the same.

For example, my regular work is Director of the Web Platform Engineering group. I have a bunch of managers that report to me to run the actual projects. I keep on top of the projects through reporting and various other means. I set the strategy, interact with my other peers in my organization and throughout Sun. I do vendor negotiations for hosting space, support services, hardware evaluations, etc. Lots of work.

Then there's the "other work" - trying new technologies  because I was (gah, I have to say was, really) an engineer at one point and I used to write code every day. So I test certain things out as the core engineering group is swamped with day-to-day plus project work. So I try things like virtualization, early releases of Nevada (Solaris v.next), virtual appliances, various strange opensource software like joomla, drupal and other things.

Then I do the "fun" work - little projects for my boss Curtis (responsible for Customer Experience across the company). We're evaluating things like packaging for servers (you know, the boxes), how things fit together, etc. I never thought that could be fun, but it \*is\*. I get to buy and open server products from lots of other companies, and the thing I'm finding is that Sun puts together a really nice package. Ok, there's some work to be done on the number of boxes, but dang, if you've not racked one of our new x4450s, you don't know what you're missing. The rack kit \*snaps\* into a square hole rack. 30 seconds. It took me much longer to drag my boss in and show him the rack kit than it did to install the entire server. I can tell you an apple x-serve doesn't work that way (8000 screws on the floor, nothing fits really really well, the rack kit is \*sharp\* too...). I've gotten so used to having LOM available, I flat out don't know what to do when it's not there. People walk around with keyboard and monitors? What the heck is that about?

Wait, I was talking about balance. Yeah, that's it. Balance. It's hard to scale back on the things you like to do to get the required things done. But that's what you have to do. Someday I'll figure out an algorithm that provides the most amount of "fun," while still getting all the required bits out of the way. Or I can get up at 5am every morning. Dang. I do that already.

 

Friday Feb 01, 2008

Center for the Book, traditional and non traditional book making

The other weekend I took my kids to the San Francisco Center for the Book on one of their Family Bookmaking Days

Wow. What a tremendous program. My daughter (5), is fascinated with making books, and this was pretty much heaven for her. She made 2 books in about 90 minutes. We probably would have done more if it wasn't (a) crowded as all get out and (b) lunchtime :)

The entire day was sponsored by The San Francisco Foundation and a national grant as well. Of course, my son (4) had a great time too - he was particularly fascinated by the printing presses, the typefaces (they have an entire wall of lead type) and a guillotine (for cutting \*paper\*). They were using the guillotine and we watched that for at least 10 minutes, talking about how it could easily cut fingers just like it was cutting that 1/2 inch thick stack of paper...

I hope they have another session soon - it was really fun!


 

Maps for the blind

I listen to KQED (NPR in the SF/bay area) regularly on my drive to/from work. Boring, yes, but heck, I don't get the newspaper any more as it was going from the front door to the back with no stop in between... My two small kids seem to take up any time I used to have to read the paper...

Anyway, this morning I heard a great show about tactile maps.

Human beings have
used maps to describe the world for thousands of years. Blind people
have used braille for about 150 years, but there's never been a way for
the blind to have easy access to maps of everyday places. Until now.

Essentially they're using a braille printer to make maps of neighborhoods. The tremendous organization Lighthouse SF is producing the maps for free to blind people. Dang, I wish I could figure out a way to get one for myself! 

Go listen to the program via KQED - really amazing stuff! 

Camera stabilization

Hey Rama and Allen  - here's more evidence of what Rama was talking about the other day - camera stabilization via a simple string no less. 

We've had ongoing debates over tripods and camera stabilization. I take lots of people shots, so I don't typically use tripods. Of course, I have several tripods and have been shooting forever, so I have an opinion on the matter. Rama and Allen both take outdoor landscape type pics, and have been discussing which is the best tripod.

Rama as always had some interesting things to say on the topic and mentioned that if you tie a string to the center column of even a cheap tripod, let it hang to the ground and step on it, you get a very stable platform.

Here's one better via BoingBoing

Thursday Jan 31, 2008

MS to buy Yahoo - how depressing

I've been using my yahoo email address forever as my non-work email address. I've never been a fan of using an email address from my ISP (which I could just as easily be using), mainly because I change ISPs like I change hardware (pretty darn often).

I'm not looking forward to changing email addresses and converting completely to google, but it certainly looks like that's in the cards. If MS buys Yahoo I'm likely to move. As much as MS says they won't change anything, I beg to differ. Look at hotmail, it was promised forever that they wouldn't change the interfaces, and then it went through iteration after iteration of significantly worse experiences until you get the complete piece of crap that is hotmail today (my wife is a longtime user).

I hope Yahoo stays free and separate - but I understand the financials as well - it's certainly a pretty sweet offer. If I was CEO it would be very hard to turn down.


Friday Jan 04, 2008

Tesla roadster... pictures!

I got my first look at a tesla roadster today. Even in the rain, it looked good, parked in front of my local Starbucks. Geez, I want one even more now.



Thursday Dec 13, 2007

It's rebuild the lab time!

It's rebuild the lab time! That's right - there was a little bit of end-of-the-quarter money and we were able to spend it on some much needed upgrades of our development and production lab. It's pretty exciting as the lab has basically been unchanged for years (other than changing up the hardware that is - the racks, HVAC and wiring was all the same).

 Here's a few pics for you lab fiends - I'm not saying it's a perfect lab, but it's mine... all mine... muahhhahahahahaa

 
 


 

Tuesday Oct 09, 2007

Views from Beijing

I've spent several productive days here in Beijing, meeting many people, getting to know
the way things work here. I'm very excited to be creating a new team here. Sun has many
folks here already, but our little (ha) web engineering team has no presence here.


The Beijing office is very nice - apparently much nicer than the last time my boss was here - they build things quickly here.




And for evidence of speed, they've decided to tear down a smoke stack from a steam generation plan right next to the office. It started out 150' tall on Monday, and I bet it will be completely gone by the time I leave.



Just to let Rama know, I've struggled finding good coffee. Luckily, right outside the office is a small boutique tea and coffee place... They ground and brewed me a cup of coffee in a few minutes. They even had Blue Mountain coffee (for $20!!). Needless to say, I just had something more pedestrian.




The energy in Beijing is electric - it's really amazing at all the things going on everywhere. Not a block goes by that doesn't have some major construction. My pet peave is cell phone coverage - which is a joke here. I've not gone \*less\* than 5 bars of signal since I got here. And if you like food - it's a great place to try some "interesting" things - like scorpion, grasshopper, etc.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course my favorite thing has to be the method of delivery here. . Yep, laptops on the back of a bike. And it's not like this is an isolated incident. I saw this \*everywhere\*. Heck, I might resort to this for Sun servers - it sure seemed fast, and you get some exercise too!

 

 ps. sorry for this uglified posting. I'll get it fixed shortly. (will)

Monday Oct 08, 2007

Starbucks in Beijing

I'm in Beijing on business looking to start a small engineering group to work on web properties. The group will be an extension of my other global engineering teams (I have teams throughout the USA, UK, and Czech Republic today).

Anyway, Beijing has been great. Getting used to the time/date change is actually not that hard. Flying was a serious pain (literally and figuratively). I managed to tear my medial meniscus hiking, and can't have the surgery until December. That means on long flights or long car rides, my knee locks up. That's the literal pain. The figurative pain is that the time difference makes it a 13 hr flight in which it's \*always day outside\*. I think I slept about an hour, maybe 2 at most. Departed my house at 8:30am, arrived Beijing at 3:30pm. The next day. Hmmm. Body was completely messed up. Oh and it's a holiday here in Beijing (or the end of a week long holiday). My boss and I wandered the streets for a few hours and then went out to a nice dinner with some of the local folks.

Monday, and we went to the office - a very long car ride from our hotel (Grand Hyatt in Beijing is great, but not really near the office - good news is the hotel is near the Forbidden City and a few other cool things to see).

Meetings back-to-back all day, but we snuck out for lunch. Curtis opened the ERI (engineering and research institute?) about 6-7 years ago, so he's been here a lot. I'd been here about 8 years ago (maybe more) to install the first copies of SunSolve. Boy has the town changed (even for Curtis).

We went to lunch, found a nice small spot, had lunch, and I picked up the tab. 54RMB. About 8$. For the two of us. Wow. Since the jet lag was starting to hit, we decided to grab a starbucks (oh, how American I know, but I was craving coffee, and there just aren't a lot of coffee shops here...) Curtis pics up the tab for 2 coffees and two "green tea chocolate eclairs". Yeah, yeah, bad! Whatever. Oh, and I \*don't\* recommend the green tea chocolate eclairs. Ever. Wrong. Best part, 84RMB for the drinks and eclairs. Hee hee. About 12$. More than full lunch for 2. Geez.

on my mind: Spook Country - William Gibson

The World Without Us - Alan Weisman

Thursday Apr 26, 2007

Happy Birthday Blogs.sun.com

3 Back on April 27th of 2004, I wasn't really thinking about the impact the launch of blogs.sun.com might have. I was too focused on getting the site out the door on time and without a hitch. Little did I realize that what we were about to unveil that day would change both the way Sun communicates with its customers, developers, and partners, and the way the world views Sun.

Now we celebrate three years of Sun employee blogging! That's over 65,000 entries delivered by about 10% of Sun's employees, all of whom are encouraged to share their opinions and ideas with the world on just about everything -- pardon the expression -- under the sun. To honor this milestone, many Sun bloggers are dedicating entries over the next few days to their experiences and thoughts on being a blogs.sun.com contributor.

Thanks to all for making blogs.sun.com a success.

Tuesday Mar 13, 2007

Building a Disaster Recovery Site

Disaster recovery site, NevadaNap[Read More]

Monday Jan 08, 2007

Tools I can't live without

Cool tools[Read More]

Thursday Dec 28, 2006

Blog Tag... 5 Things Most People Don't Know About Me

5 things about me[Read More]

100 things we didn't know last year...

100 things we didn't know last year...[Read More]
About

I run the engineering group responsible for Sun.com and the high volume websites at Sun.

Will Snow
Sr. Engineering Director

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