Friday Apr 17, 2009

Would 6 units of band class qualify me for a free JavaOne 2009 pass?

The worst thing about graduating and getting a job in the real world is that all the cool benefits dried up.  Student rates on travel, movie passes, food...etc.

I just noticed an offer on the J1 web site that appears to allow students (6 units or more) to get a free, FULL JavaOne 2009 conference pass.  Even as a Sun employee, I only get a limited pass.  Which got me thinking:  I'm currently taking a 1 unit music performance class at a local community college.  If I sign up for 5 more of these classes, would that qualify?

Hm...I should check with my manager...

Friday Feb 06, 2009

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! OpenJDK Bugzilla Goes Live!

News at 11...or whenever the moderator on "announce at openjdk dot java dot net" approves my message...or just go to: 

(Apologies to my younger or international readers if the title of this entry didn't make any sense.)

Sunday Feb 01, 2009

Update on the OpenJDK Bugzilla instance.

I've recently been leading the effort to get our OpenJDK Bugzilla instance in place, and just wanted to let folks know that we're pretty close.

I took some time over the last couple days to take a snapshot of what we have and what's planned for the near and somewhat longer future.  The short story is that we'll begin by tracking contributions from OpenJDK developers who do not have push rights to the JDK 6 and 7 forests.  The next phase will expand the system to track most if not all of the OpenJDK projects under development.

The longer story is now available on the OpenJDK website.

One last point.  Until the general system is up, you should continue to submit new bug reports through the normal channel.

There's still a lot of work to be done and questions to be answered, but thought you might like to see the current status and what's being planned.

Thursday Dec 18, 2008

You can teach a somewhat older dog new tricks-OpenSolaris 2008.11: Wow!

Way back in grad school (early 90's), I was called in to assist in the investigation of an internet porn exchange ring.  The ring was using some unsecured FTP servers belonging to our state's government.  Our team finished our initial assessment and called in the State Police to report our findings.  I will never forget that day as long as I live.  I said, "Yes, you've got a problem" and brought up one of the tamer images.  This career cop was two years away from retirement, and he just rolled his eyes and said "I'm too old for this, I don't get this new technology."

I'm nowhere near retirement age, tho if that .com bubble hadn't burst...hmmm...  But when I see something cool, it just invigorates me.  Although I've been on the bleeding edge of Java technology for almost 10 years now, I'm ashamed to admit I've lost my edge in Solaris.  I recently got called into a high-priority escalation involving some native code.  All my familiar tools still worked, but were limited in how quickly I could drill down into the problem.  To analyze this issue, I finally had the excuse to play with all the cool new tools now in Solaris.  prstat, libumem, mdb, dtrace, etc.  Wow, what a difference those years made.  And that's only scratching the surface.

Even netbeans has come a long way since I last "attempted" to use it (4.X).  The debugger and editor are light years better, the profiler now works, and I am now actually using  it to debug my OpenJDK7 builds.  How much productivity have I gained via "Ctrl-space"?   Look for another post on using Netbeans 6.5 to work in OpenJDK7 when I get some more time.

Today, Tim Bell and I set up a sandbox area for the codereview and bug tracker databases for OpenJDK.  We needed the usual parts:  some hardware, an OS instance, a web server, a database.  As we subscribe to the "Eat our own dogfood" school of thought, the new OpenSolaris 2008.11 immediately came to mind.  Wow.

My day went something like this:

  • Lunch.  Check.
  • Find x86 hardware.  Check
  • Download OpenSolaris 2008.11, and burn to CD.  Boot.  Check.
  • Wait, what's this GUI installer thingy?  Ok...a few simple questions later...wait for install to finish.  Check.
  • Wait, it booted and the networking is already up and configured?  DHCP by default?  Cool!  Check.
  • Wait, I just realized I didn't have to spend an hour trying to remember some arcane display commands.  And then spending another two actually tweaking the settings.  My display just came up.  And the default workspace looks good.
  • And now you're telling me I can just use the new IPS GUI to point and click to install a webserver, SQL instance, netbeans, and a bunch of other tools?  No downloading the source, building, cursing?  Cool!
  • Elapsed time:  3 hours.

I'm sure I'll spend the next couple days/weeks tweaking things, but for simply getting something up quickly, Solaris has made huge inroads in the last few years, both in tools for techies and for providing a general work environment for the non-techie.  What a pleasure.  And all on x86.  I can distinctly recall several periods in Sun's history where mentioning x86 and Solaris in the same breath were grounds for dismissal.

It's to the point where I can finally recommend Solaris to my parents.

Except that my brother works at Microsoft, and gets a great discount.

And they always did like him better.

Wednesday Nov 12, 2008

Consolidation of the JSN and TL gates.

For the last 4 years, I've been the "Gatekeeper" for the Java Security and Network (JSN) team.  Gatekeepers are those under-appreciated but highly necessary folks who make sure that new changes work, and play nicely with what's already there.  We're only as good as our test cases, but not all developers are as diligent about running everything that's available.

A month ago, I was asked to take on a project to support the OpenJDK project.  In order to free up time, we decided to decommission the JSN gate, and transition the JSN developers to the Tools and Libraries (TL) gate run by Tim Bell.  My last push from/to the JSN gate was October 20th, and the first push of the merged TL gate was done last week November 7th.  The JSN gate still exists in its normal place, but is fast becoming out-of-date.  We will eventually remove it completely from the project.

Giving up this role has been bittersweet.  I had spent a lot of time automating the process, and those scripts now sit mostly unused.  But I've been gatekeeper for JDK 1.3.1 and in my previous life working on Trusted Solaris 2.5 with Sun's Federal Systems Division.  I wouldn't be surprised if I find myself in this role again, but for now, I'm definitely looking forward to doing something different for a while.

For anyone thinking of breaking the TL gate, Tim now has the noose, and isn't afraid to assign it.

P.S.  For the "GhostBusters" fans out there, even though I'm no longer "Gatekeeper," I still have my other job as backup "Keymaster".  Requests for JCE Code Signing Certificates still come to me.

Tuesday Jun 03, 2008

He Is He, Don Quixote: The Lord of La Mancha!

Folks have been asking what I'm up to outside of work.  Way too many things for one blog entry, so I'll focus on the most recent.

As you may know, one of the things I'm quite passionate about is music and performance. I'd started with church choirs, but I'd say I got really passionate about music in 5th grade, when I had to choose an instrument for the school band.  I can't believe how practical I was back then:  I asked myself what instrument(s) will allow me to do the most types of music.  (pretty impressive for a 5th grader, no?)  The answer was obvious:  Percussion.  Rock, soul, jazz, classical, latin, marching, tribal, etc., etc., etc.

Here it is, \*mumble-something\* years later, and I'm still at it.  Played on 6 continents so far.  (Note: If any researchers/penguins in Antarctica are reading, I'll be happy to come bang out a tune.)

Brad in the pit surrounded by instruments.My latest gig is playing in the pit (orchestra) for the Saratoga Drama Group's production of "Man of La Mancha".  The music actually calls for three percussionists, but we're covering with two.  A good friend of mine who is also a percussionists likes to say that "We're busier back there than a one-armed wallpaper hanger."  Snare, tom toms, and bass drums, cymbals, castanets, wood blocks, timpani, orchestra bells, finger cymbals, tambourine:  The only reason we don't have a xylophone back there is that we're out of room!

(By the way, is there an English spelling book that doesn't use "Xylophone" for the letter "X"?)

Oh yeah, I almost forgot why I chose the title for this blog.  Everyone is raving about how tall our Don Quioxote (Walter Mayes) is.  He's 6' 7-1/2" (201 cms) tall.  Yet, I don't hear anyone emoting about how tall one of the percussionists is.  ;)  Ah, jealousy is a fickle beast.  But at least 6' (183 cms) Michael Johnson finally got to play one of his favorite roles, Sancho Panza.  It wouldn't be right to have Sancho taller than Don Quioxote.

I've been really impressed by the overall quality of this show.  As the orchestra is onstage in the wings, I haven't seen the full show.  But from where I sit, the cast seems really strong, the orchestra solid, the lighting and sound great, and the reviews have been comparing us to professional productions.  Even my wife, whose honest opinion I respect, said it's probably one of the best SDG shows she's seen over the years.  Community theater can sometimes be hit or miss, this was a definite hit.

This next weekend is the last weekend of the run, so if you feel like a seeing a great show, please come on down.  There are a few tickets available still.

Wednesday Mar 05, 2008

I Have Met "The Man," and The Tail Will Not Be Pretty.

Meet "The Man"

 I love "dives."  You know those places that you look at from the outside, and say..."hmm..."  But with lines out the door, you know they must be doing something right.  Once you get inside, you know there's something special going on in the kitchen.  My wife has always accused me of taking her to only the "finest" establishments, but this one almost killed her.

A little backstory:  As my little brother was graduating from college, he was seduced by the Dark Side and moved to Redmond Washington to work for the large unnamed software company based there.  coughcough\*bluescreenofdeath\*coughcough  It made for interesting family dinner conversations, as dad was always trying to get his boys to talk smack about each other's company.  Sorry, Dad, I'm not Scott McNealy!

Apparently all visitors to the Microsoft campus have to make the pilgrimage to Dixie's BBQ in Bellevue.  The walls are adorned with about a dozen maps each with hundreds of colorful pins, each signifying where a previous customer was born.  The place is infamous for its colorful characters, pretty good BBQ, and "The Man."

So how does one describe "The Man?"  Imagine one of the lowest fiery Circles of Hell, say those reserved for corrupt politicians, people who commit simony, or OpenJDK developers who break the build.  Now imagine these people are served a nice BBQ lunch.  As this is Hell, the BBQ sauce is punishingly spicy, somewhere just between "Dave's Insanity Sauce" and "Lord, if you would just remove this molten lava from my mouth, I won't ever _______ again!!!"  Now, place a couple of gallons of that BBQ sauce in a large cauldron, and allow it to simmer/reduce for several years, to the volume of a small quart pot.  Now give this pot to a Bellevue Washington restaurateur named Gene Porter, and have him walk around his restaurant asking if you've met "The Man." 

Deb met "The Man"Fortunately, for most people, Gene is nice, and only dips the tip of a toothpick into his concoction, or if you're unlucky, the tip of a spoon.  Whatever you do, don't say something stupid like say "I love hot sauce!"  For those idiotspeople, Gene scrapes the bottom of the pot.  Trust me, you don't want to be anywhere near when that happens.

For years my brother had warned us about "The Man".  I've even had some at family picnics.  But until last weekend, I'd never had it straight from the pot.  Whoa Nelly!   Fortunately, I was in control of the camera, and got to capture my wife's reaction.  She's not normally that pink!  It took 15 minutes and a lot of peanuts, but was finally able to speak again.  She gave us a very memorable quote:  "That would make a great diet aid!"  I wasn't sure if she meant on the way in, or out.

A few other reviews of "Dixie's":

Thursday Feb 14, 2008

Leave me alone, I'm on vacation!

I've got no qualms about giving my all when I'm working.  I've done the long days, the long nights, the long weekends.  But when I officially pull the plug and go on vacation, I expect to be able to leave Sun behind, and enjoy some well-deserved time off without any reminders of what I do the rest of the year. 

I don't think that's too much to ask.  But have you ever tried to unplug yourself completely when you work for a "network" company like Sun? 

I first noticed it on a trip to Nepal.  I had just finished a rather stressful project, and was glad to be getting away.  But as I'm walking between planes in Bangkok, there's a 20 foot ad image of then-CEO Scott McNealy, smiling with his big toothy grin from his perch on the wall, reminding me that "Sun in the . (dot) in dot com."

Trip to Brazil.  Sun's being profiled in the in-flight magazine.  Trip to Spain/Portugal:  Sun's being advertised on a whole wall of posters in a small city.  Ok, gloves are off.  Hawaii?  Nope, there's a high-tech design exhibit in SFO United Terminal featuring all kind of high-tech product designs.  I was halfway through before I saw the case that featured a Sun Ray.  Dagnabit!!! 

Out of all the buildings in Sydney, Australia, our route took us right by the Sydney sales office.  Cameroon?  I thought for sure, I stood a fighting chance.  Nope.  I forget what I saw in the Cook Islands, but was not amused.

I guess it's good to work for a company with a global presence.  But just for a couple days a year, can't you just leave me alone1?

On the other hand, I'm glad I don't work for another unnamed large software company.  I don't know how many times I've walked by an airport flight status board only to see an infamous "Blue Screen of Death."  It does give me a chuckle.


1.  Maybe now I'm looking for Sun references just to keep the streak alive. 


Monday Feb 11, 2008

"You're a...Gatekeeper? Uh huh. What's a Gatekeeper?"

What does it mean to be a "Gatekeeper" in the OpenJDK?  A look behind all the smoke and mirrors, and why you should pay attention to those men and women behind the curtain.[Read More]

Nice Overview for Getting Started with OpenJDK

Lars Westergren posted an article in his blog about what the OpenJDK project is and how it works.  I found it to be a great overview, as he did a nice job on culling information from various sources and presenting it in a very coherent manner.

Brad currently works in the Java Security and Network Group, Java Standard Edition.


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