Thursday Dec 03, 2009

2009 Space Coast Marathon Personal Race Report

The 2009 Space Coast Marathon was great, my third marathon this year (of a planned two). I had bib 472 and finished in 4:26:55 which is about 20 minutes better than my previous best (my first, Baltimore 2008) and just shy of an hour better than Baltimore this year (about 40 days prior) with a low grade fever and upper respiratory infection.[Read More]

Wednesday Jan 07, 2009

Freeware Jet Engines Dangerous: Does free software imply low quality results?

In a recent NY Times article on the R data analysis language Anne H. Milley implied that her personal happiness stems from quality of jet engines that can only be achieved through the use of commercial software.

If I were in Ms. Milley's position I too would be happy if people were paying to use my product. What does not particularly matter to me is the cost of software which is used to design those engines. What I truly care about is the quality of the engineering, construction and validation procedures. In any case as a passenger I am unsure how I can determine if the equipment I am flying on was designed using free software or not. I will have to settle for being happy if my flight is on time, security lines are short and I get home to see my wife.

“I think it addresses a niche market for high-end data analysts that want free, readily available code," said Anne H. Milley, director of technology product marketing at SAS. She adds, “We have customers who build engines for aircraft. I am happy they are not using freeware when I get on a jet.”

[From R, the Software, Finds Fans in Data Analysts -]

Given the implication that happiness, value and quality are only available for products designed using commercial software; I find myself retroactively saddened by all of the things that I have seen which were designed before commercial software packages were available. I would like to thank Ms. Milley for sucking the joy out of my life.

Monday Jan 05, 2009

Netbeans will not start on OS X

Back from a two week break, finished with at least the first pass of mail and attempting to get back to inbox zero I find that I cannot start NetBeans 6.1 or 6.5. It appears that the problem is an OS X update forcing the use of 64-bit data model when the 32-bit is required.

In various locations I found instructions to change to the 32-bit data model with -d32. After adding this change to netbeans.conf (alternatively -d32 or -J-d32) the problem was not resolved.

An ugly hack to work around this issue (inspiration from Sam Cogan):

lipo /System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.5.0/Home/bin/java \\
   -remove x86_64 -output /tmp/java
sudo mv /System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.5.0/Home/bin/java \\
sudo mv /tmp/java /System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.5.0/Home/bin/java-32
sudo ln -s /System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.5.0/Home/bin/java-32 \\

This appears to have fixed the immediate symptom, there is no telling what I have broken in some other insidious ways. I also expect this problem to return with the next update to java which replaces the java binary.

Ways to identify this problem:

From the open /Applications/NetBeans/NetBeans\\
LSOpenFromURLSpec() failed with error -10810 for the file /Applications/NetBeans/NetBeans
From CrashReporter files for java: 
Process:         java [5579]
Path:            /System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.5/Home/bin/java
Identifier:      java
Version:         ??? (???)
Code Type:       X86-64 (Native)
Parent Process:  bash [5421]
Exception Codes: 0x000000000000000d, 0x0000000000000000
Crashed Thread:  0
Thread 0 crashed with X86 Thread State (64-bit):
In: /var/log/system.log
1/5/09 3:05:41 PM [0x0-0x133133].org.netbeans.ide[5610] /Applications/NetBeans/NetBeans line 493:  5768 Segmentation fault      "/System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.5/Home/bin/java" ...

Tuesday Nov 04, 2008

Flash/SSD MySQL and performance

It seems that MySQL and SSD performance is popular. I just saw Kazuho at Work: Benchmarking SSD for MySQL and last night I listened to Blog Talk Radio: Innovation Insider - Flash Memory Technology with Michael Cornwell. The latter discusses more than flash performance with references to MySQL benchmarking. It also covers price/performance, reliabilty and the economics of power consumption and heat dissipation for SSD vs spinning storage.

Benchmarking Amazon EC2 for High-Performance Scientific Computing

My copy of ;Login: arrived yesterday last week. As I was reading it over a quick breakfast of oatmeal and coffee the article "Benchmarking Amazon EC2 for High-Performance Scientific Computing (PDF)" by Edward Walker caught my eye. Having worked with our own grid services at I understand that there is a tradeoff in terms of cost/value and performance and didn't find the gist of the results to be surprising.

In my opinion, a purpose built high bandwidth, low latency grid/cluster is generally going to outperform the lower cost more generic and I believe possibly more flexible solution. On the other hand, in the utility model the consumer of the service/resources doesn't really have to worry about the TCO of the service or the cost of management and up front implementation.

In short: if you have the time, money, talent and desire feel free to build your own. If not it may be worth while to trade off some of that performance for convenience.

Monday Oct 13, 2008

OpenSolaris at SmugMug

Don MacAskill has written about his experiences with Solaris and OpenSolaris at SmugMug. Most recently about his experiences using MySQL and OpenSolaris as a slave in one of SmugMug's production database clusters. Today Don published an update on MySQL, InnoDB and ZFS compression.

You may now be saying to yourself, yes but other people have posted about this already, and you would be correct. Aside from being interesting articles the second article uses a picture I took during the setup of in Las Vegas :)

Friday Oct 10, 2008

Going to the start of the Marathon wish me luck

Race starts in 24 minutes...

Heading out to meet my pace group now. My support crew is here and ready to go.

The voice of the baby just wised me luck

Thursday Oct 09, 2008

Baltimore Marathon Live Tracking

The Marathon will have live results including split times somewhere on the Baltimore Marathon Site or at I don't know for sure and I won't be checking from the course.

For all of you that follow me on twitter, you are obviously waiting for updates with baited breath, I haven't had the time to work out a way to update that I am sure won't end up as spam.

Instamapper is showing you the last time I had GPS Tracker running, when I ran 20 miles of the course in baltimore, but will update as soon as I start it back up on Saturday.


Mobile Tracking:

GPS tracking powered by (Reload page for updates)

I will be wearing bib number Shawn (1117), my sisters Emily (21796) and Karina (31683) will both be running the Baltimore Half Marathon. I also run with a Garmin 305, after the race I will have detailed track information which I view with Ascent from Montebello Software. Ascent allows me to view my pace, heart rate and supporting data with a replay function to view recorded data with a map overlay.

After the race I will upload the recorded course to

Friday Oct 03, 2008

Goose Grade, seriously?

What is Goose Grade?

Paraphrased from the video and my reading. Crowd-sourced (do people still say crowd-sourced?) review/editing of blog content. I have added the goose grade chicklet to my blog. It seems as if it has potential, particularly given my generally bad grammar/punctuation and spelling.

Suggestions for improvement

  • excerpt post title in feed
  • excerpt feed needs to link to individual article not top level site
  • excerpt feed needs to ignore non-primary content feeds
    • alternately allow users to specify/override for the appropriate feed
  • excerpt feed needs to not post errors such as 403 or javascript problems
  • excerpt feed per-article images should be part of the article, not the first/only image on the page
  • excerpt feed I feel no desire to comment on the site, it doesn't foster or enhance the conversation around a particular post
  • excerpt feed I am unable to see the value in the link to the goosegrade excerpt
  • console sliding animation is attractive but I am unsure that it enhances use
  • console drop downs truncate long site names
  • console/excerpt "Name of site" isn't especially useful as the target of the excerpt link
  • most pages would benefit from a more results/next page link
  • console I would expect website name to link to the user provided URL e.g. "" not as above, If I had used Yakshaving as the name instead would I have been presented with a broken link?
  • search shawn ferry (no quotes) seems likely to have matched shawnferry, but it doesn't
  • search does not seem to search inside user profile content
  • generated html should include alt and title text to help explain what goosegrade is and why someone might want to click (I made some up)

Please feel free to give it a shot by clicking on the goosegrade chicklet in the side bar (or the one I included specifically in this post).

Tuesday Sep 30, 2008

Baltimore Marathon in 10:10:10:10

10 Days, 10 Hours, 10 Minutes and 10 Seconds

I have been training for that last 20 weeks to run the Baltimore marathon. My first ever marathon and the first time I have done any real training for a running race. I have been training with the Ashburn Area Running Club and Potomac River Running as part of the AARC distance training program.

My goals for this run in order of preference:

  1. Finish in 4:45
  2. Finish in less than 5:00
  3. Finish on my feet

I got new shoes four weeks ago (Asics Nimbus 10) they are broken in (and extremely similar to my old Asics Cumulus). As of this moment my first concern is getting sick. Cdash is currently coughing up yellow phlegm and feeling miserable. Otherwise I have yet to run the full distance but I did run most all of the hills on the course on a 20 mile training run two weeks ago.

I am working on live tracking for the event, more details as I work them out.

Friday Aug 29, 2008

Seared Ahi Tuna

@Cdash is off in Sacramento in the middle of a cage migration and new hardware deployment. I decided that it was finally time to make some of the tuna that I bought a couple of months ago. I had planned to make it last night but didn't get the meat into the fridge to thaw with enough time to spare.

This is based on Seared Ahi Tuna Recipe, I deviated using the ingredients on hand. Starting with a very hot cast iron skillet (smoking the oil) I seared the tuna for 70s a side.

After it was removed from the heat I sliced it into ~1/4 inch pieces and plated it on a bit of spring mix for color.

Momma was sure that she would like some tuna please. nom nom nom

So I gave her a taste

I had some too

It was excellent and it is a shame that my wife couldn't be here to have any. I hope the migration is going well.

More pictures in the gallery

Wednesday Jun 11, 2008

Good Turn out at CROSUG

Sitting in the Capitol Region OpenSolaris Users Group meeting, this is one of the best turnouts that e have had so far. This meeting is a little later than last few (starting after the workday instead of just before the end).

Ooh, live demo failed...looking for a live setup utility for the AMP stack couldn't find it offhand. OTOH the GUI package manager is working nicely. IPS seems like it has really made progress since the last time I looked (it has been a while, I have been slacking). We just got the fairly standard question about patching, packaging etc looking more advanced in OpenSolaris than Solaris 10. The answer of course is "OpenSolaris is more the development platform, it has the newer and more advanced/bleeding edge features. Some of these features will make it back to commercial Solaris."

Given the location that we are in another fairly obvious question: How do we get access to these cool bits and the IPS repository if our network is separated from the internet by an air gap. (The answer is that you can set up your own repo, eventually you should expect that there will be something like an official DVD that provides the needed files. (I expect that this is really only of interest in the Fed space))

I just remembered why the late meetings here aren't as nice as they could be. The AC cuts off at 6PM, it is starting to get just a touch warmer in here. I assume it will be fairly warm by the end of the meeting.

Moved to Sam NIcholson for "OpenSolaris: A Developer's Perspective"

"OpenSolaris Look and Feel: Give people what they expect and slip in what they need under the covers."

Good questions about iSCSI, SMF, Contracts, manifests. I am surprised at how few people here haven't done much with SMF (not even writing your own service).

I really need to get to ZFS root for the live snapshot based update, I have the image sitting on my laptop but haven't installed the image.

Monday Jun 02, 2008

Big Buck Bunny Rocks

Way back when (June 19, 2007 at ~4am) I sent mail to Ton at Blender. At the time I allowed that we had this compute grid that already ran Blender and that while I couldn't commit any time I could if he was interested put him in touch with the people who could. Happily he allowed that indeed they were looking for a render farm sponsor.

Woot! On May 29, 2008 I received my copy of the Big Buck Bunny DVD. I brought it inside and we paused the Stanley Cup Playoffs so we could watch it. It looks really good and I think it was worth the occasional pain on our part in supporting the rendering (also because my name is in the credits as I bought a pre-release copy of the DVD to further support the development effort :) ).

Big Buck Bunny was rendered on (press release) using Blender which is part of the application catalog

To focus on the things that I think most people reading Sun blogs would find interesting the rendering process from the Big Buck Bunny blogs. My role was down in the Sun Grid - bubble.

Renderfarm overview

If you look at the blogs there is plenty of information describing the development process, the rendering process and the fact that there were some complications in the execution. Interestingly one of the most common problems from my perspective were a large number of core files from the various Blender processes. These cores would at times fill up /var in the zones they were running in causing the Blender jobs to fail. Because of the implementation a single sub-task failure would cascade resulting in stopping the whole rendering process.

I "fixed" the core issue (coreadm is your friend) and cores have been disabled by default, now requiring that the end user make a local directory in their job setup scripts to hold their own cores if they would like to capture them. I believe that the cascading stop has been made into an option that is controllable in the job definition through the portal as well.

Go take a look at Big Buck Bunny and marvel at the power of open source software. Then realize how cool it is that a company such as Sun would spend/donate real time, money and resources on a creative commons animated movie. I'm glad we did it and I hope we can continue to do so in the future. (Maybe the next one as well)

Wednesday Mar 19, 2008

Is Competetion Bad?

Adam said his record for Escapa! was 16.02 and I knew I could beat it.

So I did it a few times and figured more of the pattern out. Instead of claiming some high number I took a screencast of the session. Then after ending the capture I beat my own time so I took a screenshot.

My best time is now 23.234 and that is (including the time for the video and blogging this) is 15 minutes of my life that I will never get back. My question now is how many people will actually watch the video?

Another fun, quick and simple game I have found myself wasting time on: Desktop Tower Defense

Friday Mar 07, 2008

Chinposin for the Chinerati

What?!? A chinposin T-shirt as an external and ongoing display of authority.


Are YOU chinposin, take a look at the chinposin blog for some explanation of the chinposin movement straight from the mouth of the chinerati.


ThinGuy posted about chinposin yesterday, and Friday's are for chinposin! My latest avatar snapped by my wife (@cdash) this morning. Chinposin doesn't take a description of the avatar I call this one:


Authority at rest cannot be STOPPED!

Authority at rest cannot be STOPPED!

It figures that I was not the only person to go with a chinposin at rest avatar today, but as far as I can tell I was the only one to actually do it from bed. This shows that my own natural authority shines through :)




« July 2016
Sun Managed Operations