Archive for September, 2006

Why Blog?

September 29, 2006

Welcome, Platform Software colleagues. This entry is a public continuation of an article on blogging in the current edition of our internal departmental newsletter. Since I’m suggesting why you should consider blogging on blogs.sun.com, I thought it appropriate to make my case on our external blog site so people outside of Sun who would like to comment can add to the discussion. And, of course, the many Sun employees who read Sun blogs should feel free to contribute as well.

OK. So why blog on blogs.sun.com? Because Sun’s customers will benefit, Sun will benefit, and you will benefit.

Good For Sun Customers

Sun’s customers will benefit because the people in Platform Software are the experts in many technical areas that are both important and interesting to our customers. To name several: firmware, service processors, fault management, system management, security, performance, PCI, system bring-up, high performance computing, and virtualization. Anyone out there reading this blog think it might be interesting to hear directly from Sun engineers working in these areas?

Of course, as members of Sun’s System Group, we do need to use our common sense (and also read Sun’s blogging guidelines) when blogging externally since we have access to all manner of proprietary information about future system designs and schedules. We can’t talk about future product releases. So, for example, I can’t say much at all about the cool prototype systems I saw in Tushar’s office recently. But you’d be surprised perhaps at some of the things Sun has talked about externally. For example, both the ROCK and Niagara 2 processors have been discussed outside Sun. I also just noticed a Wikipedia article on ROCK. So, talking about future products is a tricky, but discussing technology is a lot easier. And you folks know technology. Our group has centuries, maybe millennia, of collective experience at the Mothership of Unix working in all of the above technical areas. I know you’ll find an eager audience for what you have to say.

If you are wondering what subjects are worth blogging about in our part of the software stack, you can get some idea by looking at other Sun blogs. For example, Mike Shapiro’s blog on debugging, reliability, and fault management. One of his recent entries discusses SNMP and gives a pointer to a newly-defined MIB for readers to enjoy. Fairly low level and fairly geeky. And check out Brian Cantrill’s blog as well. Don’t miss his OpenSolaris Sewer Tour, one of my favorite entries. As he says, the open sourcing of Solaris is like having tourists suddenly flock to your hometown. A lot of you grew up there, too, and it’s now okay to talk about your favorite corner of the OpenSolaris code base.

Good For Sun

All this blogging is good for Sun as well. Why? Partly because it shows what we mean by the Participation Age. But more important, it helps people outside Sun get a better appreciation for the huge amount of technical work and innovation happening at Sun. And a better appreciation of the technical depth and breadth of our engineers. That’s the ‘cool’ factor that helps Sun’s general reputation. It’s also the case that a many Sun bloggers are sharing information that is directly useful to our customers and others. And that’s good for Sun, too.

These are tiny examples, but I’m surprised to see people still reading information I posted a year ago about getting Solaris running on my Tecra laptop. And I’m still getting regular hits on my Dtrace entry.

Good For You

Blogging can be a lot of fun whether you decide to stick solely to technical entries, or prefer to mix it up a bit and add more personal and eclectic content. I know we have a lot of interesting people in our group: astronomy buffs, racing car drivers, beer brewers, new parents, gadget geeks. And I know at least one of you growing up had Howard Stern for a summer camp counsellor. There are interesting stories to tell.

There’s a more serious reason to consider blogging as well. Don’t underestimate the value of developing or enhancing a personal brand for yourself. At the very least, developing a reputation as a knowledgeable practitioner in a particular technology area across a broad community of people outside and inside of Sun is useful for your career. Blogging can help. If you look at blogs.sun.com, you’ll see that the top hundred or so blogs regularly receive thousands of hits per day.

My proposal to you: Sign up for a blog and start writing. Realize that you may feel a little awkward and self-conscious at first, so give yourself some time to get comfortable with the process. Commit to writing, say, one entry per week for a few months and then assess whether you’d like to continue. If you find even this daunting, consider starting a group blog with some of your colleagues to cover a particular technology area. My guess is that whether you blog individually or as a part of a group, you’ll find the experience to be worthwhile and even fun.

To start blogging, register here.

Related entries:

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Participation Age Guru

September 28, 2006

I met a Participation Age guru at Sun’s Global Technology Leadership Conference in Bangalore, India this summer. He is the Honorable Mr. Justice Yatindra Singh of the Allahabad High Court.

Justice Singh is an active advocate of openness and participation at a court which itself has a history of advocacy and participation. The Allahabad High Court was the first court in the world to interpret the “person clause” to include women when it enrolled Cornelia Sorabji as its first female legal practitioner on August 24, 1921.

More recently, due to the influence of Justice Singh, the court has continued its aggressive support of openness by adopting open source technologies and embracing new technologies to broaden the impact of the court. Specifically, all court IT infrastructure is now required to be built from open source components and the court has adopted the Open Document Format as its official document standard. In addition, the court publishes an RSS feed to announce all major judgments of the court, perhaps the first use of this technology by a court. Now that is openness and participation!

The Justice is an expert on open source licensing and cyber law and is the author of Cyber Laws, published in 2005. He was invited speaker at Sun’s GTLC and spoke about open source from a legal and end-user perspective. While he was very positive about Sun’s OpenOffice effort, he felt more attention should be paid to Solaris ease of use and to raising awareness of our open source efforts to people outside of the technology sector.

Justice Singh blogs at A Judge’s World.

Happy Autumn

September 22, 2006

[candy corn]

A Yank Comes Home

September 22, 2006
NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
No. 942-06 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 22, 2006
Media Contact: (703) 697-5131/697-5132
Public/Industry(703) 428-0711

First Identification of U.S. Soldier Missing in Action from World War I

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from World War I, have been identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

This is the first time the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) has identified a soldier unaccounted for from World War I.

He is Army Pvt. Francis Lupo of Cincinnati, Ohio.He will be buried on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2006, at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.

Representatives from the Army met with Lupo’s next-of-kin to explain the recovery and identification process and to coordinate interment with military honors on behalf of the Secretary of the Army.

In 1918, Lupo participated in the combined French-American attack on the Germans near Soissons, France, in what came to be known as the Second Battle of the Marne.Despite heavy Allied losses, this battle has been regarded as a turning point in the war, halting and reversing the final German advances toward Paris.

Lupo, a member of Company E, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, was killed in action during the battle, but his remains were never recovered.

In 2003, while conducting a survey in preparation for a construction project, a French archaeological team discovered human remains and other items a short distance from Soissons.Among the items recovered were a military boot fragment and a wallet bearing Lupo’s name.The items were given by the French to U.S. officials for analysis.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA in the identification of Lupo’s remains.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.

Voyager I: Go, Baby, Go!!

September 21, 2006

Voyager I left Earth almost 30 years ago to visit Jupiter and Saturn. It’s now beyond the solar system and outside the heliosphere, a large bubble of Sun-created gas about four-times wider than the orbit of Neptune. It’s cruising through the heliosheath and will be for another ten years.

[voyager artist rendition]

Amazingly, Voyager is still sending back data. And it’s been finding some very weird things out there. NASA has a nice article here that gives all the details, including instructions on how to simulate the heliosphere and heliosheath in your kitchen sink.

With respect to the mystery around the source of the so-called Anomalous Cosmic Rays, if they aren’t being created by the inner boundary of the heliosheath as was originally thought, and are instead coming from deeper within the heliosheath, perhaps the question isn’t WHAT is producing the rays, but WHO? (cue creepy music here) 🙂

All kidding aside, that we have sent a man-made object some 10 billion miles from Earth is absolutely mind-boggling to me. What a truly wonderful feat of engineering!

New Balance for Vegetarians

September 20, 2006

If you are interested in reducing your use of animal products, here’s some information about New Balance shoes from their customer support department.

Thank you for your interest in New Balance!

ALL of the following models are made with synthetic materials. However. please note that we do use different types of glues depending on what is available. Also be aware that some of our glues will contain animal products as many glues do. Even though the shoe contains all synthetic leather does not mean it will be completely vegan. We do not mix real and synthetic leathers on any shoe. It is either leather or synthetic period.

Running Shoes:

M1221SB M1122MC
M857ST
M856WN M587NV
M2001GR M1041WR
M816BK M816WN
M766NG M970GB
M901BW M895WW
M895SB M895GB
M895BK M890GN
M890BK M890WR
M970BK M766NY
M719WN M719SB
M719SM M719GO
M881WG M754WG
M643SO M643SR
M691BW M691BB
M691GO M691SR
M833WN M801AT
M1023NB M1023WY
M907OR M871OR
M781OR M807AT
M808BK M807GR
M808AT M606AT
M606GR M606BK
M604AT M801SGR

Cross Trainers:

MX980BK MX980WN
MX664NV MX1007W
MX1007NV MX830W
MX830BK MX815RD
MX815SV MX815BK
M815RY

Walking:

MW843WG MW758WG
MW791WN MW1046BG
MW658WN MW811BE
MW811WT MW811BK

Tennis:

CT1001W CT1001NV
CT520W CT1002W
CT1002GR

Cleats:

SC602BMP SC602BT

All of these models are from our Spring 2006 Line. All models available in women’s.

Sincerely,
The NB Consumer Response Team

Boston-area Science and Engineering Lectures

September 19, 2006

My friend Monty pointed me to http://www.BostonScienceAndEngineeringLectures.com, which is a nice aggregation of upcoming lectures in the Boston area of interest to science and technology buffs. The site is run by Fred Hapgood, who I judge to be an interesting guy, based on his website.

Thanks to Fred for putting together such a useful resource!

Three Pillars of Strategy

September 18, 2006

For many people the question “What’s the strategy”? is equivalent to “What’s the roadmap?” In their view strategy is all about the What. In fact, there are other equally important elements to consider.

[three pillars]

A successful strategy must embrace the Who and the How as well. It is only with competency in all three of these areas that a company will be able to deliver a truly WOW experience to its customers. Conventional wisdom is to lump How and Who together as Execution rather than Strategy issues, but that’s a bug because the three aspects are intimately related and should be considered together.

A company that pays attention to the Who ensures through hiring and skills development that employees will be ready and able to deliver the What. In practice, this requires an understanding of future skills requirements as they relate to the corporate strategy in addition to any current requirements. And skills are not the only issue. Those employees who will execute on the What need the appropriate context on which to base the myriad decisions they will need to make during a product’s design and implementation phases. In particular, they should have an understanding of the state of the art as practiced by competitors and, if appropriate, the research community. Add to that a firm grasp of their customers’ needs and an ability to distinguish when innovation is appropriate and when it is not.

A company can stumble as it executes its strategy even with the appropriate vision and people in place if attention is not paid to How products are developed. The methodologies matter. Achieving an appropriate level of quality, delivering a product quickly, and doing so without killing your development team is all part of the How. Other aspects of How that can yield benefits are maintaining a culture of data (e.g. a six sigma orientation), assessing the value of new development approaches like extreme programming or agile methods, and introducing formal inspection processes for code or other work products, to name a few. A focus on process for process’ sake is not useful. Instead, focus on finding that level of methodology and process which is appropriate for the task at hand.

Car Rentals Potentially Dangerous

September 16, 2006

I suspect many business travelers are fairly well-heeled with a nice car or two in the driveway at home. Maybe a BMW, a Volvo, an Audi, etc. You probably have the latest safety features like ABS brakes, traction control, dynamic stability control, side-curtain airbags, etc.

Have you ever thought about the cars you rent when traveling on business? In particular, how rental cars may differ from what you are used to driving at home?

Maximum braking with ABS is fine–the computer will ensure you don’t lose traction as best it can. With dynamic stability control (found on some BMWs) you can steer through a turn at speed under maximum braking and not lose control. But don’t try such manoevers in a rental car. Rental cars don’t generally have these advanced safety features and therefore need to be handled very differently under extreme circumstances.

Think about it. Do you really know how to drive the cars you rent?

End to End Security

September 12, 2006

I recently ordered an item from a secure website and then received a transaction acknowledgement via email–a message that included all of my personal information, including full credit card number and expiration date. And I still see cases in which “Forgot your password?” procedures culminate in one’s password being sent in the clear via email.

Who the heck cares what kind of fancy encryption they have on their website if the weakest link in the chain is an unprotected email message sent to me over the Internet?

What’s going on here? Do implementers just not understand that email is insecure? Or do they just not care?