Archive for February, 2008

Why it is Difficult to Hate Apple

February 26, 2008

As I’ve explained over many blog entries (here, here, here, etc.) I’ve had many problems with my MacBook Pro and more recently with the Leopard upgrade. And yet I remain an Apple fan. But why?

Well, partly because I’ve received uniformly excellent service. Every interaction I’ve ever had with Apple has been top notch with capable people answering my questions and fixing my problems. Yes, I did finally have to push a bit to have my MBP replaced finally, but Apple did the right thing ultimately. The support has been wonderful.

And, of course, partly because the Mac OS X user experience is unrivaled. These are people who generally seem to think long and hard about how their software should work. I was reminded of this recently when my Apple Frustration Index (AFI) was starting to rise again due to an overall performance slowdown of my machine (lots of pretty, spinning beachballs) and mysterious problems waking the system from sleep–all of which started after my recent upgrade to 10.5.2 (I am not alone.) I had hoped this latest update would get Apple back to their previous levels of OS quality, but apparently not. Hence the increase in my AFI.

In the midst of an AFI episode in which my MPB failed to wake up in closed-lid mode when attached to the Sun 24″ monitor and USB keyboard/mouse in my office, I happened to instead try running with the lid opened and with mirroring turned off. I’ve been aware of this mode, but had never played with it.

Sitting at the MBP, enjoying the extra real estate and the ability to drag windows onto the 24″ display, I thought it sure would be cool if I could have both the MBP keyboard/trackpad AND the USB keyboard/mouse active at the same time. That way, I’d almost have the feeling of two separate machines. To my amazement, that scenario just works. I’m writing this blog entry using the 24″ monitor and USB keyboard while next to me the MBP is displaying my email and other windows. It really does feel like two machines. Yes, I could use Spaces to achieve a similar effect, but I like the psychological distance between these two “machines”. As someone who spends too much time with email, I like having to move to another keyboard and screen to check my mail.

So, I thought all that was cool. And then my screensaver activated and started randomly displaying my photos as usual. On both screens. But with a different photo on each screen. Just what it should do, but not what I expected. A small thing, but the sum total was enough to reduce my AFI to the point where I will now wait patiently for Apple to fix my 10.5.2 problems, as I am sure they will.

Über Cool Nerd King

February 23, 2008

A silly set of questions via Geoff, but how can I not share my results now that it has been shown I’m über cool. 🙂 Take the Nerd Test. says I'm an Uber Cool Nerd King.  What are you?  Click here!

Tic, TACC, go Go GO!

February 21, 2008

[TACC logo]

We at Sun are very proud the Texas Advanced Computing Center‘s 504 TeraFLOP Ranger supercomputer is now online! Described as the largest computer in the world for open scientific research, Ranger is the first deployment of Sun’s Constellation system architecture, which combines ultra-dense blade servers with our 3456-port InfiniBand switch (two are used at TACC) to create one, huge cluster supercomputer. Ranger has almost 63000 CPU cores, over 120 TeraBytes of memory, and almost two PetaBytes of storage. And 504 TeraFLOPs of computing power.

Sun built the system, so we revel in the specs, but the real story is how the system is going to be used for science research. TACC has a nice article, titled Powering Discoveries, that describes Ranger’s mission. I recommend it to any Sun employee interested in understanding how our technologies are helping scientists solve some truly difficult and important problems.

Why MySQL Joined Sun: Mårten Mickos Speaks

February 6, 2008

Mårten Mickos, CEO of MySQL, recently shared his thoughts on why MySQL decided to join Sun rather than continuing towards an IPO. Interesting reading, though I suggest running it through sed ‘/\!/\./g’ first. Read it here.

Labrador Ice and Snow

February 2, 2008

Wind-blown snow on ice in Labrador. The boomerang shaped island and the linear formation beyond it in the second photo were unusual enough for me to find this location on Google Maps.

[wind, snow, and ice in labrador]
[wind, snow, and ice in labrador]

Regensburg, Germany

February 1, 2008

I visited Regensburg, Germany this week for a two-day HPC planning meeting and took some photos before work one morning. This is my favorite.

[regensburg photo]