Nuptials successfully concluded

ChrisCelesteAnne.jpgChris and his fiancée Celeste were married this morning in the Thomsen Chapel of Saint Mark’s Cathedral here in Seattle. Their good friend, The Reverend Ann Holmes Redding (shown here with the happy couple; click for full-size image) presided. It was an intimate and beautiful service, with family and friends doing all of the readings. After lunch at the Café Flora, the newlyweds headed off to the airport in a vintage London taxi – see cameraphone pics below.
Taxi1.jpg Taxi2.jpg


Geeks preparing for nuptials

Chris.jpgI spent yesterday evening at the Joe Bar with Chris and a bunch of friends, getting nicely mellow and shooting the breeze in advance of Chris’s wedding to Celeste today. Jon Lasser (author of Think Unix) was there; he’s already blogged about it, and posted a couple of pictures to Flickr. It was a nice, low key, geek kind of evening, with talk of music, PDA software, the benefits of seamless WiFi-GPRS, Unix file system APIs, and puppetry. Oh yes, and embarrassing confessions from all of us (like Chris admitting a fondness for the music of Garth Brooks, and a certain person’s recollection of a schoolday “chastity pledge”….).

(The photo on the right was taken outside St. Dunstan’s church in Carmel Valley last February.)


Seattle public library

This morning we visited the new Seattle Public Library building. It’s an extraordinary, surprising and inspiring work of architecture. We took the strange, green-yellow escalators up to the reading room, and then walked down the spiral stacks structure, emerging into the stunning womblike meeting room level. Rather than posting any of the inadequate photos that I took, let me recommend that you check out the photo gallery and virtual tour at the Seattle Times’ page.


The science behind the earthquake

For those who want a more detailed explanation of the massive Sumatran earthquake than you’ll get from CNN, the BBC, or the NYT, check out the US Geological Survey page for the quake. Not only was it a huge quake; it was the result of a huge shift: “Preliminary locations of larger aftershocks following today’s earthquake show that approximately 1000 km of the plate boundary slipped as a result of the earthquake.” The accompanying map shows the location of the plates and faults; the Indian plate is moving northwards into the Burma plate at 6 cm a year.

I couldn’t find much on the web about seismic activity in this area. Roger Bilham’s history of earthquakes in India is a reasonable starting point. If readers know of other good studies, could you link to them in comments to this blog entry? And please consider making a donation to the Red Cross, or the emergency aid organisation of your choice.


Finally I set foot on Concorde…

Concorde1.jpgWe visited the Museum of Flight this morning. I was last there 4 or 5 years ago, I think, and it’s grown significantly. The new Personal Courage Wing focusses on combat aviation of the two World Wars; a dreadful title, but a stunning exhibit. The section on World War One does a great job of relating the air action to the grinding, bloody mess that was trench warfare. (Too often the affairs of men like Bishop and von Richthofen, and machines like the Sopwith Camel and Fokker Triplane, are portrayed as if in another world, unconnected with the slaughter below.)
There was an interesting presentation by two docents entitled Blackbird Tip-to-Tail, in which they described the history of the Lockheed Blackbird program and conducted a detailed walk-around of the unique M/D 21 variant in the Museum. How fast could that thing really go? It was designed for Mach 3.2-3.5, and according to the docents none of the pilots really pushed it beond that, even though they were only using 70% throttle at that speed. Despite rumours to the contrary, it was never actually taken to Mach 4 – nobody wanted to be the one to find the actual limits.
Concorde2.jpgAnd then across the road from the main museum is the Airpark, with a Concorde, Air Force One (the VC-137B version of Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon), the first Boeing 747, and others. So after dreaming for years that one day I might get to fly in a Concorde, I finally got to walk through one….
(Click the thumbnails for the full-sized images.)


2004 – the answers

Many of my colleagues have blogged on the “best of 2004” (I particularly liked Hal’s and Craig’s.) I was thinking of doing the same. Then I thought I’d do it in question and answer format. Then I decided to skip the questions (for now). Enjoy.

  • Because she woke up with a bat in her bed.
  • It was a large one, but we managed to get it all.
  • How d’you feel about being a grandfather?
  • A thousand pounds of rusty cast iron hanging from the ceiling.
  • Spending more time in church than since I was a 12 year old altar boy.
  • Reading all seven volumes of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower?
  • The tension between autonomic behaviour and “choreography” or “orchestration”.
  • Groove Armada, Blackfield, Morrissey. (But why did Al Stewart have to slip?)
  • Philosophy. Poetry. Blogging.
  • Flying to Seattle for my son’s wedding; then hanging out with The Fellowship watching the extended edition of “The Return of the King” while sipping Laphroaig.
  • Yes – but only if there’s a meaningful way of expressing semantics without simply showing us the code. Otherwise, no.

And finally:

  • Nailing Robert Wright over the Dan Dennett interview.

I may not be blogging for the next few days, as I’ve explained in one of these answers. Have a great winter solstice, wherever you are and whatever you celebrate. (Memo to those who want to “reclaim Christmas”: this celebration predates you by thousands of years. Don’t be greedy.)


Now the truth comes out

A few days ago I noted here that American popular opinion seems to have shifted sharply against the war in Iraq. This provoked a plaintive – indeed anguished – comment from Mark: “Why oh why did they have to wait until AFTER the election to decide this?” It’s a good question, and Josh Marshall has an interesting take on it over at Talking Points Memo.

Josh first agrees with Kevin Drum that the main reason is quite simple: support has been declining ever since the initial invasion, and the latest numbers simply reflect that trend. But why did pro-war sentiment seem to to hold up during the election campaign? Josh suggests that “during the slugfest of the campaign, supporting Bush just meant supporting the war and this is what people told pollsters when they were asked, because one question was almost a proxy for the other.” Given that “close to 50% of Americans were dead set on voting for President Bush almost no matter what”, it’s clear why support for the war stayed above 50%. (Imagine “how many conservatives […] would have been so staunch in their support for the war if it were being fought under a President Gore or a President Clinton.”) And the result is that “the end of the campaign season has departisanized the war, [and people] are now freer to see the situation in Iraq a bit more on its own terms”.

(Memo to self: During the run-up to the election, I used to read TPM all the time. I think that after November 2nd I tuned out a lot of the political blogs. Bad idea. Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.)


Scott's back

The Register just gave Scott some space to share his Xmas dream. Although it’s pretty goofy, it’s nice to see the old familiar Scott back. (A little gentle bashing once a year isn’t going to hurt.) Memo to Jonathan: the “11 words” are necessary but not sufficient. And Scott clearly has his priorities right: he wants “an NHL hockey season ticket and a new set of irons to knock a couple of strokes off my handicap” I think he’d settle for just one NHL game….


A blast from the past: CaveBear (a.k.a. Karl Auerbach)

Back in the late 80s and early 90s, when I was working on NFS, Windows Sockets, and other TCP/IP related stuff, I would often run into Karl Auerbach, network tools wizard and latterly ICANN member-at-large. Many of our encounters took place in the NOC during that strange, timeless period the night before the opening of each Networld+Interop show. The first Interop took place in San Jose, but as it grew, and merged with Networld, it moved to the Moscone Center in San Francisco and eventually headed off into the desert at Las Vegas. Over time it went the way of all trade shows, and puffed itself up into a content-free carnival, whereupon I stopped attending and lost touch with Karl.

Today a serendipitous blog chain led me to the following gem, reproduced in full:

CaveBear Blog: Sartre meets ICANN
I notice that ICANN issued a press release with the title:
ICANN successfully concludes Cape Town Meetings
Which makes me wonder: What would an unsucessful conclusion be?  Would the ICANN board and staff have to be trapped forever in the meeting room like the characters in Sartre’s play No Exit?

It’s an attractive proposition, isn’t it?


An embarrassment of riches…

One of the joys problems with all of this cool stuff that we have at Sun is figuring out how it all fits together… or doesn’t. Case in point: I was reading John Clingan’s piece about Zones on an E25K, and I started to think about how one might use such a beast. Suppose one was running a horizontally-scaled load-balanced Sun Java System Application Server Enterprise Edition 7 2004Q2 (surely there must be a simpler name) configuration on a cluster of V880s. Can I rehost this in a collection of zones on an E25K? What works? What breaks? How much of my administrative model carries over, and how much has to change? (Everybody talks about ABI compatibility, but compatibility of administrative models is just as important. It’s one of the major issues with Linux today, and it’s bound to affect how we run Linux apps in Solaris x86.)

And that got me thinking about clustered data bases (we use the Clustra technology to support App Server failover), and from that to storage and file systems. (I’m an old NFS guy.) One of Sun’s hidden gems is QFS (OK lawyers, Sun StorEdge QFS software), a massively scalable high performance file system. Although designed for (and mostly used in) high performance technical computing, it’s getting a lot of attention in other applications, due in part to the symbiosis with SAM-FS (Sun StorEdge SAM-FS software), a policy-based archiving system. (Think SarbOx. Think Infinite Mailbox.) Do QFS and SAM-FS work in zones? I turn to the on-line documentation: Solaris Containers-Resource Management and Solaris Zones: “Mounting File Systems in Zones: Options for mounting file systems in non-global zones are described in the following table. Procedures for these mounting alternatives are provided in Configuring, Verifying, and Committing a Zone and Mounting File Systems in Running Non-Global Zones.” Followed by a long table, which doesn’t include SAM-FS or QFS. Hmmm. Can’t tell from this. More reading required, I guess. And so it goes.

There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s just an inevitable combinatorial explosion, exacerbated by our commitment to preserve backward compatibility. (In other words, you can never take a feature out of Solaris.) The challenge is in managing unrealistic expectations. (It isn’t all going to work together seamlessly from day one; in fact some combinations may never work together. It all depends on the business case.) The upside lies in the opportunities for serendipitous synergy. (Or should that be synergistic serendipity?)