Back to Boston

After 10 days in Colorado, I’m heading back to Boston today. I went through the on-line check-in just to see if United would offer me an upgrade. They did, but since the only upgrade seats were middles, I decided to stick with my cattle-class window.

I hope this particular flight won’t be delayed, since I’m due to host a conference call just 55 minutes after we land. I have visions of standing around in the baggage claim area waiting for my stuff, while hosting a call on my cell-phone….

Ah, well: time to pack.

Starting conversations

Today we had our “geek-to-geek” meeting at StorageTek’s Louisville, CO campus. Originally I’d planned to hold a brief and informal get-together for a few senior engineers; instead it evolved into a full-blown day-long colloquium involving more than 50 engineers (and two lawyers). Not all are in the picture; a few were slow getting back from lunch, and one was balanced on an SUV taking this photo! Starting conversations Of those attending, about a third were from Sun and two-thirds from StorageTek.

The schedule was tight: an hour and a half for a series of brief introductory presentations; a break followed by a lively Q&A session; lunch (of course); then break-outs from 1pm to 5pm. There were ten hour-long break-out sessions on topics ranging from product processes to storage virtualization. Amazingly, we stayed on schedule, for which kudos to the speakers. Obviously the presentations and break-out sessions weren’t long enough to dive really deep into specific technical and business issues, but that was never the intent. The point of this meeting was simply to make connections and start conversations, and in this I believe we succeeded. The next step is to broaden the participation and link the discussions to the organizational and product planning processes. The work is just beginning….

Anyway, my thanks to all those who participated, especially to those who made particular travel-related sacrifices to attend, and to my colleague Richard for handling the facilities. I owe you guys.

P.S. Over dinner after the meeting, I was talking for a long-time StorageTek employee, and I mentioned that I was planning to blog about the events of the day. We discussed the fact that StorageTek, like many (?most) companies, had a tradition of secrecy, even over minor matters. For some, Sun’s open style“living life in public” – is likely to be a culture shock. So this evening after I’d drafted this blog entry I applied my usual test with more care than usual: Should I be concerned that a malevolent marketing type from HP might read my blog and use the contents to disparage Sun to our customers or anyone else? I don’t think so.

Partying, networking

Yesterday was the first of two big days in the Sun+StorageTek integration work I’m doing here in Colorado. First, we gathered most of the employees at StorageTek’s Louisville facility and Sun’s Broomfield campus in the courtyard at Broomfield for executive speeches, food, music (too loud, but never mind), networking, and celebration. That was from 10 to 12. Then in the afternoon we had a couple of “geek to geek” sessions on file systems and the application of crypto techniques to storage. The second of these ran until about 8; I brought in some food and beer to help the discussions. (The beer caused some confusion: Sun and StorageTek policies are different. But we’re all Sun now.)

Today we’re having an all day colloquium with around 75-80 55 participants, drawn from all over Sun. We’ll have a morning plenary session, with break-outs this afternoon. I’m looking forward to this: the energy levels and enthusiasm seem to be really high. More anon (perhaps with pictures – another policy issue to resolve).

Calling all StorageTek bloggers

If you work at StorageTek and you’re a blogger, or if you know of colleagues who blog, please add a comment to this posting or drop me an email. If you’ve been a stealth blogger, or if you’re concerned about Sun’s attitude towards blogging, please check out the policies on public discourse and privacy. You don’t have to host your blog at to be a part of the Sun blogging community: many of us maintain our independent blogs and make them available for aggregation via RSS.

England wins the Ashes

Pietersen reaches his centurypietersen.jpg on the way to a total of 158, as England draw the Fifth Test and thereby win the Ashes for the first time since 1987! According to reports, England has gone cricket crazy; one writer compared it with the Red Sox winning the World Series last year. (I’m not going to risk commenting on that!) Anyway, congratulations to both teams. (I wonder if the BBC will release a “highlights” DVD that will play on Region 1 players.)

The two kinds of big government

Comment by Steve Rundio in the Tomah Journal from Tomah, Wisconsin. Rundio is billed as the sports editor, but for a jock he writes really well about politics.:

There are two types of big government. There’s big-government liberalism, in which the government administers broad-based entitlements (Social Security, Medicaid) and provides services collectively that individuals can’t purchase on their own (police protection, roads, public parks, etc.). Has this vision suffered from excess and waste? Of course. But it has raised the standard of living for most Americans. The elderly can’t buy affordable health insurance on the private market, and most individuals can’t purchase their own personal police or fire protection. At the very least, big-government liberalism’s heart is in the right place.

There’s nothing good about big-government conservatism. It’s an iron triangle of politicians, lobbyists and industry wallowing in the spoils of government contracting and favoritism linked to campaign contributions. The recipient of big-government liberalism is likely to be a 90-year-old who can’t get out of bed, or a pregnant teen in need of pre-natal care. The recipient of big-government conservatism is a Halliburton executive or someone who lobbies on Halliburton’s behalf. The owners of Lenco Industries certainly did well when the $180,000 Lenco BearCat assault vehicle landed in La Crosse.

(Via Sully.)

Mile High Gliding

This morning I drove up to Boulder Airport, to MileHighGliding, and spent a glorious 45 minutes or more soaring over the front range and downtown Boulder. It was my first time in a glider, and it was simply wonderful.Release the tow I was in the front seat with Chris, the pilot, behind me. We spent the first ten minutes being towed up from 5300 ft. (the altitude of the airport) to about 11000 ft.; then the tow was released. [See pic – click for larger.] We got a good thermal over the Flatiron formation (steeply inclined strata that make up the very edge of the Front Range), and spent about 10 minutes there without losing any height. After orbiting the Flatirons and Eldorado Canyon, we drifted southeast towards StorageTek (skirting the controlled airspace around Jeffco), before heading back towards the University and the industrial area to the east side of Boulder. Chris executed a couple of stalls and wingovers, which felt marvellous; we pulled around 2G climbing out of the stall. After that we crossed the airfield, pulled a tight left base, and landed on the “grass” (mostly gravel) to the north of the runway. Outstanding!

I took a number of pictures, though the quality isn’t particularly good: as you can see, the canopy gets in the way. I’ve also got a nice video clip of the landing, which I’ll put up as soon as I’ve figured where to do it.

What happened between Montoya and Pizzonia?

I’ve been following this morning’s Belgian Grand Prix via the BBC’s lap-by-lap reports on their website. I think I understand everything that happened, except for the Montoya-Pizzonia incident. Could someone who was watching the TV feed explain what happened? The BBC reported it thus:

Lap 42: Out of the blue, from second place, Montoya and Pizzonia clip one another – Pizzonia loses one of his front wheels, and Montoya ends up in the pit wall.

I know there were reports of drivers changing tyres throughout the race: was this simply a coming-together in the rain and mist? Anyway, congratulations to Kimi, and (I guess) to Alonso, who has almost clinched the title.

That concert: a gloriously mixed bag

The first thing to say was that the Boulder Philharmonic were excellent throughout. The “mixed bag” refers to the choice of pieces, not the quality of the playing. And the guest conductor (and candidate director), Leslie Dunner did a very nice job. So let’s look at the music.

  • Sibelius Andante Festivo
    I have to confess that for me Sibelius is something of a “two-hit wonder”. Both Finlandia and the Karelia Suite are the kind of pieces where everything just works and the result is an instant classic. The Andante Festivo has many of Sibelius trademark elements, but although I enjoyed this performance I wasn’t seized by it.
  • Brahms Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major, Op.77 (Corey Cerovsek, violin)
    WOW! Cerovsek was absolutely thrilling: infectious energy, dazzling technique, and complete command of the piece. I was trying to think of the last violinist who affected me in this way, but although I can see and hear her – a veteran of the English establishment, playing with the dash of someone half her age, we saw her with the BSO a few years ago – I can’t remember her name at this moment. [UPDATE: Ida Haendel, of course!] Anyway, this was the most glorious classical performance I’ve been to in quite a few years. If you get a chance to see Corey Cerovsek, grab it!
  • Nielsen Symphony No. 4, Op. 29, ‘The Inextinguishable’
    How frustrating! There’s a lovely symphony in here, trying to get out. (And as Rick pointed out, it almost succeeds in the last half of the third movement.) But back in 1916, when this appeared, Nielsen was clearly trying to make a political point, with the various themes competing with one another, interrupting, warping the tempo, and successfully (if heavy-handedly) conveying a world of conflict. Eighty-nine years ago it might have been shocking, but since then we’ve had everything from Shostakovich and Stockhausen to the Sex Pistols. Since the piece can no longer shock, it remains as a collection of unfinished gems without a setting (in Rick’s nice image). Oh, well.