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Current Topic: Computers

Sun Unified Storage System
Topic: Computers 1:51 pm EDT, Sep 23, 2009

The Sun Storage 7410 Unified Storage System is ideal for enterprises requiring mission-critical storage and provides dramatically easier and faster ways to manage and scale your storage up to 288 TB[1].

If you are looking into storage systems, you've gotta check these things out. (Sun is not paying me to hype. These things are just making me happy.)

I'm staging two 7410 HA clusters right now. These things are so damn rad. The DTrace Analytics stuff is amazing (watch this, seriously). Even though it uses 7200 RPM drives, the NAND/HD hybrid ZFS storage pool tech makes it super fast. Also due to the usage of slower (and cheaper) drives, the power consumption is super low. While I'm staging, I've got both clusters running off a single 15 amp circuit. That's a total of four heads and two drive racks. No shit.

Support for Active Directory and CIFS is flawless. The LDAP/NIS and ID mapping support is very robust, so no problems with dual MS(CIFS)/*NIX(NFSv3&4) environments.

Also, no god damned RAID. It's all ZFS. That means insanely large volumes without insanely long volume rebuild times after a drive failure. No more RAID!!! W00h00!

Cluster failover takes less than 30 seconds. I've already tested various file operations while failing over the cluster, and the results are good. When hosting VMs off the cluster, there is a pause in all file operations for about 20 seconds, but nothing times out or fails.. In general, that's about as good as it gets.

I'm still in the process of testing out replication to different targets, but so far it seems brain-dead simple to configure, both continuous and scheduled replication.. Everything you'd expect to be able to do with snapshots works perfectly and can be done quickly.

The only complaint I have with it is that the networking is half baked. Out of the default four gig interfaces, you technically lose one on each node in the cluster because of the way it handles port bindings. The same network settings apply to both nodes in a cluster, so in order to have a unique IP for each head unit, you have to bind the address as a private resource to an interface. That means on the opposite node, you can't use the same interface for anything.

Also, while it fully supports multiple interfaces on different VLANs, it doesn't have separate routing instances for different interfaces or allow you to tweak what file sharing protocols (NFS/CIFS/etc) are available on each interface. That means if you want to provide file services to multiple networks, you must have a security gateway in the mix. Plan out your deployment as such..

Good job Sun!

Sun Unified Storage System

The Manga Guide to Databases
Topic: Computers 1:33 pm EDT, Jul  2, 2009

Want to learn about databases without the tedium? With its unique combination of Japanese-style comics and serious educational content, The Manga Guide to Databases is just the book for you.

Princess Ruruna is stressed out. With the king and queen away, she has to manage the Kingdom of Kod's humongous fruit-selling empire. Overseas departments, scads of inventory, conflicting prices, and so many customers! It's all such a confusing mess. But a mysterious book and a helpful fairy promise to solve her organizational problems-with the practical magic of databases.

In The Manga Guide to Databases, Tico the fairy teaches the Princess how to simplify her data management. We follow along as they design a relational database, understand the entity-relationship model, perform basic database operations, and delve into more advanced topics. Once the Princess is familiar with transactions and basic SQL statements, she can keep her data timely and accurate for the entire kingdom. Finally, Tico explains ways to make the database more efficient and secure, and they discuss methods for concurrency and replication.

If Billy wrote a script for The Hentai Guide to Web Security, I'm sure we could find someone to illustrate it. Just imagine having SQL injection explained by a school girl and a tentacle monster....

The Manga Guide to Databases

Microsoft's evolution, in keywords
Topic: Computers 1:13 pm EST, Jan  2, 2007

What happens when you boil down one company's history into a series of keywords? We collected dozens of key Microsoft-related speeches, interviews, internal e-mails and other documents from the past three decades, and put them through a program that generated a timeline of tag clouds showing the 64 most commonly used words in each.

Microsoft's evolution, in keywords

BumpTop Prototype
Topic: Computers 10:58 pm EDT, Jun 21, 2006

Most of the times I'm at a lack for words to describe something, it's because it's something incredibly absurd or stupid. Here, it's because THIS IS SO DAMN RAD!

Stop whatever you are doing. Go watch the video of this, right now. I don't care how important what your doing is... Watch this video, right fucking now.

You are about to see the best thing thats happened to the GUI since the pixel.

Update: Ok.. So only people who litter their desktop seem to think this is as cool as I do. We are apparently a fringe minority. To those like myself, this is fetish UI porn. I currently have 68 files and folders (no app launch shortcuts) on my desktop. I would _love_ this.

BumpTop Prototype

Meet the Life Hackers - New York Times
Topic: Computers 8:11 pm EDT, Oct 17, 2005

This article is worth a read. Based on interviews with researchers at Microsoft, it examines the role that interruptions play in computer UI design. In short, computers as they are today do not have a way to determine if you are busy or not when they decide to interrupt you, or let others interrupt you. Researchers are trying to learn as much as they can about how we work so they can address this problem.

The theme is a relatively old one. These days, we are always dealing with a deluge of information. Now, rather than just efficiently displaying it to us, its also necessary to determine if it's the right time to notify us about it.

On the other side of the coin, I think that computers should do what they are told to do rather than try and make decisions for us. This area of study walks that line. I can envision numerous problems that will not likely be accounted for in the first generation of computers designed to anticipate our work habits.

A good first step may be something as simple as "smart status" for Instant Messaging. There are time when I really don't want to be bothered with messages at all. Other times, I'd like them to be displayed, but not in the forefront of my desktop. In other cases, some discussions take place over hours with messages every several minutes, instead of a traditional dialogue. In all these situations, my status is simply "available". Idle and Away only appearing when I'm not actually active at my terminal. Just addressing this issue with IM would both make IM more useful, and milk more productivity out of people.

Meet the Life Hackers - New York Times

Orion Multisystems ships 96-processor workstation | CNET
Topic: Computers 3:13 am EDT, Apr 26, 2005

] Start-up Orion Multisystems has begun shipping computers
] for those engineers, graphic designers and biologists who
] need 96 processors and 192GB of memory at their desks.

I just bought one of these. Its nice. It doesn't get bogged down like my Dual G5 does when I have a dozen or so web browsers open displaying porn sites with animated banners. Java apps still run slow. My room is noticeably warmer.

Orion Multisystems ships 96-processor workstation | CNET - Outage Hits Hotmail, MSN Messenger
Topic: Computers 11:27 pm EST, Mar 12, 2004

] "It was a completely internal issue," the spokesperson
] says. The problem had nothing to do with hackers or the
] security patch for MSN Messenger that Microsoft released
] earlier this week, she adds.

"We will screw up all by ourselves, thank you very much".

Hehehe.. I still remember when one of the NLUG folks renewed for them. - Outage Hits Hotmail, MSN Messenger

Wired News: Turn That PC Into a Supercomputer
Topic: Computers 6:24 am EDT, Oct 14, 2003

] An ordinary desktop PC outfitted with six PCI cards,
] each containing four of the chips, would perform at
] about 600 gigaflops (or more than half a teraflop).

] At this level of performance, the PC would qualify as one
] of the 500 most powerful supercomputers in the world.

] "At 3 watts, you could put it in a PCMCIA card," said
] McIntosh-Smith. "With two chips on a PC Card, you can
] have 50 gigaflops on a laptop, running off a battery.
] That's equivalent to a small Linux cluster on your
] notebook."

Its the FPU from hell!

Wired News: Turn That PC Into a Supercomputer

Bash Programmable Completion
Topic: Computers 5:56 am EST, Feb 27, 2003

If you use bash as your shell, you will love this.

The RPMs they have up here work perfectly with RH 7.x & 8.x.

Bash Programmable Completion - Low-income housing goes wireless - Feb. 24, 2003
Topic: Computers 6:47 pm EST, Feb 24, 2003

] Camfield Estates, a rebuilt 102-unit public housing
] development, has trimmed bushes and groomed grounds. What
] also sets it apart from other low-income complexes lies
] hidden behind its walls, atop its roof and in the
] airwaves.
] For the past two years, Camfield has been the site of a
] project aiming to span the "digital divide" between
] impoverished Americans and those with easy access to
] technology.
] Called the Creating Community Connections Project, it has
] given residents free computers to connect to the Internet
] using high-speed cable lines wired into every home. - Low-income housing goes wireless - Feb. 24, 2003

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