Friday, December 31, 2010

Updating machines to F14

I've updated most of the machines in the house to F14. I purchased a 500GB 2.5" hard drive and used that for a new F14 64bit install for my desktop machine. The virtualization stuff seems to be working better. When I get the new work laptop, I'll use F14 on it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Jira/Confluence vs Trac

I've used Trac in the past for projects. For my current project we have Jira and Confluence. Jira and Confluence are nice. However, trying to manage tasking for sprints is a pain. With Trac it was easy to create tickets representing tasking. Those tickets could be assigned to a milestone. There doesn't seem to be an analog Jira.

Confluence is a wiki, but integration with Jira is limited. Trac tickets can be referenced within it's internal wiki. When a ticket is closed it's displayed with a line through it. There are Jira macros for Confluence but it's not a nice as what trac offers. There's even an eclipse plugin for Trac to make it easier to deal with tasking.

We're going to examine the Greenhopper add on for Jira. Maybe it will make things better.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Put Your Name on a Patent?

Considering all of the bad press that software patents have been getting, would you take pride in having your name on a software patent? They're pretty much a joke. The only reason you'd want one is so you can sue your competitors when they start competing. Look at MS and Apple. Google is starting to eat their lunch in the smart phone market. Their only option is to sue.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Marilla Walking

Marilla is finally taking her first steps. She's taken a few small half steps over the past couple of weeks. Today she actually started walking to people. Our babysitter's daughters had her walking between them today. Tonight she's walked to me and Lee Ann.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Training Your Leaders

I found this article on training managers at tech companies on slashdot. It's interesting in that new companies don't really have a culture of management. The founders may still be running the company. Since they're techies, they are probably young.

This may be a little different from other people starting small business, but I don't know. If you're starting a small business (non-tech related), it seems to me that you may or may not have all of that knowledge either. You'll probably hire an accountant to keep the books and make sure that you get your taxes paid on time. An attorney will probably need to be engaged, especially if the company will be incorporated. There are lots of books and local programs that will help the new small business owner learn things that they probably don't already know. So it seems like this may be a common issue.

The issue with tech companies especially the very large one is that they seem to grow very quickly. Other small business may not have this problem. Tech companies seem to grow into huge behemoths almost over night. If a business has this problem, it's probably prudent to hire someone that can help manage the company while not interfering with founder's vision.

The same author had another article aboutold techies. It paints a pretty discouraging picture for those of us that are aging and doing tech. It's almost an either or proposition. You can do tech related things, not focus on growing tech skills while picking management capability. Or, you must focus solely on tech skills picking up enough to do tech lead/team mgmt perhaps even enough for product management. The skills that you need as a someone that wants to maintain technical path are project level budgeting, hiring, and a focus on improving your capabilities.

You might ask why someone would want to remain on a technical path. My answer is better job security. Highly skilled technical people with update to skills and excellent background may have an easier time finding jobs than middle managers. Middle managers seem to be a dime a dozen. It seems to be the first to go at companies especially large ones.

Another issue is that at places like government contractors, getting into management position is harder due to competition with those that may have MBA and have started at the organization on a management track. This is especially true for those contractors that are Department of Defense (DoD) related.

The problem with DoD companies is that they'll be hiring most of their management from the either recently released/retired officers. Those individuals have plenty of experience managing people. (Probably not so much with EEO types of things though.) Middle mgmt will more than likely be ex military. This is especially true if they're expected to do business development/bring in contracts. They'll know the lingo and have contacts that are needed to form those connections.

Moving above middle mgmt in the above type of organization probably means that you'll need to have been a flag officer. Admirals and Generals are flag officers. It will be tough moving up. Perhaps those Generals/Admirals are worth it. I'm skeptical.

Former members of congress or high ranking government officials also take up those positions. Don't forget that Dick Cheney used to be Chairman and CEO at Halliburton. He certainly brought home the bacon once he became VP. (Yeah it's a snarky low blow.)

All in all, learning the soft skills of management/leadership is important. Even highly skilled individuals maintaining a technical path will need to lead teams of people. (Linus Torvalds is an example.) Just like your tech skills, you can't count on the company providing the training. You'll have to do your own reading or take classes for those things that can be taught. Leading and dealing with people will need to be learned on the job. Try to find a mentor that can help.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Has Oracle Destroyed JAVA?

If you hadn't heard Oracle has sued Google over the Dalvik. Dalvik is a knock off of JAVA. It's a clean room implementation but apparently there are some patents that Oracle is alleging that Google is infringing in addition to some other charges.

Since Bilski didn't clear up the patent mess it looks Google is going to have fight a pitched battle with Oracle. If Google rolls over and just pays off Oracle, it won't bode well for FOSS applications that rely on JAVA.

The irony in this situation is that everyone complained about Mono and the submarine patents that MS could potentially wield against any free implementations. Instead, we've now discovered that our new JAVA overlords aren't as friendly as Sun. It's not really surprising. Gates, Jobs, Ellison have the same basic business personalities. It's now holds barred and anything goes. Oracle is shooting itself in the foot just like MS and Apple has.

I wonder how much Oracle will start charging for either the JAVA runtime, SDK, or both. Oracle will probably squeeze as much money out of JAVA as they can. They bought it after all. It just seems sad that the nice ecosystem that has grown up around JAVA could be in trouble now.

Watch Patent Absurdity if you can.

Groklaw has a nice write up of the situation.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Using RMagick to Resize Pics

I wanted to upload our beach pics to Facebook, but I didn't want the Facebook system to have to resize the pics. From what I could determine, Facebook has a limitation on photo sizes of 720 pixels on the largest side. Also some of the pics needed to be re-oriented.

The tool that I used to do accomplish this task under Linux is called ImageMagick. ImageMagick provides some nice command line tools for working with pics. However, I didn't want to have to write complex bash scripts to accomplish this task so I decided to use Ruby and RMagick. (Ruby, ImageMagick, and RMagick are available for Windows as well.)

Below is the script that I ended up using. It reads the name of the file to be resized from the command line. If the camera adds orientation information to the image, the script will orient it in the proper direction. After orienting the image, it will constrain the image to a maximum of 720 on each side while maintaining the aspect ratio. This means that it will stretch or shrink the side in a manner that distorts the image.

Name: resize.rb


require 'RMagick'
include Magick

ARGV.each { |filename|
origpic = Image::read(filename).first

newpic = origpic.auto_orient

reseize.rb image.jpg
resize.rb *.jpg

Note that I'm using the destroy! option. This tells the libraries to release the memory that the image was using. Otherwise, running this script on a directory of images will quickly consume all of the memory and make the computer slower and slower. I discovered this the hard way. I had expected it to release the memory after each trip through the loop. It didn't work that way.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

IT dept. reason for a new Job?

If your IT department sucks, is that a good reason to find a different job?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Zip Code Data

After reading a story about the local situation with aging schools and consolidation that provided some population statistics, I went looking for data on Social Security benefits for the area's population. I found it but I need some data on zip codes. During my searching, I discovered that there's no free zip code except for the one that the census produced for a 1999 Census product. It seems as though it's not going to be updated.

I went to the US Postal Services website. You have to purchase the data. If you want the data for the entire US, it will cost you $900 per product. While I can understand the desire for the Post office to recoup their costs, it would seem like this key information about how citizens should be communicating would be free.

Another issue is the fact that zip codes change. I was looking at correlating historical data to the zip code. However, zip codes for particular geographic areas change over time. This makes it hard to correlate data to particular zip codes when there is data that goes back over a period of years. It makes me wonder if there some historical zip code that that can be purchased.

For example, Social Security publishes data broken down by the field office. The field office services particular zip codes. If a person's zip code changes, it's possible that they could change SS field offices. I don't if that's true, but it's a possibility.

In any event the 5 digit zip code data should be free and open to the public.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hitler in the Bunker (Movie Downfall) Parodies Removed

Apparently the makers of the movie Downfall have asked YouTube to remove all of the parodies of the Bunker Scene. I hadn't even heard of the movie until I started see these parodies way back when. I had been meaning to buy it, but now this movie joins Metallica on my list of Douche Bags not to support. (Metallica came out strongly against mp3 way back when. Look at the industry now, owned by Apple.)

Here it is:

Hitler, as "Downfall producer" orders a DMCA takedown from Brad Templeton on Vimeo.

Note that the director of the film loves the parodies. Too bad the ones that he likes aren't available on YouTube anymore.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Marilla eating

Here's a pic of Marilla eating prunes. It's not the first but not long after the first time. She's about 3.5 months old.

911 Dispatchers

Why do 911 dispatchers show up at news conferences? I don't understand it. I suppose it's a human interest story like this morning when they showed the dispatcher who took the kid's call for a break in. But, I saw that they had interviewed the dispatcher for the California runaway Prius.

Why? Is it really necessary? I don't get any additional information from these people. Does the press request that the dispatcher's show up? How about answering the question as to why they've not caught the perpetrators. I bet that they don't catch them.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Few Billion Lines of Code Later

A Few Billion Lines of Code Later is an interesting look at the static analysis tool made by Coverity. It was spawned by the static analysis research project at Stanford. It is being used on lots of open source software as a way of testing the tool.

The article is an interesting look at some of the problems with management that must contend with a tool pointing out errors. I highly recommend reading it. You should read it soon. I don't know how long before it will before it goes behind the paywall and the above link is now good.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


This post isn't about the kernel boot error regarding 64MB of memory and IOMMU. This post is about IOMMU and virtualization

Much to my chagrin, I've discovered that the AMD IOMMU virtualization technology now called AMD Vi is not supported on any of its 7xx chipsets. I've recently upgraded from a 780G motherboard to a 790GX. From whatever reason, I was under the impression that AMD was supporting this IOMMU capability already. Intel has been supporting it forever. They call it VT-d. Since Intel has been supporting it for so, it's probably why I assumed that AMD was supporting it. Finally after digging around wikipedia and the AMD website this evening, I came to the conclusion that it wasn't supported. I should have dug around a bit more before I purchased the Intel Gigabit ET ethernet card that has SR-IOV support.

Now, I'm feeling pretty jaded about my decision to buy AMD products. I've been buying them because they have reasonable performance for a good price. All of the AMD processors have virtualization support, whereas not all Intel processors had it. Even some of the higher end Intel desktop processors didn't have it.

Even if I had chosen to go with Intel, I would have had to be careful. Not all of Intel's chipsets support VT-d. Just a quick search with google shows that there has been quite a bit of confusion. Some people were calling Intel support and couldn't get an answer.

The confusion associated with finding out what virtualization tech is supported by a particular processor and chipset should not exist. At the very least the there should be a table for processors and a table for chipsets that list capabilities. Instead there's lots of confusion.

Even PC/laptop manufacturers make it tough for consumers. HP and another big name vendor, either Sony or Lenovo, have been known not to support enabling of virtualization in the BIOS. (Yes you typically have to enable it in the BIOS. It's not on by default.) HP finally enabled it in one model after enough outcry, but the other vendor gave their customers the finger. (Not literally of course.)

Overall, I'm please with how well the virtualization stuff is working. I no longer have to use a proprietary Virtual Machine solution to run windows and other items. KVM+QEMU work well. Fedora 12's implementation is great. I'm just disgusted that determining capabilities about vendor solutions is so problematic.

If you want IOMMU (VT-d or AMD-Vi) on a desktop chipset, you'll have to stick with Intel for now. The wikipedia page for Intel chipsets seems to have the best information about VT-d support for chipsets in one place. If you can provide a better link to more information, please post.

X86 Virtualization
AMD Server Chipset

AMD's newest chipset for desktops, the 890FX, has support for IOMMU 1.2 according to Anandtech. From what I know, IOMMU 1.2 is AMD-Vi.