My family is from Burlington, IA. I grew up in St. Louis, but there were a lot of summers and weekends up in Burlington, which is basically farm country next to the Mississippi. Every year, the Mississippi would flood to the levee’s – my family had a cabin on the other side – and I recall the look of the place with the cracked river mud that had been deposited there anywhere from an inch to a foot deep.
The occasional year, it would flood even higher, and the town of Burlington would feel the flood waters creeping into it’s down town area. The first few streets were the ones that got it the most. This year is another one of those years. My grandmother (Lela Pietzsch) sent me some photos taken from the air of this year’s flooding – figured I’d share them.
The last is a restaurant – named “Big Muddy’s” after the floods that have been in it. I’m sure they’ll have a new line inside now too… They make a pretty mean fried caffish.
I signed up with Launchpad today – don’t know why I hadn’t really done it earlier, other than I just didn’t think to or have any projects that drove me there. The project du jour that lured me in was Graphite – a distributed high-performance monitoring solution written in python (and apparently using Django as well!).
(I haven’t tried Graphite yet, but the screenshots looked pretty nice – so I might be doing so to see what it’s all about.)
LaunchPad is Ubuntu/Canonical’s code hosting platform – similar to Google Code or Sourceforge in concept. They use Bzr for their source control, which is a tad odd to me – I’m more in the mercurial camp of any decentralized SCM – but their web site is really first class. They’ve got a nice system and setup – simple, somewhat bold iconography, obvious components to projects, and a clean look. As a place to encourage project and community participation, I admit that I was immediately drawn in. My own project (languishing at the moment) on Google Code (django queue service) has an interface that feels positively stark in contrast.
I’m not going to move anything over, but I suspect I will pay more attention to the LaunchPad setup going into the future.
They work, oh yeah… well, sometimes.
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I suppose that I should say that my bias is reflected from spending a lot of time growing up near the Mississippi, and doubting that we could really effectively control the whole flow of that massive body of water with a few levee’s. For the most part, they do work – and to reasonable effect. The downside is that too many people assume they’re foolproof and in my opinion don’t have enough respect for the power of the river. I spent some time myself doing sandbagging in the Flood of ’93 – but my respect for the sheer force of the river goes back a lot farther than that.
I bought a first generation MacBook Pro a few years ago. I’ve been very happy with it, but there’s a little quirk of that system that’s really starting to bug me.
That quirk is the almost anything ported with the transgaming engine won’t run on it. For whatever reason, the transgaming engine wants to see a Core 2 Duo processor under the hook, not the Core Duo. Specifically, it’s bitten me in trying to run the Mac “native” EVE client, and more recently the Spore Creature Creator.
It’s one of those things that feels “just slightly off”, like you’re walking to the bus stop and you see the bus go by while you’re waiting for the walk signal to change – knowing you can’t make it in time. Except that it’s worse, in that with the laptop’s process it’s not like it’s going to get better. That’s just really not an interchangeable part.
At least Karen’s MacBook Pro has a Core 2 Duo processor…
I got back from Velocity 2008 last night – an “first stab” conference focusing on Performance and Scaling for web applications and operations. For a first stab at the conference, it went really well. They reported that more than 600 folks attended the two-day event, and while many of the talks seemed to suffer from the “intro only, no real meat” syndrome, the overall flavor of the conference was a lot of finding itself.
I think the first day suffered more than the second on this point, and the hallway, lunchroom, and dinner conversations among attendees was probably the highlight there. The first day also felt very product-driven, although I suspect that’s a touch unfair. There were some really interesting vendors at the show, and it’s no surprise that for a first conference there was a lot of talk/attention from those vendors that were supporting the gig.
I think rather than talk about too many specifics from the conference, I wanted to focus on the general things that I saw.
- The second was my desire to shout KNOCK IT OFF YOU WANKERS! THE CLOUD DOESN’T EXIST YET!. To be a tad more specific, it seemed that everyone and their third cousin decided that this conference was the time claim they were, or should be considered, a cloud vendor. Of course nobody really defined what the hell they meant by it, so it could have been anything. The one that really chapped me was Akamai trying to make a claim that a CDN was a cloud – I mean come on guys, give it over and try to stay real, will ya?
The implied definition of cloud as it exists today ranged from outsourced datacenter/operations with an encouragement towards rapid deployment toolchains (Joyent, Amazon’s EC2, Slicehost) to full platform support engines (Google’s App Engine or EngineYard) to CDNs (Akamai). “Cloud computing” is the new marketing hypeword of the moment.
I pitched out a twitter tidbit about this which ultimately led to an evening chat with Duncan about how some of the key technologies to make applications that “just work” in a cloud computing environment nice and seamlessly just plain don’t exist as yet. Everything in current environments is still manual, and frankly pretty complex. The “shove it into the environment and it just works” technology that enables automatic allocation of compute resources and nifty tricks like autoscaling isn’t there.
- The white elephant in the room is that all this great datacenter scaling and automation really and truly sucks when you’ve got a heterogeneous computing environment – where in ‘heterogeneous’ I mean a mixture of Windows and Linux/Unix. There were a number of great talks about the how to and detail of running a scaled environment within a single environment. Microsoft’s otherwise not-talked-about project “Autopilot” (zipfile of presentation) isn’t (to my knowledge) available to it’s customers. Puppet and HJK’s various tool sets of goodies just flat out doesn’t support Win32 or Win64. ControlTier stood out to me in that they had an answer (all open source, no less) and that “Yeah, it kinda sucked…” (my paraphrase – don’t blame them). I was very surprised that I didn’t see BladeLogic as a sponsor there, given their interest in this sector and purported ability to provide a cross-platform solution.
Some general link love from Velocity:
Oh – and amusingly you can just see the top of my fuzzy little head in the background of one of JDD’s pictures from the conference. I remember him taking that photo – staring down the barrel of that lens – and hoping that he was actually doing something more foreground because my mouth was full of whatever munchy they were offering at the time there.
Ned Batchelder noted something I found really interesting – that Spore Creature Creator uses Steganography. The super-succinct summary is that with this nifty trick, when you export a PNG of one of your creatures and give that to someone else, they can load the PNG into the creator program and it pulls out structured data encoded into the least significant bytes of the PNG file and you’ve got yourself a creature! Not just the image, but the whole structural component to fiddle with. Sort of capturing the essence of the creature with a picture!
Editing the picture in any way destroys the integral data – and Ned has a great writeup of his investigation on how the Spore guys managed to wrangle this nifty feat.
I’ve still got an original Apple Airport Graphite in the basement, serving up 802.11b goodness for house. Only it’s starting to not serve up so much goodness. I’ve carefully checked against the neighbor’s wifi – and we’re on different channels, but the WIFI is dropping out around the house periodically, only to come back on in a few minutes.
At first I thought it was the latest upgrade to Leopard (10.5.3), but I’m quite sure it’s not now – as other OS’s (Win XP and my 10.4 desktop) are seeing the same issues. I did the usual routine of power-cycling the unit to see if that would help – nope, to no avail.
I even tried to hook up to it with Apple’s airport utility but the unit is so old that the current utilities won’t even recognize it. I didn’t realize that the device was released in 1999 until I looked it up. The particular device has been in operation for 9 1/2 years now. I had it before coming to Seattle – bought it with an original tangerine iBook. (I still have that iBook – still works too). 10 years for a wireless base station – not too shabby.
I think this frustrating intermittent lack of connectivity is a sign. That and I’ve been wanting 802.11n connectivity for a while anyway. I’m leaning towards investing in a Time Capsule – which combines a backup disk that works with Leopard’s time machine as well as the full airport connectivity setup. The vast majority of the network connections in the house are all wireless – we need something that’s stable if I’m going to avoid running a huge amount of random Cat5E cabling through the house. And on this house, I really really want to avoid doing that. We have plaster and lathe walls – incredible pain in the butt the patch once you’ve put a hole in it…
It won’t be this weekend – I’m doing errands and so forth before I head back down to San Francisco for the Velocity conference early part of next week. Probably some time after I get back.
I can’t help but think that this next week is going to be like switching from high octane to diesel mechanics – technically speaking. Or maybe it’s a more appropriate metaphor to say I’m moving from the edge to the core.
I’ve finished up with WWDC 2008, where I spent the week with some incredible developers. Steve Weller has a great set of shots up on SmugMug of these folks. Fraser, Deric, Gus, Blake, Daniel, Brent, and so many more. They all work on or with the folks who make Macintosh desktop (and now iPhone/iPod) software. They tune, tweak, and polish like mad fiends – the quality and time effort involved is just incredible.
I spend a week back in Seattle at home base (I’ve got a few things to nail down and a few others to pick up), and then I’m out again – this time for a shorter period of time – attending the O’Reilly Velocity conference. Where everything at WWDC (for me, anyway) was about programming the devices on the edge, Velocity is all about the engines at the core. The “giant diesels” that keep everything out here on the edge fed with data.
I’m not sure what exactly to expect at Velocity – it’s a fairly new conference setup. I really liked the focus of the conference though – it’s about the “how” in dealing with web performance and scaling for internet operations. It’s something I’ve been involved with for a goodly number of years – the most recent few a bit more on the engineering side of the house. Although I’ve worked far more deeply in both operations and engineering, I tend to migrate to an area somewhere in the middle. Pretty much what my current job is all about. I’m coming away from WWDC with at least two key topics to go back and evangelize to my comrades in Seattle, and I rather expect I’ll be coming back from Velocity with another couple – albeit very different in topic, scope, and audience.
It’s the end of the week and I’m bushed. I suspect there’s a few folks even more “bushed” than me – it’s been an intense week of talking, learning, and “socializing”. I ran across a bunch of folks I’ve seen before, and I think I was introduced to an equally huge number of folks. Hooking up with some other geeks from work was really interesting as well. Sitting around chatting with Michael Johnson about web applications and codecs used in video production may not sound all that interesting, but he’s a funny dude.
The pieces that excited me the most from the conference is the detail that we learned about “Grand Central” and some of the associated componentry within the next release of the OS: Snow Leopard. Outside of the NDA boundary, there’s not a lot of information – but I walked away from the sessions with a deep appreciation for Apple’s forethought and insight into how to not only keep up, but take full advantage of the concurrent/multi-core world that we’re heading into.
Outside of Snow Leopard I spent a huge amount of time focused on the various iPhone technologies and details. The labs and UI review at the conference are amazing wells of technical help that I wish were available more often. Priceless help, to be honest. I’m glad that I spent the time to get myself into a state where I could take advantage of it. I actually walked away this afternoon wishing I’d done more so that I could take even greater advantage of what was available.
In addition to my own work, I saw a lot of fantastic applications that are going to be great to get out into the market. Nobody was committing to a date on the App Store launching, but there was an intense amount of interest on who would have applications ready to roll for launch, with the understanding that it was coming up pretty darn quickly in the future. My own personal bet is July 11th, but I’m not convinced as I think Apple will have their hands full with the new iPhone launch at that time as well. So if not then, shortly thereafter I guess.
And no – I didn’t see any 3G iPhones. I’ll be waiting with the rest of the masses to get my grubby paws on one.
Apple’s definitely getting prepped up this year. The WWDC keynote link on iTunes is available (found at iLounge). I expect that sometime around Monday Noon, that subscription list will include the WWDC keynote and whatever details they’re announcing.
In this morning’s “waiting for the next load of laundry so I’ll check my RSS feeds” reading Mark Bessey wrote about looking forward to WWDC 2008 – this time NOT as an Apple employee. I think the following paragraph best sums up my continuing interest in the OS X platform:
More interesting to me is that Apple has really started to embrace having a single platform that supports multiple kinds of products. I wrote a whole blog post on that subject a while back, but the fact that Apple can now get a microprocessor for $10 or so that’ll run OS X means that they can aggressively move into whatever new kinds of products they want, based on variations of the new iPhone platform. It’s an exciting time to be a developer for Apple’s platform.
OS X on a $10 chip. Granted that’s not typically in the hacker range (look to the Arduino for some fun there), but it definitely reflects a breaking barrier point where the cost of putting in more serious compute to devices is here. I think it’s also clear that we’re seeing the initial serious stabs into a new realm of user interfaces with touch. Voice remains a bit of a dream, but slowly computers are becoming more and more invisible.