Formerly an Executive Director of Systems Engineering and a Senior Distinguished Engineer at Dell. Prior to that, an IBM Distinguished Engineer working for the Systems Group in NY and Austin. I'm currently "retired until further notice".
Tomorrow starts the annual rush and crush better known as South by South West (SXSW). Most of the official events don’t actually start in zipcode 78704, but it’s one where it is possibly most noticeable. With South Congress, Auditorium shores, the “Mexican mile” on South First, and lots of new restaurants and alternative destinations in the ‘hood, like Slackerville and plenty of retro and vintage shops hustling for attention, there are bound to be many official and more unofficial events [End of an Ear has 8-bands alone]. Threadgills[South] also in the ’04 has a massive lineup of musicians running from Wednesday through Saturday.
Someone missing from the scene will be Austins’ close held but now passed Leslie, My neighborhood was certainly made special as he regularly hung out on the front porch of La Mexicana bakery and Flashback vintage. There’s already been an outpouring on Facebook of people saying Austin won’t be the same without him, and it sure won’t. He was found on Feb 16th, unconscious in a parking lot across the street from my house. I wasn’t involved in his rescue this time. I did sit with him once though when he’d collapsed for some unknown reason in the Twin Oaks library parking lot, while I waited for the South Austin Medical center to dispatch a free ride to come collect him. Then there was the Sunday morning when I jogged past him at the bus stop on South 5th and W Mary, again apparently passed out, legs akimbo, wearing a short skirt with his less vital organs in clear display. I ran 3-blocks south before deciding to come back and check on him, yep he was “asleep” and after a few minutes it was clear an ambulance wasn’t required.
Yep, it’s a shame he’s gone, no one deserved to be treated like he was when he was beaten up, and Leslie was afforded some great friends like Debbie Russell and many others. Lesie was though much more than a cross dresser to entertain people on S. Congress and Sixth St. and people should remember that when mourning his passing.
And Austin will be just the same without him, there are lots of other people keeping Austin and the ’04 weird. Just take a trip down to Eeyore’s Birthday Party and you’ll see the spirit in full flow, and that doesn’t include some of the more esoteric and fantasy characters like The Bandit Queen of Lady Bird Lake.
Welcome to the ’04 to all the SXSW visitors, we are all here, because we are not all there.
I heard a great example of global misunderstanding yesterday in a discussion about testing at scale for “big data” type systems. It was claimed, and I accept for the purpose of this post, that you couldn’t test an application that took 5-hours on 20,000 servers, maybe so.
However, if the data was considered personal information under most western economies privacy laws, that meant you couldn’t test against production data anyway. So you go live without testing or have to have a process to anonymise the data before you test on it. Then there’s the 20,000 server problem…
So in the spirit of test is production, since the oldest entry in this new blog is from 2004 where I was using my, then new smartphone, a Palm Tungsten W to post over the internet’s, this is today’s equivalent. I’m using a Dell Venue Pro with Windows Phone 7.5 via the t-mobile GSM network. testing, testing, 123…
The clear difference between the two is not just the number of deaths, the illness, the treatment etc. but the nature of the society that allowed both to exist. In the 1880’s the Bryant and May Matchwomen had the ability to incite change and the ability to start a union like organization. In China, it’s not at all clear this is even remotely possible.
If you can catch todays Robert Elms show on the BBC iPlayer, it’s well worth a listen. It should be posted by 1pm Central time, and will be available only for the next 7-days. Unless I get time to rip that section of the show and post to soundcloud.
Yesterday I wrote about This American Lifes “What Kind of Country do you want?” at which as was surprised at how much disdain and distrust there was of the US Government. As if by magic, when I got home I had missed a certified mail delivery from the IRS. I collected the letter this morning, it was a demand for $2434.04 with no explanation.
After 18-minutes on the phone, I spoke to one operator who could tell me only that it was late fees and interest. I asked for a statement that I could file with my tax attorney ans she said she couldn’t provide that, she’d have to put me through to some advanced dept. After another 20-mins on hold, a man answered, was polite, asked if it was ok to hold, came back 6-mins later, said his software was slow, and then said “oh there you go it’s come back now I’m talking about it”. He asked if he could put me back on hold, came back eventually and said he’d have to submit a paper request and it would take 30-days.
Note, the fact that I’d only been given another 9-days to pay before the US Government would exercise their intent to seize my property, meant I should just pay it. I submitted the payment via a 3rd party for the $3.49 fee and gave the guy on the phone a payment confirmation number.
I told him I was the Director for Software engineering at Dell; I’d be happy to hang up my boots and come fix their software, my fees were a very reasonable $1,000 per day. He said they have lots of software but his computer was an HP, I passed on the chance to make fun of that. Total call time 58-minutes, 38-seconds.
I’m starting to see that if you grow up and these are the sorts of tales, inefficiencies and hopeless situations, you do indeed become skeptical about big government. I’m going to see the US Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) tomorrow for my permanent immigration application. Wish me luck.
than do a real job”. Brilliant, sums up what I’ve thought for a longtime. No real examination of Apples products, no difficult questions, except recent coverage of their problems with manufacturing; the press would rather fawn over their products than do a critical examination.
Well this is a great summary of the upcoming Apple anouncement “Too many inky hacks pulled out to cover Apple instead. We, the Press would rather sit in a dark room, unable to ask tough questions or actually touch and test an Apple product, than do our job. We would rather serve as a gateway for Apple’s live action press releases.” You can read the rest here on Mat Honans’ Gizmodo blog.
Note in case this entry starts showing up on google search results, I’m not saying Apple has bad products, I wouldn’t know, I’ve never owned one and the press coverage doesn’t really tell you anything, it’s just an extension to Apples marketing operation, as Mat admits.
Facebooks’ eventually consistent database has been under real strain lately. It’s a great example of the difference between social media and the web 2.0 style architectures, and a banking application. In this example, facebook has notified me three separate ways that a conversation had been updated. Yet almost 20-seconds after the first notification, the data I can see hasn’t been updated. The facebook comment made by Mike in the top-right, should be appended to the bottom of the pop-out window.
Now, imagine this was your bank account. A transaction comes in that debits $10,000 from your account. Then a query comes in that shows the $10,000 is still in your account, another transaction is then initiated that deducts $10,000 from your account. What got debited, and if you only had $15,000 in your account, how much do you have now?
And that’s a great example of the difference between eventually consistent and ACID based transaction-based systems. Many but not all IT Professionals understand this. Make sure yours does. In this case it could be the backend database consistency, ie there are multiple copies and they don’t match, or there could be multiple backend copies and the copy in the browser cache, does or doesn’t match. Either way “Houston, we have a problem”.
It’s fascinating to watch, and participate in the change in America. Sometimes it starts to look like a distinctly 2nd rate country. I’ve met reasonable people who are out of work through no fault of their own, who can’t afford to see a Dr or a Dentist unless its a life threatening emergency. Period. Then I hear from Oli in the UK that he’s finally gone to the dentist and had his teeth fixed, two fillings, and a root canal, total price to him, 49 UKP or about $60.
In this weeks This American Life they ask the question, what kind of country? They cover a number of angles as always, again the most interesting is saved until the end. The question is should you pay more tax and does cutting services actually save money? It’s more a question of trust I think, and people seem intrinsically not to trust the government. Which is weird given they deliver so much.
If asked would I pay an extra $200 to keep the existing services going, or pay $300 to cut loads of services and just pay the annual bill for street lighting, I’d go with the $200, not because it was cheaper, but because I believe honestly in the commons. You’ll be surprised what a lot of people were willing to pay. This American Life, Episode 459 (mp3).
NPR has an interesting blog entry on “What ‘Mastered For iTunes’ Really Means”. I hadn’t spotted this since I’ve been a life long Apple avoider. It’s not that I think Apple has bad products, it’s just they always, always look for a way to lock users into their systems. I’ve felt for a long time that the music industry would eventually find a way to strike back at MP3. In this case it makes perfect sense. Pay particular attenion to the last two paragraphs.