Cicindela Sexguttata

Here’s a bug I saw a few weeks ago on the ruin of the Fiske house in Minuteman NHP. Apparently it’s a six-spotted tiger beetle. Yes, it really was that metallic-looking, and it was maybe half an inch long.

green bug

Not a Bad Weekend

Yeah, I know it’s Wednesday. For once, the weather was nice on the weekend and then turned a bit cloudier when I went back to work. We didn’t do much on Saturday. On Sunday we took Amy to Drumlin Farm. Last time, she had greatly enjoyed touching the sheep through the wooden slats in the sheep/goat shed, and she seemed to enjoy it this time too. She barely seemed to notice the kids (five weeks old) or the lamb, though. She also liked the mice (in “Drumlin Underground”) and seemed fascinated by the many kinds of poop. The best part, of course, was having a picnic lunch. She loves picnic lunches. Anyway, here’s the obligatory first-lady-slipper picture for this year.

2008 lady-slipper

On Monday, I took her to a playground in Lincoln that we’d seen on the way back from Drumlin Farms. First we had trouble finding the way in, because the playground is actually part of a big school complex and is not actually visible from within the complex itself – you basically have to go past the playground to find the entrance, drive around to the other side of one building, then walk back around the building again to (almost) where you started. It was worth it, though. It’s an old-style wooden maze kind of affair, with a little bit of an obstacle course and a “horse” made out of tires hung from cables and a couple of swinging platforms (one shaped like a turtle) and – my personal favorite – a big metal spiral slide. I’ll take pictures sometime. Lexington used to have a playground kind of like this, so I knew to bring my splinter kit and of course that meant nothing happened. Amy had a blast. That and picnic dinner of “weirdo salad” (recipe some day) made for good times all around.

Also, I could hardly let Memorial Day weekend go by without mentioning that this was Cindy’s and my twelfth anniversary. Apparently that’s silk (traditional), pearls (modern), or jade (gemstone). There’s really not much to say about that here, except that I’d gladly do it all again.

Shills and Jerks

Mark Twomey claims I called him a shill, and uses that as the “hook” for a post about believing in your peers and your company. Unfortunately for him, if you look at what I actually said, I didn’t quite call him a shill after all. What I said was that, if one were to apply the same standard to him and to the NetApp employees he was writing about, then either they’re all shills or none are. If NetApp employees writing blog posts presages a marketing push, then EMC employees writing blog posts does too. He will surely deny any connection yet again, but you can be sure he’d be getting some heat from management if his posts weren’t completely in line with what they wanted to see in the blogosphere. I was a blogger at EMC long before he was (Steve Todd can back me up on that), so I know more than a little about how that works. He might not receive copy from EMC marketing but, whether he knows/admits it or not, what he writes is subject to their review.

As for being a believer, that’s great. I’m a believer in what my company does too, as I was at Revivio and as I (mostly) was at EMC. Being a believer doesn’t have to mean losing your objectivity, though. Sometimes good ideas do come from other places, as Mark should be well aware. After all, he has bragged about selling lots of a technology that his employer ignored and dismissed until a bunch of little guys threatened to eat their lunch. He even linked somewhat approvingly to my account of what happened at one of those little guys. Let’s reframe that last bit a little: I was an OK guy when what I was saying suited his and EMC’s agenda, and now I’m not. Hmmm. At least I admit that sometimes people outside of SiCortex have good ideas too, and that sometimes people inside SiCortex sometimes have bad ones. I’m a little wary of going into too much detail about the latter – see what I said above about marketing keeping an eye on what bloggers say – but I’m not afraid to mention it. I still think we have a higher ratio of good ideas to bad ones than our competitors do, of course, but I feel that giving credit where credit is due is the right thing to do and also makes whatever else I say that much more credible. Nobody believes someone whose view of the world is unrealistically skewed toward one vendor’s view of the world – whether it’s EMC’s or Cisco’s.

I tried to explain all this in a comment on Mark’s blog, but apparently he had no way to answer any of it so he rejected it in moderation instead. That’s as good an indication as anyone should need of who’s on the up-and-up here and who’s being a little disingenuous.

UPDATE: Mark claims that he just hadn’t got around to checking his moderation queue. I’m still not entirely convinced (there are other plausible explanations) but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on that one – hence the strikethru.

Hitching a Ride

A red-winged blackbird catching a ride on a red-tailed hawk. This has to be a Photoshop job . . . doesn’t it?

carpe noctem

From Dark Roasted Blend.

Mother’s Day Picture

Some day I’ll catch up on pictures (like from Christmas!) but I’m not going to wait for that before I post new ones. Here’s a picture of Cindy and Amy yesterday, admiring a patch of bluets (houstonia caerulea) at Minuteman NHP yesterday. It seemed like an appropriate image for the day.

Cindy, Amy, and bluets

Platypus Genome Sequenced

It’s not the first animal to receive this treatment, but it’s particularly interesting because of the platypus’s unique lineage and characteristics. Here’s the BBC story.

Scientists have deciphered the genetic blueprint of the duck-billed platypus, one of the oddest creatures on Earth.

The animal comes from an early branch of the mammal family, and like mammals it is covered in fur and produces milk. However, it lays eggs like a reptile.

LBNL/Tensilica Team Up on New Supercomputer

Very interesting announcement.

In April, Berkeley Lab signed a collaboration agreement with Tensilica®, Inc. to explore such new design concepts for energy-efficient high-performance scientific computer systems. The joint effort is focused on novel processor and systems architectures using large numbers of small processor cores, connected together with optimized links, and tuned to the requirements of highly-parallel applications such as climate modeling.

The numbers are interesting even if they’re estimates for the future.

They conclude that a supercomputer using about 20 million embedded microprocessors would deliver the results and cost $75 million to construct. This “climate computer” would consume less than 4 megawatts of power and achieve a peak performance of 200 petaflops.

Hmmm. Divide by a thousand to get 20K processors, 4kW, and 200TF. Of those, only the 4kW number seems out of place compared to current Top 500 kinds of systems. This reminds me a bit of the UC Berkeley (not quite the same place) BEE project. It’s more ambitious in scale and range of applications, perhaps a bit less so in terms of being usable with “standard programming languages and tools” instead of the more direct-to-hardware nature of BEE.

You just bought a huge bucket of computes. So, how do you connect the pieces to memory, to storage, to each other? You’ve got a compiler, now how do you write your programs to run reliably and well on it? How do you make it even slightly manageable? When you’re done, can you put gull-wing doors and big blue LEDs on it? ;)

Stop Logging Me Out!

Like many people nowadays, I use multiple computers. Not counting the ones I develop on and for, I use the desktop at work and the large laptop at home practically every day, plus I use the desktop at home and the Eee pretty often. I use IMAP for all of my email and Google Browser Sync to keep my Firefox bookmarks up to date everywhere, and it generally hasn’t been a big deal to move from one machine to another . . . until recently. Just the last week or so, all of a sudden, it seems like lots of sites are asking me to re-enter my password every time I visit them from a different machine than the last time. No, it’s not some password-capturing malware. These are all Linux systems, which makes that unlikely to start with, and I know my way around well enough to be able to tell that’s not it. It’s not because of my recent upgrade to Ubuntu 8.04 either, or if it is it’s in some much-less-than-obvious way. It happens with my home desktop (Xubuntu Feisty) and my Eee (Xandros) as well, though I haven’t specifically tested to see if it’s different going between those two vs. going between the other two. I think it’s just web developers being dweebs. They’ve adopted the “security means prompting the user until they go insane” approach from Vista, apparently. Well, they need to get with the times. Many people are like me in this regard, it’s normal for a single user to have multiple “locations” online, and my credentials or security status on one machine should not change just because I logged in from another during the night. I know that doing this stuff right is not as much fun as playing with the latest AJAXy whiz-bang toy, but it’s much better for your users.

Flying Jellyfish

This is just too cool. Nice music, too.

In case embedding doesn’t work, here’s the YouTube URL. Hat tip to EcoGeek.

Comment Moderation Is Off

There’s still some spam, but it’s only a trickle and it’s more nonsense than obscene so I’ll just delete it after the fact.