Michigan Trip, part 2

These are mostly from the petting farm at Domino Farms in Ann Arbor. I had made the mistake of referring to it as a “petting zoo” at some point, which led to Amy being momentarily disappointed when she realized there wouldn’t be giraffes and such there.

A mara or Patagonian cavy. These were in the barn, kind of tucked in behind the little store and away from where the more familiar animals – goats, pigs, etc. – were. They’re the second largest rodent species (after the capybara), a couple of feet long and up to 35 pounds or so. I’d never heard of them before.
Some long-horned cattle in a field near the petting farm. I realized when I saw these on the way in that I had sort of noticed them on my previous Michigan trip, when I’d picked up a prescription at a medical facility on the vast Domino Farm sprawl, and meant to investigate but then forgotten. This shot is from the hayride.
One of Amy’s little tricks at Kevin’s place was “wearing furniture” – the little armrest covers from the recliner. I’d also like to point out that the nightgown she’s wearing is from fabric she had picked out herself, sewn by Cindy. She loves it.

Now, some video.

(1.7MB AVI, 2.0MB WMV) One of my favorite home-movie segments that I remember from my childhood is of my cousin Pam – very young at the time – trying to blow out the candles on a birthday cake. This is kind of similar.
(3.6MB AVI, 3.1MB WMV) Amy’s absolute favorite animal at the petting farm was this plain old black cat named Squirrel.

Mini Sighting

I saw a real Mini on Route 2 this morning – not the modern MINI™ Cooper™ but a tiny light-blue box with tiny wheels and the lawnmower-engine sound I remember from my childhood. We ended up stopped at a light, me turning left and him one lane to the right. There’s an early light for left-turners there, and the guy driving the classic Mini was clearly watching me as I went by just as I was trying to get a better look at his ride. I gave him a smile, but I’m not sure he noticed, or maybe he’s one of those purists who disapprove of the new MINI™s. In any case, it was very cool to see one of the Old Guard still on the road.

VMWare Oops

Apparently, a whole lot of VMWare servers shut down this morning because it’s August 12 – which might not seem like a good reason to the rest of us, but apparently it’s a very significant day somewhere in the proprietary VMWare code. Since this story doesn’t happen to involve something good for EMC, or bad for competitors, somehow I don’t think Twomey will be writing about it except maybe to offer excuses.

Michigan Trip, part 1

These are mostly from the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum our first day there.

Riding the “pool pasta” with Cindy in the pool at Kevin’s. I forgot what the exact point of this exhibit was, but it’s a good picture. Does she look four years old to you?
AAHOM again, driving an ambulance with a remarkably thin-looking me. Just having fun in the back of the ambulance.
The big bubble thing wasn’t working all that well, but well enough to be exciting. One of my favorite exhibits was this recreation of an old general store. You just don’t see “cream skimmer” at the store nowadays. Maybe I’ll post pictures of the other two shelf sections some day.
Kind of like the one in “Big” This was set up outside as we were leaving. I thought Amy would get more of a kick out of it, but she didn’t seem to enjoy actually being with the animals that much.

But wait, there’s video too. Clicking on the images will get you an AVI-format (XVID/MP3) that’s the easiest for me to play and work with on a Linux box, but those weren’t working for Cindy on Windows. For anyone else who’s similarly afflicted, I’ve also added WMV-format versions as well that work on her machine but are somewhat lower quality.

Adaptive Readahead II

A long time ago, I wrote about Wu Fengguang’s work on adaptive readahead in Linux, and I recently had occasion to refer to it again. Now, as part of ACM’s free SIGOPS review of recent R&D in Linux, it looks like WFG et al have another paper. It’s nice to see that the work is still ongoing and still producing good results.

Data Center Power Savings

StorageMojo linked to a presentation by Microsoft architect James Hamilton, a very talented and nice guy who probably doesn’t even remember giving me a ride from a Berkeley CS retreat at Granlibakken (near Lake Tahoe) to Reno several years ago. Anyway, in the middle of the presentation is the following bullet point:

What limits 100% dynamic workload distribution?
— Networking constraints
— — VIPs can’t span L2 nets, ACLs are static, manual configuration, etc.
— Data Locality
— — Hard to efficiently move several TB & workload needs to be close to data

This got me to thinking. The data-locality issue is often closely associated with an architectural decision to put storage in nodes instead of using separate storage. Because it is, indeed, quite difficult to move that data to another server, that effectively precludes shutting down a server or the storage it contains. Oops. By contrast, with external storage – either a disk array or dedicated and task-optimized storage nodes – server nodes can be shut down without consequence. If the storage is using advanced data-placement techniques (“MAID” is a marketing term rather than a technical one so I won’t use it here) then it could also shut down a lot of the storage too. This could yield exactly the power savings that can only be wished for in the “storage everywhere” approach, which might be a pretty good reason to eschew that approach. I have an aesthetic fondness for symmetric approaches to everything but, like everything else, symmetry should not become dogma. As this example shows, taking it to that extreme can result in a design that’s inherently inimical to certain goals.

Back from Michigan

It was actually a pretty uneventful and mostly-pleasant trip. Expect lots of pictures and videos from the new camera soon. For now, two verbal anecdotes. By pure coincidence, both have to do with phones.

  • On the first travel day, I got a couple of calls from work. The second day was quiet, then on the first day actually in Michigan our dinner at IHOP was interrupted a couple of times. Some time later, my phone rang. Amy, being the copycat that she is, immediately did exactly what she’d seen Daddy do every time the phone rang: she said , “Oh, crap.” I don’t even remember what the call was, because it was certainly less memorable than that response.
  • On the way home, Amy was looking at a picture of a phone and started reading the numbers on it: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, snowflake, zero, waffle. Waffle! That’s the best name I’ve heard yet for that symbol. I’m sharing it with everyone, in hopes that it will catch on.