Bye Bye, Scammers

For months, I’ve been getting calls on my celphone about extending the warranty on my Subaru. The one I sold and don’t have any more. These calls were the main reason I’d all but stopped answering calls from unrecognized numbers (particularly unrecognized area codes) because they accounted for a majority of such calls. Now it seems that I’m not alone.

Earlier this year, I was receiving daily calls to my cell phone from an automated voice offering an extended auto warranty.

I’m an AT&T customer, but these car warranty auto-calls have apparently also been plaguing Verizon Wireless customers.

The companies are accused of using an autodialer to contact Verizon Wireless customers, and of masking the origin of their calls. Since January 2008, more than 2 million customers have received such calls.

Pre-recorded voice messages say that a recipient’s car warranty is about to expire, and tells them to press “1″ for more information. If the call recipient does, he or she is connected to a person who asks for the make and model of the car. If the recipient asks for information about the company, the operator hangs up.

As the story explains, such behavior is not only annoying but out-and-out illegal, and a $50K fine doesn’t seem anywhere near as big as it should be. The people behind these operations should go to jail, not only for the direct annoyance and loss of time they’ve caused but as an example and discouragement to others. I know no such thing will ever happen, but at least now maybe I can start answering my phone again.

Popular Movies Reduced to Thirty Seconds

… and enacted by cartoon bunnies with funny voices. Hilarious.

Upgrades

I’ve upgraded my version of WordPress, and also updated my list of links in the right sidebar. As always, let me know if anything seems weird.

Freedom of Religion

I’m not sure I’m remembering this 100% correctly, but the gist is there. When we were shopping for a new dining-room table weekend before last, we were looking at some Shaker stuff. This led to the following conversation between the salesperson and Amy:

Salesperson: Are you a Shaker?
Amy: No, I’m a goofball.

Sunday Pictures, 2009-04-26

These are from our walk through a nearby meadow today.

Seth Godin: This Is Broken

This video is both humorous and thought-provoking, which in my opinion makes for great writing or speaking even if you might otherwise be put off by Seth Godin’s style (which doesn’t bother me at all but then it’s a geek style and I’m a geek). If you have a spare twenty minutes, you could do a lot worse than to spend it watching this. If you have less time, just watch the “not my job” and “I am not a fish” parts (which really address the same concept).

Oracle/Sun Roundup

Before I go to bed, here are some of the best stories I’ve read about the buyout.

  • Neil McAllister deserves credit for calling this one early.
  • Joe Landman is always on top of things, and always insightful. I don’t just say that because our respective takes on Oracle’s attitude toward HPC in general and Lustre in particular are similar, either. The observation about ZFS vs. btrfs is one I hadn’t thought of, even though I’ve covered ZFS here before.
  • Kevin Jackson thinks this is good for cloud computing, especially in the federal space.
  • I find it hard to believe that Kevin Closson doesn’t have some good thoughts to share. Seems more likely that he won’t share them, for reasons only he would know.

Another observation I’ve seen many places is that some of Oracle’s current partners (Dell and HP are often mentioned) might not be too pleased about their partner stepping into the server space. Some of those same partners also fall into Joe’s category of Lustre users who have been uncomfortable with Sun’s ownership and were already looking for alternatives. I suspect that companies at the intersection of those two sets might be very interested in non-Sun non-Oracle alternatives now, so I’ll just mention that I’ve been getting some good results with PVFS lately.

Oracularis

Heck, everybody else is writing about it, I guess I might as well too. Oracle is buying Sun. Why? And what are the implications? Here are some quick thoughts. Short term, everybody is likely to focus on the anti-trust “buy your competitor” aspect. Longer term, I think this gives Oracle an opportunity to do have a complete stack from hardware on up that they control. They’ve been sucking operating-system functionality into their own codebase for ages, and taken several stabs at the whole “bare iron” thing with what could most charitably be described as mixed results. Now they could put Oracle on Solaris on Niagara/Rock and turn the whole thing into an integrated system such as nobody else except IBM has. They can then start positioning that not as a database engine but – with the addition of the ability to run arbitrary Java (or other JVM-based language) code – as an application engine. As I was saying to a colleague this morning, with cloud computing people are already demonstrating a certain willingness to run high-scale applications on top of relatively opaque infrastructures. Would an Oracle Cloud be any less appealing than Google App Engine or Cisco UCS? It bears thinking about.

Another topic near and dear to my heart is what happens to Lustre now that the people involved will be working for their third company in two years. Or maybe they won’t. Oracle has never shown much interest in the scientific-computing space where Lustre plays. What with Exadata Server and other technologies already under their belts, the Oracle folks might not have any use for Lustre or the engineers behind it. It doesn’t seem that unlikely that they’d cut it loose, to be picked up as an open-source project led by some of the other big Lustre players outside of Sun. The same thing could happen if they try to close it up and turn it into something that fits their own needs better, which would almost certainly lead to an immediate fork by those same players. Either way, some of the relentless push toward integration with every other Sun technology might stop, and you know what? That’s all good as far as I can tell. A more community-led Lustre, being pushed less by its owners in directions that the community really doesn’t want to go, might be a very good thing.

I’m sure I’ll have more later, but that’s all I can think of now.

Feeling Old

Besides being Patriots’ Day, this is also the thirtieth anniversary of my arrival (back) in the United States. Thirty years. Wow. I can’t quite get used to the idea that I’m old enough for an entire era of my life, full of memories, to have ended thirty years ago. My time spent in New Zealand is already far less than my time spent in Massachusetts. In a few years it will be less time than I’ve spent in Lexington, and less than a quarter of my life overall. It’s sad to think that my entire childhood is now so long and far away.

Sunday Pictures 2009-04-19

If you want to see captions etc. you can always click the link near the top and view these on Flickr. Some day I’ll write some scripts to import the text so that things will be searchable here.