Older blog entries for jpick (starting at number 80)

11 Aug 2005 (updated 11 Aug 2005 at 05:32 UTC) »

I checked out LinuxWorld today in SF. There wasn't that much interesting to me personally. I think the industry is pretty mature at this point. I suspect LinuxWorld will eventually go the way of Comdex, since there really wasn't much there that you couldn't look up on the web anyways.

One company was showing off a 8-way dual-core Opteron box in a 5U case. I wonder what the power consumption on something like that is?

Afterwards, I killed some time in San Francisco, and went to the Mission to see a documentary called "Occupation: Dreamland". Wow. It's entirely composed of embedded footage from the US Army's 82nd Airborne unit when they were occupying Falluja in early 2004 (before the Marines went in and laid seige to the city). The documentary seems politically neutral to me - there's no narration - although several of the troops do get to express their views. It's quite well done because you get to see the Iraqi's side of things as well, as they argue with the troops in the street, and when their homes get raided in the middle of the night. Falluja really looks like a hellhole. You see the troops finding hidden weapons, and responding to RPG attacks. The scariest part is a live IED explosion that they captured on tape.

Anyways, everybody ought to see this film, no matter what their politics are. It's the clearest snapshot of what's going on over there that I've seen. I don't think it's been shown in many places yet, though.

12 Jul 2005 (updated 12 Jul 2005 at 18:42 UTC) »

Yesterday, I went to the MGM v. Grokster post-Supreme Court decision panel event at the Stanford Law School, along with some other seth-trippers.

They throw a really good party - the whole thing was catered, with free food, wine and hors'doeuvres. The crowd was mostly lawyers, probably mostly Stanford Law School alumni, but there also seemed to be a few Silicon Valley venture capital types, and a small number of hackers.

The forum was moderated by Stanford Law Professor Paul Goldstein, who is one of the top copyright law experts in the world. Mark A. Lemley, who represented Grokster at the Supreme court (and is also a Stanford prof), spoke about how the decision will affect innovation. Ian Ballon argued the "rights holders" (eg. Entertainment Industry) case.

I posted some photos I took of the event. I should have taken some photos of the food!

Generally, after hearing what some of the top lawyers in the country have to say about this, it just reinforced my thoughts on the whole issue. The next-generation Internet is going to be peer-to-peer based, no matter what, but somehow the development is going to have to route around all those lawyers that are really, really interested and want to be involved.

And it's pretty clear that the entertainment industry is gunning for Bram Cohen.

One point that was brought up was that they'd rather go after the developers of the software, and not the end-users. Since this decision, the law seems like it will now be applied against people that have bad "intent" -- even if they haven't said anything publicly to encourage copyright violation. The court basically said that the Betamax defense still works, but not if you are a bad guy (as decided by the courts). They know a bad guy when they see one.

So the course of action for the entertainment industry is pretty clear. They just have to mount a public smear campaign to vilify Bram Cohen for a few years, and then drag him into a court. Even though BitTorrent is really useful for legitimate purposes, if they can paint him as a bad guy, he's in deep trouble.

Ian Ballon mentioned that Bram Cohen's past postings on public mailing lists early on in BitTorrent's development basically incriminate him, so you can see that the process is already starting...

Basically, you've got all the top copyright lawyers in the land having wet dreams about litigating the BitTorrent case, so it's going to happen. I'd bet money on it.

It's all a bit Orwellian, really. If you think about it, BitTorrent doesn't really accomplish much beyond being a better version of FTP. But since Bram Cohen might not have been thinking lily-white thoughts when he developed it, he's guilty of a "thoughtcrime", so he's in deep deep trouble now. At least that's my view of it.

I do hope that Stanford will put the video for the panel session online.

Update: Nice summary of the event

I've got so many projects on the go, it seems like I'm not getting anything done. I guess I should blog more often as well, because this is a pretty long post.

I'm currently building a Xen server for the California Community Colocation Project people. It should be ready soon. You can read more about it on the Wiki. I bought a APC MasterSwitch on EBay, which I wanted to set up, and donate to the colo (which would really help out my little Xen server project). It took me a few days to get together all the tools and parts to build a custom serial cable, and then I discovered that the damn thing was broken, and I'll have to send it back or get it fixed or something.

I'm still plugging together my little blog-based build/test environment. I'm using it internally at Digeo for my own personal builds. I've got a bit more things to tidy up on it, and then I think I'll set one up on the outside so I can use it for Kaffe builds and testing.

At work, I set up a some customs daemons (from Berkeley pmake) on our build cluster, so I can now build the toolchain and RPMs I maintain in under 2 hours (vs. the 5.5 hours it used to take).

On my own server, I'm still slowly setting up infrastructure. I figured out how to set up some private network bridges in Linux, and I set up OpenVPN so I could connect into it. It's pretty nice from a security and management perspective. I also set up a little JSPWiki for my business (no website currently). It's been really handy for jotting down and organizing all the random ideas I have. I'm going to try to organize my time around a "project pipeline", so I'll have some regular output for everybody to check out. There's a lot of really cool technology happening right now that I want to explore, and this will give me a way to participate more than I have been.

I'm still doing Japanese classes at Soko Gakuen in SF. I've completed 3 courses so far, and I'm currently taking "Beginning 2". I've learned Hiragana and Katakana, and I'm starting to do a little self-study to learn Kanji. It's definitely getting more interesting as I'm able to comprehend more and more things. San Francisco is a great place to learn Japanese, since there's such a huge Japanese community here. Japantown (Nihon-Machi) in SF is particularily nice, since they've got the huge Kinokuniya bookstore, plus lots of other little boutiques, grocery stores and restaurants. Plus you can always pick up things like the local BaySpo newspaper to practice reading.

It's been amazing watching the progress on Matt Mackall's Mercurial project. Major projects, such as Xen, are already using it. I think I'll play around with it to see if it makes sense for Kaffe. It's written in Python, so maybe it would run on Jython, which could run on Kaffe, which would be quite cool, I think.

I've got to look at moving the Kaffe website to a wiki soon as well.

I finally started to use a online RSS aggregator (Bloglines) to subscribe to my blogs. I should have done that a long time ago. The downside is that I'm finding so much cool stuff to read about, I'm getting less work done. The coolest thing I found recently is this Google Maps Pedometer, which is just perfect for figuring out how far I went on a recent run or bike ride.

Congrats on the patent stuff in Europe. Maybe I should move there - your politicians seem more sane. :-)

I think I'm just more depressed than surprised about the bombings in London. I've got friends there, and even heard of a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend that was injured. It's a nasty world we live in, sometimes.

Dammit. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled against Grokster.

Or rather, they voted to inject even more lawyers into the process of software development.

The lawyers have decided this Internet thing is here to stay, and they want in. The supreme court just opened the door for them. Say hello to your new neighbours...

The times they are a-changin'

Well, I got a Tor node setup in a Xen session running Debian (along with Privoxy). It's all very cool. It's a bit slow (not surprising really), so I'm using the SwitchProxy Firefox extension to switch proxies (duh). I set up the Tor server too, and registered it on the network. All this for a free T-Shirt. :-)

Harmony? I guess I'm just old.

5 May 2005 (updated 5 May 2005 at 15:44 UTC) »

I went to see Paul Graham give a SDForum distinguished speaker talk at PARC. It was quite an entertaining talk on "How to Sell a Startup" -- obviously a popular topic in the Palo Alto area. I certainly learned a few things. :-)

He's got a really good essay on the topic of startups I read a few weeks ago.

I carpooled with seth-trips co-reader Aaron Swartz, who's actually getting some money from the guy who gave the talk. I didn't really know who Aaron was, but everybody else seemed to know him already, he's sort of famous it seems -- and he's still a teenager!

25 Apr 2005 (updated 25 Apr 2005 at 19:34 UTC) »

Hey Stuart, good luck with the cancer thing.

I've been toying around with lots of neat stuff lately.

I finally tried out Scratchbox. It's sort of an interesting way of making a cross-compiler look like a native-compiler by running it inside a custom build environment. So it's a little different than building with a cross compiler, and a bit different than building natively on the target machine. I maintain a cross-compiler at work (cross-building Fedora RPMs), so I'm interested in this type of stuff. I wanted to play with cross-compiling to PowerPC, but they only had ARM ones - so I'd have to build my own.

Everybody seems to be writing a revision control system / SCM nowadays. Even Linus is getting into the act. Matt Mackall at work just made one that he's calling Mercurial. I tried it out, and it seems pretty cool, even though it's in the early days. I like some of his ideas.

I stumbled across the OceanStore distributed storage thing yesterday. This really has me excited. I highly recommend reading the paper. I've been excited about distributed hash tables since I was playing with Freenet and Frost about two years ago. Freenet is all about anonymity and non-censorability - it's great at that, but the performance sucks. Oceanstore is about performance and being able to do filesystem/database things.

Anyways, the OceanStore source code has been released on SourceForge under a BSD license, it's written in Java, and it's got some very interesting things in it. It's built around using Matt Welsh's SEDA programming model (Sandstorm is the core). You might know Matt Welsh's work from NBIO (the predecessor to NIO), or his "Running Linux" book from O'Reilly (my first Linux book).

One application is a global-scale distributed NFS implementation (ulnfs). This is something I could use right now. Theoretically I should be able to set up a node at home, and a node at work, and use nfs to read/write to it and get good performance in either place. A side-effect of using a DHT is you also can do time-travel on the data. If this works, it would be great for providing nfs-mounted /home directories on geographically distributed Xen sessions, or for mounting the whole root partition, and using it for hot-spares or clustering. And you get massive redundancy and bittorrent-like distribution for free. It sounds pretty fast - in the paper, they claim they got 4.6x faster than NFS for reading, and 7.3x slower than NFS for writing.

There are also some other cool looking applications, like an IMAP server, a webmail client, and a Palm-pilot synchronizer, with all the storage done in the DHT cloud. Very cool.

Some of the cool related projects are the Bamboo DHT, and OpenDHT. OpenDHT is cool - if you need some place to stuff some bits for a week, you could put it on their 200-300 servers scattered around the planet (for research, of course)

Now all I have to do is figure out how to get it all working. The code is all dumped out there, but you have to assemble the parts yourself, and there are a lot of them. I've now got enough Xen sessions and machines scattered all over the place that I can probably really test this stuff out.

Well, I got a 1GB DDR DIMM (Patriot PSD1G333), and two 4" putty knives, and installed it. I'm glad I bought two knives - it was a pain to get into the case. Anyways, the upgrade seems to be working.

Those putty knives are sharper than I thought - it took me a couple of seconds before I clued into where all the red smears on the Mac Mini case were coming from. I guess I should stick to software. :-)

I put Debian on the Mac Mini using Release Candidate 3 of the Sarge installer. It almost worked flawlessly - but it failed at the installing yaboot stage. I tried again, this time with my extra firewire drive unplugged, and it worked. That was too easy - much easier than I expected. The next step is to buy a putty knife, and do the 1GB DDR memory upgrade. Beyond that, I'm going to try to run user mode linux on it. I've also always wanted to try Mac on Linux. :-)

I installed Blojsom at work. Unfortunately, it didn't work on Kaffe. I'll have to dig deeper, but I think it found a bug in our regex code (but I could be mistaken).

I managed to cook up some Perl code so I could post from the command line using Net::Blogger from CPAN and the Movable Type API (my initial attempts using XML::Atom weren't as lucky). So now, when I do a build at work, the details of the build get posted to my little in-house blog. The next step is to write a bookmarklet that I'll be able to click on, and have the build automatically scheduled to run on one of my test machines. I'm quite excited by the concept of using blogging technology to glue together all the various testing scripts I'm working on. Once I get it all prototyped, I'll try to set the same thing up on the outside for Kaffe, and also for some other projects I'm playing with.

Happy birthday to me. I gave myself a second Mac Mini - I'm going to put Linux on it and replace my old and noisy Linux dhcp/fileserver.

I think I'll take a look at Blojsom for the Kaffe website. It certainly seems to have a lot of the right features.

My quest for a javascript-based terminal emulator continues. I tried out Anyterm - I got it to work, and it's open source. The terminal emulation is a bit weak though, and it's backend is based on C and a custom Apache module. I could see it working really well if the backend was replaced with something like JTA (with Unix PTY patch) or maybe Hush?

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