Older blog entries for jpick (starting at number 84)

Yay! I drove up to Vancouver, and I now have a new place to live, starting in April. It's a 2 bedroom place in Yaletown.


Google Map


It looks like a great neighborhood - it's sort of like a mini-Soho. There are lots of cool coffee shops and bars, it's an easy walk to downtown, and it's close to the library, GM Place (home of the Canucks) and BC Place (home of the BC Lions). Everybody on the street seems pretty happy and friendly.

I'm just totally amazed to come back to downtown after ten years to see all the empty lots and warehouses torn down and replaced with all the new highrises.

Now I just have to arrange for movers and figure out what I need to do to import my car. Plus a million other small things.

Also, I decided to "kill two birds with one stone" on this trip. So I plunked down for a new dual dual-core Opteron (so it has 4 cores @ 1.8GHz) with 8GB of RAM and 1.6TB of disk in a hot-pluggable SATA RAID. When I drove up to Vancouver, I stopped in Seattle, and installed it at Forona in the Westin building downtown, near Westlake Center and the monorail. I don't know much about the Forona guys, but their prices seemed reasonable, and there aren't many colo places that cater to people with just one 1U box to install. They were very patient with me during the install and they seem to know their stuff. I'm still very happy with Simpli in San Jose, but I wanted to use a second colo just so I can have some redundancy (plus it's a bit closer to Vancouver).

I put Xen 3.0 on the server, but I haven't set much up on it yet.


So I now have two servers I can put commercial stuff on. I really needed a second server so I could provide some level of reliable services to (future) customers, while still being able to experiment with new stuff (like clustering and failover). When I finish my move to Vancouver, I'll have some time to put up some websites with some of the new things I'm playing with.

So, after 3 1/2 years of working at Digeo, I've finally decided to move on. I'll be leaving the company in mid-March.

I've also decided to leave the Bay Area and move back to Vancouver. I really love that city - I think I'm finally ready to take the leap and become a full-fledged Vancouverite.

Of course, the tech industry isn't as big there as Silicon Valley, but the Vancouver lifestyle just can't be beat. I'll have to get used to all that liquid sunshine again though.

I think I'll take it easy for a few months, and then I'll try to find some contract work to support myself. In the meantime, I've got a lot of very cool projects that I'll finally have time to work on. :-)

Well, it looks like Hurricane Rita is headed towards Texas.

If it hits Houston, it could be really bad.

A friend of mine, Rob Levin, lives with his family in a trailer in Houston. Trailers and hurricanes do not go together well. I just read on his blog that he's planning to evacuate.

Readers of my diary might know him as "lilo" on the FreeNode IRC network (which he runs). I used to work with him at Transvirtual, and I know a lot of people that used to work with him at Linuxcare.

He's already in a bit of a financial tough spot, and it sounds like he's going to have to evacuate. He's a really nice guy who's trying to live a somewhat unconventional lifestyle with a wife and a kid. He's caught some flack in the past for some of his attempts at raising money so he could work on the IRC network, but I know him and it's not like he's living an extravagant lifestyle. "Parenting" an IRC network can make you a lot of enemies. In person, he's really one of the nicest guys I know.

Anyways, I gave him a tiny little donation via PayPal. If anybody else wants to chip in, I'm sure he'd much appreciate it.

I just saw Kamikaze Girls (Shimotsuma Monogatari) at the San Francisco Asian Film Festival. What a fun film. :-)

I started running again. I'm recording my runs using the Gmaps Pedometer, and I'm just bookmarking each run and saving them at http://del.icio.us/jpick/runlog. I'm going to try to do 3 runs a week, and I'm going to try to get up to around 5 miles per run.

The new maps.a9.com is pretty cool - it's a bit like Google maps, but with the addition of street level "block view" pictures (make sure you check the box). Here's my neighbourhood in Berkeley.

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!

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