30 November 2002
dungeon may not be suitable for all ages

I woke up to a phone call from Mom today — we're trying to locate my sister, who has, we believe, returned from Japan — and then chatted with Phil a little bit. We bitched and moaned about some problems in the lock manager, and then I polluted his poor brain with thoughts of Rusty's read-copy-update work. (Actually, I think that stuff came to Linux from DYNIX, via IBM, but Rusty's a cool guy so I'm happy to credit him with it.)

Now, some juice and back into lock replay. It's the end of November today, and even feature-completeness will involve a lot of hard work. Sucky. =/


Not that I'm averse to hard work, as it turns out:

18 files changed, 527 insertions(+), 403 deletions(-)

I think I'm actually feature-complete now, and it's "just" down to the debugging. Time to test on the real cluster.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
29 November 2002
of locks and lances

I felt much better when I woke up this morning, which is emphatic testament to the combined curative powers of writing code and drinking grapefruit juice. And then I got a call from Phil, which just made my morning. We chatted a little bit about lock replay, and I dove into it with much geeky gusto.

After about two hours, I had a disheartening realization. See, while I was working on the last chunk of recovery code, I convinced myself to put off a more complete rewriting of our RPC layer. Soon enough, I reasoned, I'd have several more of our acceptance tests working, and that would give me a much more robust system for testing my changes. Also, I'm sort of on a deadline, and need to resist the temptation to turn everything into a shining jewel when there are other large pieces yet to be written at all, let alone polished to a gleaming sparkle.

But now, the scales are fallen from my eyes. Now I see that without this rewrite, I'm going to have to resort to profound ugliness, and I really don't want to go there. Like, really.

So I embark on another great rewrite adventure. But first, I travel to Medieval Times for the Velocet holiday party. Should be good fun.


It was good fun, actually. I bought Tyla a princess hat, for obvious reasons, and she made me wear it. Revenge will, again, be mine.

I made good progress on my RPC changes after dinner. Pretty soon, I won't be very ashamed of my code at all. (Explaining the superhack— code that was committed by phil, but ultimately made necessary by my early flailings — to Sancus was a great motivator, in spite of his wise reminder of the worse-is-better principle I mention above.)

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28 November 2002
in sickness and in health

It took until three in the morning, but I finally figured out how to run IOR — by which I mean that I figured out how to steal Andreas' scripts and ask him questions until it worked — and I passed on basically the first try. (I had to merge a patch from someone else's branch and add a spin-lock initialization, but that so doesn't count.)

And then I locked up hard on our "simple" primary acceptance test. Some brain-off spin-lock thing, no doubt, but I didn't take the time to sort it out last night, preferring sleep at long last.

My "lovely" wife seems to have given me her cold, though the usual post-travel infirmity is probably to blame as well. She doesn't look like she's suffering very much today, other than the outrageous bed-head, so it appears to have been a give rather than a share. I will have my revenge!

I thought I was caught up on my email yesterday, but I'd neglected two whole mailboxes. I'll take care of those today. If you're waiting for mail from me, though, note that "caught up" indicates that I have read it all, not that I've had time to reply to all of it.

Phil is right that I'm a whiner, but I actually said that I was getting on a plane early Wednesday morning, and that I wanted to be able to work on the plane. He knows damned well what timezone I was in! (And he did send the mail before I got on the plane, though after the last email checking I did in San Diego. We both suck, Phil, and the world of next-generation storage is just going to have to learn to cope with that.)


I found my bug(s), and they were indeed brain-off spin-lock nonsense. All better, I'm passing acceptance-small.sh as I type this, and then I can land my huge branch. Fear me, Lustre. Fear me.

31 files changed, 899 insertions(+), 532 deletions(-)

I sort of wish I were done with this recovery stuff, because I'd really like a break to work on something like performance, but there's a ton of recovery work left to do. Miles to go before I sleep, and all that.

"Using its engineering knowledge, the robot tried to repair the switch by toggling it on and off."

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
27 November 2002
home sweet home

Back home now, though my wife isn't here. I guess she's allowed to step out for a few hours, if I'm allowed to pop across the continent for a week, but still. Still. Emily came by to show off her cocktail party pictures, which were pretty good. (The ones of me were less good, especially the one in which I resemble a toothy robot.)

I was a hacking machine on the plane, so I've got fixes for most of the bugs HP reported to me yesterday. Now I just have to figure out how to run IOR so that I'm allowed to land these goodies.

Yay, Tyla's back!

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
26 November 2002
if it's not one thing, it's four others

I was all psyched today to start on lock replay, after a morning of recovery-related head scratching — and, I hasten to add, a fantastic lunch courtesy of my lovely hostess — but I'm still unenlightened. When Phil gets back from India, I'm going to staple him to the phone until we've got this sorted out.

Not that I lack things to do: plans to spend the afternoon touristing in San Diego disappeared in a puff of HP-bug-report smoke. If I work like a demon today and during tomorrow's flight back to Toronto, I can hit the ground with a pile of untested code ready to foil my plans for landing my precious b_recovery branch. Assuming that I ever hear back from the people who have my root passwords, that is.

The end of November is looking really, really close now. Sucks.

Yesterday's colloquium was quite fun, once I got over the shock of sociologist-speak — "concrete engagements on spatial terms" and "between the essentialist and instrumental readings of technology" were my favourite, I think, but there were many fine, fine contenders — and I'm looking forward to hearing more about his work. Miriam thinks that I should come and speak at this Digital Cultures conference they're having in the spring, but I think I'll only do that if I can trick Mitchell into coming along. The way I see it, she owes me for ISSRE, but she may not see it the same way.

I've had a blast here in San Diego, but I have to confess that my deadline-fear is making me rather eager to return to Toronto, where I can work away the days and nights. I really do believe that November will be the worst of it, but that's the sort of naive optimism that always gets me in trouble.

And, hey, my diary looks like crap under Netscape 4.x again. I guess I'll fix that sometime next week.


While I was typing this, I heard back from the support guy who can change and provide my root passwords, so I'm all set to test. Whee!

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
25 November 2002
music for the hard of thinking

I am in a university student centre. I am surrounded by bright, enthusiastic young people. They are the future of the nation. Apparently, though, they have some sort of collective deficiency in the part of the brain that controls cell phone ringtone selection. Maybe there's some sort of affirmative action program at work.

Andreas ran some tests on MCR:

--- Topic for #mcr is (lustre 3097 MB/s write sustained w IOR on 320 nodes x 2 processes/node x 16GB/process = 10TB ;-)

I still don't have root passwords on the clusters I need to test on, which is starting to cramp the heck out of my style.

I thought the network here was a disaster, because I was experiencing absolutely horrendous packet loss to just about everywhere, even with a strong wireless link. But then I noticed that web traffic was really quite peppy, and it didn't look like there were proxies in the way, so I took a flyer and set up an SSH server on port 80. Sure enough, it's like having a real internet connection. I guess this is some anti-filesharing thing, but would it have killed them to list port 22 in their set of known-good ports?

And I discover this just in time to head off to a colloquium on Environmental Informatics. At least I'll be hyper-productive after dinner.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
24 November 2002
we expect and appreciate your cooperation

That was a nice little party, it was. It was great to see everyone again, even though Nic and Mae didn't remember me. I guess it has been a year, which is a big chunk of time when you're wee, so I'll try to take it in stride.

There were piles of digital cameras at the party, so I expect all sorts of pictures to show up. I stayed perhaps too sober, but at least it means there won't be any surprises!

Anna and I discovered that we live pretty close to each other — much closer than she lives to her boyfriend, which explains the 8400 cell minutes she's racked up so far this month — so we made vague plans to get together. Very vague. Low probability.

The Other Mike and I chatted for a little bit at the airport, including a little discussion about Lustre, and I figured out what the bug I'd caused on the plane was. I'll fix that once I get on board.

During my "random security inspection" at the checkpoint, I busted a belt loop on my brown pants, while holding the end of my belt away from the hypersensitive metal detector. (I wonder if the screeners have realized that there's metal in the floor, too; they seemed to be pretty surprised — as was I — that my feet registered a beep until they had me lift them way off the floor. Boy, do I ever feel secure!)


The guy next to me is really grumpy. He was very snarky when I pulled a magazine out of the bulkhead pocket in front of me, which turned out to be his "own private copy" of the rare Business Week. Uh, OK, sir. I wonder if he's reading this as I type it.

I think I told Miriam the wrong arrival time for this flight, but she's the sort of smart person who calls for flight information, so it'll probably end up fine in the end.

Found the bug, and it's a DLM problem. When Phil gets back from India, I'll have to chat with him about that.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
23 November 2002
I'm on a plane to

I'm on a plane to Denver now, thence to Austin. I'm only going to be on the ground for 24 hours, but hey...Alix is worth it.

Alix is also worth a nice birthday present, which I will have to arrange when I get onto the ground. I was going to write more about Miriam's wild TA-employment adventures, but I was inspired during the security inspection — five flights in a row that I've been selected for "random" screening, either at the security checkpoint or at the point of boarding; time to take the "Saddam for President" patch off my jacket, I guess — and I'm going to fix reconnection-after-network-partition instead.


I just sent my wife onto IRC to get some cell numbers for me, because I don't have DJ's number, and now I'm here in Austin. It worked, too! Now I just have to figure out what he looks like...

Birthday present: still unarranged.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
22 November 2002
a secret war in the short course

Further to Miriam's academic/professional intrigue — about which more tomorrow, I expect — I went to a lecture today with a tape recorder, to get a record of the lecturer's comments on the whole matter. In related news, the new Bond movie opens today.

Last night, Miriam and I went to a lovely restaurant to celebrate her victory in this little fracas, and got quite drunk. Now that Miriam lives within walking distance of these places, she's free to share more fairly in the wine, and she did. We were both still up by nine, though, which makes me think that I really need to open the curtains at home more.

My impossible bug reared its ugly head again today, but I managed to make some progress in spite of it. I'm really hoping that Andreas or sct can make sense of it, and soon.

jwz's badgering took root deeply today, so I've now got an RSS feed for this nonsense.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
21 November 2002
longing for the simplicity of the middle east

Got to San Diego just fine, and Miriam was there to meet me even though my flight was 30 minutes early (!). That's a friend for you.

It looked like Miriam was going to be very very busy this week, to the detriment of our fun and merriment, but now it appears that she'll be rather unbusy instead. If she permits, I'll write more about it later — suffice it to say that my motivation to attend undergrad has never been better-suppressed than it is today.

It's pretty damn warm here.

Lunch with the Sony guys was fun, and it was good to see them again. I'm glad there aren't any hard feelings about that whole turning-down-their-offer thing (though there were no HR reps there, so maybe my sample is skewed).

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
20 November 2002
Have to head to the

Have to head to the airport now. This entry sucks. Sue me. Very quickly: Peter and Andreas and I talked about my impossible bug, and I'm going to try some stuff on the plane; I'm now managing our QA story in conjuction with our test partners; we need to do storage, and not just metadata, failover in the near future; Lustre is pretty fast, and everyone at SC2002 was talking about it.

(Going to have to buy some shorts in SD as well, I think. Ah well.)

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
19 November 2002
Phil's on his way to

Phil's on his way to India, so I'm covering for him with respect to management of our Indian contractors. We're talking about some seriously enthusiastic folks, so it's been a bit tricky to stay one task ahead of them. Not a bad problem to have, as problems go.

Otherwise, I spent today chasing what should be an impossible case, and not really making a lot of progress. For a few hours, I was terrified that I'd totally broken my code, and was going to have to backtrack over weeks of changes to pinpoint the disaster. Instead, I'm terrified that something in — at best — my testing environment has gone totally, horribly awry. How long have I been living a lie?

Miriam tells me that it's pretty hot in San Diego, which could be interesting, since I only have two pairs of shorts. Also, I'll be spending a lot of time at the school, using their network connection, and I could easily imagine such places being air conditioned, what with the Southern California location and all. Worst case, I'll buy some clothes down there. I might have to do some dry-cleaning anyway, as a result of being a busy loser all this week. (But: whee! Miriam and San Diego! Whee!)

I'm starting to wonder about taking the book I'm currently reading on this upcoming trip. In addition to the fact that it's quite short, and will therefore transform from "reading material" to "ballast" after one or two flights, it's called "A Short Course in the Secret War", which may result in longer conversations at the security checkpoint than I really want.

Jamie wants me to hack up an RSS feed for this blather, but I probably won't get to that until after I return from my trip.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
18 November 2002
The sourceforge CVS server is

The sourceforge CVS server is sucking all manner of suck today, so I've spent far too much of the day waiting for trivial version-control operations to complete. What a joke. (In related news, I'm expecting a quote on a machine for a new cvs.lustre.org to arrive today.)

While waiting, I read two articles about NVIDIA's shiny new graphics chips. Nothing like a little geek-porn to soothe the CVS-savaged soul.

I liked the new Harry Potter a fair bit. That is all.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
17 November 2002
I had a message on

I had a message on my phone from Air Canada just now, telling me that, well, the web site put it quite well:

Flight Number:7928
Date:November 17, 2002
This flight has been cancelled.

I'm booked on the 10h10 flight instead, but if that one is also cancelled or delayed, I'll be giving this trip a miss, I think. Sucks that I won't be able to meet up with everyone, but I could get some more work done during the relative quiet. (Peter and Phil are being very understanding about this, as I have come to expect. They're going to spoil me for any other work, I swear.)



After a night's sleep, I decided to bail on the Baltimore trip, so instead I fixed some bugs on phil's make-BRW-work (like-it-should-have-all-along) branch. I think I need him to land that before I can really make huge progress with my recovery branch, but that'll happen soon enough.

Emily, Tyla and Chester are asleep on the futon, in a post-dim-sum-and-mangosteens coma. We're sort of thinking about seeing the new Harry Potter movie, but that really does seem like an awful lot of moving around.

I wonder if my lovely wife has seen The Shifted Librarian.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
16 November 2002
I am one spiffy shaver

I am one spiffy shaver right now, what with the tux and the pristine glasses and the decent haircut. As long as I don't stay too late, and I don't drink too much, I can have a fine time and still catch my 7am flight to Baltimore. Dinner is in 55 minutes, and Tyla's just now stepped into the shower, so it doesn't look good for our hero on the "punctual arrival" front.

Other than that, not much of a day. A little bit of hacking is about the most productive thing.


The cocktail party was, of course, great fun, but even though I left quite early, I still only have seven hours until my plane takes off, which means an absolute maximum of five hours of sleep. Of course, it's been snowing for five hours, so an on-time arrival in Baltimore is by no means a sure thing.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
15 November 2002
The panel went pretty well,

The panel went pretty well, although the five-slides-each portion took up more than half of the time, which didn't leave me quite long enough to address some of the more ridiculously specious points that the Microsoft rep made. I think I came across as being pretty reasonable, since I devoted a fair amount of time to talking about things that Microsoft has traditionally done quite well, but it was hard to remain completely civil once the "with Linux, you have to fix it yourself" nonsense started to fly around.

The panel moderator presented some results from a paper of his that seemed to indicate that Linux was going to become totally unmaintainable, but a few questions made me doubt some of the conclusions:

  • It's not clear what the "17 kernel modules" are, and how they were chosen. If the authors' decomposition of the kernel is different than the developers', it's likely that they would indeed see a very high level of "common coupling".
  • There's no clear means of comparing the Linux kernel's levels of coupling to that of other operating systems, by the admission of the author, so there's no way to go from "essentially nonmaintainable" to "less maintainable than other operating systems". The latter claim would be interesting — especially since we can watch future Linux development to validate or refute the use of common coupling as a measure of maintainability — but the former strikes me as more sensationalist than informative. (If Microsoft or Sun were to cough up source history for their operating systems, I'd help Jeff with a follow-on paper in a flash.)
  • The jump from "Linux [...] is essentially nonmaintainable" to "it is likely that many other open-source software products are also unmaintainable" is simply ridiculous. Even ignoring the fact that "open source" is a licensing choice, and not a development process, I think any software-reliability researcher would have a hard time finding buyers for the claim that "many other closed-source software products are maintainable/nonmaintainable" on the strength of a single analysis.
  • On a related note, the paper is utterly devoid of any analysis of causal elements, other than the second paragraph's assertion that "modifications can be made [...] that could have a deleterious effect on [...] the [...] product as a whole" — a claim which can certainly be made about closed-source/closed-development software as well, as pretty much any software developer can tell you. Intuitively, the distributed nature of open development would tend to work against the addition of such coupling, since the difficulty of coordinating changes which affect multiple modules is higher, and the value of limited, insulating cross-module APIs would therefore be higher as well. The lack of causal analysis isn't necessarily a killer — we rely on many things for which we don't have a good causal understanding, from aspirin to gravity — but when combined with the choice of a single data point, it really seems to weaken the conclusion.
  • And, as a member of the audience pointed out — apparently, he'd seen the raw data, which isn't presented as part of the paper — while the coupling growth is indeed exponential, it's still on a very gentle slope, which could easily change shape substantially over the next few hundred revisions.
  • Finally — for this list, anyway — the author admitted that they hadn't investigated whether Linux actually demonstrates the fault-proneness upon which the shunning of common coupling is based. I'd find that pretty interesting, though gathering fault data for Linux might be a little bit difficult.

Maybe I should write some sort of "response paper" to present at next year's event. I've never done anything like that, but Jeff's a great guy and I'm sure he'd help me along, even if I would be sort of slagging on his work.

The trip was otherwise uneventful, though a bit tiring. I'm mostly caught up on my email backlog now, so I think I'll have dinner and then maybe peek at some of the bugs on my list. I don't especially feel like working, but I didn't get much done on the road, so I really should.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
14 November 2002
Not a lot of sleep

Not a lot of sleep last night, what with the back spasms and such. Still, plenty of time to get to the airport, and maybe even eat breakfast.

Wish me luck!

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
13 November 2002
Four years ago today, I

Four years ago today, I proposed to Tyla. (And ten years ago today, we started dating. Not the purest of coincidences, and you have to sort of fudge around the kinda-dating in grade ten.) I wonder if she's stopped kicking herself yet.

I made slow, careful, measured progress at work today. Two hours of analysis produces a five-line patch these days, but since it's hard to just test the crap out of recovery stuff — not that my good buddy Brian Behlendorf doesn't do a fine job — it's all about caution. And slowness.

My slides are done, or at least done enough. I'll twiddle them on the plane, ruin everything, and revert to this version at the last minute. It's a silly ritual, but everyone has their superstitions. Also, it seems that I'm going to have to print them onto transparencies, because I'm the only one not using Powerpoint. It's one thing to pay for my own airfare — I wonder how use of frequent flyer miles works into deducting business expenses, actually — but another entirely to have to go buy MS Office just to prepare five slides. (And don't start with me about OpenOffice or StarOffice; I have no faith at all in their ability to make my presentation look the same on Powerpoint at the conference as it looks on my Linux laptop, while PDF gives me all sorts of document-fidelity, "what you see is what you stand in front of and mumble" warm fuzzies.)

The Microsoft guy is no lightweight when it comes to this reliability scene, so even the panel slips away from me and I start gibbering into my water glass, I'll probably learn something.

Time to get some sleep before I go to the airport. Explaining to the nice INS people that I'm actually leaving and re-entering the US before the return portion of this booking will be a special joy, I'm sure.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
12 November 2002
Today, I spent 4 non-consecutive

Today, I spent 4 non-consecutive hours in a doctor's office, finally seeing the doctor more than six hours after my originally-scheduled appointment. And when my turn finally came around, it was a 15 minute conversation, of course. But apparently she'd opened the office at 5AM to catch up from some sort of backlog (I think she was sick earlier), so I have a hard time faulting her.

I got a bit of work done today, fixing a stupid bug for Andreas, moving my work onto a branch, preparing my laptop for travel — but nothing serious, and I'm going to need some serious work in the very near future.

Tomorrow I'm working from home, so that I can make sure that my laptop is fully equipped for the upcoming jet-setting. God, it had better be a productive day. No more being lured into online Halo by my boss, that's for damned sure.

I bet my neck is going to be sort in the morning, too, from holding my cell phone against my shoulder for two hours while Phil gave me the play-by-play of my own virtual defeat. I used to be a smart guy, I hear.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
11 November 2002
I really, really, really hope

I really, really, really hope that we do remember. It was sort of tricky to observe a minute of silence at the office, what with the ruckusing and the ISPing, but I'm glad that I managed.

The pipes in our house-split-into-condos moan sometimes, especially when someone in one of the basement units turns the water on just a weensy bit. It's usually not too bad, but last night — damn. It woke me up at least six times, each time with a start. So I was up early, but wasn't sure that I was going to have my A Game available.

Forgot to bring the RRSP forms to work, so CI got a day's respite. They don't deserve it!

Tyla was a darling today and arranged, on my behalf, appointments with a hairdresser (back to presentability) and a doctor (back on my medication). The haircut went quite well, and got me out of the office at a decent hour, and I have high, high hopes for the doctor thing tomorrow. My Montreal doctor might even have faxed over my file by the time I get there tomorrow.

I have a hotel booked for this Thursday's whirlwind visit to Maryland, which means that I don't have to sleep at the airport. What a thinker I am!

Against all odds, I managed to get my hacked-up tree passing the most basic of our tests again, so I can start to find the hard bugs now. Whee!

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
10 November 2002
Uh oh. I went and

Uh oh. I went and bought one today, and as Phil said, it presents a grave, grave danger. Martha's staying over tonight, so I won't be able to stay up all night adapting to the controls. I guess that's a good thing.

I did a tiny amount of work today, mostly talking to Phil and Peter about the future of my somewhat-unloved baby, and then drawing some pictures about a saner model for bulk-data recovery.

I also fixed up some long-standing and really quite ugly issues with the combination of my diary and Netscape 4.x. I'm really starting to believe that nobody should ever use 4.x — if your computer can't run a Mozilla-era Netscape, which is all too possible, then maybe IE? — but some of my most faithful readers and mothers still use 4.x, so I spent 30 minutes tidying it up. (An additional tip for those people: turning off style sheets via the Advanced panel in your preferences may make a lot of more-modern sites readable, if somewhat spartan.)

I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. See, a little while back I found out that my RRSP wasn't really an RRSP, ergo no tax joy. I'd written it off to an error on my part, but then yesterday I found the forms that I filled out to open the account. And on those forms, I have very clearly checked "[X] Registered", which is explained in a footnote below as meaning, roughly, "where the hell is my tax deduction, you mouth-breathing incompetents?". Monday will be full of all sorts of thrilling phone conversations, I can just tell.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
9 November 2002
I think my cold has

I think my cold has finally passed, which is reason for some rejoicing. And since I booked the rest of my travel yesterday, without having to sell any organs, this weekend is looking pretty keen.

Speaking of travel, though, I think I might be going a little overboard:

Time for that laptop to earn its keep.

Tyla didn't like Punch Drunk Love, but I did. I wish I had a richer "film vocabulary", so that I could adequately express why I liked it; I don't, so you'll just have to take my word for it, or something.

Phil and Joe and, it is quite likely, Jacob spent some time this evening playing Halo...over the Internet. I managed to convince Tyla that we could afford one, I think, but since it was after 6pm, it became pretty much impossible to join in the fun. Tomorrow I have a bunch of work to do, as well as preparing a handful of slides for my panel on Thursday, so it might not be worth buying one until I get back from San Diego. Of course, then I'll probably be behind on work — in spite of the fact that I'll be working every day of that trip! — so it might make sense to wait until...never. Alas.

There are few things sadder than a newlywed with mono. Poor Alice. (And, indeed, poor Zach.)

Confidential to mpt: I always had permalinks, but the UI sucked, in that you had to read the source to find them. You must be this tall to link to...who am I kidding? Long overdue, easy fix. And I don't really understand why the volatility of Internet addresses disqualifies online-only documents as quotation sources. Books go out of print, too, and I think I'd have a hard time picking up half of the works cited in my Shorter OED as original uses.

(Of course, if any of my pages were cited by the OED, you can bet I'd do my damnedest to keep them right where the OED found them, maybe with some velvet rope and valet parking.)

Both dan_b — yes, I read your diary; far more frequently, in fact, than you update it — and another person who inexplicably found their way here were kind enough to point out that the OED has always accepted submissions, and that you need a fair bit of supporting evidence in order to actually get a word added. I knew both those things, as I'm sure did mpt, but it was kind of them to make sure anyway. I certainly didn't make myself very clear on that whole matter, alas.

I've actually been thinking about mpt a little bit recently, because I've been a little lonely, and...ahem. Actually, it's because Peter and I have been going back and forth a little bit about what the user-space infrastructure for handling system failures should look like, and how much should (by which we mean can) work out of the box. If I didn't believe that it was a usability issue before — as, really, are all configuration and management problems, I think — my experiences helping partners, testers and way-too-early adopters get going would have left me with little other choice. I need to find some good references on usability of things that don't have a "traditional" user interface; just developing a better mental toolset for judging how much a given tool will help the user go from "I want it to work like this" to "hey, it works just like that" would be a large step forward. Maybe there's something in Cooper or Tog that will help. If nothing else, it would be a good excuse to get some of the embarrassing dust off of them. (I worked on Mozilla! That's my excuse!)

And then I'd really like to find some automated usability testing information. Most of the "automation" stuff seems to focus on automated data collection, not on automated validation. Maybe that's the state of the art, but it makes me a little uneasy; I saw Mozilla's battle for performance lost a few tenths of a percent at a time, and I can easily imagine little UE fumbles adding up in a painful way, too.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
8 November 2002
Because I'm a moron, I

Because I'm a moron, I totally forgot to book travel for my upcoming conference gig until I got a mail from the organizer today reminding us all that it was next week. Six days, in fact, from now, which is but one tiny day too short to qualify for the excellent seat sale that's currently on. (Destina.ca doesn't want me to link directly to their sale page, because of the ass-like session-ID stuff they use, so phooey on them.) In the absence of such seat-sale pricing, it costs about $1500 to get down and back at times that make it possible to actually be present at my panel. Thankfully, I work for a genius, who reminded me that I have some hundred-thousand-plus Aeroplan miles sitting in my account. So a little reward travel will be involved.

Not sure if I can make the cocktail party this year anymore, since the trip back for that will also cost something like $1500. And that's going to be a hard sell around here, let me tell ya. I wish I weren't such a loser.

Also, it appears that I wasn't clear enough in yesterday's entry about climbing: only Madhava would have been there, and if I'm going to put up with Madhava for any length of time, I need other people to help spread the conversational burden. Sheesh.

In other "oh, poor Mike!" news, I'm still sick, and it took me until something obscene like 14h30 to get out of bed today. I guess that means that Chris and I are keeping the universe in balance.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
7 November 2002
I'm starting to come down

I'm starting to come down with this congestion thing that's been plaguing my wife for the past few days, and it's really sapping my energy. I didn't even make it to climbing today, not that anyone other than Madhava would have been there to keep me company. I hope it doesn't persist through the weekend.

I'm still hammering away at making multiple-client recovery work, and it's the usual software cycle: every time I fix one thing, I discover something else that needs to be changed to accomodate this new model. (What kind of lunatic exports two filesystems from one metadata server, anyway?) I did manage to whip up two quick fixes for the rest of the crew, though, who are hard at work on...something else. Creating millions of files, or maybe deleting them? It's all a blur, and it takes all of my cold-weakened concentration to just keep track of what I'm doing. I'm sure Phil will tell me about it someday.

I've been reading a lot of punditry lately, mainly in the wake of the recent American elections, but also to sate my bizarre legal-voyeurism cravings. This little stream-of-self-consciousness thing right here isn't really contributing too much, but the breadth, depth, and quality of internet writing is at times quite astonishing. (Astonishingly good, I mean. The other sort of astonishment is somewhat passé.)

I also caught up on a pair of West Wing episodes tonight, and now I need to find a copy of this week's. If only Tyla was an obsessive West Wing collector, in addition to her mildly-odd Buffy-archival compulsions, I'd be all set. Hmm, and the Daily Show. (Ms. Seipp makes a good point about people voting because they Just Should, even when not even the barest flickers of sober thought regarding the meaning of their votes have chanced across their minds.)

I've been thinking a lot about testing lately, and I should really write some of it down, if only so that others can tell me how wrong I am. (The other day, I was accused of being unprofessional by another member of a project management group I sit on, if you can believe that. All because I actually said that I thought his idea was absurd, instead of trying to just imply it sarcastically. I really can't win!)

(I may generally come down too hard on the person in question because of the track record of other people who have been in his role, from his group, which would be unfair. I need to think about that more, and maybe make some sort of amends. But, really, it was absurd, and it's not the first time.)

Minor formatting changes happened over the last few days, which you might not have noticed at all. For starters, I made the date headers be links to themselves, sort of, to make it easier to link directly to diary entries. It's a little more typing for me every day, but you, dear reader, are worth it. And then I ratcheted the default font size down a bit, because I was a little tired of the "diary for the legally blind" look.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
6 November 2002
A couple of minutes ago,

A couple of minutes ago, two women arrived wandered into the office here at home, and one commented to the other that the French doors were quite nice. (They are.) This was pretty unexpected, since we have a lease on this place that has many months left on it, and I didn't recognize either of the women as being associated with our landlord. "We're just looking at the layout." Oh! As long as it's the layout, wander right through my home!

Seems that they've been trying to reach our landlord for a while, with little success — and on this score, I have some sympathy — so they just dropped by. I blame the NyQuil for the fact that Tyla said "sure" when they asked if they could just poke around anyway, though I was sitting in my bathrobe — and newly bathrobed, at that.

Looks like the Republicans are really going to be running things down south pretty soon, so I'm going to keep a closer-than-usual eye on SCOTUSblog. Time for a Roe v. Wade pool, maybe. (Rehnquist never liked it anyway, of course.)

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
5 November 2002
I was going to go

I was going to go climbing this evening, but after banging my head on "impossible" MDS-journal behaviour and more talk about the world's ugliest patch, I really didn't have it in me. (Other than the aforementioned MDS-journal weirdness, though, my current top-priority bug is starting to look pretty good.)

And tonight's Buffy really was pretty sucky. And my miso soup was crap.

I'm going to have a bath, and a scotch-and-soda, and call it a day. Tomorrow will be more interesting and rewarding. I can just feel it.

(Phil claims to have a pile of diary entries written, and sitting on his laptop. Fat lot of good they're doing us there.)

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
4 November 2002
No, no, Matthew, you've got

No, no, Matthew, you've got me all wrong. I know that the OED isn't prescriptive, and I know that it's not meant for casual use; I rely pretty much solely on my Shorter. I am concerned, however, with the careless use of the OED's reputation capital. Though they are indeed no Académie française — for which I am, in fact, quite thankful — their imprimatur is not without significant effect on the development of the language. For many people, the OED is a source of authority, and all I ask is that they continue to exercise care over what they bless. My objection to internet submissions was flippant, but perhaps not clearly-enough so. (Of course, soon they may not even be able to freely describe common usage.)

I'm cranky and tired, as seems to be the case all too frequently these days. It was great fun having Phil here this weekend, though it was but a brief respite from my general gloom and cantankerousness. Maybe tonight's concert will cheer me.


The concert was great, and while the subject matter was hardly bursting with levity and sunshine — neither Glass nor Egoyan are known for their childlike glee — I did find myself in a better mood when we returned.

I have to print a form for access to the cluster now that it's in its new home, so I thought I'd set up printing under Linux. First, I had to install just a few packages by hand, because the retrograde version of rcd that's installed on our home machine couldn't find the Perl bits:

 1:perl-DateManip    ###################################### [  7%]
 2:perl-Digest-MD5   ###################################### [ 14%]
 3:perl-Parse-Yapp   ###################################### [ 21%]
 4:perl-Storable     ###################################### [ 28%]
 5:perl-URI          ###################################### [ 35%]
 6:perl-XML-Encoding ###################################### [ 42%]
 7:perl-XML-Grove    ###################################### [ 50%]
 8:perl-XML-Parser   ###################################### [ 57%]
 9:perl-XML-Dumper   ###################################### [ 64%]
10:perl-XML-Twig     ###################################### [ 71%]
11:perl-libwww-perl  ###################################### [ 78%]
12:perl-libxml-enno  ###################################### [ 85%]
13:perl-libxml-perl  ###################################### [ 92%]
14:foomatic          ###################################### [100%]

Then rcd could finish the job:

The following additional packages will be installed:
  alchemist 0:1.0.23-1 (Red Hat Linux 7.3)
  ghostscript 0:6.52-9.4 (Red Hat Linux 7.3)
  ghostscript-fonts 0:5.50-3 (Red Hat Linux 7.3)
  libglade 1:0.17-5.ximian.1 (Ximian Desktop)
  LPRng 0:3.8.9-4 (Red Hat Linux 7.3)
  Omni 0:0.5.1-3 (Red Hat Linux 7.3)
  Omni-foomatic 0:0.5.1-3 (Red Hat Linux 7.3)
  pnm2ppa 1:1.04-2 (Red Hat Linux 7.3)
  printconf 0:0.3.77-1 (Red Hat Linux 7.3)
  pygnome 1:1.4.2-3 (Red Hat Linux 7.3)
  pygnome-libglade 1:1.4.2-3 (Red Hat Linux 7.3)
  pygtk 1:0.6.9-3 (Red Hat Linux 7.3)
  pygtk-libglade 1:0.6.9-3 (Red Hat Linux 7.3)
  PyXML 0:0.7-4 (Red Hat Linux 7.3)
  ttfonts 0:1.0-9 (Red Hat Linux 7.3)
  VFlib2 0:2.25.6-4 (Red Hat Linux 7.3)


But, after all that, the printer configuration itself took about 15 seconds, and it printed beautifully. So I guess it's not all bad.

In other software news, I finally managed to get an FTP staging server for mozilla.org set up on a User-Mode Linux virtual host on bitchcake, so we should be in good shape for when SourceForge makes us take the old staging server off their network tomorrow. I hope they put the money they save into developing a bug-tracking system that doesn't make me want to put a railroad spike through my head every time it sends me email.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
3 November 2002
We didn't do much yesterday

We didn't do much yesterday except shop for food, cook that food, eat that cooked food, and watch some hockey. I liked it so much I didn't even write about it then! Or something.

Today we went climbing in the morning, and then Phil and I came to the office to fix some bugs and such. He struggled a little bit with getting his tests running — through no fault of his own, I hasten to add — but at least I managed to get a big pile of code written. And all that before I discovered this righteous tool, which should make my every bash-using day gleeful and sunshiney.

Tired now, must sleep.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
1 November 2002
So, the rule is that

So, the rule is that if you get up before your boss, it doesn't matter how late that is. I like this rule.

Not that most of today was very productive for me anyway, what with the debug-resistant bugs and the like. I did manage a supporting role in getting Peter-and-Phil's huge metadata spanking landed, but I'm still not really content.

Climbing was fun, though, and a nice break in the day. Even though we didn't make it to the gym until close to 7, it wasn't terribly busy, and we managed to climb until we were pleasantly tired and banged-up. Phil seemed impressed by the gym, and in a fit of local-gym pride I picked up a T-shirt. Also, I'd forgotten to bring one.

We're now back at the office, and I'm trying to put some recovery stuff to bed before putting myself to bed. We'll see.

I think we're going to watch hockey tomorrow, but I'm starting to wonder if that might be a little too depressing. If not, maybe I'll buy an Xbox. (Hi, honey!)

I almost forgot: we got snow today! Whee!

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)