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December 2002 Archives

December 14, 2002

You poor, misguided, Canadian bastard

Goodness and Badness.


Badness: my DSL provider is shutting down.

DirectTV DSL has provided me with fabulous service over the past few years. I've enjoyed excellent bandwidth, very little down time, great terms of service (didn't care about my operating system, allowed whatever incoming and outgoing services that I wanted, didn't charge for additional computers, etc.), and I had a fixed IP address.

They just announced this yesterday, so there are few details available yet. They promise more details on Tuesday, including supposedly options for where I can go after them. The last time I looked at the local phone company DSLs around here, they weren't nearly as good as DirectTV DSL. :-(


Goodness: much progress on my dissertation this week. I went to IU and had lots of good planning and design conversations and whatnot with Brian and Andy about System Services Interface (SSI) stuff in LAM. We've added plans for several more SSI's:


  • Request Progression Interface (RPI): This one is technically already done, but we're going to make "multi-RPI" possible -- the ability to support multiple RPI's in a single MPI job.
  • Boot: This one is also technically [just about] done -- a fully modular booting process. So far we have modules for rsh/ssh and tm (i.e., PBS/OpenPBS). Yes, this means that LAM now has native PBS support (Brian coded this one up). Woo hoo!
  • MPI Collectives: I had some brainstorms and this past week I coded up an SSI for the MPI collectives including some super-cool optimizations. When multi-RPI becomes a reality, this will become very interesting. Right now there's only the one module -- the same old LAM collective algorithms that we had before. But I'll take a stab at coding up the MagPIe algorithms shortly. There's also some very interesting collaboration opportunities with collectives.
  • MPI One sided: This will be kinda cool, and as Brian pointed out, gm supports a native get/put model, so this could be very nice indeed. We have some of the one sided functionality right now; this will be a good excuse to finish it.
  • MPI Topologies: This may or may not yield significant fruit. But it will provide the possibility of interesting stuff -- if SSI modules can somehow map LAM onto the underlying architecture, that would be very cool. We'll see where this one goes.

There's others planned, but all of those will be in my dissertation. Very cool stuff, especially when multi-RPI becomes a reality.

December 29, 2002

I mean nobody cares how beautiful the souffle is if the appetizer is turds in a blanket

Just came back from a week with Tracy's parents in Florida.


Christmas was great; I got everything that I asked for: some books (I'm a reading fiend), an additional CD case (my other two cases are full, and I have CD's just lying around), new boots, various stuff for around the house, etc.

We saw Mark and Amy and Tracy's parents while we were down there, which was cool. We generally hung out and did nothing for a week, but I did manage to see Star Trek: Nemesis and The Two Towers.

I'll give Nemesis a sympathy rating. It was fine and all, but it was essentially a long Next Generation episode with better special effects. If you're at the theater and it takes no extra effort to see it, then see it. Otherwise, it's very rentable.

The Two Towers was great -- lots of great fight scenes, and very detailed, intricate sets, etc. It's everything that it's cranked up to be. The only downer is that (and I don't think I'm giving anything away here) even though the movie ends on an "up" note, the good guys basically get their ass kicked throughout the movie, and you walk outta the theater feeling somewhat "blah". This has nothing to do with the movie, per se, it's the storyline itself. But the movie is excellent -- I give it 15 minutes.


When I fired up my IM client this morning, I had a pending message from Darrell reminding me to visit his parents while I was in FL. Needless to say, I had totally forgotten that they were right near Tracy's parents in FL, and didn't visit them.

Doh! :-(


My DSL switchover appeared to go without a hitch on 26 Dec. I came home from FL last night and put in the new DSL modem, switched my Linksys DSL router to DHCP, and walla! Happiness. :-)

I now have a new fixed IP address (I updated DNS last night; it's still propagating), and all my services appear to be working -- incoming ssh and whatnot still appear to work. Woo hoo!

The next challenge is with my old DSL provider -- I sent a disconnect request last night. Let's hope that when they shut it off, they don't shut off my new DSL service by accident...


Our VCR died last week for apparently no reason -- it simply refuses to do anything, even though it will power on/off. We have a "backup" VCR (read: an old one that still mostly works), but it only has mono audio out, and even though I'm not an audiophile, I can tell the difference, and it bugs me. This is doubly annoying because the cable box/TiVo feeds its audio through the VCR, so everything that we watch is now mono. Ugh! I probably need to re-think my audio wiring so that feeding through the VCR isn't necessary, but I haven't wanted to expend the effort :-).

While in FL, I came up with the brilliant idea of replacing the dead VCR with a cheap DVD/VCR combo (and moving the DVD player to the upstairs TV). But looking at bestbuy.com today, I see that the only ones that I would consider (feature-wise) would be several hundred dollars, which I'm not really willing to spend.

The cheapest solution here might well be to buy White Christmas on DVD, which was the only VHS tape that we've played in quite a while. :-)


I have made much progress on MetaMenu. Now I gotta make some progress on MailDB. :-) (both of these projects are early enough that they have really lame/non-existent web pages right now, so stay tuned for details)

December 30, 2002

Some notable things I forgot

Some notable things I forgot to mention about Christmas week in my previous entry:


  • We went to see Tim and his family (Tim who was activated and deployed with me down at Ft. Huachuca). That was great -- he's got a nice house, treated us to way too much food, and we finally met his wife and kids. A good time was had by all.
  • My C-*'s and I gave my parents a ReplayTV for Christmas. With much efforts, he ran a telephone wire over to the entertainment center (which entailed moving all the furniture, raising the rug, etc.) so that it could be activated, do its regular downloads, etc. After doing this, he found out that it only uses touch tone dialing -- it doesn't seem to be able to use pulse dialing (Dad has steadfastly refused to pay extra for touch tone service and has used pulse dialing for years)! After discussing many technical alternatives (hooking it into the DSL LAN via various methods, buying tone-to-pulse converters, etc.), Tracy said "why not just finally break down and buy touch tone service? I'm sure it's significantly cheaper than what you're talking about..." And yes, at $0.50/month, it is. So it looks like Dad will likely have to break down and pay for touch tone service. Too funny! :-)

    Follow up on this: apparently there is a selection deep within the menus for pulse dialing, but it doesn't work! Dad finally got someone from tech support to confirm that it doesn't do anything [yet]. That seems kinda weird!


Dave, I'm standing still. Conclusions jump at *me*!

(this is a recovered journal entry from 30 Dec -- the Day Of The Crash)


Today, many bad things have happened. And I'm sure that I know why:

My dad got touch tone service today.

Surely, the universe is in turmoil.


First: my advisor's RAID went out. It also had the nerve to go out a few months after the automatic backup routines silently failed. So no good backups have occured in quite a while. Then the power system failed, so the array itself was totally hosed.

Then I upgraded my server machine to MDK 9.0 (from MDK 7.1). And inexpleciably lost a whole crapload of stuff on a data-only partition (i.e., not the partition where the OS resided that I was upgrading). Including 2.5 years of JeffJournal information.

Shame on me for not backing up my /home partition before upgrading, but I really didn't think that I'd need to. :-(

Luckily, Darrell had a HTML version of everything from the beginning until May 11, 2002, and Tracy had e-mails of [most of] the rest. It'll take me a while to switch everything to a new format. I'll also look into using a "real" blogging system instead of hacking up my own again.


I've now starting using a primitive backup scheme where I rsync my server to my desktop. I noticed an interesting phoeneomon while doing the rsync: I have 100Mbps between the two machines (they're both on the same linksys switch). My server is an ancient 200Mhz PII machine, and my desktop is modern 2.4Ghz P4. So streaming from a slow machine to a new machine, using compression slows the transfer down. This is not too hard to understand, obviously, but it's just interesting to note that the speed of the network is greater (per se) than the processor speed of compression. You don't see that too often. :-)

About December 2002

This page contains all entries posted to JeffJournal in December 2002. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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