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November 2006 Archives

November 27, 2006

We'd prefer to watch football rather than listen to the history of the yam in Latin

I attended the SC trade show in Tampa recently for the annual supercomputing community hooplah. It was, as usual, hectic and fun. Indeed, JeffJournal has been pretty quiet for a while now because of the ramp-up to SC06 consuming just about all of my time.

This year was a little different because I was attending, for the first time, as an industry representative (not as an academic). Everyone wanted to know a) why on earth Cisco had hired me and b) if Cisco was treating me well. I won’t bore everyone with the details, but the short answers are a) I work in a group at Cisco that focuses on HPC so they care deeply about the MPI market, and b) they are treating me very, very well (see here).

I had seven different speaking engagements (BOFs, booth talks, etc.). So I talked. A lot.

We also gave out Open MPI iPods and iPod skins. Most of the Open MPI member booths ponied up and got an iPod, which we each gave away (winner drawn from a box of entry cards, etc.) according to a schedule, planned throughout the week. Cisco had a party for some of its customers at an NHL game, which was quite cool (hah! get it?). I had never been to an NHL game before, and it was fun.

The whole fam then went to Macungie, PA for Thanksgiving. My sister hosted, of course, and threw a great bash. The plane trips there and back with the munchkins weren’t too bad (i.e., we weren’t those people on the plane. You know, the ones with the constantly-screaming kids). Actually, aside from the munchkins deciding that they hate sleep and anything to do with it (and being quite grumpy about said decision), it was a pretty good trip. It was good to see everyone again (last time we saw many of them was last Thanksgiving).

Since we have a whole boatload of industrial equipment that we have to carry with us when we travel (car seats and other larger, more nefarious unmentionable items), we rent a mini-van to cart it all around in. When we arrived in the PHL airport, I left Tracy and the munchkins to go to the rental car place and pick up the van. When I drive up to the terminal, Kathryn thoroughly confused, says, “This isn’t our van.” She then proceeds to repeat this phrase for 373,284 times (I think she still didn’t make her quota, though). She never quite got it that it was ok for us to be in a van that wasn’t ours.

Indeed, when we arrived back home at the SDF airport and I drove up to the terminal with our minivan, Kathryn broke into a broad grin and exclaimed “This is our van!”

November 30, 2006

You'll shoot your eye out!

Cisco phones rock.

I have a Cisco IP phone on my desk at home. Since I’m a telecommuter, I live and die by my phone. I came across a few cases recently where Cisco phones simply rock:

  • I initiated a 3-way call with 2 non-Cisco people (i.e., I made external calls to them). We’re all chatting away when I accidentally pushed the wrong button and hung up. “Whoops,” I thought. “I’ll just call them back.” So I tried calling them both back and got their voice mail. I waited 2-3 minutes and tried again — still got voice mail. So I IM’ed them both and said, “Guys — hang up — I accidentally disconnected and need to call you back.” They both said, “Oh, we thought you went on mute, we’re still connected.” That’s cool.
  • A colleague of mine in San Jose called another Cisco employee down in Austraila by dialing 011…(etc.). The Cisco phone system automatically recognized that he was calling a Cisco phone number and switched it to an in-system call (rather than place an international call which would have been both expensive and have dubios voice quality — Cisco’s PBX is VOIP, so we can just route the traffic over our own, internal networks). Granted, lots of PBX systems do this kind of thing these days, but it’s still cool.
  • That same colleague then made a 3-way call to join me into the conference (with the guy from Austraila). When my phone rang, the caller ID said “Conference.” We chatted for a while, and then the guy in San Jose hung up. Not only was I still connected to the guy in Austrailia, my caller ID switched to show his name (and his caller ID switched to show my name). This means that some programmer specifically thought about this case (a caller initiates a 3 way call and then disconnects) and made the system not only keep the callers connected, but also realize that it could update the caller ID intelligently. That’s a well thought-out system.

Cisco rocks!

About November 2006

This page contains all entries posted to JeffJournal in November 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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