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July 2007 Archives

July 6, 2007

EuroJeff

I have been traveling in Europe on work for 2 weeks.

I first attended the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) 2007 in Dresden, Germany. I helped man the Cisco booth and talked to anyone who would listen (and many who did not ;-) ) about Open MPI. I talked to many other vendors and academics at the show and generally continued to spread the Good Word about Open MPI.

Rainer K. and I co-hosted a Birds-of-a-Feather (BoF) session about Open MPI as well. There were probably 30+ attendees, and I kept everyone 20+ minutes after my assigned time (no one left and no one complained, so I considered that a good sign).

Cisco is doing many, many Good Things in the Open MPI project (e.g., I have run 2.9 million regression tests of Open MPI at Cisco in the past 30 days; I’m likely to increase this by quite a bit). Other organizations also contribute heavily as well; I continue to be amazed at how well Open MPI works as an open source project. W00t!

Over the weekend, thanks to Google Alerts, I noticed that Debian had refreshed their interest in Open MPI and upgraded their included version to the latest stable release. They also included some man pages that we were missing. We contacted them and asked if they’d be willing to contribute the man pages back upstream to Open MPI. They were astonished: “I think that’s a first for an upstream team to notice the packaging :)” said Dirk E. to me in an e-mail. W00t w00t!


I’m staying in Europe after ISC to conduct some IB and Open MPI training for some European Cisco partners, so two Cisco guys and I went exploring over the weekend. We hopped on a train from Dresden to Prague and tooled around the city for the day (seriously; we walked for miles). Very cool/fun city. We had some excellent food and local brews (Pilsner Urquel and Budwar). Yum.

The next morning we hopped a train from Prague to Vienna. Traveling by train is just so civilized and relaxing. Prague to Vienna is a ~4 hour train ride with beautiful scenery, quiet traveling, spacious seating, walkable aisles, food and drink available upon demand, and a power outlet next to every seat for your laptop. What more could you ask for? We could have flown from Prague to Vienna, but this is soooo much more relaxing and enjoyable.

Vienna was fun, but we had less time there than we had in Prague, so we didn’t get to see as much. There was a huge gay rights parade going on that day which was quite the spectacle. We ended up taking a bus tour around the city so that we could feel like we at least saw the major sights. We ended the day by having dinner in a rooftop restuarant with a great view of the city.

The next day, we took an 8-hour train ride from Vienna to Mainz, Germany. Agai — very relaxing. Soooo much less hassle than flying.

We conducted the training in Mainz and then flew to London on the 4th of July (which I found quite ironic). More Cisco guys joined us, and I got to see the London Cisco office (right next to Heathrow, actually). On Friday, a Roy K. and I went to downtown London to see all the classic sights (he’d never been out of North America before) and caught the opening ceremony of the Tour De France in Trafalgar Square. Cool stuff. I texted a picture of me standing in front of Big Ben to my wife (who was in the middle of her work day); luckily she found it very amusing. ☺

We topped off the night by having a so-so dinner in a disappointing restaurant, waiting 45 minutes to get a cab back to our hotel, and then finding out that our hotel wouldn’t let us into a colleague’s room to get our bags (despite the fact that he explicitly left keys for us). Blah. So it was a yukky ending to an otherwise good day.

Overall, the trip was good but tiring. It will be good to get home…

July 14, 2007

Ted took a bullet for me in the battle of San Louieabisbo

Random notes:

  • Do I have an iPhone? No, but they sure look cool. Maybe the next time I need a new cell phone…
  • Will it blend? Apparently, yes.
  • Darrell K. is the only one I know that got an iPhone.
  • We’ve had a good amount of rain recently and my lawn is looking great. It would be a fantastic time for Google Maps to take a new picture of my house.
  • My DSL model dropped out 6 times yesterday. Ugh. I’m getting a replacement Monday.
  • My in-laws’ DSL modem got fried in a recent lightening strike. They got a new one and after much trial and tribulation, discovered that it only sorta worked (would work fine for a while and then refuse to work), which is quite insidious because you can’t tell for sure that the modem is the bad piece. Yuck.
  • I found a phishng site specifically designed to lure Cisco employees to enter their internal passwords the other day. I reported it and watched it get shut down within 2 hours. Fun stuff!
  • We’re shipping a whole pile of baby/twins gear up to my sister for her impending twins. It seems weird to walk through doorways without baby gates in them.
  • Mohamad C., a student of Edgar G. at U. Houston and core contributor to Open MPI, is working as an intern for me this summer and doing some fun/interesting/useful stuff in probing the parameter space of InfiniBand.
  • I was on the phone with some colleagues the other day (a common occurrance for a telecommuter) and was discussing various Open MPI issues, talking about parent processes waiting for children deaths, the Mother Superior node policies, etc. My parents are here visiting and heard snipits of the conversation and were thoroughly shocked/appalled/confused. I had to explain that these are all common computer programming terms, not actual children mortality rates.
  • Burn Notice is a fun new series.
  • I finally took advantage of Louisville’s e-cycling program to ditch an old computer. Residents can only dump one item a day; I’ve got a few more dinosaurs to go…

July 29, 2007

Lights, camera, action!

For our anniversary this year, Tracy had been less-than-subtle that she wanted a new camera (picture camera, not camcorder). The old one (a Pentax Optio) is fine, but suffered from two deficiencies:

  1. It’s a few years old (and is 4MP); pictures we have obtained from friends’ cameras just “look better” (in part because they’re higher MP).
  2. Modern cameras have a few more features that help the, er, point-n-click-challenged.

So I did a bit a research and came up with the Sony CyberShot DSC T-100 camera. It’s ~8MP, got lots of good reviews, has a cool red chassis with a nifty sliding front panel for opening/closing the camera, and a very large screen on the back for previews. This model even got the CNet editors choice award. So it seemed like a good bet.

Off to Froogle — it pointed me to prestigecamera.com. So I duly ordered the CyberShot off the Prestige Camera web site. I wanted to ensure that the camera would arrive in time for our anniversary, so I called the Prestige Camera 800 number to talk to a human. A smooth-talking sales guy a) assured me that it would arrive in time, and then b) convinced me to buy a bunch of extra stuff that I wasn’t initially planning on getting. It turns out that the camera you get comes with a 10 minute battery and a storage card for about 10 pictures. Amazing (i.e., disappointing). So I had to get a better battery and a larger storage card, which, bundled up with a few other goodies made the whole thing a bit more expensive than I was planning on. But even after getting off the phone with the guy, I was overall happy with my purchases, so it was ok.

The camera arrived on a Thursday and I played around with it. Much to my dismay, I was quite unhappy with the quality of pictures that it took. I took the same pictures with my old Optio and my new Cbyershot and then compared them:

  • Many of the Sony pictures had a decidedly yellow tint; the Optio pictures seemed to have much truer-to-life colors.
  • The Sony flash appears to be offset from the lens; many of the pictures that used the flash had definite shadows.
  • Many of the Optio pictures just looked “better” than the Sony pictures (yes, I know that’s subjective). I would look at both pictures side-by-side on my Mac; the Optio pictures just looked sharper, had better overall focus coverage of the entire frame, zoomed in smoother (which was amazing to me since the Optio is 4MP and the Sony is 8MP), etc. And yes, I verified that the Cybershot was taking pictures in the 8MP setting.

After poring through the Sony docs, I found settings to correct some of the issues, but you had to manually select them to fix each issue (and they weren’t uniform in all lighting conditions — you had to manually select various settings for each different lighting condition).

In short: for the price I paid, I was quite disappointed with the camera as a point-n-shoot device.

So I called Prestige Camera, and the good folks there agreed to do a one-for-one swap for a Canon IXY 810 IS for no charge[equivalent to the Canon Powershot SD850 IS], in part because I had only opened the camera; all the other packaging was intact. The Canon is actually about $15 cheaper, but given that I effectively got to “try before you buy”, I really couldn’t complain. They even overnighted me the new Canon and associated packaged equipment. So kudos to Prestige Camera for taking care of their customers!

I am much happier with the Canon — it takes high-quality pictures in many different lighting conditions and is much more of an automatic point-n-shoot than the Sony was.

This is all my $0.02. If someone shopping for a new camera finds this writeup, I hope it’s useful to you.

About July 2007

This page contains all entries posted to JeffJournal in July 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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