Passing Fail

2009-09-29 14:19:01 by jdixon

I've heard all sorts of stereotypes about bad drivers. Usually they're racist or sexist (or both). And although it's politically incorrect to agree with them, there's almost always a sliver of truth hidden inside. But it's pretty rare to hear a specific criticism about an entire state of drivers (other than "they suck").

Maryland drivers are quickly gaining a reputation for cruising in the Passing Lane. This might sound like a minor gripe, but you have to consider that the entire state of Maryland is the size of a pimple on Virginia's forehead. Most of the highways are two- or three-lane affairs, not including interstate 95 or the Baltimore and DC perimeters. Monopolizing the Passing Lane can have a significant affect on the normal flow of traffic, and not just during rush hour.

Sometimes I try to consider what they might say if I confronted one of them. I bet they would argue that "I'm already going the speed limit in the fast lane, you're just trying to go faster. You're the unsafe one!". Therein lies the crux; it's not a fast lane, it's a Passing Lane (excessive and redundant emphasis mine). There's nothing subjective about the intended purpose of that lane. It's intended for passing slower traffic. It's not there as your personal safety zone, and it's certainly not yours to do with as you please. You're free to use it for the purposes of Passing vehicles. Once that's over, GTFO of my way.

That is all. Safe motoring, everyone.

Shooting a Barrelfish of Monkeys

2009-09-26 23:29:47 by jdixon

Stumbled across the Barrelfish project over at OSnews. The proof-of-concept Operating System appears to borrow concepts from distributed systems design. Rather than have a single kernel managing multiple cores, the Multicore kernel assumes no inter-core sharing and communicates with message passing. Presumably they've been able to overcome some of the traditional performance hits there.

I was particularly pleased to see their first relase distributed under a BSD-style license. Those crazy bastards at Microsoft, what's next... a Windows release that doesn't suck?

Mad Stylers in Demand

2009-09-20 23:04:53 by jdixon

Blogsum is quickly reaching the point where the focus is on style rather than substance. This is a good thing, of course; all of the core features envisioned for Blogsum are complete. If you've been paying attention at home you might have noticed that the directory layout has been tweaked a bit this weekend. I think these changes will make it much easier to support user modifications and third-party style templates.

The preference for Blogsum styling is to just modify the CSS stylesheet. However, users are also free to modify the images and HTML templates if they so desire. The structure is pretty straightforward:


The default theme is obviously contained in /blogsum/themes/default/ and shouldn't be modified. Copying the entire contents to a new theme directory is enough to get started. Make sure to set $blog_theme in your The only images currently included are used in the Admin view for managing articles.

P.S. There is now a Blogsum-users mailing list available for general questions and discussion about the project. If you happen to craft a new theme, please let us know!

Business Metrics

2009-09-15 23:58:42 by jdixon

Somewhere between our first corrupt filesystem and an unlikely ascent to CTO, all Systems Administrators are taught to monitor their systems. We're trained to monitor the health of our computers and trend the usage for capacity planning and analytics. A Nagios is deployed; eventually complemented by Cacti; both of which are inevitably supplanted by Something Enterprise (TM). Services are checked, change is managed, and reports are reportified.

Have you asked yourself, what value does this offer my company? Perhaps you've correlated your database connection breakdown time with website load time. Or you noticed that the FULL backups on Sunday coincide with excessive packet loss on your Seattle firewalls. Besides buffing out some of the rough edges on your operational capabilities, how does this data work for you?

Read the rest of this story...

Wings of Blurry

2009-09-11 10:06:38 by jdixon

This past Monday, the kids and I sat on the front porch watching bees buzzing into the purple trumpets of our hosta. We followed the long stems of the plant bow and bounce as the curious insects went about their work. In a fleeting moment, we heard an impossibly loud buzz coming from overhead and then shoot past us. A large hummingbird paused, directly above the hosta. It considered the plant for a moment, wings in full turbulence, then zipped away to its next destination.

I love how some of life's coolest moments are painfully brief. It leaves you wanting more.