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Hardware Java Acceleration []

It seems that the secret project called Azul being worked on by former Cobalt CEO Stephen DeWitt is a Java application server that is packed with Java acceleration hardware.

Sun, the charity fund who helped Stephen out with a few billion dollars for a bunch of perl scripts he had written, is working on it's own Java acceleration platform. It bought a start into the arena by buying Kealia from one of it's own former executives. Probably for a bit less than 2 billion.

The Register article asks why none is working on a .Net accelleration platform—with the implied expression that Java is more popular since it's getting so much attention.

My suggestion is that multiple vendors are working on accelerated Java servers is because it's SO FRIGGIN SLOW! Perhaps they could come up with a way to accellerate Java software development. Maybe they would call it Perl? Ever wished you had hardware acceleration for your Tcl code?


05:39 AM, 26 Feb 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (1)

Writing man pages []

This article is a very good introduction to writing man pages in nroff macros.

As discussed earlier, I like man pages!

08:53 PM, 16 Feb 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Leadership and Management in 2004

Last week's AFR Boss Magazine has two interesting, if not ingenious, articles about leadership and management in the current age.

James Carlopio from AGSM tells us that 'Stepping back and taking in the broader viwe can help you stay ahead of the pack.' in his back page article Reeling from all that Infomation?

Carlopio points us to our natural pattern recognition ability as the key to managing our communication, strategies and personal (business) relationships. As he states, us humans are constantly using pattern recognition, but we need to practise applying cognitive pattern recognition to our business worlds. A common pattern he suggests as an example is convergence. Convergence is an unarguable pattern, so look for where it might happen next around you—and prepare for it. Even better, initiate it.

Carlopio finishes with the great piece of advice:

In fact, the point at which you think you've found something impossible is a good place to startr looking for what might happen next.


The other article that caught my eye is by Lauren Keller Johnson originally published in the Harvard Management Update. It is titled Lateral thinking but her primary topic is something she calls Lateral leadership. She discusses the now common phenomenon of being tasked with a project whose success relies on the buy-in and collaboration of people over whom you have no direct authority. She talks about Networking, Constructive persuasion and negotiation, Consultation and Coalition building. Keller Johnson tells us that building the right relationships and other such "investments in lateral-leadership 'capital' can take time and patience—and often the dividends don't come until later."

It's all very good advice, although again not amazingly ingenious. It is very similar to the way I have managed unpaid volunteer teams for some years now. It also sounds a lot like what my old manager Tim McLaughlan used to call Management by wandering around .


Of course I can't not mention that the cover feature of the magazine was an interview with Richard Branson entitled Reluctant guru, because you can never read too many interviews with Richard Branson!

07:56 PM, 15 Feb 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Getting chummy with Iran

The recent chumminess the west has shown towards Iran is somewhat troubling. It's true that we need to offer them practical encouragement for their recent change fo heart with respect to WMD—but we need to be careful too. An excellent recent article in The Economist poignantly says:

HOW ironic it was that Iran's President Muhammad Khatami welcomed Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, on the prince's surprise visit to Tehran on Monday February 9th. While Charles will one day be the largely powerless figurehead of a parliamentary democracy that pretends to be a monarchy, events of recent days have shown his host to be the largely powerless figurehead of a pretend parliamentary democracy that is in fact a theocracy.

That the reformist party has called off it's boycott isn't going to help keep the pressure on the ruling clerics either. Although that may be just good pragmatism, as it seems not even the Ayatollah Khomeini can pressure the upper house (not it's real name!) into re-instating the 2500 reformist candidates. Even if so, it is dangerous pragmatism. As The Economist says:

The danger now is that just enough of the "vetted" reformist candidates stand to allow the clerics to claim that there was a proper election, while voter apathy and a dearth of liberal candidates ensure a shoo-in for hardline candidates.

11:23 PM, 11 Feb 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Java is the SUV of programming tools

Readers of my dev-blog will know that I am no fan of the philosophies behind the Java family of web development envionments.

It seems that I am in good company, with one of the Grandfathers of database-backed websites, Philip Greenspun, writing this article comparing Java with an SUV. Unwieldy for 90% of tasks, and not actually appropriate for that last 5% of tasks that require something more powerful or specialised.

So why is it being rammed down the throat of the development community?

This Advogato thread suggests that it is not ignominious for a language to quietly die. Eiffel, Algol and Pascal are languages that have died honoroubly - maintaining a small niche where they are appropriate and appreciated. Java is no longer operating in the niche that the original designers intended, and it survived in it's early stages only because of Sun's muscle and the feeling that it was a way to avoid Microsoft. Of course you can avoid Microsoft with many other equally as portable and much better languages.

08:49 PM, 11 Feb 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Amusements from the SCO Group's latest filing

54. At this point in time, IBM's UNIX expertise was centered on its own Power PC processor. IBM had little or no expertise on Intel processors.

Mmm. I guess David Boies is hoping that the judge is so technically ilinformed that he will never have heard of that obscure phrase "IBM PC". And he'd really better hope than noone mentions that OS/2 is fully SMP capable on Intel processors...

97. The only way that the pathway is an "eight-lane highway" for Linux to achieve the scalability, SMP support, fail-over capabilities and reliability of UNIX is by the improper extraction, use, and dissemination of the proprietary and confidential UNIX source code, derivative works and methods. Indeed, UNIX was able to achieve its status as the premiere operating system only after decades of hard work, beginning with the finest computer scientists at AT&T Bell Laboratories, plaintiff's predecessor in interest

I also seem to remember that BeOS was SMP capable - in fact it was widely acclaimed as better SMP than Windows and lower thread latencies than all mainstream operating systems. BeOS was developed by a small number of developers in under four years, and then ported to PowerPC in under 2 years, and ported to Intel in a similar amount of time. It puts SCO, Microsoft and Apple's development efforts somewhat into perspective!

It also seems that the JFS code complaints come from the /ref/ directory of the JFS distribution - which just happens to be to original OS/2 implementation of JFS included for reference, from which both the Linux and AIX JFS modules were written. So even if SCO's insane definition of derivative works is upheld - this example probably doesn't even fall under it!

People have been getting excited that the filing lists files and line numbers. But basically they are just giving references to the entire blocks of code implementing RCU, NUMA and JFS in Linux - which they have already claimed using words, so they are basically presenting the same information in a different way to make it look like they are complying with the court order to put up or shut up.

And then this:

80. The first versions of Linux evolved through bits and pieces of various contributions by numerous software developers using single or dual processor computers. Unlike IBM, virtually none of these software developers and hobbyists had access to enterprise-scale equipment and testing facilities for Linux development. Without access to such equipment, facilities and knowledge of sophisticated development methods learned in many years of UNIX development it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the Linux development community to create a grade of Linux adequate for enterprise use.

What a load of garbage! Even the poverty pack PCs used by Linus et al in those days would have been more powerful than the 68000 based machines Sun used to develop SunOS on (although with much smaller screens - gee I loved those monochrome screens!). And about the only way to get more sophisticated than a single PC is to use a second for serial-based kernal debugging (Ooh - thinking of that makes me long for the good old days of MacsBug ;) A commenter on Groklaw also points to the very early MCC Linux distribution from the University of Manchester, who UK tax payers would hope had access to enterprise-scale equipment...

What a load of crap!

11:46 PM, 07 Feb 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

LinuxWorld 2004 In Review []

This article by Nathan Matias is far more creative and fun to read than what you get used to reading IT publishing. It did feel a little like listening to NPR though...

It's especially fun for OpenACSers thanks to it's description of our stand at the conference as well as a merciless description of Malte Sussdorf ;)

11:11 PM, 07 Feb 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Post Modern Management []

CAVEAT: This article is not finished, but it's been hanging around for a while so I thought I would post it and polish it later.

Post modern Management theory
IT and modern management

MBO - management by objective - popularised by Peter Drucker - "a process by which managers and subordinates work together in identifying goals and setting up objectives, and make plans together in order to achieve these objectives. These working goals (performance objectives) are to be consistent with the organizational goals (value objectives)." The author lays down five main concepts of MBO:

  1. Central goal setting
  2. Manager-subordinate involvement
  3. Matching goals and resources
  4. Freedom of implementation
  5. Evaluation and appraisal of performance

The author then goes on to discuss some details and implications of MBO.

But the interesting part is still to come in the second page, as the author applies what he has discussed about MBO to GSS or Group Support [IT] Systems (that's groupware to you and I).

In the final page he discusses the specific example of the open source OpenACS collaboration software (incidentally used to run this site and the site the article is published on—so sure we're biased!).

The predecessor of OpenACS, ArsDigita ACS, was used to build Siemen's ShareNet—the pinup poster child of business collaboration and knowledge management systems. As an example of it's value, it is one of four case studies used in a Berkeley Knowledge Management subject alongside The World Bank and Daimler Chrysler (link).

According to this ArsDigita case study, Siemens has publicly attributed over $122 million in additional sales to ShareNet, in the first year of operation. Not bad ROI for a system whose main components are available as open source software.

10:17 PM, 07 Feb 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Well now we're getting closer to the truth

"SCO abandons any claim that IBM misappropriated its trade secrets, concedes that SCO has no evidence that IBM improperly disclosed System V code, and acknowledges that SCO's contract case is grounded solely on the proposition that IBM improperly disclosed portions of BM's own AIX or Dynix products, which SCO claims to be derivatives of Unix System V," according to IBM's compliance report on the Court's order from Dec 12. []

Ok, so SCO is buying more time and focussing on one of their two (both bogus) arguments.

Darl McBride isn't getting any more believable (or smart or sane) though. He claimed at a talk at Harvard last week that there "is roughly a million lines of code that tie into contributions that IBM has made and that's subject to litigation that is going on. We have basically supplied that." IBM pointed out in court that SCO actually only claims 3,700 lines in about 17 files.

If the case was being held in Australia, the judges ruling would be a sarcastic "Good onya!"

Oh, and while they removed some of their claims, they INCREASED their claimed damages by an additional 2 billion... makes sense.

08:00 AM, 07 Feb 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

In todays age, 99 cents for 2 minutes of silence is a good deal!

I'm surpised people haven't noticed this before. It is common knowledge by music lovers that a wide variety of artists have published named tracks of silence on their albums. Famously, the estate of John Cage and Mike Batt got into a copyright suit about whether Mike Batt had stolen the same piece of silence for a silent track that he credited in memory of Cage...

Of course since these are tracks off an album, you can buy them for 99c off the Apple iTunes store. points out that of the silent options on iTunes:

For those looking for the best value, Schaeffer offers nearly two minutes of silence, almost twice as much as any of the other tracks.


three of the tracks--all titled "Silent" and all by hip-hop group Slum Village--are labeled as explicit, even though there is only silence. For those who worry that the lack of sound will be too racy, iTunes offers "clean versions" as well.

For ultimate listening pleasure, I'm going to go listen to a silent track on my Sony noise cancelling headphones!

06:43 PM, 05 Feb 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

RSS headlines in your OS X dock

For those of you living on Mars, RSS is an xml file format that allows easy syndication (re-broadcast) and aggregation of news-type information. (Actually, Mars probably has it's own RSS feed come to think of it...)

The most efficient way of dealing with bulk amounts of news for me used to be, which is excellent, but with the return of my Mac, getting news headlines in my Dock every hour is fantastic.

The product in question is MulleNewz, which appears to be German for something. Whatever - it's a great product and it's free :)

07:55 PM, 04 Feb 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Tomcat/Apache virtual hosting

Damn using Tomcat with Apache is complicated—furthering my belief that java web development is over complicated just for the sake of it :/

After hours of frustration I thought I'd better blog my findings to save others frustration in the future, having not found a comprehensive solution elsewhere. I'll be incrementally adding to this entry, so here goes...

Install Tomcat 5 and the ajp13 connector as normal, and verify it works (checkout /jsp-examples/, /manager/html/ etc.)

For a virtual host that you already have working in Apache, add an entry to your ${CATALINA_HOME}/conf/server.xml following this template (replacing ${CATALINA_HOME} with your tomcat home):

<Host name="" debug="5" appBase="webapps" unpackWARs="true">
   <Logger className="org.apache.catalina.logger.FileLogger" directory="logs" prefix="consbh." suffix=".log" timestamp="true"/>
   <Context path="" docBase="/path/to/website/htdocs" debug="5" reloadable="true"/>
   <Context path="/manager" debug="5" privileged="true" docBase="${CATALINA_HOME}/server/webapps/manager" />

In your relevant apache conf file add to each virtual host directive following this template (replacing ${CATALINA_HOME} with your tomcat home):

JkMount "/*.jsp" ajp13
JkMount /manager/* ajp13
Alias /manager/ ${CATALINA_HOME}/server/webapps/manager

Now how to get a unique login realm for each virtual host /manager/? Well I've been at it all morning and do you reckon I've figured it out yet?? Grrr.

Add to the frustration that in Apache there seems to be no way (outside writing an apache module&#8212which I may yet do) to say something like "If you (Apache) can't resolve a request to a file, please do this action". You can forward to a 404 handler script which I'm sure can get the original url from an ENV variable&#8212;but it would have to know how to handle that situation. This task is easy as pie in AOLserver...

Unfortunately I can't even get JkMount "/*.do" ajp13 to work on this server (for struts handler use). Time for more troubleshooting :(

More to come...

09:45 PM, 03 Feb 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Sure it doesn't close...

But at least it tilts nice and safely now!

You can also see the bodgy lines at the bottom of the screen in this shot - they seek to come and go. I'm not complaining.

02:33 AM, 03 Feb 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Bochs PC Emulation on MacOS X

Well, I am progressing on my journey back into MacOS land, setting up my newly rejuvinated TiBook. You know it's old because I call it a TiBook - no-one calls the new G4 powerbook an AlumBook...

I thought I would blog my Bochs 2.1 installation experience on MacOS X since there is no disk image available yet.

Bocsh is not dissimilar from VirtualPC et al. (don't talk to me about Microsoft) and provides Intel/AMD x86 processor and standard BIOS/VGA emulation. In otherwords a virtual PC ;) Bochs is opensource, fairly unpolished compared to VPC (come on, it's free!) and quite slow in comparison. From what I can tell it's a fairly pure emulator without the heinous caching, prediction, client OS drivers etc. required to make PC emulation zip.

Compilation on Panther (10.3) was really very easy. With the developer tools installed I kjust downloaded the bosch 2.1 source tarball, untarred it, did a ./compile --enable-cdrom ; make ; sudo make install dance and bob's your uncle - !

I relocated it before I tried launching it and discovered that a buch of support files (like the bios) are required. The easiest thing to do is to do a make clean and just leave the whole source tree hanging around - makes recompiles nice and easy.

The next step is the config file. Unless you want to be lanching bosch from the command line every time, you want to be editing the .bochsrc config file (invisible in the finder unless you have used tweakUI to show hidden files etc.).

The MacOS X version also doesn't seem to support native cdrom access, so I had to image a win98 SE install CD - you can do it with Apple's Disk Tool (in your Applications/Utilites folder), just make a non-encrypted .dmg file and you'll be sweet.

I made a "images" folder in the bocsh-2.1 folder and copied the cd image (im my case win98-cd.dmg) there. Now we need a hard drive image file, and the bochs suite provides a commandline program bximage to do just that. I gave the following responses:

$ ./bximage
Do you want to create a floppy disk image or a hard disk image?
Please type hd or fd. [hd] hd

What kind of image should I create?
Please type flat, sparse or growing. [flat] growing

Enter the hard disk size in megabytes, between 1 and 32255
[10] 4096

I will create a 'growing' hard disk image with
sectors per track=63
total sectors=8388576
total size=4095.98 megabytes

What should I name the image?
[c.img] win98-hd.img

Writing:[] Done.

I wrote 4294950912 bytes to win98-hd.img.

The following line should appear in your bochsrc:
ata0-master: type=disk, path="win98-hd.img", mode=growing, cylinders=8322, heads=16, spt=63

I moved this win98-hd.img file to the images folder as well. Note the line at the end where bximage gives you the config options for the drive you just created - copy that into your clipboard because we are about to make the following amendments to the .bochsrc config file (changes in bold - look for similar lines in the default config):

romimage: file=$BXSHARE/bios/BIOS-bochs-latest, address=0xf0000
vgaromimage: $BXSHARE/bios/VGABIOS-elpin-2.40
ata0-master: type=disk, path="images/win98-hd.img", mode=growing, cylinders=8322, heads=16, spt=63
ata0-slave: type=cdrom, path="images/win98-cd.dmg", status=inserted
mouse: enabled=1
boot: cdrom

Double click Bochs, and do a normal win98 install! Don't go make a coffee, go for a drive to your favourite cafe and read the news paper&#8212;this is going to take a LONG time!

When you're all done, you just want to change the boot: config line to disk and commend out the line that mounts your cd image.


08:22 AM, 02 Feb 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (3)

Other's misfortune == my gain :)

Readers of my version 0.1 Blog will remember seeing sad photos of my G4 laptop with crazy post-modern coloured stripes on it's screen (fault not feature). Well since my friend Ian's G4 laptop just blew it's motherboard he has kindly donated me his (nearly fully functional) screen!

After a bit of fun with a torx T8 and T6 I now have a fully working G4 laptop! (I hope I used enough heatsink compound...)

The screen does have a few bodgy lines at the bottom of the screen which appears to be caused by the cracked frame (a common problem on original TiBooks) - I need to use some super-super glue or something to keep the hinge together.

The google search you can see is a few million results for "powerbook G4 cracked screen frame" ;)

01:33 AM, 02 Feb 2004 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)


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