Archive for March, 2007


Is anyone going to C.O.M.A next weekend? Kind of crept up on me so I haven’t made any plans – I’ll go on at least one of the nights, but I don’t think I can do 3 in a row. Looks like a great lineup though!

If anyone from Ottawa wants to come up, spare beds and couches will be available (provided I know you :)


Scanning in progress

I’m finally scanning the huge number of slides (and maybe even the smaller number of filmstrips) I’ve shot since buying an SLR in 1998. This has, perhaps, been my longest-term project ever. rgb lent me a Nikon LS-2000 slide scanner in early 2003. Every time I’ve pulled it out to use it, something different has gone wrong (usually with the hardware – it’s old and balky.) A few weeks ago I finally said to myself that enough is enough and it’s time to get everything scanned. I tried to fix the scanner and concluded that the stepper motor driver is fried. Not wanting to do board level repair without a schematic, I simply bought a new LS-2000 on eBay (they’re obsolete now and go for about $200.) So I now have a new-to-me LS-2000 that works fine, rgb’s SF-200 slide feeder (also balky but easily repaired using an old calling card), and a “parts” LS-2000 I can scavenge from if this one breaks.

So yeah, this time I’m getting the slides done and giving back rgb his a scanner. I might take a few shortcuts – ideally I’d do the colour correction in the scanner software itself, which supports 16 bits per channel, but it’s way easier to do it in the gimp (limited to 8 bits.) I can always reprocess the really good shots later (which likely means never.)

I’m going to have a party on the second weekend in April. I haven’t decided on any details and I know this is too early for people to know if they can make it or not, but here’s your chance to influence the date:

The things I do for money

I occasionally try to explain what I do for a living to people with varying degrees of success – so now I’d like to show you.

This is Jaguar.

It is the 10th most powerful supercomputer in the world and the most powerful open use machine (in other
words if you have a good enough reason to use it, you can.) It is an XT3 built by Cray. To give you an idea how fast it is, it last scored 43480 on the linpack benchmark. The laptop I’m writing this on would score about 1.

Jaguar and machines like it need storage – lots of it, and it has to be fast. I work on Lustre, which is a piece of software designed from the ground up as a scalable filesystem for Jaguar and machines like it.

The two racks in the foreground contain just over a petabyte of storage – that’s enough to hold the text from about a billion encyclopedias.


These are the disks and controllers for Jaguar. They were supplied by DDN, a partner of both Cray and my employer, and are
extremely fast.

geeks and disks

Our software brings all of this together into a useful filesystem that applications can use like any other filesystem (e.g. ext3, ntfs, vfat.) Well, like those, but faster.

So there you go..

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