Posts tagged geekiness


Today, I got an Airport Express because I wanted to play music from my computer on the speakers in my bedroom (without dragging the computer in every time.) The complete setup process:

  1. Took it out of the box, plugged it in.
  2. Found the "Airport Setup Utility" already installed on my MacBook and ran it.
  3. It disconnected me from my house wireless network and connected me to the new Airport (after warning me first.)
  4. Answered a few easy questions.  It automatically knew the name and password of my wireless network to connect to (staberinde and aslan if you’re in the area and need wifi.)
  5. It reconnected to my network.
  6. Went into iTunes.  Selected the new Airport from the speaker selector at the bottom of the window.

That’s it.  Can you imagine anything like that ever being so easy under Linux or Windows?

It’s not perfect – there’s a 33 character limit on the password that they didn’t tell me about (normally, all my passwords are random 36 character strings because it’s not like I have to memorize them anyway) – but all in all, Apple wins serious Just Works(tm) points on this one.

Personal Inbox Zero

It’s been a while coming, but I finally did it. So if you’ve been expecting an email reply from me and didn’t get it, I must have lost your message and please send it again :)

I couldn’t sleep on Wednesday night. But I found these, so it’s not all bad.

(clicky for more.)

Church of Ceiling Cat photos & words

Here are all the Church of Ceiling Cat photos I know of. I was planning to take more on Sunday night, but we ended up taking everything down on Sunday morning.

And here are the words…

An American (restaurant) in Tokyo

I’ve been in Tokyo since last Sunday. 2 nights ago I passed by an Anna Miller’s – I was hungry so I figured this was a good cultural experience: an American restaurant, as imagined by the Japanese. Maybe this is how Chinese people feel about the cheap “Chinese” restaurants that populate any North American city.

I was greeted at the door by a waitress wearing the Anna Miller’s uniform, which is hard to describe but doesn’t resemble anything I’ve ever seen in America. Apparently the waitresses are a major selling factor for the restaurant. To each his or her own, I suppose. I was shown to a table and presented with a menu in both English and Kanji. I decided on the steak special, which came with my choice of turmeric rice or bread – fries or potato weren’t listed as options. I wasn’t asked how the steak should be cooked, either. I also ordered a beer. The waitress entered my order into her little computer, disappeared briefly, then dropped off some western cutlery, a moist finger napkin of the type usually offered by Japanese restaurants, and a glass of water.

After about 15 minutes, she reappeared with a glass of local beer, a plate of yellow rice, and a large plate containing steak, fries, a slice of lemon, and an unidentifiable herb as a garnish. I was also invited to choose my desert from a menu: lemon pie, or lime pie. The steak was rare, but should have been at least medium given the quality of the meat. The lemon pie showed up as I was finishing the steak. As advertised, it was just lemon, no meringue.

So all in all, a deeply weird experience, like Japan itself. Unlike Japan; however, it left me with no particular desire to visit again.

I’m on teevee

I know there are a lot of xkcd fans here.. see: Real Geek Heart Beats in Xkcd’s Stick Figures

XKCD day

Is anyone else interested in driving to Boston on the weekend of the 22nd for XKCD day? I’m currently a “maybe” since RAMROD is scheduled for the Saturday, but I figured I should see who else is interested. I’m not doing that long of a drive on my own.


  • It’s about a 6 hour drive. We need a car. I’ll rent one if necessary.
  • Drive out Saturday. I have offers of couch/floor space for the night.
  • Drink at the CBC.
  • Drive back Sunday evening.
  • If you’re in Ottawa, you take the bus or train here and stay on one of my many spare beds on Friday and/or Sunday nights as necessary.

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..

Go to Top