"I have a mind like a steel... uh... thingy." Patrick Logan's weblog.

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Saturday, December 16, 2006


Alright I've been tagged by Dan Creswell. I just came across this tag thing a few days ago. What to say... I'll be borrowing some ideas from others, so you may recognize the patterns but hopefully not the specific content.

  1. I was a Frank Lloyd Wright fanatic in high school. I was in the school of architecture at The Ohio State University (that's the proper name folks) for a couple of years. This was 1979-1981, on the heels of the energy crisis of the time, and I wanted to build solar houses. The problem was I didn't really know how to think yet and decided to explore other things.
  2. Although I played Oregon Trail on a teletype and pong on a TV, I didn't even know what a computer was until I left the school of architecture in '81. I was searching for something and two friends were CS students and worked at this small company in a house near campus. They worked odd hours and the atmosphere was relaxed, so I thought something must be up.
  3. I attended a very small high school in Ohio in the 1970's. This allowed me to get three varsity letters: football, track, and tennis. My best memory of that time though is writing a report on "The Arms of Krupp" about the international arms trade through the centuries. That kind of took my teachers by surprise.
  4. I was a roadie for a band for a couple of years and ended up meeting and marrying one of the singers. I went on two east coast tours with them. The most interesting place we played was the mall in the Pentagon.
  5. I lean towards "decentralized, worker-owned, market-socialism".
Please to be tagging Ian Cartwright, Mike Herrick, James Robertson, Mark Watson, and Steve Dekorte.

Accountant Wanted

From the San Jose Mercury News (via the Seattle Times)...

In an interview with Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer a few weeks ago, I asked if he had added up how much money it cost to develop Vista. He laughed, "I can't say I have. It would be impossible to count up. ... I'm sure it's a lot."

If we assume Microsoft's costs per employee are about $200,000 a year, the estimated payroll costs alone for Vista hover around $10 billion.

This is incomprehensible. A CEO has no idea how much his most significant product in six years cost to build.

Then the other incomprehensible "tidbit" is that it cost at least $10 billion USD. And they did not even get a new operating system out of it. The new product is really a face lift and some bug fixes on an aging infrastructure.

In light of this the stock price should be significantly lower. Software companies are difficult to invest in, and MSFT has to be one of the most difficult.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Sign of Success?

Headline: "Nintendo Recalls 3.2 Mil. Wii Wrist Straps"

Well, people are enthusiastic at the least! A sign of success? Mistakes were made, as it were.

We've had no trouble with either of our two controllers. But we will replace them with the stronger straps to be on the safe side.

My kids are going to be thrilled to find the wind storm last night resulted in no school today. Hey, kids: just watch out for those flying controllers on your day off!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Singly Cellular

Final Update:

This is my final update to this post. I will start a new one on some related topics. This update is just pointing out a new comment below from Brian Oliver of Tangosol.

The comment is fairly lengthy so I will not pull anything out here into a quote. I recommend reading it. There is good technical content I should put into another post.

The one thing I will say here is: my blog will not become a forum for vendors to pick on each other. It's not there yet, although it is walking the line. I simply will not approve your comments if I don't see them contributing to my technical interests.

This is my blog. I have spoken.


Reading Brian's comment one might get the impression any misunderstandings I have of Tangosol come from a competitor. That is not the case. I have met with Tangosol people in person. Any misunderstandings come from them.


Just *kidding*!!! Actually I have met with them, and they have a number of questions they're following up on. The misunderstandings are mine alone.

End Final Update

The notion that Jini/Javaspaces and Tangosol Coherence are direct competitors seems to come up fairly often. At least from the Tangosol folks. I think that's because Tangosol and Gigaspaces compete in the scalability market. Gigaspaces sells their non-standard features to the performance-challenged... update-in-place, etc.

But this seems to ignore the Jini part of Jini/Javaspaces as well as most of what a Javaspace would be used for. That gets short-shrift...

If the benefits of an organic model sound familiar, then you're probably already using the world's most innovative distributed system. If you're still struggling with traditional exception-based or recovery-based approaches to distributed systems (e.g. CORBA, JINI, RMI), then you have my deepest sympathy, but it's not too late to switch.
I will ignore the obvious red herrings in CORBA and RMI. But as for Jini...

I would really like to see how Tangosol Coherence lines up against all the things in Jini. Coherence is a distributed/shared data cache. One would have to establish all kinds of conventions to get the cache and its contents to do Jini-like things. Coherence is fairly proprietary as well, but ignore that for now.

Maybe the message is Jini-like things are not necessary. That seems to assume everything you need is in your cluster of Coherence-loaded JVMs. Coherence has some nice features, even for implementing Javaspaces and other standard capabilities above it. But that's not the claim being made over and again. The claim seems to be: you don't need Jini because our clustered cache is better.

Apples and oranges? I'm looking for better answers than that if someone can point me to an in-depth Jini/Javaspaces vs. Coherence comparison.

Update 1: btw there is nothing like getting up in the morning looking forward to working with the people you sit with, and then hearing later in the day how amazed the CIO and all kinds of people are with the team's results. We get to do good stuff that counts, no BS.

Update 2: Dan Creswell comments below, lending to my suspicions...

Right, so if you are under the impression that all you do with Jini/JS is build compute servers/farms, then you might assume this equivalence.

Update 3: Ian Cartwright comments below about conventional and unconventional uses of Jini/Javaspaces. He includes a link to an interesting combination of OSGi and Jini...

Newton makes use of OSGi for wiring up composites within a single JVM and Jini technology for tracking and wiring up dependencies between composites in different JVMs
OSGi is what Eclipse uses to wire independent objects into its JVM. Some folks on the team were looking at that for a related effort.

Update 4: Nati Shalom of Gigaspaces confirms the emerging consensus that Jini and caches complement each other, and a Javaspace can be used as a kind of cache, although for other uses as well. As Dan Creswell wrote somewhere, caches tend to have more reads than writes, while javaspaces (when used for coordination rather than as a cache) tend to have more takes and writes, fewer reads. A quote from Nati's comment...

If you’re building an SOA application, you'll need more then a cache. In fact, a cache gives you almost nothing on that regard. You will need a Service framework, which is what Jini provides. A service framework deals with how you discover, find services, invoke them, make them secure, manage their life cycle, etc.
Another part of his comment refers to the Rio extension to Jini/Javaspaces, an interesting service management framework. All open source under Apache as well. Some of those ESB folks should look at it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

XSD -- XML Schema Deterioration

Catching up: Ian Cartwright goes into some concrete examples about XSDs, why they are undesirable, and how to cope with them. He also addresses related serialization problems.

It hardly seems like a year ago, but it is close, when Ian was over here from the UK with Paul Hammant working with a group of us down in sunny California on fun stuff like this.

Fixed That One

Randall Scarberry displays the joys of shared memory concurrency in this article on Java...

At some point while reading this, you've probably wondered about what synchronization issues might be encountered in SMT adaptation. I encountered two with ConcurrentKMeans, both in the nested class ProtoCluster, which is a class K-means uses to track intermediate clustering results. It was clear to me that something was wrong, because ConcurrentKMeans gave results different from BasicKMeans even though it was using the same N, K, and random seed. I ran it several times, occasionally getting an ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException originating from the ProtoCluster method add(int ndx). Then the obvious dawned on me: multiple threads were calling an unsynchronized method. (Doh!) The exception happened because one worker thread attempted to add a coordinate, while another thread was expanding the array holding the coordinate indices. Simply adding the synchronized modifier to the add(int ndx) method definition fixed the problem.
OK, fixed *that* one. Any confidence that was the last one?

Not that concurrency is easy, but almost all programming languages exacerbate this with extremely outdated memory and concurrency models.

Don't you just love exacerbation?

Eventually we'll all move to shared-nothing languages of one stripe or another to implement concurrency, Erlang being one. Along the way we'll move to better shared nothing mechanisms for our current languages rather than threads, monitors, and such, spaces being one.

Wow! I mean WOW!

An interview with Pete Lacey...

Wow! I mean, WOW!

As I see it the [WS-*] is so large and complex, and the participants so tightly coupled, that scaling to even enterprise levels is out of the question.... you will not be able to use this technology to build a fully distributed enterprise architecture.

I am shocked. I mean there is so much evidence to the contrary. Er, isn't there?

Prediction for 2007: the rush away from WS-* will look like the recent US election aftermath of Republicans running from Bush's Iraq War.

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About Me

Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm usually writing from my favorite location on the planet, the pacific northwest of the u.s. I write for myself only and unless otherwise specified my posts here should not be taken as representing an official position of my employer. Contact me at my gee mail account, username patrickdlogan.