Posted 4 days ago
Perhaps appropriately for one whose career spans the millenium,
Iain Banks is a master not only of contemporary literary but also speculative fiction.
The wit and dignity with which he faces his imminent demise mirrors his approach to the ... [More] art.
The bitter-sweet Hydrogen Sonata now seems likely to be the last Culture novel, bestowing upon it a particular poignancy set — as it is — against the backdrop of a civilisation approaching final sublimation.
If you're already a reader, then perhaps you'd like to say hello, and wave bon voyage.
If not, then you might like to start with The Algebraist. Not a Culture novel, I know, but stands very well alone. The audio book is also recommended. [Less]
Posted 4 days ago
On behalf of Xerces-J XML Schema team, I would like to thank folks from Oxygen XML team to highlight many important bugs within Xerces-J XSD 1.1 validator. We've been able to solve many of those reported bugs, and I feel this has made implementation ... [More] of Xerces-J XSD 1.1 validator quite better.
Here's the list of issues reported by Oxygen folks during the past 1-2 years I guess, which are either resolved or closed:
In the above report, you might ignore bugs dated as old as 2006, which must have been resolved within an existing or an earlier Xerces-J version.
Other than the bugs reported by Oxygen XML folks, we also received bug reports from other members of XML community. Thanks to those persons also.
I'm not sure when we're going to release next version of Xerces-J which should have many implementation improvements. Taking a very pessimistic view wrt this, I expect a new version of Xerces-J sometime later this year or might slip to next year. [Less]
Posted 5 days ago
After breakfast was over the first day started with a talk by Bernd on the
Hadoop ecosystem. He did a good job selecting the most important and
interesting projects related to storing data in HDFS and processing it with Map
Reduce. After ... [More] the usual “what is Hadoop”, “what does the general architecture
look like”, “what will change with YARN” Bernd gave a nice overview of which
publications each of the relevant projects rely on:
HDFS is mainly based on the paper on GFS.
Map Reduce comes with it’s own publication.
The big table paper mainly inspired Cassandra (to some extend), HBase,
Accumulo and Hypertable.
Protocol Buffers inspired Avro and Thrift, and is available as free
Dremel (the storage side of things) inspired Parquet.
The query language side of Dremel inspired Drill and Impala.
Power Drill might inspire Drill.
Pregel (a graph database) inspired Giraph.
Percolator provided some inspiration to HBase.
Dynamo by Amazon kicked of Cassandra and others.
Chubby inspired Zookeeper, both are based on Paxos.
On top of Map Reduce today there are tons of higher level languages,
starting with Sawzall inside of Google, continuing with Pig and Hive at Apache
we are now left with added languages like Cascading, Cascalog, Scalding and
There are many other interesting publications (Megastore, Spanner, F1 to
name just a few) for which there is no free implementation yet. In addition
with Storm, Hana and Haystack there are implementations lacking canonical
After this really broad clarification of names and terms used, Bernd went into
some more detail on how Zookeeper is being used for defining the namenode in
Hadoop 2, how high availablility and federation works for namenodes. In
addition he gave a clear explanation of how block reports work on cluster
bootup. The remainder of the talk was reserved for giving an intro to HBase,
Giraph and Drill. [Less]
Posted 5 days ago
I was invited to the Mobile Forum Stuttgart and speak about Apache Cordova/Phonegap (great conference, check it out next year!).
Apps with Apache Cordova and Phonegap from Christian Grobmeier
For Time & Bill, I needed to get started quickly. I was looking into Android development and into iOS development. While I found Android being very easy for me as Java developer, I didn’t grow into iOS so quick as I would need it. For me PhoneGap / Apache Cordova was a savior before 2 years.
After the talk, I was speaking to a couple of devs. One of them asked me:
Would you use Cordova again, if you would have objective-c skills?
But I was not so sure if I would.
Don’t get me wrong: I totally enjoy working with Apache Cordova. It’s easy. But don’t expect to start with Cordova and have a native-looking and native-feeling app on your device in an instant. I haven’t expected that, so I was happy.
The biggest misunderstanding with Apache Cordova is that it does *everything* for you. But it’s not the case. It is just the base for your application. It supports you to package your app and helps you to access device features like the camera. Nothing more. There is nothing in Cordova which helps you to organize your App in terms of for example MVC. It’s not an application framework.
You need more. You need help from the Apache Cordova ecosystem. And with ecosystem I mean everything which helps you to build mobile ready websites.
For example, there is jQuery mobile. It is a framework which lets you organize your app and even comes with a nice look & feel. It’s pretty straightforward to start with it. But it has some drawbacks. The look & feel is simply not the one you expect on your device. It’s neither Android nor is it iPhone. Also the behavior is not exactly what you would expect. It’s different, it’s a jQuery mobile experience. Also I found it is extremely sluggish on my older devices. Especially when it came to page switching. No doubt, it is very nice and you can do nice things with it. But it was not was I was looking for – it was too much.
Then I was looking into Sencha Touch. I cannot say I have much experience with it, but the development model felt very unusual for me. Sencha does also come with a Look & Feel, but again, it’s the Sencha Look & Feel, not the Android or iPhone one.
Finally I wrote Roadcrew.js. It does nothing else then page switching. I liked how it was done in jQuery mobile but improved the way to intercept the page switching (for my taste and compared with an older version of jQuery mobile, namely 1.0x. Not sure if this has been improved in recent versions). This could have been done with Angular.js too. I used Roadcrew.js, because I was unsure if Angular.js would give me the performance I need on older devices. I didn’t want to make another experiment.
I am still happy with Roadcrew and writing a jQuery/Zepto.js based app on Cordova. Except it still doesn’t look good. I have started on reworking the whole app, but at the moment it’s still the ugly interface. While functionality is OK, it’s really looking more like a web page and not like a mobile app.
To overcome this I have looked at Chocolate UI. And I looked into Ratchet too. Both frameworks give you a look & feel. Chocolate looks more like Android, Ratchet looks like the iPhone. Both are fundamentally different how they work. It’s simply not possible to use them exchangeable, so you have to create two apps. Of course, that’s not possible. I have withdrawn both experiments with the two. Both had a lot of issues too.
Now I started to download the Android styleguide and create my own CSS for the components I need. This is of course cumbersome. I have to do the same with iPhone styles later. All of that is simply there when you go native.
Something else is often missing. Just because you have a nice looking button does not mean the button behaves as expected. You face several problems. One can be solved with implementing the FastButton for your system. Let me quote an Google engineer:
“The problem with this approach is that mobile browsers will wait approximately 300ms from the time that you tap the button to fire the click event. The reason for this is that the browser is waiting to see if you are actually performing a double tap. For most buttons we are developing we know that there is no double click behavior that we want to handle, so waiting this long to start acting on the click is time wasted for users.” - Ryan Fioravanti
Along with my mobile look, I also have to start to implement mobile behavior. Thanks to Google for the FastButton implementation. It took me just an hour to use it with jQuery and in my own code.
Developing with Apache Cordova gets you on the road very quickly. You have something in your hands within minutes. It’s great to progress quickly. It’s not Cordovas fault that the rest of the ecosystem is lacking a few things. There is still no “fantastic” framework which looks on every device as it should look. There is nothing which lets you application “feel” native on every device. Sure, you can deploy to each and any device (almost), but after all: you are not deploying a native app. It’s different.
Apache Cordova is a great tool. As with all tools, you need to look at your requirements and carefully decide if it is for you. If you can accept the mentioned drawbacks and want to come out quickly, it’s great. If you need performance eating animations and want it to be native, go with a native implementation. Don’t believe the hype. Look with your own eyes.
Feel free to share your experiences, thoughts and helpful links to fantastic frameworks/css libraries in the comment box below. [Less]
Posted 5 days ago
The ASF is holding it’s Annual Member’s Meeting this coming week, where the Membership elects a new board of directors along with other matters, like voting in new Member candidates. While I was nominated last year, I was not elected. I would ... [More] have been sad about not getting a seat, except for the fact that such other fabulously good people got elected instead (including two new directors who got to serve their first terms, Rich and Ross, yay!).
Director candidates at the ASF write position statements about what their objectives for being a director are in preparation for the voting process. Since I write what I believe in, I also am posting my statement here, publicly. One of the biggest issues for the smooth functioning of the ASF as a home for healthy projects is doing a better job of explaining how we work – I hope this helps people understand us Apache types just a little bit better. You can also see what I wrote last year.
If you’re wondering how governance at Apache really works, I’ve written an Apache governance overview too.
Shane Curcuru (curcuru) Director Position Statement
As the ASF scales in people, projects, and impact on the world, we
need directors that can ensure our organization stays true to it’s
ideals; that can delegate appropriately and efficiently to officers
and PMCs; and especially that can communicate calmly, clearly,
and consistently in all of their communications.
As we surpass one million $ in assets, with thousands of committers, nearly a gross of projects, and an huge impact both on the software world with our technology, and on the larger world of computer users with our products, I believe it’s important to do an even better job of explaining what the ASF is about and how the Apache Way works.
While we don’t need more rules, we do need to do a much better job of explaining what our few hard requirements are, as well as showcasing the wealth of best practices that our projects have created. This is important both to let the world know who we are, and also to ensure that the many different communities of contributors can more easily understand how to work with our projects.
With the fast growing scale of our organization, it is critical that directors and corporate officers can communicate clearly, calmly, and professionally in all of their Apache related activities – whether or not they’re explicitly showing which hat they’re wearing at the moment. As our impact grows, so does the impact of our words, both inside our communities, attracting (or not) new members to our communities, and also on the larger world of corporations, universities, and other computer using peoples. Even if we as long-time denizens of members@ understand which hat a director or officer is wearing when they speak, most other human beings and most other contributors don’t necessarily see the distinction.
It has been a long time since we held in-person member’s meetings
where everyone knew each others personal style. As we grow,
we need to be sure that we’re making it easy for new members and
contributors to feel welcomed and understand how Apache works. We also need to ensure that we both can keep the sense of family and enjoyable, collaborative community that the membership and our projects have, and that we manage the affairs of the ASF and of our projects in a consistent, documented, and professional manner.
I’ve been a committer since November 1999, a Member since 2002,
and VP, Brand Management since 2009.
I am employed by IBM in the HR division as an Applications Architect. My employment and income have been unrelated to my work at the ASF for many years, and I will always clearly separate volunteer work from employer-funded work.
My involvement in the ASF is driven by a belief in, and a love of,
the ASF, and is not influenced by politics or finances. I live in
Massachusetts with my wife, young daughter, and 2 cats. I view
directorships and officer positions at the ASF as serious commitments.
I will attend every board meeting if elected. [Less]
Posted 6 days ago
Deep In The Game: Not The RTE Guide
Good interview with Alan Maguire, the satirist behind the very funny @NotTheRTEGuide on Twitter:
I’ve always been a huge fan of TV Go Home and Charlie Brooker in general and it seemed like ... [More] Irish TV and culture was a good target for the kind of barbed surrealism that he does. (I’m not claiming I’m in his league or anything but he’s the main influence). I was really surprised that there hadn’t been a parody RTÉ Guide already. TV listings are 140-ish characters already and the RTÉ Guide has a kind of weird place in Irish culture where everybody knows it but nobody our age really has any idea of what’s in it anymore. We associate it with a small-c conservatism, or I did at least and I play that up occasionally with the account.
(tags: nottherteguide rte rte-guide ireland funny satire interviews)
My Philosophy on Alerting
‘based on my observations while I was a Site Reliability Engineer at Google.’ – by Rob Ewaschuk; very good, and matching the similar recommendations and best practices at Amazon for that matter
(tags: monitoring ops devops alerting alerts pager-duty via:jk) [Less]
Posted 6 days ago
Together with Uwe Schindler I had published a series of articles on Apache
Lucene at Software and Support Media’s Java Mag several years ago. Earlier this
year S&S kindly invited my to their BigDataCon - co-located with JAX to give ... [More] a
talk of my choosing that at least touches upon Lucene.
Thinking back and forth about what topic to cover what came to my mind was to
give a talk on how easy it is to do text classification with Mahout when
relying on Apache Lucene for text analysis, tokenisation and token filtering.
All classes essentially are in place to integrate Lucene Analyzers with Mahout
vector generation - needed e.g. as a pre-processing step for classification or
Feel free to check out some of my sandbox code over at <a
After attending the conference I can only recommend everyone interested in Java
programming and able to understand German to buy a ticket for the conference.
It’s really well executed, great selection of talks (though the sponsored
keynotes usually aren’t particularly interesting), tasty meals, interesting
people to chat with. [Less]
Posted 6 days ago
At Apache CloudStack we recently started an initiative to organize our content into learning modules. We call this initiative CloudStack University. Everyone is invited to participate by contributing content (slides and screencasts), suggesting new ... [More] learning modules that are needed and even creating exercises and assignments. School fun ! As we were discussing the initiative on the mailing list we started by looking at our existing content: slideshares, youtube videos and thought about organizing them into a CloudStack 101 course. This is still a work in progress that requires everyones participation to make it a great resource.
In the meantime I have been putting all my CloudStack content on slideshare and I wanted to provide a narrated version of these slides together with hands-on demo to show folks how to do a few things with CloudStack specifically but also related Cloud and OSS tips and tricks. Here comes the CloudStack university screencasts. I will add more of them as I go along and receive requests from the community (reach out on twitter @sebgoa and tell me what you want to see). I wanted to give you a preview of what this looks like. To create a self-paced learning module, I decided to create slide decks that people can download from slideshare and cross-post the corresponding screencasts (for most of them at least) on youtube. People can choose a particular topic, or take the entire series. The idea is that at the end of watching all the screencasts and reading the material people graduate from CloudStack University.
Certainly one can imagine how this could evolve into a full fledge training and certification program. I do plan to create a final exam once I am done with a consistent set of modules :) In this post I wanted to introduce you to some of the first modules I created. I welcome all feedback and suggestions to improve them. Reach out to me on twitter (@sebgoa) or contribute your own modules via the wiki and the mailing lists.
To get started, I show you below the screencast of testing the Apache CloudStack (ACS) 4.0.2 testing procedure. We used this basic procedure as a smoke test for the release and as way to vote on a release. There is far more QA going on for a release, this is just a basic testing to vote on the release. This is definitely geared towards developers, I plan to create a more end-user version of an introduction to CloudStack.
Once you have been introduced to ACS with this testing procedure you can learn the API. CloudStack has a native API as well as an EC2 compatible interface. The following screencasts and slides dives into the ACS API, showing how to do unauthenticated and authenticated calls, create a signature, it finishes with a discussion on REST and nice exercise.
Intro to CloudStack API from Sebastien Goasguen
Learning the API and the details of how to create a call by hand is a very nice skill to have. CloudStack has 16 clients on github in various languages, these clients make it extremely easy to use the CloudStack API. However ACS comes with a terrific interactive shell: CloudMonkey. The following module shows you how to install CloudMonkey and how to use it to manage your ACS backed cloud. If you followed the testing procedure, you can use CloudMonkey with your local CloudStack and explore the API.
CloudMonkey from Sebastien Goasguen
If you want to participate in the development of CloudStack you can contribute in many different ways, but definitely modifying the source to include new features, fix bugs and add documentation are some of the basic contributions. The following module gives you an introduction to Git the version control system used by ACS. This is aimed at beginners and starts with a demo of gist on github, it then shows a walkthrough of the CloudStack git repo, looks at remote feature branches and finishes with the workflow to create a patch and submit for review.
Git 101 for CloudStack from Sebastien Goasguen
At ACS we put great care in making sure that everyone in the world can use our software and that means use the UI in their own language and read the documentation in their own language. Translation is a tedious work but very much appreciated by non english speaking users and developers. In this module we show you how to contribute to the translation of CloudStack UI and docs using the Transifex service. We are proud to have over 30 translators who allow us to support the CloudStack UI in 10 languages and have documentation almost complete in 5 languages.
How to Translate Apache CloudStack Docs from Sebastien Goasguen
As a final note, Apache Software Foundation is a mentoring organization in the 2013 Google Summer of code. As such CloudStack is participating in GSoC, we are currently reviewing proposals from students and are eager to see the program started. I embed a deck that introduced the various projects we proposed. Stay tuned to learn more about which ones got awarded, notification on May 27th. And remember to keep an eye out for CloudStack University, a great resource for Cloud training.
Apache CloudStack Google Summer of Code from Sebastien Goasguen [Less]
Posted 6 days ago
Google are being asked hard questions in Parliament about their UK tax setup.
I think the politicians are missing an opportunity to ask them the question that I'm always wondering: where is Tilehurst and why does google maps think it is so ... [More] special.
Here is a google maps view of the UK
It has Bristol on it, but not Portsmouth or Cardiff. Its a always a mystery in Bristol while Pompey gets a dot on the BBC weather map, as does BRS's nearby rival, Cardiff. In the google map, Edinburgh and Manchester are the ones being left out.
But that is nothing compared to the Tilehurst question. Specifically : why?
Look what happens when you click to zoom in one notch.
Edinburgh exists, along with pretty much everything north of their excluding Mallaig, which is something all visitors to Scotland should do when laying out an itinerary.
And what is there between Bristol and London. One town merits a mention. Tilehurst.
Apart from this mention of Tilehurst, I have no data on whether or not this town actually exists. It's not on any motorway exits on the M4, no train stations, no buses from Bristol. I have never heard it mentioned in any conversation whatsoever.
Why then does Google Maps think that it is more important than, say, Reading, which meets all of the above criteria (admittedly, never in conversations that speak positively of it), Oxford, which people outside the UK have heard of.
No, Tilehurst it is.
It could be some bizarre quirk of the layout algorithm that picks a random place ignoring things like nearby population numbers or using M-way exit signs, mentions in pagerank or knowledge of public transport.
I think it could just be some spoof town made up to catch out people who have been copying map data from google maps without accreditation. If some map or tourist guide mentions Tilehurst, the google maps team will know that they are using Google map data and immediately demand some financial recompense, routed through the Ireland subsidiary.
There's only one way to be sure: using this resolution map as the cue, drive there and see what it is. [Less]
Posted 7 days ago
Monitoring the Status of Your EBS Volumes
Page in the AWS docs which describes their derived metrics and how they are computed — these are visible in the AWS Management Console, and alarmable, but not viewable in the Cloudwatch UI. grr. ... [More] (page-joshea!)
(tags: ebs aws monitoring metrics ops documentation cloudwatch)
Interpol filter scope creep: ASIC ordering unilateral website blocks
Bloody hell. This is stupidity of the highest order, and a canonical example of “filter creep” by a government — secret state censorship of 1200 websites due to a single investment scam site.
The Federal Government has confirmed its financial regulator has started requiring Australian Internet service providers to block websites suspected of providing fraudulent financial opportunities, in a move which appears to also open the door for other government agencies to unilaterally block sites they deem questionable in their own portfolios. The instrument through which the ISPs are blocking the Interpol list of sites is Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act. Under the Act, the Australian Federal Police is allowed to issue notices to telcos asking for reasonable assistance in upholding the law. [...] Tonight Senator Conroy’s office revealed that the incident that resulted in Melbourne Free University and more than a thousand other sites being blocked originated from a different source — financial regulator the Australian Securities and Investment Commission. On 22 March this year, ASIC issued a media release warning consumers about the activities of a cold-calling investment scam using the name ‘Global Capital Wealth’, which ASIC said was operating several fraudulent websites — www.globalcapitalwealth.com and www.globalcapitalaustralia.com. In its release on that date, ASIC stated: “ASIC has already blocked access to these websites.”
(tags: scams australia filtering filter-creep false-positives isps asic fraud secrecy)
Obfuscatory pie-chart from Garda penalty-points corruption report
“Twitter / gavinsblog: For sake of clarity here is helpful pie chart of the 95.4% of fixed charge notices not terminated #missingthepoint” Paging Edward Tufte: classic example of an obfuscatory pie-chart, diagramming the wrong thing misleadingly. By presenting it like this, it appears that the 95.4% of cases where fixed charge notices were issued by the guards are relevant to the discussion of the other classes; in reality, that means that 4.6% of cases, 37,000 cases, were terminated, some for good reasons, others for not, and it’s the difference between those two classes that are relevant. In my opinion, 2 separate pie charts would be better; one to show the dismissed-versus-undismissed count (which IMO could have been omitted entirely), and one to show the good-vs-not-so-good termination reason counts (which is the meat of the issue).
(tags: dataviz visualisation data obfuscation gardai police corruption penalty-points)
Berkeley DB Java Edition Architecture [PDF]
background white paper on the BDB-JE innards and design, from 2006. Still pretty accurate and good info
(tags: bdb-je java berkeley-db bdb design databases pdf white-papers trees)
one Canadian judge’s 192-page judgement eviscerating the Freeman-on-the-Land and related “Organised Pseudolegal Commercial Argument” litigants
This Court has developed a new awareness and understanding of a category of vexatious litigant. As we shall see, while there is often a lack of homogeneity, and some individuals or groups have no name or special identity, they (by their own admission or by descriptions given by others) often fall into the following descriptions: Detaxers; Freemen or Freemen-on-the-Land; Sovereign Men or Sovereign Citizens; Church of the Ecumenical Redemption International (CERI); Moorish Law; and other labels – there is no closed list. In the absence of a better moniker, I have collectively labelled them as Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument litigants [“OPCA litigants”], to functionally define them collectively for what they literally are. These persons employ a collection of techniques and arguments promoted and sold by ‘gurus’ (as hereafter defined) to disrupt court operations and to attempt to frustrate the legal rights of governments, corporations, and individuals. Over a decade of reported cases have proven that the individual concepts advanced by OPCA litigants are invalid. What remains is to categorize these schemes and concepts, identify global defects to simplify future response to variations of identified and invalid OPCA themes, and develop court procedures and sanctions for persons who adopt and advance these vexatious litigation strategies. One participant in this matter [...] appears to be a sophisticated and educated person, but is also an OPCA litigant. One of the purposes of these Reasons is, through this litigant, to uncover, expose, collate, and publish the tactics employed by the OPCA community, as a part of a process to eradicate the growing abuse that these litigants direct towards the justice and legal system we otherwise enjoy in Alberta and across Canada. I will respond on a point-by-point basis to the broad spectrum of OPCA schemes, concepts, and arguments advanced in this action by [him]. Via Ronan Lupton
(tags: via:ronanlupton law canada legal freeman opca court tax judgements) [Less]
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