A Day in the Life

A day in my life. Thoughts on leadership, management, startups, technology, software, concurrent development, etc... Basically the stuff I think about from 10am to 6pm.


Out and About – Sept 28th, San Francisco, CA

I’m giving my concurrency talk tomorrow night at 1 Market Street in San Francisco for the Bay .NET User Group. You can register here. The event starts at 6:30. 1 Market Street is an easy BART ride in from the East Bay, just get off at the Embarcadero Station and walk towards the Bay. See you there.


Digipede Update – Sept 28th, 2006

Since I’ve been swamped AND sick...I haven’t blogged about all the cool stuff that has happened here in the last two weeks. So here is a quick list:

  • Digipede Network v1.3 has shipped and for a list of some of the new features follow this link.

  • The C++ COM sample is now finished and will soon be available. Keep an eye on the Digipede Support Sample forum.

  • Dan went to SaasCon early this week and put up a bunch of nice posts from it. Which you can find here, here, here, here, and here. It almost looks likes he’s a reporter instead of a developer!

  • Dan also threw together a VERY rough video that does a great job of demonstrating the types of performance gains users can get with the Digipede Network. While he did this simply to play around with YouTube! and while he was sick, it is really educational to watch. Keep in mind that there are only 8 or 9 machines on the grid...the grid-side could have won the race in under 4 seconds if there had been one machine per cell (25 machines). Ultimate in coolness.

  • Well, that's all the stuff I'm allowed to write about!

    Concurrency: "To infinity...and beyond!"

    As many of you know Intel’s Developer Forum happened this week in San Francisco. Intel announced that they will have quad-core machines on the market in November and 80-core machines in five years...Slow down there big guy! While quads are something software engineers can understand...80? What operating system are you going to use? Because I can’t think of a one.

    John Dvorak has a nice piece on this very subject that you can read here. It’s validating to see my OS concerns echoed by someone with some clout...maybe the hardware guys will listen. Once you’ve gone beyond infinity...who cares? You may get there and realize that’s not where you want to be, because you will find yourself ALL ALONE.

    Instead. I suggest that once you’ve maxed out what the available OSs can handle...how about working on getting that power miniaturized? Image the power of quad in a handheld!

    John has a great line:

    Ah, yes, I'm guessing that only a few people are aware that whether a chip has two cores or four cores or 80 cores only one core can actually be used with most of today's software.

    Oh, I’m aware. I’m also aware that many applications that have been designed to take advantage of multiple CPUs... haven’t been thoroughly tested in that environment. Chaos shall reign! The reason for this is that engineers started using threads. Threads are the default concurrency tool because thread support comes with the operating system. But many engineers treat threads as something akin to message queues. Simply as a way to separate the user interface (foreground thread) from the actual algorithms (background thread). So that the user has a responsive experience with the application.

    On a single CPU machine these threads have to share the CPU, so only one thread is every really running in memory at a given time. There is no true concurrency happening on a single CPU machine. This all changes as you start adding CPUs. And many applications aren’t going to be ready.

    I like John’s idea of the OS dedicating cores to specific applications. The real-time implications of this are staggering. While John is thinking Universal Translator...I’m thinking something that is smart enough to clean my toilet. All I need is some duct tape, a toilet brush, new Lego Mindstorms kit, wireless network, ......



    Things on my mind....

    I told the Santa Barbara .NET User Group that I’d put up a link for my slides and some of the code...here it is.


    I am exhausted! I think I really over did it this week. I only skated once this summer and that was for a game against the Oakland Seals. Sunday night I ran the Red evaluation practice so I was standing on my skates, non-stop, for almost 2 hours. Right after that practice was the Blue evaluation which I had agreed to be a benchmark skater for. That was a mistake. Besides the fact that my feet were killing me...I tried to keep up with the 20 some things and Marcel. Being out of shape and not having my hockey legs back, I didn’t make it to the end of the practice. I think if people were really being evaluated against me, then everyone is now in Blue. On the plus-side I looked so comical out there; the evaluators couldn’t stop laughing at me. Or maybe that is a bad thing...

    Anyway, Monday and Tuesday were filled with the muscle aches and pains that come with trying to do too much. After the five and a half hour drive down to Santa Barbara on Tuesday, I was really stiff. I had fun with the .NET User Group, but I don’t think they got me at my best and one of my thread code demos wasn’t setup correctly, fortunately Rob spotted the problem and I was able to move on. One note on Rob, he’s trying to start a .NET User Group in San Luis Obispo so if you live around there you should contact him.

    After a really bad night’s sleep at one of the Santa Barbara Motel 6s, I made the long drive back to Oakland on Wednesday. A great thing that happened last night was that my 4 year old, who normally doesn’t want me around, talked to me for forty-five minutes. By his own choice. That was really cool. He moved in with us when he was two and his adoption was finalized shortly before his third birthday. While I’ve been trying to help him attach to me, our relationship over the last two years has been developing very slowly. He usually doesn’t want anything to do with me. Maybe we had a break through, which would be awesome, but with kids sometimes a break through is followed by a regression, so I’ll have to wait and see if this new found affection for me sticks. Here’s hoping.


    John is back from GridWorld. His talk went well and his room was full. Digipede also won an award for Best price/performance Middleware solution for Grid implementation. That’s a mouthful! The award was awarded as a tie between Digipede and United Devices. It’s exciting to tie with a company that has such a history. John also has an article out on GridToday that you can find here.

    As usual we’re busy at the office. If you missed the press release, we have announced Digital Dimension as a customer. There are a lot of things to get excited about when you land a customer like Digital Dimension. One big thing is that we can talk about them! Companies that do rendering have been using grid computing solutions to speed up the render process for a long time because rendering speed has a direct impact on their income. Financial service companies have also been in grid computing for a long time for similar reasons. The major difference between the two industries is that financial service companies are VERY close mouthed about the technologies they use. Having a customer that we can talk about, doing something people understand, in an early grid adoption industry, will really help our message.

    Now if I can keep my eyes open I think there is a school event tonight...but I think I’m going to stay home with the kids and let them walk all over me. I can do that lying down.


    Out and About – Sept 12th, Santa Barbara, CA

    September 12th is going to be a very busy day for Digipedians. (See I just made up a new word...like I said I did here and I actually did here.)

    John is giving a talk at GridWorld on "Grid Computing in Small and Medium Businesses" at 10am. If you’re in DC then don’t miss this talk. The wholesale adoption of grid computing as a viable solution to performance and scalability issues starts by making grid computing accessible to the majority of business users. That means small and medium size businesses. The solution has to not only be affordable out of the box (the purchase price) but affordable long term (the cost of grid-enabling and maintaining the software), i.e. the total cost of ownership has to be in the thousands of dollars and not the millions. The Digipede Network has hit the target on this and John will talk about how our SMB customers got immediate value from the Digipede Network.

    Dan will also be at GridWorld. Although not presenting. If you have any questions about grid computing or cluster computing on Windows, I encourage you to track him down. With the number of CCS presentations he’s been to, the number of grid computing presentations he’s given, and the fact that he has product management responsibilities here...I think he qualifies as an expert on clusters and grids for Windows.

    Nathan, our esteemed VP of Customer Services will be covering the MSDN Event - Get Connected with the .NET Framework 2.0 and Visual Studio 2005 in Dublin, CA. He’ll be there from about 12pm to 5pm. We’ll have a table setup where you can stop by and talk to Nathan about the Digipede Network. I was supposed to cover this but I’ll be...

    Kim, that would be me, is off to Santa Barbara to give a presentation at the Santa Barbara .NET Developer Group. I’ll be talking about concurrent software development, threading, and grid objects.

    And for anyone interested in seeing a demo of the Digipede Network and you aren’t able to get to Washington, DC, Dublin, CA, or Santa Barbara, CA...Nathan and I will be hosting a webcast that morning at 10am PST. Busy day for us here. But a good kind of busy.



    Mouse tip for kids

    About a month ago a very nice door-to-door saleswoman came to my house to sell me kid’s books. It wasn’t a hard sell and she did a good job so I bought some stuff. One of the things I bought was a collection of educational software products. The software products have really been very good but my four year old has been having problems with the mouse.

    One problem is that he’s four, so I know he’ll get past that. Another is that his hand is too small for the mouse, another problem that time will solve. And yet another problem is that the mouse has two buttons. Mal suggested that we put a sticker on the mouse button where he needs to push it to control the game. Today we tried it out and his frustration level was significantly reduced. In other words, he was able to use the mouse successfully and had a much more positive learning experience.

    When I’m home and its computer time I make the time to work with kids. To share the experience with them. I’ve been extremely surprised at how much my five year old has learned. Right now he’s really into the science games (Thinking Science by Edmark) and today he totally shocked me with his understanding of animal tracks and basic Newtonian physics (pendulums and ballistics). I also find myself very impressed with how the games manage to hit on his developmental level.


    It’s Hockey Time!

    It’s time for a new hockey season to start. So if you’re a woman in the San Francisco Bay Area and interested in ice hockey check out the Northern California Women’s Hockey League. There are four divisions starting from the very beginning level (I don’t even know how to skate) to the advanced (I’ve played in college). Captains volunteer and pick teams each season so the teams are often different and you’ll get a chance to meet a lot of people. NCWHL has some great people participating and hockey is certainly a great way to get exercise!

    If you’re a man or woman who is interested in coaching ice hockey...here’s your chance. Contact the Coaching Coordinator and let her know your experience and interest. The league works hard to guarantee coaches for each team in the Green and Red divisions. And also tries to get coaches for the Maroon division.

    I took the summer season off from both coaching and playing; I’ve already signed up to skate and had decided to take another season off from coaching. But when I got an email asking if I would be the on ice coach for the Red placement session...it took me all of 0.5 seconds to decide yes. While I don’t want to commit to a full season of coaching, I love it so much I’m more than happy to take the one offs!

    If you’re looking for me...I’ll be on the ice.