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renodino (6856)

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Perl Contrarian & SQL fanboy.

Here's my CPAN goods. []

Journal of renodino (6856)

Monday November 12, 2007
09:08 PM

SC07 Day 1 (actually, 3): There must be money in this stuff

Attended a couple tutorials today: Intro to OpenMP and Advanced Topics in OpenMP. Despite years in the trenches of parallel processing, I'd never studied OpenMP. Very code-at-the-traces stuff, not too useful for anything Perlish, but stimulated the neurons just the same. I'm not too keen on all the #pragmas and compiled-in stuff, but I suppose serious computational hackers need that.

It did give me notions about trying to hack Perl's iterator opcodes to provide auto-threading versions...guess I'll need to paw thru the compile sources, and try the midnight opcode swap hacks I've seen posted here and elsewhere

They gave us a flash drive w/ *all* the tutorial presentations on it, so I'll dive into the MPI stuff ASAP; maybe that'll be a bit more Perl-friendly (there are a couple MPI modules on CPAN, one recently updated).

Alas, my schedule this week won't permit me to attend the regular sessions, but they're mostly paradoxically brief: 30 minutes to discuss anything related to HPC seems a bit foolish, except for cocktail parties and Nova snippets.

However, I'm definitely going to the exhibit hall Wed. or Thursday. I was astounded at the number of exhibits/vendors, and the elaborate displays I caught a glimpse of from the convention hall lobby. I can only assume that there's serious $$$ in HPC these days - I'm guessing most of it is gummint money. Still, it does warm the heart of an old parallel coder to see new life in the discipline. However, based on overheard conversations, and the content of tech sessions and tutorials, I'm guessing the HPC hackers are still grinding out code the same way we did 15-20 years ago, which is a bit disappointing.

I'm still convinced there's a big opportunity for dynamic languages in this space, tho likely not for the serious computational stuff. And it resurrected a memory of something I'd been meaning to track down for a Thread::Sociable storage manager: RDMA.

Thursday November 08, 2007
11:21 AM

SC07 In My Backyard...Why was I not informed ?

I just discovered today that SC07 is just a hop, skip and jump down the road from me. And I didn't know about it until this AM! when, by sheer chance, I followed a link from Yahoo Finance.

As someone who's been working inside, on, around, over, and under MPP systems for 20+ years - I just picked up the book on UPC a few weeks ago for some hints on supporting DSM in Thread::Sociable - , this is really sweet, and likely to eat my week.

Wish I'd known about this before the early registration expired (arrrgh!)

Wednesday November 07, 2007
01:22 PM


After re-implementing this by hand about a dozen times now, I've created a package to deal with it in a single method call. Win32::WebBrowser exports a single method, open_browser(), that pops open the default browser in a detached process and points it at a URL.

Who knows, maybe it'll make the Strawberry Perl dist...

Update: New 1.02 release: Prior version did some URL munging it shouldn't have.

Thursday September 13, 2007
05:40 PM

Tired of "Perl is dead" FUD ?

Yeah, me too. But I'm a capitalist, so I like to see what people are writing checks for. As I'm fed up with the various unsubstantiated claims, I've whipped up a little graphic that will hopefully cheer you up. I'll try to keep it updated regularly.

If nothing else, it'll give us all something to watch as we're overtaken by our Ruby and Python overlords.

Wednesday September 12, 2007
03:58 PM

Props to InfoWorld, and major Thanks to TIBCO

I've just discovered TIBCOGI, and I'm in love. Its got me swooning and swanning about. This is so f*ckin kewl, I'm gonna soil myself. And all because I let my jaundiced eye roam from a /. article RE: the "Bossie" awards. Props to InfoWorld on a great pick. And HUGE props to TIBCO for OSing this great tool!

Despite searching all over the 'net for a tool like this, the closest I could find was Aptana, which is Eclipse based and thus painfully slow and bloated (and kinda contradicts the whole idea of browser based GUIs, doesn't it ?). Why didn't I find this before ? Why didn't this pop to the top of my many Google searches ? Arrgh ! I've been splashing about with YUI, Ext, jQuery, Dojo, et al. for months now, crafting stuff by hand, and here was this wonderful solution that I've never heard of just sitting there.

Guess I need to get out of the house more often. But that won't happen for awhile, cuz I'll be wired into TIBCOGI like Neo into the Matrix.

PS. Also liked InfoWorld's choice of NetBeans over Eclipse. I used to think it was just me, but they've confirmed my suspicions: Eclipse's huge collection of plugins is killing it. I've had people recommend Eclipse as a solution for simple data analysis/BI tools...and then I'd stop and think about the BI users/analysts I've known over the last 15+ years. Very smart people, but if you dropped Eclipse in front of them, you'd lose a lot of friends and associates very quickly. And help make MSFT a bigger pile of cash on Excel licenses.

Friday August 31, 2007
01:09 AM

An Open Letter To The Twin Cities Chamber of Commerce

First, allow me to congratulate your fine cities on their vigilance with regard to their burgeoning population of sexual deviants. I'm certain that business and casual travelers alike - not to mention convention bookers - are relieved to know that your airport has taken strenuous measures to assure that every traveler is observed while attending to their biological needs. What better application of Homeland defense funding than round-the-clock staffing of public restrooms with fulltime police officers well trained in the habits of the deviants of your community !

The recent arrest of Senator Craig has undoubtedly provided a significant boost to your efforts to host future political conventions. I have no doubt you're updating your convention prospectus material as I write this. The rallying cry of "Never fear: no queers here!" will undoubtedly warm the hearts of convention delegates of both parties.

However, if I may, I'd like to offer a few suggestions to avoid potential future unsavory episodes:

  1. Perhaps your airport could serve edible food ? While I am uncertain as to Sen. Craig's dietary habits, I personally have feasted upon the fare available at the Minneapolis Airport, esp. while stranded for a day or so awaiting the arrival of the latest jet Northwest Air has been able to get out of hock, and must admit I too tapped my feet a time or two in a bathroom stall shortly thereafter, and may have made somewhat rude and violent gestures with my hands during the inevitable reaction.
  2. Smaller, dingier restrooms: while I appreciate that you've attempted to make the airport restrooms as undesirable as possible by strewing bits of dung, mucous, and soiled toilet paper about, (the complete lack of ventilation was pure genious!), the more prurient elements of your community appear to still find them a welcome site for their erstwhile trysts. Perhaps removing the doors from the stalls - or removing the stalls altogether -, along with creating additional leaks in the urinals, or improving the content of the many literary barbs inscribed upon the walls, may help eradicate the problem ? Certainly, a fully armed and uniformed patrolman in each restroom, occupying the lone remaining stall 24/7, will keep the perverts at bay.
  3. Due to the recent unfortunate episode involving Sen. Craig, our nation is finally giving proper honor to the heroic actions of the Public Restroom Patrolman. The trials, diligence, and humanity of these brave warriors of the WC was never better portrayed than in the Pulitzer Prize winning Confederacy of Dunces, wherein both a pornographic photographer, *and* a politcal party of fops and dandies are foiled by the vigliant efforts and adroit exploits of the brave and wiley Patrolman Mancuso. Despite their unimpunable credentials in the practices of the perverse, your restroom patrolmen might well take a few lessons from Mancuso's cunning tactics and many disguises.

I hope my suggestions do not fall on deaf ears, In this moment of glory, full of a sense of pride and self-congratulation, you and your constabulatory may look askance at the "low hanging fruit" available to control the more salacious nenbers of your community.

Until later,

Tab, Your pacifist Working Boy

Friday July 27, 2007
11:16 AM

OSCON Day 4, and I'm outta there

More good stuff. First a demo of stuff from Amazing that they managed to do all that with Java (methinks theres a lot more manyears involved than advertised). Hilf apologizing for MSFT's attitude, and rather sheepishly announced He then introduced the 4 horsemen of the apocolypse, and they all soft-shoed off the stage.

There was a quick speech that we're all biased suckers. So stop doing that.

Then the best: the leader of the Swedish Pirate party, gave a very coherent and direct message about why copyrights suck, and why we should be mad as hell and not take it anymore. Closing speech by <I forget> about branding open source was very entertaining despite technical glitches.

wxPerl: Alas, more about Eric's app than about wxPerl. I didn't have to give them grief about the lack of docs: someone else did.

Error Handling in AJAX: O'Reilly goofed! Speaker was a no show for an SRO talk; turns out he'd told them months ago he couldn't make it. I sat thru a few State Of lightning talks. Nice to see PostgreSQL making such good progress.

DBI BOF @OBF: Went very well. Tim B, jZed, and myself only, but the weather was good, the beer was cold, and its not nearly as crowded on Thursday as Saturdays. jZed and Tim headed back after a couple hours, but I stuck arround and listened to some great jams under the Portland sun, burned a tasty 'gar, and did much sampling before heading back for the Perl lightning talks.

Lightning Talks; Pretty good, tho I didn't see the sort of spirited talks I've seen in the past (e.g., "Stop Using XML For Everything, Dammit!"). Before the Onion talk, a TPF auction was held, at which I picked up PBP, which I've thus far managed to avoid. Once I finish the Erlang book, I'll do my best to give PBP a good read (tho I'm admittedly skeptical of such tomes).

State of the Onion: More techie than spiritual this year (perhaps the focused audience reined Larry in ?)

Evening Festivities: Hit the Sourceforge party w/ jZed. Was OK, free cocktails, but not much grub. Then the night began in earnest when jZed took me down to Outlaws to see the March Fourth Marching Band. Yeehah, what a hoot. Danced my ample buns did everyone else. Massive props to jZed for the invite. He is now my personal Lord and savior! GO TEAM!

Due to the late night, I couldn't drag myself back to OSCON for the Friday keynotes. So now I load up the Jeep and beat feet to Seattle for some R&R, including a ballgame at Safeco, before heading back home.

This was probably my favorite OSCON of the 5 I've attended. Very meaty, with extra crunchiness of the parallel processing variety. Too many ideas to pursue, too many books to read. But entertaining and educational. Kudos to the O'Reilly crew.

Thursday July 26, 2007
09:59 AM


Keynotes: Pretty good. Transactional Memory was far too brief, but appears to have gotten the audience's attention. Intel's TBB appears more marketing than product. The Ubuntu interview was interesting.

Sat thru Greenplum's talk. As someone who's been playing in the MPP sandbox for 20+ years, the stuff they're doing really intrigues me. (Think API for automatic parallel decomposition over petabyte datasets). I may have to hit Luke up for the job I turned down a few years ago.

Then Xquery+XForms. Alas, the speaker seemed unaware he only had 40 minutes, so much of the meat got truncated. But I need to revisit the whole XQuery thing I've thus far dismissed.

Nested data parallelism was interesting, tho being Haskell specific, was perhaps a bit impractical. However, it does dovetail nicely with the Greenplum talk; I wonder if they've looked into it ?

Then a quick talk on YUI CSS by webchic. Definitely gotta add YUI to my toolkit.

I then collared Simon Peyton-Jones for a quick chat to help get my mind right about the stuff I'm doing for STM in Thread::Sociable. Lots more to read and (I fear) to implement. But I think I've got the basics right. I can cheat on "orElse" operator with a simple boolean "acquire()" method; not perfect, but usable. I/O remains a challenge, tho I've vague notions about writing a PerlIO layer to support thread ownership and buffering for such things. That will likely wait until the 2nd or 3rd release. A transactional queue may bridge the gap for tte time being.

The Javascript Performance talk was a high-speed adrenaline fueled affair, with conclusions I had come to already (i.e., Dojo/Scriptaculous/et al are great, but too get out the trimming knife), and also some new ideas (remove the DOM head before hacking up the DOM...gonna have to try that with those monster PPI::HTML[::CodeFolder] documents).

Lastly, the Machine Learning with Perl talk was far too brief. Great insights, but not enough meat. Would've been nice to see more on how he used PDL.

Looks like Thrusday's DBI BOF @ OBF is a go. Should make the later lighting talk sessions more enjoyable.

Tuesday July 24, 2007
06:10 PM


The first tutorial was on Intel's Threading Building Blocks. (TBB) (recently open sourced) library. Alas, the sort of threading problems they're solving won't be of much use to anyone using a VM. Which, at OSCON, is most of us. But I'll give their read/write spinlock a looksee; I'd been pondering using such for Thread::Sociable's STM. And the concurrent hash and vector constructs might be usable as well, tho Intel is much more concerned with keeping a "hot" cache, upon which VM's will be throwing ice water. I didn't even bother asking about transactional memory support, which will definitely cool off the cachelines.

Data Mining Open APIs: much more about data mining than Open APIs. Note to self: never eat the turkey sandwich for lunch before attending a 2 hour talk on statistical analysis in a darkened room. The Python examples illustrated the computational brute force approach to deta mining. And seem completely devoid of code that manages the collection/cleansing of the data. Definitely *not* a solution for ad-hoc OLAP. But wrap the API access as a storage engine, add in some SQL::Statement, and all that code turns into a single SQL statement. Then we start JOINing between SOA's. And maybe toss in a bit of charting syntax for chuckles. Ah, if only I had the time. The best take away was the link to Maybe need to scrape these sites and derive schemas (WSDL should be a nice start)

10:36 AM

OSCON Day 1, Part 2:

Learned some Haskell. Interesting, but left me with a queasy feeling about footprint and performance. I suppose it would be of value to those for those in the fortunate position to sweep such concerns under the rug, but I can't count myself among them.

But the best part of the day was the excellent Erlang BoF. Very similar to Haskell (presumably due to the same functional programming roots), but battle tested for 10-15 years in systems with 6-nines uptime SLAs. While it was only an hour long, Patrick Logan provided lots of intriguing info (esp the auto-update of modules in a running system, something anyone working under rigorous SLAs can appreciate). I'm still a bit foggy about using immutable variables, but by happy coincidence the new Erlang book was available at Powell's onsite store. So I've got fresh reading matter for the remainder of the summer. Too bad there wasn't a full Erlang tutorial: the Haskell presenter was interesting/entertaining, but Patrick's "learn by doing" approach worked much better for me.

Day 2 promises intrigue (the semi-stealthy Intel announcement at the morning tutorial) and enlightenment: Data Mining Open APIs appears to mesh nicely w/ my efforts RE: DBD::Amazon and some other similar drivers I've been working on (albeit at a slow simmer).