Recent blog entries for MarkAtwood

Burning Eyes

DSC_3926_sm, originally uploaded by juliancash.

Julian Cash is again shooting portraits at OScon.

Syndicated 2009-07-23 15:53:45 from Mark Atwood

OScon so far

Sunday morning, in the wee hours of the morning, while packing, I discovered that I didn't know where either my DL or my Passport is. After spending an hour searching, I gave up, and decided to throw myself on the mercy of the TSA. Which I did at the airport. The TSA supervisor checked my credit cards, FlyClear card, corporate ID card, and CostCo card, and then stamped my boarding pass. I only need to do this 3 more times on this trip, and then do a very deep search of my room when I get back.

After I landed at SJC, I discovered that Tim Lord has shared the flight with me. If I had known that ahead of time, I would have let him share my taxi ride from Capitol Hill neighborhood to the SEA airport. As it was, I let him share my ride to San Jose Convention Center. I was actually too early to check into my hotel room. So instead I checked in my luggage, and then went off to find the Postgres Day.

Meeting up with open source community geeks, watching lightning talks, hacking, taking pictures.

I accidentally left my jacket in one of the meeting rooms, and ended up having to bid for it in an auction. So now I owe $20 to the Postgres Foundation. :)

Monday, I spent hacking and geek socializing, hanging out in the speaker room. Some of the tutorials, but I didn't end up going to any of them. Lunch was at the Good Karma cafe, which I had stumbled across the last time I was in San Jose.

Also on Monday, I hooked up MontyT with someone who may have a solution for automating the build of Drizzle on Windows machines, without manually maintaining Visual Studio Project files, or porting Autotools to Windows.

Tuesday, I went to the Gearman tutorial, and while in it, started working on and also started implementing a bunch of basic "plumbing" gearman workers that need to exist, to link together filesystem, mogilfs, couchdb, amazon web services, memcached, and Erlang.

Right now, I'm sitting in the Ignite talks. BrianA just won an Google O'Reilly Open Source Award.

Syndicated 2009-07-22 03:15:17 from Mark Atwood

21 Jul 2009 (updated 27 Jul 2009 at 15:19 UTC) »

Review: Erlang books

The fine folks at O'Reilly sent me reviewer copy of two books on Erlang

I am currently in the process of learning Erlang for a personal project. These books both measures up to the high expectations I have come to expect from Pragmatic Programmers Publishing and from O'Reilly Books.

Erlang is a difficult language to "sell", and is a challenge to learn.

Both books assume you have decently good programming skills, and don't need your hand held too much about the idea of programming, and instead show you how Erlang is different, it's unique and interesting features, and some of "how to think in Erlang".

Both are very good books for learning the language, and gaining basic skill in using it.

Both of the cover pretty much the same territory, in pretty much the same order. You only really would need one of them, but they are both equally good, so I can't recommend one over the other. Either get both, or pick one at random.

I wish there was more on "how to think in Erlang", especially since most programmer's intuitions about multiprocessing and concurrency, born of battle scars with multithreaded programming in C/C++, will be wrong.

Syndicated 2009-07-20 23:27:10 (Updated 2009-07-27 15:01:01) from Mark Atwood

Daily Randoms. Car getting ready for Burning Man, book Harald, book Makers, and sites that dont use

I'm sitting in a Starbucks in Kirkland, while my car gets its 60K service, plus Burning Man prep, plus getting a trailer hitch installed (also for Burning Man). It's going to take all day. Fortunately, this Starbucks isn't too noisy, has good wi-fi, and the seats are comfy.

David Friedman's novel Harald just came out as a free ebook. I love how the Baen Free Library has "send to my kindle" as a pushbutton option.

Also, I've been reading Cory Doctorow's Makers, serialized over on Tor Books blog here. I've never really gotten drawn in into any of Cory's previous novels (stalled out on both Down and Out and Little Brother), but this one is working for me.

I'm annoyed that neither or Pandora do Portable Contacts / Google Contacts / Facebook Connect / etc for "find your friends". It's only a very very mild annoyance, since I don't actually use much, but it sent me an email today, which reminded me that I had an account there. But if you care to link up to me there, I'm at and on Pandora at

A related annoyance is that MySpace's "find my friends" still uses the "3rd party password" anti-pattern when pulling from Google Contacts, instead of using PoCo. IMO, Google and Yahoo should start blacklisting the IPs of the sites that still do that, just to kick them over to using PoCo, and stop teaching people that it's okay to give every site that asks for it their webmail password.

Speaking of which, I showed a friend of mine today that webmail is not as apparently anonymous as some people think. All the big webmail services insert a Received header that contains the IP address of the browser the email was sent from.

Syndicated 2009-07-15 21:35:33 from Mark Atwood


I am amused and glad to see that free public performances of the "Taming the Shrew" are being performed in Fremont, using the Troll as an ersatz stage.

I was sad to learn that Circus Contraption is closing up shop.

Why am I awake at 3 in the morning? The IM roster mocks me, as I look for someone to chat with. Away statuses are not to be trusted.

Amazon MP3 is a dangerous thing to have a few clicks away, to someone of a completionist bent. As I buy music from them, I mentally add features to the site that would encourage me to buy more. I wonder if I can make this skill generic. And would I want to? Thinking I might have a skill at commerce web site design with an eye towards optimizing it for increasing sales is a challenge to my identity...

Why are most online performances of electric string marred with an electronic percussion beat? The metronome is a teaching aid, not an instrument.

I've not posted much, recently. Not tech, nor personal musics, or even my journal. My life continues, likely to again become more public.

I just activated my eTrade RSA token. I now have 3 of the things to keep track of. That one, a Verisign PIP device that secures my paypal and ebay accounts, and a "Secure Computing Safeword(tm) Platinum" that secures the Sun VPN. They all basically do the same thing, generating a One Time Password based on a clock and a (presumably securely stored) key. Of the 3 designs, I approve the most of the PIP. It's exceptionally cheap to manufacture, the math of the resync trick allows it to not require a super-accurate local clock, and is very light. The Safeword is the worst, being big and heavy, and provably broken.

I went to Sierra's party on Saturday night. She was so anxious that it would turn out poorly or poorly attended. And yet it went great, and many interesting people came. I got more than a little overstimulated, and spent some time just sitting in the corner contemplating the flowery fractal artwork that she had painted on her ceiling.

Some of the people I know write the most amazingly introspective and philosophical articles. Finding a series of such articles is a joy, and will eat hours of time.

Syndicated 2009-07-13 10:06:06 from Mark Atwood

Working on the Shade Structure, Mark II

DSC_0037, originally uploaded by krow.

Sunday yesterday, Brian, Yazz, Amy, Christine, and I all hauled the expanded and modified shade structure over to Volunteer Park and did another practice build. I worked out much better this time.

Syndicated 2009-07-06 19:59:23 from Mark Atwood

What I did today. Burning Man Practice Build

DSC_0031, originally uploaded by krow.

Brian and I went to Volunteer Park today to do a practice build of our shade structure. There were lots of lessons learned. We will try again next week.

Syndicated 2009-06-28 01:51:31 from Mark Atwood

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