Awasu » 2006 » June
Thursday 29th June 2006 11:19 AM [General]

I want!

Being a big fan of Bloom County, I'd definitely get one.

Just as long as I can attach my own keyboard :cool:

Sunday 25th June 2006 7:41 AM [General]

I always love a good story about people pushing the envelope and doing really weird stuff but this one just takes the cake.

Hunkered down on a North Sea fortress, a crew of armed cypherpunks, amped-up networking geeks, and libertarian swashbucklers is seceding from the world to pursue a revolutionary idea: an offshore, fat-pipe data haven that answers to nobody.

The huge support cylinders will contain millions of dollars' worth of networking gear: computers, servers, transaction processors, data-storage devices - all cooled with banks of roaring air conditioners and powered by triple-redundant generators ... Simply entering one of the machine rooms will require putting on scuba gear, because the rooms will be filled with an unbreathable pure nitrogen atmosphere instead of the normal oxygen mix - a measure designed to keep out sneaks, inhibit rust, and reduce the risk of fire.

More here.

It's all about being a secure and anonymous data centre. When asked how they would respond to organizations such as the Church of Scientology demanding, perhaps over a megaphone from a gunboat, to know who was posting church documents online, their response was "We'd power off the machine, optionally destroy it, possibly turn over the smoking wreck to the attacker, and securely and anonymously refund payment to the owner of the server" :-). Plans also called for "50-caliber heavy machine guns, 5.56-mm automatic rifles, and 12-gauge shotguns" :cool:. It all sounds like a lot of fun although it has spawned a lot of debate about what it takes to declare a sovereign nation.

The Wired article is quite old (July 2000) but it popped up on my radar because, despite Wired writing at the start of page 2 that "[t]he server's location on Sealand means MacroMaxx won't have to worry about fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, thefts, bomb threats, industrial sabotage, or killer-bee attacks", the other day there was a fire.

Oh well...

Monday 12th June 2006 6:02 AM [General]

Both my parents are Japanese and I carry a Japanese passport but I've spent most of my life in Australia (and England before that).

The two countries meet today in the Group F opening match and to my surprise, I find myself barracking for Japan. I guess blood really is thicker than Tim Tams :-D

I need to get me one of those silly headbands by tonight...

Update: Well, that's the end of Japan's World Cup campaign. You don't go from being 1-0 up only to give away 3 goals in the last 8 minutes and recover from that :-(

I didn't find a headband to wear but that was probably for the best; the pub was packed to gills with Aussies Luckily I had a baseball cap and was able to pull down the brim and quietly slip out the back

Oh well, back to work... :-(

Monday 12th June 2006 5:45 AM [General]

Earl Mardle follows up on my post about disintermediation and includes the most intriguing link. Who would've thunked such a thing existed in this day and age :blink:

I notice there's no guild for computer programmers, the closest being The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists. Honestly, if the butchers, the bakers and the candlestick makers have got one, surely we should as well!

Sunday 11th June 2006 3:11 PM [General]

I was out of town for the weekend and so wasn't able to watch the unfolding of the geek storm that Nick Bradbury unleashed the other day with his blog post about an ancient and long-forgotten bug in Windows.

Microsoft leapt into action to address the problem and for that they should be commended (overlooking, of course, the issue of how long the bug hadn't been addressed :roll:) but much more interesting has been peoples' reaction to it all.

Charles Wright (of The Age newspaper in Melbourne) says that "The thing about the Web is that it seriously amplifies the sound of squeaking wheels", Andrew Herron thinks that it's a sign that "Microsoft are picking themselves up and actually responding quickly to user feedback" while Nick himself notes that Microsoft developers are indeed human :-)

I think it goes a bit deeper than that.

Microsoft's developers have always been human and I'm sure that they do the best job that they can with the resources they have available, under the constraints that are placed upon them. Just the same as many other people do for whatever job they are in. They get upset if people start bad-mouthing or complaining about their work. Just as any of us would.

But what we have now that we didn't before is a means for Us to communicate directly with Them. Whether it be programmers like Nick and myself talking to the people who write Windows or you, the users of Awasu, talking directly with me, this is a channel of communication that simply didn't exist before.

Well, that's not quite true. It did, but you had to go through so many layers that the message got completely lost by the time it reached the other end. To get a bug report to Microsoft developers, you would have to go through their various support departments, get a ticket raised in their fault database, then survive the triage process Windows product managers go through deciding which bugs get fixed and which don't, by which time the original problem has been reduced to a ticket number and a brief, anonymous description in a database record.

Compare that to what happened the other day. Microsoft developers are subscribed to Nick's feed, perhaps because they use his software or maybe they know him personally and wake up one morning to see that he's criticizing their work. Thing is, their reaction was probably something along the lines of "Jeez, that sucks but actually he's right. We should've fixed this one. I'd better look into it." No support teams involved. No formal bug review process. Just a couple of guys who care about the work that they do talking to each other. Human indeed.

It's not very Web 2.0 but disintermediation is the name of the game here. When we can have the two people involved in a Windows bug talking directly to each other, when people can buy and sell directly with each other on eBay, when people can bypass the banks and transfer money directly to each other using PayPal, when people can produce their own videos and music and post it on the web for anyone and everyone to download, why exactly do we need the middle-man, controlling who gets to see what, who gets to publish, all the while taking a huge chunk of the money for the privilege of limiting what we can do?

This is why the big media companies are running scared about technology today, why they're trying to force DRM into every new gadget being built and all new content being produced, because they know no-one in their right mind would pay their exorbitant prices for most of the crap they're peddling if they had a choice. We don't need them.

Some people think that blogging (i.e writing about your cat) is a waste of time but nothing could be further from the truth. We're changing the world, people! And as Earl Mardle wryly pointed out, the revolution probably won't be televised. You'll download it as a torrent.

Saturday 10th June 2006 2:07 AM [General]

Then I could get serious problems in Windows that have been languishing for years in Microsoft's fault database reactivated by bitching about them in my blog.

No jokes, it took a tad over 7½ hours for an apology :shock: to arrive from the Windows product manager and the bug re-activated, and another 3 for the problem to be confirmed :bigshock:

Update: Not only that, it was only a matter of hours after Nick's initial post before it was reported in the mainstream press :hysterical:

Who says this blogging lark is a waste of time?! Although I seriously need to work on raising my profile instead of just being "that Awasu guy" :whistle:

Friday 9th June 2006 3:55 PM [General]

I lived in Hong Kong for a few years so these photos don't shock me as much as they might some of you: 100 rooms, each 100 square feet in size.

Back then, the typical apartment rented out to foreigners was "500 sq.ft." but there was a large variance in peoples' conception of what 500 sq.ft. was :-). There were also a lot of rules about how apartment size was supposed to be calculated but landlords usually did it from outside the walls, not inside, so you lost a bit of usable space due to the thickness of the walls :roll:. It really hit home how nuts it all was when a landlady was showing me around an apartment and discovered that a post, about 2 feet square, was hollow and she was so pleased because she could now build a little cubby shelf inside it :-)

I paid about USD $1000/month for a slightly run-down 500 sq.ft. apartment and that was a pretty good price. At that time, Hong Kong was going through a real estate boom bubble and I remember one news headline proudly announcing that a downtown building site had sold for USD $130,000 per square meter :o. Prices have since collapsed and a lot of people have lost their shirts and more because of it.

I never complain about cramped living quarters any more...

Thursday 8th June 2006 1:22 PM [General]

I hate it when those dumb online surveys are not only correct, but have a better insight into my own psyche than I ever did myself :blink:

I enjoy occasionally wandering around randomly, and often find that when I do so, I get to where I wanted to be.

Very Zen.

Sigh... :wall:

Thursday 8th June 2006 10:32 AM [Awasu News]

The first 2.2.3 alpha release (what's this?) is now available here.

To paraphase the well-known CEO of a small technology company, this release is all about "Optimizations! Optimizations! Optimizations!" You'll have to insert your own mental image of me dancing around the office like a monkey boy :oops:

This release has got optimizations coming out the wazoo, incorporating a lot of what we discovered from feedback on the experimental build (many thanks to everyone who participated in that) and a few more for good measure. Awasu simply flies now, plus I've got a couple more things I want to add in future releases :cool:

Having said that, while we can do performance testing and time critical operations to the nano-second until our eyes bleed, at the end of the day it's about the user experience so feedback on your take of Awasu's performance would be appreciated.

Of course, we can't provide screenshots of Awasu running significantly faster so I made one little UI change to the status bar so that this announcement wouldn't look so drab :-)

Have fun y'all :-)