and I’ll have no talk of Pyrrhus

I didn’t get great sleep last night, what with the starting at 5 and the waking up at 9 to get a computer plugged back in, and the cell-phone wrong number, and the housekeepers banging on my door to see if I was checking out. (I wasn’t, yet; they wanted Coop’s room next door.) But when I got to the lab around 2:30, I had a wonderful meeting with the project director here, and he agreed that Lustre was now in production-ready state for his cluster. There’s one performance improvement that is scheduled for a drop in the near future, and on which I will be working over the next little while, and everything else is ready to go.

Hot dripping goddamn, that felt good. Now I get to go back and figure out my hours for the last two weeks, which will give a nice sense of closure.

Honey, I’m a-comin’ home! (You know, for a few days, and then I go to Ottawa for a week.)

sure, but who keeps the monkey when it’s over?

We’re in the end-game of this customer visit now, and the best available data indicates that we’re going to leave here in pretty good shape. Coop is getting on the 5:18AM flight out of here tomorrow, which is in about 3 hours, and I’m following him precisely 24 hours later. We’ll reconvene in Ottawa next week, so absence will not have too much of a chance to make the heart grow fonder, or something.

On the topic of which, I am so ready to be back home with my wife and cat and house and clothes and time zone and computer and bed. So Tom Sawyer ready, as the kids are saying.

The other day I merged some fixes from the branch on which Peter and Phil had been performance filesystem-miracle dances. CVS makes the process not entirely unlike something that sucks completely, so we have a process that makes the steps very clear. Perhaps idiot-proof. For no good reason at all — certainly, I assure you, not because I thought I didn’t need that process; I know better than most how quickly and deeply CVS branches can bite you if you don’t keep them under tight control — I didn’t follow that process, and today I reaped the bitter, cackling fruit of my error. I had missed some key elements that put at risk no small amount of Peter’s valuable time. I managed to wield cvsps to regain control, and Peter and Zach are now back at full throttle on that branch, but I learned a valuable lesson. Unfortunately, I already knew that lesson, so I don’t know if I’m really better off.

I’m pretty loopy right now. I’m very tired. Sleep has become something that I do to kill time between tests, or to burn a couple of hours on to make the jitters stop, and I’m running out of fuel pretty quickly. The only possible way I will make my I-sure-didn’t-pick-that flight time on Saturday is if I stay up the whole night before, I think, and that’s going to really hurt. It might leave a mark. Maybe I’ll go to bed at 9 on Friday and see what I can do, but I suspect that I’ll either be too worried about some test failure or too excited about our eventual success to really pull that off.

Some day, I’m sure, I’ll miss this place, what with its lovely weather and fast computers and, well, lovely weather. That day won’t be Sunday, let me assure you.

that’s OK, it grows right back

Today was Saturday, so Chris and Mathew and I headed into the lab around noon, lest we miss any precious banging-head-against-machine time. We have a decently-sized node reservation for this weekend, which means that some 160 high-powered computers are set aside for the express purpose of making me weep hot tears. Actually, it’s not all that bad, but it feels like it from time to time. I’ve been helping out as best I can with other Lustre tasks, in addition to trying to organize this test-and-fix marathon and missing my wife terribly, so I have a reasonable sensation of accomplishment to fall back on.

If you’re not a regular reader of Mike Hoye’s Blarg, you should take some time to catch up, because he writes very well, and much more reliably than myself. In one of his recent installments he discovered that “Red Hat Package Manager” is etymologically related to “Fool’s Gold” and “Near Beer”, for which I must offer my deepest sympathies. I have friends who have built excellent software houses atop RPM’s shifting and sucking sands, and they have many grisly tales to share. I would recount some of them now, but I think I’m going to need to conserve my hot-tear supply for the rest of the week.

I cannot recommend The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen to you. Not at all. I was probably only marginally more bored during the proceedings than the cast, but I was not being paid nearly as handsomely for my time. “Avoid.”

Coop and I dined at what has been described to us as the best restaurant in the Tri-Cities area, and while the food was good, and while our other culinary experiences here make it difficult to name another strong contender for best, it was not an entirely satisfying experience. For the same price, in virtually any other city to which I would travel even semi-voluntarily, we could have had a much better meal.

the future is now; also here

I’m currently in Richland, WA, at the Pacific Northwest National Lab, helping these lovely people get their massive supercomputer all Lustre-ized. Having a pretty good time, even if I am missing a neat-o LAN party back home, and even if I am thousands of miles from my wife for two weeks.

The weather here is amazing, probably because we’re in a desert. Lushest damn desert I’ve ever been to, though, what with the massive irrigation thing they’ve got going. And yet, with this oasis of 500 square miles of perfect lawns and trees in the middle of a desert, I have yet to see any wildlife but insects. Kinda creepy.

They do all sorts of crazy science here, from using high-energy light to pick up individual molecules to ripping apart proteins with enormous magnets, and I don’t understand a shred of it. But the people are very friendly — the badge-making woman told me that the only important thing I needed to know from the brochure on site safety was that if I saw other people running I should probably chase them — and the accomodations are surprisingly excellent.

More later, but for now I must return to making our filesystem rock even harder.