Capital update

Last year, we began working with a local group whose founder/president I had known for a few years previously. I won’t name them.
We have a real need for capital. The company is self funded, and this means we fund all purchases out of our own pocket, or from our own lines of credit. And in some cases, being a small business, from my credit card (Lesson one in how to give a spouse a coronary: put a large purchase on a personal credit card … you know, 5 or more digits before the decimal point).
Their mission was to help us construct a package to help investors understand what we had to offer, and how we were going to proceed. I’ll be honest, it was hard dealing with them (not the investors, but the company), as they didn’t “get it” and spent more of my time and effort and money arguing with me over things they shouldn’t have, rather than doing a quality job on the packet.
So several months into the project, we are down all the money we put in, and have no real work product that we can take to investors to try to raise capital. What was returned to me were, honestly, warmed over versions of bits I provided them. My expectations had been set, by them, that I would see something in nearly final form 2 months before I pulled the plug.

Read moreCapital update

Maybe I need to move …

Saw this post on /. and the article it linked to. In it, the authors discuss human capital, the density of “smart people” (which they define as those with baccalaureate and graduate degrees).
Using their particular definition (I won’t say if I do or do not agree with it right now), Detroit area, where we are, is near the bottom of the long tail.
I can say that the places they indicate at the top of the heap … SF, NYC, Minneapolis, Chicago, Seattle, Boston, Miami … all places I have spend time working in with customers and users … I’ve very much enjoyed my stay. These are vibrant, active places. Usually many good schools, many good companies around there.
Detroit and Michigan in general, we have 3 significant research universities (UofM, MSU, and Wayne State), several good smaller universities (MTU, OU, WMU, EMU, CMU), and quite a few more regional level univerisites and colleges. There is nothing wrong with any of these BTW, I know folks at quite a few of these schools, and their size and perceived stature may not be well aligned with the quality of their teaching and research staff (usually excellent, highly innovative, …). Their budgets aren’t quite what the bigger schools have. They don’t attract as many students as the larger schools.
But they also turn out excellent scientists, engineers, researchers. Great teachers. Wonderful colleagues.
What seems to be the issue, using the metric above, is that not enough of the population is going to school, or not enough of the graduating class stays.

Read moreMaybe I need to move …

OT: tournament update

So it was an experience getting back from Chicago to attend my tournament. But it was worth it.
First the experience:
Flight out was supposed to be at 4:40pm CST. Was delayed a little (airport was hectic), annoyed me a bit, as I had volunteered to help on the tournament setup, and I wound up missing this.
Oh, and I left my ever-present bluetooth headset at the security checkpoint. More on that at the end.
Then they moved the gate, and found a new plane for us. No problem.
Delayed again from 5:15pm to 5:35pm
You see where this is headed. Tournament registration starts at 8:30am Saturday. I won’t cut to the punchline. I will note I was 15 minutes late.
But it gets better. And by better, I mean worse

Read moreOT: tournament update

The future of kernel-specific version subsystems

One of the issues we ran into with Lustre on our siCluster was the inability to use the kernel of our choice. Lustre is quite invasive in its patch sets. So modern kernels, ones with subsystem fixes, driver updates, and other things we need …. can’t necessarily host Lustre without some serious forward porting of the code base.
And this got me thinking. This isn’t the only project tied to specific kernel versions, and effectively unable to use an arbitrary kernel version.
Xen is another example. And I’d argue OFED is another. There are many more of them out there, and I can’t name them all.
Its worth asking the question … what does the future hold for these projects?

Read moreThe future of kernel-specific version subsystems

This conversation … its just so enjoyable … I must have it again … no … really …

Customer: We were told you make really fast tightly coupled storage and computing systems.
Me (in my best Dr. Galakowicz voice): Yes, yes we do. They are fast. Really fast. Did I mention, they are fast?
Customer: Thats great, ’cause we need fast! Fast is really important to us. Fast is good. Really fast. Fast. … er … but we have a problem.
Me: yes?
Customer: er … we can only buy from vendor X … they won’t let us buy anything else
Me: Even if you have a quantifiable business need, and your projects objectives wouldn’t be met by vendor X’s slow stuff, which represents an effective existential project risk?
Customer: er … uh … yes.
Me: [hits the mute button, and palm inelastically scatters from forehead)
I see lots of this. Customers need something, that they aren’t allowed to get, and their projects are at risk as a result of their not being able to get something. Somehow, accepting project failure is collateral damage for faux risk aversion.

Read moreThis conversation … its just so enjoyable … I must have it again … no … really …

Half open source drivers

[Update] my apologies on the trackback/pingback spam. 33 of these. Given how people are attempting to influence Google et al.’s searching algorithm by initiating these pingbacks/trackbacks … This is what SEO buys us folks. It wastes our time and resources cleaning up after it, and it negatively impacts the quality of responses to queries. This is good … how? Trackbacks and pingbacks disabled for now.
I’d posted about NVidia issues with Ubuntu 10.04 recently. NVidia’s drivers aren’t open source, and I don’t expect them to make them so. This post isn’t about them.
We use a a variety of functionality enhancing cards. These cards often come with driver disk packs, which assume you are working with, usually, an aging Redhat or SuSE distribution version. Generally speaking, we can usually work around these issues, by doing our installation without the component, and then updating the driver later.
Not a problem.
Well … sort of not a problem.
Suppose, like us, you use an up to date kernel, with some patches, some tweaks, etc. Suppose you want to use this nice new-fangled hardware with your kernel. Suppose the driver in the kernel is old. It doesn’t support the new hardware. Even with an up to date kernel. The driver in the kernel actually is languishing behind their binary distribution (which forces a specific kernel choice upon you), or wrapped up in another project which means it has lots of additional baggage (and in this case, being a newer driver, far lower stability).

Read moreHalf open source drivers