Several weeks ago, we started using Ganglia to monitor all our servers. And I’m glad I did. For years we used a home-made system built on sysstat and RRDTool and it served its purpose, but then I discovered Ganglia. Our old system gave us performance statistics on a 10-minute delay but Ganglia is almost live, which is very helpful to see what’s happening now. It’s also much easier to setup, just apt-get ganglia-monitor, edit the /etc/gmond.conf file (if necessary) and a new server is being monitored. It’s that easy (if you use Debian).

Ganglia was originally funded by the place I interned for while in college (and, not coincidentally, my dad’s employer for 25 years), the National Science Foundation. That’s good government at work! 🙂

Anthro carts

IMG_2441.JPGWe just bought a small Anthro cart to put a workstation on and I’m so impressed with it that I have to write about it….

I ordered the cart on a Sunday evening. The next day I got a call from the company asking me if my order was correct because I ordered one color for the table top and a different color for the second pull-out shelf (It was a bug on their web site that didn’t let me choose the color I wanted). But to call me instead of automatically shipping me what I ordered is impressive customer service. And she did fix my order to get the same colors on both shelves.

The package was delivered three days later and I began setting it up. Right away, I noticed how Anthro is all about quality. The parts weren’t just thrown into a box, the packaging is specially-made for each part and well organized inside the box.

The instructions were simple and easy to follow with numbers identifying each of the five types of screws — no guessing between the “3/4″ wood screw” and the “3/4″ machine screw”. I had it all set up in 30 minutes.

The parts are all top quality stuff too… the welds are all well-done, the finish on the metal poles is uniform and attractive, the casters are the equivalent of truck tires and they roll very smoothly, the slide-out shelf is on ball-bearings with an easy-to-use locking mechanism, and the laminated surface and edge is very professional. And they include attractive end caps to finish off the post ends. The total package screams quality.

To assemble it, they also provide the tools you need. And these tools aren’t just the cheap Ikea-style allen wrench. It includes a nice screwdriver and, get this, a screwdriver drill bit in case you have a power drill, and a rubber mallet just to put the end caps on.

All of this for $289. Amazing. I’m trying to find another reason to buy an Anthro cart. 🙂

Tour de France 2005: It's official: Armstrong to race Tour de France, Tour de Georgia

Tour de France 2005: It’s official: Armstrong to race Tour de France, Tour de Georgia. Good news, considering we will be vacationing in France with my brother, his wife and his kids, so I can finally see some stages of the Tour. I met Lance way back in 1994 at the beginning of Stage 2 of the (now defunct) Tour DuPont, which he won, maybe I can get his autograph this time. 🙂

Now we have to research the route and plan the stages we want to see.

Google's adware

John Robb dislikes Google’s new toolbar feature:

This is adware. Google is pushing its advertising into content it does not own. Why not just parse the page and replace the banner ads the content provider is running with Google banners? This boils down to invasive marketing by an increasingly unscrupulous company. The pressures of justifying a $50 billion valuation are showing…

I think he’s right. The largest (only?) part of Google’s biz model is based on selling ads on content it doesn’t own. That’s unlikely to succeed simply because they’d be alienating the very people they depend on. This’ll be interesting, Google has a way of not being stupid.


Mini-Microsoft is a blog written by a Microsoft employee who, like me, believes Microsoft is bloated and ineffective. On recent acquisitions Microsoft made to secure Windows:

If we’re the best software development house on Earth, what in earth does it mean that we can’t ramp up to write great software to protect our own OS when it’s under constant assault? Sure, there’s some amount of fiscal responsibility in whipping out the acquisition, but didn’t anyone see this slow train-wreck in progress and posit, “Hmm, perhaps we should go and write some of our own protective software?”

We hate it when our friends become successful
And if they’re northern, that makes it even worse
And if we can destroy them
You bet your life
We will destroy them
If we can hurt them
Well, we may as well …
It’s really laughable
Ha ha ha

You see, it should’ve been me
It could’ve been me
Everybody knows
Everybody says so


The homeless in the trees…

Listening to NPR’s This American Life this morning, the show was about wishing you could say something different than you did at a time in your life. The best part was the 25-year old guy who, in 1992, got into a press conference with then President Bush and “heckled” him with this:

“The homeless in the trees mourn your environmental policy. Repent, dear King, or go to hell.”

Bush made a fool of the guy and today, the guy is embarrassed that his statement didn’t make the impact he thought it would, but he still believes that maybe, just maybe, Bush will wake up one day and remember what he said to him and realize he was a prophet.