Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Merry Christmas/Season's Greetings - in 38+ dialects/languages

Five years ago, somebody at Sun started an email thread about how the different forms of this season's greetings are said in different languages. This is what we came up with.

If you want to add, correct, or translate something, please leave it as a comment and I will update the list.


  • Added translation to the French greeting (courtesy of my daughter).
  • Corrected/added/translated German (courtesy of Alex Gorbachev).
  • This post was accepted to Darren Rowse's ProBlogger Group Writing Project. This, in turn, generated several links to this post, and I'm happy to see that it made it to someone's favorite picks.
  • Added/corrected Russian (courtesy of Alex Gorbachev).
  • Added Oracle (courtesy of Alex Gorbachev).
  • I'm submitting this post to Darren Rowse's ProBlogger Group Writing Project.
  • Changed all references to 2002 to 2007. I purposely didn't do this initially because I was not sure if some of the non-translated greetings mentioned the year in words, as in: two thousand and two instead of 2002. If somebody wrote "two thousand two" in Mandarin, I wouldn't catch it. :)
  • Added Russian and Latvian (courtesy of Edgar).

So with that, here's a Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays / Season's Greetings to you!

  1. Chinese
    koan hay fat choi (wishing you prosperity in the new year)

  2. French

  3. English
    Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2007

  4. Italian
    Buon anno, Happy New Year

  5. Tagalog (Philippines - national language)
    Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon (Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year)

  6. Ilocano (a dialect in northern Philippines)
    Naimbag a Paskua ken Naragsak a Baro a Tawen (Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year)

  7. Dutch
    Iedereen een gelukkig kerstfeest en een goed oud en nieuwjaar toegewenst.
    - Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and a happy Old and New Year.

  8. Persian 1
    etoon mobarak bashe, baba in che va'zesheh to ham maro film kardi

  9. Spanish
    Feliz Navidad

  10. Bulgarian
    Vessela Koleda & Chestita Nova Godina 2007

  11. Russian
    S Rozhdestvom (Merry Christmas)
    S Novym 2007 Godom ( Happy new year 2007)
    S Novym Dve Tysyachi Sed'mym Godom. ("d'" means soft d)

  12. Latvian
    Priecigus ziemassvetkus (Merry Christmas)
    Laimigu jauno 2007. gadu (Happy new year 2007)

  13. Bengali
    'Shubho Naboborsho' (Happy New Year in Bangla)

  14. Portuguese
    Feliz Natal e Próspero Ano Nôvo!

  15. Urdu
    Aap Sabko Naya Saal Mubarak ho

  16. Persian 2
    Azizan; eideh shoma mobark- dombeh shomah secharak.

  17. Hebrew
    Hag sameah (Happy Holiday)
    Shana tova ve-metuka (sweet and happy year)

  18. Indonesian
    Selamat hari natal dan tahun baru 2007!

  19. Lebanese
    Milad Majid wa Aam Saeid! (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year)

  20. Yiddish
    A Git Yoor - (Happy New Year in Yiddish (Oy, we don't have Christmas))

  21. Hindi
    "Naye Saal kee Hardik Shubhkamnayen" (Heartfelt Best wishes to all for the New year)

  22. Danish
    Glædelig jul og godt nytår (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!)

  23. Albanian
    Gezuar Krishtlindjet! Gezuar Vitin e Ri 2007!

  24. Tamil Version 2.62
    pudhu aandu valthukkal 2007

  25. Marathi
    Navin Warsha sarwanna Sukhache wa Samruddhiche jaavo (Wish you all Happy and Prosperous New Year)

  26. German
    Schöne Weinachten und Gutes Neues Jahr! (Literal: "Nice Christmas and Good New Year" but you would say "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.")
    Ein Fröhliches Weihnachtsfest und einen glücklichen Rutsch ins Neue Jahr! ( Means something like: "Happy Christmas festival and successful journey in the new year.")

  27. Turkish
    Yeni Yiliniz kutlu olsun (have a happy new year)

  28. Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian
    SRETAN BOZIC AND NOVA GODINA (Happy Christmas and New Year)

  29. Greek, phonetic
    Kala Hristuyenna ke eftihismeno to neo etos!

  30. Romanian
    Craciun bun si an nou fericit!

  31. Vietnamese
    Chuc Mung Nam Moi (Happy New Year)

  32. Gaelic (Irish)
    Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr! or Beannachtaí an tSéasúir (Greetings of the Season)

  33. Zulu
    Sinifesela Ukhisimusi Omuhle Nonyaka Omusha Onempumelelo (Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year)

  34. Slovak
    Vesle Vainoce a Stastlivi Novy Rok! (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!)

  35. Kokani (India)
    Tumka saglyak natalachi aani aanandache nave varsh zav.

  36. Swahili
    Kuwa na Krismasi njema (Merry Christmas)

  37. Lugandi (Uganda)
    Amazalibwa Agesanyu or Nkwagaliza Sekukulu Omulunji

  38. Ukranian
    Z Novym Rokom ta Rizdtvom Hrystovym!

  39. Ukranian 2
    Chrystos Rodihvsya ee Shchaslihvoho Novoho Roku (Christ is Born - have a Happy and Prosperous New Year)

Some folks added these funny ones:

  1. Binary

  2. C
    printf("%s %s %s.\n", "Jesus", "is the Reason", "For the Season");

  3. Oracle

  4. Klingon ;-)
    Cho chey kr'uug my-uk pogn'r

  5. The Dyslexic Canadian
    !samtsirhC yrreM

  6. Pig Latin
    Appyhay Ewnay Earyay

  7. Elven
    valin winya atendea (Tribute to Lord of the Rings)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

T2000 - eBay's Database Platform of Choice for 2007

I've always loved it when a quote comes directly from a customer. Here's a recent one that describes the T2000 as scary fast :)

Niagaras run much cooler than our previous servers, plus they are scary fast. They’ve cut our total cost of operations [TCO] through lower acquisition and management costs. The Sun Fire T2000 will be our database platform of choice in 2007.
— Heather Peck, Infrastructure Manager, eBay Inc.

eBay mainly uses Oracle.

You can read about it here.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Why stop there?

Today, this article from The Register caught my attention:

US politicos demand cool servers

US politicians have joined the great call for energy-friendly data centers, as the Senate this week approved a bill that promotes low-power server technology.

Senators unanimously pushed through the legislation that asks the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to study the energy consumption of data centers. The EPA has been instructed to bone up on items such as low-power chips, power supplies and energy distribution. It will also consider how incentives could be used to promote power-efficient data centers in the government and private sectors.

Energy efficient computing is becoming more and more of a topic these days. I'm glad to see that politicians are finally putting in place legislation to promote green/cool computing.

Even utility companies have started to offer incentives to promote green/cool computing. A few months ago, PG&E teamed up with Sun to offer up to US$1,000 rebate for servers:

Sun Teams with PG&E On First Ever Rebate For Servers, Up To $1000 In Savings

Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ: SUNW) today announced that Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), one of the largest natural gas and electric utilities in the United States serving 350,000 California businesses, is offering significant rebates as part of a new energy incentive program for computer servers. The CoolThreads technology Sun Fire T1000 and T2000 servers -- which are three to five times more energy efficient than competing systems and take up less space(1)-- were the only servers to qualify for the rebate program. As part of PG&E’s Non Residential Retrofit program, customers replacing existing equipment with these eco-responsible servers can receive a cash savings between $700-$1000 per server or up to 35 percent when combined with the Sun Upgrade Advantage Program(2). This is the first-ever incentive rebate offered by a public utility company for servers.

Very nice and cool. I think its definitely a step in the right direction.

But why stop there? Right now, the focus is on servers. But there are also millions (billions?) of power-hungry desktops that are out there. How much power does an average desktop, without the monitor, consume? 200 watts? More? At Sun, our standard "desktop" hardware consumes as low as 4 watts. Yes, as low as four watts.

We used to call the Sun Ray an ultra-thin client to differentiate it from other thin client solutions. Other terms such as Display Over IP (DOIP) were also used to describe the technology but some of us sometimes replaced the meaning of D to Desktop so that DOIP would mean Desktop Over IP. Because that's what it really is -- our entire desktops are being delivered to us over the network. Then, just recently, "ultra-thin client" has been replaced with Virtual Display Client.

I'll be blogging more about this soon. In the meantime, you can look it up here.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Scaling out?

Kevin Closson has a couple of interesting posts about Sun gear and Oracle here and here.

In the second post, he says:

But even for the “heavy” databases, it wont be long until they too only require some of the cores that a single socket offers.
OK, remind me again who actually needs to “scale-out” a database to multiple servers?
Very good point. Very good question.

I personally believe that a lot of the companies who use Oracle RAC today don't need it.

As to when "heavy" databases will need only some cores that a single socket offers, I'm already seeing this situation today. While a lot of people talk about scaling out - and some companies are actually scaling out - I also see companies that are consolidating their databases on more powerful machines. Right now, I'm working on a project for one of the big telcos in North America. You would think that these guys would be scaling out like crazy. On the contrary, they are consolidating all sorts of things, including big databases, on more powerful machines.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Done with setup mode

I've finally moved all my posts from my old blog to here. I could not find a blogspot feature to easily import the data from a Wordpress blog. I did not look that hard since I only had a few posts so I just did the move manually.

I am aware that each of the posts that I moved over resulted in a feed to those who subscribed via aggregators so my apologies to you if I flooded your aggregators the past couple of days. The worst should be over now. :)

Just to let you know, I’m planning to post a little bit more frequently soon. But since I do all this outside of Sun activities during my personal time, please bear with me as I try to get into a rythm amidst all the work I’m doing in my day job -- a rythm that will still allow me to keep a balance in my personal life.

As of now, I plan to blog mostly about Sun technologies and databases. I’ve also been taking a deeper look at the Oracle Extended SQL Trace file (event 10046, level 8+) and I might blog about that as well. So please stay tuned.

And lastly, please note that I've added a blog subscription by email. I am aware that a lot of people still prefer email and if you are one of them, the email subscription is for you. :)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

NewsGator: Why?

I was playing around with different news readers/aggregators when I remembered that I have an existing NewsGator account that I set up a while back. So I went to the NewsGator site and tried to login but I forgot my password. Like most sites, NewsGator has a "Forgot your password?" link. Using that function sent me this email:
To:[My Email Address here]
Subject: NewsGator Online credentials
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2006 19:04:09 -0700
As you requested online, we are sending your NewsGator
Online credentials to you. They are as follows:

Username: [My Username was here]
Password: [My unencrypted password was here]

Customer Support
NewsGator Technologies


If this was a password reset or new account creation, that would have been acceptable -- as long as I am then required to change it the next time I log on. But what they sent me is a password that I created months ago.

This could only mean that in NewsGator's servers, my password is stored either in unencrypted format, or if it is encrypted, it is reversible. I know that a lot of smaller sites do this... but NewsGator? What happened to one-way encryption?

Comments? Good, bad, tolerable, unacceptable?

Still in setup mode

As of yesterday, my main blog was still at However, I was trying to revive this blog account because I was planning to move back here (long story that I will explain later). I was playing around with feedburner for my feed and to my surprise this morning, there are already people subscribed! Well... thanks! :)

So to you who have subscribed, please bear with me as I move my posts over. Because of you who subscribed, I am now making this the main blog as of today.

The blog will be decommissioned before December 15, 2006.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

TOUG folks meet Solaris 10 :)

I am very happy that even if we (Sun) were not able to make a formal presentation at the Toronto Oracle Users group yesterday, there were a lot of people who stopped by our booth. The number of people, the kinds of questions asked, the comments given, and the lenghts of conversations we had -- all of these gives me a very good feeling about how Sun and Solaris are being viewed these days.

So... as promised, here are the initial notes and links to the major points we talked about yesterday, together with some brief comments:

  • Solaris is Open source. FAQ for the CDDL license is here.

  • While it is true that Solaris traditionally ran on SPARC, it also now runs on x86 (32-bit) and x64 (64-bit) platforms. The SPARC and x86/64 versions are built from a single source tree.

  • Sun sells SPARC as well as Opteron based hardware and of course, these are all certified against Solaris. However, it is not correct to think that you have to get the hardware from Sun in order to run Solaris. Solaris x86/64 runs on a lot of existing hardware; I've been running it on my Toshiba Tecra M2 laptop for more than a year without any problems. Here's the Hardware Compatibility List. Another way to see if your hardware can run Solaris 10 is to test it using the Solaris x86 Installation Check Tool.

  • The DVDs that we gave away yesterday contain Solaris 10 Update 1 (S10U1). S10U1 includes Zones but not ZFS. The latest supported release of Solaris 10 is Update 2 (S10U2) and it includes ZFS. You can download S10U2 here. Solaris license is free. Support pricing starts at $120/yr.

  • Non-RAC Oracle database is certified on Solaris Zones. There's a note on Metalink about this (I'll put the link later). RAC is not certified with Zones but RAC is certified to run from the global Zone.

  • Solaris Zones home page is here and the Zones FAQ is here. The Apache Software Foundation uses Solaris Zones.

  • Solaris ZFS home page is here. I also have a couple of ZFS posts here and here.

  • DTrace home page is here. DTrace has been ported to Mac OS X and there are talks that Apple is also considering ZFS for OS X.

  • Oracle's preferred OS for 64-bit development and deployment environment is Solaris. Here's the press release from Oracle's web site.

I think that's it for high-level notes and links. Now, quite a number of you also asked if I could post some tutorial type of examples on what we talked about yesterday. I will be doing that as soon as my schedule permits. So please check this blog often. Better yet, please subscribe.

That was a great day yesterday. Thanks for dropping by and I hope that at the very least, you now see why a lot of people say that Solaris 10 rocks! :)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sept 25 - Free format Solaris/Oracle demo at Toronto Oracle Users Group

I was asked to man Sun's booth at the Toronto Oracle Users Group's Oracle Day 2006 this coming Monday, Sept 25. If you happen to be attending this event, drop by the Sun booth and see how you can use Solaris 10 features with Oracle.

I don't have any canned presentation. This will be free-format -- just come by and ask your questions and we will answer what we can.

See you there.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

ZFS - Another way to recover from a screw up... :)

Doug Burns wrote in his blog how he accidentally messed up some of his Oracle database development environments. Doug, I remember that a little while back, we had a short chat over at Christo Kutrovsky's follow-up blog entry to my ZFS post.

If you've had the chance to install Solaris 10 update 2 (6/06 release), it would be a good time to try ZFS, specially on development environments. ZFS has a snapshot feature and this is one of the ZFS features that I really love.

For example, I use this to create snapshots of entire filesystems. In your case, if there was a snapshot of /ora/data2, recovering the data from the snapshot would have been very f-a-s-t (most likely seconds). I routinely do this with my development environments.

I also use ZFS snapshots in place of the OS-level copy command when doing Oracle hot backups. When done this way, hot backups can be completed in seconds no matter how big the datafiles are.

Another place where I use ZFS snapshots is when I upgrade Oracle or any other software that is mounted under ZFS. If something does not work as I expect, a zfs rollback will quickly (again, seconds) bring order to a messy situation. :)

But my favorite use of ZFS snapshots is to snapshot entire Solaris 10 zones. Sometimes, these zones host Oracle databases. If something gets messed up, I simply issue a zfs rollback command and the entire zone goes back to its state when the snapshot was taken. Very fast and very neat. :)

I've been meaning to make a more detailed post about this for a while now, complete with examples for Oracle. Maybe now is a good time for me to do that. I hope I can make time to write something soon.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

2 suggestions for Boston

My family and I were just in Boston for the first time as part of our summer vacation.

Boston is a beatiful city. Of course, different people have different tastes, but to me, Boston is easily one of the most beatiful American cities I've seen. Great architecture, people, and of course, food!

I love to walk and I take public trasportation when I can because doing so gives me the opportunity to have a closer interaction with the people. 'Up close and personal' is what others would say. :) So I was happy when I learned that Boston has a good subway system and that it is a city that encourages walking. They have walking tours and they also have 'Walking Boston' maps and guides.

We all had a great time but taking Boston's subway system and walking its city tours made me think that even great cities like Boston can make small changes that can make the experience even better. So here are my two small suggestions for Boston:

1. Please stop selling those automated subway tickets specially to tourists. Why? Because not all the subway stations have machines to process those tickets. Before we bought our subway tickets, I spoke with a subway employee and he advised us to get the automated tickets. I asked if that kind of ticket would be honored in all stations and he said yes. But he was wrong; there are several stations that don't have machines to process those tickets. We were forced to buy additional tokens at one station even if our tickets were not yet completely used up because the attendant simply refused to let us through. He said something like: "We are aware that it is a problem but we were told that we are not supposed to let people with automated tickets through". Huh?? Fortunately, attendants at other stations were willing to "bend the rules" and they let us through.

So, Boston... at the very least, please put big signs on automated ticket dispensers saying that the automated tickets won't work everywhere. And if there are readers who are planning to take the subway to go around Boston, I think it is a lot better to just buy the subway tokens instead of the automated tickets.

2. I'm not sure how much Boston embraces recycling but if they do embrace it, I think they should put more recycling bins specially along the walking trails and subway stations. Majority of people who love to walk will be carrying some form of drink with them. I held on to my empty water bottle for around one hour hoping that I will see a recycling bin. I did not see one and when I finally made the decision to toss it to a garbage bin, I noticed that the garbage bin had a lot of empty plastic bottles in it. Now, I'm not saying that there were no recycling bins at all. I'm just saying that if there were, I did not see them despite the fact that I was consciously looking for them.

That said, I have to say again that Boston is a very beatiful city. There are other parts of the city that I want to see that's why I'm looking forward to my business trip there in a couple of weeks.

Friday, August 04, 2006

A tough day @ Sun

Today was a very tough day at Sun. Once more, I see some friends affected by the announced reduction in force of up to 5,000 employees worldwide.

To my colleagues who have lost their jobs, hats off to you. Please take care of yourselves and keep in touch.

It's not clear if it is all over. Anything can still happen.

And with this, I unplug myself from this blog for a couple of weeks of vacation.

Monday, July 31, 2006

If my blog looked funny over the weekend...

... it was because I messed up something while playing around with some WordPress themes. It looked fine from my computer but then a reader using MS Internet Explorer informed me that my pages didn't look like they used to.

My main workstation is running Solaris. I guess that's what I get for not using MS Internet Explorer.

Sorry about that. I'll be more careful next time.

Friday, July 28, 2006

I hope they can make this work

This Wired article just caught my attention.

Powering Up, One Step at a Time


British engineers are converting street vibrations into electricity and predict a working prototype by Christmas capable of powering facility lights in the busiest areas of a city.

"We can harvest between 5 to 7 watts of energy per footstep that is currently being wasted into the ground," says Claire Price, director of The Facility Architects, the British firm heading up the Pacesetters Project. "And a passing train can generate very useful energy to run signaling or to power lights."

Gilbert is working with hydraulic-powered heel-strike generators, which he believes could be installed in the floors of busy public places like subway stations. Those stations typically capture the footfall of 20,000 commuters an hour during peak usage -- multiplied by 5 to 7 watts a person, that's more than enough to power a building's lights for the day.


The prototypes are scheduled for assembly by December 2006.

I think it's a cool idea. I hope they can make it work.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

India rejects 'One Laptop per Child'

The Times of India has reported that India's Ministry of Human Resource Development has rejected the idea of One Laptop per Child.


The HRD ministry has rejected the idea of 'one-laptop-per-child' (OLPC) being aggressively marketed by Nicholas Negroponte of MIT Media Laboratory. "India must not allow itself to be used for experimentation with children in this area," the ministry has said.

The ministry's detailed objection based on technical, social and financial grounds was sent to the Planning Commission two weeks ago.

It is not clear what the technical objections are; there was nothing mentioned in the article. As for me, I have my own personal reservations about OLPC's approach. At this time, I am not convinced that they are headed in the right direction. Why? Here's something from OLPC's FAQ page:

What is the $100 Laptop, really?

The proposed $100 machine will be a Linux-based, with a dual-mode display—both a full-color, transmissive DVD mode, and a second display option that is black and white reflective and sunlight-readable at 3× the resolution. The laptop will have a 500MHz processor and 128MB of DRAM, with 500MB of Flash memory; it will not have a hard disk, but it will have four USB ports. The laptops will have wireless broadband that, among other things, allows them to work as a mesh network; each laptop will be able to talk to its nearest neighbors, creating an ad hoc, local area network. The laptops will use innovative power (including wind-up) and will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data.

Here's my concern: considering that the target users are young children (6-12 year olds, if I'm not mistaken), how wise is it to make a machine that is run by a full-blown operating system? Do we expect these kids to "play system administrators" on their laptops? Do we expect them to know how to patch their systems when there are security vulnerabilities in the operating system or application programs? Or are they planning to have professional system administrators push the updates to these laptops? Is that really going to succeed?

I am not picking on Linux just because I am a Sun employee. I will still have the same reservations even if they use Solaris as the operating system. The fact is all operating systems will have their own vulnerabilities even if these operating systems are stripped down of unnecessary services. And when these vulnerabilities are discovered, they have to be dealt with. Besides, no matter what operating system is used, there are still application programs that will also have their own vulnerabilities.

OLPC is talking about deploying millions of these laptops. Wouldn't it be better if they are engineered in such a way that the end users will no longer have to worry about securing their individual laptops?

I think it makes sense to study the viability of a thin client model -- a device that has no operating system to begin with. That way, there is nothing to maintain on the laptop itself.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Things that caught my attention: biometric spoofing

Yesterday, I started a category that I called Things I take for granted. Today, I am starting another category. This time, I will call it Things that caught my attention.

First to make it to this category is biometric spoofing. I've had this lingering concern about biometrics for a while now. If people start using biometrics as a means to authenticate, what happens when someone gets a hold of the digital representation of your fingerprint or your iris? A password is easy to change but how easy is it to change your fingerprint? How about your iris?

Today, my news aggregator caught this article from Slashdot . The article pointers lead to ZDNet Asia:

Crime of the future--biometric spoofing?


Watch where you leave your fingerprints--soon they could be the target of thieves looking to break into your bank account.

Although biometric security systems--using fingerprints, iris scans and facial recognition--are only just now entering the mainstream, they are likely to be common within a few years.

And as soon as biometrics begin to be used to protect bank accounts or benefit systems, crooks will start looking at ways of breaking into them


"We are leaving our prints everywhere so the chance of someone lifting them and copying them is real.

"Currently it's only researchers that are doing spoofing and copying. It's not a mainstream activity--but it will be. It's just human nature; if it can be done it will be done if you can achieve some benefit from it."

Different biometrics may be attacked in different ways. For example, researchers have proved in the past it is possible to trick fingerprint systems with fake fingers made of gelatine.

Similarly, would-be thieves could try to spoof facial recognition systems with photos, videos or facial disguises in order to get access to the systems or information they protect.

Part of the problem is that many of the biometrics used by these systems are easily visible.

Toth warned: "Many people are trying to regard biometrics as secret but they aren't. Our faces and irises are visible and our voices are being recorded. Fingerprints and DNA are left everywhere we go and it's been proved that these are real threats."

In response vendors are building tighter security into their biometric systems--for example to check that a finger has a pulse, or that a real iris is being presented rather than a photo.

For now, I don't trust biometrics as a means to authenticate. Maybe that's because I don't fully understand the technology behind it. But I like it better when you authenticate with something you know, something stored in your brain -- like a password that will in turn generate a random password. That way, the master password can easily be changed when there is a security breach. The random password, on the other hand is just that -- a randomly generated password that is valid only for a few seconds. This is the type of authentication that we use at Sun. Maybe one day, I will post something about that.

Perhaps, one day, biometrics will become really secure. But I will wait and see. Until I'm convinced, I won't sign up for any service that uses biometric authentication.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Things I take for granted: syndication

Today, I'm starting a new category that I will call Things I take for granted. This category will contain posts about things that are almost second nature to me and yet may be completely foreign to other people. Of course, this is never meant to put anyone down. I'm sure that things that doctors take for granted will be foreign to me as well.

First to make it to this category is syndication. Most of my peers in the IT industry will take syndication for granted but to a lot of people, it is a complete mystery. Just yesterday, somebody asked me what those syndication buttons are for. Quite a few people have also asked me where I get the time to read all sorts of things. The secret: syndication and aggregators.

For those who are new to syndication, here's a good introductory article:

What is RSS/XML/Atom/Syndication?


Syndication is the process of using RSS/Atom for automated updates, another way of getting the information you want. You no doubt have a list of web sites you browse daily for updates, whether they’re stored in your bookmarks or your head. If you find yourself loading 20 or 30 sites a day, and you notice if a few stop updating as frequently, you’ll inevitably stop checking them.

What if there were instead some way to have your list of bookmarks notify you when the sites you read have been updated? You wouldn’t waste time checking those that haven’t. Instead of loading 30 sites a day, you might only need to load 13. Cutting your time in half would enable you to start monitoring more sites, so for the same amount of time you originally invested in checking each site manually, you may just end up end up following twice as many.

Syndication provides the tools to do this. A news reader, or aggregator as they’re also known, is a program or a web site that automatically checks your list of bookmarks (which you only have to set up once) and lets you know what’s new on each site in your list.


As an analogy, the news reader acts like a customizable newspaper. You can pull a variety of content from a growing number of sources into one place, to be read however you choose.


The only stipulation is that the source must provide a feed....

If this introduction has whet your appetite, the next step is to grab a news reader and start playing.


So there you go. If you have a Yahoo, Google, MSN, or AOL account, you can instantly take advantage of syndication. If you don't, there are free online aggregators like Bloglines, Rojo, NewsGator, and Netvibes. Also, some browsers like Firefox have builtin support for syndication.

Go ahead, try it so next time I post something, you will be notified right away. :)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Blog moved: -> WordPress

I've decided to spend more time blogging and since I am not very happy with, I thought that I might as well get out of there while my blog is just starting. I feel that is too restrictive. I have also read some discouraging posts here, here, here, and here.

So before I become one of's problem statistic, I did some research and I decided to go with WordPress. Since I have a web host that is just sitting around and I enjoy doing installation and configuration anyway, it made sense that I host it myself. I feel that hosting it myself will give me more control.

Installation of WordPress was smooth. It even has an import function so I was able to import my entire blog. However, I noticed that the import was not perfect. Some of the blockquotes and links were not properly moved over. But I only have a few entries so far so I can live with that. Those should be easy to fix.

The thing that took the most time, though, is fiddling around with themes and plugins. After a few hours of fun, I am now at a point where I'm happy with the look and feel of the site.

There are still some things to do like redirecting my pointer and setting up automated backups of this blog. I also need to put in the syndication stuff.

But it's 8pm so this should be good enough for now. :)

Friday, June 16, 2006

What's wrong with this picture?

Every now and then, I get pulled into computer performance improvement projects. In a lot of places I've been to, some people try to solve performance issues by throwing hardware at the problem. Most of the time, this does not solve their original problem. Sometimes, it even makes things worse.

What I usually see is that computer systems are doing too many unnecessary things. They are bogged down by doing things that they are not supposed to be doing in the first place. When I get into this situation, I focus on unnecessary workload reduction. In most cases, reducing or removing unnecessary workload solves the problem.

So when I saw this, my first reaction was "Why?".

At Sun, we take a different approach. We use energy efficient servers and desktops. The result is that not only do we save power to run our computers, we also don't need as much power to cool the space.

Unnecessary power consumption reduction.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Clearing some misconceptions about Sun and Solaris

I've been following some threads on the Oracle-L list recently and I noticed that there are some misconceptions about Sun and Solaris by some of the members of the Oracle-L community. I made some posts to set the record straight. Let me just summarize them here:

1. In a thread titled "Anyone used 10g Release 2 ( for Solaris Operating System (x86-64)", a member of the list asked:

I have been told I may have to install and support Oracle Database 10g Release 2 ( for Solaris Operating System (x86-64). I have plenty of experience with Solaris for Sparc but the database for the x86 version (64 bit) was just released in March I believe. I am curious about the experiences of anyone that may have this configuration. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
and one of the replies was:

You're paying the cost of using exotic platforms. I sincerely doubt that anybody will be able to respond to your question.

This surprised me because I know that late last year, Oracle choose the Solaris 10 Operating System as its preferred open source 64-bit development and deployment environment. So I replied and provided a link to the press release.
I also pointed out that Solaris is open source because I get the impression that to a lot of people, "open source = Linux" and that Linux is the only Unix-like OS than can run on x86/64 hardware.

The original question also implies that some people think that Solaris 10 SPARC and Solaris 10 x86/64 are entirely different products. The fact is that both are built from the same source tree and so experience with Solaris SPARC will carry over nicely to the x86/64 platform. I know this for a fact because I use both Solaris SPARC and Solaris x86/64.

2. In another thread with the subject "Oracle's relationships with expert DBAs (and the rest of us mere mortals)", another member of Oracle-L said:

Also, I'd suggest you replace those 20 Sun servers with a couple of Opteron-loaded standard boxes. Just for your main production environment, mind you. Might be easier to handle a couple of standard PC boxes than all those refrigerator-size monsters out in the big, cold room.

I understand the reference to "refrigerator-sized monsters" for it is true that Sun has some of these high-end machines and I have used some of these machines in the past. So I pointed out that maybe, the person had this kind of machine in mind. But if, for whatever reason, one prefers Opteron based machines or smaller, less expensive, and cooler running machines in general, then Sun has its Galaxy (from $745) and CoolThreads (from $2,995) line of servers.

My experience is not unique. Sun's new CEO, Jonathan Schwartz, recently said in his blog:

I was with a big potential customer yesterday - in the Fortune 100. After a day of briefings from our technical folks, I joined the meeting to see how we were doing. I asked him and his team how much of what they'd seen was new to them.

He said, "about 70% was a complete surprise."

Ouch. That's not good.

To test, I asked, "before today, did you know that Solaris was open source, or ran on Dell, HP and IBM hardware, not just Sun's?" "Nope."

And like I said, this was a Fortune 100 opportunity.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Silent data corruption

Below is a slightly modified version of a post that I made to my high school batch mailing list. We were having a discussion about OS vulnerabilities and the importance of making backups.


Years ago, I was a full time database administrator. If there is an unforgivable sin in database administration, it is losing data. Database performance may be slow... that's okay, that's fixable. But if I lose data, I should probably be making sure that my resume is up to date. :)

And so I tried to learn everything I can about database backup and data protection. Full backup, incremental backup, cold backup, hot backup, replication, standby databases, mirroring disks, breaking the mirrors, hardware raid, software raid, volume managers, hot spares, etc. I made sure I studied and practiced everything until I was satisfied that I knew what I needed to know. But not only that, I also made sure that I knew how to recover in case of disaster. I would occasionally take some of my backup and try to do a restore just to make sure that I can really recover should there be a need to do so. To put things in perspective, I was dealing with a database that was approaching 2 terabytes in size so this was not a case of simple backup/recovery scenario.

But as one of us pointed out, disks fail. If one of my disks should fail, my hope was that it would fail in an unmistakable way. I hoped that if a disk failed, the other parts of the system would know in an unmistakable way (like an I/O failure) such that the safeguards that we put in place (like hot spares) would kick in. If this kind of failure happened, we can deal with it and we would know how to fix it.

But what kept me up at night was the thought that there is a possibility that at one point in time, my data has experienced what we call silent corruption. This can happen with hard disks. But it does not stop there. Silent corruption can also happen when you have a hard disk controller failure. I can also imagine that there could be bugs with device drivers. I also know that some disks have firmware and that, too, can be a source of problems. Again, if these errors result in a clear I/O error, then that's the best thing that could ever happen because then, we would know that there is a problem and we could deal with it. But what if it is an undetected error? And what if it goes undetected for a long period of time?

So if my database had a silent corruption, how do I know when it happened? How do I know which of my backups is good? A silent corruption could mean that all my backups are useless because it is possible that the problem is older than my oldest backup. Sure, there are database utilities to verify a database for inconsistencies but when does one run these utilities against a 2TB database? Before I do a backup? How long will that take? Will it fit into the backup window?

Anyway, enough with databases. The problem with silent data corruption is obviously not unique to databases. It is a problem that can happen with any type of data.

So how does one safeguard against this type of problem? There could be other ways but one way is to use Solaris with ZFS. :-) ZFS has self healing features (look at slides 13-15). There's also a screencast demo here

Some web sites like strongspace are already using it even before its official release.

How stable is it considering that it is not even officially released? Read this blog from the lead test engineer:

Testing ZFS reminds me of when I was working for IBM at NASA on the Space Shuttle Flight Software Project....
And here's one more from another test engineer.
All in all, this means that we put our code through more abuse in about 20 seconds than most users will see in a lifetime. We run this test suite every night as part of our nightly testing, as well as when we're developing code in our private workspaces. And it obeys Bill's first law of test suites: the effectiveness of a test suite is directly proportional to its ease of use. We simply just type "ztest" and off it goes.

For those who want to learn more, here is a good starting point. ZFS home page is here.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Hello world

My name is James Foronda. I work for Sun Microsystems' US Data Center Solutions - Enterprise Migration practice.