April 2009 Archives

After a one-year hiatus, the wayward netcast has returned. I have been contemplating renaming the show. Clearly the show is _not_ about me :-)
The conversation generally center around F/OSS and web technologies.

My sincere apologies go out to my special guest Robby Workman, as I took much longer than I expected to publish the talk. We had a great discussion and would be happy to chat with him again soon. Consider this show a Part 2, of the slackware series. We talked about everything from anatomy of a slackbuild script to his thoughts on the OLPC.

Lastly, I revealed the inaugural "Hit and Run" segment. Pure bliss ;-)

I still have not setup an 'ogg' feed, it is forthcoming. Thx for your patience. I'll likely use Listgarden to resolve this matter. In the meantime, feel free to simply download directly.

Download Ogg (67.10min || 36MB)

Download mp3 (67.10min || 21MB)


Robby's Blog.

links for 2009-04-07

The New Middle - Gov'ts Guiding Hands

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*Disclaimer - The thoughts expressed here do not represent those of my employer*
I have been watching the Wall Street and Auto industry bailout proceedings with keen interest. Obviously, I have witnessed many friends suffer as their jobs vanished and I have personally been pre-occupied with what amounts to nearly quarterly head count reductions.
It does seem that everyone has opinions about the mess that is the North American auto industry.

Heated debates have sprung up in a few social networks that I frequent. With the ouster of GM CEO Waggoner, some folks have used this as fodder for the cries of dictatorship, socialism, communism. It all seems pretty ludicrous to me.
People must realize that inaction is not going to solve any of the current problems. Yes, it is true that Japan and Europe suffered through disastrous economic downturns and their governments also infused cash with very little positive effect. However, the US is dealing with effects of a constant erosion of its manufacturing base. As I have stated numerous times previously, America is in the midst of transforming itself into a service based economy. I don't believe the current leadership is willing to allow this transformation to occur.

Returning to the auto-industry.. Much of what I have heard is that the auto industry is largely responsible for creating the middle-class in this country. While this is a fact, we must also consider that those jobs were likely first generation middle-class and largely located in middle-America. I'm certain that my pops did not benefit from those jobs. Unfortunately, most of those beneficiaries are nearing retirement. Moreover, the jobs which were created by a healthy auto industry are now being replaced as the manufacturing base shrinks in this country.

So the gov't has two choices: (a) Stand-By and follow the same laissez-faire practices as the previous administration or (b) Infuse capital and help guide the economy in a proper direction.

If this involvement means firing warning shots at CEOs whose companies are squandering taxpayer dollars so be it. Waggoner took a spear for his peers on Wall Street too. Methinks it was more a show of force than anything else. Wall Street does seem to be handling business with an air of impunity.

Plankowner Reunion Musings (Revisited)

As stated previously, I enjoyed the reunion. Perhaps the best part of the experience was revisiting the old boat after 20yrs. The current ships company were very gracious in giving its "maiden" crew the opportunity to see the ship one last time. I understand that Phil Sea will be undergoing an extended dry-dock period for upgrades. I would by lying if I didn't mention that my primary interest was the engineering spaces. Don't misunderstand, the Pilot House, Flight Deck, Combat Systems, Bridge, and focsle are quite remarkable. However, IMHO there is nothing more intriguing than a power plant. Clearly I am biased, as I spent a substantial amount of my time in the engineering and auxiliary spaces.

So, after having to endure the tour through the non-engineering spaces. I was thrilled to get a peek at the CCS, MER1 and AUX1. I was taken aback at the elimination of the DCC, PCC, and EPCC. Gone were the signal conditioning enclosures and seemingly millions of incandescent light bulbs. The consoles and enclosures were replaced by SMCS terminals which are oddly powered by M$ XP. Imagine that you're underway steaming at 40knots and you get the ubiquitous BSOD. That's some scary shit. I would imagine that these consoles have two processors and some level of redundancy to protect the ship from an unreliable OS.

I spoke with one of the watchstanders and he informed me that the system has been known to fail at inopportune times. Nonetheless, he did emphasize that not having to take manual readings with clip board and pen was quite lovely. Each watchstander gets a PDA which has a USB connector which enables you to simply download a trendlog spreadsheet to the PDA. The data is then stored and can be reviewed by EOOW and analyzed for abnormal behavior.

The changes certainly save taxpayers money, as the ship can be manned by fewer sailors.
Apparently with the technical advances and various innovations, the ship's crew has been reduced by one-third.

In case of computer failure, the watchstanders are trained in contingency strategies, that is they are expected to know where every temperature gage is located in there respective spaces. These are done during various drills. Ironically, manually recording lube oil temps and climbing over the main reduction gear was our normal practice underway. Heh, times have changed indeed. I would imagine that preventative maintenance can also be simulated too. It was not unusual that an improperly/properly performed PMS check was the cause of an inadvertent failure on some equipment.

Lastly, the other very interesting development was the introduction of females aboard combatant ships. During my days in the US Navy ('85 - '91), woman typically served aboard Tenders, Oilers and other non-combatants. The only exception was the humongous aircraft carriers. It seemed odd to walk by berthing areas designated "women only" and various other changes. There are roughly 30 females and nearly 320 males. I could imagine 6-month deployments are rather interesting. In truth, after being underway for 48 consecutive days without pulling in for a liberty call. I would have welcomed having a conversation with a woman. However, it seems hard to believe that more problems are introduced when people are asked not to be human. Perhaps some would argue that it is no different than corporate America.. Being confined to small and tight quarters is very, very different. Perhaps if the numbers weren't so lopsided, there would be fewer tempations? Who knows.

There were many changes aboard the old boat, very good to see her for one last time.

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