Eric D. Schabell: May 2008

Friday, May 30, 2008

Strange engineering marvel

Take a closer look... can you see it??? Does something in this picture strike at the very heart of your engineering soul?

What is even better, is that this was in a building where European Patents are processed. Do you think someone got a patent already on this?

I walked past this last week and just stopped cold. I stared. I blinked. I was dumbfounded on several fronts and the thoughts started to roll by (in no particular order):
  • how does one get the wiring past the water pipes as the wiring conventionally runs from ceiling down the walls to the sockets?
  • who paid for this work?
  • who was able to sell this work, a good sales person is my guess?
  • what part(s) of the building electricity will go out when I turn on the faucet and watch water run into/over the socket?
  • Will only some, sections, all of the buildings fuses blow? I wonder if the same guy that put this in was responsible for the rest of the building...
  • Was this done on a bet?
  • Are there really people in the electric / plumbing business that can deliver this kind of specialized work on a regular basis?
  • Is this a joke (I started looking for the hidden camera)?
  • ... (my list is endless).
What comes into your thoughts as you see this picture? Post them in the comments, I am very curious... ;-)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Margraten Memorial Day 2008

Today my daughter and I visited the grave of PFC Henry L. Hooper. Memorial Day 2008 and it was a sight to see with over 8300 graves and the flags waving in the wind. A few Ministers and Generals were flown in on a helo, bands playing music, and a very nice ceremony.

We put flowers on the grave, watched the uniformed (Army and Airforce) military guards while taking pictures. It was very humbling to see the older generation of Dutch fighters that participated in WWII walking around in their medals.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Development behind a proxy

Some of the problems you will encounter when trying to use the development tools from behind a http proxy. I have been sorting these out this week to be able to spend some evening hours on AbTLinux development and wanted to post the results here.

The problem here is that we need to checkout code and commit our changes to the repository. Normal anonymous checkouts are taken as so:

$ svn co

# To do this over a proxy you need to either set the
# global subversion server configuration to include a
# proxy machine address and a port specification, or
# you can put this in your users home directory
# configuration. Bother are shown here.



# Put this in the servers file in the global section.

http-proxy-host = your-proxy-hostname
http-proxy-port = 8081

# A commit of code changes on this project as checked
# out above encounters the following error.

$ svn commit -m "Your commit message"

svn: Commit failed (details follow):
svn: MKACTIVITY of '/svn/abtlinux/!svn/act/e0331bc3-e9e7-': 400 Bad Request

# To commit your changes you need to be on the https
# version of the code repository, so you can migrate
# your existing checkout as follows.

$ svn switch --relocate

Finally, I ran into some wget problems when trying to download package sources. The only way to get wget to run is to set an environment variable to point to your http proxy.

$ export http_proxy="proxy-servername:8081"

Monday, May 19, 2008

PRIMA project hits the wall

As of today the PRIMA project has finally hit the wall where it should be. As you can see the long awaited big screen finally made it onto the wall where it is to present project management information. It has been placed high enough that both sides of the work floor can view it rather easily (of course there are a few blind spots), the photo shows it from the back of the room, about 30 meters away.

This is a big milestone for the PRIMA team and you can tell that this visual representation is drawing attention. All of a sudden project members are asking questions about why their favorite metrics are not as high as they should be!

It should be noted that this does not mean the PRIMA project has reached its final production deployment. The project will be running into the first half of June, so what the Java Domain is now seeing can be labeled as the beta version of PRIMA. Each week the team will be adding in new projects to be monitored, refactoring in the comments they are receiving, and trying to polish off the last bits of documentation. Should you want to comment on the PRIMA results, feel free to stop by our department, take a look at the big screen in action, and meet with the team members Lisa and Ikram.

As you can see, some people have found other uses for the big screen... we are not sure what the limits are, but you can be sure we will be pushing this new big screen to the limits! ;-)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

PRIMA project gets the big screen

The PRIMA project has been waiting for this moment pretty much since they started. The 46" LCD screen has arrived!

We thought it appropriate for the team to pose with their new gadget, so you can get an idea of the size of this thing. It is just incredible to run an application on such a large screen.

Unfortunately the building custodian was unable to hang it on the wall for us as he thought the supplied bracket was too small. This has caused some problems, as I was forced to ask for a pickup of the bracket by the supplier. We did not want to wait and I was planning to pick up a new bigger one this weekend, but found out that the bracket was just fine. The mounting points the custodian wanted to use are not even mounting points... so I am planning to sort this out on Tuesday with him (or hand it up myself!).

In the mean time the entire department pretty much wanted to see the application live on the new screen, so as you can see they all pitched in to at least put the screen up on one of the central cabinets.

The picture is amazing with a very large resolution. As you can see the reactions were pretty much a collective dropping of the jaws! ;-)

The project is in its last month of development, with things moving along rather nicely. The team is planning this last Sprint to include new functionality and then they will use the remaining week(s) to polish up the PRIMA applications robustness.

The best way to sum up the reactions is with a quote from one of our Information Architects. He saw the new screen, watched in awe for a bit as it cycled through a few screens, and stated, "Damn, we could use this in our department... how can we get connected to this thing?" What better compliment could you ask for?

Finally a shot of the project overview page, showing three test projects and the results of the PRIMA evaluation algorithm which uses diverse project metrics to derive an overall score. This is then visualized in both a bar graph, a number, and finally for all the managers out there it shows faces with a representative (crying, pouting, smiling, thumbs-up) expression.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Invitation Open Evening (Open Avond) SNS Bank

I am not normally one to do much recruitment, but I would like to have some influence as to who is the next colleague I will have working with me on a project. Who wouldn't?

In the interest of producing good results, here is an early bird announcement. At the SNS Bank here in s-Hertogenbosch there will be an Open Evening (Open Avond) on the 4th of June. An official advertisement campaign will be launched soon to announce it all.

The SNS Bank is looking to fill the following positions:
  • V&P
    • Beheer:
      • Functioneel beheerders (4),
      • Procesbeheerder (1)
    • Ontwerp & Architectuur:
      • Procesarchitect (3)
    • Implementatie:
      • Procesmanager (2)
      • Testleider (3)
    • Staff:
      • Senior medewerker projectbureau (1)

  • IT
    • Relatiebeheer & Consultancy:
      • Medewerkers Servicedesk (3)
      • Business Consultant (1)
    • Ontwikkeling:
      • Projectmanagers (2)
    • Infrastructuur Services:
      • Infrastructuur Engineer (1)
      • Projectleiders (2)
      • Tactisch beheerder (1)
    • Datacenter Services:
      • Afdelingshoofd Continuity (1)
      • Technisch Applicatiebeheerder (1)
    • KKM:
      • IT Auditor (1)
      • Kwaliteitsmedewerker (1)
Did you notice that the list is in Dutch? The SNS Bank is a Dutch language company, so you need to speak the language before applying. The only exception is for internships which are not listed here. For more information you can see the Werken bij SNS IT site.

Feel free to contact me if you are interested, I can give you some personal information about working at SNS Bank IT and maybe even meet you at the Open Evening (Open Avond)! ;-)

================= Update 24 May 2008 ======================

The advertising has launched for the above Open Evening at the following sites; Intermediair, Monsterboard, Stepstone, Mirmir, Marktplaats, and Megajobs.

The main site for the advertisement you will find in the printed media is at Kies Voor Innovatie and you can submit your CV here.

You can sign up directly here.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Cycling in April 2008

The month of April results are in and I clocked over 360 km on my bike. This was mostly work to home traffic, but I finally got back on my road bike for a 50 km ride last weekend, here is the map of the ride:

View Larger Map

The weather for the week is sunny and looks like I will finally be able to get some road work done on the way to work!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Marines cleaning up the mess again

As you can read here in the original post, it is now clear that the Marines are on the ground in force and there to take names in Afghanistan. Here is an excerpt that caught my attention:

"Operation Azada Wosa — "Stay Free" in the local Pashto language — kicked off Monday and represents a new push by the U.S. military to retake territory that NATO troops have so far been unable to conquer and hold. The 2,400-strong 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit is on its first mission since it started arriving here more than a month ago."

If you read between the lines you see that this is something of a rather large push, using a MEU which consists of something like this (as described here):

"A typical MEU (SOC) structure has 2,100 Marines and sailors. It is equipped with:

  • 7 to 16 light armored vehicles
  • eight 81 mm mortars
  • eight TOW missile systems
  • eight Javelin missile launchers
  • 15 amphibious assault vehicles
  • six 155 mm howitzers
  • four M1A1 main battle tanks
  • 12 CH-46E medium lift assault helicopters
  • six CH-53E heavy lift assault helicopters
  • three UH-1N utility helicopters
  • four AH-1W Cobra attack helicopters
  • six AV-8B Harrier Jets
  • two KC-130 re-fueler/transport aircraft (on call in the continental United States)
  • two reverse osmosis water purification units
  • one LMT 3000 water purification unit
  • one sea tractor
  • four TRAMs (10,000-pound capacity forklifts)
  • two 4,000 pound capacity forklifts
  • three D-7 bulldozers
  • 30 5-ton or 7-ton/12-ton trucks
  • one dump truck
  • four Mk48 logistical vehicle systems
  • seven 500 gallon water containers
  • 63 HMMWVs."
Note the links at the bottom of the article and you see reason for concern, it seems the Pentagon is considering putting even more troops on the ground... is this our next big move in the war on terrorism?