Eric D. Schabell: September 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Finding return values from chained pipe commands in the system function

I have already discussed some hints for the usage of the Ruby system method, but encountered another facet of using this system function while passing a bash command using pipes. The problem is that one gets the standard exitcode status back from bash via the $? variable. But when you use pipe to chain more than one command you only get the last command results back from the $? variable.

Enter the PIPEARRAY from bash, which allows you access to the each commands return value in the entire chain. The problem with Ruby is that this is not available after the system function ends. Again, using some  smart Bash you can exit your command chain with the contents of the PIPEARRAY like this:

# a system call that exits with the value of the first command 'make'.
system("make | tee output.log; exit ${PIPESTATUS[0]}")

# examine the returned value of the command 'make'
puts $?.exitstatus

Friday, September 26, 2008

Invitation to influence Linux World 2008 talk at Jaarbeurs Utrecht

A bit of an update on the talk I will be giving in November at the Dutch Linux World 2008 in the Jaarbeurs Utrecht.

I am going to make you a unique offer. You can influence my talk by leaving a comment on this page up to the date of my presentation. I will do my best to answer any of your questions, discuss anything related to the topic of my talk, and mention any interesting comments I get live at Linux World 2008. You can't beat that for Open Source collaboration!

If you want to stop by and say hi or discuss something interesting with me at Linux World 2008 then just follow the linked banner in the top of this post or the one in the sidebar to register for free.

Hope to see you there.

UPDATE: you can get the PDF of the presentation here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Endorsing Seth Alan Woolley for Secretary of State

Imagine my surprise when I opened my overseas ballot for the coming US Presidential election and saw this guy here in the picture on the ballot for Secretary of State for Oregon!

I have known Seth Alan Woolley for quit some time now through my work on an Open Source project called Sourcemage GNU/Linux. I even had the chance to meet up with him in Portland on one of my trips home.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that I am not a registered Pacific Green Party voter. I will of course be voting for Seth as I am more than sure he is sincere in his promises and commitments. He has been active in the Pacific Green Party and politics in general as long as I can remember.

Though our ideas on life and politics sometimes differ, he always stood for what he truly believes in. Take some time to look at the site linked through the picture, it outlines some of his plans. I wish him lots of luck and will be watching this part of the elections closely this year!

I fully endorse Seth Alan Woolley for the office of Oregon Secretary of State.

Lance Armstrong announces coming back to Astana

Monday, September 22, 2008

DamTotDam Cycling Classic

Yesterday I completed my first ever organized cycling event, the DamTotDam Cycling Classic. I was to ride with two friends who have not put in too much training kilometers, so we only signed up for the 60 km ride (you could chose from 40, 60, or 140 km).

The day started out rather misty, with a sun just rising above the waters of the Ij as we crossed on the ferry at around 0830 hrs. As it was a car free Sunday in Amsterdam, we had to park in the north of Amsterdam and cycle into the city. The picture in the top left corner is at the starting line just before departure, with our hopes high and our spirits soaring!

After a very crowded and slow departure though the very crowded and cobbled canal streets of Amsterdam we were off through the various villages that have 'dam' in their names. This was the theme of the ride, a 60 km circle taking us through all the 'dam' villages and along the Ijsselmeer lake. Temperature was around 12 degrees by departure, finished up at around 20 degrees. Took us about 3 hours to complete the ride with two stops at 'refueling' stations on the way.

One of the two main attractions of this ride was the Ij tunnel that they opened to us, so we left the city through a freeway tunnel exit! The second was the route along the Ijsselmeer lake, as shown in the beautiful misty morning sun in the accompanying pictures.

I actually kept track of the calorie buring and for the complete ride it took over 2400 calories. That is a days food for a grown man, so guess I was doing something right. We also ended up with a total of 75 km for the entire ride, between the 60 km for the actual course and the extra 15 while trying to get from the start to the car in Amsterdam north.

This was a very well organized ride, with plenty of markers, good refueling stations, friendly riders (including a good mix of children and lady riders), and very good helpers along the route. There were even professional photographers from should you be so inclined to want to buy a photo. A beautiful ride in the Dutch landscape, a free water bottle, and a silver medal upon completion. What more could a cyclist ask for!

All in all, it was a fun day on the bike and I would recommend it to anyone for next year. I plan to be there!

Friday, September 19, 2008

JBoss Technical Development Manager Mark Little

I got the chance to meet Mark Little yesterday in a session organized by Atos Origin. I was invited to speak about the usage of Open Source, JBoss, and jBPM in our current projects at SNS Bank. It turned out that I did not have to speak, but could just sit back and enjoy a presentation by Mark Little.

I have always been a fan of Open Source projects and listening to the head technical manager describe the new ins and outs of the JBoss projects (specifically JBoss ESB) with pride and a glint in his eye. He emphasized at several points, the importance of the JBoss community. This was nice to see as they have not lost touch since being aqquired by RedHat. It is quite an experience to listen to someone with such passion and feel for humor in his presentation style. I guess I am not seeing enough presentation here in the Netherlands that are so flamboyant.

Outside of the details of the presentation, which are nice for my work enviornment but have nothing to do with my current running project, it was a relaxed atmosphere at the after-party. Over drinks and munchies we got the chance to shoot the breeze about jBPM, his background, and a bit of mine. What struck me the most was his down to earth nature and his story telling ability.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Thank you Lance

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Caffee vs Tea, which has more caffeine

This is an off the wall posting about a topic that has been running around the workplace at about every IT job I have had. Coffee drinkers get headaches in the weekend from too much caffeine and think switching to tea will help. I finally sat down and did a bit of research on this and here are my findings (a hint, the tea drinkers are partially right):

At the Indiana University Library you can see the details, but the summary is that " average pound of tea has the equivalent caffeine content of two average pounds of coffee." As one does not eat coffee or tea by the bean or leaf, this means nothing.

If we look at the results produced by a single pound of coffee or tea we see that it "...will result in only 40 cups of coffee, whereas the pound of tea leaves will result in 160 cups."

Can you do the math?

This means that a cup of coffee has twice the amount of caffeine as a cup of tea.

Back to the discussion at workplaces around the globe. You can switch from coffee to tea, but this is not a caffeine free drink. According to Consumer Reports, both coffee and tea drinkers have nothing to fear when they drink in moderation.

Sound like a plan to me, time for a coffee break!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Cycling summer 2008

I have been a bit remis in keeping this section on cycling updated with my latest rides. I guess the best course is to sum up the summer (June - July - August) in a single post and mention my next ride coming up.

I have been cycling quite a bit to work and around the area when possible to extend the 20km distance that is my home-work ride. I have averaged around 450 - 500 km per month over the summer which is 1350-1500 km's in total. This included my vacation in the Belgium Ardennes, which was really great with all the climbing I was able to do!

I have also signed up for the Dam to Dam ride in September. I am doing it with a few friends that don't ride much, so instead of the 140km tour, we will be doing the 60km. It is pretty cool as they shutdown the roads for you and we get to ride through the I-tunnel to exit and enter Amsterdam.

I have also started to look into a newer bike, let's say an upgrade from the VT 730c I have on up to the VT 780. I would like to get onto a bit better gear before I ride up the big monster hills next year on vacation! 

Draft: Empowering Full Scale Straight Through Processing with BPM

I wanted to post a draft copy of the submitted paper here as I had promised, so here you go. I am currently reworking this paper based on the comments received when it was submitted to BPM 2008. Comments are welcome!

I should mention that I plan to test some of the reworked content in a few upcoming speaking engagements, such as the LinuxWorldExpo and at ATOS Origin's Open Source Expert Group event next week. I will post more on these as they happen.

UPDATE: removed old draft copy, please see CAiSE 2009 posting where this paper got reworked and accepted.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ubuntu compile your installed kernel howto

I have often the need to build some driver (like a VMWare network driver) against the installed kernel headers. To do this you need to do a bit of work on Ubuntu before the driver will compile:

# Get to the right location and ensure your current kernel 
# headers are installed.
$ cd /usr/src$ uname -r2.6.24-19-generic

# so in my case I need the 2.6.24.-19 headers.
$ sudo aptitude install linux-source linux-headers-2.6.24-19 \
                        kernel-package libncurses5-dev

# unpack sources and link them, ensuring that /usr/src/linux
# points to the source tree.
$ sudo ln -s /usr/src/linux-source-2.6.24 linux

# create the .config in your headers directory.
$ cd linux
$ sudo cp /boot/config-2.6.24-19-generic .config

# now we can make the build of our kernel.
$ make && make modules

# after this is finished I am able to build my VMWare
# driver by pointing it to the /usr/src/linux tree.
# note that I do not install the kernel, just create the
# necessary files to build drivers.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Maven-Daven t-shirt poll is up

I have been asked to fill in the shoes of a departing member of our team at work as the backup administrator / troubleshooter to our Maven-Maestro-Continuum-Sonar machine. This entails supporting the development team with Maven repository problems, continuous build monitoring, and all around Linux maintenance tasks on our build box at work.

Poll background story:
As the departing member of our team was named Dave, many called him 'Maven-Daven'. I hope to achieve the same status, but my name is not really matching that nice rhythm, so I thought maybe I can earn the Maven-Daven t-shirt!

What do you think?  Am I ready for it?

Vote now on the poll, available until the end of the month, so vote now!