Puakma: Under the hood

I'm Brendon Upson, jack-of-all-trades, master of one or two. I'm talking about life running a small ISV tackling business issues and leaping technology hurdles in a single bound.

webWise Network Consultants is based in Sydney, Australia and develops the groundbreaking Tornado Server technology.


Poor neglected blog

Filed under: by Brendon Upson on 2010-03-22

Times change.... Blogging was once flavour of the month and is now sadly relegated to a sideline activity. Much work is still occurring but finding the time to talk about it is proving difficult as work and family dominate the waking hours....

Fedora Core 10 network issues

Filed under: by Brendon Upson on 2009-05-14

Hmm. The new "NetworkManager" stuff is just plain broke. Very friggin annoying. So I set a static IP and unchecked the network manager setting only to find each time I reboot the machine, the network interface eth0 did not start. Arrrrgh!!! Finally figured out what was going. By default the 'network' service does not start. So after enabling the service and restarting it, eth0 appears. Yay. Rebooted the machine as a test and all is (finally) good. 

A week with the iPhone

Filed under: by Brendon Upson on 2009-01-21

After continually getting poor mobile reception in my office I ditched my old provider (3) and moved to a new iPhone and Optus. Here's my week so far with the iPhone.

As with all Apple products its industrial design is fantastic. The finish is slick, it has enough weight to let you know it's solid but light enough to easily cart about. Again like most Apple products it has a limited number of external buttons and it quite intuitive to use. In fact the manual in the box is almost non-existant!

What I like:
- The finish, form and styling
- The screen is amazing as is the OS
- The gesture based UI is very intuitive
- You can switch between 3G and GSM networks (yeeha!)
- Wireless performance is good, easily locates and connects to access points
- The app store and apps are a great way to extend the phone, weather, times, conversions, ...
- The virtual keyboard guesses well when you make a typo and magically fixes it
- Having a decent web browser so I can look stuff up while I'm on the go
- GPS finds your location quickly

What I don't like:
- Every time I plug it in to the laptop iPhoto starts up. Annoying
- Synching is via a cable rather than bluetooth
- Uses a non-standard charger. Would have been nice if it accepted Nokia style power.
- Google maps for navigation is rubbish. No voice navigation, useless in the car, plus the screen powers off after the timeout. No map cache so you have to be connected to the internet all the time, which would be fine if the 3g network was better :-(
- You can't easily use it without looking at the screen (Don't use your mobile while driving!) because there are no raised buttons to feel for
- There are some UI quirks where it occasionally (rarely) becomes temporarily unresponsive
- Bluetooth is incredibly limited, no way to send photos, contacts etc between phones - this was great on the nokia
- No MMS. Not a train smash but really, would it kill Apple to include it??
- There's a ton of cr@p in the app store
- No easy way to access the phones 3g internet from my laptop
- No external memory cards - again would it kill Apple to include one? 8 or 16gig is limiting if you have a pile of videos
- the 'buttons' on the virtual keyboard are quite small, if you have big fingers it would be more difficult to use

Despite the negatives I really liking it. I assume that software upgrades will solve most iof the niggles. Email is my world so having easy access is great - and a drain - 'hey, I'll just check my email again while we're waiting for the entrees to come out'.  The lines are now getting very blurred between mobile phone and computer. Over time as processing power and battery technology improves we'll see the phone become more of a computer and less of a phone.

Sadly the quality of the 3g network is its weakness. As soon as your 3g connection drops out (and you don't have a wireless network) the phone is partially lobotomized.

Merry Xmas!

Filed under: by Brendon Upson on 2008-12-23

As we prepare for the onslaught of visitors, this is a quick note to say Merry Christmas dear reader(s). Here's to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2009.

May all your endings be happy :-)

Rock on!

Filed under: by Brendon Upson on 2008-12-12

As we gear up for xmas I have nabbed an early one for me. The time has come to upgrade the guitar amplifier. My old (1992) Marshall Valvestate S80 is not sounding so hot these days with crackly pots and only one valve on the dirty channel. It's gotta be all valve with solid back speakers....

In the true tradition of 'buy once, buy right', I've gone the MesaBoogie route. I have a Triaxis on its way from the US - they are almost non-existant second hand here and extortionate new: $4,850 ! Ouch. And that's just the preamp. I'm now on the lookout for a mesa 20/20 valve power amp to go with it. I also dug up some plans for a Thiele design 1 x 12" speaker of which mesa make a version. 

When all is said and done I should have a killer rig that I can take into my twilight years.

My band is in the process of recording the first song with me on guitar so I'm looking forward to hearign how that turns out. Hopefully the Mesa will arive shortly (it should!!) and I can use that for the recording. Fingers crossed.

Long time, no writing

Filed under: by Brendon Upson on 2008-11-23

It's been a busy time of the year. We've had a couple of trips away to see family and introduce Brooke to those who had yet to meet her. On top of that a rather large system implementation at a customer has meant much time spent getting their bits sorted. Mmmm SAP integration. Fun for the whole family....

On top of that I've been giving the guitar(s) a good workout. I am suffering a serious bout of GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) which will hopefully be cured with some Mesa/Boogie amplification. Surely SOMEONE will be wanting to sell a Triaxis for $200!! I live in hope....

On the home front we're busy each weekend still trying to tame the half acre and turn it into an "easycare" block. Needless to say, the chainsaw is getting a good workout.

Christmas will be here before we know it.

Multi-Threading apps

Filed under: by Brendon Upson on 2008-07-07

Last week we upgraded the office VMware server. It's now running an Intel Core2 quad CPU with 8GB RAM. I can't believe how much the price of hardware has fallen. This replaces a 5 year old dual CPU Athlon 2100. The performance leap is HUGE.

Which then got me thinking. The trend is to add more and more cores to CPUs, which is great so long as the software that runs on it is multithreaded. Sure you'll get a good boost by running multiple applications, but what about web applications? Yes, two incoming web requests run in their own threads and there is a certain amount of parallelization (is that a word?) within that request, but at some point the web server will run your custom code which does the actual work. How well does that cater for a parallel approach. My guess is in most cases, not at all. Here we have a bottle neck. Add 100 more cores and your code will go no faster. 

Ok, so just make it multithreaded?

Well, not so fast. This is a difficult LOGICAL problem. Consider you are writing a lump of code to dress a person. Can you put shoes and socks on at the same time? Do trousers come before or after shoes? For most tasks there is a sequential order. It is a difficult task to determine which tasks can be run in parallel and which are sequential and usually there is a combination of both task types.

As programmers we are on the cusp of having to change the way we think about problems and probably use some new tools to get that work done.

Apple, Google, MS and things to come

Filed under: by Brendon Upson on 2008-07-04

Here's a few random thoughts.

1. I managed to snap my right arrow key on my macbook pro (my fault completely....). I though I could get a replacement KEY. No. I have to buy an entire KEYBOARD. Thats $95 plus $75 for a half hour labour. Robbery. Apple will never make it in the server market until they change their hardware support (which is notoriously bad) and pricing.

2. iPhone 3g - big deal?

Sure, it's "just a phone". The device itself is not entirely a market changer, but the way we will use it will be. More and more we will use this (and devices like it) more than we use our PC. Why? Because it's convenient, it's always with us and always connected. This is why the blackberry has been so popular. The difference with the iphone is that for the first time we have a decent size screen and an intuitive way of interacting with it. IMHO microsoft have totally lost the plot. The Windows franchise is dying quickly as worthy competitors in Mac OS X and Linux are hammering at the gates and their online strategy is seemingly non-existant. Devices like the iphone and later Andriod from Google will serve to completely bypass the traditional PC business, meaning Windows and desktop operating systems will become redundant. The phone IS the PC.