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Comment Re:I don't understand how this is a "record" (Score 2) 84

There's a difference between technical work and being tech support. Usually, the latter are the ones not good enough to be systems administrators. Higher tier tech support comes close, but nearly every tech support person I've met was some drone who read solution recipes out of a book.

Submarine crews are usually very intelligent and highly skilled at their job. They can't count on outside support and have to be able to operate autonomously for weeks or months on end. When sub sailors get out of the Navy, they're usually able to find suitable employment quickly and have the mental tools to do nearly anything they like.

I was a Sonar Technician (STS1(SS)) on two 688 class attack subs for 6 years and stayed in the ASW world for a few years after getting out of the Navy, then shifted into systems engineering and Unix administration. I'm now a systems architect running large-ish distributed computational clusters. I know of guys who became electrical engineers, doctors, teachers, etc.

Comment Re:Submariners can have fun too (Score 1) 84

Aside from "trim parties" (that's what we called them), we raised the art of the prank to a fine art. Ranging from asking people to get 50 feet of shore line, a bucket of relative bearing grease or obtaining the serial numbers of "water slugs", which are nothing more than columns of water pushed out the torpedo tubes during testing. The classic prank is to get some NUB (aka Non-Useful Body) to gather outgoing mail from the crew, then don every imaginable bit of foul weather gear, life harness, helo transfer helmet, high voltage shorting probe and stand at parade rest under the bridge hatch while the boat was coming to periscope depth, ostensibly to deposit the outgoing mail in the "Mail Buoy" and retrieve mail for the crew.

Obviously, there's no such thing as a mail buoy, but it sounds credible to a new crew member and since we were the masters of a deadpan delivery, we could nearly always catch someone with that one.

Comment Re:I don't understand how this is a "record" (Score 1) 84

I was a crew member on two 688-class attack subs. Yes, they were a bit tight but they're not especially claustrophobic. Obviously, that's subjective. While my longest stretch submerged was 61 days, I know of crews that spent over 90 days submerged. You're essentially limited by the amount of food you carry.

"Constant quiet" is relative. They don't want you banging on stuff or making excessive noise, but you can talk, laugh and listen to movies and music without issue unless the boat is rigged for ultra-quiet.

Rationing? Really? Sub crews eat better than pretty much any other branch of service. Unless the storekeepers messed up, there's plenty of food for all and some people manage to gain too much weight if they're not careful.

The biggest difference I can see between what Mr. Cousteau is doing and what we were doing is that they're exposed to ambient pressure at a fairly shallow depth while we were mostly at atmospheric pressure the entire time. And we didn't have windows to see the pretty fishies (unless you count the deadlight in the watertight door, the viewport into the reactor compartment and the window on the washing machine.

Comment On board an attack submarine (Score 1) 310

I was a crewmember on the USS Baton Route (SSN-689) and we were given a Tektronix 4051 computer to assist with SONAR range of the day predictions and whatnot. Since there was no place in SONAR to keep it, it was strapped down up forward in the SONAR Equipment Space. I spent many hours learning BASIC from the language reference manual and taught myself how to code the worlds ugliest spaghetti code ever. I did learn to write some usable programs over time that weren't so fugly and were even fairly useful.

Submission + - Questionable Patents From MakerBot ( 1

An anonymous reader writes: OpenBeam USA is a Kickstarted company that builds open source aluminum construction systems (think erector sets). One of the main uses for the system is building 3D printers, and creator Terence Tam is heavily involved in the 3D-printing community. He's now put up a blog post about some disturbing patents filed by MakerBot. In particular, he notes a patent for auto-levelling on a 3D printer. Not only is this an important upcoming technology for 3D printers, the restriction of which would be a huge blow to progress, it seems the patent was filed just a few short weeks after Steve Graber posted a video demonstrating such auto-levelling. There had also been a Kickstarter campaign for similar tech a few months earlier. Tam gives this warning: 'Considering the Stratasys — Afinia lawsuit, and the fact that Makerbot is now a subsidiary of Stratasys, it's not a stretch to imagine Makerbot coming after other open source 3D manufacturers that threaten their sales. After all, nobody acquires a patent warchest just to invite their competitors to sit around the campfire to sing Kumbaya. It is therefore vitally important that community developed improvements do not fall under Makerbot's (or any other company's) patent portfolio to be used at a later date to clobber the little guys.'

Comment Re:I won't be buying one... (Score 1) 632

And they're going to retrofit all of our guns how?

Geez, comrade. What should we do until then? Surrender them for 'safekeeping' while they figure out how to retrofit an old M38 Mauser or Finnish Mosin-Nagant? How long will they keep my WWI era Luger, my 1952 Russian SKS or the AR15 I use to shoot in Service Rifle competitions? What about black powder rifles and handguns? What about knives? What about blunt instruments, broken glass or even gasoline?

One of the biggest mass killings in US history was committed with a gallon of gasoline. How are they going to track that? With GPS trackers and fingerprint locks on gas containers? Perhaps they should put rubber bumpers on all the sharp corners of the world so it's impossible to get hurt. Then we'll all be safe, sound and secure, right?

Oh wait. The criminals will be the ones that have the guns without the fingerprint readers.

How about you butt out of our countries business and tend to your own feeble socialistic existence, jackass!

Comment Re:I use it for linux distributions (Score 1) 302

We're currently using the ROCKS cluster distro to run our cluster, but are finding that it's beginning to limit our ability to patch and otherwise maintain our cluster infrastructure. We've adopted cobbler and puppet for some of our HPC assets and will likely switch from ROCKS to more of a home-grown approach to manage our nodes. One thing I dearly love about ROCKS is the Avalanche Installer which uses bittorrent to distribute the image to the nodes when they do their initial build. I've

Are you using that or a similar package to do your node builds?

Comment Re:We're running away from SPARC as fast... (Score 1) 175

A majority of our IT HW budget is for High Performance Computing. We have about 10000 x86 cores running CentOS, about 100 M2070 GPUs and close to a petabyte of Isilon cluster storage in production right now and will be expanding to over 15000 cores in the next year.

If we wanted to use SPARC systems, we couldn't afford anything nearly as powerful or as painless to manage. We don't need OS support other than patches and we're not tied to any particular vendor (other than Isilon). We may implement a Gluster storage cluster to gain independence from sole-source vendors entirely.

We have a couple of Solaris bigots on the team, but they're mostly relegated to running our handful of Solaris boxes and non-cluster storage/backups.

Comment Re:Dont discount SPARC just yet (Score 1) 175

With the advent of cluster file systems, you don't have to pay for unreasonably expensive "bulletproof" hardware anymore. You can set up a Gluster storage cluster on commodity-grade X86 hardware get all the speed and redundancy you need (and are willing to pay for) at vastly cheaper prices. For those that don't want to roll their own, you can use commercial storage clusters by Isilon or storage virtualization devices such as the F5 Acopia with pretty much any storage underneath that you like.

Comment We're running away from SPARC as fast... (Score 4, Informative) 175

We're running away from SPARC as fast as we can.

Our unix shop used to be primarily SPARC-based, but with limited IT budgets, we're able to do far more with much less money using HP blades running CentOS.

For most purposes, SPARC hardware is far too expensive and Oracle seems to be doing all they can to kill Solaris.

We still run a handfull of SPARC systems that run specialized applications and a few Solaris zones, but nearly all other services have been pushed to natively hosted Linux systems, or virtual machines running Windows or Linux.

Comment Re:To learn Red Hat .... (Score 1) 573

The point of this particular thread-let is what to learn if you're after an IT career. I don't know of any respectable Unix admin that would choose Fedora over CentOS in the enterprise.

CentOS (and Scientific Linux) are both well-respected, stable OSs built from the RHEL source. It's basically Redhat without all of the licensing silliness.

As was mentioned in another thread, Unix is best learned in a VM that's regularly snapshotted. That way, if you hork things up, you can revert without a lot of pain. Having to set up a system from scratch because you broke it and keep breaking it will dissuade new users from learning essential skills.

I also suggest that if someone wants to learn to be a Unix admin, learn the vi editor. Don't use a gui-based crutch until you're proficient in vi. I know a lot of people like emacs, but vi is an essential tool.

Learning to write shell scripts is also an essential skill, but stick with a mainstream shell. Csh is godawful, and zsh is too obscure for the enterprise. Ksh implementations used to be very spotty, especially when moving scripts between Solaris and Linux.

Learn some of the other tools like awk, sed, grep, cut, sort and uniq.

There's a huge shortage of decent Unix admins and a glut of Windows admins. Most of the Unix Admins we interview can't script unless they're stealing from something someone else wrote and most don't understand the innards of how the OS even works.

Comment Re:Once you solve the hardware challenges..... (Score 1) 160

It comes with a pretty recent version of SGE and openmpi installed. It's fully capable of using NFS shares and many people have used it with Infiniband. Cluster monitoring's done with ganglia. The kernel's customizable and you can add your own modules as "rolls" and can manage packages either as a post install or build it into the kickstart for each node. We use Isilon for our shared storage, but we're probably going to be setting up a gluster storage cluster too.

Rocks is a great way for an organization to get their feet wet with high performance computing, but we're beginning to find some limitations especially when it comes to security patching.

We're working on a next-gen cluster architecture where we will provide the same user interface and resources as Rocks, but will use Cobbler or something similar for provisioning, Puppet for configuration management and either SGE, OGE or Univa grid engine for the scheduler. We plan on using ganglia and nagios for monitoring and will eventually, extend our provisioning, patching and monitoring to cover the rest of the enterprise.

Many people are unenthusiastic about their work.