Long run schedule for May

If you have been following my long run schedule to train for the San Francisco marathon 2008. Here is the schedule for the month of May.

 May 3rd  10 miles
 May 10th  12 miles
 May 17th  14 miles
 May 24th  10 miles
 May 31th 16 miles

 It is also a good idea to start doing some speed workouts at this time. Speed workouts help in the long runs by increasing the efficiency at which your muscles burn oxygen. The efficiency of the body to use oxygen is measured using VO2 max. You can use the McMillan’s running calculator to determine the optimal speed at which you can get the maximum benefit of a speed workout.

Update: Corrected the mileage for May 3rd.

Earth is not highly available

Many have reviewed the popular Jared Diamond’s book, Guns, Germs and Steel. It is a good book that talks about the history of humankind and provides broad explanations for the direction in which different parts of the world have evolved.

There is a slightly less popular but equally engaging book by the same author called Collapse. Collapse is a effort to understand the reasons why certain societies of the world collapsed. Jared says that there are five major causes why societies collapse. They are,

  1. Damage that people inadvertently inflict on their environment
  2. Natural climate change
  3. Hostile Neighbors
  4. Decreased support by friendly neighbors
  5. Society’s responses to its problems

It pains me to hear about people eating mud to survive in our times. Human population is straining the resources of the earth. If Gaia hypothesis is true, then earth will just realign itself to a newer equilibrium. There are multiple causes at play that has lead to this food crisis, but it is our responses to these problems that will define our future. What am I doing about it ? For starters, I am reducing my consumption to only what I really need. Stop wasting resources that are at my disposal.

Running schedule for San Francisco Marathon 2008

 I ran "almost" two marathons last year. The "almost" is for the Chicago marathon 2007 that was shut down after about 4 hours into the race. Here are the details.

This year I have registered to run the San Francisco marathon. This marathon is a nice one to run for its amazing views and people get to run across the famed Golden Gate Bridge. It is also not for the faint of heart because the course is a hilly course. If you are interested you can train with me. Here is the plan for the first four long runs. Join me, the training starts this weekend. If you are around the bay area you can join my training runs too.

 April 5th  4 miles
 April 12th  7 miles
 April 19th  8 miles
 April 26th  6 miles

Synchronization of common agent container security files

Solaris Cluster uses common agent container as part of its management infrastructure. The common agent container (CAC) uses public key mechanisms for encryption and authentication. Here is the complete guide that explains CAC in lot more detail.

In Solaris Cluster, the CAC keys must be the same on all the nodes of the cluster, so that the management infrastructure can communicate with all the cluster nodes. Cluster software ensures that these keys are same on all the cluster nodes. However there could be scenarios when these keys go out of sync. When that happens, you will start seeing errors like below,

             ERROR: Unable to connect to the common agent container on node
             pneta1. Ensure that the common agent container is running and you
             have the required authorizations to connect to the common agent
             container on this node.

    Press RETURN to continue


 Here are the steps to correct this situation.

1. Stop CAC on all the cluster nodes

   #/usr/sbin/cacaoadm stop 


2. Copy the CAC security files from one node of the cluster to all the other nodes of the cluster.

    On any one node do, 

   cd /etc/cacao/instances/default/

   tar cf /tmp/SECURITY.tar security

   then transfer the SECURITY.tar to all the nodes and do,

   cd /etc/cacao/instances/default/

   tar xf /tmp/SECURITY.tar

   You can now remove all the copies of SECURITY.tar


3. Restart the CAC on all the cluster nodes

    /usr/sbin/cacaoadm start

 This procedure is explained in detail here. Join our communities around CAC and Solaris Cluster for more.

Mepco Schlenk College Visit and a Moral Dilemma

I went on a trip to India recently. During that time, I got a chance to visit the college where I studied for four years to get my engineering degree. My professors were thrilled to see me. It was nice to get introduced as one of their best students to my wife. I gave a lecture to the computer science engineering students about the concepts of open source and the mutual benefits involved. I talked about opensolaris and about some of the technologies that are present there. The students were interested to know about Sun as a company, the way projects work at Sun, and about the culture. Overall, it was a rewarding experience for everyone. 
Mepco Schlenk Visit – 2008

It has been more than 10 years since I last visited the place. There are lot of changes in the college since last time. There are lot more courses offered now and therefore many new buildings have sprung up. It is good to see the college growing in this way. I got to visit the new mathematics lab. This lab is very interesting. The lab contains many puzzles, analytical problems, and tools to solve them in a practical manner. The lab is a very good idea.

Mepco Schlenk Engineering College is also known for its very strict rules and for its severe punishments for breaking the rules. The rules of the college have gotten stricter, since the time I studied there. A more recent rule in the college hostels is, a girl can leave the college hostel to go out, if and only if, one of the girl’s parent is physically present with the girl. The stated purpose of its rule is to prevent dating and for the girl’s protection. This rule does not exist for the boys in the college hostels.

The effect of this rule is that girls cannot go to technical conferences or present papers outside the college campus, unless a parent comes over to the college to take them there. This rule is discriminative based on sex. It is very sad and I can understand the frustrations of the students.

I did get a chance to talk to the Principal of the college and give my feedback, but  I think there is very little chance of this changing anytime soon.  All this puts me in the horns of a moral dilemma. Should I support my alma mater, share my experiences and help the students studying there ? Wouldn’t it indirectly endorse the rules of the college ? If I do not ever go there because I do not like certain rules of the college, then who loses ? What is lost ? How does the voice of dissent get heard ? I do not know the answers.

Economics of altruism?

If you like behavioral economics, this article titled, "What Makes People Give?" is a nice read. I wish I had read some of these reports before I tried my hand at fund-raising last year. My only peeve with the article is that there are no links to the formalized studies by John List and Dean Karlan. It would be nice to look into the research studies in more detail.

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner is another good read on behavioral economics. I read this book last year based on James’s recommendation.

By the way, what is it between apples and these economists!

5k/10k spring run for 2008

I participated in a 10k race organized by Team Asha last spring.  It was my first long distance race and it took me 1 hour and 30 minutes to run those 6.2 miles. I ended up training for a marathon with Team Asha and I ran the Chicago marathon and the Silicon Valley marathon during the fall season the same year. It is amazing what a little bit of training and a bunch of motivated people can do. Later that year in November, the fitness center at the Sun Campus in Menlo Park conducted a 10k race and I was able to run the same 6.2 miles in 53 min 28 sec.

This year the Team Asha spring run is this coming weekend, the 16th of March. They are planning a carnival this time with more activities, games and food too. I plan to run this 10k race again as the first race for 2008. Wish me luck.

If you are around the bay area this weekend, this race would be a fun place to drop-by. 

Changing Sun Cluster Manager port, 6789

There have been requests from people who want to change the port through which Sun Cluster Manager(SCM) is accessed. SCM, like many other web applications from Sun, is accessed through the Sun Java Web Console. By default, Sun Java Web Console is accessed via a secure HTTP port 6789. In fact, the port numbers 6786 to 6789 are assigned for Sun Java Web Console and no other application should use these ports.

Here is a procedure, that I used recently, that changes these ports, if necessary. Maybe this will be useful for others as well.

1. Find out the version of the Sun Java Web Console that you currently have.

    /usr/sbin/smcwebserver -V

2. If the version is 3.0.2, then do the following.

   smcwebserver stop

   cd /var/webconsole/domains

   rm -rf console

   cd /etc/webconsole/console

   rm status.properties

   rm regcache/registry.properties

   edit config.properties

       Replace values for console_httpsport and console_httpport
       // If on Solaris 10, clear the service:

      svcadm clear system/webconsole:console

   smcwebserver start

3.   If the version is greater than 3.0.2, then do the following.

   smcwebserver stop

   /usr/share/webconsole/bin/wcswap -t tomcat -s <nnnn> -p <nnnn>
       // If on Solaris 10, clear the service:

      svcadm clear system/webconsole:console

   smcwebserver start


IEEE Cluster 2007 Conference

Ira and I attended the IEEE Cluster 2007 conference last month.  This conference was held at Austin, Texas from September 17-20. This was a technical conference with hands-on tutorials, paper presentations, poster sessions and panel discussions related to cluster computing.  Cluster computing means both high-performance cluster computing, and high-availability clustering in this conference.

 A poster paper that I co-authored, "CHAF – An Object Oriented Framework for Configuring Applications in a Clustered Environment" was accepted for the conference. This framework was implemented in Sun Cluster 3.2. I gave a live demonstration of this implementation on my laptop with a lab cluster at the back end. My session and demo were well received, to the extent that a Sun customer referred to it in his email to Sun later.Sun Cluster Manager Task Page

Andy Bechtolsheim gave the opening keynote, at the conference, on "Scaling to Petaflops". He talked about challenges of peta-scale, the opportunities and Sun’s work in this area. He said that the primary challenge is memory speed scaling to meet the extra compute power delivered by the multiple cores.

 The two main topics that were the focus of the research papers and discussions, were multi-core and virtualization.  The panel discussion topic was multi-core computing, and the panelists were from IBM, Intel, UT Austin, nVIDIA and AMD. Prof. Steve Keckler used the phrase "termites, chainsaws and bulldozers" to refer to the different numbers of cores per chip, and it was clear by the end of the panel session that this phrase had caught on among the panelists and the audience!

 Ira and I also got an opportunity to visit Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Austin. This center is building a new supercomputer using Sun machines and the new Sun Magnum switch. It will be the largest supercomputer in the world when it becomes operational at the end of this year. It will have about 4000 nodes in the system. The whole site and the system was very impressive.

 The conference organizers had arranged a social outing with a barbecue dinner and live music (two live rock bands) at an Austin landmark restaurant, Stubbs. You might have seen their barbecue sauce in a local Safeway.

 One thought that stayed with me after the conference was from the closing keynote about "The Challenges and Rewards of Petascale Clusters", by Mark Seager from Lawrence Livermore National Labs. Mark Seager mentioned that different technologies that are in main stream today were present in the research community at least 20 years back. Some examples that he gave were garbage collection, virtual machines, and object oriented design. He stated that parallel programming was a technology that was not mainstream yet. I look forward to seeing Sun playing a big part in this.

Help me educate children

There are certain things in life that give me great pleasure. Among the top is intellectual stimulation. My job provides me with plenty of those. Another aspect that is almost as good is, when I help someone and see their eyes light up. You have to be physically close to the person that you are helping to see that. It could be any kind of help. Teaching someone the way something works; helping someone see a familiar situation in a new perspective; providing a helping hand to someone slipping down a hill. It is the same feeling, the feeling of doing good. It is the discovery of the exact value of your action to the receiver.

There is a problem with this, it is the problem of scale. The problem with enjoying the feeling of altruism is that it is not always possible to be physically close to the person that you want to help. so what do you do ? I try to find a organization that I can trust, a organization that has a similar goal. I have recently chosen a cause which has the greatest impact, the cause of educating children. Say what you will about people that are poor, but the children of the under-priviledged cannot go to school because they do not have a choice. They are on the path of withering away without even an opportunity to succeed. That is not right. I intend to fight to change it.

People have dedicated their life for a cause that they believe in, I am just running a marathon. I want to make a difference to these children’s lives. I want to see the light in their eyes. I want to visit the school at Pune to see the effect. If I do, I will provide a complete report, I promise. Join me in this cause and support my marathon. Let us make a child smile with gratitude. It will change their lives forever, guaranteed.