Mandatory Detetion Powers for Australian Government over H1N1 Outbreak

An interesting titbit from the ABC:

The Federal Government has enacted powers to allow for mandatory detention of people in Australia suspected of having swine flu, if the situation was to worsen.

Whilst these are scary powers I suspect it will be necessary in the case of the current outbreak becoming a lethal pandemic, given many peoples inability to to complete a course of drugs for an illness, and thus vastly increasing its risk of becoming resistant. It’s just evolution in action..

Tram Meets Car

Courtesy of Jeremy, a YouTube video of cars trying to turn in front of trams in an unnamed city in America. Most of them are people either turning illegally or just not paying attention, sigh… 🙁

What makes this one more than just a curiosity is that I stumbled across a FOI response about such accidents in Houston, Texas and happened to notice that the dates on the video matched the ones in the PDF, and that the tram numbers and descriptions of the vehicles involved matched too. The document even names the drivers and lists the amount of damage they caused!

PS: Thanks Gary for the (hopefully) XHTML 1.0 Strict way of embedding YouTube videos!

Oracle buys Sun ? (Updated)

Thanks to Chris Dagdigian on the Beowulf list for pointing out:

It’s official:

That link says:

REDWOOD SHORES, Calif., April 20, 2009 — Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ: ORCL) and Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ: JAVA) announced today they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Oracle will acquire Sun common stock for $9.50 per share in cash. The transaction is valued at approximately $7.4 billion, or $5.6 billion net of Sun’s cash and debt.

First thought – what on earth does that mean for MySQL ?

Update: this appears to be answered (well, as much as you can in a paragraph) in this FAQ document on the Oracle website (PDF):

MySQL will be an addition to Oracle’s existing suite of database products, which already includes Oracle Database 11g, TimesTen, Berkeley DB open source database, and the open source transactional storage engine, InnoDB.

Second thought – what on earth does it mean for the Sun NCI/BoM HPC deal in Australia ? HPC is hardly Oracle’s market..

Update – it appears the Oracle website can’t cope, currently it’s saying:

No Response from Application Web Server
 There was no response from the application web server for the page you requested. 
Please notify the site's webmaster and try your request again later.

I wonder if they need a LAMP stack to help them out ? 😉

Update 2Joe points out in his take on the deal that Sun employ(ed) a bunch of core PostgreSQL developers too, which could make life even more interesting..

Final thought for the night – what does this mean for btrfs, ZFS and Solaris licensing ? Oracle have said they are still committed to Linux, so perhaps we’ll see them trying to resolve the NetApp/Sun WAFL/ZFS patent lawsuits in a GPL compliant manner and then relicensing Solaris under the GPL – that would be sensible I think from their point of view as they could then use the good points of Solaris (dtrace and ZFS) to help improve the Linux kernel and benefit from a much larger developer community than they could otherwise get their hands on (OpenSolaris being a niche OS). Of course I won’t hold my breath, but it wouldn’t surprise me either..

Jaunty gotchas..

A couple of things to be aware of before you upgrade to Jaunty (9.04)..

  • Amarok v1 has been dropped, so if (like me) Amarok2 doesn’t do all you need with iPod’s, etc, then you’ll need Bogdan Butnaru’s Amarok 1.4 PPA to get the classic version for Jaunty.
  • Currently there are issues with MytTV and ATI cards in Mythbuntu (and presumably all other Ubuntu variants) where it won’t display fonts, there’s a Launchpad bug for it and a proposed fix in Mesa waiting for approval at present. The work around is to disable DRI in you xorg.conf for the ATI card, or you can add Mario Limonciello’s PPA containing Mesa builds with his proposed fix.

Other than that I’ve been happily running Jaunty on a number of boxes for a while and it’s been pretty painless so far – though I’m using the mainline kernels on all of them.

Microsoft Guilty of Patent Infringement (again)

A patent infringement battle that’s been going on in the US for 6 years between Uniloc and Microsoft over an Australian invention that lies behind the product activation used in Windows and MS Office, etc has been resolved – and Microsoft has lost to the tune of a cool US$388 million – that’s over half a billion Australian dollars…

On Wednesday, the jury found Microsoft wilfully infringed the patent.

Wilful infringement means that Microsoft knew about it and didn’t care, rather than just not knowing it had been patented. Microsoft tried to argue that the patent was invalid, but the jury didn’t buy that argument. All rather ironic after the Tom-Tom issue (they settled as Microsoft were about to get their imports to the US blocked prior to any judgement on whether or not it was a real issue)..

There’s an interview with the CEO of Uniloc, Brad Gibson, about the verdict on the ABC website.

My first art exhibition!

Donna convinced me that I we should do a joint art exhibition with her paintings and sculptures and my photography and ceramic work, and so in my usual timely manner (not) our “Wonderment” exhibition opens tomorrow (Saturday 18th April) at the Jarmbi Gallery, Burrinja Cultural Center, 352 Glenfern Rd, Upwey here in Victoria and runs until the 10th May.

Tomorrow (Saturday 18th April) is our opening event running from 1pm to 3pm – if you can make it we’d love to see you!

Connex Code Broken!

After my experiences this morning I think I can confidently say I’ve broken Connex’s secret code – see what they really mean when their website says:

All services are running normally.

is this:

  • No overhead power working for trains
  • No trackside power for the signalling system
  • Trains replaced by buses
  • Not enough qualified running staff at the station where the buses terminate to drive the train that’s waiting to take people to the city

Silly me, there was I thinking it meant that I could get into work in just one hour, rather than two..

Default ext3 mode changing in 2.6.30 (updated)

Here’s something for Linux users to be cognisant of – the default mount option for ext3’s journaling is going to changing from “data=ordered” (i.e. data is committed to disk prior to its metadata) to “data=writeback” (i.e. file metadata may be committed to disk before the file data is). This may be down to Ted Ts’o’s fixes for ext3 fsync() latency in that mode which spawned a long thread on the ext4 list.

Update: apparently Ted floated the idea at the 2009 Linux Storage & Filesystems Workshop, in his session “fsync(), rename(), barriers” – the LWN article notes it made people nervous, saying:

This idea was received with a fair amount of discomfort. The data=writeback mode brings back problems that were fixed by data=ordered; after a crash, a file which was being written could turn up with completely unrelated data in it. It could be somebody else’s sensitive data. Even if it’s boring data, the problem looks an awful lot like file corruption to many users. It seems like a step backward and a change which is hard to justify for a filesystem which is headed toward maintenance mode. So it would be surprising to see this change made.

It was later followed by the post script: “[After writing the above, your editor noticed that Linus had just merged a change to make data=writeback the default for ext3 in 2.6.30. Your editor, it seems, is easily surprised.]“.

Given the massive filesystem thread I guess this is going to make for more interesting times on LKML.. ;-/

Update 2: Forgot to mention too that the relatime option will be the default in 2.6.30, so by default the access time of a file will no longer be updated for every read.