Australian Android Phone

Kogan, an Australian company who usually specialise in LCD’s, are making a mobile handset (the Agora) for Google Android (which uses the Linux kernel) with 3G, quad band GSM, GPS, wifi, Bluetooth, etc… It’s due to start shipping at the end of January and I’ve just pre-ordered mine to hopefully provide a more functional open source phone and let me hack more with my OpenMoko phone without having to worry about not having a working phone.

Kogan Agora Pro mobile phone

Android Copies What You Type…

…not in a malicious way, but in a rather amusing and potentially destructive one.. 🙂

It seems as though there is a /system/sbin/sh running in the background with
/dev/console as stdin. That could explain why typing “reboot” and then enter (in
ConnectBot or otherwise) will reboot your phone. If you type “telnetd”, telnet into
your phone, and look at the /proc/XX/fd tree for the /system/sbin/sh process, you can
see it clearly.

Until you’ve grabbed the RC30 update that fixes this it’s probably best not to do much sysadmin work from one, especially if that involves rm -rf foo.. 😉 This was via LWN, which has the priceless comment:

I wonder how many android phones were running at half speed after someone replied “yes” to someone…


Google Chrome


At Google, we have a saying: “launch early and iterate.” While this approach is usually limited to our engineers, it apparently applies to our mailroom as well! As you may have read in the blogosphere, we hit “send” a bit early on a comic book introducing our new open source browser, Google Chrome.

The Wikipedia page has more info, apparently it’s based on WebKit. Expect the Windows beta in the next day or so, with Linux and OSX to come. Open source of course.

Google to host Open Source scientific data sets

Now this sounds really interesting..

Sources at Google have disclosed that the humble domain,, will soon provide a home for terabytes of open-source scientific datasets. The storage will be free to scientists and access to the data will be free for all.

They may also provide data viz tools..

Building on the company’s acquisition of the data visualization technology, Trendalyzer, from the oft-lauded, TED presenting Gapminder team, Google will also be offering algorithms for the examination and probing of the information.

There is more information (including about why Google intend to import data by shipping RAID arrays around the world) here and (more up to date) here.

We live in exciting times!

Google Code Search

If you’re ever looking around for a piece of code to do something, then you should try Google’s Code Search.

For example, say I’m looking for some C code to parse RFC 2822 mail headers (which, strangely enough, I am). I go to codesearch and put in a search term of lang:c rfc2822

That gives me back a bunch of results, but say I want to look for something with a BSD license to use with Vacation, then I just extend that search with a license:bsd term, which gives me the great news that SMail (which I used to run 13-14 years ago now) has a librfc2822 directory, which deserves further investigation!

Google Toilet ISP (beta) (Updated)

Chalk up another great Google April Fool.. 🙂

Google TiSP (BETA) is a fully functional, end-to-end system that provides in-home wireless access by connecting your commode-based TiSP wireless router to one of thousands of TiSP Access Nodes via fiber-optic cable strung through your local municipal sewage lines.

Google Toilet ISP - Going with the Flow

Google – turning the fear that the Internet is a sewer into reality. 🙂

Update: Google have another, which is Google Paper. This one found via Wikipedia’s list of April Fools for 2007.

Google Paper on Hard Disk Failures (Updated)

Eugen Leitl posted an interesting paper from Google to the Beowulf list, Failure Trends in a Large Disk Drive Population (PDF), where “large” is in excess of 100,000 drives. The paper abstract says:

Our analysis identifies several parameters from the drive’s self monitoring facility (SMART) that correlate highly with failures. Despite this high correlation, we conclude that models based on SMART parameters alone are unlikely to be useful for predicting individual drive failures. Surprisingly, we found that temperature and activity levels were much less correlated with drive failures than previously reported.

Some of the Beowulfers have come up with constructive criticism of the paper, including interesting comment from rgb:

How did they look for predictive models on the SMART data? It sounds like they did a fairly linear data decomposition, looking for first order correlations. Did they try to e.g. build a neural network on it, or use fully multivariate methods (ordinary stats can handle it up to 5-10 variables).

and from Mark Hahn:

funny, when I saw figure5, I thought the temperature effect was pretty dramatic. in fact, all the metrics paint a pretty clear picture of infant mortality, then reasonably fit drives suriving their expected operational life (3 years). in senescence, all forms of stress correlate with increased failure. I have to believe that the 4/5th year decreases in AFR are either due to survival effects or sampling bias.

It will be interesting to see if they take notice of this open source peer review as there is at least one person from Google on the list.

Update: There is also a Usenix paper on hard disk failures that looks at different hard disc types.

ZFS Disk Mirroring, Striping and RAID-Z

This is the third in a series of tests (( the previous ones are ZFS on Linux Works! and ZFS versus XFS with Bonnie++ patched to use random data )), but this time we’re going to test out how it handles multiple drives natively, rather than running over an existing software RAID+LVM setup. ZFS has the ability to dynamically add disks to a pool for striping (the default) mirroring or RAID-Z (with single or double parity) which are designed to improve speed (with striping), reliability (with mirroring) and performance and reliability (with RAID-Z).

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