Flickr Geotagging Concern

Posted in web at 5:35 pm by wingerz


Flickr recently introduced geotagging support to photos. Apparently it has been quite successful so far, with users tagging well over a million photos since it was first released. It’s pretty easy to use – you can just drag your photos onto a Yahoo Map and flickr will take care of the rest.

While I’m all for having more photo metadata, it is a little scary to think that a non-tech-savvy person might tag personal photos of children, home interiors, and other stuff with the exact coordinates of his or her home (and also pinpoint the location of their camera(s), which might be quite expensive). Flickr lets you set a default privacy level for the geotags (private, friends/family, public), but they recommend the public setting.

In short, I’m hoping that users will be smart about what they geotag. Publicly geotagging your home (or a friend’s place) is not a good idea.


Virtualization and VMWare Disk Management

Posted in development, virtualization at 12:39 am by wingerz


Virtualization offers a number of nice benefits with a degradation in performance. Lee and I enjoy joking about how running a computer inside a computer is mind-blowing. It’s pretty cool that products like Xen and VMWare work so well.

Our group has been pretty interested in virtualization of late. One of our summer projects involved virtualization. Additionally, we’ve been running our RCP-based research platform demo (which runs on top of our RDF store which runs on top of DB2) off a VMWare image. We configured and started up the components necessary for the demo, then took a snapshot of the system so that whoever is running the demo (usually not one of us) can start things off from the snapshot, do whatever they want, and revert to the beginning state at any point. It’s also nice because we don’t have to worry as much about keeping whatever we’re actively working on demo-able at all times. No matter what’s happened to the code base or the underlying database schema, we can always fire up the demo virtual machine.

One particularly attractive scenario involves running customer applications in virtual machines. If the system goes down, the entire image can be shipped out for problem diagnosis. Various solutions can be attempted and if one happen to fail miserably, the changes can be discarded in favor of another approach.

Today I was setting up an image for some of our summer demos. The image I was working with had a paltry 4GB of pre-allocated disk space. It turns out that increasing the size of the disk is not something that can be done from the VMWare GUI. Fortunately, I found helpful blog post. vmware-vdiskmanager is a command-line utility used to resize disks. Not sure why this stuff hasn’t been incorporated into the GUI, but it’s reasonably easy to work with.

To expand the size of the disk:

vmware-vdiskmanager -x 10gb disk.vmdk

Then I installed Partition Magic on the virtual machine and expanded the partition so that it took up the entire disk.

Then I noticed that my virtual disk files were huge – they took up 10GB even though only about 5GB of the disk space was actually being used. I discovered that this was because the existing image that I started with was pre-allocated, which meant that it was not growable, which meant that the disk files could not be compressed.

To change the disk type (to type 1, growable):

vmware-diskmanager -r disk.vmdk -t 1 new.vmdk

Then I edited the vmx file to point to the newly created new.vmdk.

Defragged the disk to maximize compressibility (this can be done either from the VMWare Tools or from inside the virtual machine), and shrank the disk so that it takes up less room on the host machine.

I started out with an image with Windows XP and a few utilities installed. I added DB2 and Eclipse and set up the RDF store. Then I saved the image so that other people in the group can use it as a base to install their demos.


Summer grilling

Posted in food, home cooking at 11:34 am by wingerz

Grilled zucchini

For my birthday (a few months ago), Jess and Cy got me The Cook’s Illustrated Guide To Grilling And Barbecue. I’ve spent some time flipping through it and tried a handful of its delicious recipes and helpful techniques. So far, I’m quite impressed. Yesterday I made the best-looking zucchini of my life, along with 3 pounds of soy-maple salmon (both from the book). I also grilled chicken marinated in Trader Joe’s Soyaki sauce and some Whole Foods rosemary and mint lamb kabobs. At some point I realized that there was going to be plenty of food for 6, so I put the steak tips and sausage that I was also planning to cook into the freezer.

There are so many things that make grilling so satifsying – cooking under the open sky, hearing sizzling sounds, seeing beautiful grill marks, and, of course, eating wonderful food.


End of the summer

Posted in personal, semantic web at 9:18 am by wingerz

On Wednesday our interns, Ben, and I drove down to Southbury, CT to demo Queso, our summer project. The final part of our demo showed a Queso-backed TiddlyWiki containing an entry with some RDFa encoding a calendar event. It displayed nicely as rendered HTML, but it was also query-able via SPARQL, so we dumped it (along with some other events) onto a Google Map as well as a Timeline. Mashup heaven!

Yesterday Sean hosted his annual Adtech summer barbecue at his lake house in Webster, MA. The entire day was incredibly pleasant. We hung out and ate on the deck, rested in the hammock, swam in the lake, canoed around a nearby island, went for a boat ride, and were dragged about mercilessly in the Megabird. The water was calm, comfortable, and beautiful.

Today is the interns’ last day. It’s been a fun, productive summer. Will definitely miss having them around, especially since they increased the size of our group by over 50%.


End in sight

Posted in personal at 11:14 pm by wingerz

Once in a while, things get overwhelming. Right now I am really looking forward to going to sleep next Wednesday night. What’s keeping me busy: Wilson got here on Wednesday, my parents yesterday, the wife tomorrow, demo run-through on Monday, VP visit Tuesday, Extreme Blue Expo in Armonk on Tuesday/Wednesday.