solaris zfs

Update Solaris SATA listing

I’ve updated my SATA page to show support for the VIA K8M800 chipsets.

Also, I found a good site for Solaris x86 on a Sun employee blog – James C. Liu’s Weblog

solaris zfs

Solaris SATA chipsets I can run ZSF with

After my last post, I set about finding out more info on SATA chipsets that I can use under Solaris. The main thing for me is that for some reason, I have drives fail fairly regularly. Maybe I am missing part of the necessary rituals to appease the gods of hardware, but the rotating rust that I have in my house really makes me paranoid about my data. Yes, I currently do offsite nightly backups over the internet, but that can’t keep EVERYTHING safe (I’m looking at you, Birdman).

Hence, ZFS. Now, I wanted to make a cheap, reliable, cheap data tank for my, err, data. I need a mobo that is supported by OpenSolaris, even down to the onboard SATA controllers (not so much for sound, however). Initially, all the info pointed to a Nforce chipset, and that would have been fine. Unfortunately at the moment I can’t seem to find a single cheap AM2 CPU in Brisbane, which I need to have because the old CPUs don’t have the new funky chipsets. The cheapest mobos were all VIA chipset jobbies and unsupported by Solaris for the SATA. Or so I thought. But being the good noodle that I am, I just checked that before writing it off again – after all I had found out reccently that Sil 3114 chipsets were OK, so wrong once, wrong more than once perhaps?

Anyway, here’s my findings – Solaris SATA support for onboard chipsets. Turns out all those cheap VIA boards like the ASUS K8V-X SE are just fine, and teamed with a 4-port Sil 3114 PCI card, I’ll be laughing (I would prefer one of the Micro-ATX variants of these boards but they use the K8M800 chipset for which I can find absolutely no information one way or another… logic dictates that it shouldn’t matter, but the “K8T800” is fine and the “K8T800 Pro” is not so it ain’t necessarily so). If I am wrong in any of this, please correct me, but as with everything on the interwebs, check it yourself first, and DON’T BLAME ME if it doesn’t work. No warranty, YMMV, etc.

Looks like the K8V-X SE motherboard has a Realtek 8201CL ethernet chipset, and I can’t find any drivers, even on this compendium of solaris network drivers. Don’t mind though, I’ve got oooh, 3 PCI cards lying about unused… mostly Realtek 8129 / 8139 chipset so I’m laughing. Turns out I also have 4 sound cards (including 2 SB Live). What the hell am I going to do with 4 sound cards?


What is the status of Solaris SATA support?

I’ve been wanting (for ages) to set up a local file server with RAID. Haveing seen the ZFS launch ages ago, I want that more than any other file system (the ability to add volumes on the fly is VERY attractive).

Looking around, I can’t find any updated resource pages that list anything different from what is on: and

Is that because there’s been no more work on these generic onboard controllers? It seems that you still have to put them into PATA compatability mode too… The HCL does list some Marvell technologies PCI controllers, but why psay for that when they come onboard?
I just wish that there was some news.

[UPDATE]: I’ve done the work of finding out here:

rant software development

New Job, more code, lots of ‘life’ things

So it turns out that sometimes when someone calls a job a Project Managment role, they actually mean Sales. The interview is no help, because it’s all agreement and “we want to go that way” stuff. But you walk in the door and it’s something else.

Not fun.

So anyway, I’ve got another job.

And I’m married now. It’s been a busy coupla months!

The good thing is that I am away from phone calls long enough now to actually do some coding, and it”s a nice change. (truth be told, in the final days at the old place I was debugging Mambo just for something different.

On the plus side, I met some nice people at the old place, namely the PPQ girls and boys. If you’re not in Queensland, you’ve got no chance of knowing who they are, and if you are and you want a personalised plate, they’re who you have NO CHOICE but to use ;) But they’re tops.

Anyway, wine in hand, Ruby on Rails open in Editplus, and I’m home.


Rails rant software development

gem, rake, webricks hangs – resolved! (damn you windows)

You know you’re in for a fun day when you go to the code that you were working on yesterday and it stops working today.

In this case, I tried to start webrick to check my site, and the damn thing would not start. It would get as far as “=> Booting WEBrick…” and then hang. Ok, fine. Google a bit, maybe it’s the firewall? stop the firewall, no good.

Then, I tried to upgrade rails. ‘gem install’ hangs, before it says “upgrading source index”. Hrm. Must be something wrong with ruby. Try “gem list -r” which does not work on this machine but does work on my other workstation. Ok, got to be a ruby problem – upgrade ruby. no good. upgrade again. no good.

Then I uninstalled, rebooted, and reinstalled. “gem install” works! hooray! I install all the dependencies I need, and try to start webrick. Same bloody issue.

At this point, it’s fairly clear that it’s not a ruby or rails issue, it’s got to be a windows issue. I google for (out of desperation) “webrick hang” and I see, 4 down, a blog entry called WEBrick Server Hangs in Windows XP – have a look and it recommends running the following command to flush the Winsock Catalogue:

netsh winsock reset

And everything is fixed. Rake runs, webrick runs, gems still work. Bye bye 3 hours of my life. Thanks Windows. You’re a champ.

Rails software development

Ruby, SOAP4R and WSDL

For PeopleHub, we interface with a service provider to process payments with the banks. They, conveniently, have started to provide SOAP services, which is awesome. So, the question for me then, was how to integrate with them.

For some reason, I had trouble getting documentation on SOAP4R. The website itself is quite sparse, and there wasn’t much to see, until I found Ruby + SOAP4R + WSDL at Brendan, much kudos to you.

Basically, using SOAP without using the WSDL to generate code is a right pain the arse. Visual Studio does some nice intgrated stuff that generates code for you, as does the Apache stuff for Java. So, in ruby land, I was lost. Of course, Rails does have ActiveWebService and ActiveResource, but these were for producing services and using REST service from Rails respectively – no good for ad-hoc stuff.

The only thing I would caution the reader about is that although Ruby comes with a version of SOAP4R as part of the standard library, it DOES NOT come with the wsdl2ruby util from the distribution. Follow all of Brendan’s suggestions and you’ll be laughing.

rant software development

Friggin Mambo

I know Mambo has been pretty popular in the past. Personally I never warmed to it, because once I got past the fancy veneer it was excruciatingly difficult for a newbie to discover how to write a >1 page module.

Apparently, I am not alone in that difficulty. For the last week I’ve been trying to get a bit of Mambo work done at my new job and it seems that Mambo developers are so scarce that anyone who is worth their salt has a job in it while no-one else knows diddly about it.

Personally I’d be happier if I could get the sites redeveloped in ANYTHING, but that’s a bit hard when the customer actually likes the admin side of Mambo and sees no reason to change. Can’t blame them for that, really…

Anyway, what a PITA. Thanks to my buddy over at though, things might come good. But why is this ‘big thing’ from a year ago now nothing but a blip on the radar? I guess from the standpoint of a CMS-only website there are new frameworks out there like Drupal, but ferchrissakes, you’d think people would want to cash in those skills for which they worked so hard. Although, from what I’ve seen, it’s not worth the pain.


I love a good rant

I love to rant. Love it. Unfortunately, when I’m in the mood for a-ranting, I’m seldom calm enough to properly construct a sufficiently soul-destroying bile-fest to inflict upon my foes. That’s one of the reasons I wanted a blog. Another reason is to pay kudos to others, especially other champion ranters. There is also the banging on about crap that is the raison d’être of blogging in general – I’m good at that too.

One of my rant heroes is Zed Shaw. He cracks ’em out, disregarding any potential offence – the way it should be. The first rant of his I ever saw was an article entitled Indirection Is Not Abstraction, where he says (referring to EJB):

“To summarize, just to get to where we could add an object to the collection, we had to follow this chain of calls: new InitialContext() -> InitialContext.lookup() -> LocalSubscriptionHome.findByPrimaryKey() -> CustomerBean.addSubscription() -> CustomerBean.getSubscriptions() -> Collection.add(). An unbelievable 6 levels of indirection just to add a fucking object to a fucking collection. This is the kind of bullshit that chaps my ass purple and makes me want to eat babies.”

(emphasis his. That is pretty crap too, btw.)

I love it. He says it like he means it, and it hurts. Comedy gold. So I’ve made a “rant” post category, through which to vent bile. I hope it’s as much fun as it looks.

software development

Software Designer != Interface Designer

What is it about we IT folk that makes us so crap at interface design? Personally, I can sit down and crack out some sweet code without too much drama, but man I am shit at making the UI any good.

It’s not that it doesn’t work – it’s just that it’s not particularly pretty. Or intuitive.

One of the guys at my new work is case in point for this. He’s made a CMS style thing in dotnet for the internal projects and he had it up and going nice and quick and he can put a new version in a template in a day or two. Unfortunately it’s the biggest hunk of shit to use ever. If you update a page, when you go back to the menu it puts a javascript alert on the screen saying “Page Updated” Thanks for letting me know it’s updated – but did you really need to interrupt me to do it?

As a reminder for those who don’t remember, the Javascript ‘alert’ function is a modal box with a message that you MUST click before doing anything else. So when you’re going through updating all this content it’s

  1. Select page to change
  2. Edit content
  3. Click save
  4. Try to select next page but there’s that stupid alert again
  5. Click alert
  6. Swear
  7. See (1)

You know, nothing personal, good coder, but what a magnificently moronic choice for a way to tell the user something has happened – interrupting them.

For me, I don’t really want to be a UI designer. It’s too subjective for me; English, for example, was always secondary to Physics. But I’d like to think I get some of those things right…

On that topic – I need a new design for the PeopleHub Payments website. If you know someone, let me know.


Prince2 is my b*tch

I passed my Prince2 practitioner exam. As “that guy” would say: “Awesome. Totally Awesome.” And then we would do the safety dance.

For the Futurama-impared among you, suffice it to say that I am happy that I don’t have to do the exam for another 4.99 years, and then only a tiny one.

It’s a shame that the only information that I can find on tailoring Prince2 to smaller projects is in book form… Oh well. Perhaps I can find some time between meetings *cough* to get some info together.