Thursday, March 12, 2015

Vault Conference - Day 2

[I am attending the Linux Foundation Vault Linux Storage and Filesystem Conference in Boston this week. It is the first year and it follows a more regular 2 day invite only developer conference/workshop. I have already posted my thoughts on Day 1.]

Day 2 - early thoughts:

Brrrr. It is colder this morning and the wind is biting as it whips between the city buildings. A bit slower start to the attendance this morning - very typical for a technical conference.  The venue again has a nice spread for morning snacks and I am fueled up on fresh fruit. Time to learn more about file systems and storage.

Morning breakout sessions.

The first session was a tough choice. There was not a standout that drew me in - most sound interesting but not immediately relevant to what I work with at the moment. The 100% FOSS Storage Array would probably be closest but it may or may. It may or may not have that much new information for me and is a Red Hat presenter which means I have other avenues to obtain the information. So I opted to attend the talk on optimizing FUSE for Cloud Storage.  Diversify my experience.  It was given by a representative from Parallals where they are using FUSE to interact with stored images. While mostly over my head with API information, it was still interesting to see another use of FUSE from a user and contributor.

Next up was a pair of talks on GlusterFS: Overview and Future Direction followed by Data Compliance Infrastructure.

The overview was a useful list of features recently released, in the next release, and planned for future releases. Seeing that SSL connections and encryption at rest is in the current release just means I have some work to do when I get home.  I saw the options the last time I was working with RHS class materials but it is not listed in the glusterfs volume set help output or in the RHS public documentation so I thought it was still a preview option.

Another reminder from the Q&A of the overview session was: 
*Ceph started as an object store and added RADOS for file access.
*GlusterFS started as a file store and extended for object store access.
Each perform different/better with different uses and each has advantages for its particular use case. It would be nice to see some documentation on which use cases benefit best with each product.

Data Compliance discussion it was pointed out that the current journaling mechanisms for GlusterFS were designed for replication (local and remote) and is not being enhanced for such topics as: crash consistent,  richer on disk format, callback based, multi consumer model (lightweight, thread safe, ordering), data classification, LFU, object versions, and out of band notification.  

The final push:

After a long walk around Boston over lunch, I returned for a Ceph session on erasure and tiering advances. Maybe it was the time of day, but my brain was full and the absorption rates are declining exponentially each session.  I did stay for the final breakout session and attended the history and future of XFS. This was an entertaining presentation from one of the lead commiters.  I am glad I stayed.

The final keynotes also looked interesting and I had enjoyed other presentation from at least one of them, but I was cold and tired and decided to beat the rush hour out of town.  Maybe next year. I think it is in my home stomping ground of Raleigh.

Early submitted presentation slides are available at:


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Legal Seafood wins again.

I have enjoyed Legal Seafood for as long as I can remember.  I have been thrilled with what they have done with gluten free options over the past several years.  They were the first restaurant I went to with gluten free rolls. They are the only place I know to get gluten free fried clams or fish and chips - they have a gluten free batter and use a dedicated GF frier.

Today was the first time I have been since I figured out I also have a dairy allergy. Avoiding both gluten and dairy is hard.  Legal Seafood has changed the menu again as well. They used to have separate menus for the allergies.  Now that pretty much everything on the main menu has a GF option, they have symbols on the main menu for "can be made gluten free".  Like most places, they do still need better markings for the dairy free. At least asking questions is still a comfortable option.

I used to love the fried GF options but I also knew that the only way that breading stuck was with the help of butter or milk. I learned that the fried stuff uses buttermilk to hold the breading, gluten free or otherwise.

The lite clam chowder is ok. Not that this should ever be called chowda. It is a tasty clam and potato soup but it is not chowda.

I also had some lobster. The gluten free version of the lobster roll is substituting lettuce for the roll. This worked well for me, complete with the fries and coleslaw.  So far so good on how I feel a few hours later.

Thanks again to Legal Seafood for a safe place to eat out.


Vault Conference - Day 1

I am attending the Linux Foundation Vault Linux Storage and Filesystem Conference in Boston this week. It is the first year and it follows a more regular 2 day invite only developer conference/workshop.  There appears to be great international attendance. It is small - only 4 breakout rooms though they are good sized rooms and have been full.

Day 1 - keynotes and amenities.

The first keynote was interesting. It was a summary of the two day invitation developer workshop. It was nicely done, especially knowing it was a short notice report. It was much more technical than other conferences I have attended and I quickly knew that I was a noob in this crowd.  In a sense it was a technical road map rather than a marketing road map.

I quickly realized that many other sessions would also be more technical than other conferences I have attended recently. I am here to be a sponge. I just want to absorb some additional knowledge in the storage realm. I'll continue to be a user of enterprise ready solutions. Teaching HDFS and Glusterfs administration means that I need to be aware of what is coming with those products and also with related products.

Next was the obligatory sponsor keynote. Pretty average on its industry trend vs company bias. At least it was short.

The venue is the Revere Hotel.  There is a large theater in the back that was used for the keynotes.  The vendor booths (the few present as sponsors of the conference) was in another large area on the 6th floor. The breakout session were split between the Mezzanine Floor and the 6th Floor, 2 rooms each.  This was the most frustrating. I have attended events with multiple buildings and multiple floors, but in all cases there was a reasonable option for walking between areas. A single floor difference, not 5 flights.  The elevators were a bottleneck.

The food spreads were pretty to look at. There was a lot of fresh fruit I could eat.  Allergies kept me away from the fancy (gluten) donuts and the afternoon cookies.  I also survived on tea instead of coffee since I am not a fan of black coffee and did not bring any alternative (coconut or almond) milk. The evening event booth crawl had a nice spread. At least it looked nice. A beautiful cheese spread that I was jealous of and some tasty looking pizzas.  I had salad. At least it was more than lettuce . It included tomato, cucumber, and avocado.

I was a bit surprised that there was not a sponsored bag,even a small tote bag or something to collect the pens, fliers, and media from the vendor booths. I guess it has been a while since I have been to a first year or startup conference.

Day 1 - breakout sessions

Btrfs future plans. Chris Mason is from Facebook but did a great job of sharing what other company contributions are happening. He also had a long Q&A period and did an excellent presentation. He had no problem remembering to repeat the question so all could hear and he answered the questions with ease, confidence, and I am assuming (based on followup or lack of followup) correctly.

In the second slot, I attended the Ceph Road Map presentation and after lunch I listened to a discussion on librados. In these talks I jotted down a lot of new vocabulary words. Ceph is really coming along and the examples of librados use cases for moving compute to the data were great.

The next session was a bit of a dud. Besides being distracted by the controversy I had created with a Twitter post, the presenters could only share limited information of their solution and admitted that they use the upstream product but do not contribute back to it. Perfectly fine, but I expect presenters at a conference like this to have committers on staff as well.

I couldn't decide on the last slot and opted to go find a power outlet for my phone. I was going to need it if I wanted a ride form the T station home later in the evening.

Time to recharge for another round tomorrow.


So few Women

It was bound to happen. I would have to post about me, women in tech, and conferences.

The scene:

I am attending a technical conference on open source storage. I was interested in this conference from when it was first announced. I did not feel I had the depth of knowledge In the field to submit anything for the CFP. Now that I am attending, I am sure this is not just an impostor syndrome reaction. I am learning good stuff and collecting vocabulary for much more research and learning.

I knew from the beginning that I would one of few women attending. As it got closer to the dates and speakers and attendees were listed on the web site, that feeling was confirmed. In person, I think I can count the numbers on my fingers (I might need a few toes). I really do not know the numbers, actual or percentage.

The controversy:

The small number of women was also noted by the photographer on site. I am photogenic even though I really prefer to be hidden from the camera and we kept running into each other. She made a comment to me, perhaps noting my dodging of the camera, to watch out. She had been instructed to look for diversity in her shots. The way the conversation went, I took no offense but my tweet on the subject garnered responses that some thought I either was offended or should have been offended. In my post, I was just trying to show an example of a known issue: the more technical - lower in the stack as well as programming knowledge in this case - the open source topic, the less women are visibly involved.

The reality:

I don't get offended easily. I assume the best in people and comments. I assume they mean to be sympathetic to a cause and not taunting of a situation. I assume they do not realize how a statement may be interpreted or that their childhood was just filled with bad examples. If it is blatant, I am not shy to speak up and I have always been lucky enough to have my comment taken with a sheepish "you are right, I was not thinking" type of response. I am an instructor, my instinct is to explain and teach. I do surround myself with supportive people (men, women, employers, colleagues, friends, etc).

I do get frustrated and I do get disappointed.

I get frustrated at how slow change occurs. I get disappointed when people repeat mistakes. I get frustrated and disappointed when I hear stories from other women who have had worse experiences then I have - and more recently. I get excited when I hear role models talk of success. I get pleasantly surprised when I attend a meeting or conference or class where there is better than average diversity.

I get frustrated when I see a student walk into my class and look concerned when they realize I am the instructor. I get disappointed that I assume this is because I am female rather than just "not someone they know". On the other hand, I taught a class last month where a student walked in and announced he had been very excited for the class when he saw I was listed as the instructor. I wish it was not such a novelty but I was and am appreciative of the complement. Very appreciative.

The hope:

In an interesting coincidence of timing, I saw a great article about being the token women speaker at events:

A deep dive into open source storage means including Linux kernel developers - a small group in itself. I do not expect a token women speaker at such a conference. Correct that: I don't expect such a token at any conference. I want the best presentations available from the submitted talks. I want selection based on a balance between expert knowledge and presentation skills. Diversity measurements do not come into play here. The resulting diversity should reflect the industry.

The fact that the industry can benefit from more diversity is a related but separate issue, as is recruiting submissions from some of the quietest but most competent members of any industry and for any speaking engagement. All other things equal, sure, look at diversity. First, allow the selection committee to chose the best from the best. People, not tokens. Grow the diversity in the trenches, not just on the public stage.

Just my thoughts.