Monday, January 31, 2005


I am psyched to welcome Greg Kroah-Hartman to The Big N!

Greg @ KS
Greg rejecting a patch at the Kernel Summit

Happy kernel hacking, duder!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

There is a lot of snow

I was surprised to walk into the lounge in our office yesterday and see that not much was left of our breakfast bonanza, although the donation bucket that Miguel put up as a joke has some money in it.

My Street
My Street, Infamous 2005 Blizzard

I was recently reading that there used to be rent control in Boston. It has been abolished state-wide since 1994, but there were some failed attempts last year to restore it. Rent control is a great example of a political solution to an economic problem; I don't think a (sane) economist has ever endorsed the idea. Rent control essentially abolishes the use of price as a mechanism of information transmission. The problem is that, in a stable market, prices properly reflect the position of supply versus demand. This is why rent control leads to the reduced availability of real estate. Look at either New York or San Francisco during rent control: Demand far exceeded supply after and was balanced prior.

Back on Earth, the price of real estate is a function of the supply. When the price is fixed artificially low, the demand rises above that supply. People rent larger apartments than they need. Or kids move out from their parents quicker than they normally would. Price cannot act as a mechanism controlling purchase. You get the formation of black markets and property values fall because demand is high enough that property need not stay competitive to rent out. A second wave effect happens when new rental units are not built, because the profit margins are artificially low. Any new developments tend to be rent control exempt (generally under a "luxury" exemption). Supply dwindles further.

Historically, upon the abolishment of rent control, new buildings are built as the supply is low and the demand high, existing buildings are rennovated and improved to stay competitive, the illegal black markets immediately collapse, and housing availability goes up. When the government fixes prices, they presume to be a better economic indicator than supply and demand. I think not.

Stata Center
The Stata Center, Deadly Blizzard of '05

I forgot to mention it at the time, but inotify has made it into Andrew's 2.6-mm tree. Quite nice! We also released a new version of the patch that switches from a fixed buffer for the filename to one that is dynamically allocated. It took some effort to keep the alignment safe and portable, but it was ultimately not hard and should satisfy one of our bigger requests, reducing memory consumption and allowing for filenames of any length.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Blizzard of 2005

Historians have already named it the Great Blizzard of 2005 and proclaimed it the worst blizzard in recorded history. Or at least since 1928. Definitely the worst blizzard since I moved here.

My buddy Dustin was in town, visiting law schools. The weather decided to help me convince him of the merits of Boston over New York by dumping thirty plus inches of fine white powder on the ground. I think he enjoyed Boston nonetheless.

Behind Door Number Two ...

On Sunday, the blizzard still pillaging the city, Dustin and I decided to go sledding. NBC 7 was interviewing people playing in the Common and some chick said that Charles Street Supply still had a good selection of winter toys. So we set off to get some equipment and then find the girl.

Charles St was running low by the time we got there, but I picked up a ninja-fast sled, The Torpedo, and this thing called--I think--the Super Sheet. Don't ask about the sheet.

Super Sheet
It is super fast and uncontrollable (where have I heard that before?)

We went to the Common and ran into both the girl and the news dude. He ended up interviewing me for the news! I was essentially a blithering idiot, so I doubt that they aired it, but maybe it was live or something and they have no choice. If you saw me, email me. And I apologize.

The snow was so deep and powdery that it was hard to sled. But we made our own runs down the big hill with the monument on top and the sledding was pretty good. And we met some girls who go to Emerson and were tobogganing on food trays that they stole from their cafeteria.

Sledding on the Wolverine Run (Black Diamond) in the Common

Eventually we got tired of climbing that damn hill, so we went to a pub to get some beer and chowder. Recharged by the beer and strong on a second wind, we walked over to Beacon Hill and sledded down the narrow and steep streets with a bunch of little kids. I think I crashed into John Kerry's house.

Beacon Hill
A nicely groomed run on Beacon Hill

I grew up in South Florida, so the concept of playing in the snow is foreign to me, modulo skiing. It was pretty fun.

Joey once told me that one of the worst parts of the winter is that it is so hard to get out of bed because you are just so dang warm and cozy in there and it is so cold and life-sapping basically everywhere else. I have this fly out of bed and tackle the world thing going on when I wake up and I never thought that I would feel that way. I mean, I don't think I have ever used my snooze button in my life. In fact, I have this uncanny ability to wake up without an alarm, all on my own, whenever I need. Well, let me just say, my bed is warm, people. I am wondering if I can conduct all of the business of my day from there, but I will probably fall back to sleep.

Greatest Blizzard, Ever

I updated the Linux Kernel Development page with information about the second edition. I hate to use pity as a tool, but my kids are starving and it is a really good book.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Linux Kernel Development, 2ed

LKD 2ed Cover

The second edition of my grand treatise on sane economic policy, the relationship between countably infinite sets and parrot gestation length, and the Linux kernel is done, shipped, and available for purchase. It is more than just a rehash of the previous book and I encourage everyone to help me feed my youngest child: Buy a copy or two and carry it with you everywhere you go.

If you do not yet own the book, you should purchase it because it is a practical work aimed at both understanding the current Linux kernel and on developing new kernel code. The book is written from an insider's perspective with an eye toward allowing the reader to actually understand the kernel and get some work done and not simply drown in the boring depths of obscure theory. The book is funny and--if I may toot my own horn--incredibly well written. Covering core kernel subsystems, API, and algorithms, the work is hopefully invaluable to kernel developers new or advanced as well as enthusiasts simply satiating their curiosity.

If you already own the first edition, I still recommend purchasing the new edition. The second edition is fully revised and updated. It is valid as of kernel 2.6.10 and the latest kernel developments. Each chapter has several new sections and existing material is expanded and improved. The book also greatly benefited from a large team of crack editors. Finally, there are three entirely new chapters: an additional introduction to kernel concepts, a bad boy on modules, and a chapter on sysfs and kobjects.

Linux Kernel Development, 2ed is available from your local book seller, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, among others.

Seriously. Get on it.