Josef “Jeff” Sipek


It is that time of year again…it is time for ICON! Well, it was time for ICON as it is over already. I took a fair amount of photos, to sort of document the 2.5 days - to make people want to go next year.


Friday is always a half-day, unfortunately, this year, I didn’t find many must-see panels (the Saturday is always the best anyway), so I used the time to pick up my badge and to spend some quality time with my friends. Hrm, looking at the schedule again, I see I missed a few things that would have been interesting to go to…oh well.


As I just said, the Saturday at ICON is the best. The moment I got on campus, I could just look in a random direction and see something worth photographing. So, no to bore you too much with meaningless rambling, here are some photos…

This was the first photo I took, unfortunately it is blurry because I didn’t realize that I was still on manual focus :-/

Chicken, et.  al.

About 30 seconds later, I ran into this guy…he’s at ICON every year, and every time he has a “mobile” of some sort…This time around he had the bottom part of a Dalek from Dr. Who.


About 30 seconds later (I told you, random direction & take photo would have worked):

no clue

Ah, and then I saw these guys getting ready to beat the crap out of each other:

Let’s get medieval

While resizing the photo to fit onto this page nicely (the original 6.1 megapixel image would be a bit too wide for most screens, not to mention the amount of data that’d have to be transfered!), I noticed that these knights were wearing:

A shoe is a shoe

If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? My suggestions would be to call the owners of the following vehicle (they come every year, as far as I know):

Who you gonna call?

Parked right next to it, you had (unfortunately, there was no flux capacitor):

88 miles per hour!

The driver looked kind of alien, not to mention a bit green…


Throughout the con, you had plenty of armed forces of all types roaming around:

no comment

And of course, if you have those guys, you got to have…dramatic, symphonic music indicating a bad guy is about to make an appearance

a fan + Darth Vader

Then I went to wait for an autograph of Jeffrey Combs, who plays a bunch of characters on Star Trek. After a rather short wait on a line, I got an autograph on a 8”x10” photo of Wikipedia article: Weyoun, and Jeffery Combs wrote on it: Jeff… Long Live the Dominion. <signature>Weyoun</signature>. Pretty cool, if you ask me :) In addition to the autograph, I also got to take a photo with him…

Jeff and Jeff

Costumed folks…

Master Shake

More people, in front of the ticketing booth:

The ticketing booth

Then, going back outside, I got two photos of dragons. The first one is a bit overexposed (the flash fired) and the second is much better exposure-wise. Somehow, I like how the first one turned out anyway…



Then, I was off to the Q&A session with Jeffrey Combs. I took quite a few photos, most of them were ok, but not great…I guess I need a better lens :-/

Q&A session with Jeffrey Combs

Right after the Q&A session, there was another session, with Tim Russ, who played a few characters on Star Trek. I got a photo of the two talking for about a minute:

Combs and Russ

Tim Russ’ Q&A session was fun, he made fun of William Shatner for overusing, and over-extending dramatic pauses, he even read a silly script idea.

Tim Russ

After the Q&A session, Tim Russ did an autograph session. I decided that I didn’t have enough time because of a panel I was supposed to go to (and he was going to have another on Sunday anyway), and so I just quickly ran up to the indoor track, and took a bunch of photos with the intention to make a panorama:

Dealer room

If you want to see the full-resolution image, no problem, just beware that it is almost 4MB jpeg file (6561 by 3336 pixels).

And back to people shots…

no clue

I don’t remember seeing anyone dressed as Pikachu, so here’s a Pikachu toy thing:


A dude dressed as a wolf thing of some sort, a dude (the bloody looking one) with a chainsaw for his right hand (unfortunately blocked by the wolf creature) dressed up as Ash from Evil Dead/Army of Darkness, and someone as Temari from Naturo:

A trio

I dare not say his name! (Plus a Luigi in the background.)


No idea what kind of deeper meaning there might be, so I’ll state the obvious… It is a wolf/fox of some sort.

no idea

Seeing this amused me greatly:

again, no idea

And last photo for the day, a Mario & Luigi (different from the one above) combo:

Mario + Luigi

Then it got dark, and I got more busy attending panels so that’s it photo wise.


I took only a few photos for the entire day. I didn’t feel like taking more photos of the people I already got on Saturday, and overall, the costumes aren’t as numerous on the last day.

Here’s some conference goer getting a photo with a (real, from the movie) Ghostbuster (Ernie Hudson, if I remember correctly):

Ernie Hudson (left)

A conference goer dressed up in SG-1 base uniform: Conference-goer

LIARS (a somewhat unfortunate acronym of the Long Island Advanced Rocketry Society):


I messed up the exposure for the few photos (these are the best 2) of the medieval folks:


Ouch, again

And that’s it photo wise. I did get my Tim Russ autograph; I went to some more panels, virualy all of which were enjoyable (the panel about taking over the world got canceled :( ).


After ICON ended, a bunch of us went to get dinner. After eating, and talking about politics at a very interesting level (not about the upcoming election, but about things like FISA, etc.), a friend of mine and I decided to go outside and take a bunch of photos of a building and try to make a high dynamic range photo.

The taking photos part was pretty simple, it took about 20 minutes to take the five good photos (1, 2, 4, 8, 15, and 30 second exposures).

Then we went back to the lab, and loaded them up in qtpfsgui. This program does two things…

  • Combines the photos into one with higher dynamic range
  • Optionally, Wikipedia article: tone maps

The building we picked doesn’t really lend itself all that much to high dynamic range photography - well, it’s somewhat hard to spot the few places where the higher dynamic range helps. We tried the tone mapping, and the best two algorithms were Reinhard and Fattal.

First, Reinhard. It has a pretty natural look (at least compared to what Fattal produced), but at the same time, it feels…unreal.

Reinhard algo

We actually ran Fattal twice. Once with and once without noise reduction. The one without looks quite artsy, at least in my opinion.

Fattal algo

And the one with noise reduction looks a lot like it was drawn with colored pencils:

Fattal algo with noise reduction

I love the outcomes, and I’m pretty sure I’ll try to make more tone mapped images.

Accepted to EuroSys '08!

My summer internship at IBM resulted in a publication in EuroSys 2008!

So, keep an eye out for my name in EuroSys proceedings near you. :)


As many of you may have noticed, I’ve been really lazy when it comes to updating this blahg of mine…so here’s a short summary of what happened over the past week at SC07. I’m sure I forgot to talk about a ton of things…feel free to leave a comment.

Friday, November 9

Pretty uneventful day…flying from JFK to Reno via LAX, checking into the hotel were the two highlights.

Saturday, November 10

We mis-read the bus schedule, and ended up taking the 6:30 shuttle to the convention center. Waking up that early was quite painful. When we got to the center, we started unpacking the nodes, rack and the TV. Compared to the other teams, we were unfortunate enough to have twelve 8-core nodes, and two 4-core nodes. Yeah, 14 nodes, an infiniband switch, a gigE switch, a TV, and the full-sized rack. That’s 18 things to unpack. Other teams had around 8 nodes and similar interconnect. Either way, we had more to set up.

The organizers of the Cluster Challenge (this is the whole thing about universities, and teams, Stony Brook being one of them - read the link for more info) were nice enough to organize a cruise on lake Tahoe for us…but the only problem with it was, that it was in the evening. So, we got to see a whole lot of big black nothing.

Majority of the Indiana University team, featuring Pikachu:

Majority of the Indiana University team, featuring Pikachu

I must admit, the pikachu hat was a great way to draw attention, I therefore propose that next year, the team looks more like this (photo courtesy of Peter Honeyman):


Sunday, November 11

While most of Saturday was spend setting up hardware, at least half of Sunday was spend setting up software. Somehow, magically, NFS decided to stop working (I’ve been told by the NFS folks that it’s generally not NFS that breaks but something else, but I maintain that NFS is broken :) ). In our case, NFS was a major component - we went the netboot way, and had only 1 disk for the entire cluster. We exported the node root directory image, as well as the home directories over NFS over ethernet, and created a tmpfs (kind of like a ramdisk, but it grows as needed) over NFS over IP over IB. There’s probably a way to remove IP out of the equation, but we just didn’t have enough time to try everything we wanted to - like doing PXE boot over IB, removing the need for ethernet all together. (One of the visitors who stopped by our cluster told me that he does do netboot over IB.)

Stony Brook’s rack

Monday, November 12

The Cluster Challenge started at 20:00. Things got really hectic really quickly, but overall it was all fun. Once everything calmed down, we decided to start the 6-hour shifts. I went back to the hotel. At 4:13 in the morning, I got woken up by a call from the team leader asking me when I’d be back. 4:13 is waaaay too early. I decided to take a pillow and the blanket with me to the conference center.

Colorado team

About 19.5 hours later, still at the conference center, I decided to go to sleep. I didn’t feel like going back to the hotel, so I crashed on one of the couches right by our team’s rack. I hear there is a photo of me sleeping on the couch. Moral of the story: when at a conference, take a pillow and a blanket with you, it might come in handy when you decide to sleep at the conference center.

Tuesday, November 13

Shortly after noon, the entire conference center lost power for a couple of seconds (see The Register). None of the teams were using UPSes (UPSes eat up power, which was quite precious - only 26 Amps per team), all the clusters rebooted. I’ve heard that the team from Taiwan lost more than 10 hours of computation because of that.

Taiwan team

We lost only about 15 minutes wall time of computation (on 96 cores) because we just started a new job.

Taken right after the power outage (notice that the lights are still off):

Right after the power outage, it took them a while to turn back the lights

Wednesday, November 14

The competition ended at 16:00. That’s 44 hours after starting. Everyone was quite tired, but not tired enough to skip what the conference organizers have prepared for us. They rented out an entire arcade in one of the near by hotels. The arcade included a whole lot of games, including laser tag. I wish I had a photo of one of the signs at the laser tag place, because it had quite a number of grammatical mistakes.

Purdue team

Thursday, November 15

Judging/organizer station

The conference ended at 16:00. Everything got promptly torn down, and packed up in boxes. And then…*drumroll* everyone headed to a Blue Man Group show done specifically for SC07 tech badge holders (which included the folks doing the Cluster Challenge - read: us). The show was fantastic, but far too short. Next time I have a pile of PVC pipes, I’m going to have a ton of fun :)

Friday, November 16

After an hour meeting at the center to figure out what could be done better next year, everyone dispersed, and went their own ways. We went to the airport, and headed back to NY - this time via Phoenix. We got to JFK around midnight.

500 Miles

Very interesting…over the past month, it dawned on me that distance of 500 miles came up a number of times. For example, my commute to work is 500 miles/week. Another example is the distance between Long Island and Ottawa is just under 500 miles. There are others but they are somewhat boring :) The Ottawa number is not something completely random…you see, I’m heading to the airport in little over an hour to fly to Ottawa for the Ottawa Linux Symposium 2007! OLS 2007, here I come!

OLS 2007!

So, I submitted a proposal for OLS 2007, and I got in! Stay tuned for the self-inflicted agony associated with actually writing the paper :)

OLS 2006 - Addendum

So, as promised, here are some photos from OLS 2006:

Here’s the only photo of a person I took: John Levon aka. Movement:

John Levon

The Bank of Montreal - in Ottawa!

Bank of Montreal in Ottawa

Crazy turists in Ottawa:

Crazy turists

War & civilization…just 1 km apart!

War & Civilization

Of course there were some nice clouds:


As well as these pesky creatures:

Pesky creature

OLS 2006 - Day 6

I woke up at about 10. Took a shower, packed up and checked out. Just as last year, I decided to take my camera and wonder around Ottawa taking photos of interesting looking things. Well, the center of Ottawa is small. By about 14:00, I was kind of bored. So I decided to go back to the hotel and waste some more time. In front of the hotel, I noticed the shuttle to the airport. I asked the guy how frequently he was going, but he misunderstood me and told me how long it takes to get to the airport instead. He then asked if I was going. Since I didn’t have anything better to do, I told him that I’d just grab my bags.

We got to the airport at 14:36. So it took 15 minutes to get there from the hotel. Not bad. Then, I however realized that there wasn’t much to do at the airport. I sat down on one of the benches. Not even 10 minutes later, Movement poped up out of nowhere. We chatted about how exciting flying is. His flight back to .uk was with a layover in Atlanta - not fun. Around 15:10 he left because he was about to check in. I decided that the terminal couldn’t be any more boring, so I checked in as well. During the chat, I decided to take a photo of him. This year that’s the only OLS photo of a person! All the other photos are of Ottawa. I’ll put it up in few days, when I dig it up.

Good thing I checked in :) When I got the the terminal, I sat down near the first outlet I saw. I was about half way though the boot sequence when I notice about 7 other OLS attendees not far from me. They included Mike Halcrow, Val Henson, and some other people some of which seemed familiar, but who’s names I did not know. We chatted. Mike actually showed me a leak in the FiST templates as well as Unionfs. We chatted, until most of them left because their plane was ready. I and some other dude moved to another cluster of chairs with some more OLS attendees which appeared as we were chatting. There we had an interesting discussion about Australian politics. Some really odd things happen there. :) Some time later, they all headed to their plane (yeah, my flight was at 18:00, and I got to the airport at 14:36…). Few clusters of chairs away, I noticed Dave Jones. I decided to walk up, and ask him if he thinks there were enough changes to the bug tracking issue he was talking about in his keynote last year. He thinks that there were some, but most of them were minor. He was really hoping someone would make some automatic bug-report moving tool which automatically moved kernel bugs from say the Red Hat bugzilla to the bugzilla.

Then they called my flight. It was the same type of a plane as on my way to Ottawa - made by Bombardier - a small jet. The flight itself was uneventful and everything went well and on time. One thing that I found interesting was the fact that the US customs people are in Ottawa and not in New York.

When I got home, I just fell asleep. :)

OLS 2006 - Day 5

The day began with an awesome presentation I gave about Unionfs. :) Shawn was recoding it, but after the presentation, he found out that the video turned out to be crap. He has audio only. I’m sure he’ll share it soon. :) I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people that use Unionfs or were interested in Unionfs.

The keynote was excelent as always. However I must say that Greg K-H made it sound like any piece of code will get into the kernel. Yeah, right :) But he did say few nice things about the status of Linux.

After the keynote, there was the GPG key signing - which I did not attend, although I wanted to. Instead we went to get some food. Food was good, we (I, Dave, Mike Halcrow, and Prof. Zadok) talked about a bunch of things ranging from MythTV and terabyte storage servers, to things like the number of ants in Texas. (Apparently, it is a lot of fun to watch termites and fire ants battle to the death. O_o )

We finished food around 19:45 which was about right to head over to the Black Thorn for the after event party. Just as last year it was quite interesting. Pretty much as soon as I got there, I noticed Peter Baudis aka. pasky - the cogito maintainer. We chatted about how git and Mercurial differ (Matt’s talk the day before came in handy :) ). I mentioned I was slowly working on a generic benchmark script that would test a number of popular SCMs including Mercurial, Subversion, and CVS. He was thrilled about the prospect of knowing exactly where git sucked compared to other SCMs - my guess is that he wants to fix it and make it better, a noble goal, but unnecessary as Mercurial already exists and why reinvent the wheel? ;) Seriously, though, I think a lot of people would benefit from knowing exactly where each SCM excels, and where each sucks. The nice thing about collaborating with the git people would be that it would make it more apparent that this wouldn’t just be yet-another-fake-test. After some time, a bunch of other Czech people poped up right next to us (people like, Pavel Machek, etc.). It was quite interesting. :)

After than I joined a converation with some Intel people. As it turns out, one of the Intel people is working on the e1000 driver — awesome piece of hardware, by the way, don’t ever buy anything other than it. :) Some time later, Jens Axboe joined the group briefly. When he said my name seemed familiar, I mentioned how I tried to implement IO priorities - and failed :) Later on, a guy from University of Toronto joined the group. He approached me earlier in the day about unionfs on clusters. We chatted about things ranging from school (undergraduate program, and grad school) to submitting kernel code to lkml. The e1000 guy said a similar thing that we should split unionfs up into a few patches, and send it off. During the event a few people still asked me about Unionfs, which felt good :)

Then, I decided that it would be fun to talk to some IRC people. I found John Levon and Seth Arnold. We sat down, and had an interesting conversation about a number of things. Since at least some of these were quite interesting, here’s a list:

  1. How can I deal with VFS and not drink vodka or other hard liquer
  2. Everybody hates CDE, even people at Sun
  3. Solaris is dead (well, they didn’t say it, but that’s the feeling I got)
  4. Brittons have some interesting sports or at least some of the expected behavior during the sport is interesting, namely:

  1. darts - you are expected to drink as you play
  2. I can’t recall the name - gigantic pool table
  3. cricket - everyone smokes "reefer" (to quote Movement, I just find this name of the substance mildly amusing) because their games sometimes take several days

After that, they kicked everyone out as it was 2:45 already. We (Seth, John, and I) went back to the hotel. There, Prof. Zadok and Chip (who arrived on Friday) were about to get up and head to the airport. :) I just went to bed.

OLS 2006 - Day 4

Friday was kind of interesting. The talks were little weaker, but there were some interesting ones. For example, Matt Mackall’s Towards a Better SCM: Revlog and Mercurial talk was a nice way to learn how Mercurial stores the history. I got tired so I went back to the hotel, and fell asleep for few hours. I woke up just in time to head over to the conference center for the 20:00 Stackable file systems BOF. That was interesting. A lot of useful people showed up, including Christoph Hellwig, Ted Tso, Val Henson, Steve French (Samba/CIFS guy), Jan Blunck,Eric Van Hensbergen (plan9 fs implementation in Linux) and many more. Topics included limited stackspace (4K on i386), cache consistency, locking, and nameidata structure brain damage.

As we planed before, after the BOF we invited everyone over to the hotel for some snacks and drinks. That’s where things got really interesting. I spent a lot of time with Jan Blunck and Eric Van Hensbergen talking about the proper way to do unions. Three people, three different ways to union files :)

After that we had some fun with the stack space issue and Reiserfs (and Hans’s approach to open source).

stack space
There should be a competition "who can create the largest storage stack without overflowing the stack." For example, unionfs on top of gzipfs on top of versionfs on top of device mapper on top of md on top of scsi over ethernet on top of ppp tunneled thought ssh …. you get the idea
Apparently, Christoph once fixed something trivial in reiserfs code, he sent the patch to Hans, and in return he got a gigantic legal document (I know exactly what he is talking about as I have submitted a patch once as well). Well, he didn’t like it, so he gave Hans a bunch of options one of which included certain sum of money for copyright to the code. Interestingly enough, Hans accepted. Too bad I didn’t know about this story before, I might have made some money of off my one line fix to the reiserfs section in the Kconfig file. :)

I have to say, I really want to look at how plan9 works thanks to the conversation I had with Eric Van Hensbergen. It seems to have a lot of really good ideas. Hrm, now that I think about it, I might install it one of my old boxes. Yeah, I know I am odd.

OLS 2006 - day 3

So, today was interesting. Some of the people I saw and/or talked with included: Andrew Morton, Alan Cox, Dave Jones, Jim Gettys, Matt Mackall, and so many others I don’t even remember.

When I got back to the hotel, I noticed this one interesting sign on it (on the inside), I couldn’t resist to take a photo of it. Here’s a cropped portion of it that has the amusing part (there was presumably the same text in French as well as a map to the nearest emergency exit):

Canadian laws…

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