Saturday, June 21, 2008

Playing ball with a former pro

Last night, I had a chance to play basketball with a retired, former pro player. He was not a superstar, but he was a decent, occassional All-Star here.

He owns and runs a restaurant nearby my work, and we often make a visit to his place. It's strange to see him serving customers, cleaning up tables, taking care of tills, and all sorts of things to run a restaurant while everyone remembers him as a basketball player.

Last week, I and my basketball buddies from work went there and had dinner along with lots and lots of drinks. We asked if he would be interested in joining us and teach us some drills next time around. He said why not and he would help us find a court if we didn't already have one. I don't know if he was just doing so to make his customers happy, but he seemed very genuine.

So last night, he came to our court, and the guys we play against every week had surprise looks on all their faces.

He played about 2~3 quarters out of 2 games, and while he was not the best player in the game (he was just there to teach us, not to win a game for himself.) it looked like he didn't try hard at all. He probably didn't want to embarass anybody or himself (if he gets punked by some amateurs..) He seemed tired because of his age (he's in late 30's and it's been a while he played..) but he was able to push the ball (and made us push the ball) everytime we got the possession, and it tired down the other team (and us, too.)

What was my impression on him or pro ballers in general?

They probably aren't the flashiest players or most gifted natural athletes, but their fundamentals can't be compared to us amateurs. The biggest difference between them and any super amateurs? Defense.

If they try to stop someone, they will do whatever it takes to stop the other guy. Of course, he didn't play any defense at all when he played with us.

Anyways, it'll be fun and interesting if he comes out to teach us regularly.
And I wonder what it's like to play with Steve Nash, too. He'll make us all greyhounds.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Food for fortune

On my way to home today, I read a very interesting article about recent year's hikes in food prices.

As with cases for oil and gold and other metals, food prices have been going up like mad recently. Many believe food should not be a vehicle to draw profits. But the author for this article has a slight different view.

The author says, speculators - hedge funds, big investment institutions, etc. - help offset imbalances between supply and demand that could take place in future, saying they act like old governments who bought food when the food price was too low due to excess supply, and sold food when food price was too high when it was a bad harvesting year. It's a different, yet interesting point, isn't it?

One other interesting point. He says, due to increased spending power and living standards of the people of China and India, they will still want and buy food even when the price goes up, thus helping the price to stay high. In the old days, it used to be that Chinese and Indian people just ate less when the food price was going up (and less demand for food overall), thus driving down the price.

Here is the link to the article.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Thoughts on rising oil and gold prices

For the last year or so, Steve Forbes has been saying all the mess in global economy (rising oil/gold/food prices, subprime mortgage, etc.) is largely due to irresponsible policies by the US Governement and US Federal Reserve. That is, the US Gov't and the Fed just play with their policies that supply way too much dollar into the market, just to bail out of their endless loop of messy situations.

As a result of their responsible acts, we see falling US dollar values and more importantly rising prices in gold and oil and everything else since they are mostly measured in US dollars.

Here is his latest article, and I am once again definitely with him on this one.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Nagios and its limitations?

Lately, I've been experimenting with Nagios monitoring system, a GPL open source project, to monitor Hadoop clusters.
So far so good, but I'll have to see how many nodes and services Nagios can monitor in a relatively short span (e.g. in a 3-second period)

Note : A "service" is what's being monitored. It could be "check disk space" "check users logged on" and etc.

Since Nagios spawn a child process to monitor a service, theoretically, Nagios is bound to be able to monitor up to N services where N is # of processes the OS can create and handle at once. The service being monitored is more likely to be in a remote location, and in this case, N could be the # of sockets the Nagios server's OS can handle.

My current goal is to see if it can monitor 600 services (100 nodes x 6 service each node) in a 1 minute period.

Let's see how it goes.