Here it is. The very first blog post in absolutely ages... it had to happen at some point and since I've just managed to get an Internet connection in the new house, now's the time.
I'm living in a great house (105 Rosemary Gardens) along with James, Charlotte and Kim, who I met on the Sun interns mailing list. I met James once before we agreed to find a house together ("compatibility-testing" :) and then once more as we (read: he) drove down to London to check a few places out along with the other two girls (who are working in the finance department at Sun) who we'd never met before. We didn't get the house we'd hoped for, but got our second choice, something I'm pretty happy about now that we've moved in and the landlord has had certain improvements made (new carpet in all the bedrooms and the two downstairs "offices" (my bedroom and computer room), new floor in the lounge, a fridge and a few improvements in the downstairs toilet/shower and upstairs bathroom). The place is officially a five-bed detached house, but since there are only four of us and there are two small-ish rooms downstairs, three of us have two rooms each. As I've already mentioned, I have the two downstairs rooms, which are attached directly to the lounge. One of my rooms (the computer room) has a nice window view of the garden, while the other (attached) room has one window that faces the fence of the house next door... some people might be annoyed by this, but it's fine by me as it just cuts down sun shining into my bedroom and making it hot (as well as early morning light). The downstairs rooms are also a little cooler than upstairs, which is a big plus for me. James has two rooms upstairs, as does Kim. Charlotte has the largest bedroom and might share one of James' rooms with him for a bit. It all worked out pretty well for rooms.
The kitchen had everything except a washing machine, which meant that James and I had to cart down an old washing machine my Uncle Quentin had lying around in his shed. After a few false starts, new inflow pipes and some washing machine pump hackery... we got the thing going, and it seems to be working quite reliably now. The rest of the place is unfurnished, which is a little annoying as I don't own a bed. Fortunately we brought the two-seater white sofabed down with us (along with two desks, a double bed, my 'speakers (43KG each!), James' 'speakers, a 30" TV, numerous computers, hi-fis and other general bits and pieces... all in a single small van!), which has been my home for the last week and a bit. I'm very glad to say that sometime next week I have a traditional Japanese futon arriving... something I've wanted for a while. I should point out that traditional futons don't involve any crappy wood or metal bits... they're just bedding, a cover, a special duvet (I'll do with a standard one for now) and usually a beaded pillow for airflow. The one I slept in when in Japan was incredibly comfortable and I've been looking forward to one ever since. Back to the furniture though... right now that's about it: we've got a small coffee table and a two-seater sofa to go between four people. At some point we're going to pick up a table and chairs from Argos, as well as a new sofa (and I think James is going to head to IKEA for a chair). I didn't have a chair to go with my desk, so I'm glad that Sun will be reimbursing me for the one I bought (very cheaply) from Homebase.
Out back we've got some great wood decking, which is going to be just perfect for the many BBQs we will hopefully soon be host to. The biggest problem we've all got is finding enough friends to invite over... this place is so big that unless we got forty or more people the place will just look and feel empty. At some point Kim and Charlotte are hoping to buy a big paddling pool...
The other big area is the lounge, which is really nice. As I've already mentioned it has either a brand new hardwood floor, or the guys that came in did an amazing job with the tat that it previously was. The landlord used to live here and there is already low profile 'speaker cable installed in the skirting boards for a quad 'speaker set-up. Right now we've got my Yamahas hooked up to the Quad 33/303 and a CD player, and James' Tannoys connected to the TV. When we've got some more furniture and a definite location for the TV, we'll probably rearrange this a little. The photo I've included is a little dated... since then we've hung a few nice photos on the wall but obviously we're holding out for a giant 50" plasma screen for the chimney breast wall :)
I've been working at Sun for one week and two days now (although yesterday (Monday) was official time off (one of a whopping (hmm) 20 days I get in total... I guess this isn't too bad as it works out as near as damn it a month when non-work days are taken into account) as I had to head up home with Xiaoxiao and her parents for an enthralling meal (an entirely different story... but one I probably won't go into in detail: it basically went very well, despite the obvious language barrier). I've honestly still got no idea what department I work in... it might be PTS, but I think the name recently changed, which doesn't help. My role is to provide support to the Sun engineers by configuring Sun hardware (and limited software) to meet the customer's set-up when they have a problem. I'm actually pretty much at the top of the support escalation hierarchy and most of the problems that the engineers deal with are hardware faults, rather than software problems (although of course bugs in Solaris and other software are dealt with, too). The other guys working here are all great, very supportive and friendly. The boss (Paul Humphreys) is a great guy, which obviously helps a lot.
Over the course of the past week I've found it hard to pinpoint exactly what I've learned... there doesn't seem to be any specific thing, but I've certainly learned a lot as a whole, although this is primarily about how the lab itself is run. Over the next few weeks/months I guess we'll all be learning how to actually do our jobs and set the systems up.
All of us are very fortunate to be sharing an office with some of the Solaris kernel developers, who are surely among the most knowledgeable people in Sun. These are the guys that actually write the drivers for the hardware, write the new funky stuff in Solaris, fix bugs and other stuff. Two of the guys have already been kind enough to give us presentations on various things... one guy (whose name I forget) did a seriously interesting talk on Niagara, the new CPU with four cores and eight threads per core. A lot of the stuff here I already knew, or knew the basics of, but his presentation brought the whole lot together and I feel as though I fully understood the whole of what he was talking about and the benefits. Following on from this presentation, a developer called Gered (spelling?) did us a talk on the serial interfaces in Solaris, the STREAMS stack and various other bits and pieces. This was the first of a three part series in which he is discussion everything the system does in order to allow the user to open vi, write the classic K&R "hello, world", compile and execute it. Pretty interesting stuff, to say the least.
I guess that's it for now. I don't want to go into too much detail about work for obvious legal reasons... I'm forever reading stories on Slashdot about techie workers who start to divulge too much detail so I'll wait around a bit until I get a better feel of exactly what is and isn't public. That's it for now :)