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I won’t regale you with the story of a denied work visa or the 4 months it took to straighten it out, after the hell of getting everything put together properly. That’s my story. Instead I’m going to give a brief overview of the hell my coworker is currently going through. And we thought he was going to get off easy.

Tomorrow will be the 1 year anniversary of Felipe moving to the UK to help maintain HECToR. Which just happens to be the UK’s biggest, fastest, and most expensive computer, ever! Now we thought Felipe was going to get off easy because even though he is Brazilian by birth, his father was Hungarian. This means that Felipe is allowed to claim Hungarian Citizenship AND Brazilian citizenship. Since Hungary is part of the European Union that means he could just move to the UK, send the Home Office some paperwork to register and get a work visa. Easy deal. Which he did and all worked well.


Felipe’s wife moves to the UK a few months after he does, and she is only of Brazilian nationality. So, she now has 6 months to apply for a Residence Stamp on her passport. They fill out all of the paperwork in a timely manner and send it to the home office, WITH their Passports, which the home office requires. This was in February. So, for the last 6 months they have been living in the UK without passports and unable to travel while the home office fiddles around with their paperwork. They cannot rent a new flat, change banks, she can’t get a job, and they can’t travel because they are living in a foreign country with no passports. Oh, ya, and they can’t get their UK drivers licenses either. Which you only have 1 year from the time of entry to get taken care of, or you can’t drive. Felipe has parked his new Mini Cooper in his driveway and started taking the bus because he can no longer legally drive. They threaten a 6 month jail sentence.

Now, it get’s even better. After 1 year of residence in the UK and proof of working for that year, Felipe’s work visa changes to a permanent residence visa, similar to the US green card program. So, this means his wife now needs a residence certificate instead of a residence stamp. They received in the mail yesterday, wait for it, a denial for the residence stamp because his 1 year wait is up and now she needs a residence certificate and would they like to apply for one???? This after waiting 6 MONTHS for the home office to issue the stamp.

So, as of the time I write this Felipe can no longer drive, cannot change flats, change banks, or even travel because the home office has screwed around so long, holding both their passports the whole time, that NOW all the paperwork and applications are no longer valid, they have expired. And now want’s to know if they would like to start over with a residences certificate application. Which, by the way, IS THE SAME APPLICATION WITH A DIFFERENT CHECK BOX!

I know I like to complain about my situation, if I were Felipe I would take my Highly Skilled A$$ and go back to Brazil and tell the UK Govt to kindly shove their bureaucratic paperwork in a definitely dark place, right there next to their heads.

Sure a EU member citizen can move to the UK and work. Well, technically it’s possible, they will just bury you in paper work until you give up and go home. Nothing personal to Felipe and his wife, I imagine they treat all EU citizens the same way. Like lower class citizens.

I’m sitting here at work reading a section of the “Programming Perl” book by O’Reilly, which is a really good Perl book, and going blind reading statements like

To dereference this scalar means to use the reference to get at the referent. Both referencing and dereferencing occur only when you invoke certain explicit mechanisms; implicit referencing or dereferencing never occurs in Perl. Well, almost never.

A reference can point to any data structure. Since references are scalars and you can store them in arrays and hashes, and thus build arrays of arrays, arrays of hashes, hashes of arrays, arrays of hashes and functions, and so on.

Now, if that makes perfect sense to you, well, GET A LIFE! Holy cow! (Sadly, it is starting to make sense to me.) One of the down sides to being self educated is I have to go over stuff like this again and again till it actually makes sense. Otherwise I end up with unknown holes in my knowledge that might burn me later down the line. Trying to figure out what is important and what isn’t can sometimes be difficult. Where having a professor just say, this might be good to know later, but ignore it for now, can save a lot of time.

Learning to program is really like learning a new written language, and then a bunch of different dialects of that language.

Perl, C, C++, etc all use very similar syntax. The underlying logic is very similar, a loop is a loop, a variable is mainly a variable. I suppose it’s like growing up speaking Spanish, then learning English, American English that is, then Scottish English, then maybe Welsh English, then maybe Indian English. They are all fairly close to each other in certain respects, but don’t mistake Pants in American English for Pants in Scottish English. Oh buddy will ya get a red face.

Languages I’m either currently learning or already know enough to hack in. Basic, Pascal, C, C++, Fortran, Perl, Korn, Bash, Expect, Ruby, Tcl, MPI.

And yet I can barely speak a lick of Spanish. Go figure. It’s time for a nap.

I’ve updated the backend wordpress to the latest version and also updated the plugins and themes. If any problems pop up drop me a note and let me know.

I’ve gone from a 3 column template to a 2 column template. Will try different versions and looks over the next bit of time for grins.

Also let me know what you think. Good, bad, indifferent. Should I change something?


I finally had a chance to take a couple of pictures of our new Cray X2. The new vector unit was attached to HECToR, our Cray XT4. So, I guess this means we’re now technically a Cray XT5h system. What a bunch of hokey names. The X2 was originally called the “Black Widow”. Which was a cool name.

The way the room is laid out it’s really hard to get a good picture, but here goes.


Notice the pretty blue lights on the front? They don’t move, they are just pretty blue lights.


Does anyone but me notice a resemblance to Dr. Who’s Daleks?

Dr. Who Dalek

Well, It seems I now have a new trade. Dishwasher repairman, and not by choice. Here at our house in the UK we have all built in appliances. Our Bosch dishwasher has now broken twice in the last six months. The first time it stopped draining we called the leasing agency and they sent someone out to repair it, 4 days later. So this time when it stopped draining I figured, instead of waiting 4 days or so, I’d have a gander at it myself.

The problem is it won’t drain. So, first guess is the drain pump impellor has something stuck in it. Now, how to get to the thing. Grab a glass and slowly bail all the water out of the bottom of the dishwasher. That done I pull the filter assembly out from the top. Nothing there, but some slime. Disassemble the bottom of the dishwasher and get to the pump. Looks siimple enough. It has a twist off pump housing. Twist it off and find some broken glass in the impellor. Take the glass out and reassemble.

Pour some water in the bottom of the dishwasher and put power back to it. Water drains out just right. Whoo hooo. Uhmmmm. Why isn’t it stopping? It also seems to run with the door open or closed. That’s not right. I pull the power and scratch my head. Something stuck in the float? Take everything apart again. Nope, looks okay. Take the door assembly apart to check the door locking assembly and switch. No, that looks okay. Take the pump assembly apart again, just because, and IT looks okay. Some water in the bottom of the dishwasher, like in underneatch in the pump area. This happened when I pulled the pump the first time. So I drain the water and poke around. There is a styrofoam float there that’s not attached to the float assembly up in the dishwasher itself. Hmmm… that’s ood, what’s it for? Turns out it’s in case water gets into the bottom of the housing, I guess. Only thing is it doesn’t WORK right.

Water in the bottom of the housing caused the float to rise, which turned on the pump to drain the water out of the TOP part of the dishwasher, which had no water, not the bottom part which had water. So it just ran the pump continously. It also bypassed the door lock switch and caused the dishwasher to run with the door open or closed. NOT a good safety feature. Once I figured this out it was a simple fix. Shove a towel lin there to dry all the water up. Test the system and now everything works fine.

Can you say design flaw??? Oh well, our dishwasher is working again. I just won’t ever buy a Bosch dishwasher. Not after our experiences with this one.

And the winner of today’s Political Fool award goes to …..

GORDON BROWN the UK Prime Minister

And why has he won this prestigious award you may ask?

In response to the rising food prices, gas prices, energy costs, and estimated crippling winter heating costs, his answer is….

Buy less food and don’t throw away the leftovers! Yes ladies and gentlemen, you have heard correctly. The cure for all your wallet woes is to just buy less food. I sure wish I could have thought of that! And this from a man who is supposed to be one of the highest educated PM’s in England. Wow, really says something about the British education system eh?

The PM said “unnecessary” purchases were contributing to price rises, and urged people to plan meals in advance and store food properly”

It just gives one a warm fuzzy to know we have such brilliant people in charge of the economy. 🙂

I’m waiting for this winter when it’s cold, rainy, and miserable for him to tell everyone “Turn down your thermostats and save money!” “Do you really need it above 50 degrees at night?” “If you can’t afford a doubling in your heating costs, then turn down the thermostat!”

The definition of Irony.

Using a supercomputer that takes 1.5 Megawatts of power and turns it straight into heat to study climate change.

Doing our part to keep the world warm. 🙂

Anthropogenic local warming, all in the name of science. One must keep Scotland from being too cold.


A friend and ex co worker of mine, John Leidel, will be teaching a class on HPC Accelerators this spring at George Town University Advanced Research Computing.

Here’s a snip from their web page Cluster Monkey.

In March they will be offering a class on Programming Accelerators and Coprocessors. It will be taught by John Leidel and most likely use GPUs with either Nvidia CUDA or AMD/ATI Stream Computing “languages,” and RapidMind software. We are still working out the details.

I shall shamelessly steal his coursework and try and teach myself enough GPGPU and Accelerator information to at least speak like I know something. (-:

Woots! To John.

FYI. John also writes for InsideHPC.

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