Neil Young in Colmar

Yesterday I saw Neil Young playing in Colmar, France. That was an absolutely awesome concert. He started the set rocking with ‘Love and only Love’ and ‘Hey Hey My My’. It seemed like he had some technical trouble and the sound was a little crappy, at least from my place. But it was loud and rocking anyway. It was probably a little too much for the poor video screen system, which gave up during ‘Hey Hey My My’ :-). At some point he talked to the drummer and was pointing at some unknown thing in the sky. Something seemed to make him happy there. From this point everything was more relaxed, the sound was great and he played a killer version of ‘Cortez’. Then it became clear what he was pointing to: the full moon was rising behind the audience. That was great. He seemed to love that. At some point he started an acoustiv set, which was really good and featured some surprises (‘Wrecking Ball’). He finished the long (2 1/2 hours) concert with another exstatic electric set, starting with two new songs. One of them ‘Sea Change’ he even played twice, just because he and the band liked it so much. Then followed the final showdown with an awesome version of ‘Cowgirl in the Sand’ and a punkrocking ‘Rocking in the Free World’, where they pointed all the spotlights to the 10000 people audience, which went crazy, jumping around and screaming along. During this song I was really worried that this old man could just fall over and die ;-). The encore was a great cover version of ‘A Day In The Life’, where he almost killed his guitar. Poor Old Black…

Before and after the concert I have been chatting to a nice couple, Roman (or Romain) and Lucy (maybe Lucie). I’m a little sad now that I forgot to ask them for address or phone number, they’ve been so nice. It’s probably very unlikely, but in the case that you two read this, please contact me in the comments or by email, it would be so nice to meet you again.

Anonther nice feature of the concert was that they were showing paintings for almost every song. At some point I realized that there was actually a painter behind the drummer, who really created paintings during the concert! Very nice idea.

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Neil Young in Colmar

Garbage Collection

I would like to follow up on Mario’s post about house cleaning. But from a different angle. You all know it: while doing your daily work, you end up with a heap of garbage lying around your place(s). Ok, some other (probably small but important stuff) you put on a nice stack, but handling this is not so difficult, because it is nice and ordered. Now, there are several ways to clean your rooms, which I would like to categorize as follows:

Stop the world garbage collection

This is probably the most naive and most widely used approach. You simply usually don’t care about the heap of garbage, and then you have one day (for example, saturdays, or any other day, like when your mom comes for a visit) to clean up your flat. This usually takes a while, thus preventing you from doing anything else (stop the world). This is usually good enough if you live alone, and even for couples and families this works surprisingly well. But for others, this is not acceptable.

Incremental garbage collection

This approach means, you clean up stuff all the time, in small chunks, and interleaved with your normal work. After breakfast, you clean the dishes instantly. After doing some work in the garden, you put all the things back to where they belong, etc. You get the idea. This is a little tedious and makes all your work a little less fun (unless you are a true genius and consider cleaning up fun), but it has the big advantage, that your place is almost always in a state where you can let in surprise visits from moms and girls without going crazy.

Parallel garbage collection

Ok, this is an advanced approach for couples and families only. It’s easy: if you share the work, you get it done faster. So, on the saturday, you simply do not clean the flat alone, you let your wife and kids help you and get it done faster. Everybody can clean his own rooms for example. And then you even have some spare time for a walk in the afternoon. Great. Advice: teach your kids about cleaning up early, so they can take over some cleaning tasks as well.

Parallel incremental garbage collection

This is a combination of the incremental and parallel approach and very effective, but also quite difficult. You have to get all your family members to clean up stuff all the time (directly after the breakfast, lunch, work, etc) and you do it all together. This is not so easy, because you have to share the work somehow. Maybe one can clean dishes, the other dry the dishes. Or one brings things to their places and the other clean the ground. But you see, there is a limitation doing this. It is not so easy to share up these small chunks of work. You should try it, and if it works for you, cool, if not, do one of the other approaches.

Realtime garbage collection

This is something for real workaholics and control freaks. It means, that cleaning up your place has to be finished in a guaranteed and not-too-long timeframe. It is not allowed to exceed the timeframe you originally promise (to yourself, your wife, your employer, etc). Many people consider this outright impossible, others say, just don’t throw things on a heap, only use small nice stacks. However, there are some people on Jamaica who figured out a way to actually do it. The trick is this (a little simplified): Everytime you want to throw something around your flat on the heap of garbage, you first clean up a part of this heap. How much you have to clean up depends on how big the heap already is. When there’s lots of stuff, then you have to do much, if there’s not so much stuff lying around, you are allowed to only work a little. But there’s always a hard limit on how much work is done. If this is finished, you can throw stuff around. This works pretty well and you can always give hard real time guarantees to whoever asks that. But it takes a certain discipline to actually do it.

If you also have interesting garbage collection strategies, please add them in the comments.

Hotspot vs. virtual memory

Dear Lazyweb. It seems to me that (on the Hotspot VM) the Java heap is always kept in RAM and never swapped out, because the GC is continually accessing the memory. For example, if I have Firefox, Evolution and Eclipse running, and then start a compilation that takes a lot of memory, Firefox and Evolution get swapped out, while Eclipse (which takes up around 1G on my machine) stays in memory all the time, thus effectively stealing memory from the compilation process. Has anybody else observed this too? Is my diagnosis correct? Is there a way to fix this? Would be nice if Java programs behave similar to other programs and don’t lead the virtual memory system ad absurdum.

Caciocavallo: Portable GUI backends

Finished the project in time, yay! And first even 🙂 Ok, we live in a strange timezone (compared to PST), where I want to go to bed right now, so… here are some links to older postings you might enjoy.