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Back to newsletter 074 contents | All Javva's articles

Diary of a Hutt: The Sun Guy

So the Sun Guy came in. I mean, I'm good. I'm a guru in some areas, real good in others, passably good at lots of things. But the Sun Guy was ... Good. You can only say it like that ... Good. Good with a capital G and a small gap before you say it. ... Good.

He sort of breezed in, looking fairly enthusiastic despite what must've been a fairly early start for him, and we talked at him for about half a day going over the architecture and the issues we knew about. He didn't make any notes, which I kinda figured meant he wasn't all that interested - I've seen gurus before who know their specific subject matter, ignore all else and just apply what they know in the same way place after place. Think DB tuning. You don't really need to know what is in the DB or the schema or the application using it, you can just slam on the monitoring, analyse it, make changes to indexes or suggestions for changes to tables and keys, and get a good improvement. So I figured the Sun Guy probably used the same kind of approach. But I found out at the end of the engagement he was ... Good. He'd listened to everything, taken it all in, and there was a succinct and crystal clear description of our architecture and issues in his report.

After talking at him for that first half a day, he got to work. I had the pleasure of watching him rake through the system - the only equivalent I can think of is Caine in Kung Fu, you know, where he seems to just adjust his stance slightly and the baddies go flying. The Sun Guy would run a utility or two, and think for a bit, then tell us something that was news to us. Numbers in columns that I never even noticed were there, told him that we were doing too many ps's too often (we had it automated and it was misconfigured). Some magic scripts running on our testbed told him NFS was an issue for a particular set of logs (debug turned on too high and forgotten about). A ghostly one-liner caught currentTimeMillis being executed too often - at the system level this was doing far too much work because of some timezone issues. And there was more, much more.

It was just awesome to watch The Sun Guy at work. I was sad to see him go.

Javva The Hutt.

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