NetKernel News Volume 3 Issue 30

July 6th 2012

What's new this week?

Catch up on last week's news here

Repository Updates

There are no repository updates this week.

Kernel / Layer 1 Enhancement Preview

The Fabrick team at BestBuy requested an enhancement to the active:java runtime to allow it to be able to simultaneously support and run multiple concurrent generations of the same endpoint class, loaded from different contextual module superstack classpaths.

This is something which is simple to do with a higher-level language, like active:groovy where the code is a resource, but since Java classpaths are "to-the-metal", it required a bit of "strong-arm coercion" to make Java play the game. In fact it not only required a fairly involved update to the active:java runtime but also required a kernel tweak too.

Tony is confident that these changes are solid and in fact as a side-benefit, the kernel tweak offers a small performance enhancement, but we're always prudent about kernel updates and like to have a period of "living with them in production" before we make them a general repository update.

So if you use active:java and you want to try these updates we've provided the library/module jars here...

Its very simple to deploy them by hand following these steps...

  1. Place in the [ install ]/lib/ directory
  2. Place in the [ install ]/modules/ directory
  3. For the next part its probably a good idea to stop NK first, so shutdown NetKernel
  4. Edit [ install ]/etc/bootloader.conf and change the kernel.impl jar to
  5. Edit [ install ]/etc/stem-system.conf and change layer1 to
  6. Edit [ install ]/etc/modules.xml and change layer1 to
  7. Restart NetKernel

Our tests are all checking out and many of the more sophisticated backend tools, such as the visualizer and the space explorer, use active:java and are unaffected. Our production servers are now running this live (including this one you're looking at right now).

Please take the time to give this a go and let us know how you get on. When we've had a suitable period of real-world action we'll make it a general update.


Rather like the Higgs Boson, you wait years and years and then all of sudden they're all over the place... Tony has provided this week's in-depth article again, in it he offers a discussion of where ROC goes beyond REST to complete the Resource Oriented Standard Model...

On the Higgs

What are we to make of the Higgs discovery? It is a beautiful moment and an affirmation of the power of human imagination, creativity and our collective collaborative potential.

This hard won concrete knowledge will provide the cornerstone of the scientific breakthroughs still to come. For do not be fooled - while we know a lot more than we did before - our generation's ultraviolet catastrophe is that we're beginning to realise that everything we've measured so far is only the 5% of the universe that is "real matter". The recent advances in astronomy (we are in Astronomy's Golden Age) are providing more and more evidence to believe that the universe is mostly dark energy and dark matter. We "see" this matter through its localised gravitational lensing effects in galaxies and, more uniformly, in the inconsistency in the observable expansion rate of the universe.

How will finding the Higgs help? Well if this is the Higgs particle [and there are still years and years of painstaking experimentation ahead to really pin down its properties - all we really know at the moment is that there is a new very massive, chargeless boson in about the right place to be consistent with the Higgs theory], then the Higgs field permeates space-time and provides the mechanism by which particles exhibit mass. And mass is what gives rise to gravitational fields, and dark matter has mass since it affects gravity...

...therefore a Higgs field as the basis of mass must provide the basis for understanding what the rest of the 95% of universe is, which is what CERN in its modest style intimates in this press release...

But what good is it?

But what good is it? Well, firstly why does that matter? It is sufficient that we know more than we did before - knowledge and light in the darkness is its own reward. But as it happens, human beings have an uncanny knack of turning new knowledge to their advantage: when the electron was discovered nobody knew that within fifty years it would lead to be the basis of all of the technology of the modern world. Equally we cannot know what the first-order technological spins-offs may be. But CERN can already point to Sir TBL and the WWW and say "fundamental research pays back many many fold to society" and this is only the second-order value!!! Politicians and neo-ludites take note.

Have a great weekend.


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