The Talk Place - David Miller

Blogs with inside information and personal opinions from GRN members around the world

Reflecting on Falcon Heavy Launch and disruption

David Miller - Wednesday 07 February 2018

Today I awoke to discover that Elon Musk's SpaceX had successfully launch the Falcon Heavy on its maiden launch. Utterly amazing.

The Falcon Heavy is one of the largest operating space launch vehicles. It consists of a central core, based on the Falcon 9 launch vehicle, with 2 Falcon 9s attached. In case you aren't familiar with it, the Falcon 9 is a reusable launch vehicle that is capable of returning to the launch site after it has placed its payload into orbit. Fully automated and reusable. That in itself is amazing. To build the Falcon Heavy and successfully launch on the first flight with the 2 Falcon 9s returning to launch site and and the core almost making drone ship, and to insert the payload into orbit without exploding or breaking up is just mind blowing. And they did it with typical SpaceX flair!

This got me to thinking Elon Musk's accomplishments. Reuseable space vehicles reducing cost with SpaceX, electric cars with Tesla, as well as power storage systems such as the battery complex recently installed in South Australia, and being founder of Paypal, amongst other things. He has a history being disruptive in whatever market he enters, looking for ways to do things differently. And they are big missions, he doesn't seem to take on small challenges, but huge ones, like settling Mars!

Which makes me think what would Elon Musk do to disrupt and faster achieve our mission? Global Recordings Network's mission is massive - get the story of Jesus available to all people in the world in their own language so that they can understand. It's something which he could really get his teeth into! And its something too which God has given me to get my teeth into. A mission worthy of a life.

GRN on Facebook

David Miller - Friday 02 October 2009

For some time now GRN has had a group on Facebook. There are now Facebook Pages that can be used by origanisations, so we are in the process of setting up a Facebook Page for Global Recordings Network. Keep an eye out for us and become a fan today!

It's all about story

David Miller - Tuesday 02 December 2008

My wife, Katrina, and I went and saw Baz Luhrman's latest film, Australia last night for our 13th wedding anniversary. We are great fans of Baz's films so we were looking forward to this one.

As Nicole Kidman said when interviewed by Oprah, Baz is a romantic and a story teller. And Australia is a big romantic movie (in all senses of the word) with many stories interwoven.

Nicole Kidman plays Lady Sarah Ashley who travels from England to the Northern Territory of Australia in 1939 at the beginning of World War II to sort out what her husband is really doing on their cattle station. Hugh Jackman is Drover, who has been hired by Lord Ashley to drove their cattle to Darwin. There are a swag of other well known and not so well known Aussie actors in this movie, with the standout being Brandon Walters as Nullah, the half Aboriginal, half white young boy who captures Lady Sarah's heart.

It's a huge picture, and quite long, but not outstandingly so. Baz Luhrmann is an outstanding director, and there are some fantastic and creative shots in the movie. One that stands out to me is an overhead shot of the water tower that pans out to us seeing the road running diagonally off the screen and then a car appears driving away. Fantastic! He captures the Australian light, size, colour, dryness and dramatic changes well.

But I want to comment on the stories, because that is what Baz seems to be about, and that is what we, GRN is about.

Australia is unashamedly about story. Nullah states so up front. He narrates for us a story about a woman, Lady Sarah, who comes into his world. That is part of Aboriginal culture. The Aboriginal story of the Lost Generations is another story told in the film - how half-caste children were stolen from their mothers to be brought up by missions (yes, usually the church) so that the Aboriginal breeding could becast out of them. Sarah is repulsed by the presuppositions of the time. Whether this is realistic, is doubtful. Would landed gentry from the UK at that time really be so appalled by such acts? 

There is the story of Lady Sarah, her trip, the love story between her and Drover, her love for Nullah, her desire to solve a financial crisis. It is the story, as Nullah puts it, of the healing of the land as she comes there.

There is the story of Nullah himself. His name could be after the land formations of the area, could be something from a local Aboriginal language, but I'm guessing Baz wants us to see his name as 'nothing', reminicisent of 'Terra Nullis' when Australia was decreed to be empty by the British. Nullah is not seen as Black or White, as nothing. But his mother, and Grand Father care for him. It is the story of his coming to manhood.

It is the story of the change in the landscape as the rain comes. 

It is the story of the bombing of Darwin. The worst military attack on Australian soil, shown graphically on the screen.

It is the story of Drover, who is seen as a outcast because of his love of the Black people.

It is the story of greed and corruption by landowners.

All these, and no doubt more, stories are woven through the film. Story is the theme of Australia. It is about people living their story  - a post-modern, X-gen concept, espoused in the film by the Aboriginal characters. It may very well be their world view too, that we all have a story, to live. The theme at the beginning of the movie is something like 'To live in fear, is not to live at all.' So the film is about challening us to have a 'story' - a theme picked up by the com see Australia ads.

There are no great stories of Christian redemption in the film. In fact the use of Aboriginal 'magic' is somewhat concerning, and there is a fair amount of reliance of the use of 'singing' to call people etc. However we can see compassion, and a willingness to act against wrong. What are the source of these acts? 

In Australia the film has an M rating mostly for the violence from the bombing of Darwin, a couple of fight scenes, and probably the shooting of an animal. There is a very small amount of offensive language, a lot of kissing, and a mild sex scene.

So I commend the film to you as an example of story telling. It isn't just visual. Nullah tells you the story. And that's what we at Global Recordings Network are doing, 'Telling the story of Jesus in every language'. We are seeking to tell the most powerful story ever told, the story of the redemption of mankind, in every language, to all people. That is more epic than even Australia!

Download the trailer of Australia here

When God tells Berkley to develop the tool you need...

David Miller - Friday 23 May 2008

Last night I walked the dog. Nothing very earth shattering about that, except that while I was walking the dog I started thinking about what we needed to solve the problem of replicating audio files between Temecula and Sydney and other centres around the world.

While some centres have reasonable Intenet connectivity, even in the USA & Australia we would be looking at some costs to have sufficient bandwidth to move files around across the Internet. Many centres only have dialup, and some don't have that. So we need to be able to do much of the replication by disk - good ol' Sneaker Net.

So while I was walking, God gave me a design, and as I wrote up that design I realised that we needed a replication layer that relied on a transport layer which didn't require nodes to be connected to the Internet. 

So I started Googling all sorts of related things. Replicating filesystems, sneakernet etc. Today I struck Gold. Platinum even!

It turns out that our problem is common to people in developing countries and NASA. And a few military folk. Without getting too technical, we need something called Delay Tolerant Networking (DTN). TCP/IP used in the INternet is not that tolerant of delays. It definately won't handle delays of  few weeks while disks are shipped around. Or the 20 mins or so for data to tranvel from Earth to Mars. So  a protocol called DTN has been developed to handle that.

Now, this is where the University of California Berkley come in. They have a group called TIER - Technology and Infrastructure for Emerging Regions and they have developed some software on top of DTN to handle replication of data across disconnected networks. And it works very much like the high level design that I had!

So how's that, God has gone ahead of us and had the folks at Berkley develop the software that we need!

Praise God.

When the email stops...

David Miller - Wednesday 14 May 2008

My director walked over to my desk and asked that question feared by all IT support folk, "Is here something wrong with the Internet? My email won't send." He was trying to reply to an email from a friend in one of the recent disaster areas in Asia.

A few quick checks showed that our ADSL line was operational, as was the USA internet connection, so what was happening?

So I tried to send my self an email to an external account. Yep - it bounced, and I had a reason. Our US mail server had got detected by a monitoring network as sending spam. This network is used by many (including my own email server) to try and stop the deluge of spam. By checking the network's web site, sure enough our IP address was listed.

And our daily prayer time had just started...

I quickly emailed a couple of the IT guys in the US, skyped one, didn't get a response and took a look at the email logs. Oh, this was going to take a while.

Well, I thought, its broken now, it will probably take a while to sort out what the trigger was and fix it and the help of the guys in the US would be helpful, and the prayer time has started.

This needed prayer - so the obvious thing was to go upstairs and join the prayer time.

We prayed about many parts of the GRN work, including the mail problem.

By the time I returned to my desk, one of the US guys was online and was looking at the problem. Together we setup some firewall rules to block outgoing traffic which might have caused the problem (it was probably a 'guest') and we trolled the email logs looking for culprits. It mostly likely came from a virus or botnet infection on a machine connected to the US network. We got the block removed and things gradually returned to normal.

It was interesting timing. Would I have so easily taken the matter to God in prayer if it hadn't been prayer time?

My first week at GRN AU

David Miller - Saturday 19 April 2008

Katrina and I have just completed our first official week at the Sydney GRN offices as staff. We've actually cheated a bit and been around a bit longer. In fact I've been working on IT systems for GRN Australia and USA for a few years, but its a bit different as staff!

Probably one of the most obvious differences for me is that I'm working in an office, rather than from home as I was as a mission IT consultant for Crosscape Technology. That means we need to commute to the office. While it's not the longest drive, it is still 30 mins by car, or 1.5 hours by train and bus (and foot).

Another change is the amount of prayer. At GRN AU we have a prayer time every day from 12:00-12:30, as well as a longer time on Wednesday's from 10:00-12:30. Buts is was bonus time this Tuesday with another hour in the afternoon for the corporation prayer meeting before the board meeting. We pray because we are dependent on God for our work. we pray because we are involved in a spiritual battle. But it sure is easy to think "But I need to get something done rather than pray!"

As with any new job there is a settling in period. I am still working out my role, as is Katrina. She is only there a couple of days a week, and then not all of the day.

My background is as a Unix System Administrator, and I've been consulting with missions for 11 years as an IT consultant. So I know Linux well. As well as a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science I have a Masters in Information Systems. My passion is that missions will make strategic use of Information Systems.

This week I've been tackling a system to automatically install Windows workstations. We have a couple of different types: office workstations and audio workstations, which have special needs. We also build and ship audio workstations for recordists overseas, so we want to streamline that operation. I am familiar with a system called Unattended, built on Linux, but I've experienced problems with it and SATA drives, so I'm trying a German developed tool called OPSI. Problem is - it is in German, and while I have learnt some German, it has been a while. There is English documentation and translation, but it isn't always understandable!

Another of my tasks is providing support for synchronising the audio archives between Australia and the US. This is making progress as the two organisations come to a common understanding and processes. It's not quite a process of just making sure the files are the same using rsync. This week I worked on a script that will automate the transfer of new copy masters between the centres. Copy Masters are the files that are in the format for the media for copying (eg CD WAV files or mp3s), ie, the final product.