Oh my am I exhausted! I hoped to have most of the text of this completed before my flight got back to Manchester last night, but that didn't happen.
I keep telling people I know that Michigan is a hardware school (in spite of having some great software people - see my post from Monday). We Solaris developers at the Sun table were brutally reminded of this yesterday. Lots of EE's with Verilog and/or VHDL experience. Many of them asking about architecture and/or verification, but a surprising number who have never heard of SPARC, the UltraSPARC T1 (aka. Niagara), or that they can see the entire source for the Niagara with OpenSPARC. Almost every business card of mine I handed out to folks had the word, "OpenSPARC" on the back so they could Google it later.
We also tried to make sure everyone had OpenSolaris disks. There are four binary distributions of OpenSolaris on that set of disks: Solaris Express Community Edition (see the previous link) - Sun's current OpenSolaris vehicle, Nexenta - which is probably going to be one of the more comfortable ones for Ubuntu Linux users to land in, Belenix - which is optimized for Live CD use, and Schillix, which was the first non-Sun distribution of OpenSolaris, by Joerg Schilling of "cdrecord" fame. I hope some of the students went home and had success playing with OpenSolaris. You all should visit opensolaris.org and engage the community discussions with your feedback and questions.
I mentioned Monday about how much like a geezer I felt. I had more of that yesterday not only saying, "Class of '91" a few times, but also when Professor Quentin Stout visited our table. My only graduate-level class I took at U. of M. was his Parallel Algorithms class in the fall of 1990 (during Football/Marching Band season). Back in the day it was all theory - we discussed how to partition problems using the abstract PRAM (Parallel Random Access Machine). It was the ONLY parallel ANYTHING class offered when I had an available slot. This was when shared-memory multiprocessors were experiments or startups (anyone remember the BBN Butterfly, the Sequent Balance, or the Encore Multimax?). I mentioned to Prof. Stout I took his class back then. He then proceeded to tell me how the class is far more practical now. He told me all about stuff like OpenMP, and other high-level constructs that as a systems' programmer I just don't get to use all that much. I still, however, felt pretty smart for seeing the future back in 1990. I hope I have as good luck 17 years later.
Anyway, I had a great time in Ann Arbor, and I hope to get back there sooner rather than later. If anyone who visited our table is reading this, leave a comment, and don't be afraid to be honest. :)