Berkeley RAD Lab Retreat

A couple of weeks back I attended the Berkeley RAD Lab Retreat. At this retreat, the RAD Lab grad students present their projects and, as is typical of Berkeley retreats, the talks we’re quite good. It was held up at Lake Tahoe which was great for the skiers but also made for an interesting drive up there. Chains were required for the drive from Reno to Lake Tahoe and I was in a rental car with less than great summer tires and, of course, no chains.

It snowed hard for much of the retreat. When leaving I took a picture of a pickup truck completely buried in the parking lot:

The talks included: Scalable Consistent Document Store, Prototype of the Instrumentation Backplane, Response time modeling for power-aware resource allocation, Using Machine Learning to Predict Performance of Parallel DB Systems, Diagnosing Performance Problems from Trace data using probabilistic models, Xtrace to find Flaws in UC Berkeley Wireless LAN, Exposing Network Service Failures with Datapath Traces, Owning Your Own Inbox: Attacks on Spam Filters, Declarative Distributed Debugging (D3), Policy Aware Switching Layer, Tracing Hadoop, Machine-Learning-Enabled Router to Deal with Local-Area Congestion, A Declarative API for Secure Network Applications, Deterministic Replay on multi-processor systems, and

Basically the list of talks presented came pretty close to what I would list as the most interesting challenges in services and service design. Great stuff. In addition to the talks, there are always an interesting group of folks from Industry and this year was no exception. I had a good conversation over dinner with Luiz Barroso ( and brief chat with John Ousterhout (

The flight back was more than a bit interesting as well. We left Reno heading towards Seattle in a small prop plane. Thirty minutes into the trip, I was starting to wonder what was wrong in that I could see the aircraft landing gear doors opening and closing repeatedly from my wing side seat. Shortly thereafter the pilot announced that we had a gear problem and we needed to return to Reno. We returned and did a low pass over the Reno airport so that the tower could check the landing gear position via binoculars. Then we circled back and landed with a fire trucking chasing us down the runway. We stayed out on the active taxi ways with the airport closed to incoming or outgoing traffic while crew came out to the aircraft and pinned the gear in the down position before moving the plane to the terminal.


James Hamilton, Windows Live Platform Services
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