February 2006
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I am The Cyberwolfe and these are my ramblings. All original content is protected under a Creative Commons license - always ask first.
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Archive for February, 2006

How not to run a server

Posted in Geekery on February 28th, 2006

Some time ago, a man saw an opportunity where he could help his fellow netizens express themselves, and he started a blogging host called Diary-X. Many people flocked to his banner and posted their thoughts, feelings and ramblings there for the world to see. Even the mighty Diary of a Wolfeman (yukyuk) got it’s humble beginnings as a Diary-X blog.

It was not meant to last forever, though, as Diary-X has suffered a fatal drive crash, and even DriveSavers (arguably the best in the biz) were unable to recover the drive. Bacchus at Eros Blog went off on a rant a while back about how it is almost criminal to remove a blog from the ‘sphere, so truly it is a tragedy that this has come to pass not for one, but for hundreds.

While I hate to kick a man while he is down, there is one thing that keeps coming back to me: there is only one drive mentioned. The man was hosting a server on one hard drive alone. This, my friends, is what happens when you let an amateur loose in the server room.

Y’see, there’s this thing called RAID. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Redundant Array of Independent (or Inexpensive) Disks. RAID units are used for both performance and fault-tolerance, but the latter is usually the driving factor. There is more than one way to do it, but the gist of it is you take three or more hard drives and you spread the data across all of them in such a manner that either the data itself or the parity of the data exists on more than one drive at any given time. Thus, if a disk fails, the data can be recovered from the remaining drives in the array. In the better systems, you simply pull the failed drive, insert the replacement, and the RAID automatically rebuilds itself.

The worst part about all this is the commonality of RAIDs these days – it’s difficult to find a new motherboard nowdays that doesn’t have a RAID controller built-in. Controller add-in cards are pretty cheap, and I just picked up a pair of 100GB SATA drives for a touch over $110. For 3 bills USD, the man could have implemented a RAID in any computer he wanted and avoided the whole situation. Now, his clients have to suffer the consequences of his lack of foresight.

Folks, it’s not “if” a drive will fail, it’s WHEN a drive will fail. If you use a computer, data is your life, and backup routines are your religious observance. Don’t forget to pray. Ever.

End Rant.

Questionable Content

Posted in Life on February 26th, 2006

That loud crash you just heard was me falling out of my fucking chair and trying not to bust a rib laughing. Go see for yourself.

Questionable Content

He had a second think coming

Posted in Work on February 22nd, 2006

As I have said before, the Bossman can be a bit of a raving idiot sometimes. Lately, he has taken to formally writing people reprimands when they fail to follow the ass-headed procedures we have around the shop. (Okay, maybe they aren’t so ass-headed as they are difficult to follow when the craziness that is our business gets up in your face.)

Today he finally got around to me. I took time from the multi-computer rollout I was doing today to drive over to our HR office for a friendly little get-together where they shoved almost two pages of bull-puckey in front of me with a signature line on the back. It detailed two seperate instances of “infractions” that Bossman thought warranted a formal reprimand.

The first and largest dealt with a Sunday job that went into the shitter. Our Techie-in-Training is pretty good at wiring, so he was heading the op, and I was being brought in to polish off the wiring, configure a router and wireless hotspot – only the wiring was only 1/4 done, and the gear hadn’t even been ordered yet, let alone delivered.

So, I helped T-i-T get the wiring to the point where it was a one-man op again and left the site after conferring with the client and explaining why I was leaving. As luck would have it, things went pretty downhill after I left – the customer got pissed, T-i-T froze like a deer in headlights, and Bossman got bitched out the next day, and he creditted the guy 3 hours labor to make amends – all without asking me about it at all. The first I heard of this is when HR Lady tossed the reprimand at me.

The second point was to nag me for not calling in to authorize a couple hours of overtime to fix a completely hosed network at a huge client’s site when I had the client’s CFO breathing down my neck to get it fixed. Then there was the part where I didn’t tell anyone that we needed to get a tech up again the next day. This is all part of another job that Bossman and I stayed at until 1:00am not a week before – a $25,000 gig, and getting it right may let us actually keep them, where screwing up even the slightest will lose us this client. Well, I was busy fixing the problem, not worrying about the time. Yes, I should have at least called after I left to verify – I’ll give him that. But when I was done, it was working – there wasn’t a need I could see for sending someone back out. (It is just a nasty coincidence that another problem cropped up after I left.)

I read the whole thing, then started explaining what actually happened with the first one. By the time I got done, I had not only cleared myself, I got to say to his face in front of HR Lady AND the new General Manager how he had offended me and wasted all of our time by not coming and talking to me about this BEFORE he set formal paperwork in motion. That two-page document will be a two-sentence document if he ever actually bothers to have me sign it.

This meeting actually turned out pretty good for me – now all three of them know for certain that I can walk into a bad situation and not only come out looking pretty darn good, I can make the other guy feel sheepish in the process, without ever raising my voice.

Don’t fuck with the Wolfe.

I am so not surprised.

Posted in Life, Proof! on February 19th, 2006

Everybody’s had one. You know, that one idiot friend or roommate from your past that you always knew you’d find in the paper someday, doing something stupid. For me, it’s Geordie, the Guy Under The Stairs. He lived in the cupboard under the stairs of the townhouse I lived in waaaaay back when in ‘Vegas. He was a Dead Head, didn’t shower anywhere near often enough, and was either funny or damned annoying, never anything in between.

B:tNG pointed this out to me the other day:

Two more arrests at Biscuit fire salvage

Liam O’Reilly of Ashland and Gordon Gilbrook of San Diego were charged with disorderly conduct and interfering with agricultural process, authorities said. They were booked at the Josephine County Jail.

Rich Parrett was driving a log truck early Thursday when he spotted Gilbrook in the middle of the road. The activist was suspended 20 feet high in a platform below two poles anchored to a Volvo.

A banner below the platform read “These forests need fire, not old-growth tree removal.”

Yep, that “Gordon” would be Geordie. I’m betting two things. 1) – Geordie was trying to get in some dreadlocked patchouli-smelling hippie-chick’s pants, and 2) – the sign was somehow mispelled.

Baaaaa.

Posted in Geekery on February 15th, 2006

Like there was any real question…
Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with QuizFarm.com

Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)

81%

Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)

81%

Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)

81%

Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)

81%

Serenity (Firefly)

81%

Moya (Farscape)

75%

SG-1 (Stargate)

75%

Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)

69%

Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)

63%

Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)

63%

Enterprise D (Star Trek)

38%

FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files)

25%

Okay, maybe there was a bit of a question. By the Power of Being a Gemini, I score well for 3 of my favorite starships, plus that un-pronounceable one and a space station.

Of course, since they are my faves, it would seem likely that I would score well for those. It seems to me it would be far simpler to just ask “what’s your favorite crew?” that to make you take the quiz. Shrug.

Retail Therapy

Posted in Geekery on February 12th, 2006

Or, “The Trials and Tribulations of Buying Online”

For weeks now, I have been hungrilly searching through the inventoru at NewEgg, cobling together the list of parts that would eventually become my latest computer build. I’ve probably spent about 6 hours on this since January.

One thing about me though, is that I am impatient. When my tax refund arrived on Friday, there was now way in hell I was going to wait another two days for shipping, and then probably until the end of the week before I could actually meld thos parts together into a computer. Saturday morning, I went to Fry’s.

The problem with having spent so much time getting the perfect list of parts and then going to another store is not always finding what you spec’d out. I think the only two things on the original list that made it into the final build are the processor and the MP3 player I wanted. The rest is “close enough”. Here’s what actually made it into ‘Hyperion’:

Antec tower case (I wanted a Centurion, but they didn’t have the no-psu model, and I wasn’t going to pay $40 for a psu I was going to throw away)
Antec SmartPower 500W modular psu (spec was 450W, got this for the same price)
AMD 3700+ 64-bit proc
ECS nForce4 motherboard (spec was an MSI model)
2Gb PC2100 RAM (1 gig from the old box, another gig I had lying around without enough motherboard slots)
eVGA 256 Mb GeForce 6600 PCI-E video (this change was good – it turns out the eVGA 6800XT board I saw at NewEgg is a typo and doesn’t exist)
a pair of Maxtor 100Gb SATA drives in swap bays (spec was Western Digital 40 Gb SATA, which they were out of; these were 15$ more each)
Creative Zen Micro 6Gb MP3 player. (Ok, not a computer part, but damn cool anyway :) )

This is my first time really playing around with a 64-bit processor, and so far I am mightily impressed by the speed. I’m used to having to wait a tick or three when I click on an icon, but the AMD 3700+ reacts almost instantly. OpenOffice.org Calc opens in less than four seconds – without the quickstarter. Firefox in less than two! I can’t wait until I get some time to install Kubuntu’s 64-bit edition.

Ahh….new computer bliss ;)

C.S.I. – “Pirates of the Third Reich” Episode #615

Posted in Reviews on February 9th, 2006

Ok, it’s not often that I will review (maybe critique is a better word) a TV episode, but this one goes to great lengths to make people want to talk about it. I’ll start with the good bits…

Lady Heather rocks mightily.
Yes, we knew that already, but in this episode she gets to be the woman I think every girl wants to be: she is intelligent, strong, and at least one step ahead of the whole crew, including Grissom. More on this at the end.

One of the darker plots this series has come up with, and has some additional twists I didn’t expect – like Brass being the one to come up with a line that stumped a lot of people. “Starved, shaved and numbered…what does this remind you of?” I thought he was referring to a past episode, and I’m guessing there’s a bunch of folks out there who didn’t realize until later in the show he was actually thinking of a Nazi camp.

Now for some of the bad.
Anyone reading this has the ability to discover that “Highway 55” doesn’t enter Nevada, and Sparks is outside of Reno – an 8 hour drive from ‘Vegas. (Maybe 6 hours for Katherine and Sara, I’m guessing that they drive fast.) C’mon, guys, we expect you to use real road and place names as much as possible, but let’s make them realistic, ok?

Brass has known Lady Heather for some time now, and he didn’t think to put a tail on her? You know a person with her drive, personal connection to the crime and mental ability is going to poke their nose into the investigation and possibly do something not quite legal. (Hell, I would). Brass should have put an officer or two on her as soon as she left the station the first time.

We’ll finish the same way the show did, with one of the best parts: Lady Heather tracks down the bastard that killed her daughter just like we thought she would. Does she kill him? No. She straps his ass to the hood of a car and goes after him with her whip. No easy death here, this fucktard needs to suffer.

Moral? Never fuck with the daughter of a dominatrix.

Blurgh?

Posted in Life on February 1st, 2006

It’s only Wednesday, isn’t it?

Home: busy busy busy, since Pookie’s stepfather TS is out of town on business. Since the EMC doesn’t drive, Pook has been sleeping here every night due to the closer proximity to her school. (5-minute drive for me, 1 1/2 hour bus trip for EMC)

I hate waiting. I have a big fat check coming from the IRS, and I already have it spent in my head. I want it to be here already! (Of course, there will be an additional two or three days of waiting once the check gets here, because the parts I’m buying are from Internet suppliers…)

Had to replace the Ratboy’s power supply last weekend – thankfully, that and a fan were all that went.

Work: Bossman went on a rant at a couple of meetings about how we aren’t doing enough business and he’s going to have to cut hours to make up the slack. Then he calls me later and tells me I will be the last one on the list to get my hours cut, since I’m the one bringing in money.

Today I sold a $1155 computer; had to revise a bid to a bigger server ($3000 to $5000) that will almost positively sell (and will lead to a couple more PC’s in a couple months), and finished off the notes so Bossman can finish up two more thousand-and-something-$ project bids.

One of the things that keeps me going in this job is the “Hallelujah!” look I got when I popped a floppy disk out of a drive and booted a supposedly “crashed” computer. Next week I’ll see that customer’s “contented peace of mind” look when I install an external storage drive and backup software.

I rock :)