Recent blog entries for beldon

One of the reasons I've started to post regularly is the fact that two old acquaintances contacted me recently after doing a Google search on my name and finding my entries on this site.

This week sucked-- as evidenced by the fact that no coding got done (I'm supposed to be learning Java, remember?). One of those weeks when you feel like you've been constanly busy but got nothing done. I must be getting impatient about my position change, which is understandable since I've known about it for four months now. Maybe I am getting short-timers disease. Add to that some personal shit that came to the fore this week (can I say 'shit' on this site?) right after an exhausting and frustrating trip to Phoenix and you have my last two weeks in a nutshell.

At least the sun's been out today.

6 Mar 2001 (updated 6 Mar 2001 at 02:18 UTC) »

Much to my surprise, my life is taking off again. Some of this I expected, but not as quickly as it has come to be; some of it I didn't expect at all.

The best thing to happen so far is that I am leaving the Windows NT world!!!!! (see previous post) And there was much rejoicing (yaaaaaay.) Yes, I have "crossed the great water" (as the I Ching so often puts it) and have become a DBA on Unix (AIX). That I was able to turn a "hobby" (i.e. hacking on Linux at home) into a career move is not surprising, or even that unusual. I suspect many of my compatriots have done the same thing (with or without the intermediate step of Windows). What's surprising to me is how quickly it's happened. I only just installed my first Linux box slightly over two years ago.

Now for the really fun and strange part. As I'm sure many readers of this (both of them!) will know, a DBA's wrk is not centered on coding. Sure, we can whip up a SQL stored procedure or even Perl script when necessary (as I have), but the job really isn't about coding. Production DBA work is more about keeping the system alive and nimble-- just like any other sysadmin. However, in my new role I will be less of a day-to-day production guy and be more involved with getting the thing running and playing nicely with the other machines. One of my first duties will be to help port Java stored procedures, so I'm teaching myself Java.

Prior to this, I had no knowledge of Java, nor an other OO language. BASIC, Perl, and a smattering of C were about all. what's particularly flattering is that my new boss knew this and still took me on because of my reputation of being able to hack things that I in no way understand and make them work. So now, the question I ask is:

Can I be an apprentice now? :-)

Been a long time since I wrote. August-- right about the time I found out my friend Rob had died a month before I was told about it).

How much has changed for me since then. It all started so innocently with a few Perl scripts I wrote. Then I took an interview with a company who needed a DBA on Oracle running on Solaris. I didn't get the job, but the experience was uplifting. It made me realize that I had been underestimating my skill level. Here I took the interview thinking that I had no chance and I made the top two.

So imagine my surprise when I got an opportunity to work with UDB on AIX at the company I'm currently with. Pretty neat. Apparently, me experience with Linux at home was educational enough that the team-- normally skeptical of anyone trying to cross over into the Unix world-- accepted me no problem. Kewl! So now, after 4 years as an NT DBA, I've made the switch to Unix.

Interestingly enough, someone who is on our LUG's mailing list was saying he felt he should start learning NT first, and then Linux because, "there's more market demand for it." We set him straight on that point. To be fair to the lad, it came out that he was reacting to the MCSE hype. I related to him my story about how difficult it can often be once you have been saddled with Micros~1 certification. People tend to think of you in that light and it's like a trap-- very hard to redefine yourself.

So now he's learning Linux/Unix, which is what he really wanted anyways. He was just worried he wouldn't find his skills useful. I can understand entirely.

So I'm moving to Connecticut this summer. Meanwhile, I'll be splitting my time between locations. My new boss is himself very interested in Linux (as are much of the crew). My company's main interest seems to be more towards using it on our mainframes-- which I wouldn't mind getting into at all.

I'm still more of a Sysadmin than a coder, but many of the tools that are currently lacking in our AIX environment can be created using tools like Perl or other Free/Open software toold. I'll be in a good position to make sure we don't pay too much for our functionality-- and get to play with lots of new software toys along the way.

And I get paid for it too? Kewl!

Looking for a few good projects
I'm looking for a project or two in which to get involved. Anyone, anyone?

Since my coding skills currently rival those of your average keeshond, I could perhaps be best put to use on documentation. You have here some examples of my writing, so e-mail me if you think I could be of assistance.

Just got news today that an old friend and mentor of mine died on July 12.

"Dear Rob,

You introduced me, when I was 12, to the concept of computers, programming, logic circuits, and mathematics. I fell in love with all but the last of these at that young age as you were discovering them.

You immediately went into the sciences and I went more into music. As time went on, my love for computers and tech things never left me and I was able to teach myself most of the technologies I now use today.

I know you were a great supporter of Linux and Free Software. I know you had a number of DC LUG members working with you and encouraged the use of Linux on the basis of its technological strengths and open philosophy.

I've always looked up to you-- a true "Geek Big Brother" that I needed at a very vulnerable time in my life. I remember you teaching yourself Integral Calculus over a summer between your Junior and Senior year in High School. For fun, even!

Perhaps ironically, your death occurs at a time when I'm starting down the path you trod years before me. I begin calculus (well, pre-calc) this Fall semester in preparation for finishing my comp-sci degree. Strange to see that I've discovered a love of mathematics in reviewing my College Algebra.

And what eulogy would be complete without a list of regrets? I'm sorry I couldn't visit you more often this past year. I'm sorry we had that long period of non- contact. Mostly, I'm sorry that you won't be around anymore.

Even when we were out of contact, you always were-- and will still be-- a mentor and model for me to look up to.

I wish you peace on your journey, and hope we will meet again somewhere, somewhen.

With much love and great admiration, your friend


Much to my surprise today, when I logged into Advogato today, I was certified as an apprentice! Kewl! (thanx miniver, lilo, and mobius!)

Haven't had much time to study with work being as busy as it is. for some reason this year everyone wants everything done by September 1. Usually this is a quiet time-- or so I'm told. I've only been at this company for six months. It's still a pain that I've been averaging one server build per month, and in July I had five.

I use the spare time in work to learn *nix techniques. Currently, I'm running through the Unix CD Bookshelf from O'Reilly. I'm doing Sed and Awk as a precursor to PERL as a precursor ro C or some such 'real' language.

Co-worker of mine is taking a course in Intellectual Property and all everyone is talking about in the class is Napster. good. we need more people who at least know enough to discuss this intelligently. For what it's worth, the overwhelming consensus is that the record companies (all four of them) really missed the boat on this one. If they were as interested in capitalizing on a new opportunity as they have been on protecting their monopoly, they could have been a part of the revolution instead of becming a casualty.

And I hate the self-righteous assholes who insist on writing articles about how Napster just feeds people's selfishness. Napster (and it's related technologies) are the answer to what has always been the real desire of music fans and musicians since the first cave-person hit a stick in rhythm with another cave-person's stick hits. Freely available music, with fans paying for what they want rather than what some marketroid wants them to buy (by depleting the supply of everything but "signed" (i.e. corporately-owned) music.

In all the ruckus, I'm surprised no one's looked at the artists' organizations (BMI and ASCAP in the US) for a possible compromise. Right now, these organizations colect money from Radio stations, night clubs and other venues. They also survey radio, tv, muzak, clubs where cover bands play, etc. Based on how much play a song gets, the artists receive a share of the fees collected. It's all based on a pretty complicated structure (market size, etc), but it works. The companies are set up as non-profit organizations, so 100% of the money after operating expenses goes to the artists.

Why can't these organizations (or some other similarly-structured organization) do something similar with Napster-like sites? Napster could pay fees to these artist organizations and keep track of what gets downloaded. Then the artists get paid out of that fund.

Maybe. I don't know. It just seems like with all the lawsuits going on, no one is lookig at what can be done, as opposed to what someone or other wants to prevent.

Your humble and obedient.

The form said it wouldn't do me much good unless I contributed to Free Software. I disagree, at least in my case. This diary will, hopefully, become a journal of my journey to learn enough to start contributing.

I start school again, to finish my Comp Sci degree. I have an associate's that I earned in the Air Force, but NJIT (where I want to go) won't even talk to me without some calc, so-- it's pre-calc this fall. In took the prerequisite for this course seventeen years ago, so I've bought a book to brush up. It's called "Forgotten Algebra" and is a really good review. I remember most of what I'm reading-- but I'm glad I bought the book to dredge up the remains of my math. It's not like I've spent the past 17 years actually using what I did learn!

Meanwhile, Ive been occupying myself learning sed & awk as a precursor to learning PERL. Scripting languages appeal to me right now (as I'm a DBA), and PERL addresses some issues I feel will be affecting my day job within the next year or so. I found jumping into PERL first a little disorienting so, since it gre out of sed and awk, I decided to learn them first. I'm glad I did and I highly recommend anyone else who's thinking of learing PERL and isn't too familiar with bash or *nix at all start there.

In the future, I think all programming students will learn sed and awk the way all physics students learn Newtonian laws to start with.

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