Older blog entries for jbowman (starting at number 36)

Oof. What a week the past 7 days have been. Lots of things to learn and do. I'm glad I have the next three weeks to digest everything, because my brain is very, very full right now. On the plus side, I can now get back to working on spinwebd and then get on to expanding it into logwatchd "soon". I'm also going to be redesigning the scheduling system we use to track who's on call, as it's beginning to age a bit and we need new features.

Been on a Reel Big Fish kick lately for some reason. Perhaps my musical compass has swung back around towards Ska. Time to find out what I did with my Mighty Mighty Bosstones albums...

In the non-opensource world, I finally got around to installing Halflife again and I managed to take play Counterstrike for a while. Definitely some fun, fun shit when people actually bother to play as a team (which most people seem to do, fortunately). I've also been slowly making progress on the mud I currently code for. I finally got around to implementing a ranged targeting system and fixed a few annoying cosmetic bugs that I stumbled across in the process. I've also been brainstorming on ways to represent rooms of varying sizes inside the mud. If I were building a mud from the ground up this might be easy to do, but wedging this concept into a system that is designed with the fundamental assumption that all the virtual rooms are of equal size is a very interesting challenge for my brain to pour over.

I need more caffeine.

[ "And if I get drunk well I'll just pass out on the floor now baby. You won't bother me no more." ]

26 Feb 2001 (updated 26 Feb 2001 at 17:37 UTC) »

So I'm the Stick now. Interesting. Although I don't particularly feel bark-covered or capable of photosynthesis, I suppose that will come with time.

I suppose I should explain. The "Stick" is the person in the systems department that is the currently designated point man. Got a problem? Send it to the Stick. You say the webserver has had a horrible crash? Send it to the Stick. Flesh-eating weasels running amok in the office? Send them to the Stick. Or something.

In any event, the whole Stick thing marks my transistion from being a customer-dedicated Sysadmin to a more hybrid role. More power, more responsibility, etc... as well as a more diverse experience in general system administration as well. Given our current Linux-related client roster, I'm more likely to be administering 'new' technology as part of "Systems" as a whole, rather than in my own little corner of the company, which is basically what I was prior to today.

Being the only person in the company dedicated to sysadmin'ing our Linux clients has given me a lot of userful experience, but I think I've hit a plateau in what there is for me to learn in that area. Our clients usually wind up wanting fairly simple things, which I think is fine, but it doesn't leave a lot for work-driven learning after you master the half-dozen or so things the clients are wanting.

Systems, on the other hand, has lots of different pies for me to stick my grubby little fingers in, which broadens the scope of my work-driven learning significantly. I think that may have been a large contributor to the burnt out feeling I was beginning to get. At first I thought it was due to my being the only person handling client sysadmin work, and it may still be a portion of it, but I think now that it's more due to having hit that learning plateau. With little or nothing different or "new" coming down the pipes, I think the routine was beginning to wear on me.

Hm. What else is new since my last entry. Had one of my best friends betray me by forwarding a personal email to his boss (who then proceeded to call me directly and give me an earful). My roommate questions my wisdom in sending said email in the first place, but I had _thought_ that I could send my friend open, honest emails without worrying about this sort of thing. I guess my trust was misplaced. :( This has been a very disappointing period, not only because of the loss of a friend, but because in order to for this to have happened my friend would have had to have either a) deliberately betray me, and then lie about the reasons he gave for doing it or b) if the reasons he gave for doing it were true, my friend would have had to have lost all semblance of good judgement and common sense. Then again, "b)" would explain some of the choices he continues to make... *sigh*

Saw an article on /. this morning about yet another "Apt rules, RPM sux0rs!" article. This one went so far as to say that unless the current commercial distros adopt Debian as a standard, Debian "will eventually rear up and bite them all in the bahootie". Um, yeah, right. I've seen too many of these articles cropping up lately, and it's getting on my nerves. Most of them have the same fundamental problems. Namely: 1)They compared apt-get to the stock command-line rpm. 2) They ignore the existance of rpm-compatible apt-get, courtesy of Conectiva. 3) They compare the 'flawless' packaging of the 'core' debian apt repository's .deb's to the sum total of all RPMs in existance.

#1 is bad because apt-get is a front-end that's capable of working with multiple formats. The "rpm" command is base-level RPM manipulation tool. It's companion in the world of .deb would be "dpkg", not "apt-get".

#2 is just plain bad. All the features of apt-get with full support for RPM files. "Hello? McFly??"

#3 is like comparing your nicely-kept set of trash-cans on the curb to the city landfill. You cannot compare Debian's stable packages to the entire world of RPM. It's not a valid comparison. Try comparing it to the distribution tree of the file format's creator, and suddenly you not only have a much more valid comparison, but a lot of the complaints about incompatible packages and bad dependencies go away. Oops.

Then again, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at this sort of thing. It's basically news article "trolling" that's designed to elicit exactly the sort of response I'm providing here. Fortunately, I'm not responding in a method that would provide the various journalistic trolls with any food, so I guess it turns out alright in the end.

My god, I just came across this on everything2. Proof positive that world is a very, very disturbed place.

[ "Walk softly, and carry a black stick." ]

Well, here I am, posting from my (very) slightly-tweaked version of ithought. Definitely a fun program. I'm sending off a patch to voltron and I've got RedHat 7 rpms built too. Whee!

Today (Friday) was (insert ominous music) Cable Modem Day. Why in hell they can't call you before coming by in the gigantic four-hour window they set aside is beyond me (if only I had that leeway with _my_ clients!). Yes, I finally broke down and ordered cable modem service. Being stuck on my 56k modem pining away for DSL access finally became too much. Just watch, though. DSL services will be rolled out next week, and I'll be cursing up a storm..

A friend of mine dropped off a copy of Solaris 8 for x86 earlier this week. Should be interesting to try it out. I'll probably play around with it tomorrow to see what it's like

Spending some time poking around ithought gives me some interest in learning some gtk programming. Marked myself as a contributer to the project, and hopefully after I learn a bit more about gtk I'll be able to upgrade myself to a developer. Hmmm. An interesting thought just popped into my head: Combining ithought with cdent's advogato sucker. Read your favorite people's diary entries while writing your own. Hmmm....

[ "It will make your whites whiter, your brights brighter!" ]

10 Jan 2001 (updated 10 Jan 2001 at 20:42 UTC) »

Trying out ithought, as it sounded/looks/is pretty interesting. Noticed that ithought doesn't have any rpms. I may have to fix that later this evening... :)

Updated my account info a bit. Tweaked a few minor things, nothing major. Built some rpms for amcl and shipped them out yet. Haven't heard back from them yet, but this was over my holiday vacation so I suppose it's not unexpected not to hear back from them just yet. Actually, I suppose it should be called gnome-mud now, but they haven't made the namechange official yet.

I've been playing around with the ext3fs journaling filesystem for a little bit now. Nice stuff. Can't wait for it to hit 1.0.0 so we can play around with it "safely" in our production environment here at work. Considering that our news server is taking hours to fsck, it would be a big benefit... :)

Mozilla 0.7 is pretty nice. Including PSM is good (hopefully it's less buggy now). They finally fixed the annoying "Wow, I'm a horizontal bard, reload me over and over!" bug (like the horizontal bar at the bottom of slashdot's index page. Overall it seems more stable (so far) and hasn't run into any pages that will hang it yet (a good thing, it used to do this somewhat often). Overall, it's about as good stability-wise as Netscape 4.7 is, and it seems to render pages more quickly. NNTP handling is _much_ better in this release (one of their release notes mentioned this :) as well. Mozilla's starting to shape up, though Javascript continues to need a painfully large amount of work.

[ "Could I have been... a magnet for money?" ]

4 Jan 2001 (updated 10 Jan 2001 at 22:03 UTC) »

From "[jbowman@yertle jbowman]$ rpm -qp --changelog ssh-2.4.0-1.i386.rpm"

* Mon Dec 04 2000 Anne Carasik <anne@ssh.com>

- Added the following, thanks to Joe Bowman <jbowman@kiva.net> :)
- Patched to solve a large number of specfile problems
- Added the ability to install alongside ssh1 rpms for ssh1 compatibility mode
- Changed package name to ssh2 to allow for installation alongside ssh1
- Removed explicit SUSE support.

It warms my heart to know that, while they went silent on me, the SSH folks at least didn't totally ignore me. :)
Now, it's just a matter of waiting for the source RPM for ssh-2.4.0 to be released so I can go and make sure my contributions are working correctly. And (so far) the SSH folks are keeping the license terms the same for 2.4.0, which means it continues to be usable (and includable) by distributions. I've been using openssh now for a little while, though, and I must admit it's hard to find much of a difference between the two in terms of functionality. Definitely something to spend some more time researching.

Hm. It's been a while since my last post. Vacation was a wonderful week and a half of complete and utter slack. Definitely needed, as I was starting to get a little burnt around the edges. Now I'm refreshed and ready to take on the world! Well, okay, maybe not the world. Maybe a nice pizza or two instead... Mmm...

The new computer toys are behaving nicely. After last month's spending spree on computer equipment, I believe I wound up with more than half of my workstation at home being replaced with shiny brand-new parts.

Had an amusing battle with Windows while I was installing my new toys. Apparently, Windows cannot recognize an IDE Orb drive when it's connected to the on-board HPT370 controller of the Abit KT7-RAID motherboard. What makes this wonderfully ironic is that the Linux drivers (which don't support the RAID functionality) *can* recognize and use (perfectly) the Orb drive when it's on that controller. How ironic.

Other than that, it's back to work building client machines and making sure things don't turn into some sort of apocalyptic nightmare in the machine room. *BZZZT!* *FWOOMP!* Oops, too late...

[ "One for the money, two for the show..." ]

Mmm. Computers toys. The perfect gift for any occasion.
Got the stuff I'd been waiting on last week a day late, but otherwise unharmed. Hurrah! Also ordered some new RAM as well, which should be here today. To top it all off, I managed to get most of my Christmas shopping done this week. Just have to figure out what to get mother-dearest and I'm all set.

Ah. Vacation. Sweet, sweet, vacation. Next week is my last work week of the year, and I'm greatly looking forward to spending a week turning myself into a vegetable. I'm debating about whether I should turn my keys in for the duration with an order to not let me near the office. In the meantime, I scramble to keep up with priority project after priority project. Hopefully there won't be any emergencies next week, as I might actually be able to get some hacking on spinwebd done if there aren't...

[ "I want you to go down to the corner store and buy yourself a clue." ]

8 Dec 2000 (updated 9 Dec 2000 at 20:27 UTC) »

Well, the shipment of new computer toys that I ordered on Monday has been charged to my account, but I haven't received a tracking number or products yet. For that matter, I never received an actual confirmation of my order (other than the automatic "this is what you ordered" response I got from submitting my order).

I've surprised myself, and for once I have most of the decisions for my Christmas shopping taken care of well in advance. Of course, I haven't actually _purchased_ anything yet, but then again I also have plans to correct that problem next week as well. Historically I've always left things to the last minute, so it's a bit different not having to worry so much about it.

Had an amusing episode with an old cobbled-together Pentium system one of our clients wanted us to turn into a mail relay for them. I had managed to get it happily installing away when ahosey wandered over to look at it. He gives it a funny look and *blip!* the thing reboots and manages to fry something vital inside itself so that it no longer responds to keyboard events after POSTing.
We're no longer letting him anywhere near the machine room anymore. ;)

[ "Behold, the Sleep of Ages!" ]

Watchguard problems continue, althought I've managed to eliminate a lot of them. Now it's (hopefully) just a matter of taking care of an ARP-caching problem on one of the routers involved and I should (there's that dirty 's' word!) have things fixed.
Yeah right...

Something (I have no idea what) dropped the idea into my head of cooking up a web-based discussion forum for general MUD development. Looked at a couple of different things (including advogato-grown thatware). I'll have to spend some time actually setting things up and playing with them at home to see how they work out. Poking around will also give my brain a chance to finish fermenting this crazy idea it has. Thatware seems fairly easy and straightforward to set up, so I'll probably play with it first.

[ "Fear is the mind-killer." ]

Ah. Upper-management politics. The running gag in the department atm is that if we kill a manager, we get his/her salary. However, we also have to take their job.... Given the way things currently are, I don't think the Klingon method of advancing through the ranks is going to cause much of a change in management anytime soon.

Haven't had a chance to do much programming work this week. Problems with a client's ancient Watchguard Firebox (ooh, it's an old one that runs Linux! Ooh, it's an absolute PITA to work with!) have kept me jumping around trying to fix problems and find solutions to things for them. That and playing catch up with a bunch of security patches from RedHat this week has kept me nicely on my toes.

The Dungeons and Dragons movie comes in 7 days. Must... see... first... showing!! Yes, I'm a die-hard D&D gamer, though thanks to work I've not had much time to play as of late. For that matter, my interst in doing RPGs has tapered off quite a bit as of late. It's probably something to do with the fact that my old friends that I used to game with have been slowly drifting apart as of late. Sigh.

Looking forward to the end of the year. I've got the last work week of the year slated for vacation time, and I'm looking forward to vegetating and pursuing various and sundry recreational activities.

Rambling back to work-related stuff, I've had a chance to play around a little bit with Linux Router Project stuff this week. Seems to be a very interesting set of toys. I may get a chance to actually test everything out this evening if things don't go as planned at a customer site... If it works well I may start packing a LRP disk or two as part of my network troubleshooting toolkit...

Also at work this week, we discovered just how "hackable" old Watchguard Fireboxes are. Since they're basically just a bunch of cheap hardware running a customer linux system on a floppy disk, you could replace the Watchguard software with whatever you wanted, really. Say, for example, a LRP system. ;)
We also found out that you can drop a video card into one of the free PCI slots in the box and hook up a keyboard cable, and get console access to the system. There's just something fun about doing things with a system that they were never meant to do... I guess that's why I still get geeked about overclocking various bits of hardware.

[ "Tragedy is cheap, and so is talk." ]

21 Nov 2000 (updated 21 Nov 2000 at 18:53 UTC) »

Oof. It's been a while. Over a month, in fact. Bad me, I suppose. I promised myself I'd keep this thing more up-to-date.

Old News:
I suppose part of my delay was wanting to wait to update my diary until I had an answer to my job situation. A friend of mine was wanting resumes from his friends so he could nab some cool people to work with up in Indy. I dropped him my resume, went through an interview, and got a job offer a few weeks later. Whoohoo!

Well, not whoohoo. After being repeatedly lied to by the person who was going to be my boss, and over a week of unreturned phone calls and voicemail messages, I'm decided better off not having to deal with that mess anymore. Too much stress and no real reward to speak of, except perhaps a slightly slimy feeling from having had contact with such evil. Bleh.

Good News:
Three paycheck month this month! Whoohoo! I get to kill off one of my two college loans as a result, which is a Good Thing.

Last night I dropped by the mall last night and picked up a few things. Final Fantasy IX as out, was cheap (wow, now that PS2 is out there, the original PSX games have dropped nicely in price), and looked pretty cool, so I picked it up. So far from my first five minutes or so of playing it, the gameplay's much smoother than than anything previous.

I also picked up a pair of DVDs for my collection: Titan AE and Tombstone (yes, yes, I know, I know. DVDs bad. CSS sucks. Set DeCSS free, etc... As Doc Holiday says in Tombstone: "It appears my hypocrisy knows no bounds.").

Saw Red Planet last weekend. Mediocre movie, but decent "Sci-Fi Flick". The zero-g fires were done beautifully, and Carrie-Anne Moss in the shower is always a nice treat. The zero-g physics overall was done quite well, including the handling of large masses in motion.

I've got most of spinwebd wrapped up. Working on putting together a command-line client at the moment, which I don't think I'll package with the daemon. The command-line client needs to interact with some of our internal-only modules, and my goal is to get it working here at work first, in the general world at-large second. A 'generic' client is definitely in the works though, as suso wants/needs one. :)

[ "Are you gonna do something? Or are you going to just sit there and bleed?" ]

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