Category Archives: Geek stuff

How was your day, dear?

Well, I gotta tell ya…

Good. And bad. And good. And seemingly neverending.

The pool is lovely, bright, and deep.

After a very restless night and very little sleep, I bagged it, got up, and did some work to clear a few things off my list. All the while, I seriously contemplated the distinct possibility that I might wind up puking before going off to get a cashier’s check for closing.

But I didn’t puke, I did get the check, and did head off to sign my life away.

Naturally, in the midst of signing all the papers, one of the servers went down and would not come back. A bit of misinterpretation by one of the guys equaled an issue that lasted quite a bit longer than it should have. I wound up blasting out to the NOC, at the beginning of rush hour, to run some commands on the server. While working on that one, another page from the monitor: another server has bitten the dust. Fortunately, I was already there, as that server, after a reboot, needed a disk check as well. With that running, but before the final reboot to bring that one back online, yet another page: another person has crashed their server (but this one does this on a fairly regular basis). That one, of course, came right back after a power cycle, as it was the one I was least concerned about. With all the disk checks done, everything back online, and the monitor all clear with all services green, I could finally enjoy the moment.

Just the tiniest taste for me, since alcohol and my tongue are still not yet approaching being even the most distant of friends.

Back on the road for more work, then back on the road to return to the HQ. Ding! Yet another server issue, and it’s the same one that went off earlier today as I was working on server number one. Criminy. Manage to get to a safe spot, get logged on to the reboot port via my phone. Ding! Recovery notices. In the five minutes or so it took me to do that, the user has rebooted the server (although, I believe that if you can get into the server, 99% of the time it isn’t necessary). Back on the road, finally to the HQ, settle back in to work.

Only to consider that perhaps our habit of answering tickets almost instantly is something we should rethink, as a user is demanding to know why someone hasn’t answered a ticket in 30 minutes – a ticket related to that very server, in fact. That could be because my vehicle, sad to say, does not travel at the speed of light, it’s impossible for me to answer tickets on my phone, and I’m the one covering tonight. Ergo, no response to that ticket or any other in the preceding 30 minutes.

Take care of that, whip through the other few tickets that have arrived, and then receive a real winner: someone complaining about a charge for domain registration, telling us they have no account with us and to remove it. Well, genius, it would help if you could give us some kind of hint as to who you are, when the charge was processed, what the domain name was on the invoice, what the invoice number was, or perhaps what the last four of the credit card were. You know – any sort of information whatsoever that would let us know which of the numerous charges we process on any given day would be The One.

Oh, and this is what greeted me when I got back to the old house.

What used to be a pillow was now a collection of small fluffy islands in the foyer, living room, and office. And no, Newton was not the culprit. But he did pose nicely.

Mickey had wisely decided to take his ass outside after laying down on the floor at my feet, knowing that he’d been bad. Damn dogs. Good thing they’re so cute.

The first couple of loads of stuff is at the new place. Tomorrow will bring more work and more back and forth between the old and new houses. It will be a rather exhausting weekend, I can see this already.

When I was your age…

There’s a certain beauty in moving out to the country. Open space, no houses bunched so closely together that you can read your neighbor’s paper while they’re sitting on the can, the peace and quiet, the option to either jump in the pool or work in the garden, or walk the trails in the preserve behind the house, or just loll around with a book while sitting under a tree.

But then, there is one downside that we’ve just discovered.

A downside, you say? How can that be? The idyllic life has nothing to mar it!

Except for those of us who fairly live on the Internet currently: there is no high speed access in the area. No DSL, and the cable company doesn’t even have basic cable service out there, which means we’re suddenly finding ourselves getting the satellite folks out. And resigning ourselves to life with dialup, at least until the gigantic development about six miles away grows up into houses with people in them, at which point the cable people will realize that service should indeed exist out our way.

Naturally, those of us of a certain age remember the days of dialup. Some of us of a certain age remember the first waves of dialup, plugging along at 300 baud. Since living without access is not an option, and since living without this property is not an option, dialup it will be. Fortunately, I am not streaming videos or music from my laptop to the Internet at large (heck, if I wanted to do that, I have a 1 Gps connection available to me at the NOC within our network there).

Since support issues are so very quiet these days – aggressive server management will do that for you – really all I do is check in and answer tickets, and do command line server maintenance things for work. For play – well, I suppose trying to bring up cuteoverload on dialup would be an adventure in pain, and I’ll have to reserve all my iTunes purchases for trips to the NOC so they can download there to my laptop while I’m setting up servers.

I expect to be spending more time away from my laptop then I have been lately, and instead of sitting around on my ass all day long doing this or that for work, I expect to be carving out time for enjoying life. Gardening. Cooking things from my garden. Canning. Swimming, for the first time in a couple of years (especially now that I no longer have a hole in my abdomen). Walking the trails in the forest. Landscaping. Experimenting with recipes for hot sauces and salsas and other things that maybe one day will be for sale.

That sort of thing.

Now we’re cooking

When is it that people decide to be offensive and rude all the time, from their very first contact with you? It’s mystifying, really. There is a reason people get out of areas where they have to deal with the public: asshats galore. Unfortunately, those people far outnumber the normal people. Reminds me of this guy named Custer…

It may seem like there has been no cooking going on around here at all, but in reality, there has just been no photography of the food. A bit of malaise, I suppose, drawn over from dealing with people like those noted above. Maybe it’s the move into spring that’s done it. Or maybe – and here’s something that just occurred to me while typing this – it was the time change! That would, of course, require that these same people not be total assholes once they presumably adjusted to the time change, so that’s probably not a good theory.

Anyhow, last night, we had this.

And this.

And this.

To end up with this on the table.

We also had flambeed pears over ice cream for dessert, to finish off the evening properly. All in all, quite a good meal. I cannot wait, though, to get into the new house. With everyone here, hanging around in the kitchen, and not enough counter space, it really is a little aggravating.

I find your lack of gratitude…disturbing

I think the one thing that pisses me off above all else is a lack of gratitude from people for the things that others do for them. In our case the other day, that translated to keeping a server up and running and answering as many requests as possible under a crush of traffic from not one but two largely-read sites to a particular site. A server where we’ve had to move other people off – and thus inconvenience them – so they would not be impacted by the site that was the recipient of said traffic. A server that was working to the fullest extent it could to handle the processing required by this one site. What did we get in return? Whining from the user, who is paying a grand total of $11 a month and getting the use of almost all the resources available on a very big server, and then a post from him on his site, quoting us entirely out of context and proving that he doesn’t understand a damn thing about shared hosting (that was a given).

Good luck elsewhere, because your account here is toast.

Last night we had my sister’s birthday: black bean and corn flautas, at her request, with some yellow rice and salad, then angel food cake, homemade whipped cream, and fruit for dessert. The flautas were quite good, and disappeared very quickly. Those are definitely something to make again.

In other news, had a brief chat with the broker today, and he doesn’t need anything else (yet – there’s always something else they need, I’m sure, even though I’ve never been fully through this process). Also had a chat with the builders, who have blocked out the pool and deck and who have started to pull the permit for the pool so it can be dug and hopefully completed by closing time. Wednesday we’ll meet with the builders to choose the color of the wood for the floors in the living area.

I’ve also been putting together a seed order and thinking about trees and grass seed and yard tractors. Sweet dreams indeed.

Here’s your heart

There are some days when you’re just convinced that the world is full of asshats. The worst is when one of those people manage to fuck up your evening by being total douchebags. I know I shouldn’t take it personally, but some days it gets to me more than others – when all the cosmic shit going on happens to align just so.

Today did not start as one of those days, but it surely did wind up being one. I still cooked, though.

After putting together the dough for the doughnuts – and more about that fiasco later – I started prepping everything that could be done before the time for dinner actually arrived. One of those things was the assembly of the shrimp cocktails.

I also boiled some shrimp with Old Bay and set aside some to marinate. The latter were sauteed as we were sitting down. Much of cooking for a crowd means getting everything to the table at the same time. This is no easy task if you’re an idiot and completely forget about the asparagus, thus holding everything else and thus letting people start in on the shrimp before everything is ready. But since that was minor and asparagus doesn’t take all that long to cook (nor did the sauce), it wasn’t too bad.

Broiled lobster tails, shrimp three ways with cocktail sauce, ginger dipping sauce, rice pilaf with sundried tomatoes, parmesan, and almonds, and asparagus with a mustard-lemon nappe.

After everyone had eaten all of the food – a bit of the rice was all that was left – it was time for doughnuts. The first batch of dough sucked and I tossed it in the trash, where one of the dogs prompty stuck his snoot in and grabbed a piece, swallowing it down before I could get a word out. Fortunately, while I was kneading the first batch, I realized that it would indeed suck and that a backup batch was in order. I had run out to the store to pick up a couple of things, and picked up some fresh flour as well. It made a world of difference. I knew the flour I’ve been bitching about since we got it was to blame for the bready misfortunes I had been encountering.

The dough had gone through the first rise, was rolled out, and went through the second rise.

While they were resting, I put together the glaze, the ganache, and got the oil heated. Now, most places say 350 for the oil, but I’m convinced that a slightly lower temperature is in order, especially seeing how brown some of the pieces got while frying compared to the lighter, doughnutty color we’re all used to when the oil had cooled a bit. Not that it mattered all that much, since it’s hard not to like fried dough. The Boy handled the glazing duties.

Other people volunteered to handle the sampling duties. Sometimes they go a little crazy while doing that very dangerous, thankless job.

Some had to wait a little longer for their tastes, relying on other species with opposable thumbs to bestow their samples.

The doughnuts turned out very well indeed.

The scraps from the first cutting I kneaded back together, then rolled out and formed into crullers, churros, and vague blobs of doughy things.

I think people were happy.

After all, what’s not to like about doughnuts?

One day in the life

There’s nothing like receiving a really, really long email inquiring about very, very common uses for a server that don’t contravene any of our terms of service. I suppose an answer of “All of those things will be fine” is not appropriate when they wrote 946(!) words.

Ah, support, thy name is futility.

How many times does it take…

…to get to the center of a person’s brain?

Let us say, for the moment, that there has been a significant issue with a server – like a massive hard drive failure – that requires everything on that server to be restored to another server. A newer server. Let us further say that obviously not all the settings on that newer server are going to be identical to the older server. Let us suppose that a web site requires a particular unsecured setting in order to operate, and that setting is no longer the default serverwide – that is, the setting, for security reasons, needs to be made on that one particular site that needs it.

Given all that, do you:

A: Constantly complain about the time it’s taking to get everything restored.
B: Continually update a ticket asking when the restore is going to be completed.
C: Display gross ignorance about anything technical by telling support to “put it all back the way it was”.
D: Complain that customers should be notified about “upgrades”, despite being told multiple times that no such “upgrade” was done on an arbitrary whim – not that the upgrade would have anything to do with the problem you’re having anyway.
E: Repeatedly ignore questions you are asked and the things you are told by support.
F: All of the above.

If you answered F, then you’re absolutely correct and you have identified the actions of clients who make up our own personal hell.

When we’ve been working 20 hours straight to get the server back up, the accounts restored, and cleaning up all the inevitable cleanup things that need to be done, doing all of that is going to make us very, very cranky. And we’ll note for you that it’s rather offensive to imply that we just sit around all day throwing rocks at a server trying to make it crash just to create more work for ourselves because we have nothing else we’d rather be doing or that we did something just to do it to you, personally. Free tip: you are not that important, and the world does not revolve around you, even though you’d like to believe otherwise. You are just like everyone else, except when you engage in F (All of the above): those times, you’re ruder and more unlikeable than everyone else.

But those of you who understand that shit happens, drives fail, and techs work their asses off because they do care: you’re tops in our book, because you use your common sense, even if you don’t understand all the technical mumbo jumbo. Thanks.

The reluctance of idiots

It’s absolutely mindboggling to me that some people will complain about the same problem over and over – despite the fact that it can be shown there is no problem – and then refuse, again and again, to provide even a snippet of the information we require to begin to troubleshoot (even when we know, from checking system logs, that there is no problem) or to find out how they’re going about getting what they need. One would think these people would get the picture eventually, but over and over we have to repeat ourselves. It’s hard to fathom going through life like these people must go through life.

Technical difficulties

Here’s a tip for those who have ever had their home wireless networks suddenly start dropping off when their cordless phones ring: change the channel on the wireless router to something other than the default (11), especially if the problem has just started or if you hit the channel button on one of the cordless handsets. This will save you a ton of aggravation when you’re trying to work online and the phone is constantly ringing.