Tag Archives: Geek stuff

Good morning campers

Our recovery of nameless guy’s server continues today, but I did implement part one of my overall plan to get some writing time.

See, the thing about owning a small business in the field I’m in is that not only is it very unpredictable, but sometimes it takes more than one day. It can take dayS, plural. We are in day three of this specific issue, and still going.

Fortunately, right now does not involve a ton of hands on for me while we wait, so I’ve been able to knock out a few other things that also need to be attended – payroll, for instance, since my employees don’t work for free, the bastards, and payroll taxes, because neither does the IRS or the country. Other “real” work things has filled the nooks and crannies, and I believe I am caught up in the routine, day to day things. Yay!

So maybe it’s time to type a few sentences into Scrivener and move that few footsteps closer to (one) goal. Progress is progress, after all.

More later, peeps. Be well.

The plan was

To write. Because it’s time to, as Neil Gaiman says, make good art.

I’d been moving sites around as we retire older servers, and finally got to bed this morning somewhere between 4 and 4:30. A few hours later, I get a notice to my phone about a customer server. Nothing is responding. I try to log in, get a login incorrect error. Huh, that’s weird, the client is unlikely to have changed the password without telling us. I try it again, same deal. Well, hell.

So by 7:30, I’m up and around and chatting to the client, and something very bad has happened – I won’t go into details except to say it is something so bad it makes your heart stop. The plans to write this morning and perhaps a second, smaller session this afternoon? Gone.

Off to the NOC to do some recovery on this client’s server. Spend a large number of hours reviewing the damage. Build a new machine because all his sites have to be transferred off the existing one. Deal with other client stuff throughout.

Finally, I’m shot at about 2-3 AM or somewhere in there. Crash out, wake up again at 7:30 (I am now typing this on Monday, the next day here), realize I have to go get blood drawn to check various things, drive out to the hospital (again) where I was in the ER back in February to get my records for that visit, as two previous requests to relay those records to Mayo resulted in the records not being sent because they didn’t have my fax although the transmission was good, then the records not being sent because the form I hand delivered to them, in person, wasn’t done (and a bonus: they lost my form and couldn’t find it when we called asking them where the records were), and then to Publix to pick up my meds.

Off I go right out the door, because the bloodwork has to be fasting. Do all of these things today, and I am back, in my chair, at my desk, at 10:50. That is not bad at all, and shows that focused work can be truly productive – and those tasks involved other people, as well. I wonder how much writing I could get done in three hours without people (real people, anyway) being involved in things I need to get done.

Sine we’re still dealing with this server, and some defacements of pages, and because I had to mow beeyard #1 as it hasn’t been mowed in three weeks, and because I needed to feed the bees and add a second brood box to one hive, and because work has been a steady drip, drip drip of things going wrong for people, no writing today. In fact, right now I am very sleepy, and if I didn’t have to transfer this guy’s sites off his server to the new box, I’d probably go hit the sack for a bit. I actually may not do that immediately, but run something that I won’t go into detail about, and then transfer the sites after that.

Now, I wait for something else to finish on that server, and I have titles popping in to my head, so I’m writing those down. Something productive in the writing arena after all! And the day has been productive otherwise, even if it seems like treading water.

Treading is better than sinking, though.

More later, peeps. Be well.

Moving day

No, not me. Late Saturday evenings are for the heavy lifting of maintenance, including server moves, which is what I’ve been doing for hours now. People who don’t work in tech don’t realize that probably a third of your time is spent waiting for something: waiting for a copy to finish, waiting for a compile to complete, waiting for a server to reboot after a new kernel is built, waiting for someone to reply to the question you’ve asked them.

A funny: a “webmaster of x years” (x = more than two decades) spent “two hours” trying to configure FTP, couldn’t connect after figuring out what to use like on ALL other systems he uses, which of course were MUCH easier to use, finally managed to get connected to find NO files listed when he KNEW there were files under the account, and WTF don’t we have the configuration information on the page for the FTP accounts, huh? I got to point out that clicking on the handily named “FTP configuration” link RIGHT NEXT TO the FTP account he created had the configuration information listed, that he had been unable to connect because he was using “user@domain.com@domain.com” according to the logs, and that he configured the FTP user incorrectly, assigning it to its own, restricted, directory, and not the directory with all the files in it. I didn’t bother to ask WTF he spent “two hours” trying to figure it out when he could have just opened a ticket and had a reply literally within minutes, as he did with his whiny list of trial and tribulations he was going through. As of right now, almost two days later, he has not responded to our last reply, nor has he corrected the incorrectly configured FTP user as per the instructions I laid out. And what’s absurdly remarkable about all this: he has the actual user’s master username and password. I wanted to ask him WTF he was bothering screwing around with a secondary FTP user when he could just log right in with the master username and password. Problem solved, in two minutes, not two hours of dumbassery.

This is why we use lots of quotes when someone claims to be a “webmaster” of x years, or a “developer”, or an “IT person”, or a “network engineer” – the latter are amusing when they insist there’s an issue with the network (because of course, they are a network engineer, far more skilled then we are even though they know nothing about us) because look at this trace and this ping from my computer and my cell phone can’t even pull up my site, so your whole network must be down, you suck! It’s fun to tell them they triggered the firewall because they tried to access the control panel on the wrong port, having transposed the last two numbers, and perhaps untethering their phone from their home wifi network would yield a different result if they in fact triggered the firewall in the future at some point, because then they would be able to check their site from a network unrelated to their home system.

Thus ends my mini rant about clueless people who proclaim themselves to be experts on something. I find that the louder those people speak about how many years they’ve been in x, or how they hold a high position of y in some random company, the less likely it is that they know what they’re talking about, and they will probably be among the rudest people we have to deal with in any given day.

Until next time, peeps. Be well.

Crawling out of timesinks

As I said yesterday, I made a massive shift that gave me time I could assign to something else.  What was that?

I shut down pretty much all social media.

Now, to be fair, I was most active on facebook and twitter, with a small dabbling in instagram from time to time, and those three are the biggies, name recognition-wise. But I got sick and tired of facebook, and deactivated my account there. As a result, I have quite a lot more time to pursue other things, because those “I’ll just spend ten minutes checking out facebook” is never really ten minutes. You look up, and suddenly you’e been checking it for an hour or longer, wasting time that could be better spent on other pursuits.

I still have a page on facebook, since publishers expect writers to have a “platform” (and let me tell  you how I want to launch that phrase into the heart of the sun). Before I deactivated my primary account used to create that page, I created a new account for myself that follows nothing and friends no one. I then passed administrative duties for the page from the account I used to this new account that I do not use except to manage that page: an object lesson in how to both have a presence and not have a presence on facebook.

That was followed next by twitter getting the heave-ho for the most part. I created another twitter account to use as my author account (for branding purposes, of course).   Under that umbrella, I can do the author update thing now and again without spending hours at a time on social media throughout the day.

So, while I know that it’s necessary for me (the artist) to have a presence on these outlets, it really is not necessary for me (the person) to have one, and now I basically don’t. And I’m ok with that.

Hotties

No, not those kinds of hotties, you pervs – get your mind out of the gutter!

I’m referring to this sort:

This was just before 3 PM local time, with a temp of 93F and a heat index of 110F. You know that phrase “It isn’t the heat, it’s the humidity.”? This week has matched that phrase. This morning I popped out to the beeyard to check a few hives to see who needed a second brood box and to generally make sure there were a good number of bees and stores in those hives. At that time, about 9:30 AM, it was already 84F with a heat index of 92F. I was so soaked with sweat when I came in I had to change all my clothes. It was like wearing a swimsuit, and I had to peel all my clothes off my body, they were that soaked – including my socks.

But that’s ok. This is Florida, after all, and while some days are not all that pleasant, I expect this, and I chose to live here. Making it through the summers is my version of climbing Everest: how far can I push myself without keeling over?

I rolled out of bed at about 7:30 this morning, and this is what greeted me:

Foggy morning at the ranch, which turned into a burner of a day. It all burned off by the time I went out to the bees, and then Mother Nature did her thing by bringing the heat.

The gardens are still a work in progress, and there is still more work to be done. However, each year, I keep refining the processes out there, and I think next year will be even better because of the changes I have in mind. That refinement is what I’m trying to do in other areas of life as well, from outdoor work to the helpdesk where a new user accused us of selling his email address to spammers. He had registered a domain, and naturally, since WHOIS information is public, and the spammers watch new domain registrations, he started getting spammed. He also told us this was “very unprofessional”. I counted backwards from five, then pointed this fact out to him and offered to use our masking info for the domain, so that we would get the spam and the phone calls. He took up that offer. Problem solved, and for me, no being pissed off because of the rudeness some people shoot our way for no reason.

I’ve now posted to the blog here daily since the 24th. It’s a start, and helps me get into the groove of making writing a habit. It occurred to me that I wasn’t making writing one of my top priorities, being too busy with the business, doctor visits, and so on. I made the decision to make it a priority, just as the business, my gardens, and my bees are. I had started a web site as a hobby type of thing, tracking deaths in any given week, I realized that was a major timesink, since I had to pick from the lists, then go do research to build the short blurb I’d give to each. That one had to go, because it took away time I wanted to assign over to my writing instead.

There’s another major shift I made that freed up a ton of time. But that’s a story for tomorrow.

Be well, peeps, and I’ll blather more at you soon.

Updates, updates

I told myself to get back into updating ye olde blawg daily, to get me in the habit of writing something daily, which I tell myself will help with the actual writing I am supposed to be doing on anything real – any of the ideas I have rolling in my head for novels. Which, I should point out, I have actually gotten some  “here’s how the story goes, generally” notes down for, like this.

And right at this very moment, it all really sounds like total bullshit to me, probably because I let some asshole annoy me with his stupidity and then his panicky bullshit because he couldn’t be bothered to take ten seconds to think about something before completely freaking out. Likewise, his passive aggressive bullshit afterward didn’t do him any favors in my eyes.

I really wonder about someone who can’t quite get to the idea of choosing “settings” as the place to make a change in the app he’s using. It occurs to me that this is the kind of person who would gnash his teeth and rend his garments and wail about how he doesn’t understand anything about anything, and – in his own words, in not one, but two tickets – he’s now “fucked” and “screwed”, thereby ensuring that someone else will easily fix (because it was an easy fix) whatever it is he’s too stupid or too lazy to do in addition to him pissing off whoever has to deal with it.

So now that I’m typing this, guess who just found himself in a list of people in my head who will make appearances in the books I will write?

Since this guy is so terribly incompetent, he certainly can’t be the bad guy. You can’t really have an incompetent villain carry an entire book – well, I take that back, you can, but the book would not be very good.  I have read many books where the bad guy is so stupid, careless, and/or lazy that he should have been tripped up and strangled by his own shoelaces, yet the hero (male or female) is not able to figure it out for 300 pages.  That says something about that hero, too, but that’s something for another day.

No, this person will be a victim. Not someone that’s particularly going to be missed. Not someone who is a pillar of a community or an underthanked martyr, giving up their time for those less fortunate or privileged than they are. No. Not this guy. While I’ve been typing this, ruminating on the vagaries of dealing with people like this both in and out of the tech world, it came to me that I have the perfect spot for him. He’ll be a throwaway character with some very bad habits whose excuses have gotten old to those who have loaned him money and whose time has come to an end. It’s actually the first scene in one of those books up there. In my mind I had written that scene and the soon to be victim mans up, understanding his fate and resigning himself to it, but as I consider it now, I do believe that he will instead be a whiny, pathetic loser, paying for the problems he brought on himself – not paying in money, but with something far more dear: his life.

And now, having typed all that up there, I feel a bit better, and not like I despise the entire world because this one douchebag caught me up at a bad time.

By the way, those papers in the top image? Each one is a different story. This is how backlogged my brain is.  I have four different series characters, a fantasy trilogy, one standalone non-genre book, and one that I haven’t classified as yet, all hanging out in the idea lounge that is my brain, and all hanging out as a short description of what each of those books is about. I have to go update my author blog now, then post the same thing to my facebook author page, and then tweet the link to the blog – because authors these days need an “author platform”, a term that irks me almost to the same extent as “I know, right?”, “That’s what she said.”, a “You know” after every sentence, and “Because (something).”

Thus ends another blog post. See you tomorrow, peeps. Be well.

 

No problem, Mr. “Network Engineer”

You know what experienced techs think when you feel the need to insert “I’ve been a (something – in this case a “network engineer”) for 25 years.” after you’ve described how you “solved” a problem in a manner that shows you don’t know jack shit about what you’ve just described? Let’s just say there’s a reason we have compresses for excessive eye rolling and why we put quotation marks around things like “network engineer” or “developer” or “IT guy” or whatever else it is you think is going to impress us. It isn’t. We certainly hope whoever is paying you isn’t paying you much. But if that’s what helps you sleep at night, go right on ahead and demonstrate your vastly superior knowledge while at the same time showing that it literally took you all day to “fix” the (non) issue. Well done.

Things that bug me, part whatever

“Nothing more detestable does the earth produce than an ungrateful man.” – Ausonius

Being ungrateful and disloyal – not blindly loyal, mind you, but disloyal to people who have treated you beyond well – are two things that annoy me considerably. Some days (or weeks), I really do question why in the world we go out of our way to do all the extras we do for people when we get those things chewed up and spat back out at us as people give lip service to thanking us for everything we’ve done while they sail out the door without ever bothering to discuss options with us before doing so, even when they have been perfectly happy for a decade or more. It is disheartening and depressing to go through, and very stressful in some ways.

Connected

As many of you know, I moved out to the very edge of the biggest city in the area – technically, just across the county line into a town that is both unincorporated and unknown to most people even if they live around here. Now, while I love life at the ranch, with all the ups and downs that go with it, there is one thing, above all else at this moment, that I miss dearly about living closer to civilization.

High speed internet access.

Now again, as most of you know, I run a business that is internet-based (well, one of the businesses is). While satellite is ok, it is definitely not high speed. It is also terribly unreliable, and in a place where we receive reasonable amounts of rain, generally speaking, it leads to signal loss. There is also the problem of the satellite just deciding to cut out for no apparent reason at all. We have endured outages when there isn’t a cloud in the sky, and when there is a stronger than usual breeze, as if the signals are blown out of alignment by the wind.

Over the years, we occasionally check to see if any of the usual providers have made it out here. We know that Comcast has a loop on a pole about 700′ from the house. So we went on their site to determine if service was available, and while the first guy said there was “nothing remotely” in our area, the second guy who called a day later said what we knew: there’s a loop 700′ away from us. Happy day!

He was quite interested when we said we wanted the largest business package (that runs about $300/month, give or take), and that other people in the small development here had also expressed interest in high speed access. We went back and forth for a week, only to be told, in the end that no, they would not be able to do it, because the loop at the road “already had too many people on it” and it would cost Comcast $200K to roll it out to us. Mind you, this is already after we had polled the people here – some of whom, like me, run their businesses from their properties – and almost to a person they wanted some form of service, whether it was internet only (us) or internet plus tv (several), and all were agreeable to having a multiyear contract. It seemed, when we reported those results, like a win-win, but someone on the chain knocked it down.

It’s rather unfortunate because it is so close to us since we run up against the main access road. The upper level business account dude suggested we contact one of the local offices and have them call their corporate overlords to talk about it. I’m not entirely sure what difference that will make, but it is on the list of things to do. The tiny candle of hope still flickers in the darkness of slow internet service here.

Tuesday’s child is NOT full of grace

In the tech world, for some reason Tuesdays are generally the shittiest days. Problems are extra large, people are extra dense, ticket volume is extra high, and everything just seems to be a bigger pain in the ass than it usually is. Generally speaking, all my days are pretty much the same – to the point that sometimes I don’t even know what day it is – because I work every day, anywhere from 12 to 18 hours, doing something. So I take Tuesdays in stride, because often some other whack-a-mole will pop its head out on a day other than Tuesday, and to me,it seems like Tuesday even if Tuesday is just lending an outfit to another day.

However.

Today was my personal Tuesday. It started off very calmly. As Stacy astutely points out, that’s sometimes a warning indicator, i things are far too calm. Turns out, this was one of those times. Got my breakfast, got a shower, headed off to pick up a paper scrip from one of my docs because the med contains a scheduled drugs so cannot be called in – thanks a bunch, Feds, for making it annoying for those of us who actually need the stuff. It’s a 35 to 40 minute drive to that particular office, as it’s on the other side of the world from the ranch. Picked it up, got back in the car, and started my way toward Publix, to get the thing filled, plus pick up another that was ready, along with a few assorted other items.

On my way there, I get a call from the ranch: the electric company dude who reads the meter (they just drive up the driveway to the house and use their reader without getting out of the pickup, yay technology!) managed to back into and snap a stub that is a water line. To the house. Since Gabby was there with some worker bees, they shut off the main valve that leads to the house. Therefore, no water in the house or to any of the irrigation piping until it’s repaired.

Change of plans: we have no spare 1″ PVC lying around. Everything is the wrong size. We do have couplings, and they assure me we have pipe dope. Off to the big orange store. I pop in, pop out, hustle back to the car. In the parking lot, some guy gives me a shout, starts walking toward me with his hand out, like he wants to shake my hand and says, “Hey, how you doing?” and who obviously either wants to sell something, or get something. I say, “Sorry dude, in a hurry.” and I head back to the ranch, where…

…we do some test fitting, cutting down – with a mini coping saw, because the PVC cutter I had once upon a time I cannot find – test fit things, judge it good, and get ready to finalize it. No cement. Primer, yes. Cement, no. I dig around in various places, and in a drawer I come up with cement that a) I do not prefer and b) is old, so questionable. We try it anyway, allowing it to set, then turn on the water. Sealant: fail. Off I go once again to the big orange store, and since I’m already out again, to Publix to get the other stuff for the ranch.

The big orange store has all the things I need – including a ratcheted PV cutter – and I also spy some couplings that have rubber seals and teeth to grip the pipes when they’re inserted. No cleaning, priming, or cement required. I also find a combo cleaner, primer, cement in a handy spray bottle just like spray paint. Why did it take this long to come up with this? I pick up both, along with traditional blue dope, and head to Publix, where…

…as I’m giving the scrip to the tech along with my ID, and she’s reviewing it, she says, “Oh, no. They didn’t date the scrip. We can’t fill it.” Argh. I take the scrip back, pick up the other stuff, race back to the ranch, where….

…I redo the bottom fitting in the traditional way, but cannot get the top fitting off to redo the cement on that. Fine. I do the bottom, allow it to set, wipe off the excess, and then the valve to get the water flowing again to test it, only to find….

….the top seal is definitely not going to work. Fuck. I turn off the water, cut the pipe off at the ends of the couplings, which requires digging out the bottom part of the stub a bit, get the other part of the replacement PVC I didn’t use, and cut it down. Instead of dealing with the traditional prim/dope method, I slip the newer coupling on to one end and use my body weight to push the piece snug and it clicks into place. The other coupling goes on the top connecting pipe, and I cut down the replacement pipe a couple of times until I can get it to slide under the top coupling (after pushing that part slightly to an angle in order to do so. I push down with all my weight, but can’t get it to snap into place. I grab a rubber mallet and pound the damn thing until it gives a satisfying snap. Finally.

Time for a test! I open the valve, and the pump kicks on. The couplings hold and are not blown off by the pressure. There are also no leaks at the joints. Yay. I head inside, turn on some taps and the tub in the master bath to force the pump to cycle on and off to make sure any pressure changes don’t damage the joints. it doesn’t. Problem solved!

By now, I’m drenched in sweat and my pants are sliding further and further down my hips. I have a massive spasm going on my left side, from my hip all to the way to my face. I decide – it’s now 4PM, and I left the house about 11AM originally – it’s time for lunch. Except…

…it pops into my mind that the bees need to be fed. Luckily, I had already made their syrup this morning, so I poured the jars, climbed into my suit, went out, and changed their bottles. It’s very still, with no wind, and very humid, and I’m sweating even more in the suit than normal. I head back inside, peel out of the suit, and get lunch started, only to be hit….

….with a massive new spasm that takes my breath away. I lean against the counter to let the worst of it pass, then grind up my antispasm and other meds and finally get lunch made.

Then I find out Comcast is not willing to run access to our one road development: there are too many people on the loop they have at the road now, and they estimate it would cost them $250K to do our road. Fuck. The corporate guy suggests we call our local Comcast office and have them call in to corporate. Yeah.

So, thanks, Tuesday, for fulfilling every expectation I generally have of you. But you can go now, really. Seriously.