Category Archives: Geek stuff

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.

Free tips on web hosting

Here’s a few free tips for people, related to web hosting.

DO ensure you pay your bills. If you’re billed on a recurring basis, then you should know when your billing date is, and you should ensure that whatever you have on file for billing purposes is up to date.
DO NOT try to blame your host for cancelling your ass when you are 60 days past due. Take some responsibility for your account. It’s no different than any other utility or service: providers want to be paid for the service they provide.

DO keep your contact details up to date.
DO NOT expect that your host is going to know that you let your primary domain expire and then berate them for having an email address YOU provided not be functional for you or for not sending you a love letter via snail mail, begging you to pay your bill when they don’t do this and never have. They’re going to think – rightfully so – that you’re quite out of your mind.

DO be civil and polite when you contact support.
DO NOT try to tell them what they should have done with your deadbeat account. Fact: you didn’t pay your bill, and you were cut off. End of story. Once again, take responsibility.

DO maintain your own backups.
DO NOT try to tell your host that your files are “legally” your property when they make no claims on those files. If your stuff is so important to you, make sure you have copies.

DO read the terms of service your host provides.
DO NOT read into those terms what you want to see rather than what’s there. It’s a good way to make yourself look like an idiot.

DO know what you have (or have not) been charged for by your host.
DO NOT threaten chargebacks of fees when it’s patently obvious that you haven’t been charged a dime for anything and there is nothing whatsoever to charge back. You will make your host laugh themselves silly by displaying your idiocy and self-importance. It’s also a good way to have your host tell you that your business is not welcome.

DO get a grip on yourself and learn a lesson from your failure to properly maintain your account.
DO NOT continue to try and argue the issue when the host has made it clear that the issue is closed. DO NOT toss in little frivolous legal threat bombs. That’s a good way to have the host tell you to take a hike with the new account they graciously set up for you, as it’s not a business relationship worth having.

See all those “do not” items up there? All of those things were done by one particular asshat today. They are also things that sometimes make me believe a good portion of the population wouldn’t be worth spitting on were they on fire and that early retirement would be a most excellent idea. Fortunately, most people understand they’ve cocked things up and are more polite when writing in about their accounts – like the guy today who wrote in and said he’d been away at college and had neglected his account and what did he need to do? At least he took responsiblity for his situation. He also cleared it up, sans whining, sans bitching and moaning, sans telling us what we should have done. He’s happy, we’re happy, and everyone moves on with their lives. That’s the lesson some people could stand to learn.

People are idiots

Some of them, anyway. There’s just no doubt about it. If I could tell you about the times we’ve gotten caught up in peoples’ kindergarten-level spats with one another, I would. Unfortunately, I can’t. I say unfortunately because you won’t get the same amusement level that we do from such things – amusement that, for us, rapidly turns into irritation as we waste more time on their silliness. This is the only reason I’m sitting here at 0400 rather than sleeping, which is yet another reason for me to be significantly irritated with the guy who started the playground fight with another person. Here’s a free tip to those who want to engage in this nonsense: save it for regular business hours.

Some days really are longer than others

Now, we all know that the days are all the same length, really, give or take a few nanoseconds. So perhaps that should be some days really seem longer than others. Sometimes people ask us what goes on behind the scenes – what is it that they never see about what we do? And specifically, what does one of my days look like?

Let me tell you about some of this atypical day.

My day actually began yesterday morning. At around 2 AM this morning, as I was wrapping up some work, one of the servers started behaving very erratically. After working on it a bit, I decided to just start moving everything off that server to another. Piece of cake, right? Not this time. I had thought I would simply run a backup and then restore it to a new server we brought online. Again, not this time: the server would not stay up long enough for the backup to complete. Think of it this way: you’re on your computer, writing a paper or doing some other work that requires about an hour or so. But your computer keeps crashing on you about every 15 minutes. It’s annoying, and difficult to get anything done. It’s the same with servers. If for some reason they won’t stay up for extended periods of time, it’s difficult to get some things done to make it easier to recover when you move files to another server.

So, since the wee hours of this morning, I’ve been babysitting this server and moving files off it as quickly as I can given its relative instability.

To add to the fun, just after these issues started, I had an incredibly upset stomach, the likes of which I’d not experienced since treatment. At around 3 AM, I wound up puking up what I’d eaten several hours before, which was unpleasant to say the least.

And to top off the fun, at around the same time as all of this, another server just died completely. It wouldn’t return from a reboot, and in fact, stopped booting at all. After puking and cleaning up, I hauled myself out to the NOC to take a look at the thing. Replaced the cards for the primary SCSI drive, replaced the fan, replaced the cables, and nothing. I did, however, manage to bring it up in a fashion so I could retrieve the last good backup that had run from the night before so it could be restored to another server. That restore took about an hour or so to complete, with all the cleanup items, like reconfiguring certain options to match the original server, following after that.

Finally this morning, I managed to grab about an hour or so nap, then got back up and started working again on the original server problem, continuing to move accounts to other locations.

Then, a bright spot: we get a call that the painter we had lined up (who bailed previously, being too busy) would be available after all. That meant I had to get myself showered up and head to Home Depot for some more paint and miscellaneous items in order to be home before the painter arrived. As soon as I stepped into the shower, the delivery guys showed up with the new mattresses. This is actually a good thing. Since I can now once again sleep lying down instead of at a 45 degree angle (because choking was a very real hazard during treatment and well into recovery), this means that for the first time in a long time, I’ll be able to sleep in a bed. As soon as I attach my head and footboards and put the sheets on it, that is.

Off to Home Depot, where one guy is working paint. I join the crowd of about 15 waiting to give mixing instructions. There are other things I need, but naturally, you can’t leave the queue until you place your order. I wait, the clock ticking in my head, since the painter is supposed to arrive wihtin the hour. Paint in hand, a few things grabbed that are needed in a dire way, such as screen for the sliding doors to the patio, and I’m rushing back to the house.

And here we are, running up to about 32 hours in this particular day. The painter has arrived, and is working on getting the last of things finished tonight. I’ve eaten once since 10 AM, and I’m debating what to do about some sustenance here. Can’t leave the house, although the painter looks like he’s making great progress, and who knows, maybe I’ll be able to make it out of here to do just that.

Best laid plans

Two nights ago, I was supposed to feed some people a nice dinner. Alas, events conspired against me. A geek’s job is never done, and instead of listening to the hiss of grilling meat I was listening to the a/c units and servers at the NOC as I replaced someone’s primary drive and restored their files. That is not exactly an even trade. The window of opportunity for dinner passed, and will have to await my mom’s return, since she is currenly visiting King Tut – or at least some of his stuff.

Yesterday, I was planning on making some more poolish to continue my ciabatta experiments. Alas, events once again conspired against me as I worked on yet another server issue that took most of the day and a lot of the night. The things we do to get things set up to try new applications…

Today? Yet another crazy workday. Too little sleep, too little food both yesterday and today, no cleaning done, no end of quarter paperwork mailed. We joke around here that Tuesdays are our Mondays, because Tuesdays are always busier and weirder than any other day. This week has been filled with Tuesdays.

But I believe it is time to throw together some poolish to get that fermenting. Tomorrow is a brand new day, after all, and not every day can be insanity demonstrated.