Category Archives: Geek stuff

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.

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.