Older blog entries for logic (starting at number 23)

Work: Yep, the hammer fell. 15 people are now without work as of today, and we're stuck trying to clean up their accounts and close off access while people wait to get "the phone call". Add to that the fact that a certain local industry website reported the phone number and conference access code to use to call in and "listen in" on the news being delivered, and it's been a really screwed up day today. I expect more of the same Monday, when the people who were out today find out that they're really out.

More some other time. Today, I'm just not in the mood.

Skiing: Didn't do it this weekend. Crap.

Old hardware: My girlfriend rescued an old HP D-Class machine from her place of employement, and I discovered to my great amusement that it came with one of HP's old Entria X terminals. 1024x768 (only 8-bit color), and fairly snappy. After a bit of searching, I managed to track down the last released firmware image for the hardware, and figured out the magic key sequence for popping up the setup menu (F12 for two seconds, in case you ever come across one ;-) after having booted off of the flash ROM card. Not too shabby. Now to go about rectifying the "FLT 3000" (Hardware Error, Processor dependant hardware) error I'm suddenly seeing on the HP machine itself (probably just didn't seat the CPU board properly when I pulled it apart to clean it). Then to go about seeing if HP-UX 11.00 will run on the thing (it's currently loaded with 10.10, circa 1996, and 11.00 is the newest media I have handy).

Work: New CEO, and mumblings of layoffs in the next week or so. I'm probably safe, but there's going to be serious morale problems with those of us left, and everyone's planning an exit strategy, "just in case". Not a very productive atmosphere. We'll see what happens.

Advogato: Whew. Writing anything in your bio that requires character-precision formatting (ie. <PRE></PRE> tags) is a royal PITA. That being said, I think I now have my PGP public key up there in a format that will be relatively cut-n-pastable (but completely non-machine parsable; WHY does the Advogato backend rip out my very carefully placed carriage returns?).

The odd thing is that the diary entry forms seem to leave formatting alone for the most part (aside from stripping out non-approved HTML tags). I'll have to poke my head into mod_virgule to see what's going on.

Post-analysis: Restoration was only successful up until Sunday. Luckily, most of our development staff has been on vacation for the last two weeks, so we didn't lose much work (with the exception of a few people). I didn't mention earlier that I was the only IS employee on staff during the whole mess (my two counterparts were out for the week), so that contributed a bit to the stress level.

A few good things that resulted from this: the latest Solaris 2.6 patches have been applied (had I known how badly things were going to go, I would have just reloaded the beast with Solaris 8), and the latest ClearCase patches were applied after we verified everything was kosher.

ClearCase: Which brings me to ClearCase. Yeesh, what a monster of a product. This is a piece of software that has redefined the phrase "problem child" in my mind; we've been finding and reporting bugs like crazy, and I'm getting the impression that they're basically just asleep at the wheel. Given how little of the feature set we're actually using, I almost wish our SCM team would go to something more primitive (and far more stable) like CVS. Oh, wait. They wouldn't get the pretty little colorized diffs to hold their hands while they merge. So much for progress.

I wonder what Larry McVoy and Co. have been up to lately with BitKeeper?

New Year: Hmm. I keep thinking, "You know, there's a new year coming up, and I should be getting excited..." But I just can't seem to care. At least last year, there was the threat of society collapsing. I don't see much excitement this year, aside from get-rich-quick dot-commers getting a valuable (albeit harsh) lesson in what it means to be profitable, and maybe the occasional company starting to get it. So, let's raise our glass to the new year! Or something.

Skiing: So help me, I'm going skiing this weekend. For the last two weeks, I've been coming home and watching people on top of the ski hill (the rental property I live at has a (very small) ski hill in the middle of it), and have been too tired to actually head over there. Hopefully I can convince the significant other to come along as well (under a month left until she moves in; woo!).

Anyways, back to work.

Data recovery: Didn't get out of the office until 1:30 AM. Back in the office at 8:30 AM. The filesystem was built overnight, and I've been pulling data off of tape since I got in. It looks like the tape from this week is dead, so I'm only going to be able to restore up to Sunday. Merry #@*(ing Christmas.

Veritas: Bah. It's 10:30 PM, and I'm still at work reconstructing a &#@*ing Veritas volume. It's my own damn fault, but the fat- finger that caused it was the result of trying to keep track of three people's jobs today. Bah. Here's a tip: don't reboot from one terminal while you're extending a volume on another. :-P Here's hoping the backups are good...

The worst part of it is that I don't think I care. I wouldn't have even been messing around with adding yet more drives to an already-slow software RAID set if management were willing to spend a few dollars on some badly-needed (and properly implemented) network storage. It's hard to care when your best arguments are met with "You're absolutely right, we do need that. But find a way to hack it together some other way." It wouldn't bother me if they just didn't understand the projects being proposed, but they do. Bah.

Christmas: Was there a class I missed out on in grade school that failed to prepare me for the efficient and thoughtful acquisition of gifts for significant others during holiday seasons?

Old stuff: Picked up an SS2 today, along with an assortment of other outdated hardware. I'm torn between loading it up with Solaris 8 (if it'll even load, which I doubt; I'll probably end up running 2.6 or 7, some recent Linux revision, or a *BSD variant. And, now that I have a SCSI CD-ROM, I can go about reloading my Indigo properly...

Back to watching superblocks scroll by...

Stab: Thanks for the pointer to PEAR, although I wasn't able to find a whole lot of information out there regarding DB.php (but reading through the source was quite illuminating). If I end up settling on PHP-Nuke, I'll probably end up doing a rewrite of the DB access code using that. (The main thing driving me here is that I already have applications making productive use of PostgreSQL; I can't see a good reason to run both it and MySQL just because of a single software dependancy.)

gstein: Zope's footprint didn't seem too bad for a complete application backend (comparing it to, say, Allaire's ColdFusion, or InterShop's app server engine, or even MudOS/DGD/ldmud *grin*), and it provides a very nice framework to do development in, but I can't really justify the resources for a single project. So, no Squishdot for me. ;-)

Debian woody: Unsatisfied with the disgustingly high degree of stability shown by my potato machine, I finally got around to updating to woody. The upgrade went smoothly, and I'm generally happy with the result. Mind you, I don't use that box on a day-to-day basis, so I probably should have just left it alone. ;-)

More later.

It's been a while. I guess this post will make up for lost time...

Weblogs: I've been looking around for a weblog/forum package which has the feature set I'm needing, without some of the built-in design and performance flaws of Slash. I came across PHP-Nuke by accident, after noticing that debianHELP went online using it. The feature spread is there, it's written in PHP bolted up to MySQL (which is a fairly good performer), and seemed relatively navigable, so I downloaded it and gave it a spin.

Initial impressions:

  • No database access abstraction, so there's no hope for trying to bolt it up to (for example) PostgreSQL instead without heavy modifications. One site (warning, Spanish ahead) mentioned that they were working on creating an abstraction layer, but it doesn't look like they've released anything yet. <RANT>This has got to be PHP's single biggest failing: lack of a project-independant transparent database API, such as Perl's DBI/DBD scheme, or Python's DB- API.</RANT>
  • Security is scary. The documentation recommends mode 666 and 777 nearly everywhere, and the adminstration interface includes a complete file manager for working on your website. This is just plain overkill; if you need site management tools, look into making effective use of mod_dav or something (hi, gstein ;-) Luckily, most of this functionality is easily disabled, and files on disk are only written to by the admin frontend; normal system use does everything through the database backend, or through read-only access to the filesystem.
  • Performance seems to be a little limited, but my testbed hardware isn't exactly the latest and greatest. I'm a little concerned how it will handle heavy load; debianHELP seems to be seeing a steady decrease in responsiveness as more people find out about it, for example (if anyone from there is reading this, I'd love to hear your experiences from rolling out the site and watching the userbase grow).
  • Built-in RSS handling makes adding syndication boxes from other news sites a snap, but it's not per-user configurable like /.'s interface. I'll have to see if that's something easily added or not. Of course, there's RSS/XML exportation of the articles posted to the PHP-Nuke system too.
  • Whassup with the name? ;-)
  • The built-in theming support is a nice touch; uneccessary, but a pleasant end-user usability feature. See SourceForge for another example of site-wide theming based on user preference.

Overall, it looks managable, but I have a few serious concerns. Other systems I've been considering are Slash (made famous by /.), Squishdot (see Technocrat as an example), Scoop (Kuro5hin is an example most of us know), and, of course, mod_virgule (as seen here). They all have their strengths and weaknesses; mod_virgule was my first choice (for simplicity), but I really don't need the trust metric management (which is the main drawing card here). I similarly skipped on Scoop, since I didn't need the peer-reviewing of articles, it's main feature over Slash. Slash and Scoop both have scalability and performance issues I'd rather not worry about initially, and Squishdot wasn't quite feature-complete for me (no individual preferences management). Squishdot also imposed the requirement of installing and maintaining Zope; while not a bad thing in and of itself, I don't have any other use for it right now, making it unneeded additional administrative overhead.

Anyone else have any systems I should take a peek at?

Obligatory personal stuff: At the stroke of midnight, there will be 11 days, 6 hours, and 30 minutes until I am on an airplane with a very special woman on my way to the Carribean. This vacation couldn't come at a better time, for an unimaginable number of reasons.

Advogato diary musings: I've seen a number of people posting anti-employer sentiments here (and I'm among them). I wonder why I, or others, don't worry about said employers reading this information, and using it against them in their workplace? Do we not worry about it at all, because this forum has an "in the company of friends" feel to it? Is it the anonymizing nature of these diaries? Hmm.

More later, I'm sure. :-)

Job stuff: <RANT> Every once in a while, you have one of those days where you can't seem to please anyone, and start to lose the enthusiasm for an industry you used to love. That day passed a few weeks ago; now I'm into "wouldn't teaching be a wonderful career change?". I've been seriously considering self-employment again, too. Anyone looking for a dissillusioned UNIX/network architect in the Chicago area? </RANT>

That's enough for now; I just don't feel like writing much today.

IBM: AIX was a bad idea. Just say no. It presents a lovely mix of late-70's throwbacks and DOS-era interfaces, mixed with proprietary extensions to things like Apache which stand just fine on their own without Big Blue's help. Ugh. Yes, I'm bitter.

Job stuff: This is why I keep a resume on Monster at all times; you never know what might be sent your way. It's always nice to get a good offer from time to time to remind you that you're never stuck somewhere.

Yawn. Time to call it a day, methinks.

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