Monday, 29 June 2009

The Ultimate Answer...

I was going to blog about how, last weekend, a maintenance exercise undertaken by my colleagues in the network team led to the non-functionality of a disaster recovery setup on my Storage Area Network, and the subsequent recovery of the situation in less than 15 minutes by a man who is nothing less than the equivalent of a living legend among IT engineers, whose input code to resolve the issue translated from Hexadecimal to Decimal as '42'...

But you wouldn't be interested in that...

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Would You Like To Buy An O?

As Fred* will confirm, I've always been a fan of Sesame Street.

Excuse me while I remove a fly that's crawling on Jo Whiley's face...

Okay, that's better. Now where was I?

Oh, right - Sesame Street. Every now and again, a guy in a trenchcoat and hat would try and sell Ernie things for a nickel, like an empty box, or air, etc., with varying degrees of success.

His name is Lefty the Salesman, and one has to admire his dedication - might even give Mr. CMOT Dibbler a run for his money.

Some of his initial forays into the field of supply/demand were not altogether successful, to wit:



However, Lefty was nothing if not a trier, and although his initial attempts at independence were less than wholly successful:



Lefty nonetheless persisted, refining his salesmanship skills with various ideas, up to and including this - one of his finest moments, if (spoiler alert) sadly unsuccessful:



I'dve bought it, wouldn't you?

*Our regular reader

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Thursday - Reprise...

Okay, the Cubs won 6 to 5, the beer's still gone.

But it's nearly Friday and so far, no callouts...

Today I got my new laptop with MS Vista on it, so my training course on Tuesday would not have been for nothing.

It's smaller than the machine it replaced, with a whole raft of cool features that our IT Security Dept has seen fit to disable, so I'll have to be creative when it comes to personalising it.

It has a little pop-out light, presumably so you can use it on aeroplanes at night, plus a DVD rewriter (disabled), Internet (restricted), games (deleted), wi-fi (nope), and so on.

It took four hours to transfer my documents from my old machine to the new one, so I didn't have time to reinstall all my old software and recover my music library, but that's what Fridays are for and I've only one meeting tomorrow.

Aside from that, the day went largely without incident, and I got to make a site visit to our other DataCentre to observe a demonstration of controlled media destruction, something I'm going to have a lot of in the next few months.

Left at 7 after giving up on MS Exchange 2007 (too much information) and headed home, expecting rain...

Week's nearly over.

Thursday...

Haven't the energy...

Watching Chicago WS vs Chicago Cubs on ESPN.

5 to 5 in the bottom of the 9th, Cubs at bat.

Beer gone...

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Wednesday...

So I was supposed to go to this supplier roadshow in the Four Seasons Hotel this morning, but several team members had also expressed an interest so, as it was closer to their areas of expertise than mine, I elected to take a raincheck and hold down the fort with Ciaran and Tony.

In truth, I didn't mind - it meant I didn't have to be up and out at 7:30am, something I hate.

So I strolled into work at my usual 9:15, into the mouth of chaos.

The server that screens incoming mail threw a disk; fortunately it was in a mirror set which meant digging out a spare and swapping it in. No big deal.

Tony took care of it while Ciaran and I tried to work out why the server that manages the SAN appliance in my DataCentre was no longer responding to outside control.

There didn't appear to be anything wrong - all the lights were green, there was network traffic apparently going through it, but d'you think we could log on?

Nope.

In a case like that I'd simply push the button to power it off, then boot it back up again, however I had a question regarding the underlying resource management, so I decided to wait for expert advice. Better that than take a chance and be wrong, which happened to a colleague earlier this year (see below).

Turned out pushing the button was the thing to do.

So I did.

I was returning from a coffee break when I spotted Alison from application support coming down the hall with Tony. Now, usually when someone from one of the apps needs something, they phone or email. If they show up at your desk, something's up.

Or in this case, down.

The Customer Services system had, it seemed, taken a senior moment and gone to sleep. Again.

This is the self-same application to which I referred above, and the best way I can find to describe it is to quote (albeit very loosely) from Terry Pratchett:

"You know the way some people have one leg shorter than the other?"
"Yes?"
"'Cos, with me, see, it's that - "
"Don't tell me; both legs are shorter than the other?"
"Yeah..."

Fortunately, in this instance Alison and Tony recalled how the application had been rescued last time, and got it up and stumbling again in short order.

And it still wasn't lunchtime.

And then it was...

After lunch, there was a team meeting to bring us up to speed with departmental strategy for the next few months and close off old items. Scheduled for an hour, it took 90 minutes, but that was okay.

The rest of the day was spent sorting through license keys and emails trying to find more information for my supplier, who appears to be having trouble telling the difference between 21 and 18 (and the regular reader will know that I don't mean this in an age-related context).

I left at 6:30pm, my MP3 trying to play something from the Mission: Impossible III soundtrack, bought the office syndicate's lottery tickets (which didn't win anything) and came home.

Another day, done...

Oh, yeah - meant to say, that patch update yesterday worked - no more backup issues...

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Tuesday...

No breakfast.

But it's a nice day, which counts for something.

My first job this morning was to investigate why half of a backup job failed twice the previous evening. It was localised to one particular server, so the application of some patches might prove effective.

Tune in tomorrow...

More backup maintenance - a client returned his backup request form with updated details of his requirements - sadly, it wasn't the up-to-date version I sent him (bizarre, that) so there was stuff missing. I corrected his homework and returned it to him with a 'Must try harder' notation. At least he returned his - many people don't, and yet expect us to know what they want in terms of data backup. I'm good, but I'm not psychic...

I set up a test job for some other clients before lunch, then headed out to my training course.

Three hours' mandatory training in an OS I've been using at home for over a year. But I managed to stroll through Trinity College, which on a summer's day is a fine thing to do.

The course was not a total waste of time - I learned a few things about Office 2007 I didn't previously know, and was impressed by the thing that happens when you press the Windows key and Tab at the same time.

Got back to the office in time to see everyone else leave, then spent the next hour trying to work out why the software licenses I got back from the supplier were three short and one wrong of the twenty-one I sent for update.

Left at 7pm; went for a pint in the GP, my local bar a block west of the office.

Not cynical yet - the sun's still up...

Monday, 15 June 2009

Monday...

...And I've gotta get out of here, I've gotta make everything clear...

So today it was hard labour, moving half a ton of scrap-to-be down two floors to the basement, around the underground labyrinth before, like Sisyphus rolling his stone uphill, I had to push it up a 45 degree gradient to where the truck waited, at ground level.

Unlike Sisyphus, I had help. So that was good.

The rest of the morning was spent with applications' requests for resources, a couple of special backups, the near-conclusion of the purchase of a new lineprinter (that started in March!) and something about loaves and fishes that one of our subsidiaries seems to think I can do and won't take 'No, dammit!' for an answer.

And so to lunch.

It was nice.

I had chicken.

The afternoon brought troubleshooting:

Data Protector backup failures (just a glitch, I'm sure);
Data Protector report failures (see above);
Data Protector user instruction;
Data Protector user correction;

Change control - a seven-page extravaganza (did I spell that correctly?) that I may have mentioned previously;

A thank-you and closure of a forum thread that solved a problem in short order;

Data Protector licensing changes;

SAN client resource provision and deployment;

Investigation of weekend security issue (nothing much* to do with me - I was just helping out);

Discussion of same and relative comedic merits of Steve Martin movies, to wit, Martin's most recent funny movie. Some schools of thought contend that 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels' is his most recent comedy triumph, whereas others suggest that 'Planes, Trains & Automobiles' is the capstone of his career.

Personally, I feel that 'Planes...' was funny more for the pathos-laden performance of the late John Candy than for the contribution of Steve Martin, while '..Scoundrels' marked the true pinnacle of his career to date (Ruprecht the Monkey Boy a masterpiece).

But I digress:

Sourcing and provision of operating manual for associate team use.
.
.
.
Groceries.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Reboot observation of a business-critical server (it worked fine, in case you were wondering).
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Diary update...
.
And here we are.

Think Tuesday's gonna be any better? I've got Vista training and they haven't even given me a Vista workstation yet. What does that say?

Tune in tomorrow and find out...

*Early-morning insomnia-busting phone message (but we won't go into that)...

The Week Ahead...

So it appears I can post from work now?

The excuses will be harder to come by...

I'm going to try and keep a diary of my work week - apparently, from a health manual issued by the company's Occupational Health Dept last week, I show all the signs of being stressed out.

I'm by no means unique in that - I want to make that abundantly clear - however it was a bit of an eye-opener seeing it in print in a document the company went to some trouble to produce.

As an aside, the booklet is called 'Male Minder' a cunning pune or play on words given that we work for the Post Office. My boss said that she had gotten one too. I asked if the company had produced a 'lady version' and wondered what they had called it, but no, it was the same one. Seems everyone is getting it, regardless of gender, which seems egalitarian until you consider that it covers such topics as 'Prostate Health' and 'Erectile Dysfunction' in addition to 'Coping with Stress'.

But you didn't need to know that.

So what am I doing this week?

Let's see:

Monday - getting rid of half a ton of scrap in the form of old hard drives. We have a contractor coming to turn them into tinfoil, but someone still has to help load the truck. Must observe OHD guidelines on lifting things. I'm also scheduled to get a new MS Vista laptop as part of our technology refresh program.

Tuesday - troubleshooting a date/time synchronisation issue with one of our main applications. I have four months to come up with a solution but I don't like to leave things hanging too long. Training in Windows Vista (ahahaha...).

Wednesday - a breakfast briefing in new technology at the Four Seasons Hotel. Coffee and croissants, which I like, but having to wear a tie, which I don't. HP will try to sell me their new server tech, and Microsoft will be pushing Internet Explorer 8. I'm not easily impressed, but I don't have a budget, so I'll take their pastries. I also prefer Firefox.

Thursday - meetings with project managers to persuade them that their business-critical applications need to go SAN-based and even virtual. It's a project we're putting a lot into, so it's important to get them on board. I'm actually sort of looking forward to it, but my enthusiasm may diminish as we go on.

Friday - as little as possible. We make no changes on Fridays, since any cock-ups can eat into the weekend, and that's just not on.

Also, I'm on 24-hour call this week, so anything can happen.

Stay tuned for further updates as the week progresses.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Musical? Me???

The lovely PJ over at The Urban Recluse has posted on how, if she were a musical scale, she would be classified as Aeolian (and all that that implies).

I, on the other hand, would appear to be Dorian in nature - you know, annoys senior doctors and janitorial staff:

"You tend to be a bit of a cynic, and perhaps a bit of an intellectual snob. You have a small group of friends, all of whom admire you, but you have a hard time opening up to people you don't know. People will tell you that you're hard to figure out. It's probably because you keep your emotions hidden from almost everyone."

Which seems about right ('cept maybe the intellectual snob bit...), since all my medical knowledge has been obtained from MASH and Scrubs and I've never performed surgery on anyone of which I'm aware...

Although on reflection, perhaps I might have expected to be Aeolian as well...

Who knows???