Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

8/15/2001

Back In Baton Rouge, updated

Filed under: On The Road — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Sheep which is mid-afternoon or 3:48 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Well, I was all scheduled for the 3:00pm flight back to Houston, but the flight got canceled. *sigh* I just can’t win for losing. Oh, well, at least I managed to score some 256mg DRAM chips for $50 a piece, thanks to a co-worked who was in Baton Rouge, too. She asked me to pick her up a 128mg chip, because that was all she could afford, but I got her a 256mg chip anyway. For the great discount, I’ll eat the difference. Here’s to the servers they’re going to help build! ; }

Back In Baton Rouge

Filed under: On The Road — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:46 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Hey guess where I’m writing this from? Yep, I’m back in Baton Rouge! Yahoo! Only this time, I flew. No more of that driving across the swamp at night. Blech!
Things were going fairly well Monday. I got to start correcting the NDS (that’s Novell Directory Services, for you neophytes) synchronization issues that we’re still having thanks to Mother, our primary NDS Replica server, going South on me. Of course, just about every change I want to make takes about two hours to replicate out. Now, I *know* that I’ve explained that to the Supreme Commander, but he still doesn’t seem to “get” it. He’s a really Big Picture sort of guy and doesn’t understand *any* of the details of what I do. The joys of working for a former programmer. That’s all they truly understand or think matters. The rest is just magic that should happen instantly. *sigh* Of course, the fact that our building lost power didn’t help much. Thankfully, I’ve got my Palm IIIc! I just whipped that out and started playing Space Trader. Ah, what fun.
Then, on Tuesday, I started on that again. Until the Baton Rouge server dropped off the network. It still was up, but it stopped communicating with the rest of the network. The Cisco router was fine, so I knew it wasn’t the WAN connection, but it just wouldn’t see the network. So we rebooted it. Oh, boy, was that a mistake. It never came up right. Eventually, we got to a point where all we could get was an “Invalid Partition Table” error. So, it’s off to the airport for me. Leaving my poor sick wife to deal with getting our daughter from school and taking care of our leaking pond. Oh, joy.
Well, I got there and started fumbling around with stuff, but didn’t get very far. Then, I noticed that we had been trying to use Windows 95 utilities on a DOS 6.22 formatted partition! Damn, no wonder we weren’t getting anywhere! So, that started us root around for a DOS bootable disk. We finally found one and I was able to FDISK and FORMAT the old Primary drive and copy everything from the DOS partition of the mirror. Then, while eating my oyster po’boy, we rebooted and *shazam*! The server starts to come up. The next thing we know, it’s already started running the backup. So, since all looked well, we called it a night. Now I’m waiting for everyone to get caught up so I can clean up the hardware and get the server back up, hopefully for good. Or at least until they move, when I hope they’ll upgrade to real hardware. You know, something brand-name, like Compaq or Dell or even HP. I hate having to figure out clones. Then, I’ll try to get an earlier flight back to Houston and just enjoy a night at home. Maybe even snuggle with the wife on the couch while we watch Star Trek. Voyager’s still in reruns! ; }

8/12/2001

Home Networking and Hazards

Filed under: The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Well, I finally got my cable run. Of course, I stepped through my ceiling first. *sigh*
Everything was going okay Saturday with my cable runs. I got the pull string through and got cable feeding up into the closet in the library/server room, but then it got hung up. So, it was up into the attic I went. Well, I found the first snag and got that cleared. Then, I queued up the cables (one phone line and two network cables) to go down the other side of the topmost attic. I climbed down and start to pull it, but it got snagged again. *sigh* So, back up into the attic. The heat was so oppressive that I could hardly breathe. I was pouring sweat faster than I could drink water. I was tired from my little trip to Baton Rouge. And, I slipped. I was stepping carefully from one rafter to another and then to the one-by-six that spanned that side of the attic and my foot slipped off and through the ceiling. *sigh* Well, at least I didn’t fall *all* the way through! And, the hole did make a convenient breathing hole when I got too hot.
Anyway, I finished running those two network lines and the phone line without a hitch. Then, I used the pull string to get the next two network connections with minimal problems. I also managed to pull two network lines down to the master bedroom, though I had to finish that on Sunday because the drill needed a recharge. I used the same pull string for the two connections to our daughter’s room, but when I went to put it down the wall, I found an AC conduit blocking my way. I also had to contend with a 110v line that was a little too close to where I wanted my connection. So, I ended up drilling the hole in the top-plate on the wrong side of the stud from where I cut the hole in the drywall. *sigh* Looks like another patch job. At least this one’s not as big as the ceiling!
And, with that, I decided to stop running cables for now. I’ve got connections everywhere I need them. Truthfully, I doubt that I’ll actually use the ones in our bedroom, but it’s the idea of it. So, now I just have to punch them all down and hook up the jacks. Then, test them to make sure they work. Yahoo. After that, I’ll do up a whole section of “what I learned while running cable” for the poor saps who still think they want to do this. My advice? *Pay* someone else to do it!

8/8/2001

Baton Rouge

Filed under: On The Road — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

*sigh* Here I sit, tired to exhaustion, waiting for the weather to clear in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. How did I end up here? *sigh* Oh, my what a story. I’ll keep it short, though. Once again, I’m paying for someone else’s short-sightedness. The beat-up, old hardware in our Baton Rouge office curled up its toes and died yesterday afternoon. Or, at least part of it did. And, since we couldn’t quite seem to get it up and running remotely, I was “volunteered” to go fix it.
Okay, that’s not quite true. After the last mess I dealt with due to crappy hardware, I felt that if I didn’t go, it might cost me my job. Also, as much as I like my employees, the last time I sent someone else to do this kind of work, I was blamed because they couldn’t make the old, crappy hardware work. So, I decided that if I were going to take the blame anyway, I might as well do the work, too.
What that meant, however, was loading up the car with server equipment and driving over 300 miles to Baton Rouge at 9:00pm at night. That’s roughly a four to five hour trip to a place I’ve never been at night when I was already tired. I only had one near miss. And that wasn’t my fault. That was the two drunk kids in the Saturn outside of Beaumont that came off an entrance ramp and across three lanes of traffic without looking. I don’t think I actually was on two tires at any point, but only because I had the extra weight of the server equipment.
Anyway, I did manage to get a couple hours of sleep before I came in to rescue the server. After I blew the dust off the SCSI ID settings on the external Artecon drive arrays, I spotted the trouble pretty quickly. So, I swapped out the bad tape drive that started all this and got them up and running. That was about 9:45am this morning. My next task is to get a set of mirror drives put together for them and get them into place. That’s why I’m waiting for the weather to clear, so I can get out to my car to get the hardware I need. Then maybe my captors, er… fellow employees, will let me sleep. Probably not. *sigh* More updates later…. Or maybe tomorrow after I drive back.

ilovemyjobilovemyjobilovemyjob……

8/7/2001

Home Networking, Part 2

Filed under: The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Well, I ran into a little snag running cable. Literally. I managed to get through the top plate and into the wall at the right spot, but when I actually tried to pull the cable, it snagged on the roof before it even got out of the server room closet! I’ll have to get up into the nasty part of the attic to fish it around the snag. Though, I may try to push it up through with the fiberglass pull rod and see if it gets past the obstruction. Either way, I didn’t feel like getting all nasty in the attic anymore, so I was done for the night.

8/6/2001

Home Networking

Filed under: The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Well, Day 1 of cable running didn’t go quite as well as I’d hoped. For one thing, I found out just how wimpy my cordless drills are. But, let me start from the begining….
Saturday, after going in for some tests and passing my kidney stone, I stopped at Lowe’s for some tools and supplies. Mainly, I got drill bits and wireties and that kind of junk. But, I also got a *good* stud finder and gloves and breathing masks. Very important as I was going to be crawling around in a very dusty attic. But, by the time we got through with the rest of our day, I wasn’t up for running cable. So, Sunday afternoon, I got set up.
First, I changed into the crappiest clothes I could find. Jeans and an old, long-sleeved t-shirt. Then I got my hat on, scrunched my mask down, and pulled my gloves on. Then, I crawled up into the attic with my fiberglass pull-rods and started fishing around for an opening. No luck. So, I crawled out of the attic behind the “server room” (ie. closet) and headed up to the main attic with the other half of my pullrod. I fished it down and when I got back into the attic behind the server room, I was in luck. I pulled the rod back up some and tied the nylon cord that I planned to pull cable with to the end. Then, after thinking about it for a minute, I tied a second line to that one to setup my second long cable run. After that it was back up into the main attic to fish the pullrod up and over. I managed that and, as I bellycrawled back out, I pulled the second line with me. That should, I hope, miminize the number of trips to the dusties part of the attic. That was the last easy thing that happend,though.
At that point, I got into the attic over where our office will be and tried to fish the pullrod down. After a little manuvering, it seemed to go just fine. However, when I got down stairs and cut my first hole for the wall plate, there was no pullrod. So, I went back up into the attic and tried again. Still no luck. Well, this time I decide to cut a hole for the second wall plate that I planned on putting in, but still no luck. So, it was back up into the attic to see what was what. It was then that I discovered that I had fished the pullrod down the *outside* wall behind the brick facade. Damn. At that point I figured out that I needed to drill through the top plate of the wall so I could fish my line. That’s when I discovered that my cordless drills were just way wimpy. *sigh* And, in fact, that’s where I finally gave up for the day. I’ll go back to it tonight and see if I can finish drilling that hole. If I can, then the rest should be downhill. And, I console myself with the thought that this is the hardes of the cable runs. The work of a network geek is never done!

8/3/2001

Homeowner

Filed under: Personal Archive — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:49 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Okay, so I *still* haven’t been all that great about keeping this up to date, but I have an excuse. My wife and I got the house. In fact, we just finished moving in this last week. Now, we’re surrounded by boxes. But, somehow, I don’t mind. After all, we have *all* our stuff, no more storage facility, and we *still* have more room than we did in that stinking little apartment!
Now, let’s see, I still haven’t passed that damn kidney stone, so tomorrow, Saturday, I’ll be going in bright and early to drink a radioactive milkshake and have intestinal pictures taken. Of course, the real fun will be the castor oil that I have to drink the night before. My lovely wife, who’s very knowledgeable about health and medical stuff, says that it’s to clean me out. I guess so that nothing interferes with the pictures. Fun.
Oh, and I bought all my supplies for running my cat 5 network cable this week, too. With any luck at all, I’ll be able to start wiring up the house this weekend. I’ve looked all over the Internet for people who have chronicled their home cabling experience, but I came up pretty empty. There are a few folks that have talked about it, but not too many really. So, of course, that means that I’ll be doing my best to log all the stuff I do. I’m even going to try and give a little technical advice, but I’m afraid that it will mostly be out of date by the time it hits the web. In part because I’m using at least *some* “found” materials. Namely, I saved myself a couple of bucks (roughly $150) by salvaging a category 5 punchdown panel. It only has 24 connections, but how many does a home network need?!? Anyway, I’ll do my best to make a usable reference of everything I learn along the way. Stay tuned!


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