Diary of a Network Geek

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

6/1/2009

Review: Up

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies,On The Road,Personal,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:45 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous


UpMovie

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I got back from vacation Friday and, after returning my rental car, went and saw Up.

Now, I’m not normally the kind of person who goes to see kid’s movies, but either I’d seen everything else worth seeing, or my friend had, so we ended up at Up.
The premise is simple, in a way. We start with a young boy who’s caught up with a 1940’s adventurer who travels the world in a zeppelin with his faithful dogs. That adventurer claims to have found a rare creature on a lost world plateau in South America, but he can’t provide enough proof of his discovery, so he ends up drummed out of the explorer’s society and disgraced.
On the way home from watching his favorite adventurer on the news reel, he finds an old house that’s been sort of taken over by a young girl, who’s far more bold and, well, adventurous than he is. They fall in love, get married, make plans to go to South America where their mutual hero has gone, never to return, only to have those plans thwarted by life, and her eventual death. As one might imagine, this makes the old man a little less than fun, friendly and happy. Now, add in the developers who are trying to get him out of his house which he shared with his deceased wife and a chubby, little Asian “Adventure Scout” who just wants to help the old man to get his last badge to make Senior Scout and you’ve got a pretty unhappy guy.

Without revealing too much, circumstances turn even worse for the old man and he inflates hundreds of helium balloons to lift his house, like his hero’s zeppelin, and “sail” South to find the plateau where his dead wife wanted to move their house as a child. In his own way, he’s trying to fulfill his wife’s last wish.
They get there, to South America, and animated hi-jinks ensue. And, I’m sure how much I’d be “spoiling” anything by telling you all more of the plot, but I won’t tell you much more. Suffice it to say that the young man and the old man have adventures on the plateau while trying to get the house where it has the view the old man’s wife wanted it to have. They meet strange creatures and, yes, a dog that talks through a collar made by his master. And, along the way to the happy ending you know this feel-good movie has to have, the boy and the man both learn something about happiness and adventure and how our friends can provide the love and support that our family can’t always manage.

If you have kids, I’m sure you’ll see this movie, but it’s cute enough, and filled with enough subtle adult jokes, that you won’t mind taking the kids. Certainly, I was entertained enough by the whole thing that I didn’t mind going at all. It was, after all, a fun movie with a cute message and a happy ending. If you’re an adult, without kids, you may not be quite as excited by this movie, but, trust me, it’s worth seeing. Though, not worth seeing twice.

Oh, and in case you were interested, here are pictures of my 2009 vacation. Enjoy!

5/26/2009

On Vacation

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,On The Road,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:31 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I’m on vacation.

Yes, vacation.  Of course, for a one man IT department, “on vacation” means something a little different than normal.  I ran in on Saturday, after picking up a rental car, to get a couple things squared away.  I have a “backup” person, but it’s really not his full-time gig, so I tried to make sure that he won’t really have anything to do.  Hopefully, I’ve succeeded.  But, in case I didn’t, I should be in cell-phone range the whole time, and my hotel has high-speed Internet.  Probably won’t take time to post, except the regular, automagic post I already have queued up.  I do worry quite a bit about leaving the network and my usesers untended.  I can think of so many things that can go wrong and, frankly, they’ve become so, so used to me being there to make last minute magic happen that they’ve come to expect it.  Of course, maybe that’s the best reason to take a couple of days off.

Also, I’m not going anywhere that I anticipate being any particular fun or even deeply interesting; Lawton, Oklahoma.  Why?  Because my nephew is graduating from Basic Training as he joins the Army National Guard, full time.  Still, it will be nice to see family and I’m looking at it as a photo opportunity.  Not sure what kind of shots I’ll get from the road, but I’ll certainly take as many of him and the graduation ceremony as possible.  When I’m back, I’ll post a link to Flickr.

So, now, it’s time to grab the last bags, toss thee roll of toilet paper into the car, and head out.  Be good while I’m gone, kids!

(And, yes, while I was typing this, I got a call from the office about someone moving their equipment and not able to connect.  See why I worry?  That’s also, incidentally, why I always travel with at least a partial roll of toilet paper in the car.  You just never know what might happen on the road!)


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"On a clear disk, you can see forever."

4/24/2006

Triumphant Return

Filed under: Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Career Archive,Dog and Pony Shows,Geek Work,Hoffman's Home for Wayward Boys,Life, the Universe, and Everything,On The Road,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:28 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Well, I survived my trip to the sweaty, stinky armpit of the South.

The flight over was fairly uneventful, though it did start out with an ill omen. At the airport there was a helicopter that had a collapsed landing strut that had caused some fairly severe damage to the whirlybird, including bending the blades on the main rotor. Very bad and very expensive. Little turbulence on the flight over in spite of warnings about bad weather. Though, I have to admit, I’d have been more comfortable if my pilot hadn’t been taking short naps along the way. I know we were on autopilot and all, but the idea of crashing over those swamps in East Texas and Louisiana just are not my idea of a good time.

The thing that hit me when we got to New Orleans was the damage still from Katrina. We drove for almost three miles from the little airport where we landed before we started to get to intersections that had working stop lights. Most of the houses that I saw were either empty, or had blue tarps over the roof as an attempt at some temporary repair. I did see some FEMA trailers, but most of them were in a big parking lot where they were totally useless. Apparently, that’s the latest outward sign of a bureaucracy gone terribly wrong. The thing that really got me though was the messages spray painted on the abandoned homes and buildings. Most of it was in some sort of rescue-worker code, but on one house the message was clear: 1 pony DOA, 1 dog DOA.

I spent the entire day Thursday watching data copy. Yep, about as exciting as watching paint dry or grass grow, but people keep interrupting any reading or writing you might be doing to ask what’s going on with the server. (“Uh, the same thing that’s going on when you asked the last fifteen times, you slack-jawed Luddite.”) Then, right when everyone starts to scatter near the end of the day, the data finishes and I can actually start doing real work. A whole hour’s worth of real work before, you guessed it, I copy data back to the new server from the backup drive. Woo. Yea. Oh, the exciting life of a sysadmin on the road.
But, I kept reminding people that I had no rental car and needed a ride to the hotel and/or restaurant, hoping that they wouldn’t abandon me. It went about like this:
“Um, you know, I still don’t have a rental car or anything so, I’ll need a ride to the hotel, right?”
“Yeah.”
“So, you’re not leaving yet, right?”
“Yeah, hold on a minute.”
“Ah, so, since I don’t have a rental car are you going to be driving me?”
“Wait, I’ve got something better than a rental car for you!”
“Better?”
“I’ve got the shop truck for you!”
“Ummm…”
“Of course, you’ll have to put gas in it. It’s on ‘E’.”
“Right. Great. Thanks?”

So, yes, I drove the shop pickup truck that they use to make deliveries and, yes, I filled it up. Thankfully, I grew up in the greater Chicagoland area and only had to stare down one guy who looked like he was going to beg for money at the ratty, little gas station I stopped at in the trashed-out neighborhood where the Holiday Inn I was booked in was sadly located. Now, keep in mind, I used to work in the hotel industry. I never worked in Housekeeping, as is evidenced by the current state my house is in, but I did learn what a hotel room is supposed to look like in great detail. This particular Holiday Inn did not meet Hyatt Hotel’s standards. In fact, it didn’t even have the faintest idea what that standard might possibly resemble. Sadly, it was still not the worst place I’d ever spent the night while on the road. After all, the sheets were clean, there was an extra roll of toilet paper, and no used band-aids on the floor. Yes, it can, in fact, get that bad. I did, however, have to plug in every electrical appliance and light. I only had to kill a single cockroach, though, so it all works out. Besides, it was the only room available anywhere close to that part of town.

The next morning, I got down to the nitty-gritty of actually moving the PCs and users to the new server. It went like clockwork. Well, after I got the first few problems worked out and everyone finally had the right security rights. But, freakishly, considering all the things that have gone wrong in the past on these little junkets, I was done by lunchtime. So, I just had to hang around until my plane left at 8:30PM. At least, I managed to slip out for my favorite Southernism, the oyster po’ boy. After that it was just killing time cleaning up little detail things like verifying the backup scheme and updating the anti-virus files, until it was time for the crawfish boil. Now, you might not think that a damn, Yankee carpet-bagger like myself knows what to do with a mess o’ mud bugs, but, surprise, I do. Though, I didn’t eat as many as locals, I did know to suck the head. By then it was getting on toward 6:00pm and I was itching to get to the airport and make sure I had a seat on the plane home. I rode back with the most back-country, redneck sounding guy you ever want to try and listen to, but he was really very bright and, in his own Southern-fried way, quite articulate. In fact, it was everything I could do to keep from imitating his swamp drawl after a bit.

So, I got to the airport, and home, early. My girl got me from the airport and we drove to the far ends of the Earth to get my car from the West Houston Airport where it was not only safe and sound, but looked like it had been washed! Apparently, those stories I’d heard about torrential downpours in Houston while I was away were not exaggerated. By the time we made it back to my house, it was about 11:30PM and Doc had gone to bed, but my Hilda was quite glad to see me. Either that, or she’s learned that Ms. NewGal always brings yummy dog treats with her when she comes.
Oh, while I was away, I also managed to get some reading in, so I finally finished A Better Way to Live and started a trashy novel called Seppuku. I suppose I’ll try to review those when I finally get caught up!
(Oh, and by the way, the boss said I could put down Ms. NewGal’s milage on my expense report, so she’ll get a little something more than the pleasure of my company, which is all she claimed she wanted when she volunteered. Gotta’ love it!)

9/26/2000

New Orleans Airport

Filed under: On The Road — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rat which is in the wee hours or 12:25 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Here I sit, at 12:25am, in the lobby of the New Orleans airport waiting until 6:00am so I can go home. “Why?”, you ask. Well, I’ll tell you. If for no other reason than to look busy so that the nice police officers stop looking at me like I’m some kind of vagrant. It all started a couple of weeks ago, when I noticed that the chuckle-head who was the Network Admin before me had not gotten all the servers onto the latest set of service packs. When I asked my boss about this, he was somewhat surprised, since he’d been told that everything was up to date. Not hardly. In fact, I had servers that went back at least two revisions! So, two weeks ago I prepared to get all the servers updated. Behold, my true troubles begin! I try to get the patches copied to all the servers and discover that it takes literally *days* to copy the files! That’s right, the patches are so big, and our bandwidth is so small, that it takes almost five days to copy the Novell patches to all the servers. But, wait! They didn’t really copy to all the servers!! Yikes! So, the re-copying begins. Now, this is when it starts to get really fun. You see, in most of the cases, the reason the Novell Service Pack didn’t copy, is because there just wasn’t enough room on the main volume. (That’s SYS: for all you Novell CNEs out there. Not that there’s many of us left. Certified Netware Engineers are a dying breed, I’m afraid.) Well, I try the obvious solution and recopy everything to one of the other volumes (that’s a “disk drive” to you non-network engineer geeks.) At first, that seems to work well, but, on closer examination, I discover that one of the servers has still refused to copy everything. It turns out that this server lost it’s wide area network connection. *sigh*
Okay, so I try copying the patches yet again, but this time I send them in a compressed format. So far, so good. While all that copying was going on, I started installing the patches on the other servers. Again, most of them worked just fine, but those few with teeny, tiny SYS: volumes don’t all work. So, at this point, I’ve ended up with four that don’t quite have enough room on the main volume to install patches and one that finally has the patches *copied* , but not installed. This is where the problems that actually led me to the New Orleans airport began. We recently purchased a nifty utility called ServerMagic from PowerQuest. This darn program is the best thing since sliced bread! Among other things, it lets you resize Netware volumes without having to destroy them first! Totally cool, and totally impossible before this tool. So, never having used this before, I installed it on one of the remote servers. I ran it and it asks to reboot the server. (GULP!) I took a deep breath and tell the program, “okay”. Bang! The server goes away. Poof! It never comes back up. *sigh* Well, that was just the beginning. I let my boss know what was going on, and then we sat back to wait for Monday morning when that office discovered their crashed server. In the meantime, of course, I installed the patches on the rest of the servers. Or, at least, I *tried*. Some of these servers **still** didn’t have enough room to install all the patches!! Well, I figured that I’d eventually get the space problem worked out, and just left it alone. Oh, boy, was that a mistake! Monday, the first office called to get the server up and running. We got the first signs of life about 9:30am, with some errors, of course. About then, that office’s answering service lets them know that I know about the server and that they should call me. *sigh* So, okay, we get this pretty well squared away, when the development department tells me about this new, totally redesigned piece of misson-critical software that *I* need to get rolled out. Being the kind of guy I am, I start getting this all configured to run, from scratch. Now, we’ve survived until Tuesday morning without a tragedy.
Well, about the time that I start to work on finishing the big, new, shiny software rollout, another site calls to tell me that their server is down. “How did that happen?”, I wonder. No time to worry about that, though, because we’ve got two whole companies down while this one fileserver is off-line. So, like I always do, I started trying to figure out what happened so that I can undo it. It turns out that they took it upon themselves to reboot the server because there were users having problems logging in. Aha! The new patches had partially loaded, because they were partially installed, and some of the new files didn’t like some of the old files. Blamo! One crashed fileserver. Well, I banged away at it for most of the afternoon, one way or another. I tried loading files from backup directories, and copying files from the backup directories, neither of which worked. Then I tried to use ServerMagic to resize volumes so that I could come up with the extra space I needed to install the patches. Well, that *almost* worked. Apparently, the old disk drive just couldn’t quite handle the new utility and just decided to stop working.
By this time, it’s after 4:30pm and I’ve already figured out that I’m flying out to the remote site. Shortly after I suppose I’m going, my boss confirms it for me. We agree to try a couple more things, but not past 5:30pm. So, now, it’s do-or-die time. Let’s just say that I didn’t “do”. My boss helps me get the travel arranged, and we decide that a day trip should be enough. I gather my tools together and scare up a 4Gig external drive that I can add on to the ailing server. Then, I got the brilliant idea to burn a CD-ROM that has the patches on it. After all, since I have to add diskspace anyway, I might as well install the patches while I’m there! That was easier said than done. *sigh* I finally downloaded the required files to my PC and used my own CDR to make what I needed. It took over 6 hours to get the complete download. I got out of the house with just enough time to make the first flight from IAH to OLY. That’s at 6:50am, just in case you’re interested. It gets into New Orleans at about 7:00am. I then spent almost 45 minutes getting from the airport into my rental car. After that, I was ready to drive more than an hour to get to our site in Houma, which I finally did after a few wrong turns.
Finally, I was ready to start working on the server at about 10:30am. It took all of about 15 minutes to get the extra drive installed, configured and running. The fileserver itself took a little longer. I got enough of the new drive allocated to the SYS: volume and then I got the new patches installed from my CD. So far, so good. In fact, at this point was planning to try and catch an earlier flight home than the 5:20pm flight I was scheduled to fly back on. Oh, well, maybe next time. I rebooted the server, so that the new patches were activated, but started getting errors right away. Apparently, the USR volume, where most of the actual data existed, was damaged. Damn! So, I try every repair utility that I can think of, without any improvement. Eventually, we had to delete most of the data because it was too badly damaged to actually use. Unfortunately, that volume also stored the GroupWise e-mail system data. Whoops! So, now, it was about 2:00pm and I was wolfing down an oyster poboy while trying to get the USR volume back online, when it hit me to try and use ServerMagic to fix the problem. Well, that *almost* worked, but it recovered the drive at the expense of the data it contained. Double damn! We don’t back up the GroupWise data for legal reasons, so now we can’t restore it. But, wait! The local remote admin ran a backup last month that accidentally included the e-mail directories. Hooray!! Well, to shorten a *very* long story, we managed to recover and rebuild the mail databases so at least they’ll have user accounts and mail going back a couple of weeks. Not ideal, but better than nothing.
But, how did I end up missing my flight? Well, to prove that we give the best customer service, I stayed while the Arcserve restores ran. (Okay, it was more like they ran, then got totally screwed up, then we deleted them and recreated the jobs and *then* they ran.) And, the next thing you know, it’s 9:30pm and I’m running to try and make a 10:30pm flight. Obviously, I missed it. *sigh* On a more positive note, I do have a flight booked for 6:00am. Of course, that means that I’ll have just enough time to shower and change before I head back into work so that I can get the super-duper software rollout working. Blech! I plan to get the most out of the damn company picnic on Sunday!


Powered by WordPress
Any links to sites selling any reviewed item, including but not limited to Amazon, may be affiliate links which will pay me some tiny bit of money if used to purchase the item, but this site does no paid reviews and all opinions are my own.