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Work has been an interesting combination of boredom & terror over the past month, kinda like flying a plane with one engine missing. I take consolation from knowing I still have at least one spare engine and a lot of experience, but it's still a bit less than ideal what with the passengers occasionally hitting the bar or screaming in fear. Very distracting, but if we keep doing the right things, we'll be soon clear of the turbulence.

My team was expanded by two extra bodies in July. The new guys are still coming up to speed, but they're progressing very well and are demonstrating the initiative & curiousity I had anticipated. There is a lot to take up, but they are pulling their weight and this makes me happy. I'll be even happier yet in a few months when they're fully up to speed and we have some major projects behind us but I need to be patient.

We've had a burst in workload this past two weeks. No single item was a killer, but the volume was more than we could handle at our regular pace. Still, with some extra hours and some judicious shuffling of priorities, we were able to tackle nearly all of the outstanding items before the weekend began.

My boss took a well-deserved vacation day on Friday so I got to play interim manager again. I like those opportunities because they give me license to speak with a higher degree of authority than I would when the boss is in and therefore might be seen to overstep my bounds. These perceptions are exclusively in my head, of course: my boss wouldn't object and our management structure for problem solving is very flat, but I am by nature hyper-attuned to levels of management, degrees of latitude and adherence to procedure, propriety, etiquette & appearances. If I ever think I'm losing any portion of my Canadian identity, here's a perfect counter-example --and perhaps one I should be more aggressive about addressing since it's probably holding me back.

One of my bigger projects this past week has been completed. It wasn't a technical challenge, but a logistical one: we had over 1,000lbs of dead or retired computer equipment in my data center which desperately needed to be removed. I needed a place to discard the equipment, I needed to have the hard drives removed & destroyed to protect our data, I needed extra hands to help heft the heavier bits (one singular chunk was itself about 90lbs and very awkward to grasp), along with coordination with use of the loading dock, a cargo vehicle and a few hours out of my business day. We got that on Friday.

[profile] cuyahogarvr and I wrestled the largest portion of this pile of junk out of the data center after lunch on Friday and delivered it to our home county's electronics recycling depot using [profile] kent4str's minivan. On Saturday, I collected the remaining eight blades & servers, rail kits and such; those were discarded this afternoon, along with miscellaneous household bits (a retired TV & VCR, some dead batteries, etc.). There is now a huge amount of extra space in my data center and in our garage. I feel much cleaner --and am delighted to strike one more item off my to-do list.

I went to Philadelphia for an overnight trip August 10-11 to attend FOSSCon 2013, a small convention of free open source software users & developers. I had a good time, although not at first. The event started a little late and registration didn't actually open until everything was in operation for an hour because of traffic delays. While I had a schedule from the web site, each hall was listed with a sponsor name, but signs weren't up anywhere in the building to identify the halls. In short, the first two hours put my inner project manager into frustration overload. I nearly stormed out in annoyance and frustration.

Then I remembered two things: (1) there was no registration fee, and (2) these were enthusiasts & amateurs putting together an event, not professional event planners. I've been spoiled by major conferences with large registration fees and professional managers held at major event hotels (think USENIX, LISA, etc.): my righteous anger at misplaced resources was wrong and utterly misplaced.

Once I reframed my thinking and focused on the content of the talks & presentations, all went very well. In fact, I was pretty impressed what they were able to do with limited resources and an all-volunteer staff.

My major take-away from this panels was a list of software packages I should examine for work and/or beefing up a resume: Salt, ZeroMQ, Jenkins, Ansible and such. Of course, I need to get through my immediate work-related projects which include Xen and Ubuntu 12 first, but I've made some notes for future. And I'll definitely attend --and perhaps volunteer-- for next year's event.

I see that the technical schedule for the upcoming LISA conference in DC in November has been posted so I have to go perusing. I've been pre-approved by my VP for registration so I'll be there: the only question is how many of the tutual days I'll sign up for. More later.

And finally, some high tech trauma: one of our home laptops died. More precisely, the hard drive has snuffed it: no computer can recognize it and it just clicks spasmodically. I've tried everything I know to try waking it up, all to no avail. Yes, we have backups of it, but they predate a number of important software installations and data files. I've obtained a duplicate drive and will take both to a local data recovery service tomorrow to see if there is any hope of grabbing at least some data from the dead disk. It's gonna cost, but it's our own fault. sigh
bjarvis: (Default)
Friday night was unextraordinary: [livejournal.com profile] kent4str was calling A2 for the Zig Zaggers in Northern Virginia. We didn't have quiet enough for two full squares which was unfortunate because it was probably some of his best calling to date. I called a guest tip for fun.

We joined Jim & Joseph for their annual birthday bash & chilifest on Saturday afternoon. Lots of guys we've known and a few we hadn't met yet. We had a lovely time, even though I never did try the chili as I somewhat overdid lunch and wasn't hungry. After a short shopping break at Whole Paycheck, we curled up at home with DVDs of "Babylon 5" (early 4th season).

Sunday began with a meeting of the IASGDC 2009 convention committee. While this sounds like a horrible way of spending a weekend, I would point out that the meeting space was above a Kripy Kreme donut store: two dozen fresh donuts greatly helped the meeting. [livejournal.com profile] cuyahogarvr spent billions of dollars on books while we were in the meeting so he's happy for a couple of days.

In the afternoon, we collected Jeff M from his home in Arlington and headed out to see "Cloverfield." It was a fun flick although my head was still a little wobbly from the camera work hours later. OK, there were lots of loose plot threads but that was point of the entire method of presentation: the little people on the ground never get all the answers. I'm not sure how well this movie will translate to a smaller screen though.

Today, I'm UNIX primary point-of-contact for my Dear Employer. Fortunately, I don't have to go to the office unless there's a catastrophic emergency but I do have to stay within range of my laptop. It's a kind of house arrest... better than prison but not freedom either. Ah, well... I had no plans for the day anyway.
bjarvis: (Default)
Friday night was unextraordinary: [livejournal.com profile] kent4str was calling A2 for the Zig Zaggers in Northern Virginia. We didn't have quiet enough for two full squares which was unfortunate because it was probably some of his best calling to date. I called a guest tip for fun.

We joined Jim & Joseph for their annual birthday bash & chilifest on Saturday afternoon. Lots of guys we've known and a few we hadn't met yet. We had a lovely time, even though I never did try the chili as I somewhat overdid lunch and wasn't hungry. After a short shopping break at Whole Paycheck, we curled up at home with DVDs of "Babylon 5" (early 4th season).

Sunday began with a meeting of the IASGDC 2009 convention committee. While this sounds like a horrible way of spending a weekend, I would point out that the meeting space was above a Kripy Kreme donut store: two dozen fresh donuts greatly helped the meeting. [livejournal.com profile] cuyahogarvr spent billions of dollars on books while we were in the meeting so he's happy for a couple of days.

In the afternoon, we collected Jeff M from his home in Arlington and headed out to see "Cloverfield." It was a fun flick although my head was still a little wobbly from the camera work hours later. OK, there were lots of loose plot threads but that was point of the entire method of presentation: the little people on the ground never get all the answers. I'm not sure how well this movie will translate to a smaller screen though.

Today, I'm UNIX primary point-of-contact for my Dear Employer. Fortunately, I don't have to go to the office unless there's a catastrophic emergency but I do have to stay within range of my laptop. It's a kind of house arrest... better than prison but not freedom either. Ah, well... I had no plans for the day anyway.

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