Happy Easter!

I hope everyone is having a happy Easter today. Me, I’m having a good day – especially since I’m not leaving for DC until tomorrow. I get a full day more to spend at home with my wife. For such blessings as this I am truly thankful. I hope you, too, are spending some time with loved ones today.

Server Downsize: Part II

2012-01-08 23:29:14

I have now transfered my second server into a small form factor case. The web server now resides in a cube taking up about one fourth of the space that the old tower did. I must say, I like it. My next move will be to downsize my desktop case into a small box. Then, I’ll have just scads of room. Of course, it wasn’t all easy this time.

Last time, I had trouble finding Windows 2003 drivers for all of the hardware devices so I decided to take that box and use it for the Linux web server as there was more support for the chipset in Linux. First, I got a different Shuttle case for the Windows box and swapped the innerds [that’s how we say it in Texas, you know] into it. Once it came up, all was wonderful – all devices were identified and drivers found. That done, I then moved the Linux box parts into the previous case, which sports an nVidia chipset. Linux loves these. On install and boot-up, Linux discovered the changes and all went wonderfully… until: Bam. Something wasn’t right. I couldn’t load the site from my laptop. I wondered what was happening, so I switched my KVM over to my Linux box only to find strange error codes on screen. I restarted and the machine promptly decided to turn itself off.

After trying to figure out what the cryptic messages on screen meant, I walked over to the machine and noticed that it was quite warm. I thought that maybe something wasn’t configured right or my hard drive was just about to spin itself off it’s spindle. Upon opening the case, I began to disassemble everything. The poor little box was way overheated and I didn’t know why. It didn’t do this last time. So, I though that maybe I should re-seat everything and apply new thermal grease to the CPU heat sink. As I was removing the CPU fan I noticed a very strange thing: the fan WASN’T PLUGGED IN! Doh!

The fan is plugged in and all is cool now. It just goes to show: even people who do this a lot sometimes forget the simple things.

A Photo-Memorial For Jason

I have created a special album which contains all of my digital pictures of Jason. There is even a slideshow feature which will let you view the pictures in random order. This Memorial will stay on this server for as long as I own this site. These are pictures of Jason doing some of his favorite things and this is how we will always remember him.

If you have any pictures you’d like added to this Memorial, please email them to me. This will be an ongoing project.

Political Inconsistencies, Part I: Abortion And Environmental Activism

The world we live in is a bizarre, inconsistent place where you seem to never know what to expect. As with life, politics reflects our vacillating minds with flair unrivaled in any other human endeavor. Following are some issues that seem to not fit with political ideology in the parties that support them.

Abortion And Environmental Activism

Let us begin by defining the environment. Miriam-Webster defines the environment as: “the complex of physical, chemical, and biotic factors (as climate, soil, and living things) that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form and survival.” Environmental Activism is the active involvement of an individual to preserve the environment. This environment includes such things as flowers, trees, horned owls, humans, etc.

Which political party is the “Party of the Environment”? Traditionally, Democrats (especially liberal Democrats) have been strong on environmental protection issues – or, at least they have that reputation. Just like Republicans have a reputation for supporting Big Business (this is often extrapolated as not supporting the environment since the needs of industry often cause pollution in the local environment). However, there are inconsistencies rampant in our politics that cloud the issues.

Liberals and now some Conservatives use rhetoric laced with references to environmental conservation and protection. What this means is that at the cost of some personal freedoms, we can join together and preserve what nature is left to us and pass it on to our children to keep our world healthy. A wonderful idea I think. Unfortunately, this idea seems to be applied at whim and not to the environment as a whole.

For example, people think timber companies are evil for chopping trees down and despoiling a natural environment. Those same people ignore the fact that the lumber companies also replant as they move through the land. It would be environmentally and economically unsound to do so – they would work themselves out of a job. We also have more trees now than we did 100 years ago – after all, we strive hard to put out forest fires which usually occur naturally. Yet these same people who harp on the timber companies as “killing the environment” turn right back around and say that it is perfectly acceptable to kill a human baby while it’s gestating.

Wait. Wasn’t I talking about the environment and what does Abortion have to do with that? Well, if you recall what the environment is, you will recall that it includes all living things contained therein. This includes any unborn child as well as all existing humans on the planet. We are a large part of the environment. We interact with it on a daily basis. So why does conserving a few owls in a woodland area take precedence over saving of human lives? Why do people see “saving the whales” as a worthy cause when they turn their backs on their own species?

Personal Liberty. Remember what I wrote earlier: at the cost of some personal freedoms, we can join together and preserve what nature is left to us. No one in the upper echelons of the Democratic party, no matter how inconsistent it is, wishes to “take away a personal choice” from a woman who has already made a poor choice to engage in the behavior that brought about her current state. Life doesn’t have an “undo” button. What has been done will stay done – killing the child of an unwise union is not an easy way out.

Why is it the case that an “unintentional” killing of an unborn baby can carry the murder verdict (as in the case against Terry Nichols who was found guilty on 161 counts of murder: 160 people killed and one unborn child killed when its mother died) while an intentional killing is considered an acceptable “choice”?

This one issue galvanizes me to never vote for any Democratic candidate. This is unfortunate as some issues that the Democratic Party stands for, I favor. However, to be a Democrat, one must support the platform and Abortion is a key issue supported by the Democratic platform. The implications of this for me is that I’m forced to vote for whoever the alternative choice is – not always a pleasant one.

Unwired In New Jersey

2012-01-08 23:29:13

Since my meetings have been canceled today and I don’t have any scheduled for tomorrow, I have managed an early flight home. Right now, I’m sitting in the President’s Club in the Newark airport and taking a bit of a rest.

I didn’t HAVE to come to New Jersey, but the non-stop from DCA to IAH is rather pricey, so I thought I’d not only save the customer a bit of cash, but I’d also spend an afternoon earning a few extra miles. I’ll get over 700 extra miles out of this “jaunt”. I don’t really know if it’s worth it, but hey – I got a few hours to kill.

The Glory Has Departed


Some times, it seems that one never gets good news, only news about the slow, steady decline of one’s own situation. Yesterday evening, my employer announced that it was re-instating the stock purchase plan [which ran out of shares earlier this year] but at a much reduced discount of 5% instead of the 15% we have enjoyed throughout the last decade or so [I can’t vouch for any longer as I’ve only been around for a little over 9 years here]. Now, it just doesn’t make any sense to invest since on the average day, the stock price might dip 5% or go up 5%, but mainly it just hovers around where it is – there is no more growth. When the discount was 15%, there was enough room for profit among the ups and downs. Not so anymore. So, along with many of my fellow employees, I have decided to withdraw from the program. I think I might put forth a shareholder proposition that we change the name of our company from IBM to Ichabod, which means: “The Glory Has Departed”.

This is just the latest of many of the “depowerment” changes made by the largest technology company in the world over the last five years or so. Since the turn of the millennium, I have had almost every privilege, every perquisite, every incentive stripped away so that there is no more joy in my job: it’s only something I must do to pay the bills. There is no satisfaction of a job well done; there is no hope of promotion; there is little hope of any pay increase. Our bonus structure has whittled away to where there is almost nothing left. I am forced to spend valuable time traveling away from home when I should be at home with my wife, doing things to better our relationship and to better myself. The only good remaining in my job is that I have been paid a salary that takes care of my bills and it has been stable.

My employer constantly asks us what they can do to make our attitude and satisfaction better… but WITHOUT giving any substantial rewards. They want to know what they can do without it costing them anything. My answer is this: NOTHING. Everything worth doing costs something. Every “resource” [especially people like me] worth keeping costs something. Not always money, but certainly some investment of time and resources [which I guess translate to money in the corporate world]. To feel good about the work one does, there must be an incentive for a job well done. A verbal “atta boy!” only goes so far… not that we even get those words as rewards.

So: as we go on our way, working in relative isolation from our team and peers, I am constantly reminded of what one manager told me long ago: “IBM has come to stand for the words: I’m By Myself.” I have never felt so overlooked by my employer as I do now. I can only hope that things begin to improve soon, or we may lose the best of our people.


Homeless WiFi Consultant

2012-01-08 23:29:13

Today, I didn’t have to go into the office, so I worked from the hotel. Work, that is, until check-out time at noon. Then, I had to leave and find another place to work. I didn’t want to go into an office to work, but I though a cafe would be nice. However, all the cafes around cost money for WiFi. The nearest free one was quite a walk away. So, instead of wasting money, I decided to work from the airport as I have a Continental President’s Club membership. This is nice.

I got to the airport club about 1:00pm EST. I’ve been here now for FIVE hours… I feel like I’m having a bad layover or something. At first, it was nice since no one was here and I had work to do. Now that I’ve finished my work, there are too many people around talking and I’ve just been sitting here way too long. Maybe it wasn’t the BEST idea I’ve had lately, but it is certainly the cheapest and did accomplish my goal of finishing up work in a place with free WiFi.

Now, if I could just fly home early…

Server Downsize

After my “catastrophic failure” of last week and a minor one this week [you may have noticed… or not], I have decided to replace certain parts of one of my servers. These being the case, power supply and mother board. Since the replacement is so wide-ranging, I’ve decided to go small. Yes, that’s right: small. Since the particular server in question needs all of these parts, this Shuttle box is now the way to go.

I’ll be slowly replacing most of my machines with these boxes to get rid of the full sized, loud towers most of them are in now. They are small and easy to manage. Best of all, I can have a TON of them without having to buy a server rack to put all my machines in! … I think I can stack ’em three high! [insane laughter]

Wasn’t There Long…

Now, I’m back in DC. Stayed home one ENTIRE night! Well, at least I can focus on work better now. Too bad I’ll be lonely.

Now that I am back in the area, even though it was around 70 degrees yesterday, this morning it began blowing snow. It’s not that nice, dry snow either. It was rain which transformed into wet, slushy snow… and the wind is blowing HARD. So, there’s now ice on trees and buildings and tonight, there will be ice on the roads. Lovely weather in this place, eh?