Friday, November 21, 2008

Rebel Without a Ride

Todays rant is about transit.

Now, I could go on for hours about the inadequacies of the system as a whole or the absurdity of the governing body (both in its previous state and the new closed-door dictatorship). While that would also make me feel better, today's discussion will focus on the ridership that uses the system and how much I truly hate some of them.
  • 1. The Perpetual Stench

    Maybe I have misused the term 'perpetual' as the horrid odours themselves are far from consistent. However, their presence on transit is never in doubt. To try to deal with this Stench (and yes, it deserves to be capitalized) I sometimes imagine a world where I can get on a bus or step onto a skytrain and NOT have the person beside me immediately pass gas. I understand that there may be medical conditions or other reasons why someone can not hold it in, but it starts the second the doors close and never stops for the whole trip. Do people get off on gassing an entire busload of people with the remnants of their extra-spicy burrito? People! For the sake of anything you hold dear, PLEASE STOP FARTING!

  • 2. Gramma's Elbows

    Rush hour. The train comes hurdling into a station. The brakes engage and the train comes full stop. "Ding-Ding-Ding" and the doors open. Now PUSH!!!!!!

    I want to get home just as much as the next person, but to resort to pushing and shoving is a little much. My favourite player in this rugby match is the 4'9" 80 year old hooker (in the rugby sense, you sicko!) who ducks her head and squirms her way through the crowd to make sure that she gets in front of everyone. And of course she gets off at the next stop.

  • 3. The Blockade

    Opposite to complaint #2, when the the train/bus gets the the next stop and gramma wants off, there is sure to be a crowd of people - eyes all aglaze - blocking the doorway. No number of "excuse me"'s, "pardon me"'s or "get the hell out of my way"'s can help you out here. You need Moses like powers to part this sea. Be cautious! By the time you have found your way through the labyrinth the doors will smash on you and try to dislocate you shoulders!

And again, I feel so much better. Thank you for indulging a cranky little boy.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Server Quest: Part 2

To recap, day 1 consisted of me obtaining little or no info, little or no access and finding out that crucial components of the server had been "misplaced"...

Day 2:
After some digging I was able to find the original tracking number for the mystical box-o-hard-drives. With the tracking number I then found out the "Klein" signed for the box. Talking to Klein revealed that someone named Ross had taken the box away from shipping receiving for some unknown reason. I call up Ross and leave a VM explaining my dire situation. He calls back a little while later and leaves me a VM to let me know that he "took the box and put it under a tarp near the back door by room 5E. Its under a circuit breaker."

My server is on the 4th floor in an unknown room. I assume that 5E is probably on the 5th floor so up I go in the elevemator.

*DING* OK, so now I'm on the 5th floor. In this building, NONE of the rooms are labelled, so I randomly start trying my access card to see what rooms I can get into. After 4 attempts I get into some sort of server/network room. I start checking under every green tarp in there. There must be a dozen scattered around the nooks and crannies of this particular room. Items found: garbage, old equipment, some large spools of wire (like 5' across), some ceiling tiles, chunks of metal, but no box in sight.

I head out the back door of this room which leads to a long hallway, at the end is another door. Dammit, my ID doesn't work here. That's ok, someone is coming out so I'll just pretend that I belong and walk right in. Now I'm in a room with kilometers of telco wires running into thousands of junction points. Maybe this is room 5E? I find some network techs roaming around and ask them. No one knows. I find some green tarps with more of the same underneath them (What is with all the green tarps as garbage areas in this building?). On guy approaches and asks if I need help.

I spend the next 10 minutes explaining the circumstances that led me to this point and he says "Well this is 5E, but there is definitely no box like that in here. Are you sure he didn't mean 4E?"
I think on that for a minute and since my server is on the 4th floor, maybe he is right? "Maybe?"
"Well, you can just go out that door there and go down the stairwell one floor"

Guess what? once you are in the stairwell you need the proper clearance to exit on the 4th floor... and the 5th floor, 3rd, 2nd... Ya! I can exit at the first floor. Back into the friendly elevator and up to 4. Long story short, I scammed my way into 4E and the box was not there. I figure I'll go back to 5E and ask the one helpful guy if he has any suggestions. I walk past a door with a small window in it and peer in...
* Circuit Breaker - check
* Green Tarp - check
* Box sticking out from under tarp - check
* Proper clearance to open the door? FAIL!

another long story short, I get the box. Hizzah!!

Back down to 4 and FINALLY time to install the missing components. Open the server case and notice a large metal bar blocking access to the area I need to install in. held together with torx screws! T-15 to be exact!

After asking the 4th technician I found and having all of them rply "huh?" and walking away, I realized that no one is going to lend me a screwdriver. So I roam around downtown and come upon The Source where a simple torx set is $20.

Moral of the story... I wish I knew, but it feels soooo good to complain about it!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Server Quest

My past two days can most easily be described as a monumental quest...

I have been tasked with setting up a server at a location that my business unit has not used before. Simple enough, right? Here's what happened:

Day 1: The Lead Up

Armed with little more than an address and a contact who will meet me there, I head downtown to commence an OS install on a new server. I arrive at said location and am pleasantly surprised that my ID Badge lets me in the front door. Thing are looking good so far, maybe this will continue throughout my day?

I ask the security guard at the front desk where I might find either the data-center or my contact. Confused, he replies "There are many possibilities, which department is the server for?"
"ITI" I reply
He ponders for a minute and then "hmmm, I have not heard of this BU"
I then explain that this is our first server at this location. He suggests that we go walking around to see if my contact has already arrived.

After endless corridors, server rooms, offices and stairways I finally find my contact by yelling his name. We'll call him Bob. "Bob! Are you in here?"
He comes stumbling out of a closet-like-room and exclaims "I'm over here!"
Great, now we're getting somewhere.

I thank the security guard for a job done and approach Bob. He shows me to the server which has been racked for me already. I try to get some pertinent info about the building and the room but he is also new to this location. He advises that he has some important meetings to attend and with that I am alone to get down to work.

I start performing all the mundane tasks involved with setting up a server when I realize I am missing hard drives. This is no good. Can't continue until I find them. Flip open the phone and dial up Bob, "Bob, we're missing Hard Drives. I can't finish this until I have them."
"I'm on it!" and with that the call is done.

I start doing other parts of the install that do not require these Hard Drives. One task is setting and verifying the networking. Conversation with myself:
'Wait a second, there are only two wires here. I specifically requested 4. I'll just oull out my laptop, connect it to a CAT5 cable hanging from the ceiling and print the excel sheet to the nearest printer. Yep, I definitely requested 4. Oh well, I'll keep putting along with what I have. The sticker on this wire says it is connected to Port 33 on this switch over there. But how can that be? Nothing is plugged into that switch?'

Fast forward a couple hours... After following cable runs from my server, into the ceiling, down into wiring closets, back into the ceiling and finally into the switch I found the problem and corrected the wiring myself. So now I am sure that my server is plugged into the correct ports on the correct switches, but I still have no connection. Call up Bob again and he is "on it".

Time for lunch...

Get back from lunch and see that Bob left me a voicemail that the networking should be fixed now. Magically, I now have a network connection on the 2 out of 4 wires that have actually been installed. Rest of day 1 consists of actually doing the work I set out to in the first place.

Stay tuned for day 2...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Where is your old CRT?

I was watching a piece on 60 minutes about the e-waste of America and where it ends up and it got me thinking. We all know that our garbage is being dumped onto developing countries, but do we realize the profound impact it is having?

Seeing the destruction it is causing was nauseating. I have a box full of e-waste in my garage because I've never taken the time to investigate local "recyclers" to see which ones are legitimate. How is one to know when companies like the one spotlighted in this news segment claim to be 100% environmentally friendly and promise that none of their good are being shipped to Asia? If I take my CRT to an electronic recycler, what guarantee do I have that it will actually be taken care of responsibly? I would hope that the government would check up on these companies, and since most programs that I have seen are supported by either the Provincial or Federal government, that leads me to believe they are somehow monitored. Has anyone out there heard any stories like this one in Canada?

Watching man take advantage of man this way just reasserts that we have a responsibilty, a duty as concienscious world citizens to protect the less fortunate.

I myself will be recycling my e-waste the best way I can find, hopefully I'm not taken for a chump.

update: I'm going to trust in my government regulators:

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Lets try this again

Gonna actually try to update my blog now and then. We'll see how long I can keep that up!

Still reflecting on the election results. A few things I've considered:
  • While most Canadians (including myself) would have voted Obama if they were able, I fear that the Democratic push for protectionism can only hurt relations between us. While I don't think this will result in a Trudeau-Nixon style hatred, I do feel we will be losing some ground with our neighbours to the South
  • I do feel sorry for John McCain. If only he had been the Republican candidate 8 years ago, how different a world we would be in now. Either he would have won or Gore.. He is a better politician and human being than Bush but my opinion is he lost due to 3 huge factors: nominating Palin, associated with Bush and his age. Palin was wrong for so many reasons but I'll just touch on one thing that I kept hearing about her; "She is energizing the Republicans and getting the female vote". The problem with this statement is that the people that were/are excited about her running are all on the far right. These are the same poeple that wouldn't vote for a Democratic EVAR. So congratulations Sarah on garnering votes that McCain would have received no matter who his running mate was.
  • $2 billion is way overboard for election spending, but now the precedence is set, so watch for bigger numbers in "Palin V Obama - 2012"
  • CNN's "Princess Leia" effect wasn't clean enough for production. Try beta testing next time!
  • Larry King should try to at least pretend he is unbiased
Other than that, life is busy, work is busy, video game season is upon us... ciao.